Panama Canal Cruising What Itinerary Is Right For You?
The Panama Canal is a feat of engineering that connects the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. This manmade waterway was completed in 1914 and its 40-mile length runs through part of the protected Soberania National Park rainforest. The lock-type canal is a popular route for cruise ships, giving passengers a great view of the rainforest that they may not have seen before. Monkeys, manatees, crocodiles, and more, inhabit these waters, making the journey from one end to the other exciting.
If you’re looking for a different type of cruise experience, why not consider taking one along the Panama Canal? There are three types of cruises you can take. Let’s take a look at them.
Full Transit Cruise
A full transit cruise is one that travels from the Caribbean to the Pacific and vice versa. These cruises can be on a passenger ship that carries as few as 20 people and as many as 2,800, such as your larger cruise ships. Originally, only ships 106 feet wide or small could travel the canal, but a 2016 expansion helped pave the way for ships up to 160 feet wide. Available most of the year, full transit cruises could be part of a trip leaving from Florida or California and traveling as far north as Alaska or as far south as parts of Central America. It takes eight to 10 hours to make a full transit of the canal. Depending on the cruise you take will determine if there are extended stops where passengers can disembark and visit the local towns along the canal.
Partial Transit Cruise
A partial transit cruise of the Panama Canal only covers a small portion of the waterway and starts and ends in the same place. Some cruise lines offer this as a stop on their Caribbean cruise itinerary. Usually, the cruise ships come in through the Gatun Locks, enter Gatun Lake, and then exit the same way. What is fun about partial transit cruises is that they make time for passengers to visit different ports of call, such as Colon, and see the rainforest. It’s a great way to learn about the history and operation of the canal.
Small Cruise Ship Tours
If you are looking for a unique way to travel the canal, consider taking a vacation that combines a land vacation with a cruise tour. These are perfect for travelers who don’t want to take a full-blown cruise but still want to learn about the Panama Canal, how it works, and see the rainforest. You can spend time experiencing different cities and then cruise the canal. These types of tours usually last one to two weeks and you get a great taste of everything the country of Panama has to offer.
Some things to consider
While you can transit the Panama Canal just about any time of year, the cruise season runs from late September through early April, with the best weather occurring after November. To determine whether or not the cruise you are interested in is full or partial transit, look at the starting and ending locations. If you board on the east coast and disembark on the west coast, it is a full transit cruise. Finally, plan and book your Panama Canal cruise well in advance. These cruises, even small ship cruises, fill up fast and there are not very many last-minute options.
Get ready for a different type of cruise experience and see everything the Panama Canal has to offer. Contact us today and let us help you get started.