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Welcome to FreshCruiser.com

Enjoy all the tips, news, insight, and advice on luxury family travel that highlights fun, active, and healthy vacations. Explore how to make the most out of your family vacation without sacrificing luxury.

FreshCruiser.com opens readers’ eyes to new adventures and calms any fears of traveling with children. With a special focus on family cruising, the website includes tips to staying active, eating well, and taking advantage of all the opportunities while on a family vacation.

Tuesday
Sep172013

Best vacation songs of all time

As I sit here in non-vacation mode day dreaming about being on vacation, I often dream about sitting on my verandah looking out over the sea, fully relaxed with a my favorite drink, listening to some of my favorite music. Which then leads me to this, what IS in fact the very best music to listen to while on a cruise? What should I load my playlist up with before heading out?

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jul082013

Experts of the Port: The Maritime Pilot

Ever wonder about that little speed boat that pulls along your ship as you enter and depart the port?  Most of us who have been on a number of cruises know that this is the Pilot Boat which delivers and retrieves the pilot from the ship.  But, who needs a pilot anyways?

It wasn’t until I was on a cruise ship which called on Flam, Norway when my curiosity sparked surrounding the pilot.  There we were, slowly gliding through the mirrored waters between the massive and impressive fjords leading into Flam as suddenly, out of the tranquil landscape, approached the small pilot boat as if it were out of a movie.  As is normally the case, all the passengers on deck leaned over the railings to watch the pilot jump on-board.

Celebrity Century cruising into the port of Flam, Norway

Sometimes, the sea is like glass, as was the case in Flam, other times it is a far riskier boarding maneuver as the seas don’t always seem to cooperate.  One exciting time was while we were departing the beautiful and picturesque port of Cartagena, Colombia.  As we exited the port flanked by impressive forts on either side, we noticed the wind and waves really kick up. 

Exiting the port of Cartagena, Colombia

Sure enough, at that same time, we saw the pilot boat approaching to retrieve the pilot.  It’s amazing how much a little boat like that can bounce around in the swell.  Our enormous ship then took a wide turn towards port to shield the smaller pilot boat from the weather.  In doing so, the sea flattened and the pilot was then able to hop right off and head home.  Even though many of us have seen it a number of times, it’s always amazing to see the process unfold.  As conditions are never constant, it’s always fascinating to see how the two ships work in harmony.

Pilot boarding the cruise ship

Each time a ship enters and departs port, the pilot plays a vital role in the success of the journey.  While the ship’s captain has tremendous abilities and training pertaining to navigation and the function of their ship, their knowledge of specific ports cannot be compared to the port’s pilot.  The pilot is truly an expert of their home port.  They must know and memorize in great detail all of the unique features of their particular port such as water depths, tides, currents, and hazards just to name a few.  In fact, a pilot can essentially re-create an entire navigational chart for their port all from memory!  Many characteristics of an individual port must be learned over time by experience as they cannot be properly communicated by chart or book.   A ship’s staff cannot possibly acquire the enormous wealth of knowledge that a pilot has on any particular port making the role of the pilot essential.  Since pilots have so much responsibility over the lives of so many people along the enormous sum of money these vessels and their goods represent, becoming a pilot is a highly competitive process.  As a result, pilots are generally very handsomely compensated as salaries are generally well into the six figures.

Celebrity Century leaving Alesund, Norway

When I first pictured the role of a ship pilot, I imagined they boarded the ship and immediately took over the controls as an airline pilot would do.  However, in most cases, the pilot functions as an advisory role leaving the Captain of the ship with full command and responsibility over their vessel.  The crew of the ship and the pilot work in tandem to successfully navigate through the narrow, congested, and sometimes hazardous conditions that often exist at port.  On a side note, I later found out during my Panama Canal cruise that the only time that pilot actually takes control over a vessel is during the crossing of the Panama Canal.

