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Customer Reviews for The Canal Experience to Colon

The Canal Experience to Colon

Ride by bus to either the Gamboa Dredging Division Pier or the Cucaracha Pier inside the Panama Canal, and board a ferry that will transport you through the Panama Canal. You’ll pass through the Gaillard Cut—the most important and difficult part of the Panama Canal’s construction and home of legendary Continental Divide. Next you will enter the Pedro Miguel Locks and Miraflores Lake. On the far side of the lake you will find the Miraflores Locks—your passage to the Pacific Ocean. Watch for the Centennial and Americas Bridges and you will end your adventure at the Pacific port at the entrance to the Panama Canal. A motor coach will transport you back to the ship.
Average Customer Rating:
3.96 out of 5
4
 out of 
5
(50 Reviews) 48
Open Ratings Snapshot
Rating Snapshot (50 reviews)
5 stars
27
4 stars
8
3 stars
7
2 stars
2
1 star
6
39 out of 50(78%)reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.
Customer Reviews for The Canal Experience to Colon
Review 21 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Just Be Sure You Actually Want to See the Canal

Date:March 9, 2015
SCrower
Location:South Carolina
Cruise Date Year:2015
Cruise Date Month:February
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
First, let me start by saying I'm glad I did this excursion. I came on this cruise to see the Panama Canal and this excursion is really the only way to do a full transit. But, you have to be sure that you want to do that. It's a long day, it's hot, and there are a lot of grumpy people sitting on the ferry who are probably thinking that they should have saved their money. You start by taking the life boat to shore. It was very windy outside so this first segment was already kind of miserable. Then you go on a bus trip, which was not great either. The guide only gave information that he had read from McCullough's The Path Between the Seas. Well, I've read the book. The thing is, though, this guide gave his "impression" of the facts of the book--that is to say, he put his conservative political slant on things, which I certainly did not appreciate. FINALLY, you get on the ferry boat, which is adequate, but no picnic. The people who run it are very nice, but it's just a boat with chairs in rows. You really need to be outside to see, but it is crazy hot and if you are sensitive to heat, you'll need to go inside periodically. People got upset when others would stand up to take pictures, but the point is to see the workings of the canal, so you really have to stand up, walk around and get to the edge.
The good news is that you get a very good look each part of the canal, and you do, indeed, get to touch the sides of the locks.
If you are somewhat ambivalent about the canal, then consider your time on the ship--it might be enough. It's really great to go through the Gatun locks and you get a great view from the ship. It takes awhile so you get to see a lot. My sister stayed on board and had a great time. I talked to others who stayed on board and they agreed that the one lock, plus going around Gatun Lake was enough.
But, if you have dreamed about doing a full transit, then pay the bucks and do this. When I got back, people asked me if I had fun. No, I didn't have FUN, but it was informative and I'm glad I went. Would I do it a second time? NO. But, now I can say I have done a full transit of the Panama Canal--and I've seen it with my own eyes.
P.S. As far as the lunch goes, I found it mediocre, but who cares? It's not why I was on the trip. I was glad that they had plenty of free water available. (You don't need to buy it on the ship.) I drank probably 5 bottles that day.
P.P.S. The bus trip back was just as miserable. Our guide continued with his political banter. Most people slept.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
0points
0out of 0found this review helpful.
Review 22 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Gotta do it!!

Date:February 28, 2015
Martini
Location:Ottawa, Canada
Cruise Date Year:2015
Cruise Date Month:February
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Crossing Panama from the Atlantic to the Pacific has always been on our To Do list. It was a great experience. Our guide on the boat was fantastic. Knowledgable, friendly, and funny. Our guide on the bus really wanted to be somewhere else. She preferred to talk about Panama's political and economic situation, which would be OK if she would also point out the odd landmark or item of interest as we drove by it.
I am a rookie with Holland America and took my first 2 HAL Shore Excursions, this one, and one in Costa Rica. On both, with the exception of the Panama canal boat guide, the guides were well below what one should reasonably expect for the money paid.
Hopefully my 2 experiences are exceptions.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
0points
0out of 0found this review helpful.
Review 23 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

You should do this once in your life!

