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Panama Canal Cruise Guide

Traverse through the biodiverse jungles and culturally rich cities of Central America as you cruise along one of the greatest engineering marvels of the modern world. 

Regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Panama Canal continues to lure travelers the world over, and with many cruise lines now offering Panama Canal cruises, journeying through this man-made waterway just got a bit easier.

The 48-mile engineering triumph cuts through Central America and links the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, making it a bucket list voyage worth savoring. With a Panama Canal cruise vacation, travelers are provided with an intimate look at a man-made marvel that has withstood more than a century of use. The journey through the canal itself takes roughly 10 hours, which includes stops at the three lock chambers. Watching the locks open is one of the main highlights of a Panama Canal cruise, as you get to experience the change in water levels, which was designed to allow ships to pass through. 

Apart from journeying through the canal itself, a Panama Canal cruise also offers the opportunity to discover the other countries of Central America. Depending on the cruise line and itinerary, you can find yourself in Costa Rica, where you can take part in numerous ecotourism excursions such as visiting the imposing Arenal volcano or walking through the cloud-shrouded forest in Monteverde. Your itinerary may also include a stop in Belize, where you can explore the world’s second-largest barrier reef system, or Guatemala, where you can explore the charming colonial city of Antigua. 

Depending on the vacation experience you’re after, you can take in the Panama Canal from the comfort of a major cruise liner, replete with entertainment venues and an array of dining options. Or, you can choose to travel with a smaller ship for a more personal and in-depth experience at the canal. You also have the option of embarking on a Panama Canal cruise with a partial transit, where the cruises only go halfway through the locks before turning around. This option shortens your Panama Canal cruise duration and provides you with more shore excursions in different Central American cities near the canal. If you choose to go with the full transit Panama Canal cruise, your journey will typically last 14 days, which allows you to navigate each set of locks and takes you from one coast of the U.S. to the other, usually Florida to California. 

Apart from neighboring Central American countries, most cruises to the Panama Canal also include stops in western Mexico and the Western and Southern Caribbean. Panama Canal cruise season runs from October to April, with peak season taking place in December and January.

*Prices are cruise only, per person, double occupancy. Taxes, fees and port expenses not included. Rates are valid for US and Canadian residents only. Fuel supplement may apply. Savings advertised and Expedia Extras are based on specific cabin types and sailing dates, and may not be available for all cabin types/sailings.