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What I Did on My Two Week Cruise Through the Panama Canal

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.


Details of my activities on the Coral Princess cruise ship on a 2 week cruise!

I have just returned from a two-week cruise vacation through the Panama Canal with the Princess Cruise line.

We left on April 6th from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and ended up two weeks later in Los Angeles, California on April 20. So many people that I know tell me they can't imagine spending two weeks on a cruise ship. They look at me wide-eyed and ask if I was bored. I tell them I was not bored for even one moment.

Here's a list of what I did during the cruise and as you can see, I was quite busy, and enjoyed every minute of my cruise experience:

  • Attended a sail away party on the top deck of the cruise ship as it sailed out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
  • Visited the cruise port of Oranjestad in Aruba where I walked around town and shopped in local stores and took pictures of the unique architecture.
  • Visited Cartegena, Columbia where I took an excursion to the naval museum inside the old city, saw local men and women perform traditional Columbian dances, and also shopped for gifts and souvenirs in a local craft center.
  • Attended a Champagne Waterfall Party complete with free champagne and hors-d'oeuvres.
  • Spent 9 hours crossing through the Panama Canal from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Enjoyed watching the ship go through each of the locks and onto Gatun Lake, and took many pictures. I am not an engineer and have more of a creative mind than an engineering mind, BUT I really enjoyed watching the process of the ship going through the locks.
  • Visited Panama City, Panama and took a cruise excursion which included a visit to the Gatun Locks to watch a ship pass through the locks there, and also an Eco jungle cruise on Gatun Lake, one of the largest man-made lakes in the world.
  • Visited Costa Rica where I took a train ride through the countryside view how native Costa Ricans live, as well as taking another Eco - cruise through a mangrove swamp on a local river. Also shopped local crafts created by various vendors along the coastline.
  • Ate fresh watermelon and pineapple in Costa Rica.
  • Saw the following types of wildlife: three different families of Howler monkeys, two crocodiles, two sloths, eight bats sleeping on a log, four mud crabs, pelicans, blue herons, four different dolphin pods who followed the ship and jumped over the waves created as the ship passed by.
  • Saw the following six movies: "Parental Guidance," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Midnight in Paris," "Anna Karenina," "This Means War," "Letters to Juliet."
  • Went to three lectures on the Panama Canal, Aruba, and Columbia.
  • Saw two documentaries about the making of the Panama Canal.
  • Read the books, "The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage," " Fifty Shades Freed," and The Self-Publishing Manual." The last book convinced me not to self-publish!
  • Completed nine crossword puzzles.
  • Wrote two articles for online publication.
  • Wrote and published six blog entries for my blog.
  • Attended four Broadway-style musical productions.
  • Went to see two different comedians in three different shows.
  • Went to an illusionist show.
  • Went to a classical music concert.
  • Played television trivia with other cruise passengers.
  • Shopped at a cruise sale where all items were 15% off and bought an amazing travel bag.
  • Entered a daily contest and won a Princess Cruises flashlight key chain.
  • Worked out ten times on a treadmill in the ship's gym, walking 14.75 miles.
  • Burned 1,301 calories on the treadmill.
  • Participated in an, " On Deck for the Cure Walk for Breast Cancer."
  • Played ring toss over champagne bottles game. (Unfortunately, I did not win!)
  • Played a seventies music trivia game with other passengers.
  • Went dancing with my husband.
  • Ate 5-star meals nine nights in the cruise ship dining room.
  • Ate a dinner at a 5-star Italian restaurant.
  • Attended a party where I met the ship's captain and crew and had free drinks and snacks!
  • Swam in the ship's pool multiple times.
  • Used the ship's hot tub with my husband.
  • Soaked up some sun by the ship pool five times

And I had a very relaxing, educational and enjoyable vacation! Cruising is my very favorite way to take a vacation. On a cruise, I have no worries about directions, renting a car, finding places to stay, or moving from place to place and unpacking and repacking more than once.Do you enjoy cruising? Have you ever been on a cruise?

I have included a video below of what it's like to cruise through the Panama Canal, but if you would like to see a video of the Coral Princess cruise ship, watc

To get the most out of a Panama Canal cruise, it is helpful to read up on what to expect. You can do this by reading reviews on Cruise Critic dot com, or by purchasing a book similar to the one below which helped us plan our Panama Canal cruise.

This book can help you plan your own Panama Canal cruise:

The back deck of the cruise ship in Aruba. This was my favorite place to read and spend time with God.

The back deck of the cruise ship in Aruba. This was my favorite place to read and spend time with God.

Watching traditional dancers in Cartegena, Columbia

Watching traditional dancers in Cartegena, Columbia

The locks of Gatun, entering the Panama Canal.

The locks of Gatun, entering the Panama Canal.

Relaxing on our stateroom balcony as we passed through the Panama Canal.

Relaxing on our stateroom balcony as we passed through the Panama Canal.

Howler monkeys in trees above the train.

Howler monkeys in trees above the train.

Eco cruise boat on the mangrove swamp of the river.

Eco cruise boat on the mangrove swamp of the river.

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Crocodile in Costa Rica on the eco cruise.

Crocodile in Costa Rica on the eco cruise.