Date:February 13, 2015
GreatG
Location:Florida
Cruise Date Year:2015
Cruise Date Month:February
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
This is a long excursion, but very well-planned and very professionally done! we loved the bus ride through the country and the small boat was great. The guide on the small boat was super and gave us lots of good facts. Don't worry about time on the cruise. Enjoy this!
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
0points
0out of 0found this review helpful.
Review 24 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Long bus ride great boat trip

Date:December 20, 2014
mimkay
Location:Florida and Montana
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:December
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Our guide on the bus trip was very informative and gave us a good history of the area. On the ferry we also we given info on the history of the canal and the area, Quite interesting going thru the locks on a smaller vessel. We could even touch the wall of the locks and have a photo taken. Lunch was very filling and tasty. I would like to advise anyone with mobility problems that the ferry had three decks, no elevator, restrooms on deck one, food on deck two. All in all a wonderful way to experience the whole canal if you are doing only a partial crossing.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+6points
7out of 8found this review helpful.
Review 25 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Ferry boat not adequate

Date:December 9, 2014
Bigdog
Location:Missouri
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:October
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Value
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
The Ferry boat was not adequate for the number of people included on the excursion. What should have been a great day became a day of discomfort. Impossible to move around the boat. On a very hot day, many of the passengers were forced to spend time in the sun without shade.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+4points
4out of 4found this review helpful.
Review 26 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Up Close and Personal

Date:March 26, 2014
gophers5
Location:Dallas,Texas
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:March
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
I thought this was a highlight experience. Cruising thru the locks on a big ship, you barely see the locks from above. Taking the remaining locks thru to the Pacific on a ferry boat was entirely different experience. You see the huge gates in front of you--then they open up and close behind you. You share the lock with huge freighters which you see from a different perspective.
I totally recommend--you see the process from 2 perspectives, and you have then also made a full transit of the Panama Canal.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+9points
10out of 11found this review helpful.
Review 27 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Great experience

Date:February 17, 2014
Mackers
Location:Michigan
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:January
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
This excursion was a highlight of our cruise to the Panama Canal. This is not just another lock, but the Locks of the Panama Canal - a wonder to beholdl. !! It was up close and personal going thru on a ferry and was all we had hoped it to be and more. The guide on the ferry and our guide on the bus trip were excellent and very informative. I would highly recommend this.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+6points
6out of 6found this review helpful.
Review 28 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

This is a 10 star not 5

Date:April 8, 2013
pete68
Location:New York City N.Y.
Cruise Date Year:2013
Cruise Date Month:March
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
One of the greatest tours I have taken.The guide on the ferry was very informative. and the trip in the locks was special.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
-2points
4out of 10found this review helpful.
Review 29 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Amazing Canal

Date:April 7, 2013
inlove123
Location:Florida
Cruise Date Year:2013
Cruise Date Month:March
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
The cruise on the Panama Canal was amazing. I got to watch the locks open and close and felt the water rising below the boat. There was an excellent narrator discussing what we would see as we approached the locks and as we proceded through.
The bus ride was long but we got see some of the country and the lunch onboard was adequite.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
0points
3out of 6found this review helpful.
Review 30 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Amazing Day on the Panama Canal

Date:March 4, 2013
Travelersat81
Location:Western Kentucky
Cruise Date Year:2013
Cruise Date Month:February
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
We wern't going to take a tour in Panama (assuming entering and exiting Gatum locks would suffice) until we watched the promos for this Canal Tour.
One of the better tours we have taken when cruising. It was an interesting journey, especially when we entered the Pacific side of the canal and saw the amazing City of Panama. Enjoyed the locks and information shared along the way. Temperatures and long day left us a little exhausted, but we both were glad we made the tour of such an historic accomplishment.
A bucket list must!
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+4points
4out of 4found this review helpful.
Review 31 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Canal tour

Date:February 24, 2013
Alabama
Location:Huntsville, AL
Cruise Date Year:2013
Cruise Date Month:February
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Going through the Panama Canal to the Pacific was a must. The tour included a land tour and information concerning was was the American zone. The guide was very knowlegeable and interesting. The ferry provided excellent food for lunch and plenty of water, fruit juices, soft drinks free of charge. The crew was very diligent in making sure everyone had plenty of water to drink. The weather was hot but not excessively and there was adequate shade on board.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+2points
4out of 6found this review helpful.
Review 32 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

If you want to see the entire panama canal

Date:January 26, 2013
TM001
Location:USA
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:January
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
The bus ride (to the ferry and back from Panama City) was long, but not too tiring. If you get the chance, make sure you sit on the upper deck, but under the shade - when the sun comes out it is hot (even in January). Details and views you normally do not get from the ship, but you still have to like the ferry ride - sit back and enjoy the time. Our guide was great, and provided lots of details. (note January 2013...)
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+5points
5out of 5found this review helpful.
Review 33 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

