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best panama canal cruise line

Panama Canal Cruises

Experience one of the wonders of the modern world on Holland America Line’s Panama Canal cruises. Our Panama cruise itineraries depart from both east and west coasts for loads of convenient options. A cruise to the Panama Canal is an incredible experience, worthy of any bucket list as you travel between oceans. The shipping channel—which took 33 years to complete and cost more than 25,000 workers their lives—is arguably the greatest engineering achievement of all time. As you cruise the canal, you will pass through the two-chambered Miraflores Locks, the one-chambered Pedro Miguel Lock, and three-chambered Gatun Locks. Along the way you’ll find Gatun Lake, once the largest manmade lake in the world, which has proved a boon for the species that thrive here, undisturbed by the passing ships.

The Panama Canal Cruise Experience

Feel your ship rise 85 feet as water fills the locks on the Panama Canal. Listen as a historian shares tales of this incredible engineering feat that divided two continents. Explore the intriguing landscapes, culture and people of this amazing region. From engineering marvels to exotic wildlife, there's so much to discover while on your Panama Canal cruise.

Aerial view of a Holland America Cruise Line ship on a Panama Canal cruise

See A Modern Marvel On Panama Canal Cruises

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Panama Canal Cruises Have Diverse Ports Of Call

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Perfectly Sized Ships For Panama Canal Cruises

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Exceptional Cuisine & Entertainment

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Extraordinary Panama Canal Cruise Tours

Relax through the holidays on a panama canal cruise.

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Something to Celebrate

Featured panama canal cruise ports.

An aerial view of a boats docked in Fuerte Amador, Panama while on a Panama Canal cruise

Fuerte Amador, Panama

A picture of colorful buildings in Cartagena, Columbia on a Panama Canal cruise

Cartagena, Colombia

Aerial view of Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

A picture of people enjoying the beach in Puerto Caldera (Puntarenas), Costa Rica on a Panama Canal cruise excursion

Puerto Caldera (Puntarenas), Costa Rica

A picture of a historic building in Puerto Chiapas, Mexico while on a Panama Canal cruise excursion

Puerto Chiapas, Mexico

Aerial view of a religious statue overlooking a beach in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua on a Panama Canal cruise excursion

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua


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Panama canal travel articles.

The ultimate journey between two continents and two mighty oceans, a Panama Canal cruise encompasses Spanish colonial architecture, verdant rainforest and an engineering marvel. Learn more about our ports in the region with articles on  Cartagena’s  graceful Old City and  Costa Rica’s  exotic Pura Vida Gardens;  Antigua, Guatemala , including La Merced, the city’s 250-year-old cathedral; and the storied past of  Panama Viejo , a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And be sure to explore the complex and fascinating history of the  Panama Canal .

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10 of the best Panama Canal cruises

Travel in style from the pacific to the atlantic on one of the world’s most famous waterways.

A guest views the Panama Canal on a Princess cruise

S ailing through the Panama Canal is one of the ultimate bucket-list cruises. Hailed as an extraordinary feat of engineering when it opened in 1914, this 48-mile canal provided an alternative route between the Pacific and the Atlantic, cutting out the difficult journey around the tip of South America and saving several weeks. Now around 40 ships pass through the canal each day in the cruising season from November to April, from enormous family-friendly liners to sleek smaller ships with champagne on tap. Here are some of the best Panama Canal cruises to help you set sail on that dream trip.

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1. Princess Cruises

best panama canal cruise line

Best for on-board experiences Cruising the Panama Canal is an adventure for even the most experienced cruiser so it’s worth making it count. Princess Cruises provides live narration from the bridge as the ship transits the locks, explaining to guests exactly how this extraordinary feat of engineering functions. An extensive on-board enrichment programme also offers stargazing, multimedia presentations from local destination experts, cooking demonstrations and immersive activities inspired by the ship’s destinations. Cruise itineraries available include a round trip from Fort Lauderdale that visits the Caribbean, or a voyage from the Atlantic to the Pacific including a full transit of the Panama Canal through all three locks.

2. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

best panama canal cruise line

Best for UK departures Got a month or three to spare? You can sail away on an epic once-in-a-lifetime voyage to Sydney , Singapore and Phuket , all without setting foot on a plane, aboard Fred Olsen’s mammoth cruises departing from either Liverpool or Southampton. The extensive itineraries sail to the Caribbean first before cruising the Panama Canal, visiting Mexico and then heading to French Polynesia, Australia, Malaysia and the Maldives on the return journey. Spend sea days working on a masterpiece in the art studio, watching live cooking demonstrations or hitting the spa with its fitness centre, thermal suite and treatment rooms.


3. norwegian cruise line.

best panama canal cruise line

Best for families There’s no chance you’ll be bored at sea with a Norwegian cruise through the Panama Canal. All its ships sailing in this region are crammed with activities from climbing walls to bowling alleys, but choose the Norwegian Joy if you’re travelling with family and want something to entertain everyone. Alongside several pools and waterslides, there’s also a nine-hole mini golf course, a huge video arcade, children’s play areas and an astonishing go-kart track. Feeling hungry? There’s a vast choice of places to eat including a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant, a steakhouse, a Texan BBQ and a refined seafood à la carte option.

4. Celebrity Cruises

best panama canal cruise line

Best for accessibility Everyone can sail the Panama Canal with Celebrity Cruises, which offers a range of itineraries in the region including round trips from Fort Lauderdale. All its ships have accessible staterooms that include wider doors, roll-in showers, grab bars and ramped thresholds. The cruise line can also arrange accessible airport transfers, extra assistance on board and at the pier, and accessible shore excursions. Choose the Celebrity Ascent — it’s the line’s newest ship, launched in December 2023, and has 32 restaurants, bars and lounges on board plus a rooftop garden extending over the water’s edge.

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5. Royal Caribbean International

best panama canal cruise line

Best for active sea days It’s easy to soak up the views on your Panama Canal cruise with a sailing on Radiance of the Seas, which has more glass than any other ship in the fleet for serious sea-gazing. If you need something a little more active to fill those long days at sea, the ship ticks all the boxes. There’s a 12m (40ft) rock-climbing wall, a basketball and volleyball court, professional dance lessons, mini golf and an extensive spa offering everything from acupuncture to teeth whitening. After dark, choose from outdoor movie nights, interactive game shows, live music performances and even a murder mystery theatre where guests solve a crime over dinner.

6. AE Expeditions

best panama canal cruise line

Best for nature lovers Steer clear of the usual ports on a Panama Canal cruise and discover lesser-known spots in Panama and Costa Rica , one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Shore days include stops in the Curu National Wildlife Refuge where 17 hiking trails criss-cross 3,000 acres of tropical forests, the protected Gulfo Dulce with its ancient coral reefs, and Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park, home to over 184 species of birds and 100 species of mammals including two and three-toed sloths. Guided hikes, Zodiac sailings and water sports are all included and this purpose-built expedition ship features viewing platforms for observing seabirds and marine life as you sail.

7. Windstar Cruises

best panama canal cruise line

Best for cruising in style Stand out from the identikit cruise ships and bring a touch of drama to your passage through the world’s greatest shortcut. With Windstar Cruises, you’ll sail between Panama City and Colon on a magnificent four-masted, sail-assisted ship which has all the mod cons of a cruise liner but the old-fashioned romance of a yacht. Expect laid-back luxury on board with just 148 guests and all meals included, even those in the ship’s outdoor restaurant where you can dine on steak and seafood under the stars.

