Since its completion in 1914 the Panama Canal remains as one of man’s most incredible engineering marvels.
A good number of the 15,000 ships that pass through its three sets of locks annually are now Panama Canal cruises that cater to tourists from around the globe.
Prior to the building of the Panama Canal ships from North and Central America that wanted to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans (or vice versa) had to endure the long and arduous journey around the southern tip of South America.
The distance a ship takes from the Caribbean Sea (Atlantic Ocean) to the Pacific Ocean through the Panama Canal is less than 50 miles; considerably less than the 5000+ mile journey around South America. What used to take weeks can now be travelled in a matter of hours.
The Panama Canal is one of man’s largest and most sophisticated engineering feats.
Panama Canal Cruises Route
The Panama Canal operates year round and in recent years Panama Canal cruises have become increasingly popular. Most Panama Canal cruises include shore excursions along Panama’s naturally beautiful, sun drenched coasts where vacationers can enjoy Panama’s rich culture and bewitching natural beauty.
Panama Canal cruise ships entering from the Gulf of Panama on the Pacific side travel approximately eight miles inland to reach the first set of locks, the two-stage Miraflores locks.
From there, cruise ships traverse the mile long Miraflores Lake to the single stage Pedro Miguel lock before entering the eight mile, manmade Culebra Cut, which crosses the Continental Divide.
The next leg of the journey is along the five mile Chagres River into Lake Gatun, a 20 mile wide artificial lake created when the Gatun Dam was built across the Chagres River.
Panama Canal cruise ships then make the last leg of the journey through the three stage Gatun locks which leads them back down to sea level on the Caribbean side at Limon Bay.
Types of Panama Canal Cruises
There are many tour operators that offer a variety of Panama Canal cruise deals. Many of these Panama Canal cruises are all inclusive and fully escorted.
Panama Canal cruises itinerary and shore excursions will vary but may include such popular ports of call as Aruba, Belize City, Cabo San Lucas, Cartagena Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Zihuatanejo, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Puerto Vallarta, Puntarenas and St. Thomas.
Themed excursions are also available that allow tourists to discover a world of ancient wonders such as Mayan ruins and world of the Inca bathed in the soul stirring beauty of the Caribbean.
Some Panama Canal cruises last for the entire vacation where vacationers remain with the ship except for various shore excursions. Other Panama Canal cruises are much shorter and may be part of an all inclusive vacation package tour.
Panama Canal All Inclusive Tours
A Panama Canal cruise is included as part of Caravan Tours’ All Inclusive Panama Package Tour. This is a fully escorted 9-day package tour exceptionally priced, starting at just $1,195.
Caravan Tours offers All Inclusive Vacation Packages throughout North and Central America.
Caravan’s Panama Canal all inclusive tour also includes a jungle cruise along the Piedras River plus visits to an Embera Indian village and places like Panama Viejo, Portobello, Colon, Playa Blanca, El Valle and Casco Viejo.