panama canal locks cruise

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.

Since its completion in 1914, the Panama Canal remains as one of man’s most incredible engineering marvels.

Prior to the building of the Panama Canal ships from North and Central America that wanted to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans 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.

Canal Route

The Panama Canal operates year round and in recent years Panama Canal cruises have become increasingly popular. Most cruises along the Panama Canal include shore excursions. On Panama’s naturally beautiful, sun drenched coasts, vacationers can enjoy Panama’s rich culture and bewitching natural beauty.

Miraflores Locks – 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.

Petro Miguel Lock – After cruise ships traverse the mile long Miraflores Lake they must pass through the single stage Pedro Miguel lock before entering the eight mile, manmade Culebra Cut, which crosses the Continental Divide.

Gatun Locks – The next leg of the journey is along the five mile Chagres River into Lake Gatun, a 20 mile wide (33 mile long) 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 cruise deals. The itinerary and shore excursions for Panama Canal cruises 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 cruises are much shorter and may be part of an all inclusive vacation package tour. Our Caravan Panama Canal cruises are all inclusive and fully escorted.

All Inclusive Tours

Caravan’s Panama Canal fully guided tour also includes a jungle cruise along the Chagres River to visit an authentic Embera Indian village. From Panama City, our tour guests will also explore places like Panama Viejo (Old Panama), Bridge of Americas, Gamboa Rainforest, Colon, and Playa Bonita.

A Panama Canal cruise is included as part of Caravan Tours’ All Inclusive Panama Package Tour. This is a fully escorted 8-day package tour exceptionally priced, starting at just $1,295.

Caravan Tours offers All Inclusive Vacation Packages throughout Central and North America, including Canada.

Call toll free, 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to make a reservation or for more tour information.