Pilot boat leaving after picking up the pilot from the cruise ship

As in most business ventures, the primary goal is to make a profit.  Unfortunately, this profit goal is not always in harmony with safety.  Cruise and commercial shipping companies are often in a race against the clock as there is incentive to get in and out of port as quickly as possible.  By utilizing a pilot, this potential conflict of interest is immediately eliminated as the pilot, unlike the ship’s captain, is a public employee who does not report to the ship’s owner.  Safety becomes the one and only priority.  With countless ships entering and exiting ports on a daily basis around the world, it is not by luck that we rarely hear of incidents at port.

Freshcruiser Tip: Each time you leave a port, I hope you do what I do now and take a second to think about all the great and competent individuals who have dedicated their lives to ensure your safety each port at a time.

Monday
May062013

My Experiences: Cruising while pregnant

In my previous blog post, I announced that I was pregnant during my last cruise.  My husband and I went on a 15 day Panama Canal Cruise on board Celebrity Millennium. Being able to spend two weeks of my pregnancy on the ship was an amazing experience. I wanted to share my experiences as I’ve been on many cruises before but this was my first while pregnant.

I was at the end of my 1st trimester and I was still suffering from what I referred to as “all day sickness”; therefore, many of my experiences relate to this point of my pregnancy. If we would have went a few weeks later when I was feeling back to my normal self, I think my experience would have been more similar to other cruises (minus alcohol) that I’ve been on. However, my husband and I slightly adapted each day to how I was feeling.

Cabin

I really enjoyed relaxing and playing games on the veranda on this trip. Normally, I like to be where all the action is happening and enjoy people watching, but on this trip, it was nice to take pleasure in the comforts of the cabin.

Veranda on board the Celebrity Millennium

As part of the Aqua Class cabin amenities, there is a pillow menu featuring a wide variety of pillows.  There was even an option for a long pillow which is perfect for helping pregnant women get comfortable when trying to sleep.

The crew members who knew that I were expecting was extremely accommodating. One of my favorite memories was the time I left our stateroom for the fitness room one morning.  The stateroom steward was out in the hall and said, “Don’t push yourself too much and be careful.”  He then preceded to hand me a bottle of water.  I couldn’t help but smile as the feeling of being cared for was a really nice.

Food

A few days into the sailing, I was slowly getting my appetite back. I ate small meals about every two hours, which was extremely easy to do on a cruise ship compared to being at home. I could take a little bit of an item from the buffet and if I didn’t like it, I was able to get up and try something different. It was easy to avoid the particular tastes and flavors that weren’t appealing to me.  

We ate at Blu, Aqua Class guests’ only dining room, every night. I told the Maitre that I wasn’t feeling well and that food wasn’t very appealing to me. The first night at dinner I ordered a baked potato and nothing else.  He offered to show me the menu for the next day each night. That way, I could see if there was something I felt like or needed adjustments made with all the eating rules that come with being pregnant.  

Throughout the cruise I definitely started feeling better and there were plenty of options throughout the ship so I could always find something I felt like eating.

Ship Events

At every event where they offered free welcome drink, which included embarkation, Galley tour, Captain’s welcome, Captain’s Club events, and other activities, there was never a non-alcoholic beverage offered.

 

Champagne and mimosas offered as part of the Ship's Galley Tour

I would have loved a sparkling juice or club soda with a little bit of juice.  It would have great to be able to be festive along with the other cruisers but time after time, I had to decline.

Fitness Room

As usual, my favorite time to be in the fitness room is when we’re pulling into a port.

I liked starting my days by going to the fitness room or walking around the deck. I brought a heart rate monitor to check my heart rate during physical activity to make sure it didn’t spike over 150, as my Doctor suggested.  The views were beautiful as I walked on the treadmill or rode the stationary bike.

Fitness Room on board Celebrity Millennium

What I enjoyed

I really enjoyed the flexibility of being on a cruise.  I liked the itinerary as there were a lot of days at sea along with many ports that I had never visited.

Watercolor Class

It was fun to try new things such as the watercolor painting class we took. The waiters were never pushy with the drinks, which I greatly appreciated. 

