Our cruiseship the Celebrity Equinox arrived in Colon, Panama on March 9, 2013. In advance of the cruise, we arranged a tour of Panama City and the canal through Almiza Tours for 9 people. Mario gave us good instructions and directions (he even sent us pictures of the location) and had no problems locating him. In addition to our group, there were four other people: two Americans and two Germans.
The new part of the city was beautiful and modern. Unfortunately, the old part was undergoing a lot of construction (they were building a metro system) and getting around in the van was challenging. The highlight of the tour, however, was the canal where we were able to see two small boats and a large cargo ship go through the locks. One negative point: the guide spoke incessantly but did not provide much historical information on the city. He was ok, but by no means a professional guide. Also, although we were provided with bottled water, it tasted moldy and noticed that the date had expired. We mentioned this to the guide, who was surprised and thanked us for reporting it. He did not, however, offer to buy fresh water during the tour and we ended up paying for it. They did provide soft drinks and beer. All in all, Almiza Tours and Mario did deliver in providing a good tour of the city and locks.
We always organize our own excursions online, contacting local providers, rather than booking through a cruiseship. This allows us to personalize the excursion and a much lower cost.
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