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L’excursion commencera à la marina de Flamenco, Panama. Le transit partiel commence par un trajet en autocar de 45 minutes dans la ville de Gamboa où se situe le Panama Canal Dredging Division. Une fois à Gamboa, vous monterez à bord du bateau de croisière pour commencer la partie aquatique de l’excursion. Vous passerez par deux écluses ; les écluses de Miraflores et celles de Pedro Miguel sur le canal à bord du bateau Pacific Queen pouvant accueillir 200 passagers.
This tour was very poorly executed. It started with a long wait for the initial bus ride to Gamboa. The long wait was outside an office which was difficult to find in the first place without someone providing instructions. There was no customer service at all. Just a long wait. We were finally boarded a bus to go to Gamboa, where we would board the tour boat. We arrived at Gamboa after an hour bus ride, only to wait almost an hour again on the bus before we could get on the boat. The tour guide who accompanied us on one of the busses to Gamboa and would also be the guide for the boat tour was not friendly. He tried to be funny, but his humor was aggressive and very unwelcoming.
When we finally made it on the boat, we were told that there would be drinks, snacks, and a lunch buffet during the tour of the canal. It was a strange arrangement because some of the passengers received individual service while the rest of us were left to fend for ourselves. The cold drinks were fine once we found them: bottled water and sodas. I am not sure about the snacks we never managed to find any. The buffet lunch was terrible in taste and presentation, and there were not enough tables for everyone to sit at to eat. Most people just carried around their paper plate of tasteless food.
The long waits did not end on the bus either. At each of the two locks we had to wait a long long time before we could move ahead. I understand that this is the nature of travel on the canal. However, there was literally nothing to do while we were waiting for the lock gates to open. People were reading novels, sleeping, getting extremely restless because of the long delays. It seems that there could have been activities, entertainment, or at least pleasant Latin music playing. The only think we got was a grumpy guide and American music from the 70s and 80s.
When we finally reached the end of the tour and the guide was saying goodbye, there was no applause for the guide or for the experience. Just sighs of relief that the ordeal was over. We all shuffled off the boat, with some having to wait once again for the busses to take them back to their hotels. Hotel pick-up was not part of my tour package not sure why, but I was relieved just to head out and grab a taxi back to the hotel WITHOUT any more waiting. We had already arrived nearly two hours later than the scheduled arrival time.
The canal itself was fascinating. Having an opportunity to travel through the canal is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This tour should have been one of the highlights of my trip to Panama. However, because of the way the tour was handled it was a low point of an otherwise fantastic trip to Panama. The cost of the tour was 185 per person. In my opinion, although seeing the canal was great, this tour was definitely not worth the price.
This tour has been on my bucket list forever and it was all I could ever hope for! Our tour guide was awesome! He explained the history of the Canal, Panama, and the surrounding areas. The boat was comfortable with lots of room to move around and take pictures or look over the rails to see the action. The food was fine - not excellent - but definitely eatable!! We went to the Miraflores Visitor Center the day before to get the full understanding of the Canal also highly recommend doing this if you can but experiencing the operation of the Canal firsthand in a boat going through was outstanding and well worth the tour price.
A very good tour with lots of knowledge added. An early morning sailing. Commentary from the on board ship tour guide were excellent and funny at times but made the trip worth while. The food was good but easy to eat too much. Plenty of drinks of water or soda. Had visited the canal visitor center before which helped but this trip made it real for the canal crossing procedure and how it was built and functions.