8. Regent Seven Seas Cruises

best panama canal cruise line

Best for luxury Celebrate sailing through the Panama Canal by splurging on no-holds-barred luxury as you sail. Regent Seven Seas fares include complimentary ground transfers, a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay, an in-suite minibar and unlimited drinks across the ship, valet laundry service and speciality dining including 24-hour room service. Best of all, every shore excursion is complimentary, including mezcal tasting in Acapulco, a boat trip through the mangroves to spot crocodiles in Costa Rica’s Puntarenas and a visit to a coffee plantation in the mountains near the Guatemalan port of Puerto Quetzal.

9. Marella Cruises

best panama canal cruise line

Best for an adults-only cruise Experience the Panama Canal in peace by booking a cruise on the adults-only Marella Explorer 2, which offers seven-night round-trips from Jamaica . Though the ship itself doesn’t pass through the canal, it does visit Colon in Panama , where an optional shore excursion includes an open-deck ferry trip through two locks that use 197 million litres of water to operate. Back on board, you can enjoy child-free tranquillity in ten bars and nine restaurants including a golf-themed bar with golf simulator, a champagne bar with live pianist and the Beach Cove with barbecue menus and swinging seats.

10. Explora Journeys

best panama canal cruise line

Best for all-inclusive No need to check prices on a cruise with Explora Journeys. All its cruises, including those in the Panama Canal, are all-inclusive so you can enjoy the scenery rather than nervously scanning the menu. The generous package includes shuttle services from the port to the city centre where applicable, wellness programmes, thermal spa access, all dining locations including room service, wi-fi and even a welcome bottle of champagne, wine and a spirit of your choice upon arrival. If you’re keen to extend the trip, you can also sign up for a three-day, all-inclusive overland experience before or after your cruise to experience the destination in greater detail.


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We’re the number one cruise line sailing to this bucket list destination, and as awe-inspiring as it is to travel through one of Condé Nast Traveler’s 7 Cruise Wonders of the World, we’ll help you explore equally fascinating places along the way. So stretch out on a Caribbean beach, admire the pristine rainforests, stroll the cobbled streets of colonial towns and journey through the fabled Panama Canal with Princess.

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From the East Coast Roundtrip Ft. Lauderdale

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Explore destinations easily on a MedallionClass vacation. Taking in balcony or top deck views, and don’t want to move? Order drinks that find you. Want to make the most of your time away? Design each perfect day with our interactive activity planner. Hate to wait when boarding or disembarking in port? Choose your preferred arrival window and make gangway reservations. Enjoy more time to connect with the places you sail.

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Why Princess is the #1 Panama Canal Cruise Line

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The Leader in the Panama Canal Cruise Ports

From ships custom built to sail the massive locks to immersive onboard programs and onshore adventures that inspire, Princess is the number one way to explore this epic phenomenon. We've sailed the Panama Canal since 1967 and we have more itinerary choices and departures of any cruise line in the region.

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Destination Immersion

We craft our Panama Canal itineraries to enrich our guests' experiences to provide the most exposure to this bucket-list destination. You'll be enchanted by Spanish and Dutch cities dating back centuries, as well as diverse tropical rainforests, white-sand beaches, dramatic volcanoes and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And Princess provides live narration from the bridge while transiting the locks, just one reason we were voted "Best Cruise Line for Enrichment" by Cruise International .

Photo: Las Bovedas in Cartagena, Colombia

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Abundant Adventures Ashore

Each voyage offers a myriad of experiences and cultures. There is something for every type of explorer in this culturally diverse region. Choose from immersive excursions such as exploring the engineering mastery of the Canal, trekking through surrounding rainforests, visiting local villages and relaxing on the pristine beaches of the Caribbean.

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Add peace of mind and a sense of security to your vacation with a Cruise Plus® Hotel Package. Give yourself a few days to relax either before or after your Panama Canal cruise and take in the sights of a sensational city. Princess handles all the details – including transfers and baggage handling – with accommodations selected for their incredible locations and excellent service.

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Discover the Marvels of the Panama Canal

Explore the engineering genius of the Panama Canal with Celebrity on a thrilling voyage that brings history and human achievement to life. On a Panama Canal cruise, experience the lush rainforests of Costa Rica, teeming with scarlet macaws and slow-moving sloths. Wander through the flower-filled streets of enchanting Cartagena, Colombia, bask on golden beaches along the Mexican Riviera, and swim in the aquamarine waters surrounding Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao as you discover this fascinating region with Celebrity.





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Start off a breathtaking vacation in the Caribbean and South America. Fall in love with the romantic streets and flower-strewn balconies of Cartagena. Sail down the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal and visit a sprawling rainforest preserve in Colon. Take a swim in the warm, turquoise waters of Aruba, go snorkeling at Bonaire’s vibrant Bari Reef, and view magnificent stalactites and stalagmites inside Curacao’s Hato Caves.

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Panama canal & southern caribbean.

Enjoy the best of the Panama Canal with a day to explore the locks, kayak the forested fringes of serene Gatun Lake, or admire the fine Spanish colonial architecture of Panama City’s historic Casco Viejo. There’s no shortage of beach time on these 11-night cruises, with blissful, sun-soaked days on the dazzling white sands that fringe Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, and a day to explore Grand Cayman’s glorious Seven Mile Beach.

One-Way Panama Canal Cruises

Our one-way cruises take you either east or westbound between Florida and California. See the intricate workings of the locks and the graceful Bridge of the Americas as you cross the narrow Panama isthmus. Discover the lush scenery around manmade Lake Gatun, listen to tales of pirates and conquistadors, and buy exquisite handicrafts made by Panama’s indigenous Emberá tribe. Other highlights include vibrant Cartagena, glamorous Puerto Vallarta, and thrilling Costa Rica.

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Why Cruise to the Panama Canal with Celebrity

Explore the Panama Canal with Celebrity and you’ll enjoy the best of all worlds, from cultural immersion and pristine natural landscapes to a haven of relaxation on our contemporary, design-led ships. Rejuvenate your spirit in The Spa, unwind by the pool as you cruise along emerald shorelines, and toast the end of another perfect day at the Sunset Bar in the balmy warmth of a tropical evening.

On Celebrity’s ships, you can enjoy a different restaurant at every meal, with menus designed by a Michelin-starred chef. Try anything from mouth-watering seafood to steak, flavor-packed Italian, and gourmet French cuisine. Experience The Magic Carpet, high above the ocean, with uninterrupted views. Elevate your cruise with a stay at The Retreat®, with suite accommodation, access to a tranquil lounge, and dining at the exclusive Luminae at The Retreat.

Celebrity will take you seamlessly from one adventure to the next as you explore jewel-like Caribbean islands and historic Cartagena. On a one-way voyage, combine the thrill of the canal with adrenaline-fueled adventure in Costa Rica and iced margaritas on Mexico’s golden beaches. Make the most of your time ashore with our range of imaginative excursions, from Destination Highlights to Small Group Discoveries and Private Journeys designed just for you.

From one-way voyages between the East and West Coasts, taking in the beaches of Mexico and the rainforests of Costa Rica, to shorter journeys that spend time in the sun-drenched ABC Islands, you’ll find the perfect Panama Canal cruise with Celebrity.

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Top Panama Canal FAQs

When is the best time to cruise the Panama Canal?

The Panama Canal is open to ships year-round, but the most pleasant time to cruise is in the winter season, from November to May. During these months, the climate is less humid and there is less rainfall.

How long does it take for a cruise ship to pass through the canal?

Typically, the transit of the Panama Canal takes eight to ten hours, but this depends on how much traffic there is and whether there is any congestion at the massive locks. You’ll find the transit is packed with excitement, whether your ship is squeezing into the locks, making its way along the narrow channel, or crossing the serene expanse of Gatun Lake, where there’s a great chance of spotting wildlife including monkeys, iguanas, and toucans.

