View of a mountaintop island on Panama river cruise

All inclusive Panama vacations bring tourists to what many people call Central America’s “Hidden Treasure.

Panama is the small country near the equator that connects Central America to South America. Though relatively small in size, it is brimming with culture shaped by European and Spanish traditions and a friendly population generally made up of Spanish speaking Roman Catholics.

Panama’s strategic geographic location makes it a gathering place of people from all over the world. In recent years Panama has gone to great lengths to attract worldwide vacationers and tourists to its country. Many of these tourists are eager to witness the workings of the engineering feat that often claims the title as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” – the Panama Canal.

Panama Canal Cruises

One of the most popular activities on Caravan all inclusive Panama vacations is a Panama Canal cruise. Getting to watch the gates in the canal open and close is exciting but there are also other great water adventures to take part in:

Gatun Lake Cruise

This man-made lake is one of the most important features of the Panama Canal. Strategically built in the Chagres Valley, Gatun Lake holds more than 5.2 cubic kilometres of water. What were once mountain peaks surrounding a valley are now hilltop islands. One of the highlights of this Panama boat cruise is a visit to Monkey Island.

Panama Locks Cruise

Travel by water through Panama as you experience the opening and closing of both the Mireflores Locks and the Pedro Miguel Locks. As transit and trade through the Panama Canal doesn’t slow down for tourists, this canal cruise allows vacationers to get first hand experience of how the 6 foot thick steel gates open and close as tugboats guide large vessels through the canal.

Chagres Rivers Cruise

Get up close and personal with the wildlife that inhabit the land along the Chagres River. The river cuts through Central America, crosses the Continental Divide and drains into the Caribbean Sea.

Panama Canal Top Destinations

While enjoying all inclusive Panama vacations make sure to visit this country’s most popular destinations:

Panama Viego Panama
Known to many as “Old Panama” this Spanish Colonial city was founded nearly four centuries ago when the Spanish came seeking gold. Panama Viego is one of two UNESCO World Heritage sites to take in while visiting Panama.

Playa Blanca Panama
Located on the Pacific Coast, Playa Blanca is a popular tourist destination because of its five star resorts built along pristine white sandy beaches.

El Valle Panama
This small town is built in the center of a dormant volcano and features charming homes surrounded by lush green scenery. El Valle is the perfect step away from the hustle and bustle of Panama City.

Panama City, Panama
The hub of the country whose downtown core is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean; Panama City has many tourist destinations on its own such as the The National Institute of Culture Building, Las Bóvedas, Plaza de la Catedral, Teatro Nacional and Museo del Canal Interoceánico.

Panama Vacation Activities

All inclusive Panama vacations don’t have to solely revolve around the opening and closing of the gates of the great Panama Canal. The country is full of other rich heritage sites, cultural experiences and local marketplaces that will spark your interest:

  • See the dormant volcano situated in Central Panama near the town of El Valle.
  • Explore the rainforest biodiversity – Panama is home to over 100 mammal species, over 500 bird species, and over 120 reptile and amphibian species.
  • Experience authentic Embera Indian villages in the heart of Panama’s rainforests.
  • Shop for local Panama handiwork such as fibre baskets or tagua nut carvings.
  • Stay in touch with modern society and be inspired by Panama City’s skyline, which resembles Miami or Manhattan but with a Latin America flare.
  • Walk the Amador Causeway Panama
  • Enjoy Panama’s culinary delights, which are inspired by Spanish, American, Caribbean, and indigenous palates and feature fresh seafood and tropical toppings.

Caravan Panama All Inclusive

Fully escorted cruises on Panama Canal Vacations by Caravan Tours take you through the waterways and canals of Panama and let you explore the rich cultural heritage of this small Central American country.

The All Inclusive Cruise Packages include food, accommodations, activities and transportation while on this fully guided vacation.

For details on current all inclusive Panama vacations, visit Caravan Tour’s Panama Itinerary page.

Request a free Travel Brochure or call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) toll free to make a booking.

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.

panama embera village

On your Caravan Panama tour you will have the change to visit an authentic Embera Indian Village.

The Embera-Wounaan Indians live in Panama’s province of Darien. Still very primitive and untouched by the outside world, these Chocó people are very friendly and open to tourists, enjoying the opportunity to share their culture with others.

One highlight of Caravan’s 8 Day All Inclusive Panama Tour is a morning’s trip up the Chagres River to visit a Panama Embera Indian village.

During this morning visit, tourists have the opportunity to:

  • Cruise the Chagres River enjoy the sights of Panamanian rainforest
  • Interact with Embera Indians in their natural environment
  • Browse and shop from the Embera handicrafts

Chagres River Panama Cruise

The Embera Indian village tour starts near Gatun Lake on the Caribbean side of Panama. Passengers board a small cruise boat and travel up the Chagres River into the heart of the Panama Rainforest. The Chagres River is actually Panama’s primary source for water and is critical in the functioning of the Panama Canal. Along the riverbanks of the Chagres there are opportunities to spot many creatures that make up Panama’s unique wildlife and ecosystem. Toucans, macaws and quetzals all help make Panama one of the best bird watching areas in the world where exotic birds can be easily spotted up in the trees.

