Panama Canal Questions


DIS Veteran
Jan 21, 2009
Got this bee in my bonnet that I need to do a Panama canal cruise. DS will be finishing up elementary school and once he gets older I won't want to take him out. As it is, he'll miss almost 10 days if we do this, but I know the school, teachers and administration well, and I truly believe he'll learn more and have more memories of a cruise than 2 weeks of school so that's really not one of my concerns. (He's smart and will be able to catch up anything he missed).

So, tell me about the trip. Is it as amazing as I'm thinking it is?
How are the seas? (We've done North Atlantic and down the East coast with a storm coming so I think we'll be fine, but best to be prepared)?
I'll have an 11 year old. I've heard there's fewer kids on the ship, but few enough to make it less fun for him? My guess is he'll still want to spend time in the club/lab but might like to check out the older club, too.
Looks like it's about half sea days. I can't imagine being bored, but did you feel like you were ready to be back on dry land?

Any one want to talk me into or out of this trip? Is it the trip of a lifetime? Any other advice would be awesome! Thanks!


Earning My Ears
Mar 14, 2018
It is a gorgeous trip, I did one west bound a few years ago, and will be on the East bound in November of 2020. Yes there are allot of sea days, but no, the only reason you will be bored is because you are not looking at the navigator. There is a pilot from the Canal on board giving lectures on the history of the canal. Classes like origami, napkin folding, dancing, and other fun lectures on various topics that pop up. It was by far the best cruise I have done yet. True their are less kids but that can be just as good as it sounds bad. with fewer kids activities seem to be better managed as the CM's have less kids to watch and manage. The kids pools will be significantly less crowded.

As for the waters they seemed calm to me. I saw so much more wildlife on that cruise than I had ever seen. You can't beat spotting a large alligator swimming alongside the ship while going through the canal. I would recommend this cruise as the price per night is unbeatable for the experience you will get to have.


Dec 11, 2008
There is a lot to see and learn on a PC cruise for sure.
We sailed it this past February, Captain Puckett is onboard the entire cruise, he was a PC pilot for many years and does daily lecture about the canal. He knows his stuff!
He also will meet with the kids and help them to write reports about cruising through the canal.
  • Cruising Engineer

    DIS Veteran
    Apr 18, 2018
    We did the EBPC several years ago and I still remember how exciting everyday had in-store.

    Great learning opportunity for your DS. As you prepare for the cruise, History: read books about the original canal then find news stories about the newest addition and why it was an improvement over the original system (energy, water savings, engineering design, size of the container ships, etc.). Geography: great subject for your DS, location, distance from Pacific ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. Math: distance, speed, time. Writing: start a journal and record the day's activities. A wealth of knowledge can come out of a family cruise.


    Earning My Ears
    Jun 16, 2017
    We have done WBPC twice - 2017 and 2019. Highly recommend it!! We love the longer cruises and the extra sea days. There are a ton of things to do and we never felt bored. On our cruise earlier this year, I think they said there were 300 (or less) children so it's quite noticeable compared to other itineraries. We did experience some rougher seas this year (on the way to Cartagena if I am remembering correctly). It was the only day I had to take some dramamine to be safe. On our 2017 cruise, I remember the last evening before we arrived in San Diego to be a little rough as well.


    Apr 26, 2013
    We also did the WBPC in 2017 and 2019, there's always things to do on board, as has been suggested get the navigator (you have to request it to be delivered to your stateroom daily now, or you can use the Navigator App on your phone. The wonderful thing I've heard from parent of kids (we're childless) is that with the reduced number of kids on board the cast members have a more intimate one on one opportunity to really give your kids a spectacular voyage. Typically the ship full can hold 2700 passengers per itinerary, on the WBPC's however due to it being a 2 week cruise there are usually about 300-400 kids on board instead of the usual 1300-1400 kids. LITERALLY 1000 or so less children. These longer cruise definitely cater to the adults, retired crowd, but by no means will the kids be ignored or have less fun! The Westcoast leg of the trip (Panama Canal to Puerto Vallarta) is the longest stretch of sea days but it can offer opportunities to relax and just enjoy sailing, getting to know your fellow passengers and really explore the beauty of the Wonder. Hope you do decide to book it and enjoy!!!