The Best Way to Enjoy the Canal

Date:November 24, 2012
shipmannj
Location:NJ
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:November
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Having done a complete transit a few years ago on another line, I knew that to simply stop in Gatun Lake would not give a proper impression of the Canal for my travelling companion. We opted for this excursion and did not regret one moment of it. The guide, Miguel, was nothing short of amazing, giving far more information than the official Canal guide did previously. The bus to the ferry was very comfortable, well airconditioned and afforded fine views of the new lock building sites. The ferry itself was very comfortable, with plenty of seating and open space for viewing. Lunch was delightful and ample including unlimited soda or water. Panamanian beer was available for purchase at a very reasonable price. I don't know why the tour description goes to great lengths to describe it as "a very basic lunch." There is nothing basic about it. It should be noted that the ferry does not travel fast enough to generate a breeze, so on excessively hot, humid days, this may be a problem for some.
I guess all the stars and planets were in perfect alignment because we encountered no delays whatsoever in lockage, although they make it clear that delays are common. The bus back to the ship was problem free and even left substantial shopping time back at the dock. Overall, a wonderful experience and highly recommended.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+12points
12out of 12found this review helpful.
Review 34 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Wonderful experience!

Date:November 22, 2012
Decar
Location:Englewood, FL
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:November
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
We certainly did have a great time on this excursion. The ferry bathroom was clean, the food was actually better than I expected, the guide on the bus and the guide on the ferry were both knowledgable, friendly and did a very good job and the canal experience was wonderful! The bus trip back to Colon was great too because we got so see lots of the country besides just around the port. Yes, the trip was long, but you know going in that it is and that commercial ships have priority through the Canal, so it could take longer. Why someone would pick this cruise excursion that needs to take a nap is beyond me. The service on this excursion was better than what we experienced in the Vista dining room the first night of our cruise when it took 25 minutes to get our water refilled! The best part of this cruise was the shore excursions, not the time spent on the Zuiderdam which should have gone into dry dock before this cruise, not after it!
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+7points
7out of 7found this review helpful.
Review 35 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

GREAT

Date:March 24, 2012
Nonie
Location:Southern California
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:March
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
My husband and I thought this tour was outstanding and a wonderful way to see the Panama Canal for the first time.
The tour guides were very knowledgeable and answered each and every question.
Plenty of liquids to keep you comfortable as you view tug boats and green algae on the walls.
Panama City and the causeway were a wonderful ending.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
-2points
6out of 14found this review helpful.
Review 36 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Date:March 22, 2012
Fern
Location:Maryland
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:February
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Value
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
The tour was very interesting and informative, however, the lack of shaded area was a surprise to us. There are many older tourists that take advantage of this trip and we feel that there needs to be some consideration of what they need. I would recommend this tour but would warn anyone considering taking it that they need to be aware of the fact their ability to view the locks will be hampered if they cannot be out in the sun.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+5points
6out of 7found this review helpful.
Review 37 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Panama Canal, all the way through

Date:March 19, 2012
tshark
Location:Minnetonka, MN
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:March
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
I 100% agree with the March 15 review - in fact we are probably reviewing the same shore excursion. Our ferry guide implied that he knew about some of the changes that would make this a much longer day than advertised. It was hot, conditions were crowded and the restrooms sitiatuion had to be a health code violation. We enjoyed all other aspects of our HAL cruise but think the shore excursion folks need to re-visit this particular offering.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
-1point
2out of 5found this review helpful.
Review 38 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

CANAL EXPERIENCE

Date:March 18, 2012
rusty86
Location:LONG ISLAND, NY
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:February
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
Enjoyed it?
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Value
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS EXCURSION AT ALL. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A 7 HOUR TRIP BUT TURNED INTO AN 11 HOUR UNCOMFORTABLE DAY. WHAT HAPPENED WAS THAT A HUGE CARGO SHIP FOLLOWED US INTO EVERY LOCK IN THE CANAL WHICH TOOK EXTRA TIME IN EACH LOCK. NOT HAL'S FAULT BUT THIS TOUR SHOULD NOT BE OFFERED IF THIS CAN HAPPEN. THE SHIP HAD TO WAIT FOR US TO RETURN FROM THIS HORRENDOUS DAY. PEOPLE WERE HUNGRY AND TIRED AND MADE A MAD RUSH FOR FOOD AT 8 PM. GOING THROUGH THE FIRST 3 LOCKS IN THE MORNING ON THE SHIP WAS ALL I NEEDED TO SEE. I DIDN'T EXPERIENCE ANYTHING MORE EXCITING ON THE OLD, WORN OUT FERRY. TAKE A DIFFERENT EXCURSION WHILE IN PANAMA. WE DID RECEIVE A 25% REFUND AFTER I COMPLAINED TO THE SHORE EXCURSION DESK.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
0points
2out of 4found this review helpful.
Review 39 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Canal good...Experience poor!

