The Direction Of The Panama Canal
The Panama Canal lies within the Isthmus of Panama, the portion of land that bridges North and South America and contains Panama. The shape of the Isthmus of Panama and the angle at which the Canal dissects it make for a complicated and unexpected trip for ships hoping to take advantage of this shortcut.
Transportation travels in the opposite direction of what you might assume. Ships traveling from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean go in a northwest direction. Ships traveling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean go in a southeast direction.
On the Atlantic side, the entrance to the Panama Canal is near the city of Colón at about 9° 18 N, 79° 55 W. On the Pacific side, the entrance is near Panama City at about 8° 56 N, 79° 33 W. These coordinates prove that if the journey were traveled in a straight line, it would be a north-south route. Of course, this is not the case.
Panama Canal Cruise Options
The Panama Canal is a popular cruise destination. It stretches from the city of Balboa through Cristobal in Central America. The man-made canal allows for easy travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. In addition, the modern marvel in engineering is also classified as one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, as described by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Consequently, there are a number of cruise options to choose from. Several major cruise lines travel through the Panama Canal, each offering a distinct itinerary for its passengers.
To find a full list of cruises available, visit Holland Americas website.
Caribbean Latin America And Panama Canal
With a wide variety of beautiful ports and itineraries that will offer guests a different perspective ashore due to the rich natural beauty, its a surprise Royal Caribbean didnt return to Latin America earlier. From December 2023, the cruise line intends to finally return to the region when Rhapsody of the Seas homeports in three different ports: Cartagena, Colon, and Panama City.
Sean Treacy, SVP, International of Royal Caribbean International, highlighted the importance of the region for the global cruise industry: We are convinced that Latin America has a diversity of ports to create the best experiences for the whole family. With the addition of Rhapsody of the Seas to the Latin American market, we will have a product that will not require a U.S. visa, offering a season with a variety of itineraries, including the Panama Canal.
US-based guests will be happy to hear that the cruises onboard the 1997-built, 78,878 gross ton Rhapsody of the Seas will be visa-free itineraries, so there is no need to apply for and wait for visa applications to be able to cruise.
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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.
Panama Canal Cruise To Costa Rica
During your Panama canal cruise youll get the opportunity to stop off in Costa Rica and see the incredible nature that thrives in this beautiful country. In Puntarenas you can expect shore excursions which take you to the Tabacon Hot Springs on an active volcano, a walk through the cloud forest or a hike through La Paz waterfall gardens. Puerto Limon is another port of call in Costa Rica and offers the opportunity to see the local wildlife, such as tortoises, crocodiles and monkeys, as well as a ride on an aerial tramway or a white-water raft ride if youre up for a thrill.
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Largest Cruise Ship To Transit The Panama Canal
Norwegian Bliss is now in the record books as the largest cruise ship to transit the Panama Canal. The newest ship for Norwegian Cruise Line, the 4,004 passenger Norwegian Bliss made its North American debut in New York City on May 4-6. From there, Norwegian Bliss cruised the eastern seaboard for another inaugural debut in Miami on May 8-10.
Built with Alaska cruising in mind, Norwegian Bliss charted a course that would take it through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific Ocean.
As scheduled, there will be yet another inaugural event in Los Angeles on May 25-27. Afterwards, the ship will head up the west coast to Seattle. When Norwegian Bliss arrives in Seattle, the official naming ceremony and more festivities are planned for May 30-June 2.
We are very proud to showcase our newest ship and celebrate one more exciting milestone with Norwegian Bliss as the largest passenger ship to transit the new Panama Canal, said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. We are excited for this sixteenth ship in our young and modern fleet to begin welcoming guests in her home port of Seattle and provide them with the outstanding service, dining, entertainment and amenities for which we are recognized.
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Featured Ports Of Call
Panama Canal, Panama
As you cruise through the Panama Canal, youll be able to admire this extraordinary feat of human achievement and at the same time, lush natural beauty. Witness the dramatic rise and fall of the water as youre levered tier by tier through the locks that carry around 40 ships per day from the Caribbean to the Pacific and vice versa. Sail past tranquil forest around Gatun Lake, looking out for birdlife. Before you enter the canal, explore the historic port of Colon, where youll find great duty-free shopping in the Colon Free Trade Zone.