Excursion to Antigua, Guatemala

There were a few excursions that I wanted to do but weren’t advised to do while pregnant.  At first, this was a little upsetting for me, but in the end, it was a great way to do something different and explore other options. For the excursions that we had in mind, we would wait until the night before to book them or until morning to figure out our plan around the town to see how I was feeling.

Most of all, I enjoyed spending the time with my husband.  The quality time of two weeks away, just the two of us was wonderful in every way and I’m so glad we took the time to do it. With all the excitement from family and friends about our new addition, I loved getting away just the two of us to talk and have fun thinking about the exciting future that was ahead.

Click here to read my Tips for staying healthy when cruising while pregnant.

FreshCruiser Tip: Don't be afraid to ask if there's something you need.  The crew is there to make sure you are happy.

Tuesday
Mar122013

BabyMoon: Tips for staying healthy when cruising while pregnant

It’s official! I’m expecting my first child this spring. I am already dreaming about all the fun my child will have while cruising. Going on a cruise is the perfect “Baby Moon” trip to go on with your husband or partner. 

A cruise really allows for great quality time and lets you spend your day how you want. When planning the cruise, it’s neat to think about it being the last time it will be just the two of you! I spent pregnancy weeks 14 and 15 on board the Celebrity Millennium.  I enjoyed the experience and wanted to share some of my tips and experiences with other mothers-to-be.

When to Go on a BabyMoon Cruise

If you’re trying to figure out a time to go on a cruise during your pregnancy, I would pick a date a few weeks into your second trimester, at or around 4 months.  If you’ve been suffering from “morning” or in my case, “all-day” sickness, it’s better to wait for a time when chances are, you’ll be feeling a lot better.   Our trip was already planned before I found out I was pregnant.  The timing worked out well as while on the ship I finished the first trimester and feeling a lot better.  

Celebrity Solstice

Every cruise line has a different policy for pregnant women. Generally you can take a cruise until you’re 23 or 24 weeks pregnant. Vacationstogo.com offers a list of the policies for each cruise line. Click here to check out the restrictions.

Top healthy tips for traveling while pregnant

Below are my tips for staying healthy on a cruise while pregnant.   Before you book a cruise, it’s important to check with your doctor first and discuss your concerns and questions.

Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate
Drink lots of water. I would always grab a water as we walked through the buffet. 

 

Since the weather was very hot, it was even more important to make sure I wasn’t getting dehydrated.   On days at port, we made sure we had water with us at all times.

Wash your hands
This is a tip that everyone should follow on a cruise ship but even more important for a mom-to-be to prevent sickness.

Eat what you feel like eating
Morning sickness?  One of my favorite parts of cruising while pregnant was the buffet.

It allowed me to have tastes of different items and then go back for more of the one that I liked the best. With food readily available on a cruise, try having multiple smaller meals throughout the day to help with morning sickness, heartburn, or nausea.  


Be active

Before leaving on the cruise, I bought a heart rate monitor to check my heart rate during physical activity as my doctor told me to keep my heart rate below 150. (Check with your Doctor before starting any workout routine or physical activity).

Walking 15-30 minutes a day around the cruise ship track is a perfect way to get exercise, which is important for you and your baby. I enjoyed starting my days with a long walk, either on the treadmill or around the track.

Watch your step
Depending on how many weeks along you are when you’re cruising, you are adding a lot of extra weight to your body and you’re not as stable as it used to be. Make sure you have a good center of gravity before stepping and watch out for notoriously slippery areas like the pool deck.

Know what you’re eating
With pregnancy comes a long list of do’s and don’ts. It’s important for you to make those decisions however, knowledge is power. When it comes to food, if you’re curious about a particular item, make sure to ask for more information. 

I had to say good-bye to sushi and tuna tartar but luckily there were so many other items to pick from that I didn’t miss them as much as I thought I would.