What are the departure ports?

Celebrity’s Panama Canal cruises depart from Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.

Which side of the ship is best for cruising through the Panama Canal?

There is no “best” side for cruising the Panama Canal. You will most likely find you want to enjoy the experience from different areas on the ship. When you’re in a lock, it’s fascinating to watch the mechanisms of these engineering masterpieces, so find the best position on deck to observe this. 

On Celebrity Beyond, guests of The Retreat can take in the view from The Retreat Sundeck. Other vantage points include the Magic Carpet, cantilevered over the side of the ship, as well as the Rooftop Terrace and the Sunset Bar.

On Celebrity Summit, guests of The Retreat can view the locks from the Retreat Sundeck on deck 12 forward. Other options include the Sky Lounge, which has panoramic forward views and is climate-controlled, or the Rooftop Terrace, aft.

On a transit from Panama City to Colon, the futuristic skyline of Panama City will be on your starboard (right) side. When you pass through the skinny Culebra Cut between Panama City and Gamboa, you’ll have the greenery of a national park on both sides, so this is a good time to look for monkeys and toucans in the trees. 

Entering Gatun Lake, it’s fun to be forward on deck as you can see the procession of ships coming towards you. You could also be aft, at the back of the ship, with a pair of binoculars to spot other ships. 

The most important thing to do is to head up on deck and absorb this spectacular experience. Every transit will have expert commentary that’s broadcast on the decks and in the lounges, so you’ll be able to gain a deeper insight into the workings of the canal and its history.

How long do cruises last?

Celebrity’s Panama Canal cruises last either 11, 14, or 15 nights.

What's the difference between a full transit and a partial transit cruise of the Panama Canal?

A full transit of the Panama Canal takes you from the Pacific to the Caribbean, or vice versa. A partial transit, on the other hand, gives you a taste of the Panama Canal on a shorter cruise from Colon, on the Caribbean side, to the Gatun Locks and back again. You’ll still enjoy the experience of going through the massive locks. 

When your ship spends the day in Colon, you can see more of Panama on a range of shore excursions. Despite the monumental achievement of engineering that the Panama Canal represents, the drive from Colon to Panama City is just under an hour, so there are plenty of options.

What are the main ports of call on a Panama Canal cruise?

Celebrity offers a variety of Panama Canal cruises, with several different ports of call. You could sail from Fort Lauderdale to the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) and Cartagena in Colombia. A sailing from Miami to Los Angeles visits Cartagena, Puntarenas in Costa Rica, and Puerto Vallarta. Other cruises include stops in Huatulco, Mexico, and Grand Cayman.

What can I expect to see and experience during the canal transit?

During the 48-mile transit, you’ll see everything from intricate lock systems to the serene landscapes of the rainforest and Gatun Lake. Your ship will be raised up 85 feet through a system of three locks to the level of the freshwater Gatun Lake. Once you’ve crossed the lake, you will descend 85 feet back to sea level through another set of locks.

Being in the locks is a thrilling experience and gives you an insight into how extraordinary the canal is, all the more so given that it’s more than 100 years old. You’ll see everything from giant cargo ships to small yachts making the transit. Visitors in the viewing galleries at the locks will wave as you pass through.

On the stretches between the locks, you’ll be immersed in nature. The narrow Culebra Cut, an artificial channel near Panama City, is lined with greenery, while the expanse of the Gatun Lake is dotted with rainforested islands and is a great place to look for wildlife.

There are other manmade wonders to look out for, too. On the Panama City side of the canal, you’ll sail under the graceful arch of the Bridge of the Americas, which forms part of the Pan-American Highway from Alaska to Patagonia. Just beyond the bridge, as you head toward the Pacific, look out for the Biomuseu, a striking jumble of brightly colored shapes designed by famous architect Frank Gehry, housing eight galleries showcasing Panama’s biodiversity.

What excursions are available?

If you choose a cruise that includes a partial transit of the canal, you can experience Panama’s beauty during a day in Colon. Excursions from here include eco-adventures on Gatun Lake, where you can see capuchin and howler monkeys, caimans, and three-toed sloths. You could visit the locks along the canal and tour the visitor centers, stopping to watch ships pass through the narrow channels. 

Or take a trip to Panama City itself, a dramatic contrast between glassy skyscrapers and the narrow alleys and colorful facades of the atmospheric Casco Viejo, or old town, dating back to the 17th century. There are excursions to an Embera village, too, where you can learn about the traditional lifestyle of this rainforest tribe.

What is there to do on the ship?

You’ll find no shortage of things to do on board your luxurious Celebrity ship. Sunbathe by the pool, relax in a bubbling hot tub, join a class in the Fitness Center, or indulge in a treatment in the spa. 

Enjoy exploring all the different dining options, from made-to-order burgers and salads by the pool to French classics and a delightful 3D cartoon animation in Le Petit Chef, and steaks and seafood in the elegant Tuscan Grille. Elevate your experience to The Retreat and you can enjoy fine dining in Luminae, as well as suite accommodation and access to an exclusive lounge.

On Edge-Series ships, the Magic Carpet, suspended over the side of the ship, gives you uninterrupted sea views and is the perfect place to sit with a coffee or cocktail, enjoying the sea air. Or spend part of your Panama Canal transit in the Sunset Bar, at the aft of the ship, for wonderful views of the ships following you.

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The Ultimate Guide for a Perfect Panama Canal Cruise

Posted on Last updated: August 21, 2023

While many dream of visiting Central America, very few ever get the chance to experience cruising through the very spot North and South America split. Many note that a vacation to Panama is too expensive or not safe. Well, let me tell you, the best way to see the Panama Canal and possibly get off your boat at an affordable price is through a Panama Canal cruise!

If you are bit wary to cruising, you are going to absolutely fall in love with what the Panama Canal has to offer! I had the chance to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on my Panama Canal cruise back in December 2019, and to this date, it is my favorite cruise that I have been on.

Plus, cruise ships offer an extra sense of security, as you will have a safe place to rest your head everyday. So, grab your  free cruise planner , review our top cruise essentials , and buckle up, because we are going to go through everything you may need to know about Panama Canal cruises!


When is the Season for Panama Canal Cruises?

Panama Canal cruises

Most cruises through the Panama Canal consistently run from October to April. This means you have a lot of flexibility for when you want to enjoy your Panama Canal cruise, whether looking for a Christmas escape, Spring Break adventure, or planning a Transpacific back-to-back cruise .

If you are planning to cruise the Panama Canal and the surrounding Caribbean countries, the optimal time is after the rainy season ends in November for the best weather, wildlife, and viewing experience . This is truly when the temperatures are the most comfortable and enjoyable with sunnier days and breathtakingly scenic Panama Canal views.

For longer, repositioning Panama Canal cruises, you should stick to the earlier or later months of this window when the cruise ships are finding a new home.

There are some  Panama cruises running year-round , which are typically shorter in length between 3-5 nights long.

How is the Weather on a Panama Canal Cruise?

Since the Panama Canal is nestled between the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, weather can vary greatly during Panama Canal cruises. With the varying climates of Panama and the mixing weather of two different oceans, it would be best to prepare for some rainy weather during the transit.

When I went on my Panama Canal cruise, there were plenty of clouds in the sky, however, it did not rain. That being said, make sure to bring your rain jacket as it could have just as easily gone the other way. It was also fairly humid , leading to fog during the morning hours of the Panama Canal transit.

