Panama Canal Cruisin’

It’s hard to choose but I believe this was my fav cruise of all time. And it happened very last minute.

In the early years of Disney Cruise Line, cast members could book at severely discounted rates if you could travel within little notice because they would rather fill the empty rooms vs have them sit bare. And I took advantage frequently (23 times = no regrets). My travel obsession was definitely fed by seeing the world from these floating cities.

I had already done numerous eastern and western Caribbean ports, but this one took us further south. A new adventure. I’ll never forget “locks” day. We arrived super early to line up for our scheduled traverse. Being ridiculously humid and this being an all day activity, we dug out our own perch on the upper deck near the pool to get comfortable. The locks were a process – the ship would enter a lock then be flooded to raise up to the next lock and so on. Fascinating. After multiple locks, we glided along until we reached the Pacific Ocean. Besides occasional dips in the pool to cool down, we enjoyed the lush surroundings all day with a cold drink in hand. At certain points along the journey, the waterway was only a few boats wide until finally releasing into the Pacific Ocean. Can you imagine having to sail all the way around South America prior to this modern marvel being constructed?

BONUS: this was an inaugural voyage and tons of Disney magic was sprinkled in. We had cardboard hands that we could wave to all the well wishers at ports (we had huge turnouts of locals coming to see the first Disney boat & hopefully catch a glimpse of their hero Mickey who was periodically waving from the bridge overlooks). The massive, exclusive pin set encased in a gorgeous wooden box is still my fav gift from all my cruises. Plus individual pins were released daily and a commemorative map frame delivered to every stateroom (that still hangs in my pool room). Every menu had a special item. The wow factor was definitely achieved.

***And a fun, lesser known fact was there were only 200 big pins ever made so, as you can imagine, the Disney fanatics went totally bonkers. We even got caught up in the madness, as I remember taking our spot in line the night prior to its release and staking out our claim to this exclusive offering. Yep….. we spent the night on the floor just up from the guest services desk hugging the left corner of the first hallway leading to the clubs at #21 in line. Much to the horror of the ships officers, the line snaked all the way back to the restaurant Animator’s Palette. Can you imagine half the ship brought blankets and pillows down to the lobby to “camp out” while the staterooms they had all spent thousands of dollars on sat empty? Certainly a moment I can now look back on and laugh at the absurdity….and BTW we did secure a pin set!

Still to this day, nothing beats the special horn sequences blowing out your fav Disney songs as you pull away from port and ride off into the sunset. And at the biggest lock on the canal traverse, we proudly blasted our unique sound amongst the masses of onlookers and everyone had chills in that awesome moment!

Published by elliottcm

Love adventure travel, work hard & play hard, happy in both extremes - relaxing on a remote beach or rappelling down cliffs, take joy in simple things, love being on & near the water, visited 55 countries & 47 states so far in this crazy beautiful life! Goals by my 50th birthday - 50 states. 75 countries. 50 national parks. Be in Antarctica on my big day.

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