Why a Panama Canal Cruise Should Be On Your Bucket List

Enjoy 50 Miles Of Slow Cruising Through the Panama Canal

Last Updated on February 15th, 2020

Before the Panama Canal was officially opened to oceangoing traffic in the year 1914, seafaring vessels wishing to sail around the world had to go nearly to the bottom of the Earth to Cape Horn. Although that area possesses a stark beauty, wind and stormy seas were the norm, making it less than desirable for trade routes. The canal came into existence to shorten global commerce routes and to minimize the amount of time the ships spent navigating through rough waters. The French first attempted to create the canal in the late 19th century, but that project was unsuccessful. The United States took on the job in 1904, and 10 years later, a new world trade route that cut over 8,000 miles from the former option was born.

At the time that the canal was finished, however, no one realized the potential it had or cruise ship traffic. It wasn't until the year 1967 that a Princess cruise ship made the 50-mile trek down the length of the canal, and it wasn't long afterward that many others followed suit thanks to the firsthand accounts of the awed passengers on that first ship.

Why Choose a Panama Cruise?

The Panama Canal is one of the most amazing engineering feats ever constructed on Planet Earth. The region also provides an unforgettable cultural experience and abundant natural beauty. Your cruise ship will also share the waters of the canal with big commercial cargo vessels, pleasure boats, and other cruise ships from all over the world, providing a unique international flavor. The region also offers almost unprecedented biodiversity, making it a must-see for avid birdwatchers, botany enthusiasts, and those who simply love to be in nature. And then there's the thrill of simply being in the area that connects two of the world's great oceans. 

When is the Best Time of the Year to Enjoy a Panama Cruise?

The rainy season in Panama runs from March until December, so those seeking optimal weather opt to cruise from December until March. Visitors enjoy balmy weather in the 70s and 80s during these months, and precipitation is rare. A Panama cruise provides an ideal mid-winter getaway for those who need to feel the warm sun on their faces.

How Long Does a Panama Canal Cruise Take?

Panama cruises are also typically longer than many of their counterparts, with some lasting as long as 16 days. Most start from Florida or California ports, but some originate from points of departure as far north as New York City and Vancouver, BC. The shortest cruises to this area last for seven days. 

There are two types of Panama cruises. Traditional crossings involve going from ocean to ocean all the way through the canal, which takes about a day. Partial crossing cruises go as far into the canal as Gamboa or Colón, where the stop so guests can enjoy some land activities.

What Are Some Top Excursions During a Panama Cruise?

Top excursions during a Panama Canal cruise include ziplining through a verdant rainforest vista, taking a catamaran mini-cruise or kayaking trip on Gatun Lake, History buffs can step back in time with a visit to the Embera Indian Village or the Panama Canal Railway, while those who want a taste of modern Panamanian culture can visit the museums, shops, and restaurants of Panama City. 

What Are the Top Cruise Lines for Panama Canal Cruises

The majority of the major cruise lines offer cruises through Panama's iconic canal. Princess currently has two ships designated for this region,  Island Princess Coral Princess. Cruise giants Norwegian Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines, Windstar Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Regent Seven Seas, Celebrity, Crystal, and Holland America also offer trips to the Panama Canal. If smaller ships are more your style, you'll be glad to know that Lindblad Expeditions and Silver Sea Cruises also make the trek. 

What Are Some of the Best Stops on a Panama Canal Cruise Itinerary?

Besides the canal itself, highlights of Panama cruises include Puntarenas, Costa Rica, Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, the western coast of Guatemala,  Colón, Panama, and Panama City, Panama. Depending on the point of departure, Panama cruises also stop in various points in the Caribbean and in Mexico. Be sure to research cruise options thoroughly to find the one that best suits your individual needs and preferences. 

Please don't hesitate to reach out to us for more information on choosing the right Panama Canal cruise itinerary. 

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