HAL Panama Canal Transit November 2016

Veendam Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America

Cruises: 4-6 cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 27

Overall rating:

4 out of 5
Verified Review

15 Night Panama Canal Eastbound (San Diego To Ft. Lauderdale)

Sail date: November 05, 2016

Ship: Veendam

Cabin type: Inside

Cabin number: 589

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 5 years ago

Review summary

The Panama Canal transit was the highlight of this trip, it is an amazing experience to be able to see for yourself a wonderful piece of engineering built over 100 years ago - unbelievable.  The ports of call were well thought out along that part of the Pacific Coast and there were quite a number of sea days which is enjoyable and relaxing.  The shore excursions on this particular cruise are quite cultural so anyone just wanting glitzy shops etc. to visit on shore will be disappointed, this cruise is all about seeing and experiencing parts of Central America that are not the 'usual touristy' places; there are hawkers, as there are in all ports of call elsewhere in the world,  just trying to make a living but a polite refusal is usually enough to deter them. A fantastic trip and an experience of a lifetime - definitely one to tick off your 'bucket list'.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
The food on board is of a very good quality and choices to suit every diet possible. The Lido Buffet restaurant is open for most of the day only closing for an hour or so between breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tea, coffee and iced water is available at all times in the Lido Buffet Restaurant

Onboard Activities

5 out of 5
A well varied programme of onboard activities is available every day, even on days in port.


5 out of 5
Excellent entertainment in the Showroom at Sea. HAL's own singers and dancers were awesom, and the guest acts were of the same high standard.

Children's Programs

Not applicable

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
The staff are very friendly and accommodating. Our stateroom attendant was excellent.

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
The Veendam is looking a little tired in places but it is very clean, comfortable and is easy to navigate yourself around the ship as it is not a giant of a ship

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
I prefer a cabin in the very centre of the ship and selected 589 as that was precisely where it was. There was some inclement weather in the Pacific Ocean whereby very strong winds had the ship rolling (access to outdoor deck areas was forbidden on a couple of days due to these strong winds) but in cabin 589 I didn't experience any problem with this and slept through all night. The cabin was very clean, quite spacious, plenty of storage space, very comfortable bed, spacious bathroom for a cruise ship which was well fitted.

Ship tip

The Veendam is a little tired in places, but it is one of the smaller HAL ships, so is suitable for the Panama Canal transit. But everywhere is clean; the furniture in communal areas is of decent quality, the sunloungers are of a good quality. Don't expect glitz and glamour but it is comfortable

Ports of call

San Diego, California

5 out of 5
Take the old trolley bus town tour, great to see San Diego and get on and off where you like. The old historic town is a good place to go, and Seaport Village is nice with lovely little shops and eateries

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

5 out of 5
Do-it-yourself visit to centre of Puerto Vallarta, from dock by taxi - nice walk along the Malacon (boardwalk) in the town and then get on a local bus back - get off at Walmart which is opposite the dock - an experience

Huatulco, Mexico

5 out of 5
Ship docks right next to a beautiful sandby beach where you swim. Buy a drink at the cafe right on the beach and you get a free sunbed on the beach and free wifi

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

5 out of 5
Can recommend shore excursion to Antigua, very old town a couple of thousand feet above sea level but be prepared for hawkers

Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua

5 out of 5
A short walk from ship to the town which is very poor so be prepared, but the people were very friendly, and take a ride on the bike carts which are used to transport tourists round $1 each!

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica

5 out of 5
Take a shore excursion here as it is quite a run down place. We visited the Central Valley where all the coffee plantations are and the scenery changes to one that is very lush and green -coffee plantation tour was very interesting. Also visited village where the vibrantly decorated oxcarts are made

Enter Panama Canal At Balboa

5 out of 5
If making the full transit from Pacific to Caribbean or vice versa, make sure you get up early to experience the entry before you arrive at Miraflores Locks - amazing

Exit Panama Canal At Cristobal

5 out of 5
Best vantage points are on the promenade deck and the rear of the ship to watch the final Gatun Lock close and experiencing the lowering of the ship - unbelievable

Cartagena, Colombia

5 out of 5
Get a taxi into the Old Town (a UNESCO world heritage site) takes about 15 minutes for $15-$20, and explore yourself - much better than organised tour (they take you to a emerald factory!!)

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (Private Island)

5 out of 5
Lovely island for a relaxing end to a wonderful trip - beautiful beach, free sunloungers, clear turqoise water where we spotted angel fish, stingrays, needle fish and others; water sports, miniature train ride - great
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