We chose this cruise because 4 of the 6 people in our group had never seen the Panama Canal. The itinerary wasn't all that great but the canal was the highlight of the trip. The first stop was Falmouth, Jamaica. Nothing much to report here since we had all been to Jamaica before so got off walked around and back on again. Next stop was Cartagena, had never been here so booked a hop on hop off tour from the ship. Got on the bus at the pier, went a short way and then they told us that the people who were going to take a 90 minute walking tour would stay on the bus, the rest of us had to get off and get back on another bus to continue our tour. The tour has 14 stops and we were informed at each one that the next bus would be by in 30 to 35 minutes. So if you got off and did some things you may miss that bus and wait another 30 or 35 minutes for the next one. So since none of the stops were that interesting on one ever got off the bus and we just had a long ride. When we were nearing the port the bus stopped and we had to all get of and wait for another bus to go to the port and then we waited some more until another bus tour got there so their passengers could get on our bus back to the pier. The bus then took us back to a big parking lot (not near the pier) and dropped us all off and said there would be free shuttles back to the pier. So a lot of shuttles came and went but they were not for us and finally a few came by and they took us to the ship. So that was a wasted 40.00 tour and I would not recommend it to anyone...very disorganized.
The Panama Canal was the next day..we entered the locks at about 6:30 AM, so if you want to see that part, get up early and eat later. If you want to get up to the front of the ship for the best view you have to go outside on deck 7 (Promenade) and walk forward until you get to the stairs, go up the stairs to deck 8 and walk to the front of the ship...you cam do this from either side of the ship. You will have to be early since a few other people figured this out but there was plenty of room for those who were there. You will get a great view of all 3 locks, watch the gates slide back to let the ship enter the lock and then fill with water as you rise up. I think you rise 80 feet or so total in the 3 locks and then you go out into Gatun Lake and cruise around for awhile and the do it all again. If you want to watch from the back of the ship, go to deck 15, walk all the way thru the the buffet and out onto the deck where there are some tables and chairs, but you can get to the rail at the very rear of the ship and watch from there. You can take a tour from the ship which uses the lifeboats from the ship to shuttle you to shore and then go on the tour...we did not do that so cannot comment on that tour. Those people who do that get back on the ship after it has gone back thru the locks and is docked at Colon. You will not have time to get off in Colon if you did not take that tour even though they said you may have an hour or so to get off and back on when we got there...there just is not enough time to get off and back on again.
After another day at sea we got to Limon, Costa Rica and got off and found a small van that for 20.00 each took all 6 of us all over the place, thru all the city streets, out into the country side, even included a river tour to see monkees, sloths, alligators. He took us to the edge of a banana plantation and explained all how that was done, he spoke very good english and could answer any questions you had so it was a fun time. I think the entire tour was like 4 1/2 hours..you just have to find someone at the pier and negotiate a price. Don't sign up with the first group of guys waiting right when you get off the ship.