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The Panama Canal should be on everyone's list of must-see places. Named as one of the most fascinating destinations to experience in the world and boasting some of the best unspoilt scenery, it is no wonder that more and more people are choosing to cruise this amazing canal. The Panama Canal is a 48-mile ship canal that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, making it one of the most important routes in the world. There are locks at each end, meaning you'll experience first-hand what it's like to be on a ship that has to rise 85 feet within a lock.
When it comes to deciding whether a Panama Canal cruise is right for you, more and more of your favourite cruise lines are adding Panama Canal to their itinerary list, enabling you to choose from a range of luxury cruises, family cruises or singles cruises, meaning that the perfect cruise is waiting for you.
The Panama Canal cruise season typically runs from October to April. The best time to go is after November when the rainy season is over.
The splendour of a Panama cruise is unlike anything else you'll ever see, and part of the experience is taking in the combination of natural and man-made environment, boasting an array of exoctic, tropical rainforests as you pass through this amazing channel.
When it comes to itineraries, cruisers have two options. If you choose a full crossing, you'll sail all the way through the 50 miles of the Panama Canal. However, there is also the choice of a partial crossing. During this cruise, your ship will enter the canal and you'll be able to disembark for shore excursions, but you won't cross to the other side.
A cruise through the Panama Canal can be done either from the Atlantic to the Pacific or vice versa. Panama cruise crossings take in the best of the Mexican Riviera as well as taking you through the impressive canal itself. While cruising along the canal you can take in the Gatun Locks, the former pirate paradise of Portobelo or the canal-side jungle. The Mexican Riviera side of the cruise takes you to Acapulco, famous for its white sandy beaches and vibrant nightlife, and Huatulco, as well as Puntarenas in Costa Rica, home to some of the finest beaches and the Manuel Antonio Park.
During your Panama canal cruise you'll get the opportunity to stop off in Costa Rica and see the incredible nature that thrives in this beautiful country. In Puntarenas you can expect shore excursions which take you to the Tabacon Hot Springs on an active volcano, a walk through the cloud forest or a hike through La Paz waterfall gardens. Puerto Limon is another port of call in Costa Rica and offers the opportunity to see the local wildlife, such as tortoises, crocodiles and monkeys, as well as a ride on an aerial tramway or a white-water raft ride if you're up for a thrill.
A Panama Canal cruise will take you to Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala. From here you can visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Antigua, famous for its architecture and ruins, as well as tours of coffee plantations, the Pacaya Volcano or Lake Atitlan.
Another option to take in a Panama Canal Cruise is to enjoy a Caribbean cruise with either a partial transit or a trip to Colon on the Atlantic coast of Panama. These cruises will often take you to a variety of Caribbean islands from the shopping haven of St. Maarten to the beautiful beaches of Aruba and St. Lucia. You could also take in Limon, Costa Rica and the Rainforest Aerial Tram ride through the nature reserve, adjacent to the national park, or a trip to the cobbled streets and balconies of Cartagena, Columbia.