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Panama Canal Cruise Guide

Cruise along one of the greatest man-made waterways in the world and pass through the heart of Central America’s wildlife-rich jungles.

The Panama Canal is a triumph of engineering that cuts through Central America, providing a crucial link between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. It’s easy to understand why most cruise enthusiasts have this stretch of water on their bucket lists. Embark on a Panama Canal cruise from the Caribbean beaches of the east coast to the wild, surf-swelling beauty of the west, traveling through dense, adventure-filled jungles along the way.

The portion of the cruise through the Panama Canal takes about 10 hours, including stops the vessel makes while waiting for the three locks to open. Watch the locks in action as the water levels change to allow ships to pass through, one of the great thrills of Panama Canal cruises.

Select from multiple ships offering journeys along this busy cruising thoroughfare. Choose a major liner complete with entertainment venues and multiple dining options. Alternatively, travel on a smaller vessel for a more personal experience at the canal.

Decide what kind of Panama Canal cruise you want. Some itineraries run as partial transits and turn around halfway through to make a round-trip. This option is easiest for people who want limited journeys, shore excursions on the canal itself and arrival and departure from the same place. The second Panama Canal cruise option is full transit, which guides you the whole way through the canal, navigating each set of locks. This allows visits to both sides of Central America and offers a more varied cruise.

As well as the canal itself, a cruise through Panama Canal offers opportunities to discover more of Central America. Pull into port in Costa Rica for ecotourism excursions and adventurous explorations zip lining through jungle canopies. Your itinerary may include a stop in Honduras or Belize, where you can discover the world’s second-largest barrier reef.

Panama Canal cruise season runs from October to April. Peak months are December and January. Look for Panama Canal cruise deals as ships reposition between Alaska and Caribbean bases. Full transit itineraries generally last 14 days and go from one coast of the U.S. to the other, usually Florida to California.

*Prices are cruise only, per person, double occupancy. Taxes, fees and port expenses not included. Rates are valid for US and Canadian residents only. Fuel supplement may apply. Savings advertised and Expedia Extras are based on specific cabin types and sailing dates, and may not be available for all cabin types/sailings.