Cruising the Panama Canal in 10 Days

cruising the panama canal in 10 days

Can I see the entire Panama Canal on a 10-day cruise? The answer is Yes!

My husband and I left on January 14, 2016 for a 10-day Panama Canal Cruise on the Island Princess. This cruise was round trip from Fort Lauderdale, and it was our third time cruising through the Panama Canal.

Eight years earlier, we sailed from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles on a 14-day Panama Canal cruise. I wasn’t all that excited to go that first time—I thought it was a cruise only my husband would appreciate. Little did I realize how much I would enjoy it, too. Before our first cruise, my husband bought the book The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough and we both read it. The history behind the building of the canal is amazing; the financial issues, disease, failed attempts, and the relatively simple design that still works today! If you don’t have a chance to read the book (which is also for sale on the ship, though it sells quickly and costs a few bucks more), you will still learn a lot about the history and construction of the canal during the cruise. A historian speaks over the ship intercom during most of the 50-mile long transit.

By Thomas Römer/OpenStreetMap data, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19678675

The difference between the 10-day and the 14-day cruise is that you cruise through the entire canal on the 14-day—because the journey continues to either the west coast or Florida, depending on where you embarked. The 10-day (or partial transit) turns around in Gatun Lake, but you still have the opportunity to transit the entire canal by way of a Princess shore excursion. A full-day shore excursion is on a small ship limited to only 90 passengers, so it’s very important to book your cruise early and sign up for this excursion as soon as it’s open for booking. Although I haven’t taken the canal shore excursion, I talked to shipmates who have. Other than it being a long day, they loved it!

1 - entering the first set of locks from the atlantic
Entering the first set of locks from the Atlantic Ocean.
2 - going through the locks
Going through the locks.
3 - gatun lake ahead
Gatun Lake ahead.
4 - heading west toward the pacific ocean
Heading west toward the Pacific Ocean
5 - Calebra Cut on the left and the Millenium Bridge
Calebra Cut on the left, and the Millennium Bridge.
6 - Passing under the Millenium Bridge heading west toward the pacific
Passing under the Millennium Bridge, heading west toward the Pacific Ocean.
7 - bridge of the americas entering the pacific ocean
The Bridge of the Americas– the entrance to the Pacific Ocean.

Ready to cross the Panama Canal off your bucket list? Join us for an 11-night cruise adventure along the engineering wonder that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Along the way, Caribbean, South and Central American ports offer a wide array of cultures and sites. Find the tour brochure and additional details here!

Sandals Emerald Bay – Great Exuma Island, Bahamas

We did not have the opportunity to stay the evening at this resort, but we viewed many of the rooms, restaurants, common areas and entertainment areas. This is a great resort/destination for golfers, divers, honeymooners and for people who want a quiet, laid-back atmosphere. The overall look is classy, with a very elegant beach theme throughout.

Luxury features:
Sandals Emerald Bay is the world’s first all butler-serviced luxury included resort.
They offer a Greg Norman-designed championship golf course with 6 Oceanside holes.
24-hour room service
Sits on a mile of powdery white-sand beach with a view of Emerald Bay, which is some of the most beautiful turquoise water we have ever seen.
17-spa treatment rooms.
Caribbean’s largest zero-entry pool with a central fire pit.

Accommodations:
There are 22 room categories to choose from at this resort, ranging from a standard hotel room to a two-story, one-bedroom beachfront suite. We were fortunate enough to view many room choices and we are happy to discuss them with you to find the right fit for your vacation.

Dining:
There are 6 options for dining at the resort, with influences ranging from Italy, France, U.K. and the Caribbean. We sampled options from a lunch buffet and thoroughly enjoyed all the high-end presentations and tastes.

Entertainment and Activities:
We met one of the entertainment coordinators for the resort and, as we were walking around the resort with her, she was addressing guests by their first name. It was nice to see the personal connection and to see that the guests were obviously engaging in the resort activities and entertainment. Their offered dance lessons, golf and tennis lessons, live music, jazz performances, Appleton Reserve rum-tasting classes, bocce ball, volleyball, and snorkeling.

Photo Courtesy of Sandals Resorts.

