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Panama Canal Cruise review and tour deals

Updated on December 21, 2010

Contains a traveler's review of panama canal cruise and the money saving tour deals with the expected cost for a typical cruise package. Panama Canal cruise have become one of the most popular way to visit the panama canal. Panama canal cruise provides the fun, relaxation and pampering vacation. One of the few engineering marvels in the world, the Panama Canal should be on everyone's list of must-see places.

Panama Canal Cruise ship
Panama Canal Cruise ship

Panama Canal cruise


Panama Canal cruise have become one of the most popular way to visit the panama canal. While the panama canal cruise sailing through the lock, just inches from the canal side, you can look out the hostile jungle beyond.Watch the tropical birds overhead and take in the chatter and shrieks of the rainforest's wildlife as you go. Whether you are planning an extravagant cruise or just a last minute getaway, a short sailing or an extended voyage, Panama canal cruise provides the fun, relaxation and pampering vacation. One of the few engineering marvels in the world, the Panama Canal should be on everyone's list of must-see places.

The Panama Canal cruise season runs from late September to April. The best time to visit Panama and the best cruise tour deals are in the winter and spring, especially since the country's rainy season lasts from March through December. For the best weather, cruise after November. Panama Canal Cruise feature great food, entertainment, interesting ports of canal and fascinating tours of canal and history leading up to its completion. There are a number of different cruise and itineraries for the Panama Canal offered by most of the major lines.

Some facts about Panama Canal

Panama Canal is one of the most modern and progressive tourism destinations in Central America. Although Panama Canal offers a wide variety of attractions and activities, the Panama Canal is perhaps its best-known and most popular attraction. A voyage through the Panama Canal is at the top of the list for thousands of tourists, and those who have completed the trip describe it as one of the most memorable adventures in their lifetime. Panama Canal is one of the most fascinating places in the world where human ingenuity, and the wonders of nature, come together to connect two great oceans and join the world.

Current panama canal cruise lengths can be anywhere from 7-9 days (Regent Seven Seas, NCL) to 10-11 days (Princess, Costa, Holland America, Crystal, Royal Olympia), or 14-16 days (Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, Silversea). The most popular Panama Canal itinerary is still some version of the standard Florida-West Coast route. Miami and Ft. Lauderdale are the main departure cities in Florida. Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco are the key West Coast cities. But, there are several permutations of the standard itinerary, such as Silversea cruises from Port Canaveral to Vancouver and from Tampa to Seattle. You can find a variety of panama canal tour deals and packages to enjoy the panama canal.

The Panama Canal was constructed by the United States to link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It opened in 1914 and remained under U.S. control until 1979, when administration of the canal was handed over to the Panama Canal Authority, which answers to the government of Panama.

The approximately 50-mile canal saves ships traveling between the east and west coasts of the U.S. nearly 8,000 nautical miles. The canal operates with a series of locks, which are massive chambers that lift ships from sea level to Gatún Lake and back to sea level. The main level of the canal is 85 feet above sea level. Hinged gates powered by electric motors open into the lock chambers.

Vessels enter the Atlantic side via Limón Bay, which leads to the Gatún Locks, a series of three locks that open into Gatún Lake. From there, ships traverse the Gaillard Cut channel to the Pedro Miguel Locks. The locks lower vessels into Miraflores Lake and then through a dredged approach passage into the Pacific Ocean.

The biggest decision you'll need to make on a Panama Canal cruise is whether to opt for the traditional trans-canal experience, which means you spend a day on the Canal, crossing from ocean to ocean. The majority of cruises still follow this option. But, Princess and Holland America also offer "partial crossings," in which the ship doesn't actually cross the entire Canal. Rather, the ship crosses through one lock, then lets passengers off in the town of Gamboa, along the Canal. From there, passengers can enjoy a myriad of shore excursions and take in sights they otherwise wouldn't see on a day-long crossing. Some lines, such as Silversea, offer the same "partial crossing" shore excursions without entering the Canal at all. Rather, its ships dock for a day at the Pacific entrance to the Canal, at Colon, Panama.

Panama Canal Attractions:

San Blas Islands: The Islands stretch about 200 miles of the Panama's Caribbean Coast and are set in beautifully clear waters and coral reefs. A perfeet place for snorkeling and diving.

Bocas del toro: This archipelago has the perfect combination of nature and historical and cultural tradition, with a charming variety of aquatic species, classic caribbean aqua blue water fringed beach washing up a gainst nature dense rainforest. Coral reefs, mangroves,Undisturbed jungles with all the flora and fauna you can imagine.

Beaches: Fronting two oceans, Panama offer a wild variety of beach. Both coasts have beautiful beachs with crystal clear waters, white sand ,coral reefs and coconut palm trees.