Be Prepared

I know it may sound crazy to pack food to bring on the cruise but, I would definitely recommend bringing granola bars or crackers with you on board the ship.  In the mornings, I always had crackers next to my bed and it helped with my morning sickness.  In addition, you want snacks to have while at port or on an excursion to hold you over until lunch or dinner.

Take a break from being adventurous

Now is not the time to be adventurous with activities or food.  While at port, stay away from street vendors and stick to eating on the ship or at a hotel which allows you to try the local food but typically has a higher standard of food quality and preparation.  When looking for an excursion, read carefully any restrictions for pregnant woman. 

I definitely wanted to go zip lining in Costa Rica but instead we planned a really fun day exploring the Monte Verde Rain Forest. I really enjoyed Costa Rica and can’t wait to take my child there. We’ll go zip lining together!

Why go on a Cruise for your Baby Moon

There are a lot of great reasons to go on a cruise for your Baby Moon.  The ability to have whatever food you feel like at your fingertips is a dream for any pregnant woman.  The accessibility of the buffet throughout the day and all-inclusive food is a real plus.  

Casino on the Celebrity Solstice

With strict non-smoking policies on most cruise ships now, it was a relief to that I didn’t have to worry about walking through clouds of smoke. In addition, I could enjoy the casino without breathing in the smoky air.

Whether we were at a show or at the casino at night, when I was tired, I loved being able to just take the elevator to my room and be in bed within minutes.  I didn’t have to worry about a drive home, a long walk to the hotel, or waiting for a cab while on a land vacation.

Towel Creation from on board the Carnival Paradise

I really enjoyed the quality time with my husband. We’ve been on so many cruises together but this one felt different. We didn’t run around to every activity like we have in the past; but instead, we played games and hung out just the two of us. This was such a memorable cruise that will always have a special place in my heart.  

Cruises are a great place for pregnant women.  When cruising, make sure to follow my tips above as exercise and eating well are important aspects for a healthy mom and baby.  

Stay tuned for more details about my Baby-Moon Cruise experience!

FreshCruiser Tip:  Don’t forget to check out the kid’s club on the ship for fun, won’t be long till your little one is there!

Thursday
Jan242013

Dance like a Norwegian! Get Fit with Zumba® Fitness Classes on board Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Epic

Norwegian Cruise Line recently announced that it will add Zumba Fitness to its ships beginning this spring in a phased roll out to the entire fleet. There will be a variety of Zumba® classes on each cruise and the most popular ones will be offered at no charge.  Whether you work out regularly or not at all, Zumba® classes are for all fitness levels. You simply follow the instructor’s dance fitness moves to the upbeat music while working on your fitness and burning calories. According to LIVESTRONG.com article, Zumba Workout Benefits, you can burn 400 to 600 calories per hour.

“We are excited to bring Zumba Fitness onboard our ships and offer guests not just a new way to work out, but an exhilarating and easy-to-follow dance fitness-party,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line CEO.

Norwegian Cruise Line follows Princess Cruises and Celebrity Cruises which previously announced Zumba as part of their on board activities. Princess Cruises first introduced complimentary Zumba classes on their ships in December 2010 and were fleet-wide by the end of 2011. [Read my previous post on Zumba at Sea.]

Celebrity Cruises started scheduling Zumba classes on board its transatlantic voyages as part of their Celebrity Life’s special fitness programming and recently expanded the classes to its entire fleet.

I definitely recommend trying a Zumba® class when cruising on one of the cruise lines. Some cruise lines hold the classes outside, that way you can enjoy the sea air rather than being in a gym. It also makes it a lot easier to try it if you’re intimidated to walk in to the ship’s fitness room. Be careful: You may have so much fun that you decide to continue going classes when you get back home!

Read Norwegian Cruise Line's full announcement here.

Freshcruiser TIP: Give it a try and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to stay for the whole class.