The pool, hot tub, and "under the stars " movie screen that provided me with much entertainment and relaxation during the cruise!

The pool, hot tub, and "under the stars " movie screen that provided me with much entertainment and relaxation during the cruise!

Interested in seeing what it's like to go through the Panama Canal? Watch the video below!

Cruise Activity Poll

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© 2013 Karen Hellier


Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on August 27, 2013:


Yes, it was a blast. Some people have a problem with being on a ship for more than a few days so rather than take advantage of all the ship has to offer, they sit around and complain about wanting to get off the ship!!! LOL! Thanks for dropping by!

Melissa Propp from Minnesota on August 27, 2013:

I don't know how anyone could claim they were bored on a two-week cruise! That sounds like an absolute blast!!

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on April 29, 2013:


Yes, that does seem strange to be stationed in Panama during the Vietnam war. he must have been SO hot. It was unbearably hot down there. I don't know how the men that built the canal survived that heat. Cruising is the best type of vacation in my opinion. Thanks for the comment about the pictures. I LOVE the camera...I need to send a big shout out to my husband who got it for me specifically for hubs. I had another digital camera but I was taking awful pics with it. They were quite blurry and I don't know if it was me or the camera. But this Coolpix one is great. Thanks for commenting!

Mary Craig from New York on April 29, 2013:

Welcome home and thanks for the great cruise-travel-hub! My husband was stationed in Panama during the Viet Nam War, I know strange, so we have talked about this cruise but....

I love cruising (only been once) but this one sounds great and I love, love your pictures. The colors are amazing!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on April 29, 2013:


Glad you liked the pictures and the hub. The whole experience was much more educational than I thought. There was plenty to do at the ports, and as you can see plenty to do on the ship on sea days as well. I hope you can take this trip some day. It was wonderful. And thank you for the comment on the pictures. I think good pictures add so much to a hub!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on April 28, 2013:

Very informative hub and thanks for sharing the vacation report with us. It sound great tour with the cruise through the Panama Canal. I hope I can take this tour one day. My friend, the photos you included are the best. Thanks for sharing with us. Up and useful :-)


Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on April 28, 2013:


Well, thanks so much for your insightful comment. I am glad you enjoyed reading this hub. Thanks for the compliments.

Vickiw on April 28, 2013:

I enjoyed reading about your experiences, and it sounds absolutely idyllic. It is always lovely when someone embraces the activities in their surroundings like this. Great and very descriptive Hub!

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on April 28, 2013:

Mike Roberts,

Thanks for the nice comment about the photos. My husband bought me a camera last year specifically so I could take pictures for my hubs and I have really taken off with it. It's a Nikkon Coolpix 3300 and I love it.

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on April 28, 2013:


Thanks on the prize I won. It was silly but fun to win anyway. Yes, the wildlife part was what I was most looking forward to but when I actually did get to the canal, watching the ship cross through each of the 3 sets of locks was really interesting as well. Thanks for reading.

wetnosedogs from Alabama on April 27, 2013:

Congratulations on winning the Princess Cruises flashlight key chain!

It would have been so neat to see the bats. Oh, the wildlife part would have been terrific.

Glad to hear you had a great, enjoyable time.

Mike Robbers from London on April 27, 2013:

Thanks for having shared with all of us some bits of the wonderful time you must have had! Amazing photos, by the way! Voted up and awesome :)

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on April 27, 2013:


Yes, I am glad you got the point about getting your money's worth on a cruise. I don't think people who haven't cruised understand all the choices of activities that the cruise lines offer. There was so much more to do than what I did as well. New hub coming soon on that! Thanks for reading and its nice to be back. I missed Hub Pages while I was away but the cost to get on the internet on a cruise ship, and the time it takes to actually log on, due to satellite usage deterred me from publishing anything. But I did write it and save it for when I got back...and here we are... voila!

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on April 27, 2013:


So well put...thanks for your comment and for reading.

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on April 27, 2013:

My Cook Book,

I am glad you liked this hub. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on April 27, 2013:


Glad you enjoyed the hub and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I don't like to be bored, and I once heard that people that are bored easily are boring people themselves. So maybe the people that think they will be bored...? I don't know but there are so many activities to choose from on a cruise ship that being bored doesn't seem like an issue. There are lots more activities to choose from than the ones I did...but that's a subject for another hub!

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on April 27, 2013:

Talk about being an overachiever, Karen! Wow! You did more in two weeks than most of us do in a month! Good for you! This was an inspirational hub in its own right and underscores for me that people can really get their money's worth by traveling via sea cruise. Thanks for sharing, my friend! And welcome back! Aloha!


Martin Kloess from San Francisco on April 26, 2013:

Sounds like you were busy having a good time. Thank you for sharing

Dil Vil from India on April 26, 2013:

Excellent hub and was well written. I like you hub on Cruise Vacation Through the Panama Canal. Thank you for the share!

point2make on April 26, 2013:

Wow!!! now that's the way to spend two weeks on a cruise ship. With all that you did during your cruise one week wouldn't have been enough time. I, too, have wondered what I would do on a two week cruise. You have helped provide me with the answer. Great hub...enjoyed it voted up.

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