• Transiting the Panama Canal was the star of our cruise. It was an Engineering marvel when it opened in 1914 and remains so today. Our ship transited the “New Locks” (completed in June 2016) which has the capacity for larger ships. We also went on an excursion to view the Mira Flores Locks from the observation platform and we had the good fortune to view the Oceania Marina Cruise ship transit the “Old Locks”.
• There were only 1520 passengers on this sailing so there were never any crowds which also made Embarkation and Disembarkation very quick & easy.
We originally booked a Fully Obstructed Ocean View Cabin(Category OZ) but we received a call from the Service Desk on Day 2 that we were upgraded to a Balcony Cabin (at no additional cost)! Our new Balcony Cabin (R704) was on deck 14. This was a very good location as we were close to the stairs and elevators with quick access to the Buffet. Fortunately, there wasn't any noise from the Buffet above. Our outside Balcony area wasn’t huge but had adequate seating area for 2 chairs (that reclined) and a small table. It was well shaded and the views from our top floor balcony were great.
Our cabin was set up with a queen bed which was very comfortable with night stands on each side. Our luggage fit easily under the bed. There was a desk/ vanity which also had storage. There were two 110V outlets on this desk and one other outlet on a high shelf above the refrigerator cupboard. The closet area had ample shelves and hangers for all of our clothes and shoes. The bathroom (with a shower) was well lit and had more than adequate storage for our needs.
The large flat screen TV had many entertainment options which included a wide variety of movies, TV channels, travel shows, music, recorded port talks & informative excursion lectures, ship location, and even video feed from the bridge camera. You could also use the TV to access the Medallion system to order room service, check your ship account, dining reservations.
We had pre-booked a “Best of Fuerte Amador / Panama Canal” excursion through Princess.
Miraflores Locks Observation Center: The Miraflores Locks are part of the engineering marvel that makes up the Panama Canal. The lock gates at Miraflores are the tallest of the three due to the extreme tidal variation that takes place in the Pacific Ocean. We were fortunate that another cruise ship, Oceania Marina was going through the Mira Flores locks at the exact time that we were there. Watching their transit through the locks was a real treat.
This excursion also included a walking tour through Casco Viejo (Spanish for Old Quarter) which is the oldest European settlement on the Pacific Ocean. This vibrant historic district and UNESCO World Heritage Site took us through a fascinating mix of architectural styles, each telling the tales of the country's storied past. The beautiful Spanish and French city with cobblestone streets lined with colorful art deco facades and studded with bohemian cafes, historic landmarks, graceful plazas and a bold mix of restored buildings side by side with ramshackle houses.
We had pre-booked Jungle Crocodile Safari Tour with a group organized through our Cruise Critic Roll Call. Our guide (Exon) was very informative and entertaining. This exciting tour took us through the Tárcoles river and we got up close views of Costa Rica’s apex predator the American Crocodile! It was an amazing experience for crocodile sighting as well as the unique wildlife found along the river. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Web Link: https://www.junglecrocodilesafari.com/
The Princess Whale-watching Excursions were sold out over 6 months before the cruise so we booked our tour (Eco Explorer Whale Watching) through Trip Advisor.
It was mating season in this region of the Pacific Ocean so we saw more whales than we had ever seen in all of our previous whale watching cruises combined! We even saw a whale breach while we were out which made the trip spectacular. Our Tour guide (Carlos) and our boat captain (Emilio) made this a super fun and informative trip! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Web Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g150793-d15885298-Whale_Encounter_Puerto_Vallarta-Puerto_Vallarta.html
DISEMBARKATION Los Angeles (San Pedro): Princess’s disembarkation process is similar to most other cruise lines, (instructions and luggage tags issued the night before with Luggage in the hall by 9). The main difference is that there were smaller groups of guests in the customs hall so we were able to find our luggage in under a minute. The Customs & Immigration officers in LA were very quick and efficient so we were through their process in under 5 minutes. We completed the entire process well before 9:30 am. We had pre-purchased transfers to LAX from the cruise terminal ($35) and made it to LAX by 11AM.