Technically the Caribbean side of Panama Canal measures twice the amount of rain as Panama City, notable for short and unpredictable afternoon thunderstorms during the spring months.

Because of Panama’s strategic location, it is safe to assume that you will be enjoying warm temperatures during your Panama Canal cruise. The Panama Canal area has a tropical climate , meaning temperatures will range between 75 and 85 degrees on your Panama cruising adventure.

How do I plan a Panama Canal Cruise?

Panama Canal cruise

If you have never been on a cruise before, you may have  some questions about the logistics  and  how to plan your cruise .

First, you will want to get an idea of what your  must-see attractions are. Most Panama Canal cruises will focus on either Caribbean islands, Central America, Mexican Rivera, or a combination of those destinations. Very few Panama Canal cruises are more than 14 days long, but if you are looking for a longer Panama Canal cruise, make sure to investigate repositioning cruises.

After you determine the itinerary you would like, then you need to  focus on a specific cruise line for the best Panama Canal cruise ever. Each cruise line offers a unique experience for every type of cruiser. Then, you can select a date with that perfect cruise line and itinerary to book and mark in your calendar!

I highly recommend  booking a balcony or higher stateroom on your cruise ship as you will not regret waking up to the breathtaking Panama Canal from your own private balcony. Just imagine waking up, stepping outside, and seeing all the fascinating locks and landscape surrounding the transit.

 Also, it is important to make sure to avoid the loudest staterooms onboard to completely relax on your Panama Canal cruise.

Once booked, you will receive access to more booking options like  onboard packages, shore excursions, and stateroom upgrades . I highly suggest taking advantage of these pre-travel opportunities to have your vacation planned out before you leave on your Panama cruise!

What are the Different Panama Canal Itineraries?

cruise the Panama Canal

There are way more Panama Canal cruises than you probably thought possible! With that, you may be wondering what the best itinerary is for your specific cruising goals. From repositioning cruises to Mexican Riviera adventures, there are positives and negatives to every itinerary option in the cruising realm in regards to Panama Canal cruises.

With that being said, all Panama Canal cruises can be categorized into three categories– Trans-Canal Crossing, Partial Crossing, and Faux Crossing.

Trans-Panama Canal Crossing

By far the most popular Panama Canal itinerary for cruises runs from Florida to the West Coast– or vice versa. The most popular departure ports are Miami and Fort Lauderdale in Florida, with Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego serving as the larger West Coast cities.

If you are lucky, you may be able to find some longer sailings departing from Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, Canada. However, if you prefer to plan a back to back cruise , I highly suggest heading out of and to one of the most popular ports, as these will typically have more options to extend your cruising vacation.

Most trans-Canal itineraries will call in many ports found in the Western Caribbean. These include Puerto Limon and Puntarenas in Costa Rica, and Cartagena, Colombia. Other Panama Canal itineraries include stops along Mexico’s west coast and in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala.

Panama Canal Experience

With this trans-Panama Canal itinerary, you can expect to spend a full day on the canal, crossing the beautiful Panama Canal from the Caribbean to the Pacific, or vice versa.

If you have been dreaming about cruising the Panama Canal for a while, this cruise itinerary is definitely for you! Plus, you will more than likely receive an in-depth history of Panama and the lock system involved with the Canal. Therefore, if you are an engineering geek and don’t mind not getting off the ship within Panama, this itinerary is for you.

Partial Crossing

cruising through the Panama Canal

If you are wanting to get the “Panama Canal Experience” but are looking for a round-trip itinerary, I highly suggest looking into the Panama Canal Partial Crossing cruises.

This is also a great option for those who want to see a bit of the canal, but also want to get out and explore the country of Panama. Most partial crossing itineraries will stop in Colon and Gamboa, perfect towns to get a taste of Panamanian culture.

Most of the partial crossing Panama Canal cruises will depart from Florida, and therefore, you will also enjoy some of the other fabulous Caribbean ports during your adventure. These include islands in the Southern and Western Caribbean, and occasionally Cartagena, Colombia.

On partial crossings, the cruise ships do not actually cross the entire Panama Canal. Instead, the ship will typically pass through one lock, and let passengers of in a town along the canal to explore.

Passengers on their Panama Canal cruise with partial crossing will discover the town of Gamboa, taking in sights that they would not otherwise get to experience and see during the full crossing itineraries. From Gamboa, passengers can expect to enjoy a variety of shore excursions that they otherwise would not get a chance to experience.

Alternatively, for those who were hoping to see the full canal, you can book a shore excursion on a smaller boat to the Centennial Bridge, Gaillard Cut, and the Bridge of the Americas.

Faux Crossing

cruising the Panama Canal

The last form of Panama Canal cruise is the Faux Crossing itinerary. Many cruise lines will offer all the proper shore excursions of Panama Canal cruises without actually entering the canal at all!

Instead, these cruise ships dock at Colon, Panama (the entrance to the canal), and spend a day on the Caribbean side in port. From here, passengers can see the canal however their heart desires, whether stopping for a few minutes on a city tour, or booking a longer shore excursion through a private boat tour crossing the Panama Canal.

The best way to find this type of Panama Canal cruise is through searching for Caribbean and Central American itineraries that stop in Colon. From there, look into the shore excursions carefully to fully plan your Panama Canal adventure.

Types of Panama Canal Cruise Lines

Panama cruise

No matter what type of Panama cruising experience you are looking for, I guarantee you will find it through one of these main and not-so-main-stream cruise lines.

From 3-day weekend trips to 180-day world cruises, these Panama Canal cruises are worth every penny. There are plenty of Panama cruise deals available for eager cruisers booking through a travel agent or directly with the cruise line.

Make sure to research diligently to find the best Panama Canal cruise for you!

Mainstream Cruise Lines for Panama Canal Cruises

Panama cruises

Just about all the main cruise lines offer sailings to and through the Panama Canal:

  • R oyal Caribbean International — Royal Caribbean offers spectacular itineraries up through the Panama Canal and to the Caribbean’s most popular cruise ports at extraordinarily low prices. With this cruise line offering countless amenities for all types of cruisers, Royal Caribbean offers dozens of Panama Canal cruises every year.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line  — Norwegian (NCL) offers plenty of unique itineraries visiting the Panama Canal, boasting new discoveries around every turn. NCL prides themselves on offering exhilarating wildlife and cultural shore excursions during their NCL Panama Canal cruises. (NOTE: this is the cruise line I sailed with through the Panama Canal)
  • Celebrity Cruises — Celebrity Cruises offer their passengers a slightly more luxurious experience tailored to each guests’ dream Panama Canal cruise. This cruise line is popular for it’s over-the-top vacation experience traveling to the diverse Caribbean and Central American cruise ports!
  • Holland America — Holland America offers cruises through the Panama Canal during the Southern Caribbean cruising season. Whether cruising around the Caribbean first or exploring the western coast of Mexico, you are guaranteed to enjoy their luxurious experience on your Panama Canal cruise!

Smaller Lines Cruising through the Panama Canal

Cruise Panama Canal

Active travelers may be looking for expedition-style voyages or cruises on a smaller ship to enjoy more time exploring the Panama Canal.

