Have the Panama Canal on your bucket list? Check out this article to know what cruise lines go to the Panama Canal.
The 51-mile-long Panama Canal, one of the world's greatest technical marvels, is a significant tourist destination in Central America. It's also a popular cruise destination, linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The canal is more than a century old, but it is busier than ever. Many Panama Canal cruises visit this man-made wonder.
A Panama Canal passage is an essential experience for many cruise fans. However, the canal is not a straight line. It is made up of multiple man-built canals, lakes, and three locks that boost ships upward as they sail across the Panama isthmus. It's an incredible experience. Let’s check out which cruise lines go to the Panama Canal.
From October through April, the Panama Canal is open for cruises. The best time to visit is in November, when the rainy season ends.
Every season, most of the main lines, as well as some smaller ones, provide at least a few Panama Canal sailings. Princess developed two ships to cruise the canal, Island Princess and Coral Princess; each ship has more than 700 balcony bedrooms and both sail the canal all winter. The Panama Canal is also a common way for ships to reposition themselves between Alaska as well as the Caribbean. Expedition ships, such as Lindblad Expeditions, and river cruise tour companies, such as Grand Circle and Tauck, also undertake the route.
Nowadays, almost all major cruise lines offer one or more Panama Canal trips, whether partial or full crossings.
Also Check: Best Time to Explore Panama Canal on a Cruise
Historically, Panama Canal cruises took 14 days from Florida to the West Coast, with landings in the Central America, Caribbean, and Mexico. Cruise companies have extended their offers in the last decade, keen to attract new travelers to the seas and catch cruisers who may have previously sailed the canal once or twice. The current voyage lengths range from 7 to 9 days, 10 to 11 days, and 14 to 16 days.
The most common Panama Canal itinerary is still some variation of the conventional Florida to West Coast trip. The primary departure cities in Florida are Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Although lengthier transits depart from Seattle or Vancouver, the major West Coast cities are Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.
Passengers frequently pick an Atlantic to Pacific or Pacific to Atlantic route depending on where they live, albeit the latter saves time. This trans-canal option involves spending a day on the canal, traversing from ocean to ocean and experiencing the entire lock experience.
If experiencing the whole "canal experience" is on your bucket list, or if you're an engineering nerd who doesn't care about Panamanian shore activities, this trip is for you. The Western Caribbean, the Costa Rican ports of Limon (on the Atlantic side) and Puntarenas (on the Pacific side), and Cartagena, Colombia are all stops on most complete Panama Canal voyages. Some passengers also make stops at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, and western Mexico.
Postcards from a Panama Canal Transit on Celebrity Infinity takes you through the whole journey.
A partial crossing occurs when the ship does not traverse the full canal. Instead, the ship passes through one lock before disembarking passengers in the town of Gamboa, which is located along the canal. Passengers may then enjoy a variety of shore excursions and view sights that they would not see on a daylong journey. Excursions on smaller boats are provided for people who want to visit the whole canal, including the Gaillard Cut, the Centennial Bridge, and the Bridge of the Americas.
Faux Crossing: Some companies provide the same "half crossing" shore excursions without ever entering the canal; instead, ships land for a day at the canal's Caribbean mouth, at Colon, Panama. Look for itineraries that include Colon in the Caribbean or Central America, and double-check the shore excursion options.
Many Panama Canal and Central American ports are rather industrial. If you don't like excursions, know that municipal officials in Colon have controlled taxis and established nice retail and dining facilities at the two main cruise ship landing places, Colon 2000 and neighbouring Cristobal Pier.