We had experienced a partial panama canal transit and decided we had to do a full transit. The workings of the locks is just fascinating if you've never been through it. It was just a relaxing day watching our ship travel through the locks and the gentleman who escorted us on the trip with his facts regarding the canal was very interesting. It's hard to believe in this day and time when something starts deteriorating it is torn down and built anew and these locks are over 100 years old and are still operating in their original fashion with the same wooden gates! Staff on board was very courteous and our room steward, Nyoman and Muss were fantastic. They usually had our room cleaned by the time we returned from breakfast in the morning and were always smiling and making sure that everything was satisfactory. Dining room staff was a little slow the first week, however, they soon learned our beverage of choice and had it waiting for us when we sat down. Menu choices were varied and could have had a little more regular items to choose from, but for the most part, the food was tasty and temperature appropriate.
Our cabin was roomy and was located on the lower promenade deck. Were leary that we'd hear walkers outside, however, the only thing that really disturbed us was the sound of the crew washing down the deck every morning and the dining room kitchen, which was located right above us. However, it was very convenient as we are walkers ourselves and could step outside the door and start walking or enjoy sitting in the deck chairs.
walked through the working dock into the town to see what was there. Very poor conditions, however, interesting to see the day to day goings on there. If you are not comfortable with people following you around and asking you to view their wares, which were mostly men, I wouldn't recommend getting off the ship. If you have no problem saying "no thank you" and continue walking on ignoring them, you would be o.k.
Docked at a working dock which always made for fascinating viewing for us watching the ships being loaded and unloaded of products. Took the shuttle into a small area that was about 15 minutes from the ship. It was set up very nice with booths of local vendors, a large central covered area where you could relax and get something to eat or drink which was very nice. The vendors were not quite as aggressive as those walking the in the streets but were very nice and easy to bargain with.
More typical touristy city. The buildings were modern and hotels and attractions everywhere along the pier. Streets were clean and shops were very nice from the local vendors to the more high dollar jewelry businesses.
Beautiful city! We walked from the pier into the city, which took about 20 minutes, but it was a nice walk with no hills to climb. The government building is enormous and would have loved to go inside, however, being Sunday it was closed and not sure you could walk inside. The Fairmont Empress Hotel which is across the street and right on the harbor is so beautiful. Definitely a place to get a bench, a snack and watch traffic, the sea planes or the boat shuttles. Everything in the area was clean and tidy. Just a nice place to stroll and people watch.