Many Panama Canal cruises have started making a port call in Fuerte Amador, the port for Panama City. Since we are always looking for new and different experiences, we pre-booked an Aquabus tour through
Panama Marine Adventures using the company's website.
Our tour was
scheduled to depart Flamenco Marina at 10:30. Flamenco Marina is where most cruise ships' tenders drop guests who are going ashore on tour. We boarded our
tender about 9:30am for the 10-minute ride over to Flamenco Marina.
Tender drops guests off at Flamenco Marina
At Flamenco Marina, you will find a small, modern mall with
lots of little souvenir shops and a huge Duty Free store that sells
liquor, fragrances, candy, tobacco and even some electronics.
Fuerte Amador Resort & Marina mall
If you wander around the marina, you will
likely be approached by several local taxi drivers who will offer to
take you on a private tour of the area. One driver, Roberto, was
persistent, but polite. He offered to show us all of the sights for $20
per hour. A good deal, I suppose, but we already have other plans. As soon as we arrived at the
marina, we searched for, and quickly found, the Panama Marine Adventures
kiosk located in front of the Duty Free shop.
Panama Marine Offices at Flamenco Marina
We approached the window and were greeted by
Liliana, the PMA representative. She was gracious and welcoming, and
told us where to meet the bus for the tour.
Liliana, with Panama Marine Adventures
Our Aquabus tour departed at 10:30 as scheduled and within a few minutes we were driving
into the ocean! In addition to our driver/Captain, there was a tour guide on board who kept us informed of the local sights and points of interest in both Spanish and English.
Local guide from Panama Marine Adventures
The most exciting part of the experience is when the bus plunges into the water. It makes quite a splash and everyone on board squeals in excitement (or was it terror?!)
The Aquabus is now in the water, following the ship's tender out to sea!
For a bus, the Aquabus is actually a pretty capable, and stable boat. We initially enter the water using a boat ramp at Flamenco Marina, following one of the Azamara Quest tenders. We followed the tender all the way to Azamara Quest, which was anchored off the coast. We circled Quest, allowing everyone to get some good photos of the ship.
Rickee takes a photo out of the window
The Aquabus is air conditioned, but the cold air cannot keep up with the heat when people begin to take photos through the open windows. The ability to slide open the windows for photo/video is a great feature, but guests pay a price in comfort. Nevertheless, it was morning, so it was not hot enough to become uncomfortable.
When the bus was back on land, we drove from Fuerte Amador to Panama City, a trip of about 15 minutes. We passed a few significant monuments along the way, which our guide described. As the incredible skyline of Panama City got closer, we were taken in by the architecture and scale of the place. We had no idea Panama City was this big.
Skyline of Panama City is impressive
For two hours, we "sailed" and drove around Fuerte
Amador and Panama City. The tour ended back at Flamenco Marina. If you are looking for a quick and easy way to see Panama City, Aquabus is a good, affordable option ($49 adult/$39 Child). Be aware that there is a somewhat steep ladder with maybe four or five steps that you must climb to enter and exit the Aquabus. Check Panama Marine Adventures website for more information, or to make a reservation www.pmatours.net.