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Top Reasons Why A Remarkable Journey Awaits on a Panama Canal Cruise

From engineering admirers and history buffs to fans of the utterly unique, the Panama Canal continues to draw travelers from all over the world with its distinguished title as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. From the incredible sensation of moving throughout its famous locks to soaking up the rich history and culture of the region, a Holland America Line cruise is the best way to experience this fascinating man-made marvel.


The Panama Canal is considered the largest engineering project in American history, which earned it the title of one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Canal consists of an ingenious lock system that raises and lowers ships to different sea levels, allowing them to easily transit between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.


You can actually feel yourself being lifted through the locks of Miraflores and Pedro Miguel as you make your way from the Pacific Ocean to Gatún Lake. As you begin to near the town of Gatún, you’ll then feel yourself being lowered to meet the Atlantic Ocean. This sensation alone is worth making the trip, but it’s just one of many!


For many, visiting one of the world’s major oceans is a bucket list item in itself. But embark on a Panama Canal cruise and you’ll witness both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean in just one sailing! As you cruise from one major ocean to the next, you’ll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the region as you learn about its history, culture and wildlife from expert speakers.


Panama Canal bow

Photo courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Another wonderful highlight of a Panama Canal cruise is the breathtaking scenery you’ll encounter throughout the transit. Our spacious bow observation areas give you the perfect platform to view this engineering marvel and its lush emerald surroundings in all its glory. Be sure to have your camera ready, as you’ll be witness to beautiful sites around every corner!


Mayan ruins of Izapa

Experience Mexico’s past and present with a call at Puerto Chipas. Nearly all of our Panama Canal itineraries feature a call at this interesting port, giving you the opportunity to peer into the past and learn about one of the most advanced ancient cultures through our EXC Tour to the historic Mayan ruins of Izapa. Once foremost in the region for the production of highly valued cacao, Izapa brought together many of Mesoamerica’s ancient cultures, and many believe it may be the site of origin of the sacred Mayan Calendar, although much study remains to be done in order to unlock these secrets.


A Panama Canal cruise is brimming with incredible destinations and extraordinary experiences that go far beyond the canal itself. Depending on the itinerary you select, you can experience a number of incredible ports in Columbia, Costa Rica, Aruba and more! Cruisers are also delighted to find that, a majority of our Panama Canal itineraries also feature a call at our award-winning private island, Half Moon Cay where you can swim, snorkel or kayak through the island’s crystal-blue waters … or just relax as a live band plays your favorite reggae tunes on this beach-lover’s paradise.

Costa Rica

Looking for an immersive experience? Our specially crafted EXC Tours are designed to connect our guests to each fascinating destination on the cruise. At Cartagena, Columbia, explore the beautiful Old Town on a horse and carriage ride that goes through the charming squares inside the walled city. In Puerto Caldera, glide through Costa Rica’s lush rain forest aboard and aerial tram, where you’ll soar among giant trees, hanging gardens, waterfalls and beautiful emerald landscapes. In Oranjestad, Aruba, go beneath the surface in a semi-submarine for a closeup view of the Caribbean’s largest shipwreck, the wreck of Antilla – a 440-foot German freighter that was destroyed by an explosion during World War II. At Gatún Lake, board a motor launch for a one-hour cruise: watch for monkeys, toucans and sloths on the shoreline; encounter the Emberá Native people, known for handcrafted goods; and get a water-level view of the Gatún Locks.


Tying the whole experience together is Holland America Line’s award-winning service. Every moment onboard is designed with you at the center. From inspired activities to our innovative onboard dining options, our gracious service and wealth of indulgences ensure you’re always taken care of.

Enjoying a tranquil day at sea? Head to the Fitness Center and get a workout in as you watch the lush jungle pass through the large panoramic windows. Or sharpen your culinary skills with a visit to one of our popular cooking demonstrations.

Craving a delicious meal after your adventure-filled day? Make reservations at Pinnacle Grill to enjoy wild-caught Alaska King Salmon or head over to Dive-In, our poolside restaurant, for a perfectly grilled gourmet burger. Whatever you’re craving, our ships offer a host of delectable dining options for every palate.


Another appealing aspect of our Panama Canal cruises is that guests are able experience the Canal in just 10 or 11 days on our convenient roundtrip Ft. Lauderdale departures that include a partial transit. Cruisers also have the option of taking a full transit from coast to coast with cruises from Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, California, as well as Vancouver, Canada.

If you’re looking to join us on a Panama Canal exploration, five Holland America Line ships will embark on 33 cruises between fall 2018 and spring 2019. In addition to the full transits, guests can embark on Panama Canal Sunfarer itineraries that feature a partial transit in combination with southern Caribbean ports of call.

  • liz wildgrube

    We would love too make are 3 cruise bue we are just about out of are retirement money.. We loved the two we took,

  • Yvonne davey

    Enjoyed reading this article especially as we are on the cruise from ft lauderdale in October

  • Bill Mabie

    Hi, appreciate a contact, interested Ft Lauderdale to San Diego thru canal…& more
    Bill @ 209.915.5619

  • Julie

    Hi Bill, I passed along your info to reservations but it might take a couple of weeks. You can call as well toll-free: +1-855-932-1711

  • Elaine Lauzon

    I am to have my 3rd sail and still the Panama and the interesting things we get to see. Last time there were fish a dark colour and I am not making this up but thousands of these fish at the top of the water and they started near Costa Rica and went on for 2 and a half hours and no one knew what they were! No one to ask!Bigger than a sallmon. and so many and nothing was chasing them. They were going south and we were going north! This was on the Nieuw Amsterdam and it was in April! Also I have something I wwant to say but not here I wish I had a survey to filll out! See you on Oosterdam in April . Elaine and do not have my Mariners number with me…

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