Wednesday
Jan092013

Review of Celebrity Cruises' Bistro on Five Restaurant

Bistro on Five on the Celebrity Millennium

Bistro on Five is a restaurant located on the majority of Celebrity Cruises’ fleet offering made-to-order crepes, paninis, soups, and salads. Celebrity Cruises describes the Bistro on Five restaurants “to be casual enough for a solo breakfast with the day's news, and stylish enough to drop in after the theatre for a dessert crêpe and a glass of wine.”   

The open kitchen allows you to watch the chef create your crepe.

After 13 days on a previous Celebrity cruise in the Mediterranean, I never managed to eat there. I was conflicted as the food was really delicious throughout the ship and therefore, I had a difficult time justifying the $5 per person service charge.  However, I was determined to try it on the recent 15-day Panama Cruise on the Celebrity Millennium.  Bistro on Five is a new addition to the ship, part of the ship’s renovation that took place in May 2012. 

I found a hidden gem.  It’s centrally located on all the ships; however, during the times I walked, by I often found only a few people eating there.

I think it’s the perfect spot to go in the morning if you want a more relaxed meal before an excursion rather than the hustle and bustle of the buffet or perhaps for a leisurely brunch on a day at sea.  Bistro on Five’s hours is meant to fit into anyone’s schedule as it opens at six o'clock in the morning and stays open until late.  After sleeping in, a leisurely brunch was exactly what I felt like before exploring the port area in Colon, Panama.

Menu & Food Overview

Celebrity Cruises defines Bistro on Five’s menu as “a modern twist on traditional crêpes with a wide variety of creative fillings and toppings.” The menu features crepes, paninis, soups, salads, and desserts. Click here for the detailed menu. All crepes are made fresh to order and since it’s an open kitchen, you can walk up and watch the chef making your crepe.

Italian Dessert Crepe

Crepes I tasted:

  • Designed-my-own Breakfast Crepe with Scrambled Eggs, Tomato, Spinach, and Bacon with Breakfast Potatoes
  • Buffalo Crepe with Marinated Grilled Chicken with Shredded Lettuce and Blue Cheese
  • Cowboy Crepe with Grilled Flank Steak, Spinach, Caramelized Onion, Bacon, Provolone and Blue Cheese Dressing
  • Italian Crepe (Dessert) with Nutella, Banana and Pistachios

Breakfast Crepe

My favorite was the Breakfast Crepe as it included all of my most loved breakfast foods in a crepe. It was a nice change from my usual morning omelete. The combination of items in the Cowboy Crepe really worked well together and I found it very savory. 

Don’t forget to leave room for dessert. The Italian Crepe, which includes bananas and nutella, is my all-time favorite crepe combination that I get whenever I'm in Paris. The addition of the pistachios added a nice crunch to the sweet crepe. There is no limit to how much you may order so definitely explore different types of crepes and paninis.

Service

In the Celebrity Millennium the service was spectacular. It really felt that the staff had pride in the restaurant and wanted to make sure we had a pleasant experience.  All of our questions were answered and special requests completed with ease.  A couple next to us couldn’t decide on what dessert crepe to order so the chef made them two smaller portions so they could try both!

French Dessert Crepe

A little encouragement

My sister was sailing on the Celebrity Solstice while I was on the Celebrity Millennium.  I sent her an email later that day from the ship to tell her to find time to try Bistro on Five, even if it was for a snack.  She ended up eating there twice during her cruise!

Chicken Panini Shredded Lettuce, Diced Tomato, Spicy Chicken and Cheddar Cheese

She really enjoyed the Paninis. Her least favorite item was the French Dessert crepe with Grand Marnier and Candied Orange.  She’s more of a chocolate-lover so and that crepe wasn’t for her but she wanted to give it a try.

Final Thoughts

I would definitely eat there on a future Celebrity cruise. I'm looking forward to branching out and trying some of their soup, salad, and panini selections. I secretly hope that it remains an insider secret (shh!) as I really enjoyed the quiet atmosphere compared to other dining options.

In addition, there were great views for looking out to sea as well as a good spot for people watching with its central location on the ship. If you’re going on a longer voyage, Bistro on Five gives you a break from the daily buffets and a chance to try new foods.

