Panama Canal American Cruising Tips

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Panama Canal American Cruising Tips


Having just returned from a cruise which included transiting the Panama Canal, I thought it might be helpful for other people considering a cruise to jot down some useful Panama Canal American Cruising Tips gleaned from our adventure

It felt as though we had been on another planet.  We visited Cartagena in Colombia – a Unesco World Heritage site:  Colon in Panama which is the city serving the canal, not very pretty.

Panama Canal American Cruising Tips

The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is an education both in engineering terms as well as being a journey through a rain forest environment.

Our cruise took us to Costa Rica next, which is a nature lover’s paradise; In Guatemala we went to Antigua which is a medieval town uninhabited from 1732 when it closed due to a combination of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes: Stunning architecture and in recent times people have returned to live there amongst the ruins.

ruins in the caribbean


Then we on to two resorts in Mexico. Puerto Valetta and Cabo San Lucas. Both of these towns bring you back into the real world.

Our cruise finally ended in San Diego, one of the most interesting cities we have visited in the United States. A park developed for 1915 world fair dominates with beautiful building and parklands and is also home to their world famous Zoo.

Panama Canal American Cruising Tips - San Diego

San-Diego by night

Panama Canal American Cruising Tips

A few do’s and don’ts of American cruising. The three H’s are worth remembering – Happy, Healthy and Hydrated.


  • Research all the ports of call. Trips organised by the ship’s excursions department can be very expensive. Look on National Geographic for information about the locations. Many private companies run tours and trips. Just remember the ship won’t wait for you if you are late back to the port unless you are on a ship excursion.
  • Look at for useful customer feedback as well as trip advisor.
  • Tip your cabin steward on arrival. It will pay dividends We got a kettle and constant supply of tea and fresh milk. Not a given on American ships.
  • Take time on day one to find your way round the ship, maybe agreeing on an I’m lost meeting area.
  • Consulate your daily ship’s newsletter which is a mine of information about on board activities, provides restaurant opening times as well as who is appearing at the ship’s theatre that evening. Often an edited version of English news is produced daily.
  • Check how many formal nights and pack accordingly. The days of dicky bows seem to be disappearing. A suit and open neck button down shirt seem more suited to modern cruising, glittery top and smart trousers for women is acceptable.
  • Be especially polite to all that serve you, they love it and will often go the extra mile for you.
  • Check out the drinks packages and purchase what works for you. It will save a lot of hassle on the ship when you don’t have to keep signing for everything (and adding 18% to your bill for service if on an American ship). The cocktails are great!


  • Put a towel on a lounger to early on a Sea day, as it will be taken off!
  • Rely on the ship’s laundry it’s really expensive. Take some travel wash liquid to rinse a few things out.
  • Book fixed dining. We enjoyed the freedom of dining when we were ready. Sat with different groups every day and got to know different people.
  • Be careful about booking internet packages. These are expensive and do not always work at Sea.


Enjoy the whole being looked after experience. It is a real chance to relax.  If you want to be active there is a gym and usually a walking track. If you want to be lazy and not join in anything, that’s easy to do

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