Popular Ports For Panama Canal Cruises
No matter which cruise line and itinerary you ultimately decide on, you will likely visit a mix of these fantastic Panama, Caribbean, and Central American cruise ports.
Many cruises through the Panama Canal offer trips to these popular ports of call that are consistent with most itineraries. Like mainstream Caribbean cruise ports, these ports cater to the tropical cruise market. If you are looking for more than touristy attractions and activities, make sure to get out of the main port area and explore.
The city of Colón is most frequently referred to as the gateway to the Caribbean for the country of Panama. Therefore, if you are cruising through the Panama Canal, there is a high chance this port will be on your cruise itinerary.
If you are looking to learn about the history of the Panama Canal before you embark on your transit, make sure to spend two to three hours at the Agua Clara Visitor Center. Here, you will learn about one of the world’s greatest engineering feats the Panama Canal. For more history of Panama, check out Fort San Lorenzo another must-do attraction in Colón. This fort is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers no official tours, but you can walk around the area with a handy map.
If you prefer to hit up the Panamanian shopping scene on your Panama cruise, check out Avenida Central— a six-block-long pedestrian mall that is filled with tasty, local restaurants with boutique shops and unique finds alike.
Fuerte Amador , Panama
Facts To Know About The Panama Canal
The Panama Canal recently turned 100 years old, but even after all of this time, it still stands out as one of the true engineering marvels of the world. While it frequently tops the must-see list among visitors to Panama, the Canal also plays a hugely important role in Panamas history and the lives of Panamanians. Whether you are preparing yourself for a visit or just want to admire the Canal from afar, here is a list of 23 facts to know about the Panama Canal.
1. The French first attempted to build a canal through Panama in 1881. However, due to a high number of deaths and other issues, they abandoned the project in 1889. The United States started construction on the Panama Canal in 1904 and completed it in 1914.
2. The US began negotiating the rights to build a canal with the Colombian Government when Panama was under Colombian rule. When negotiations fell through, The US Government and President Theodore Roosevelt encouraged the Panamanians to revolt and declare independence from Colombia. Panama declared its independence on November 3, 1903, and the USS Nashville was deployed to prevent Colombia from interfering with their independence.
3. After declaring independence, Panama granted the US control of the Panama Canal Zone through the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty. The US paid Panama a one time sum of $10 million for the rights, as well as a yearly lease.
13. All tolls for the Panama Canal must be paid in cash, and must be paid at least 48 hours in advance.
Want To Cruise Through The New Panama Canal Locks Here’s How
The official opening of the 48-mile-long waterway’s massive new locks on Sunday will add a new twist to what long has been a bucket list item for cruising fans. Some lines will begin using the new locks for canal sailings. Others will stick with the older locks. Cruisers who want a specific experience will need to choose their ship wisely.
Princess Cruises, which offers more voyages into the canal than any other line, recently became the first line to announce plans to use the new locks. The line said its 3,080-passenger Caribbean Princess would operate partial transits of the canal using the new locks starting in late 2017.
The Caribbean Princess’ first canal sailing on Oct. 21, 2017 will be a milestone for the cruise industry. Barring a last-minute announcement from another line, it’ll mark the first time a “post-Panamax” cruise ship — one too big for the waterway’s original, smaller locks — has entered the canal. The Caribbean Princess’ beam is 118 feet. That’s 12 feet wider than the maximum allowed in the older locks.
Disney Cruise Line also plans to use the new locks for its twice-a-year voyages through the canal starting in 2017, a spokeswoman tells USA TODAY. Disney’s canal sailings in 2017 are scheduled to take place on the Disney Wonder, which can fit in both the old and new locks.
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What Are The Different Panama Canal Itineraries
There are way more Panama Canal cruises than you probably thought possible! With that, you may be wondering what the best itinerary is for your specific cruising goals. From repositioning cruises to Mexican Riviera adventures, there are positives and negatives to every itinerary option in the cruising realm in regards to Panama Canal cruises.
With that being said, all Panama Canal cruises can be categorized into three categories– Trans-Canal Crossing, Partial Crossing, and Faux Crossing.
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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Panama Small Ship Cruises
Panama has it all: mountains, jungles, beaches, an astounding biodiversity of flora and fauna, world-renowned coffee, indigenous cultures and the incredible Panama Canal. Panama small ship cruises feature daily excursions into awe-inspiring national parks, immaculate shoreline and numerous islands. AdventureSmith handpicks Panama small ship cruises tailored for adventures in nature. A cruise to Panama will introduce you to the Isthmus in the best way
through nature, wildlife, geology and history. Many visitors want to ensure their small ship cruises the Panama Canal. The mighty Panama Canal acts as a vital link between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, shepherding some 14,000 ships each year through its more than 50 miles of lakes and locks. Fortunately, many cruises do a full transit of the canal speak with our experts to select the right Panama Canal small ship cruise for you.
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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Visiting The Panama Canal:
How to get there: The drive from downtown Panama City to the canal takes approximately 45 minutes, by private car or taxi. Theres a local bus that heads all the way out to the canal, as well as many organized group tours as its considered one of the best day trips from Panama City.
Where to stay: Those wanting to stay as close to the canal as possible should book at room at the Holiday Inn Panama Canal, which is on the site of the former U.S. base just a two minute drive from the entrance.