Cartagena de Las Indias is one of Colombias most vibrant cities, with a perfectly preserved 16th century center thats a joy to wander around. Explore the leafy squares, cobblestone streets and colorful homes, flowers cascading over their balconies. Tour the old Spanish fort of Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas and sample street foods like delicious corn arepas and empanadas as you listen to salsa music filling the air. Or head out of town and treat yourself to a rejuvenating mud bath at the El Totumo volcano, and then cool off in the waters of La Boquilla Beach.
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Panama Canal Cruise Unlike Any Other
After 105 years, the Panama Canal remains one of the worlds greatest engineering marvels. The best way to fully appreciate its time-tested ingenuity? By crossing the canal on a cruise ship for an absolutely incredible vacation experience.
MIAMI, Oct. 28, 2019 /PRNewswire/ On a cruise through the ingenious 105-year-old Panama Canal, you may find yourself wondering how far the human mind can go in its quest to find solutions.
As your ship slowly traverses the 50-mile manmade shortcut through the jungle between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, howler monkeys screech in the distance and electric mules with ropes guide your ship through a series of locks and gates and across manmade lakes. It is an innovation for the ages, and it is hard not to feel inspired.
On a cruise through the Panama Canal, passengers marvel at the ingenuity of one of the worlds greatest wonders.
A Panama Canal cruise is unlike any other youll experience, says Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of the website Cruise Critic, and a big fan of Panama Canal cruises. The main draw is the actual crossing of the canal, and to be able to do so on a ship is absolutely incredible. You can perch yourself in a viewing area and watch the mechanical marvel front and center. You simply cant replicate that experience with a land visit.
McDaniel says its important to pick the sailing thats right for you, whether you do a full or partial crossing.
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Panama Canal Full Transit: Pros And Cons
For engineering geeks and bucket list travelers, a full transit of the Panama Canal is the only way to go. Most ships take a full day to cross the canal during daylight hours, often getting a very early morning start. Your ship will pass through all six locks , and youll sail through Gatun Lake and the Culebra Cut.
Travelers have lots of choice of cruise lines, from mainstream to luxury, when it comes to full transits. Some lines offer regular crossings, with back-to-back Panama Canal cruises, while others offer full transits only as repositioning cruises, often at the beginning and end of the Alaska cruise season. Some luxury lines might include a Panama Canal crossing as part of a world cruise segment. Windstar and Lindblad Expeditions also offer regular Costa Rica and Panama Canal transits with full crossings.
Panama Canal cruises are offered from late August to May, though be prepared for intense heat if not traveling in the winter . With the exception of Windstars and Lindblads seven-night voyages to Costa Rica and Panama, most full crossings are 14 days or longer, often with lots of sea days. Youll need to be able to take lots of time off and should enjoy a more relaxed pace cruise if you plan on choosing this option.
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Caribbean Cruise To Panama
Another option to take in a Panama Canal Cruise is to enjoy a Caribbean cruise with either a partial transit or a trip to Colon on the Atlantic coast of Panama. These cruises will often take you to a variety of Caribbean islands from the shopping haven of St. Maarten to the beautiful beaches of Aruba and St. Lucia. You could also take in Limon, Costa Rica and the Rainforest Aerial Tram ride through the nature reserve, adjacent to the national park, or a trip to the cobbled streets and balconies of Cartagena, Columbia.
Ial Panama Canal Crossing
A more affordable option is a partial Panama Canal cruise. These sailings are return trips or trips between ports one the same coast, either the Atlantic or Pacific coast. Theyre generally 10-12 days long.
Most common are Miami-to-Miami voyages , but you can also find Los Angeles-to-Los Angeles cruises that enter the Panama Canal. Carnival even offers partial Panama Canal cruises from less high-profile ports, such as Mobile, Alabama and Galveston, Texas.
On partial crossings, the cruise ship only enters one lock. Passengers can then leave the ship and join a variety of shore excursions. Even though, you wont see the entire canal this way, you will, however, be able to explore places that you wouldnt see on a full crossing.
Alternatively, some cruises do offer passengers the opportunity to see the rest of the canal in a smaller excursion boat. Even on partial cruises, youll still have the chance to see highlights such as Gatun Lake, the Bridge of the Americas, the Centennial Bridge, and the Gaillard Cut, which has literally been cut through the Continental Divide.
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Panama Canal Cruises Travel Tips
- Consider traveling during the off-season, as it is less packed and generally more affordable.
