I’m conflicted over writing about Colón, Panama. Why am I conflicted? Well….
I’m really glad I went out into the city while in port during my Bare Necessities cruise on Carnival Freedom, however, I’m not really certain that Colón wanted to see us. I’m sure they appreciated the tourism dollars, but that’s just it – everything reeked of overdone, over-cautious “keep the tourists safe and give them what we think they want because they’re on a cruise ship afterall” mentality. Mr. Muse and I selected Carnival’s “Grand Tour: Eco, Indians and Locks” which would take us to Gatun Lake, then to an Embera Indian Village and then to see the locks of the Panama Canal. It was “touristy”, and though we tried to soak in knowledge that the tour guides were telling us, I couldn’t help but thing that everything was on the side of hokey and kitschy.
I don’t have great things to say about the tour. If you’ve got no problems with gluten, the bagged lunch that they pass out should be filling: turkey sandwich on a hoagie bun, banana muffin and a mint. (Thankfully – I had snacked packed in my satchel.) You get to see three major attractions without a long trek out into the jungle and are hauled around in an air-conditioned bus. The tour guides were friendly. Ultimately, the locks were the best part of the tour, followed by the tour of the lake and then the Indian village. To be fair, I got some good pictures at the village – but it had the look and feel of a badly produced pow-wow; and then they tried to sell you stuff at the end.
Would I go back to Colón, Panama? I think it’s going to end up like the ports of Belize City, Belize and Soufriere, St. Lucia – they just didn’t get a “fair shake” and I’d have to go back again to give an honest assessment. I wish I could write a review like I did for Limón, Costa Rica, but I can’t. Instead I’m just going to leave you with photos.
This is what I’ve found most cruise excursions to be like – created entirely to keep the tourists safe and without massive complaint, but little more than a production . . . it’s why I was so happy to read Limón
I think the thing that people forgot about cruise excursions is that a great many of them are “booze cruises” – which is fine, I’ve enjoyed them and will probably enjoy them again – but when you have ports that own so much history, it would be nice to really get a great tour that highlights that history.