Top tips: Discounts on admission are offered to visitors who visit both the canal and the BioMuseo, which is a top attraction in Panama City.
When to go: The best time of day to visit the Panama Canal changes daily, depending on when ships are scheduled to go through. While the visitor centre closes at 5 p.m., the on-site restaurant is open until 11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Its a great option for visitors whod like to experience the canal at night without any crowds, while enjoying a great meal.
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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 America’s website.
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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.
How Much Does It Cost To Go Through Panama Canal
Regarding this, how much does it cost for a cruise ship to go through the Panama Canal?
The cost of moving a ship through the Panama Canal has tripled over the past five years to around $450,000 per passage for a vessel carrying 4,500 containers, and this figure is likely to go up upon completion of the expansion process.
Beside above, how much does it cost to go through the Suez Canal? Vessels sailing from Asia to the East Coast via the Suez Canal have to pay on average US$465,000 for passage, according to SeaIntel, which calculated that the South Africa route would save an average of US$235,000 per voyage.
People also ask, how long does it take to go through the Panama Canal?
eight to 10 hours
What is the toll to go through the Panama Canal?
Under the new toll structure, a 9,000-TEU ship carrying 6,500 loaded TEU, or 72.2 percent of capacity, would pay a regular $677,500 toll for its headhaul voyage. That same ship, carrying 4,000 TEU on the backhaul, would pay $550,000, a 6.8 percent reduction from the current $590,000 toll.
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Cruise Through The Panama Canal
Sailing through the engineering masterpiece that connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean is a bucket-list event on its own, but along the way youll also visit other exciting tropical destinations steeped in culture, history, and natural beauty. Explore the breathtaking beaches of Cabo San Lucas, the colorful colonial architecture of Cartagena, the thriving jungles of Costa Rica, and more.
On your Panama Canal cruise, venture deep into the Panamanian rain forest, meet the locals, and learn the inner workings of the fascinating Panama Canals locks. Take an Eco Cruise on Lake Gatun and explore island habitats created during the Canals building. Uncover legends of pirates and conquistadors among the ruins of Panama Viejo.
More About The Panama Canal & Central America
What is the best time to cruise to the Panama Canal & Central America?
Panama Canal and Central America cruise season is from October through April. The rainy season doesn’t end until November, so cruises here are more popular from December onward. For more: Best Month to Cruise to the Panama Canal
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.
What are some things to do in the Panama Canal & Central America?
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.
Do you need a passport to take a cruise to the Panama Canal & Central America?
Yes, a passport is required for travel throughout Central America, including Panama.
What should I pack for a cruise to the Panama Canal & Central America?
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Panama Canal Cruises From San Diego
Three cruise lines offer cruises through the Panama Canal from San Diego. They are one-way trips that end in Florida or Texas. All go fully through the canal, and they visit resort ports along the way. See the schedule of departures below.
This time-lapse video shows a full transit of a cruise ship through the Panama Canal in just 5 minutes. The actual trip was more than 10 hours.
The Panama Canal is 100 years old, and is one of the engineering marvels of the world. A voyage through the canal is a real “must do” adventure. See an interesting 100 years of the Panama Canal in 10 photos gallery by PBS.
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 won’t 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 industry’s 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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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.
Featured Panama Canal Destinations
Panama, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Grand Caymanyou can explore many distinctive destinations on one luxurious vacation.
This wonder of engineering, first conceived and built over 100 years ago, has changed the shipping and tourism industries. It has brought us all closer and made the world simpler to navigate by allowing an easier flow of goods and people.
Founded as an important Spanish port in 1533, the Old Town of Cartagena de Indiasa UNESCO World Heritage Siteremains largely intact behind high stone walls that peer out over the Caribbean. Truly, one of the worlds most beautiful cities.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta maintains a small-town atmosphere, while still boasting one of the most unique and sophisticated ocean fronts in Mexico. The calm, warm waters of the Bay of Banderas make for excellent diving, or you can just watch artists sculpt spectacular creations in the sand. The fine art galleries in El Centro are perfect spots to explore local art.
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Panama Canal Cruise Terminal
A complete Panama canal transit is comprised of sailing through 3 sets of locks. Gatun Locks are located on the Caribbean side of Continental Divide while Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks are situated on the Pacific side. Vessels transiting the canal are being raised and lowered 85 ft in this 3-lock system. Other special highlights of Panama canal are the Gaillard cut and Gatun Lake. Gatun Lake is among the largest man-made lakes in the world covering 163 sq.miles. Gaillard Cut is 8 miles long channel built through solid rock that was the most difficult excavation in canal construction.
The new Panama Canal locks were officially inaugurated on June 26, 2016 following the completion of a 9-year construction project. Originally scheduled for completion October 2014, a hundred years after it first opened, the canal’s expansion provided an additional lane of shipping traffic through construction of 2 new locks , this way doubling the capacity of this unique waterway.
During new locks’ opening, thousands of spectators gathered at CocolÃ locks to watch the Chinese container ship “Cosco Shipping Panama” with its 9472 TEU containers becoming the ever first ship passing through the new locks.
During the canal’s opening ceremony, there was a special guest section with around 3000 people, including delegations from different countries, business associates, heads of different authorities and organizations.