Chiriqui Highlands: Offer a wild variety of attraction such as, beach with crystal clear waters, Indian cultures, idyllic retirement communities,world class rafting.

Panama canal map
Panama canal map
Panama Canal Locks at night
Panama Canal Locks at night

Panama Canal Cruise Review

Moving through the Panama Canal is a passage not just in the geographical sense but also a traveler's rite of passage. This massive engineering feat- an approximately 50-mile channel cut through a dense jungle to connect two oceans-commands respect even from afar. But to witness this marvel in action, from the up-close vantage of a cruise ship deck, while also getting the opportunity to explore the surrounding region, provides a travel experience like no other.

The Holland America panama canal cruise, begins in Florida, makes stops in the Caribbean, traverses the canal and then visits ports such as Acapulco on the Pacific coast of Mexico. When the ship enters the canal, crowds of cruisers rush to the bow to watch the locks open. For a less-crowded vantage, find a quiet deck spot at the ship's stern. The mighty water flow generated by the movement of the locks gradually raised us 85 feet and eventually led to Gatún Lake. Each time you enter the next lock, the massive gates closes behind you giving you an amazing view.

Gatun Lake provides natural splendor amid the canal's man-made wonders. Though the lake itself is also man-made-one of the world's largest constructed waterways, in fact-you wouldn't know it given the dense jungle that surrounds the lake and the scads of colorful birds flitting about the lake's many islands.After crossing the lake, the ship nosed into the Gaillard Cut, the canal's narrowest section, then into the first locks that would begin our descent down to the Pacific Ocean. Then a short trip across Miraflores Lake, dropped down again in another set of locks and before long gazing out into the Pacific. It felt like traveling to the other side of the world, all in a matter of hours. Given that the canal was built a century ago, it's amazing that many of its original components remain and were built well enough to last so long in the moist, tropical climate.

Top pick: Passing through the locks definitely provids the highlight of the trip.

Advice: During shore excursions, such as a visit to Acapulco, take a tour bus in the morning to see all the highlights and orient yourself to an area. Then you'll have time in the afternoon to revisit your favorite stops and explore places that caught your attention. Sign up for bus tours early; they fill up quickly.

Passage through the Panama Canal is definitely a worthwhile journey for any traveler. It's mind-boggling to imagine that humans can create such a massive, complicated structure in the midst of this wild terrain. You're sure to marvel at this historic, monumental place.

There are many reviews available on the internet on the various panama canal cruises. Search in google and you can find amazing and detailed reviews on panama canal cruises and tour deals especially for 2009.

Panama Canal cruise cost

8 day / 7 night Panama Rainforest Adventure with Airfare, travel between Oct & Nov 2008 from Miami. You can find a seat for a cost of $699/per person.

To get the best value for your money $699/ per person, make sure you get at least the following:

  • Roundtrip air from Miami or similar city
  • 2 Nights in Gamboa Rainforest at Gamboa Rainforest Resort
  • 2 Nights in Panama Canal at nice hotel like Holiday Inn At Panama Canal
  • 3 Nights in Playa Bonita at a resort like Intercontinental Playa Bonita
  • Daily Buffet Breakfast
  • Guided Panama City tour and Miraflores Locks at The Panama Canal
  • Monkey Island Jungle Boat Tour from the Gamboa Rainforest.
  • English speaking guides & representatives

Are you planning on a panama canal cruise in 2008 or 2009?

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    • Taranwanderer profile image


      3 years ago

      So many cruise ships and so little time lol. I have got to stop surfing these pages today.

    • caribbean fun profile image

      caribbean fun 

      7 years ago

      Me and the wife did the 10 day canal cruise back in march 2009 on Princess cruise line. One of the best cruises i've had. The canal is something every cruiser should see. The locks are great to watch the ship raise up and lower. The Panama Canal cruise is the best.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      we are sailing april 6th on the coral princess to the panama canal for 15 days out of los angeles. my question is ...which is the best type of room for this cruise? husband gets which deck/level is best for him? thank you for your help

    • cruises singles profile image

      cruises singles 

      9 years ago

      Very good hub with valuable information, thanks for it! ;-) I've never been on a cruise in the panama canal but why not in the future...

    • profile image

      Norwegian Pearl Cruises 

      9 years ago

      Great hub, I have always been interested in the Panama Canal and think a cruise would be a fantastic way to explore the region. Great information.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I went to Panama last winter, and i had the best experience, thank you to this company:, they are so good with the service.

      They told me to take the Transit throught the Panama Canal, and it was a perfect trip. I think that with a cruise, it will be perfect too.

      Go to Panama, is a wonderful country

    • profile image

      Victoria Cruises 

      9 years ago

      Panama Canal cruise sounds very interesting, i remember there was a chapter on my high school geology book, it had detailed information about this great canal. It must be an amazing experience to go through it.


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