Saturday, July 13, 2024

Cruise Through The Panama Canal

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The Ultimate Guide For A Perfect Panama Canal Cruise


While many dream of visiting Central America, very few ever get the chance to experience cruising through the very spot North and South America split. Many note that a vacation to Panama is too expensive or not safe. Well, let me tell you, the best way to see the Panama Canal and possibly get off your boat at an affordable price is through a Panama Canal cruise!

If you are bit wary to cruising, you are going to absolutely fall in love with what the Panama Canal has to offer! I had the chance to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on my Panama Canal cruise back in December 2019, and to this date, it is my favorite cruise that I have been on.

Plus, cruise ships offer an extra sense of security, as you will have a safe place to rest your head everyday. So, grab your free cruise planner and buckle up, because we are going to go through everything you may need to know about Panama Canal cruises!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means Ill receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.

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The Deck Offers The Best Seat In The House

How long does it take for a ship to pass through the Panama Canal? The full Panama Canal crossing from the Pacific to the Atlantic takes an average of 8 to 10 hours. Much of that time is spent peacefully navigating flat waterways like Gatun Lake and the Culebra Cut, an artificial valley running through the Continental Divide, and scanning the shoreline to spot monkeys and birds. While passing through the locks, however, the action picks up.

Traveling from the Atlantic to the Pacific, your ship first enters the three Gatun Locks, which raise it 85 feet from sea level to reach the level of Gatun Lake. The process is so slow and smooth that it feels like nothing at all is happening, but as you watch the walls of the lock, you can measure your ships steady progress. After navigating across Gatun Lake, your ship enters the Pedro Miguel Lock, where its lowered 31 feet . The two Miraflores Locks do the rest of the work, moving your ship 54 feet back down to sea level. This process reverses when traveling from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

The sensation of traveling smoothly up and down through each lock as more than 100,000 cubic meters of water moves slowly in and out is almost meditative. Its also a real-world physics lesson that you dont have to be a scientist to appreciate it.

Silver Explorer

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Planning A Panama Canal Cruise

I think a Panama Canal cruise is similar to an Alaska cruise for several reasons.

  • Its a bucket list cruise for many
  • Splurge and reserve a balcony stateroom
  • Do a little research before the cruise
  • Go to the enrichment presentations
  • If your ship makes a port call in Cartegena, Colombia and Panama City, Panama, youre in luck. These were my two favorite ports on my Panama Canal cruise. Why? Cartegena is emerging as a world-class vacation destination with great restaurants, historical sights and fabulous shopping.

    Panama City seems to rise out of the sea with unexpected ultra-modern skyscrapers that extend along the shoreline. Panama City is very modern urban city, and was a total surprise for me.

    Despite a Panama Canal cruise being a bucket list vacation, I would go again without hesitation. Especially because now I know what to do in some of the ports of call that I missed doing the first time.

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    Go On A Day Trip To An Embera Village

    There are many villages in the Chagres National Park inhabited by Embera people. It takes an hours drive and a one to two-hour canoe trip to get to these villages. Here, you can meet the indigenous people and learn their customs. You can buy handicraft items from them, dance, and share their food. You can even get a temporary tattoo from the locals, who use a dye extracted from a native fruit.

    Panama Canal Cruises: Explore Guatemala Nicaragua & More

    Costa Rica &  Panama Canal Cruise

    If youve ever dreamed about cruising through the Panama Canal, Norwegian Cruise Line can make it happen. You just need to decide if you want to do a full transit, visit parts of the Caribbean, or maybe even explore ports down in South America. Our lineup of 2021 Panama Canal cruises is ideal for whichever option is your top choice.

    Ready to start planning? Explore all 2021 Panama Canal cruises.

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    The Original Best Tour Through The Panama Canal

    Renowned, world-class travel organizations such as TripAdvisor as well as major cruise-ship lines promote our tours amongst their valuable clients. Likewise, our tours are promoted by important hotels, travel agencies and tour operators worldwide. We also find multiple international companies as well as embassies recommending our famous excursions to their executives, diplomatic personnel, friends, and families.

    You can be assured that our boat tour through the Panama Canal is the original. We are the Authentic Tour. It is guaranteed that with our tour you will honestly be crossing and experience the true Panama Canal. An undeniable wonder of the modern world.

    Some tour operators well sell you the idea that you will navigate the Canal, when truth be known they only take you and a tour of the bay entrance to the canal. We, on the other hand, navigate the Canal from ocean to ocean. We take you inside the locks. You will sail along the very Canal itself alongside the huge cargo ships as they too make this exhilarating journey. You want the true experience, don´t accept imitations.

    As part of our fascinating tours, you will find yourself sharing canal width with some of the largest cargo and cruise ships the world has to offer.

