An undisputed travel bucket list destination, the Panama Canal holds both historical and international significance. It’s nearly impossible to grasp its enormity and the amount of work that went into its construction without passing through the canal locks. A dream more than 400 years in the making, the Panama Canal opened in 1914 and this epic man-made marvel changed the world in the process. There's no better way to discover this colossal wonder than on a Panama Canal cruise.
An engineering marvel, no pumps are used in filling or emptying the locks or "steps" that rise and fall between the two mighty oceans on either side. The Canal saves 13,000 miles of ocean travel around the tip of South America for vessels that traverse the 51 mile course. It takes 58 million gallons of water for a single ship to descend the 85 feet from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and takes a mere 8 hours. Electric locomotives attach cables on both sides of ships to ensure they are centered while slowly motoring on their own power through each lock. A huge cruise ship had just a few feet to spare on each flank.
As you cruise through the canal, you will come to Gatun Lake, the largest man-made lake in the world, where the shores are filled with exotic birds, the calls of wild jungle animals and colorful orchids. It took 33 years to build this eighth wonder of the world, but in one day you´ll discover memories that will last a lifetime.
Close to the Canal, for example, one can access the Soberania National Park with its excellent bird-watching and hiking, visit an Emberá Indian village to understand some of the indigenous cultures that make this region so culturally rich. A highlight of an itinerary into this region, of course, is an exploration of Old Panama City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a magnet for retirees from North America. The town’s former cathedral and crumbling convents mixed with new bars and restaurants make Panamá Viejo a must.
You can sail from ocean to ocean, offering both east coast and west coast departures! Marvel at the epic engineering of the Panama Canal as you transit through the Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks, and enjoy port calls in the Caribbean and Central America.
Most major cruise lines and some smaller ones offer lengthy Panama Canal trips from one U.S. coast to the other, primarily in the drier September-April period. Ships on shorter cruises go into the canal, turn around and return to their ports of origin.
Contact Lee Boughan from Cruise Planners for more information, 407-814-8283.
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