Zaandam Review

Panama Canal (and vow renewal!)

Review for the Panama Canal & Central America Cruise on Zaandam
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First Time Cruiser • Age 60s

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Sail Date: Jan 2024
Beds split gives a bigger feel
Cabin from the beds
Bridge of the Americas
the locks
Panama Canal
vow renewal
Sunset vow renewal set-up
vow renewal bed set-up

HAL does the Panama Canal very well. The day before the transit, there were presentations on the history and the building of canals in general, and the Panama Canal specifically. The day of transit, all ship schedules were adjusted for the transit. All deck areas were opened for people to view the locks, special foods (Panama Rolls, etc) were made and served on deck areas. The cruise director gave a 'play-by-play' during the passage - pointing out and explaining the many parts of the locks, countryside, etc. The other stops were also varied and interesting. The only problem was the stop in Cartagena, Colombia - there were three other ships in port - including one mega-ship, so, there were over 10,000 passengers overwhelming the tourist infrastructure - so, there were no taxis etc.

This was our first cruise in a porthole cabin on a lower deck, and we felt that it was quite nice with a good sized bathroom & a lot of storage. This ship was built in 1999, so there were a few things that we a problem - like, there was only ONE outlet in the room, and ONE outlet in the bathroom. DW uses a C-Pap machine to sleep; so, we asked for (and were given) an extension cord which was actually a power-strip with multiple outlets (so, we were able to easily charge our devices). I don't know if they actually checked that she used the C-Pap - - - so, I don't know if they would give you an extension cord if you just asked for one.

This was a smaller ship (1,400 passengers) so, boarding is much easier than on the huge ships. We have observed that most people want to board as soon as possible - I guess to hit the buffets & bars. We have found if we wait until the last hour - one pretty much much just walks on the ship. This cruise departed at 4:30 PM, with an "on board" time of 3:30 PM. Because we arrived the afternoon before (and spent the night in a hotel across the street from the terminal) - we asked the concierge to hold our bags, and we toured the USS Midway (aircraft carrier) that was a 10 to 15 minute walk from the terminal. After the tour and lunch, we got our bags and checked-in & boarded the ship at 2:50 PM. The check-in process (from walking into the gate with our bags - to walking into our cabin) was 14 minutes!

Cabin Review

Port Reviews

Cartagena (Colombia)

The problem was not the city or the elements of the town/country. The issue was that there were 3 other cruise ships docked - so there were 10,000 cruise tourists overwhelming the tourist infrastructure!

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