Welcome to the Panama Canal, to Central America. Welcome to a place like no other. The century-old canal itself remains in perfect condition, allowing cruise ships to cross the famous 50-mile stretch linking the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. Itineraries to the region regularly feature stops in Columbia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and more. Striking architecture and the carefree culture blends perfectly with tropical settings. Wild and wonderful. Soothing and serene. For an extraordinary journey to some of the world’s warmest hidden treasures, a Panama Canal cruise is the cure for the common vacation.
Take a trip back in time in Cartagena, a port overflowing with colonial history and home to an enchanting, old-fashioned simplicity. Climb to the top of a Spanish fort, or stroll through one of the many historical buildings in the Old Town district. Visit the popular dungeons, which have been converted to a lively cultural hotspot full of wonderful little shops. Enjoy fantastic water views and great authentic Columbian cuisine.
The brightly colored buildings of this busy port match the town’s high-energy atmosphere perfectly. A fast-paced craft market greets you by the docks, and you can easily make your way to nearby Colon. There, you can take snapshots of towering monuments, stroll in meticulously tended parks, or get a perfect view of the water.
For many, the highlight of a Panama Canal cruise is the actual crossing of the mechanical marvel. Find a spot to settle down on your ship, and then just keep your eyes peeled as you glide through the surreal 50-mile stretch. The waters of the canal are patrolled by Caymans, and the jungle forest surrounding it is full of exotic wildlife, from rare birds to jungle cats and tree-dwelling sloths. The journey is a real-time celebration of American ingenuity and a totally unique cruise experience.
Shore excursions? More like shore adventures in incredible Puerto Limon. Full of stunning tropical rainforest, it’s a nature lover’s paradise. Aerial tram rides will take you over the canopy of the expansive forest, where you can enjoy some of the best bird and butterfly watching possible. You’ll also want to check out Cahuita National Park, a reserve that features beautiful beaches and coral reefs perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or just kicking back.
On the southern coast of Nicaragua, San Juan del Sur is a quiet and peaceful fishing village. The bay is dotted with small boats and yachts, and on the waterfront, you’ll find spectacular white-sand beaches and warm, still waters. Further inland, the area retains a genuinely colonial feel, its winding streets flanked by enchanting Old World architecture. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through town, or find a sunny section of beach to sink your toes into.