EB Panama Canal - Nov. 2020 - what Port Excursions are recommended

JaimeInParker

Earning My Ears
Joined
May 26, 2014
My wife and I are taking this cruise 11/2020 and are wondering what ports and port excursions are good to visit versus passing on ? We have taken lots of Western Caribbean and the Barcelona/Italy cruise - but this will be the 1st time for us to do this one and visit alot of new ports for us ? Any recommendation/comments/suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
 

Cruising Engineer

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 18, 2018
Cartagena was the only port we went on an excursion. Nothing great to report. Took a bus through the city. The driver's high point was pointing out the hotel the secret service were caught not paying the hookers. Bus drove up the steep hillsides to a church overlooking the port. Drove back down and dropped us off in town where the tour guide took us to every tourist junk shop. Pouring rain the entire day. Been there, bought a t-shirt, check that one off the list.
We went on the cruise to see the operation of the old locks and the construction of the new ones. This cruise is not about the land excursions but the time on the ship.
 
  • KVH

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 18, 2016
    OK. One of the first things to remember is that the list on the planning site represents all possible shore-ex but not all entries may be available on a given cruise. Pick more than one per port and prioritize. Unless you are Platinum (and sometimes even if you are), some of the events can fill up fast. Secondarily, pick at least one day and stay on the boat in port. It's a great experience, moreso at some ports than others (dependent on port popularity), especially at the pools.

    Also important. YMMV. What you like is a very personal thing to you and not all shore-ex appeals to all types. They are definitely not all created equal. More $$ does not always mean a better experience. And if you are really into shopping, pay attention to the shopping lectures. I really can't recommend anythings associated with Diamonds International but they'll have other info per port that will allow you to plan a little on the fly if you want to spend money.

    Cabo - We're too early for whale watching. Salsa & Salsa is VERY popular and fills up fast. There are several dolphin and beach adventures but remember this is the Pacific in November and the water will be pretty cool. I've talked to friends who've done the inland trips (canyons and camels) and they've had lots of fun. DW and I use Cabo for our our shopping. There are lots of place right on the water and one block back that allows us to kill some time and get in a good walk.

    PV - Unless you really want some Clamato juice or a Bimbo cake from Walmart, don't go there. Amend-maybe if you need adult beverages. Depending on which dock we use, it can be a walk (and it's just a silly Walmart). Again, dolphins are a big thing. And there's usually a couple other wildlife-style adventures. Warning: You may be VERY unhappy with some of the conditions for the animals at these locations (see existing trip reports). But the 4x4 adventure is fun. And those with kids really like the pirate cruise. However, I will say something unpopular on this board. PV is where we have collected more bad experience stories than most other ports. There's a reason the State Dept lists Jalisco as a Level 3 warning.

    Cartagena - I honestly don't have too much info on this. Every time we have hit here, it's been bloomin' hot with humidity to match. Pool time. Maybe November this time will be cooler. Have heard the fortress tour is a good one if you feel like recreating Romancing the Stone. For any of the guided tours, be prepared for a lot of real hard sell pitches.

    Georgetown - Water. Clear water. Some of the best snorkeling around. Lots of dolphin and stingray stuff. No real shopping in walking distance. Altho there is a Burger King and a Subway close<G>. But not much else (at least close to the tender dock). Most of the close beach area is for water-based businesses (snorkeling, diving, sub). Don't blink or you'll miss the fort.

    Cozumel - Good swimming/beach adventures. We definitely like the shopping here, very walkable. The dune buggies are gone but they have a 4x4/snorkeling thing that's fun. Dolphins again (meh). Not a real fan of the water parks like Xel-Ha (I was very unhappy with the soldiers in camo with automatic weapons in the underbrush guarding the parking lot our last trip there).
     

    ironz

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 2, 2003
    Well, one of these days I'm actually going to write our trip report from the 2019 WBPC.

    That said, and these are what we did, not necessarily what would be the most popular, just how our ports were and what was good/not great.

    Grand Cayman-- we didn't make decisions very early what to do and at the last minute were going to go snorkeling, booked through DCL on board. However, when we got off the ship, the guide said there was, quite a bit of jellyfish that day (which is not necessarily the case every day), so we had the option to cancel. We weren't interested in a stingray excursion (I've done that already, and find it totally cool, but DH is not a fan). So we ended up on a small tour bus that we hired at the port area, hitting a few highlights: Hell, a rum cake store, a quick look at the dolphin experience area, and a beach (that we could have stayed at and hired a taxi back, but we just decided to get back to the ship). It was so-so, and I wouldn't specifically recommend it, but we got to see a bit of Grand Cayman with the benefit of air conditioning.
    If we ever go back there, I might be interested in the turtle center.
    Also, I did enjoy snorkeling with stingrays on a trip years ago-- my brother had booked that independently, and we were out in the water (about 10-15 feet deep) snorkeling around them, not in the shallows where I think a lot of the stingray experiences take place.

    Cartagena-- we did a tour via Dora of Cartagena, booked independently. Had a great time seeing city highlights. Yes, they give you a little shopping time, and the street vendors are plenty, but we enjoyed our tour guide and were happy to see around this city, which has some pretty and charming areas and lovely architecture.

    Panama Canal was, of course, the highlight of the trip. We were up on deck almost all day, except for a nap mid afternoon (when we were not in the locks).

    Puerto Vallarta-- We booked the Las Caletas excursion through Disney and really, really enjoyed it. Food and beverages provided, went snorkeling, took a cooking class, and relaxed in a waterfront hammock.