  • Silversea — Silversea offers stylish and intimate Panama Canal cruises. Their smaller ships visit plenty of the cruise spots in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean on their journey. They pride themselves on their crew to guest ratio of almost 1:1 creating a personalized Panama Canal trip for every passenger.
  • Seabourn — Seabourn offers a couple of Panama Canal sailings every Southern Caribbean cruising season. Their stunning cruise ships bring passengers to the sweeping landscapes of Panama. They also bring intelligent historians onboard to explain the history and importance of the Panama Canal.
  • Regent Seven Seas — Regent Seven Seas explores the Panama Canal through immersive experiences on their Panama Canal cruises. This cruise line balances cultural, active, and foodie activities as they navigate through the warm climate of the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and Panama.
  • Oceania — This small and luxurious cruise line offers a variety of intimate Panama Canal expeditions on their cruise ships. Their ships visit plenty of other Caribbean and Pacific Ocean destinations on their Panama Canal sailings. That, paired with the personalized cruising experience curated by Oceania, offers some of the best experiences at sea.

Popular Ports for Panama Canal Cruises

Panama Canal cruises

No matter which cruise line and itinerary you ultimately decide on, you will likely visit a mix of these fantastic Panama, Caribbean, and Central American cruise ports. 

Many cruises through the Panama Canal offer trips to these popular ports of call that are consistent with most itineraries. Like mainstream Caribbean cruise ports, these ports cater to the tropical   cruise market . If you are looking for more than touristy attractions and activities, make sure to get out of the main port area and explore.

Colón, Panama

colon panama

The city of Colón is most frequently referred to as the gateway to the Caribbean for the country of Panama. Therefore, if you are cruising through the Panama Canal, there is a high chance this port will be on your cruise itinerary.

If you are looking to learn about the history of the Panama Canal before you embark on your transit, make sure to spend two to three hours at the Agua Clara Visitor Center . Here, you will learn about one of the world’s greatest engineering feats; the Panama Canal. For more history of Panama, check out Fort San Lorenzo ; another must-do attraction in Colón. This fort is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers no official tours, but you can walk around the area with a handy map.

If you prefer to hit up the Panamanian shopping scene on your Panama cruise, check out Avenida Central — a six-block-long pedestrian mall that is filled with tasty, local restaurants with boutique shops and unique finds alike.

Fuerte Amador (Balboa), Panama

fuerte amador panama

Another popular Panama port found on the Caribbean coast near the canal is Fuerte Amador. The main marina found at the tender pier for Panama Canal cruises offers numerous tasty restaurants and souvenir shops.

The top attraction to explore during your time in Fuerte Amador is the Biomuseum . This modern, brightly-colored building is found just across the causeway and illustrates the story of the Panama isthmus formation. Another popular excursion is Casco Viejo , the older area of the city famous for its narrow streets surrounded by flower-lined balconies. Here, you can explore historic cathedrals and sites while browsing the local shops for souvenirs.

If you prefer to learn more about the locks you will see on your Panama Canal cruise, check out the Miraflores Locks Museum and Visitor Center .

Gamboa, Panama

gamboa panama

If you get the opportunity to stop part-way through the Panama Canal, you are more than likely going to stop at the Gamboa cruise port on your Panama Canal cruise.

By far the most popular and worthwhile attraction in the Gamboa cruise port is the Gamboa Rainforest . One area that offers a unique experience is the Sloth Sanctuary . There is also a aerial tram that will bring you through the vast rainforest and the surrounding landscape. Another nice Gamboa shore excursion is a boat trip on the Chagres River to Gatun Lake .

Another exciting outdoor adventure spot is the Soberania National Park . This has been noted as one of the best places in the world to observe flora and fauna.

Cartagena, Colombia

cartagena colombia

Another popular Panama Canal cruise port is Cartagena, Colombia. This beautiful South American city is filled with colorful buildings, fresh seafood, and tropical fruits– all of which will leave you wanting more!

The easiest excursion to enjoy in Cartagena is a free walking tour. This is the best way to see the Old City area on your Panama Canal cruise as you can easily spend hours meandering the streets boasting loads of fascinating Colombian history. To dive deeper into Cartagena’s history, head over to San Felipe Castle — the most famous landmark in Cartagena, built back in 1657. 

Before you head back to your Panama Canal cruise, make sure to grab some fruit from the local palenqueras — groups of women balancing bowls of fruit on their heads dressed in vibrant colors.

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

puntarenas costa rica

Puntarenas is most popular as the biggest beach town near Costa Rica’s capital city. As a simple and laidback town, Puntarenas used to be to the largest fishing port in the country.

That being said, the top thing to do in Puntarenas on your Panama Canal cruise is heading over to the main beach– Playa Puntarenas . If you prefer to get out of the port area, take the Puntarenas ferry to either Paquera or Naranjo . These are the best spots to experience the local Costa Rican life on your adventure.

If you can’t decide what to do during your time in the Puntarenas cruise port, many shore excursions offer numerous stops at the city’s top attractions during their tours. These typically stop at the nearby rainforest and Tarcoles Town .

Puerto Limón, Costa Rica

puerto limon costa rica

The more popular and larger Costa Rican cruise port is Puerto Limón. There are plenty of outdoor and historic activities to enjoy during your Panama Canal cruise stopping in Costa Rica.

The best outdoor area to explore is the nearby Veragua Rainforest Park. Here you will find hundreds of frogs, butterflies, and reptiles, in addition to monkeys, sloths, and birds up above. Just a few miles from Puerto Limón is the breathtaking Playa Bonita , the perfect tropical beach offering crystal-clear waters and soft sand. If you are an adrenalin-junkie, check out the rafting opportunities on the Reventazon River .

Finally, book a tour to the nearby banana plantations . During this enlightening tour you will come to understand how bananas grow, are cleaned, and ultimately selected.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

san juan del sur nicaragua

Another popular port for cruises through the Panama Canal is San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. This cruise port is not as common as other Central American cruise ports, so make sure to watch out for this unique city on your itinerary!

San Juan del Sur is home to one of the world’s largest Jesus statues. In fact, hiking to the Jesus statue sitting atop a hill overlooking San Juan del Sur is the top thing to do when in this fabulous city. If you are looking for the best beaches during your Panama Canal cruise, you may want to venture a little out of town to the beautiful beaches Playa Maderas and Playa Hermosa . One of the most special things to do in this city is horseback riding on the beach , so make sure to ask your cruise line if there are any shore excursions like this on your Panama Canal cruise.

Finally, if you prefer to get back on the water, take a catamaran ride around the area. These tours will typically offer all you can drink and delicious snacks with your fare, stopping at beautiful private beaches for you to explore and enjoy.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

cabo san lucas mexico

While Cabo San Lucas is most popular as a college Spring Break destination, there are also plenty of enjoyable attractions for cruisers of all ages during your Panama Canal cruise.

The most notable and photograph site in Cabo is Land’s End . Most travelers will travel to this area for its breathtaking views– strategically located right where Playa del Amor and Playa del Divorcio join. If you would like to explore some of the traditional Mexican culture, head over to San Jose del Cabo . This area is the official “Old Town” of Cabo San Lucas, offering plenty of tasty local eateries and artisanal shops. Later, tour the Church of Saint Luke , one of Cabo San Lucas’ top historical landmarks.

If you prefer to head back onto the beautiful ocean, sign up for one of Cabo’s deep-sea fishing adventures on the Sea of Cortez.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

puerto vallarta mexico

Puerto Vallarta is another one of Mexico’s beautiful gems frequently visited on Panama Canal cruises. As a destination that has welcomed travelers from around the world for many years, there are plenty of fascinating activities and Puerto Vallarta shore excursions for every age.

If you are looking for one of the top beaches, head over to Las Caletas . This beautiful beach is one of the top private beaches in the world where you can find crystal-clear waters brushing up against the jungle-mountain backdrop. To learn about Puerto Vallarta’s history, head over to San Sebastian Del Oeste . This Puerto Vallarta attraction dates all the way back to 1605 as one of Mexico’s most well-preserved towns. Other historic towns include Talpa and Mascota , both colonial mining villages.