Date:March 15, 2012
Bella10
Location:Ontario, Canada
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:March
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
Enjoyed it?
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Value
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Pros:
1. Mel great guide!
2. After a citizen threw a coconut thru a window on our bus, shattering a window and covering a passenger with glass, the replacement bus arrived within minutes. Also, the buses were comfortable, air conditioned and quite roomy.
3. Unlimited amount of water and pop for entire trip.
4. Experienced Panama Canal from start to finish earning a certificate of authenticity!
Cons:
1. Not enough seating for the number of participant guests, rsulting in passengers 'saving' and 'stealing' seats.
2. Signs in washrooms stated not to flush tissue, resulting in huge piles overflowing wastebaskets...hygiene highly questionable. It did not appear that the waste was emptied anytime during the day.
3. Not enough washrooms for number of passengers.
4. Door lock broken on main deck women's washroom.
5. Seats on back of boat broken; exposed nails and rotted wood under worn-out cushions.
6. Extremely hot with minimal shade cover...advance notice of boat condition; foreknowledge would have been very welcome, particularly for the elderly passengers on board. We may have still elected to participate and to 'rough it', highly unlikely though. At our ages, camping in tents is not our definition of comfortable travel and we expect the best when choosing a premium cruise line.
7. Questionable food of poor quality. Note: at end of trip, platters of meat and sandwiches remained on dining table.
8.. Tour began at 8:45 a.m. in Vista Lounge and ended at 8:00 p.m. as we re-boarded Zuiderdam.
9. Some unfriendly employees.
10. A forecast 7 to 8 hrs. morphed into 12 hrs.
11. The only seats we could find and keep were located at the back of the boat where the smell of diesel fuel was quite overwhelming at times. We all smelled of it when we returned to the Zuiderdam. Not healthy.
Beyond travelling through the locks and learning the history of the Panama Canal, we did not know what to expect of the trip. Knowing in advance that it could be as long as 8 hrs. did allow us to prepare to a certain degree. Based on the pristine, hygienic, up-to-date conditions on Holland America ships, that we have come to respect and admire, we believed the ferry would have been in much, much better condition. While HAL does not own "the Canal Experience", in our opinion, it remains responsible for the quality of the shore excursions. At the point where the tour operator said at 4:30 p.m. that we had approximately 3 more hours to go, my heart sank. Many of the passengers in my immediate vicinity were limp, wilted and exhaused and speaking for ourselves, we did not take in many details, historical or technical after that announcement. I was desperately relieved to finally see our Zuiderdam ship and to feel that we had finally returned home.
To see and witness the Panama Canal in such a personal way would score 4 starts, but to experience the agony of the accommodations reduces the rating to a 1. I made verbal complaints to our room steward, dining steward and hotel manager but not the shore excursion staff and have never submitted a review about anything before. However, I felt compelled to do so in this case. After recovery, I am very glad to have seen the Canal but would never participate in the ferry excursion again, nor would I recommend this to anyone for future cruises. Being extremly disappointed, I hold Holland America directly responsible for this horrific excursion. We don't usually partake in shore excursions and after this, it's doubtful that we ever will again.
I want to stress that we don't have anything negative to say about the Zuiderdam! I have told my family that our cruises continue to get better and better and that we will remain exclusive HAL fans. We love the suite amenities, the staff, the food, the pools, the art, etc. and can hardly wait to return.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
+11points
14out of 17found this review helpful.
Review 40 for The Canal Experience to Colon
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Good Experience - Long, Hot Day!

Date:February 29, 2012
lamh
Location:Ohio
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:February
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
Enjoyed it?
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Nice trip but it was extremely warm.
We left at 10 am and returned to ship at 6:30 pm due to traffic jam.
The experience of our cruise ship traveling through a lock was a sufficient experience. I would recommend another tour.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
-1point
1out of 3found this review helpful.
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