    Cabo-- whales were there this time of year, so we went on a whale watching boat (booked independently of DCL). We only saw a couple of whales, but the boat ride in and of itself was quite relaxing, with food and beverages provided. I wasn't in charge of booking it, so I forget what company it was, but they were very professional and it was a good excursion.
     

    ohMom

    Kids Get Arthritis Too!
    Moderator
    Joined
    Oct 8, 2001
    we did a food tour in PV with https://vallartafoodtours.com/. we did the original downtown tour. We did have to skip the last stop, but the nice pace of the tour was preferred over rushing. We are on EBPC 2020 with you! I will probably look into another tour with this company

    we did the Sail Luxury day in Cabo and enjoyed that

    Cartagena — we did a tour with Dora, it was hot, crowded and hard to hear. I think this time we will just get off the boat, explore and pick up some coffee beans to take home

    Agree that this itinerary is all about sea days and the Canal day too
     
  • JaimeInParker

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 26, 2014
    folks - thank you for the details - my wife and I definitely love the AT SEA DAYS but we also like getting off and exploring - lots of great points
     

    tutumomickey

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 18, 2016
    We will be on that cruise, too. It will be our 9th PC on the Wonder. We go scuba diving in every port except Cartagena where we are not in port long enough. If you have not been to Columbia, I would recommend one of the city tours. I found the fort and the monastery fascinating historically but the poverty everywhere very depressing. Now, we just visit the port aviary and get a cup of Juan Valdez coffee. Hope to see you on the ship in only 16 months. And yes, the jellyfish were everywhere this last cruise in Gran Cayman. It felt like the seen from Finding Nemo!
     

    BCV23

    <br><img src="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/i
    DIS Lifetime Sponsor
    Joined
    Feb 11, 2002
    We'll be on that cruise, too. Can't wait!
     

    JaimeInParker

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 26, 2014
    OK. One of the first things to remember is that the list on the planning site represents all possible shore-ex but not all entries may be available on a given cruise. Pick more than one per port and prioritize. Unless you are Platinum (and sometimes even if you are), some of the events can fill up fast. Secondarily, pick at least one day and stay on the boat in port. It's a great experience, moreso at some ports than others (dependent on port popularity), especially at the pools.

    Also important. YMMV. What you like is a very personal thing to you and not all shore-ex appeals to all types. They are definitely not all created equal. More $$ does not always mean a better experience. And if you are really into shopping, pay attention to the shopping lectures. I really can't recommend anythings associated with Diamonds International but they'll have other info per port that will allow you to plan a little on the fly if you want to spend money.

    Cabo - We're too early for whale watching. Salsa & Salsa is VERY popular and fills up fast. There are several dolphin and beach adventures but remember this is the Pacific in November and the water will be pretty cool. I've talked to friends who've done the inland trips (canyons and camels) and they've had lots of fun. DW and I use Cabo for our our shopping. There are lots of place right on the water and one block back that allows us to kill some time and get in a good walk.

    PV - Unless you really want some Clamato juice or a Bimbo cake from Walmart, don't go there. Amend-maybe if you need adult beverages. Depending on which dock we use, it can be a walk (and it's just a silly Walmart). Again, dolphins are a big thing. And there's usually a couple other wildlife-style adventures. Warning: You may be VERY unhappy with some of the conditions for the animals at these locations (see existing trip reports). But the 4x4 adventure is fun. And those with kids really like the pirate cruise. However, I will say something unpopular on this board. PV is where we have collected more bad experience stories than most other ports. There's a reason the State Dept lists Jalisco as a Level 3 warning.

    Cartagena - I honestly don't have too much info on this. Every time we have hit here, it's been bloomin' hot with humidity to match. Pool time. Maybe November this time will be cooler. Have heard the fortress tour is a good one if you feel like recreating Romancing the Stone. For any of the guided tours, be prepared for a lot of real hard sell pitches.

    Georgetown - Water. Clear water. Some of the best snorkeling around. Lots of dolphin and stingray stuff. No real shopping in walking distance. Altho there is a Burger King and a Subway close<G>. But not much else (at least close to the tender dock). Most of the close beach area is for water-based businesses (snorkeling, diving, sub). Don't blink or you'll miss the fort.

    Cozumel - Good swimming/beach adventures. We definitely like the shopping here, very walkable. The dune buggies are gone but they have a 4x4/snorkeling thing that's fun. Dolphins again (meh). Not a real fan of the water parks like Xel-Ha (I was very unhappy with the soldiers in camo with automatic weapons in the underbrush guarding the parking lot our last trip there).
    Thank you for all the detailed information - can't wait to get it started
     
  • lorimay

    Celebrating 32 Ears
    Joined
    Dec 11, 2008
    Grand Cayman we did White house beach excursion, it was nice. We have been to Cayman several times and usually stay onboard, but since there were so many sea days we decided to get off the ship for a little while. I prefer staying onboard.

    Cartagena we did a tour booked through Disney, it was hot and crowded with very pushy vendors. My husband enjoyed the Juan Valdez coffee

    Puerta Villarta we did Hotel beach break, I believe it was the Hyatt Ziva, loved it we had a nice umbrella, beautiful beach and a nice lunch drinks included, good excursion.

    Cabo we went on the Luxury sail boat excursion, that was top notch all the way. Also booked through Disney.
     

    luv2cruisedisney

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 18, 2009
    Puerto Vallarta-- We booked the Las Caletas excursion through Disney and really, really enjoyed it. Food and beverages provided, went snorkeling, took a cooking class, and relaxed in a waterfront hammock.
    Totally second this !!!! By far THE BEST excursion we have ever done :3dglasses
     

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