If you prefer to explore Puerto Vallarta’s vast natural beauty, check out Islas Marietas , one of the area’s protected state parks offering exotic marine wildlife and lush scenery.

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Panama Canal Cruise Entry


Panama canal cruises.

From Cartagena to Cabo San Lucas, cruise the Panama Canal.

The Panama Canal is one of the most astonishing human-made wonders, a sliver of ingenuity that allows ships to move from one ocean to another. Cruise from the Pacific to the Atlantic, or vice versa, and take in the scenery as you move through this engineering marvel built in 1914. Along with the tropical views and modern design of the canal, there's also great opportunity for adventures on land and by the shore, where you can get in touch with the indigenous culture at the Museum of Oaxacan Art in Huatulco, Mexico, or go kayaking in Nicoya Bay at Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

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Journey Between Worlds

From Cartagena to Cabo San Lucas, cruise the Panama Canal

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Aerial View of Casco Viejo in Panama


Descend on some of the most exciting travel destinations in Central America during a Panama Canal cruise. Stops in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; and Colón, Panama, means appreciating countless natural landscapes on top of traversing through the famous shortcut itself. 

Old Forts in Panama


A stop in Colón, Panama, lets you lay on the sand at serene Maria Chiquita beach or hike your way through Portobelo National Park to reach the 17th-century San Lorenzo Fort. And if you're in the mood for the city life, head to Panama City, the Caribbean's most urban cluster that's only an hour away by car.

Los Arcos in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico


Accessible only by water taxi, El Arco at Land's End in Cabo San Lucas is a natural rock arch that frames a powdery beach. It's the perfect backdroparagraphCopy for a jaw-dropping photograph — just watch out for the sea lions that like to photobomb while sunbathing on the rocks.

Rainforest Bridge in Costa Rica


Cross foggy suspended bridges or zip-line along the treetops at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve near Puntarenas, Costa Rica, where local travel guides take you deep within the forest as you learn about its precious ecosystems.

Old Town in Panama


Along with crossing the impressive Panama Canal during your vacation, you can also get in touch with the local cultures of different countries, where indigenous peoples still live and where heritage and history are treasured and preserved. 

Traditional Home with an Oxen in Costa Rica


About a 90-minute drive from Puntarenas, the artisan village of Sarchi, Costa Rica, is known for the quality of its arts and crafts, especially the beautiful construction of the colorful oxcarts, the folkloric carriages that are a symbol of Costa Rican culture.

Fruit Stand in Cartagena Colombia


Mercado de Bazurto in Cartagena, Colombia, is home to stand after stand of local fruits like mamey, a sweet tropical fruit with a creamy texture, as well as cooked-food kiosks serving generous plates of seafood like crab, rice and veggies, for just a few dollars.

Church La Merced in Antigua


Step into the past as you stroll down the Spanish Colonial lanes of Antigua in Guatemala, a picturesque town with pastel buildings and balconies filled with pink flowers. A short trip from the port at Puerto Quetzal, the city is home to museums like Casa de los Sueños, where the history of this town is depicted through art.

Aerial View of the Panama Canal


A cruise to the Panama Canal is filled with country-hopping adventures that take you to Mexico's Mayan ruins, white beaches in  Cabo San Lucas  or Colonial treasures in  Colombia .

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica Manzanillo Wild Beach


As part of your grand crossing of the Panama Canal, you can also laze on beaches and trek lush mountains in places like Mexico,  Costa Rica , Colombia and Grand Cayman .

Beach Walking Entrance, Miami, Florida


Cruise from Los Angeles  or  Miami  and pick the trips that make your favorite stops. Prefer more of Mexico? There's a cruise with stops in Manzanillo,  Puerto Vallarta  and Cabo San Lucas. Want to include some Caribbean islands? Finish your cruise in Puerto Rico or stop in Grand Cayman.


Panama enjoys a gentle tropical weather almost every day of the year. This translates into the easy planning of a crossing anytime is convenient for you.

Moving around in the different ports is simple, just choose the authorized taxi services or hop on the local public buses. You can also rent a car and be your own guide.

The best time to go on a Panama Canal cruise is anytime. The canal never stops working and you will traverse along with other ships and boats and witness the swift movement of these vessels.

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Once you're crossing the canal, head to the front of the ship for the best view.

You'll get to see other ships as they cross, too, giving you a different vantage point and a new way of learning how the canal works.

The thrill is not over after you go through the canal locks, there's more to see as you travel through the canal, with tropical flora and fauna adorning the way.


Stopping at different cruise ports during a Panama Canal crossing makes it easy to savor the varied flavors of these countries, each with its own signature spice and tang.

Grilled Fish with Tortillas from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico


Jalisco, the state where Puerto Vallarta is found, is the definitive influence on this destination's cuisine. Go for the famous lemon-marinated grilled fish known as pescado embarazado, and ask for huichol sauce, a blend of chili peppers, cumin and vinegar.

Typical Empanadas from Guatemala


Enjoy a mouth-watering empanada in Antigua, Guatemala — these savory pastries are stuffed with potato and meat and topped with guacamole, cilantro and onions.

Tamales from Cabo San Lucas


Famous for its tamales fajados (chicken tamales) and tamales guemes (pork, raisin and olive tamales), Cabo San Lucas also boasts a seafood stew known as comida de pobres, served with rice and beans and flour tortillas.

Related Ports

A cruise to the Panama Canal is a chance to land on amazing destinations during the same trip. Get in some beach time Oranjestad, Aruba. See traditional tapestry-making in Huatulco, Mexico. Or go snorkeling along the coral reef off the coast of Grand Cayman.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Lovers Beach

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Cartagena, Colombia, Close up view of St. Peter Claver

Cartagena, Colombia

Colon, Panama Fortifications

Colón, Panama

Huatulco, Mexico Tiki Hut Tanning Chairs

Huatulco, Mexico

Panama Canal, Second Lock Entrance Pacific Ocean

Panama Canal (Cruising), Panama

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala Volcano View

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

Puntarenas, Costa Rica Monteverde Cloud Forest

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica Manzanillo Wild Beach

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Manzanillo, Mexico Aerial View

Manzanillo, Mexico

Luxury Yachts with Skyscrapers

Panama City (Fuerte Amador), Panama

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How to Choose a Panama Canal Cruise

A Panama Canal cruise had been on my bucket list for a long time. Not only would it be transportation for me to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific and onto Alaska, the canal itself was a huge curiosity for me.

After 35 years of grueling construction in horrible conditions, the Panama Canal was completed in 1914. All the canal-building stories I learned about in school stoked my imagination. It was an adventure I had wanted to do for years. 

But when I started to look at possible cruise itineraries, it was a bit confusing. While there aren’t a zillion cruise ships heading to the canal, the ones that offer a Panama Canal cruise have a variety of itineraries. 

There are basically three itinerary choices to decide on for a Panama Canal cruise. It all depends on how much time you have for the trip and of course, how much you would like to spend.

best panama canal cruise line

What if you really want to see the Panama Canal but time and/or money are a concern? Here are the choices to help you decide which amazing experience to do along this 48-mile man-made wonder. 

When I found Crystal Serenity had a less-expensive repositioning coast-to-coast Panama Canal cruise, the decision was easy. Luckily, I had the time to spend 20 days from Ft. Lauderdale to Los Angeles. But not everyone has the time or budget for 20 days. Then, what are your choices?

How to Choose the Best Panama Canal Cruise For You

There are three ways to “do” a Panama Canal cruise. All three types of Panama Canal cruises are offered by a handful of mainstream, premium and luxury cruise lines.