Available On Celebrity Constellation®, Celebrity Summit®, Celebrity Infinity®, Celebrity Millennium®, Celebrity Solstice®, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Eclipse®, Celebrity Silhouette, Celebrity Reflection.

The cost is an additional $5 per person and no reservation is needed.

FreshCruiser Tip: For $5, it’s a great escape on a sea day when you want to get away from the crowded buffet. It offers unique food that you won’t find anywhere else on the ship.

Tuesday
Dec182012

Cruise Port Review: Cartagena, Colombia

Walled City

Throughout my Panama Canal cruise, I was really looking forward to the stop in Cartagena, Colombia.  I’ve always wanted to visit Colombia and thought stopping in Cartagena would give me an idea if I should plan to spend more time there in the future.

Old Fortness seen on entrance to the harbor

The trip into the port was beautiful, passing old fortresses while enjoying great views of the newer part of the city. I would definitely recommend taking the time to enjoy breakfast on your veranda or to find a spot outside for viewing.

Tour Overview

We decided not to book an excursion through the ship as none of them offered exactly what we wanted to see.  When we got off the ship, there was a free shuttle bus that took you to the port exit.  Upon exiting through the gift shop, there were many local guides standing there waiting offering tours.  The guides were charging per person for a tour of the city, and depending on the guide, 10 to 20 person tours were being offered.  We talked to a few and learned that most were going to all the sites on our list.  We decided to find a guide that was doing a smaller group.  We were given a sticker with the guide’s name on it and within a few minutes we had enough people to head out.  The van was an air-conditioned, 10-person van plus the driver and guide.  

Walking through the Walled City

I really enjoyed the tour and was extremely impressed by the city.  The tour highlights included the Fort of San Felipe de Barajas, Plaza Bolivar, Plaza Santo Domingo, La Popa Convent, the newer part of the city and many additional sites.

View from La Popa Convent

The first stop was at La Popa Convent , which was perfect as it offered amazing views of the city. 

Walled City

My favorite part was walking through the Walled City, the colors of the buildings were very vibrant and lively.  In each location, we were dropped off in the perfect places with the guide and then always picked back up in ideal spots.  

Simon Bolivar’s statue

We also visited Plaza de Bolivar which is surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings.  The small but extremely lush park has a statue of Simón Bolívar in the center.

Shopping & Souvenirs

As part of the tour, we had to stop in an emerald shop; thankfully, no one in our tour was interested and we all left with bottled water from the shop making it worth the tour delay.  At the end, we had about 30 minutes on our own in a shopping plaza for souvenir shopping.

I told the guide we wanted to find a convenience store to buy packaged coffee.  He helped us find one and I asked him to come in with me so I could ask him about the different brands and which ones were considered the best by the locals.  I wanted the coffee that the locals drink, not what’s packaged and priced for tourists. I got my 6 bags of coffee and my souvenir shopping was complete.  In order to pay with a credit card, you needed an ID, not your ship card, make sure you bring this with you if you don’t want to use the local currency.

To get back on the ship, you have to go through a store, which is pricey.  I was impressed by the quality of the souvenirs but if you want them at a better price, do your shopping in the city.  

Fort of San Felipe de Barajas

Overall, I really enjoyed my day in Cartagena and was even stalling getting back on the cruise ship, I didn’t want the day to end.

FreshCruiser Tip:  When taking a tour, don’t be afraid to tell the tour guide where you would like to visit  to make sure all your spots are covered on the tour.  If not, ask the guide to give you directions on how to get there after the tour. 

Wednesday
Nov072012

Panama Canal Cruise Crossing: Top Tips for Viewing

The Panama Canal crossing was definitely something on my bucket list and it lived up to all the hype.  We enjoyed a great day of viewing and I wanted to share with you my comprehensive guide to help you have a memorable experience.