    DIS Veteran
    Jun 23, 2011
    Another happy PC cruise, here! We did the WBPC cruise in 2017 when our son was in 8th grade and our daughter was in 1st. They both had a great time in their respective clubs, even with less kids. I think the fact that there are fewer kids and that the cruise is 14 days allows for stronger friendships to form. Our son still plays video games online with friends he met on our WBPC. We have only taken 7 days or longer cruises, and were really looking forward to 14 days to do more things that we have not been able to take advantage of yet while on board. Even with 14 days, mostly sea days, we were still not able to do all the things we wanted to. We have loved all of our cruises with Disney, but the relaxation of 14 days on the Wonder with fewer people and fewer ports does make this a very special experience. With our son starting high school the following year we felt that we would not be able to experience a PC cruise for a long time. Our son decided to switch to online school last year, so we booked the 2020 WBPC cruise on opening day, and we are so excited to experience 14 more magical days in March. We just took a European cruise last month that was fantastic, but much more port intensive and only 7 days. I kept thinking of how much I was looking forward to and going to enjoy our 14 day cruise in only eight months. Do it, you both will be so happy you did!
  • jrabbit

    DIS Veteran
    Jun 13, 2002
    Another two times PC cruiser (saying that always makes me SMILE!!). Both times through the old locks.

    This first time was simply amazing, and the second PC cruise was even better (go figure).

    Instead of 400 kids in your child's age group, there will probably be less than 200. If your child likes the clubs they will not want to leave. With fewer children onboard the kids pools will be less crowded as will the clubs. So more personal attention from the staff (I don't think that they downsize for the PC cruise - since two weeks later they would have to Upsize again).

    There are plenty of activities outside of the clubs for both families and adults. It does seem to me that during a short stretch after the canal transit there were fewer activities (maybe ones that i was interested in), but then in the last few days, they really crammed the schedule again.

    Words of advice for the adults in the group on the PC cruise. The ship will NOT run out of food so pace yourself from the beginning of the cruise - you can NOT eat it ALL!! And make sure to take some time to exercise - either in the gym or walking several miles each day on deck 4. And if you have the opportunity to take a nap -- take that opportunity (like when there are not any activities that interest you for a few hours). Take the time to chat with the crew ... you will be spending 2 weeks with them AND maybe participate in some activities where you have a chance to interact with other adults (like trivia you suck at - join up with some others that don't know this stuff either and have a good laugh together ... its always nice to have a genuine moment throughout the cruise with someone outside of your group that you run into while moving around the ship (can I make this sentence any longer confused3:.

    The top deck of the ship has amazing view while going through the locks, but Deck 4 is not to be missed either. You are closer to the action and actually get a better perspective of the work it takes to move ships through the locks - size and scale. Position yourself near the doors so you can easily get to the other side of the ship if necessary. The other advantage of deck 4 - whether its blasted hot or raining buckets ... you can be somewhat out of the direct sun or rain since deck 4 is covered. :umbrella:

    The cruise staff does a great job of keeping the Adults engaged and entertained for two weeks as does the youth workers for the under 18 crowd.

    Like you stated in your original post - your child will learn more during this two week cruise than they will in class (and that's even if they never leave the kids clubs). And you are planning this at an age where its easier for them to miss out on school. Later on it is NOT the school work that the issue, its the sports, drama, music and other activities (mostly sports) that will put a crimp in taking them out of class from middle school on up.


    Former WDTC Guy
    Sep 29, 2007
    We were on the 2018 West Bound. We enjoyed it. Took our kids out of school. They send us letters about being gone. I just throw them away. We travel like this often.

    We loved all the ports. So much fun.


    DIS Veteran
    Oct 21, 2008
    It's a must do!!! Did the Winder inaugural across the Panama. 200 kids on board and many doing homework. Lots of educational experiences to be had for kids and adults. Was on a group page with others on the same cruise. One mother started a school group where a bunch of kids did a few hours at a set time in one of the bar areas during the day for school work. We did Atlantic to Pacific and I did get sick on the Pacific side. Too rocky for me.


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