Not all cruises offer the same ports of call, either. So it’s important to study itineraries and not just price-shop. 

Princess does several Panama Canal cruises throughout the year as does Norwegian. Also, when repositioning to or from Alaska, Australia or on a world cruise, you’ll find Carnival, Cunard, Holland America and others (including my Crystal cruise) sail the full 48-mile, coast-to-coast canal transit.

cruising through the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean

Panama Canal Cruise Options


On a partial transit of the Panama Canal, you cruise through the first set of locks followed by a day spent on Gatun Lake. You can purchase a ship shore excursion and there are always several options to choose.

If you’re on a shore excursion from your partial transit, you might have to re-board your ship in Colon, Panama rather than be onboard for the 180 degree turnaround in Gatun Lake to exit the canal.


The second option is a full transit of the Panama Canal, from the Atlantic to the Pacific or vice versa. These cruises tend to be seasonal and are at least 14 days in length. Generally, they will be even longer when the ship is continuing north along the California coast.

Arrival and departure ports on the west coast include either Seattle, Los Angeles or San Diego. Departures on the east coast usually begin from Ft. Lauderdale or Miami in Florida, sometimes in New York City.

If you love sea days, this could be your dream cruise. You can even include a cross-country Amtrak train from your cruise port after the cruise to return home. 

Ports you might visit on the Atlantic side include Key West , Cartagena, Colombia, Aruba or St. Thomas in the U.S.V.I.

On the Pacific side, you might visit one or two ports in Costa Rica and Central America. Three ports in Mexico seem to be the standard and might include Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Then it’s north to San Diego and onto Los Angeles or Seattle.

Panama Canal Locks


Your third choice is also a full transit but it’s shorter in length. These usually start or end in Costa Rica or Colon, Panama. Air arrangements can be a little more involved but it’s easily set up. This is one time where booking cruise line air might be the least stressful option, especially for newbie cruisers.

READ MORE: What to do in Cartagena, Colombia on a Panama Canal cruise

Panama Canal cruise

Planning a Panama Canal Cruise

I think a Panama Canal cruise is similar to an Alaska cruise for several reasons. 

  •  It’s a bucket list cruise for many
  •  Splurge and reserve a balcony stateroom
  •  Do a little research before the cruise
  •  Go to the enrichment presentations

If your ship makes a port call in Cartegena, Colombia and Panama City, Panama, you’re in luck. These were my two favorite ports on my Panama Canal cruise. Why? Cartegena is emerging as a world-class vacation destination with great restaurants, historical sights and fabulous shopping. 

best panama canal cruise line

Panama City seems to rise out of the sea with unexpected ultra-modern skyscrapers that extend along the shoreline. Panama City is very modern urban city, and was a total surprise for me. 

Panama City skyline on a Panama Canal cruise.

Despite a Panama Canal cruise being a bucket list vacation, I would go again without hesitation. Especially because now I know what to do in some of the ports of call that I missed doing the first time.

READ NEXT:  My Panama Canal Cruise Review with Crystal Cruises

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Hi Wayne, Thank you for your note and for reading my article. Sorry about the delayed reply. For smaller ships along the lines of Oceania, there’s also Viking Ocean with 900 passengers, Seabourn, Silversea and Regent all have smaller, upscale ships. There’s also Windstar with sailing ships and over-sized yachts. While I still need to cruise aboard the mega-ships for work, I also am leaning more towards smaller ships of the sizes you mentioned. Also, remember there are river cruises in the US with only a few hundred passengers or less. Happy cruising! And thank you again.

Exciting! WE are in our 60’s and prefer smaller ships … along the lines of Oceania. 600-1000 passengers.. Which cruiselines should we be focusing on? Thanks!

Hi Jeffrey, Thank you for reading my article. That’s a very interesting question and one to which I don’t have an answer. My only guess would be that as long as you’re aboard one of the Panamax ships (the older ships) and not Post-Panamax like Royal Caribbean’s newer ships. The ships also cannot be taller than 201-feet to fit under the Bridge of the Americas. You could probably send an email to the Panama Canal Authority with any questions and they may even have a list of ships slated to use the original canal locks for 2022-23. Basically, the smaller the ship, the more likely it will transit through the old locks. Last but not least, whatever cruise line you choose, you might be able to reach someone that is knowledgable on which locks a specific ship will use.

Have a wonderful cruise! It’s an amazing experience, for sure. Thank you again for your question.

hi, as a retired engineer making a transit via the old canal locks is a must. Please advise how i can be assured the ship i choose will in fact be using the old canal?

thanks …

Thank you for your wonderful email! It made my day. I will be posting more about my Panama Canal cruise when I’m back on land. Onboard Wifi is good…but still spotty at times. I am not familiar with David McCullough’s book, but it sounds interesting and I’ll look for it on Amazon. Thanks again for listening to Cruise Radio! If you have time, I’m the new host of River Cruise Radio so please listen in!

Hi Sherry. We will be following you on your journey of the Panama Canal as we plan on booking for 2020 when the dates for fall are released. We are reading David McCullough’s book, Path Between the Seas, to prepare ourselves for this epic adventure.

I feel like you and I are old friends. I have been listening to you for a few years now on Doug Parker’s Radio show. You sure provide a great summary of all cruise news be it positive or negative. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and enjoy your trip along the canal.

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Updated on September 3, 2021 by Sherry Laskin

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Panama Canal Cruise

Tropical Beach

One of the world’s greatest engineering wonders, the 51-mile-long Panama Canal is a major tourist attraction in Central America. And it’s a hugely popular cruise destination , too, connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. The canal is more than 100 years old now, but it’s busier than ever. Many a Panama Canal cruise takes in this man-made marvel.

For many cruise enthusiasts, a Panama Canal crossing is nothing less than a bucket list item. The canal is not just a straight line, though. It consists of several artificial channels, man-made lakes and three locks, which lift ships upward as they travel across the Panama isthmus. It’s a fantastic experience.

It is, however, also a pricy journey. As a lot of Panama Canal cruises are one-way voyages with rather long itineraries, cruising the Panama Canal is not for casual cruisers. (There are several partial Panama Canal cruises, though.)

If you’d like to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime boating experience, you’ll need to save up for a while beforehand. And once you’ve gathered a sufficient budget, it’s time to go and find the best Panama Canal cruise. We’ll take a look at a few below.

Panama Canal Cruise Excursion

What Is The Best Month to Cruise Panama Canal?

The general consensus is that the best time for a Panama Canal cruise is from September through April. The busy cruise seasons typically starts in December , after the rains have subsided. Winter and early-spring are the times you’ll want to book your Panama Canal cruise.

Types of Panama Canal Cruises

You have two different Panama Canal itinerary options: full and partial crossings. The latter is usually significantly cheaper than the former, simply because the ship often returns to its departure point. Those cruises are typically shorter, too.

Panama Canal lock

Full Panama Canal Crossing

A full crossing of the Panama Canal means that the ship travels the entire length of the canal, from one ocean to the other. This type of Panama Canal cruise is always one-way and itineraries are never shorter than 14 days. It takes a full day to cross the Panama Canal.

The most common full Panama Canal crossing itineraries are from Florida to California or vice versa—usually between places like Miami or Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles. Some cruises also start or end elsewhere on both of the American coasts, in the ports of New York City, New Orleans, San Francisco , San Diego or Vancouver, for example, among other places.

Additionally, complete crossings of the Panama Canal are also a major feature of round-the-world-cruise itineraries. Remember that the longer the voyage, the more expensive it will be.

