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Five Reasons You Need to Cruise the Panama Canal with Holland America Line

Holland America Line’s Panama Canal cruises take guests on the journey of a lifetime, featuring two oceans and one engineering marvel. The line’s elegant ships pass through flora and fauna both wild and wonderful on itineraries that feature towns both simple and ornate.

There are as many reasons to cruise the Panama Canal with Holland America Line as there are species of animals and plants in the region. Here are some of our favorites why this cruise should be at the top of your list.


It’s One of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World.”
The Panama Canal is such a marvel, some say it is the greatest engineering project ever. Construction began in 1881, with a French effort led by Ferdinand de Lesseps, who had developed the Suez Canal. Harsh conditions and high costs caused them to abandon the project 13 years later. The United States took over in 1904 and finished it in 10 years. To this day it is considered the largest engineering project in American history, leading the American Society of Civil Engineers to name is as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World.”

It’s a Once in a Lifetime Experience
There’s a reason savvy world travelers consider cruising from ocean to ocean via the Panama Canal a bucket-list adventure. If you’re cruising west to east, from the Pacific Ocean to Gatún Lake, you’ll feel yourself being lifted through the locks of Miraflores and Pedro Miguel. Afterwards, near the town of Gatún, you’ll feel yourself being lowered, to meet the Atlantic Ocean. Those sensations alone will be like nothing you’ve ever experienced and are the reason many of our past Panama Canal cruisers return back to do it again and again!

Miraflores Locks.

Miraflores Locks.

Cruise with a Canal Expert
Holland America Line celebrates the culture, history, flora and fauna of the region with presentations by a full-time canal expert on each Panama Canal cruise. The expert is available to answer questions, present lectures and illuminate stories from behind the scenes.

Guests also can rely on our Destinations Guide, created in partnership with AFAR Media, for tips on what to do and see in the different ports of call. The Destination Guides are highly customizable and can be tailored to your interests, so you make the most of your time in port.

Panama Canal experts will teach guests about the area's culture and customs, as well as the types of souvenirs to be on the hunt for!

Panama Canal experts will teach guests about the area’s culture and customs, as well as the types of souvenirs to be on the hunt for!

Regional Menus Give You a Taste of the Local Specialties
The menus on a Panama Canal cruise mirror the itinerary and feature regional specialties like mango chicken, ceviche, empanadas and the undeniably delicious tres leches cake. Cooking demonstrations in the Culinary Arts Center may also focus on regional delicacies so you can go home cooking like a local.

It’s Not the Only Highlight on the Itinerary!
Depending on which Panama Canal cruise you select, you can experience a number of fascinating destinations in addition to the wonder. At Cartagena, Columbia, you can explore the 16th-century Castillo San Felipe de Barajas fortress, built to protect the port once besieged by Sir Francis Drake. In Mexico, you can wander the charming, cobblestone streets of Puerto Vallarta or ponder the Maya’s mythic past at the ruins of Izapa in Puerto Chiapas. In Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, guests love to spot the different wildlife including a variety of types of birds. And in Aruba, active cruisers can go for a hike in Arikok National Park, home to several animal and plant species found nowhere else on Earth!

Walk around the town at Puerto Vallarta or visit the ruins in Puerto Chiappas during calls in Mexico.

Walk around the town at Puerto Vallarta or visit the ruins in Puerto Chiappas during calls in Mexico.

Panama Canal Itineraries:
Six Holland America Line ships will sail the Panama Canal during the 2016-2017 winter season.

  • Zuiderdam will cruise a series of 10- and 11- day Southern Caribbean Panama Canal Sunfarer cruises, roundtrip Fort Lauderdale, Florida, beginning in October through April.
  • Veendam and Rotterdam will cruise 15-day itineraries from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego, California, and vice versa, also from October through April.
  • Nieuw Amsterdam departs Vancouver Oct. 4 on a 19-day Panama Canal cruise that ends in Fort Lauderdale, or guests can take a 16-day segment from San Francisco, California, to Fort Lauderdale, departing Oct. 7.
  • Amsterdam will cruise the Panama Canal during the holiday season this year, departing from Fort Lauderdale Dec. 21.
  • Westerdam departs San Diego March 11, on a one-off Panama Canal cruise to Fort Lauderdale.

Have you been on a Holland America Line cruise to the Panama Canal? Tell us what you enjoyed most in the comments below.

1 Comment
  • Cheeta Lazore-Dietlein

    Interested in the Panama Canal cruise on the Zuiderdam March 8, 2017 for 2 adults age 65 & 66

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