Cruising & Sailing Information

Panama Cruise Expert Guide

Situated in the country of Panama in Central America is the Panama Canal - a manmade waterway connecting the great oceans of the Pacific and the Atlantic together. It is 80 kilometers in length and is wide enough to accommodate a whole host of ocean-going vessels, including Panama cruise ships. The Panama canal marks the only point at which the landmass of the North American continent and South American continent are physically separated from each other - a fact that distinguishes the canal as a true wonder of the 20th century engineering world.

The Panama Canal was initially designed to cut travel time for vessels that needed to cross between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. It first opened its commercial doors on 15 August, 1914 and is now used by more than thirteen thousand vessels each year. Along the canal's length are three sets of locks. The locks act as water elevators, enabling vessels to traverse upslope/downslope across the canal terrain.

A Panama cruise takes in the full length of this magnificent canal, revealing some awe-inspiring views of an incredible feat of engineering, as well as offering a tantalizing selection of tour options along the canal. These include sailing or kayaking on Gatun Lake, through which the canal passes. Visitors can also book a tour of the Panama Canal railroad, which takes in dramatic views of the canal itself and the Central American rainforests.

Vibrant Panama City with its eclectic mix of architecture, people and culture is an essential excursion to take while on a Panama cruise. The historical district of Casco Viejo is well worth a visit, if only to see the remnants of the 17th century Spanish fortifications there. For sports-minded cruisers there is a world-class golf course located just 20-minutes away from Panama City.

Panama cruises depart from many of the coastal seaports around the U.S. The most popular cruise routes are one-way cruises departing from one port on the Atlantic or Pacific side and ending at a U.S. port on the opposite coast. Round-trip cruises are available too. These provide passengers with more 'at sea' time, and use the Panama Canal as the furthest destination point on the cruise.

Whether one-way or round-trip, Panama cruises incorporate other stops en-route to the Panama Canal and are often of between 10-20 nights in duration. A typical 12-night round-trip Panama cruise itinerary departing from Florida includes calls at Mexico, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Columbia as well as taking in the entire length of the Panama Canal. With so much variety on offer, its no wonder a Panama Cruise is top of the vacation wish list of many an American!

John Metcalfe is the author and web publisher of A to Z Cruises your #1 source
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