Beaches Turks and Caicos

Beaches Turks and Caicos – Grace Bay, Providenciales
Accommodations: We were fortunate enough to spend 2 evenings here and to be assigned a Piazza Pool Front Walkout Family Suite with Separate Kids Room, in the Italian Village, which is the newest section of this complex. The room was very spacious and comfortable with a king size bed, large overstuffed sofa/trundle bed and a separate bedroom with bunk beds and a trundle that pulled from that. The décor was very rich looking, with a classy Caribbean feel.
There are 3 sections to this resort. The Caribbean Village, which is 11 years old, the French Village, which is 9 years old and the Italian Village, which is 2 years old. I liked each area for different reasons.
We viewed several different room categories in each section of the entire complex, which we would be happy to discuss with clients to find the right fit for their family.
The French Village offered an intimate, quiet feel. I think that this area would be nice for honeymoon couples, even though it is a family-friendly resort, as it is tucked away from most of the family activities. A drawback to the French Village is the balcony. Rooms on the ground level have a walkout patio. The 2nd floors and higher offer a French balcony, with a sliding glass door to the outside, but no room to sit or stand.
The Caribbean Village is older in style, more of a motor inn look, but spread out. I liked this area because the common areas were lively and the foliage was very mature and beautiful.
The Italian Village is more of a high rise complex but flows nicely with the rest of the complex. It is very rich looking with poolside cabanas, richly decorated rooms, and classy common areas.
Dining: There are over 16 specialty dining options, which is sure to satisfy any guest. In our short time at the resort, we were able to experience The Cricketer’s Pub, Mario’s Italian Restaurant for a buffet style lunch, Sushi Bar and Le Petit Chateau. We thoroughly enjoyed each dining experience. Everything was perfect from the professional, friendly staff to the perfectly presented entrees.
We did not experience the food at the following restaurants but thought they were very unique to the resort. Bobby D’s, which is a 50’s style diner, that we thought children would love, as they serve ice cream, hot dogs, and burgers all day long and at certain times during the day they made cotton candy. Also, Café de Paris, which offers an assortment of French pastries, but they had a cupcake bar where children could frost their own cupcakes to eat.
Entertainment and daily activities: I cannot imagine that any guest visiting this resort would ever run out of things to do. There is a 7000sq ft retail village, X-Box Games Garage, participate in activities with Sesame Street characters, Pirate Island water park with 9 slides, lazy river, surf simulator and water cannons. There are also options for volleyball, soccer, tennis, pool tables, board games, kayaking, windsurfing, aqua trikes and snorkeling. The 12 miles of Grace Bay Beach is enough to keep you occupied all day long with walking.

Photo by Britt Reints

Beaches Turks and Caicos – Grace Bay, Providenciales

Accommodations: We were fortunate enough to spend two evenings here and to be assigned a Piazza Pool Front Walkout Family Suite with Separate Kids’ Room, in the Italian Village, which is the newest section of this complex. The room was very spacious and comfortable with a king-size bed, large overstuffed sofa/trundle bed and a separate bedroom with bunk beds and a trundle that pulled from that. The décor was very rich looking, with a classy Caribbean feel.

There are 3 sections to this resort. The Caribbean Village (11 years old), the French Village (9 years old) and the Italian Village (2 years old). I liked each area for different reasons. We viewed several different room categories in each section of the entire complex, which we would be happy to discuss with clients to find the right fit for their family.

The French Village offered an intimate, quiet feel. I think that this area would be nice for honeymoon couples, even though it is a family-friendly resort, as it is tucked away from most of the family activities. A drawback to the French Village is the balcony. Rooms on the ground level have a walkout patio. The 2nd floors and higher offer a French balcony, with a sliding glass door to the outside, but with no room to sit or stand.

The Caribbean Village is older in style, more of a motor-inn look, but spread out. I liked this area because the common areas were lively and the foliage was very mature and beautiful.
The Italian Village is more of a high-rise complex but flows nicely with the rest of the complex. It is very rich looking with poolside cabanas, richly decorated rooms, and classy common areas.

Dining: There are more than 16 specialty dining options, which is sure to satisfy any guest. In our short time at the resort, we were able to experience The Cricketer’s Pub, Mario’s Italian Restaurant (for a buffet-style lunch), Sushi Bar and Le Petit Chateau. We thoroughly enjoyed each dining experience. Everything was perfect—from the professional, friendly staff to the perfectly presented entrees.
We did not experience the food at the following restaurants but felt they were unique to the resort.
• Bobby D’s, a 50s-style diner that children will love, as they serve ice cream, hot dogs, and burgers all day long and, at certain times of the day, cotton candy.
• Café de Paris, which offers an assortment of French pastries, but also have a cupcake bar where children can frost their own cupcakes to eat.

Entertainment and daily activities: I cannot imagine that any guest visiting this resort would ever run out of things to do. There is a 7000 square-foot retail village; X-Box Games Garage; participation in activities with Sesame Street characters; Pirate Island water park with 9 slides, lazy river, surf simulator and water cannons. There are also options for volleyball, soccer, tennis, pool, board games, kayaking, windsurfing, aqua trikes and snorkeling. The 12 miles of Grace Bay Beach is enough to keep you occupied all day long with walking.

Photo by Britt Reints

Cabo San Lucas

This FAM was sponsored and escorted by MLT (Delta) Vacations. There were 22 agents from across the country that participated in this site-intensive FAM focusing on their luxury products.

Cabo San Lucas is basically an extension of the State of California into Mexico on the Baja Peninsula. Los Cabos is basically comprised of three distinct areas: Cabo San Lucas, The Corridor and San Jose del Cabo. Although most of the resorts in Cabo sit directly on the water and have beautiful beaches, few of them offer swimmable beaches. Cabo is also one of the safest destinations in Mexico with a nearly non-existent crime rates!

The city of Cabo San Lucas boasts large hotels on almost every available piece of land. The city is very walkable and restuarants, bars and shops curve around the entire perimeter of the Cabo San Lucas Harbor. Most of the hotels in this area are “non-inclusive” resorts.

The Corridor is where you will find most of the glamorous and ritzy hotels! Developers are deliberately keeping this area very high-end and private. Most resorts are guard-gated, luxury developments and have amazing views of the Sea of Cortez.

San Jose del Cabo is closest to the airport and also has the most authentic feel. Here you will find a downtown area that is quaint and appealing. Just outside the city is the hotel zone where you will find the hotels, resorts (both all-inclusive and non-inclusive), and time-share properties.