Best spots on the ship

The whole process will take about 8 hours including going through three different sets of locks (Miraflores, Pedro Miguel, Gatun).  With the size of a typical cruise ship, there are a lot of places for viewing. Follow these tips to get the most out of your day.

•    Bow of the Ship - Helipad

If your captain allows guests to enter the helipad area for viewing the locks, it’s definitely an experience being at the bow of the ship.  It will be a novelty to be able to view the process from the helipad, so expect big crowds early on.  You should wait until the next set of locks when it clears out a little. Wear closed-toed shoes, preferably sneakers, since the deck can be slippery and you don’t want to risk getting turned away and missing the locks.  

•    Stern of the Ship

This was my favorite place for viewing as we enjoyed seeing the doors close behind the ship. Being on a high floor allowed us to see over the massive lock doors to the different steps of the locks. 

Once finished with the last of the locks (Gatun locks) on the Pacific to Atlantic crossing, the back of the ship offers one of the best picture taking opportunities as you can see the narrow passage with the different “steps”, which the ship just went through.

•    Port or Starboard Sides

Each side will offer a different view, depending on the lane that the ship gets put into. There are two lanes for each lock and there will likely be additional ships going through the locks in the other lane. Check out the side where you can see the other ship as it gives you a fascinating perspective on what’s happening along with seeing the massive volume of water moving in or out of the locks.

Port Side (Pacific to Atlantic crossing)

If you want a good view of the new canal by the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks being built, pick a veranda on the port side when going through the canal. It’s an incredible sight to see the construction process and the massive amount of soil being transported.

•    Stateroom Veranda

We enjoyed sitting on our veranda as we went through Gatun Lake. The scenery was beautiful and it was the perfect spot to relax and be away from the crowds.  I’d recommend enjoying lunch or a snack as you cruise through Gatun Lake being that it is normally towards the middle of the day.

 •    Forward Lounge
If you don’t want to be outside for the crossing or are limited physically, I would suggest waking up early and securing a spot in the forward lounge, if your ship has one.  On the Celebrity Millennium, Cosmos offered a great viewing spot in a comfortable setting. Arrive early to save your seat for the day so you can just relax and enjoy the view.

Viewing mistakes

•    Staying in the same spot
Many people were up first thing to secure a spot for the whole day.  With so much going on when transiting the locks, you’re missing out if you’re not moving around and seeing it from different angles. Unless you’re physically unable to move around the ship, get out and walk around, go from side to side and back again to see it all.

•    Staying inside
One of the best parts is being outside and looking over the railing to see the whole process. 

Hidden Secrets

•    Fitness room
As I love to say, the fitness room often has one of the best views on a cruise ship and this really comes true during a Panama Canal crossing.  Watch the process unfold as you work out on a treadmill or elliptical, you’ll never forget this workout!  There is definitely no excuse to not work out during the crossing.

•    Get up Early
The ship will tell you what time you will go through the first set of locks but a lot happens before that.  I got up about two hours early, and was glad I did.  It was just about dawn and I could see all the other ships waiting outside for their turn to go through the Canal. The process of entering the first set of locks as the sun rose was truly unforgettable.

Learn

The main event of a Panama Canal cruise is going through the canal, so make sure to educate yourself on the process before leaving on the trip or while on the ship (if offered). On our cruise, there was a 3-part lecture series starting from the beginning days of building the Panama Canal to the Panama Canal today and its plans for future expansion.  

These talks were part of Celebrity Cruises, “Beyond the Podium” series.  Lecturers, Rheal and Claire Perron were engaging and all their talks were standing room only in the main theatre.  In addition, 2 different movies about the Panama Canal were shown leading up to the crossing.  When the day came, I felt that I had learned a lot and could really understand what was happening from an engineering perspective as well as appreciating from a historical standpoint.   

Have additional tips to share? Please add a comment below.

FreshCruiser Tip:  If you're going be on a top deck, don't forget to bring something to stay hydrated, it’s very hot there and you may not want to give up your prime spot along the rail.  Also, don’t forget to continue to keep reapplying sunscreen!

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