Embera Indian Village Visit

Today the Embera Indians of Panama maintains their traditional living conditions and village structure. Each Embera Indian village is located close to the river bank throughout the Darien Province. Most are about a half day’s walk away from neighboring villages. Built on stilts, Embera Indian homes are raised off the ground and have thatched roofs and no walls. All household items such as handmade hammocks, baskets, pots, mosquito nets and bows and arrows hang from the posts and beams around the hut.

Panama’s Embera Indians, also known as the Chocó, have their own form of government and live by their own, unwritten standards. Healthcare is limited and the Embera Indians are not assimilated into Panamanian culture.

Very much community oriented, each villager contributes during harvest time to farm the land together. Food gained from hunting is shared between everyone. Often areas around the small Embera Indian village are cleared in order to grow bananas and plantain, which can be used as a crop and resource for obtaining motors, mosquito nets and other goods.

Embera Native Handiwork

After meeting the Embera Indians of Panama many tourists like to collect a keepsake and provide a way to support or thank the village for being so welcoming. Most of the time the Emberas open up their own marketplaces and sell tourists some of their very best handiwork, including colorful woven palm fiber baskets and tagua nut or cocobolo tree carvings.

Visit Caravan’s Panama Cruise FAQ page or Check Availability for the Panama Canal Cruise Vacation Packages.

These vacations always book up quickly as they are All Inclusive and include your meals, in-country transportation and all accommodations.

Call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to reserve your space today and visit an authentic Embera Indian village in Panama!

Waiting to board the Caravan Panama Cruise boat.

Caravan Panama Canal Cruise Boat

Explore the Panama Canal with Caravan Tours

Rather than vacationing on a cruise liner that passes through the Panama Canal in less than a day, many vacationers are opting for our 8-day Caravan Panama cruise package.

Our Caravan tour features day trip cruise expeditions in addition to rainforest adventures, beach excursions, and a visit to an authentic Embera Tribal village.

Each year, more than 14,000 vessels pass through the Panama Canal. A fair number of these ships are Panama cruise liners filled with passengers eager to get a peak of one of the seven modern wonders of the world.

The Panama Canal is approximately 48 miles long. With the gateways and lock systems, it can take a Panama cruise ship between nine and fifteen hours to cross through the canal, depending on the canal’s efficiency.

Caravan Panama Cruise on Gatun Lake

One of the most popular day cruise packages is through Gatun Lake.

Gatun Lake is a manmade lake in Panama’s Chagres Valley. The lake’s waters form a speedy 33-kilometer passageway for vessels to move through the Isthmus of Panama. However, Gatun Lake has much more to offer than just a convenient passageway.

Gatun Lake is spotted with hilltop islands that were once mountain peaks. Day cruises along Gatun Lake take guests to some of these islands, including the very popular Monkey Island. It is here that glimpses of Panama’s diverse wildlife and in particular, monkey population, can be seen in a close-up setting.

Locks Transit Panama Canal Cruise

After seeing Panama’s lock system work from the solid ground, Caravan guests have the opportunity to see the gates function from the water level on a passenger’s vessel. While seated on the small Caravan Panama cruise boat, guests get eye-level views of the magnificent Panama Canal. Guests often get to see the steel gates open and close, depending on the schedule of the Canal that day.

A Locks Transit Cruise features both the two-step Miraflores Locks (the tallest gate) and Pedro Miguel Locks, which move vessels up from the Pacific Ocean into Lake Gatun. In addition to the Canal, this Caravan Panama cruise gives guests excellent views of the Bridge of Americas while crossing the Continental Divide.

All-Inclusive Panama Cruise Vacations

The benefit of these Panama all-inclusive cruise vacations is that once you arrive in Panama there is no need to spend an extra penny. Included in the price of the fully escorted Caravan Panama cruise package:

  • All meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) while in Panama
  • 3 nights stay in Panama City
  • 2 nights stay in Gamboa, Panama
  • 2 nights stay in Playa Bonita, Panama
  • Day cruises and land travel

Panama Canal is easily one of the Best Central America Vacations you can enjoy.

Panama All Inclusive Travel

Our fully escorted Caravan Panama Cruise Packages feature two daytime cruises and land travel along the entire Panama Canal.

Visit Caravan’s Panama Cruise FAQ page for more details about this 8-day all-inclusive vacation package.

To learn more about the Panama Canal visit this page by Britannica.

For more information or to check the availability of our Caravan Panama cruise package tour, please Call Toll-Free 1-800-CARAVAN.