Most everyone, especially those who love the sea, has some familiarity with the story of the Panama Canal. David McCullough's marvelous book, The Path Between the Seas, is required reading for anyone making this trip. But no amount of reading or watching videos or documentaries prepares you adequately for the real thing. That's why we chose this trip.
We began in Miami's Mandarin Oriental hotel, a splendid accommodation. As usual, the transfer arrangements were well-organized and efficient. We were able to occupy our suite at noon and it was ideal for the transit of the canal with a forward- and side-facing balcony.
The stop at Georgetown was pleasant but unmemorable. Cartagena, with its Fort San Felipe, was excellent. Then came the Canal. Our transit began in the early morning, shortly after sunrise and continued until we finally exited into the Pacific at dusk. The narrator - making her 700th transit! - provided rich detail about many aspects of the canal itself, as well as the flora and fauna, along with anecdotes about both the French effort and the subsequent American success. We had room-service breakfast so as not to miss a moment. This one day made the entire trip entirely successful all by itself.
Spacious, comfortable and quiet. Well-supplied and very well tended by the butler and the cabin stewards. The bathrooms (1½) are more than adequate, with the regular bathroom having both a shower and a tub. Abundant, high-quality bath amenities.
The lighting is excellent. North American travelers may want to bring along extra converters or adapters, since there are more 220v outlets than 110.
Fairly long bus trip to Leon and its baroque cathedral. A walk through the plaza where hawkers swarmed.
Long bus ride to Ixmiche, a late post-classical period Maya ruin that is slowly being excavated. A remarkable site covering at least 20 acres. The guide was very knowledgeable and informative. The ride both to and fro afforded views of the 3 active volcanos in the western highlands and the utter devastation caused by an eruption in 2018.
Didn't take a tour, but went ashore by tender and walked along the waterfront.