    How Many Locks Are In The Panama Canal

    12 locksThe Panama Water Lock System consists of a total of three sets of locks-12 locks- to help vessels transit between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans via artificial lakes and channels. Before the canal expansion, which was completed in 2016, the canal had two lines with two sets of the lock at both ends of the canal.Sep 7, 2021

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    Explore The Casco Viejo District

    This district has retained its quirky colonial charm and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In recent years, many of the pastel-colored homes have undergone renovation and one can find small hotels in historic buildings. Some of the colonial structures, like churches, are abandoned and mere shells of their glorious past while others are being rehabilitated.

    Be sure to visit the Panama Interoceanic Canal Museum, Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion Church, the National Theater, and the Iglesia de San Jose Church.

    Gatun Lake And Colon Panama

    If Id Known This, Id Have Done A Panama Canal Cruise Sooner

    Colon is the Atlantic Ocean entrance to the Panama Canal. You may be here for a couple of hours, but your Norwegian ship is the perfect vantage point to snap photos of the Panama Canal as you sail on a partial transit. Consider booking an overland journey that allows you to leave the ship in Gatun Lake to take pictures and explore the beautiful scenery nearby. You will be transported to Colon where you will rejoin the ship and continue on your cruise.

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    How Do I Plan A Panama Canal Cruise

    If you have never been on a cruise before, you may have some questions about the logistics and how to plan your cruise.

    First, you will want to get an idea of what your must-see attractions are. Most Panama Canal cruises will focus on either Caribbean islands, Central America, Mexican Rivera, or a combination of those destinations. Very few Panama Canal cruises are more than 14 days long, but if you are looking for a longer Panama Canal cruise, make sure to investigate repositioning cruises.

    After you determine the itinerary you would like, then you need to focus on a specific cruise line for the best Panama Canal cruise ever. Each cruise line offers a unique experience for every type of cruiser. Then, you can select a date with that perfect cruise line and itinerary to book and mark in your calendar!

    I highly recommend booking a balcony or higher stateroom on your cruise ship as you will not regret waking up to the breathtaking Panama Canal from your own private balcony. Just imagine waking up, stepping outside, and seeing all the fascinating locks and landscape surrounding the transit.

    Also, it is important to make sure to avoid the loudest staterooms onboard to completely relax on your Panama Canal cruise.

    Once booked, you will receive access to more booking options like onboard packages, shore excursions, and stateroom upgrades. I highly suggest taking advantage of these pre-travel opportunities to have your vacation planned out before you leave on your Panama cruise!

    Which Cruise Lines Go To The Panama Canal & Central America

    Most major cruise lines, including Princess and Holland America, feature at least a few Panama Canal sailings in addition to expedition lines like Tauck and Lindblad. Cruisers can choose from a partial or full transit of the canal . Cruises that specifically explore countries like Costa Rica are on offer, from small-ship lines like Windstar Cruises.

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    Best For A Deep Dive Into The Canal

    While many Panama cruises bring only a day of canal-related sightseeing, the seven-night Costa Rica & Panama Canal sailings that Windstar Cruises offers on its 212-passenger Star Pride promise a much deeper exploration. In addition to a day spent transiting the canal, the itinerary includes a day at Colón, Panama, on the Atlantic side of the waterway, where passengers can arrange tours to the giant new Agua Clara Locks a few miles away . The ship also docks for a night and day at Balboa, Panama, on the canals Pacific side, for tours to the nearby Miraflores Locks and related exhibit halls . The trips are rounded out by a beach day at Panamas pristine Isla Parida and two outdoorsy stops in Costa Rica where passengers have the opportunity to bird-watch and hike in rain forests or kayak through mangroves. Fares from $1,999 per person

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    What Are Some Things To Do In The Panama Canal & Central America

    @pandocruises on Instagram: âTravel through the unforgettable Panama ...

    In addition to either a full or partial crossing of the Panama Canal, most cruises in this region include stops in popular ports throughout Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. That means you can do anything from lounge on the beach to explore ancient ruins or enjoy some duty-free shopping. If you can, trek Arenal Volcano from Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.

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    Available Dates For Thefull Panama Canal Tour 2022

    1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 23, 24, 30, 31

    Night transit tours can start between 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm. The schedule is defined one day before by the Canal Authority.

    These are the dates of the partial night transit tours through the Panama Canal 2022:

    • 12, 21, 22. 29 .
    • 20, for this day we will have two transits one in the day the other at night.
    • 25, this day we will only have transit at night.

    Journey South On A Panama Canal Cruise In 2022

    Embark on an unforgettable trip down to Central and South America on a Panama Canal cruise in 2022. This 15-night holiday sailing departs from Los Angeles, California and visits six port destinations along the way, including Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala Puntarenas in Costa Rica Cartagena, Colombia and Colon, Panama. The highlight of this sailing includes a once-in-a-lifetime cruise through the Panama Canal, an engineering marvel that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.


    Spend Christmas and New Years Eve on a spectacular Panama Canal cruise in 2022. This special holiday itinerary aboard Celebrity Millennium is the perfect way to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. Enjoy restful days at sea, action-packed days on land, and the bucket-list experience of sailing through the magnificent Panama Canal.