- Do not carry around your passport, but you should have an ID with you.
- Always use bug spray when you are there, the bugs can be tough to get through.
- Dont be startled or alarmed to hear random fireworks go off.
- Do not go into unfamiliar places alone or during the nighttime hours.
- U.S. money is accepted throughout all of Panama.
- A lot of the beaches in Panama are remote.
- Make sure to pack shorts, sandals, and drink plenty of water.
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Royal Caribbean Will Return To Latin America After Nine
Royal Caribbean to return to Latin America in 2023 after a nine-year absence with the Rhapsody of the Seas cruise ship.
After nine years of absence, Royal Caribbean will return to Latin America. Starting in December of 2023, Rhapsody of the Seas will sail from the ports of Colon and Panama City in Panama and the beautiful and historic port of Cartagena in Colombia.
The season will be divided into two different phases, one which will focus on the Caribbean and one focused more on Latin American ports.
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Planning A Panama Canal Cruise
I think a Panama Canal cruise is similar to an Alaska cruise for several reasons.
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.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Highlights
- An incredible company that has been in operation since 1969.
- A well-known name in the cruise line industry, with service standards that accompany their length of time in the industry.
- Winner of a plethora of service awards, including “Best Cruise Line in the Caribbean,””Best Cruise Line Overall,” and “Best Cruise Ship Symphony of the Seas.”
- Amazing rooms in various sizes available for all of your accommodation needs and party sizes.
- Breathtaking views, offering you uninterrupted views of the water, the shores, and all of the beautiful sights of each destination.
- Unmatched customer service to make your trip a relaxing and unforgettable experience.
- Knowledgeable tour guides to accompany you to places that you might have never heard of.
- Lots of space to explore and get to know the ship.
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Panama Canal Cruise Port Highlights
Puntarenas, Costa Rica. There are so many fabulous encounters with nature available from this port, youll have a hard time deciding on a shore excursion. A visit to the Tabacon Resort Hot Springs takes you to the slopes of the active Arenal volcano. The Poas volcano features the amazing sight of a huge crater filled with iridescent blue water. Walk through a cloud forest at Villa Blanca, where youre surrounded by mist and water droplets clinging to the vegetation. See one of Costa Ricas renowned rain forests at Pura Vida Gardens, or climb a set of wooden steps up to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
Panama Canal. If youre on a trans-canal trip, enjoy the engineering marvels of your 50-mile journey. The highlights are Lake Gatun, the Gaillard Cut along the Continental Divide and three locks: Gatun on the Atlantic, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores on the Pacific.
Colon, Panama. Those on partial crossings or simply docked at Colon might consider completing the crossing in a smaller boat. This popular shore excursion begins at Gamboa, one of the towns along the Canal. It takes passengers through the remaining two Canal locks, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. A motorcoach ride delivers passengers back to their waiting ships at Colon.
Best Month To Cruise To The Panama Canal
A cruise through the Panama Canal, from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean, is a trip of a lifetime for many travelers, who geek out over modern engineering as well as thrill to the extraordinary biodiversity and lush landscapes and rainforests of Central America.
The height of Panama Canal cruise season runs October to April, but the best month to travel will depend on how much you expect to be active and outdoors. The year-round tropical climate of Panama and bordering countries of Costa Rica and Colombia get unbearably hot and humid, with a dry season and a rainy season.
Weve listed the pros and cons of travel by each month so that you can make the best of your Panama Canal cruise. Prices quoted are per person, double occupancy.
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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
Panama Canal Cruise Holidays
Everyone should sail through the Panama Canal at least once. It is a remarkable experience and a moving one when you know the mixture of tragedy and triumph, French farce and financial meltdown which went into its building. The French spent 20 fruitless years trying to build a canal Suez-style straight through the land.
Then the Americans tried a lock-based canal and, between 1903 and 1914, completed the waterway that stands today. Look out for memorial plaques to the thousands who died in its creation, mainly of diseases rife in the forests and swamps through which the canal was forged. It is 50 miles long and, from the Caribbean side, your ship will be lifted 85ft by the Gatun Locks into Gatun Lake. She then negotiates the narrow Gaillard Cut to the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks which lower her back down to the level of the Pacific, which you first see stretching out on the other side of the towering Bridge of the Americas.
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