Beauty and Adventure Await You When You Cruise Through the Panama Canal
When you hear about a cruise through the Panama Canal, you probably mostly just think about the actual canal part of that vacation: going through the lock system that allows ships to safely and quickly pass from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and vice versa.
A Panama Canal cruise is much more than just the Panama Canal, though. It also visits several different countries on the way to and from Panama.
First, one thing to know about Panama Canal cruises are that they do a half-loop. You sail one way from the Pacific Ocean (typically embarking from San Diego or Los Angeles), cruise through the Panama Canal, and then finish up on the Atlantic side of the United States, typically in Florida. Itineraries can also be flipped, with you embarking from Florida (Miami or Fort Lauderdale) and ending in California.
That’s a lot of distance to sail, which provides a variety of ports of call that can be stopped at along the way before and after the day you cruise through the Panama Canal.
Cruise Through the Panama Canal with a Stop in Mexico
You can experience the western coast of Mexico during a cruise through the Panama Canal. Either the beginning or end of your cruise will include stops in Mexico, which will likely be in Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.
The city of Puerto Vallarta combines a bustling resort city with gorgeous beaches. You can spend the day relaxing on the sand or on a lounge chair at one of the beach bars lining the ocean; then cool off in the salty water with a water sports adventure.
Another way to spend your time in port in Puerto Vallarta is exploring the city center, which is home to historic churches, shopping boulevards, and an array of restaurants and bars.
Cabo San Lucas
A big allure of Cabo San Lucas is its coastal beauty that extends out into the ocean in a big way courtesy of its Land’s End array of rocks. Of these various rocks jutting out of the sea, El Arco is the most famous due to its arch shape.
A fun way to spend the day in Cabo is on an excursion that lets you go around Land’s End and get up close views of El Arco and the other rocks; kayaking, catamaran cruises, and jet skiing are all great ways to see Land’s End. There’s even a sliver of a beach between a couple of the massive rocks that make up Land’s End that you can walk around on.
Other popular things to do in Cabo include deep sea fishing, parasailing, horseback riding, whale watching, and visiting the nearby village of Todos Santos.
Cruise Through the Panama Canal with Stops in Latin America
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala
Puerto Quetzal is located on Guatemala’s Pacific coastline. While there’s not a ton to do for cruise passengers right within this port town, Puerto Quetzal is an excellent jumping off point to get to the town of Antigua, Guatemala.
Antigua is a historic city that is deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its colonial architecture. The old town area is easy to walk around and see the historic buildings.
Close to Antigua are additional shore excursions you can do to tour coffee plantations and learn more about the Mayan history of the area.
Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Costa Rica tops many travelers’ bucket list due to its lush scenery that consists of rainforests and expansive sandy coastline.
Explore the canopies of the rainforest on sky-high platforms that get you up close and personal with the trees and the animals that call the cloud forests home. Wildlife can also be found in the Tarcoles River, one of the largest habitats for crocodiles in the world. Take an eco cruise shore excursion to spy some of these interesting predators.
Other popular shore excursions to do while in port in Puntarenas is to tour coffee plantations, take a bus tour to the capital city of San Juan, and go on a beach break that include water sports.
Cruise Through the Panama Canal with Stops in South America
Colon is a prime place to learn more about the history and inner workings of the Panama Canal, which is a particularly alluring thing to do before or after you cruise through the Panama Canal. You’ll leave the country feeling like a bona fide expert on this engineering marvel. During these excursions you’ll get the chance to explore the nearby Gatun Lake (from which Panama Canal’s Gatun Locks get their name) and the island habitats created within the lake during the building of the canal.
Other things to do while in Colon that don’t include Panama Canal specific activities are aerial trams through the nearby rainforest, a tour of Panama City, and a beach escape to a tropical island off the coast of Panama.
Cartagena is a colorful town to walk through that is lovely to behold thanks to its vibrantly hued buildings adorned with terracotta-colored roofs, white moldings, and flower beds under windows.
The old town dates back to the 16th century and is particularly intriguing to walk through due to its walled in ambiance and the fortresses and churches found within its confines.
Cartagena and its surrounding area is also home to beautiful beaches and wildlife centers.
Book Your Cruise Through the Panama Canal Today
See the modern wonder that is the Panama Canal and get a first-hand history lesson on it plus visit all the other ports of call mentioned in this article on one of our exciting Panama Canal cruises. Browse our Panama Canal itineraries and pick the perfect date for you and then decide if you’d rather sail eastward or westward. Soon you’ll be on your way to cruise through the Panama Canal with lots of exciting other ports of call to see before your vacation is over.