    Discover fascinating destinations in Central America and South America, where youll encounter stunning natural landscapes, outdoor adventure, and colonial architecture and history. Get a taste of the tropics during a stop in Costa Ricas Puntarenas, where you can explore its verdant jungle on a safari excursion, zipline through treetops, or go surfing at one of its dreamy beaches.

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    Cruises From Panama Canal

    Named one of the seven modern wonders of the world by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Panama Canal is a 77 km ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1903 to 1914, nearly 850,000 vessels have passed through the canal. Interestingly, the 8-10 hour journey from the Pacific Ocean in the west and the Atlantic Ocean in the east is one from SE to NW. Crossing the Canal is something that we would all like to experience, and subsequently many passenger ships provide a narrator giving excellent information during the crossing. Read more

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    Hilton Checkers Los Angeles

    Cruising the PANAMA CANAL (full transit time lapse)

    Less than a mile from The Museum of Contemporary Art, this genteel hotel in a 1920s building is a mile both from the Walt Disney Concert Hall and from the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live.

    Relaxed rooms offer flat-screen TVs, marble bathrooms and desks, as well as coffeemakers. Suites add separate living areas.

    Less than a mile from The Museum of Contemporary Art, this genteel hotel in a 1920s building is a mile both from the Walt Disney Concert Hall and from the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live.

    Relaxed rooms offer flat-screen TVs, marble bathrooms and desks, as well as coffeemakers. Suites add separate living areas. Some include patios and/or fireplaces.

    There’s a polished bar and an elegant restaurant. Other amenities include a fitness centre, a business centre and a rooftop terrace, plus meeting and event space.

    Distance/Airport: 18 miles

    Bellman gratuitiesTransfers between Hotel and Pier

    Important Note: Accommodations are based on double occupancy per room. Some accommodation will allow triple and quad guests in a room and are subject to availability and surcharge will apply. Additional hotel rooms to accommodate triple and quads may be required, and surcharge will apply.

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    How To Choose The Best Panama Canal Cruise For You

    There are three ways to do a Panama Canal cruise. All three types of Panama Canal cruises are offered by a handful of mainstream, premium and luxury cruise lines.

    Not all cruises offer the same ports of call, either. So its important to study itineraries and not just price-shop.

    Princess does several Panama Canal cruises throughout the year as does Norwegian. Also, when repositioning to or from Alaska, Australia or on a world cruise, youll find Carnival, Cunard, Holland America and others sail the full 48-mile, coast-to-coast canal transit.

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    Royal Caribbean Cruises Travel Tips

    • A brand name that you know and can trust.
    • Industry master, with over 50 years of experience and operation in the cruise line sector.
    • They provide an incredible travel experience to all ages and have amazing amenities to help heighten your experience.
    • Rock walls, surfing, and even waterparks to offer you something unique that you wont find on any other cruise ship.
    • Simply unpack and settle in once, then relax into your stateroom for the remainder of your trip.
    • Our fast processes for embarkation and disembarkation give guests even more time to explore and allow for quicker access to the ship to reach anything you may need from us or your room.
    • Incredible staterooms and suites to offer you the most relaxing experience while onboard.
    • Incredible personalized experience designed to provide a family-like atmosphere.
    • The industrys most knowledgeable cruise managers and guides, providing you with the best guided experiences in the cruise market.
    • Varied excursions available including everything from walking tours to guided biking tours, hikes, and more.

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    Read The Panama Canal Authoritys Full March 27 Statement:

    Holland Americas ship Zaandam arrived Friday, March 27 to Panamanian waters. Like all vessels that use the Panama Canal, the Zaandam had to comply with the regulations on health and prevention of contagious diseases. Following protocol of Panamas Ministry of Health, if a vessel has individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 on board, it cannot make any port operations or transit the Canal. All ships transiting the Panama Canal require personnel, including line handlers, boarding officers, and Panama Canal pilots, to board the ship throughout the transit in order to ensure a safe passage throughout the waterway. These protocols are in place to safeguard our customers and workforce.

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    Where Is The Panama Canal And Why Is The Panama Canal Important

    Panama Canal

    The construction of the Panama Canal took more than a decade and cost nearly $400 million. By the time it was completed in 1914, the Panama Canal had created a shorter and more economical shipping route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, dissecting Central America to simplify the transportation of goods. Today, ships pass through the 48-mile-long waterway about 11,000 times each year without the need to navigate around Cape Horn or the Straight of Magellan. It was a bold project made possible by ground-breaking engineering, and theres still nothing else like it on earth.

    The Panama Canal works by moving ships from one ocean to another through inland waterways. But because those waterways lead down to sea level, six lock chambers each work as elevators. Gatun Lake holds the massive amounts of water needed to operate this system that raises and lowers ships from sea level up to the level of this reservoir and then back down again.

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