We are a family of 4. 12 and 15 yr. old kids. Travel quite a bit to odd places, not your typical 5 star all-inclusive resort style family. We also speak "enough" Spanish to get by. Not fluently, but enough. Would highly recommend knowing at least your basics. Gracias and Por favor and perdon go a long way. We got great Continental Air tickets from Detroit to Panama for $258.00 a piece. Arrived into Panama and took a taxi to the Country inn and Suite Panama Canal for the first night. Taxis will try and get you every time, just say, "Oh, muy karo" (very expensive) and then they'll come down. The going rate from the airport to anywhere in the city is $35.oo. I believe Royal Caribbean will transfer you from the airport all the way up the canal for a good fee. We opted to go a week ahead of time and play around in Panama. It was wonderful. When it came time for us to head up to Colon to take the cruise we went to the city bus terminal and caught the express bus to Colon. (1 1/2 hr.) $2.50 per person. Ask them to drop you off at the Puerto de Cruises. Not port of Colon, we made that mistake. If the bus driver doesn't get you all the way there, don't ask questions, just hail a taxi and pay them the $5.00 and GO. Colon is a horrible town. Of the 3 weeks we spent on this trip in and around Panama, nothing came close to Colon, terrible. If you are only going for the cruise and don't like the adventure of seeing the sights and doing things on your own AND are wearing lots of gold jewelry DO THE ROYAL CARIBBEAN TRANSFERS. They'll door to door you. Now, keep this following information in mind regarding my review: Our ship was only half full! They never gave us a capacity number but the dining rooms were 3/4 empty and you could find a pool chair anytime, anywhere. No line at buffets nor to get off the ship at ports. We had many conversations with the ship workers (because their second language is English not Spanish so they LOVE Americans) and they informed us that the bookings have been dwindling and so far they have not lowered the fares. At some point they will began lowering fares and the workers were very worried about that. The city of Colon is ranked #1 for crime in all of Latin America. When they lower the prices they will get infiltrated with the residents of Colon. Sadly, I would not want to be on that cruise. If you're considering this cruise, wait till the last minute to see if that happens. I personally would not go if it did. So, the RCI cruise port ran to perfection for us. We boarded at about 3:00 for the 7:30 sailing. Probably took us 20 minutes from being dropped off at the cruise terminal to stepping on the ship. Very friendly RCI agents. Onboard lots of greeters to answer questions and point you to your rooms. Bought kids soda packages for $32.00 for all week. Found rooms on lowest floor (2nd) large window, 154 sq. ft. ($459.00 p.p. two rooms) Room felt larger than our last 190 sq.ft. balcony room on Celebrity because it had a great layout. As far as the cruise stops. We, unlike most cruisers, never do the ship excursions. We do our own and must say that we were sitting ducks in both the Cartagena and Santa Marta ports. The "free" shuttle RCI boasts about only takes you from the boat to the building where you are swarmed by nice, blood thirsty taxi drivers. One wanted to charge us $80.00 just to drive us to the old town in Cartagena. Sadly, we ended up seeing the old dirty parts and returned to the ship. Ended up watching all the activities happening in the shipping port from the pool deck of the ship. Amazing. Best advise would be for you to wait awhile to get off the ship, when the taxis are willing to lower their prices. Or, if you've got the guts, walk out of the port where you can get a normal taxi that won't gouge ya. Didn't do much in Santa Marta. Didn't go near the water, because the beach bathroom appeared (and smelled) to run right into the ocean. No thanks. Aruba, walked across the street jumped on the public bus for $1.30 headed to Palm Beach near the RIU hotel. Played on the beach and dove with Roberto's Divers for an expensive but neat one tank dive on the Antilla. (they were by far the cheapest we found) $250.00 for 4 persons including all equipment. Curacao, we walked around the very busy city, got over charged for coke because they see us white folks coming. Took a city bus way west to the Sunset Waters Dive resort and did a $10.00 per tank shore dive. Decent dive, lots of dead coral though. Gear rental expensive. We had to find a local to drive us from the bus stop to the Sunset Waters Resort, too far to walk. There was lots to see and do in the cruise port of Curacao. Don't need a taxi just take a right when you get off the ship and keep walking. Bonaire, loved it. Take your snorkel gear and jump in the water absolutely anywhere. Safe, walkable, lovely island. So, I would highly recommend this cruise for an American family for a great taste of a different culture. Everything is in Spanish with some English interpreted after. Cruise staff loves English speakers, they don't speak Spanish. Your fellow cruisers will be Panamanians, Costa Ricans, Columbians and they are so kind and friendly. Many speak English. My kids made many friends and exchanged e-mails. They danced in the kids club till 2:00am. Lots of tiny bathing suits but no one topless. AND, do me a favor, tip! Tipping is not high in the Latin culture (according to a Panamanian and the ship staff) and the dining room was empty on the last night of the cruise when the tipping envelopes were supposed to have been paid to your staff. The casino and bars were also a ghost town for the entire cruise. We only met a couple of Americans, if you include the big bellied one that blew the competition out of the water when he entered the belly flop competition! Leave it to an American. Loved it all but still wouldn't trade it in for the good ole USA....... yet.
2120 and 2124, smaller room with great space usage, better than some of the larger rooms we have been in. Nice decor. Great TV channels (FOX News) After three attempts to upgrade failed we ended up happier because our room was perfectly placed for getting off the ship at the ports. Down the steps and out the door. Room was very quiet, didn't even hear a door close.
Sadly, you are forced to do a ships excursion. Not a great port to explore on your own. Cabs charging exorbitant amounts.
Too many people and very Americanized, but safe fun to walk and beach is lovely.
Picturesque city, very busy, didn't have a very welcoming feel though. Felt safe walking and looking around city.
Loved it because we have been here many times. Feels like going home. Quiet people, beautiful ocean. Snorkeling and diving unbeatable. Quaint shops. Lac Bay is fantastic, only great beach and best wind surfing in the world, but could get busy when cruise ships are in port. Port not known for great beaches, reefs go right up to the island which is why it it a divers island.