The Panama canal was built to provide a short, safe passage for maritime trade between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.Travelling through this busy 70km shipping route takes one full day. This really is one of the world's great engineering feats.

Panama Canal Cruise Itineraries

The Panama Canal is cut just west of the capital and links the Pacific Ocean with the Caribbean Sea. After experiencing the canal itself, most Panama Canal cruise itineraries include port stops throughout the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera and Central America. Los Angeles and San Diego on the west coast of America, and Fort Lauderdale and Miami in Florida on the east coast are major departure points for full transit Panama Canal cruises. Additionally, Costa Rica features on most Panama Canal cruise itineraries.

Partial transit cruises enter the canal at either the Pacific or Caribbean end. Ships coming from the Pacific dock in Gatun Lake out of the Gatun Locks, and ships starting in the Caribbean dock at Miraflores Lake after entering through the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks. Passengers on a partial transit cruise enjoy shore excursions that full transit passengers miss out on - with visits to Panama's untouched jungle, eco-safaris, rainforest trekking and cultural excursions. It is possible to complete the canal transit via a smaller vessel; this is a popular shore excursion on a partial transit cruise as passing through the magnificent locks is a highlight of the Panama Canal.

When To Go

The Panama Canal cruise season is October to April. The official end to the rainy season is in November which is a great time to visit the rainforests of Central America. There are many repositioning cruises at the start and end of the cruise season as ships are moved from the Caribbean to Alaska for summer and back again in the winter. These cruises are often offered in segments so it's possible to get a great deal on a one way transit cruise through the Panama Canal.

Who Goes There?

The Panama Canal is a busy cruise route. Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean and Silversea all offer Panama Canal cruises. Longer itineraries which include the Panama Canal are offered by Cunard, Holland America, Oceania and Princess among others.

To book your Panama Canal cruise or to find out more, call one of our Travel Consultants on 0800 22 11 00. Don't forget to ask about great deals on flights, transfers, travel insurance and more.