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Going Beyond the Panama Canal on a Panama Canal Cruise

As arguably the greatest engineering project ever, it’s no wonder a Panama Canal cruise tops the “must-see” list of many world travelers. Dubbed “one of the seven wonders of the modern world” by the American Society of Civil Engineers, most find this marvel reason enough to select one of these cruises.

However, a Panama Canal cruise with Holland America is brimming with incredible destinations and extraordinary experiences that go far beyond the canal, itself. While the unique sensation of moving through its 12 locks is certainly a highlight, we’ve gathered some of our favorite Journeys Ashore activities that you can enjoy when sailing to select ports on various Panama Canal cruise itineraries.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas' iconic landmark, El Arco.

Cabo San Lucas’ iconic landmark, El Arco.

Known for its stunning beaches and relaxed atmosphere, Cabo San Lucas is a dream destination where amazing memories are waiting to be made. A stop at this sun-drenched port wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its iconic arch, El Arco, at Land’s End. With our Land’s End Boat Tour & Scenic Stop excursion, you’ll be able to view this impressive rock formation along with pristine beaches from a comfortable motorized catamaran.

As you sail along, enjoy a narration by Jean-Michel Cousteau describing the underwater life, wildlife, ecology and major points of interest in the area, including the early history of Baja California. After the boat ride, you’ll be taken on a 15-minute drive through town to Sunset da Giorgio’s restaurant. Enjoy your lunch as you take in an unforgettable view of Land’s End, its famed arch and your ship at anchor. Don’t forget to bring your camera! This excursion provides plenty of photo ops that will allow you to snap some amazing shots.

Oranjestad, Aruba


The Dutch island of Aruba is best described as otherworldly. Offering stunning beaches, romantically restless waters and famously wind-bent trees, you’ll immediately feel as though you’ve been transported to paradise. What’s more, in addition to its gorgeous beaches, Oranjestad offers boutiques, lighthouses, gold mine ruins and a treasure-trove of superb seafood restaurants.

With so much to see, we highly recommend our Aruba by Land & Sea tour so that you can witness the island’s beauty above and below the water. Your tour will begin by boarding a transfer boat that will take you to a state-of-the-art semi-submarine, the Seaworld Explorer. The vessel itself does not submerge; instead, you’ll descend into its air-conditioned hull five feet below the surface, and view amazing sea life thorough its large, clear windows. You’ll also get to view the Caribbean’s largest shipwreck, the wreck of Antilla – a 440-foot German freighter that was destroyed by an explosion during World War II.

Following your underwater excursion, you’ll return to shore where your guide will drive you to the California Lighthouse and the Casibari Rock Formations. Here you can climb the rock gardens to the top of the highest boulder! You’ll also visit the ‘baby’ natural bridge, which is made entirely of rock that has been formed by water erosion and the island’s famous winds.

Puerto Caldera (Puntarenas), Costa Rica

Located on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, Puerto Caldera is known for its multiple national parks, all within easy reach of Holland America Line guests. A trip here serves as the perfect reminder that adventure is often just around the bend, and nothing screams adventure like our Pacific Rain Forest Aerial Tram excursion. This tour is the ultimate way to explore the lush canopy of this tropical rain forest.

Your adventure will begin with a video presentation about the Pacific rain forest. After, you’ll board a special gondola with a naturalist as your guide, and you’ll soar among giant trees, hanging gardens, waterfalls and beautiful emerald landscapes. Enjoy panoramic ocean views and sightings of wildlife that thrive in the canopy of this transitional forest.

Cartagena, Colombia


Founded in 1533, this colorful city is full of historical, cultural and culinary intrigue. It’s the ideal location for a relaxed sightseeing tour that will allow you to soak up its charm.

One of our favorite Journeys Ashore is the Medieval Cartagena by Horse & Carriage tour. Be transported back to the days of the conquistadors as you enjoy a lovely horse and carriage ride through Cartagena’s beautiful Old Town.

Take in the sites as you ride along the narrow cobblestone streets through charming squares inside the walled city. Take time to admire the flower-filled balconies that glow in the light pouring out from colonial mansions. Along the way you’ll stop at the Fort of San Felipe de Barajas, a 17th-century construction that’s considered to be the most important work of Spanish Military engineering in Latin America. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the city’s former dungeons at Las Bovedas. While it’s been used as military barracks, a munitions depot and a jail, today it’s where local artisans display their work; so take advantage of your time and shop for unique gifts and souvenirs before returning back to the ship.

Many of our Panama Canal cruises also include a call at Half Moon Cay!

Many of our Panama Canal cruises also include a call at Half Moon Cay!

One thing is certain, no matter which itinerary you select, a Panama Canal cruise with Holland America Line is guaranteed to be full of memorable experiences. While we shared some of our favorite tours, the variety of Journeys Ashore offered at each port ensure there’s something for everyone.

Which excursion would you be most interested in? Tell us in the comments below!

  • June

    Hi, I am interested in taking some of these tours but I need to know how far the walk from the ship to meeting place is.

  • Julie

    Hi June, If you reach out to they will be able to assist with the logistics of the tours. Or call 1–877–932–4259.

  • Andree Emsley

    When will we be getting the Mariner Magazine to cover 2018? Thanks.

  • Julie

    It will be coming out in February.

  • Paula blessing

    Would like the magazine

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