Partial Panama Canal Crossing

A more affordable option is a partial Panama Canal cruise. These sailings are return trips or trips between ports one the same coast, either the Atlantic or Pacific coast. They’re generally 10-12 days long.

Most common are Miami-to-Miami voyages (or from other Florida ports), but you can also find Los Angeles-to-Los Angeles cruises that enter the Panama Canal. Carnival even offers partial Panama Canal cruises from less high-profile ports, such as Mobile, Alabama and Galveston, Texas.

On partial crossings, the cruise ship only enters one lock. Passengers can then leave the ship and join a variety of shore excursions. Even though, you won’t see the entire canal this way, you will, however, be able to explore places that you wouldn’t see on a full crossing.

Alternatively, some cruises do offer passengers the opportunity to see the rest of the canal in a smaller excursion boat. Even on partial cruises, you’ll still have the chance to see highlights such as Gatun Lake , the Bridge of the Americas, the Centennial Bridge, and the Gaillard Cut, which has literally been cut through the Continental Divide.

Panama Canal - Best Panama Canal Cruise

What Cruise Lines Go Through the Panama Canal?

Almost all major cruise lines offer one or more Panama Canal cruises nowadays—whether partial or complete crossings.

  • Holland America
  • Regent Seven Seas
  • Royal Caribbean

We recommend that you contact us for up-to-date information on Panama Canal cruises on offer.

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Donald Hackwood

I would like to leave from Panama east coast and cruise the canal out to Columbia etc.

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Take the world's greatest shortcut with our Panama Canal cruise.

Traversing the 40-mile Panama Canal is a rite of passage and something you'll remember for a lifetime. Add in compelling ports like Cartagena, Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta on your Panama Canal cruise holiday , and you're in for a unique adventure. Depart from various cities, including Miami or Los Angeles, and cruise to some of the most exotic and beautiful destinations on Earth. Discover for yourself why Norwegian is the Best Cruise Line in Panama Canal & Central America according to Cruise Critic.

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Travel across the Panama Canal in style on our award-winning ships. Voted Best Onboard Entertainment, Best Speciality Restaurants, and Best Casinos, you know you're in for an exciting cruise experience. Sit back, relax, and let Norwegian take you through one of the most magnificent marvels in the world.

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Best Panama Canal EXCURSIONS

best panama canal cruise line

We know the destinations you'll be visiting and what there is to see, do and experience. We offer you a variety of excursions to choose from, in every port you'll visit.

best panama canal cruise line

Five Bays Catamaran and Swim

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This Mexican Outback and Camel Safari is an unforgettable eco-adventure that combines spectacular views, delicious cuisine and an exciting beach camel ride....

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Chileno Bay Snorkel

Cruise by the famed Lovers Beach, past the sea lion colony and the towering rock formations of Land’s End, then set sail for Chileno Bay. Here you'll discover the tropical fish and...

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Safari Drive-Through

Visit one of the largest animal parks in Guatemala and from the comfort of your coach, you’ll see a variety of animals such as hippopotamus, giraffes, lions, zebras and more. ...

Panama Canal HOTELS


best panama canal cruise line

Hilton Panama

Overlooking Panama Bay, this sophisticated hotel is 6 km from the Panamá Viejo historical district and 12 km from the Panama Canal locks.

The contemporary rooms offer free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and iPod docks, plus minibars and desks. Some rooms feature balconies and/or bay views. Executive rooms and suites provide access to a lounge with complimentary continental breakfast, snacks and drinks.

The contemporary rooms offer free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and iPod docks, plus minibars and desks. Some rooms feature balconies and/or bay views. Executive rooms and suites provide access to a lounge with complimentary continental breakfast, snacks and drinks. Suites add free-standing tubs and/or kitchens.

There are 2 elegant restaurants, including a steakhouse, as well as a trendy bar. Other amenities include a chic spa, a fitness centre and a rooftop pool with bay views.

Distance/Airport: 15 miles Distance/Pier: 20 miles

Package includes: Room and room tax Bellman gratuities Transfers between Airport and Hotel (via Hotel shuttle) Transfers between Hotel and Pier

Important Note: Accommodations are based on double occupancy per room. Some accommodation will allow triple and quad guests in a room and are subject to availability and surcharge will apply. Additional hotel rooms to accommodate triple and quads may be required, and surcharge will apply.

best panama canal cruise line

Hilton Checkers Los Angeles

Less than a mile from The Museum of Contemporary Art, this genteel hotel in a 1920s building is a mile both from the Walt Disney Concert Hall and from the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live.

Relaxed rooms offer flat-screen TVs, marble bathrooms and desks, as well as coffeemakers. Suites add separate living areas.

Relaxed rooms offer flat-screen TVs, marble bathrooms and desks, as well as coffeemakers. Suites add separate living areas. Some include patios and/or fireplaces.

There's a polished bar and an elegant restaurant. Other amenities include a fitness centre, a business centre and a rooftop terrace, plus meeting and event space.

Distance/Airport: 18 miles Distance/Pier: 23 miles

Package includes: Room and room tax Bellman gratuities Transfers between Hotel and Pier

best panama canal cruise line

The Sheraton Grand Los Angeles

Part of the Bloc shopping and entertainment centre, this upscale high-rise hotel is a minute's walk from a metro station, and less than a mile from the Crypto.com Arena.

Sophisticated rooms offer Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and coffeemakers; microwaves and minifridges are available on request. Suites add separate sitting areas. Club rooms provide access to a lounge with complimentary continental breakfast and afternoon snacks.

There's a hip restaurant featuring farm-to-table fare, and a lobby bar serving cocktails. Other amenities include a gym, plus 35,000 sq ft of meeting space.

Phone: (213) 488-3500

Distance/Airport: 17.5 miles Distance/Pier: 23 miles

Read THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT Panama Canal Cruises

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Panama Canal Cruise

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Panama Canal Cruise

About Panama Canal Cruises

A Panama Canal Cruise is an amazing experience that should not be missed. The canal is a 48 mile long canal that links the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. Cruises through the Panama Canal have varied itineraries. Twice a year in the fall and the spring as the ships reposition between the Caribbean and Alaska cruise lines offer full transit through the canal. These one way cruises sail through all of the canal's impressive locks. In the winter cruise lines offer partial canal cruises. These itineraries sail roundtrip from Florida, pass through the locks before turning around and returning to their originating port after re-entering the canal system on the return trip.

Taking a cruise through the Panama Canal allows travelers to witness first hand this marvel of modern engineering. The canal system is made up of three locks and a series of artificial lakes and canals. As ships pass the locks from the east their elevation is gradually lowered and as they pass the final set of locks, the Gatun locks, the ships ascend an amazing 85 feet bringing them back to sea level. The complete journey takes about 8-10 hours in each direction.

Panama Canal cruise itineraries also include wonderful ports of call in the Caribbean, Central and South America and Mexico. Travelers can explore these different ports and enjoy a number of activities including sightseeing, shopping, watersports, beautiful beaches and friendly people.

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Norwegian Cruise Line

  • 70% Off 2nd Guest + Take All FREE on select sailings
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Azamara Club Cruises

  • up to $500 Onboard Credit: per stateroom on select ships and sail dates
  • $1,000 Onboard Credit or $1000 Airfare Discount on select ships and sail dates
  • FREE GRATUITIES + Beverage Package + AzAmazing Evening Event

Oceania Cruises

  • FREE Beverage Package, Wi-fi, Excursions + More: on select categories & sailings

Celebrity Cruises

  • Great Savings: up to 75% OFF 2nd Guest: on select ship and sail dates
  • Get up to $200 Savings: per stateroom on select ships and sail dates
  • ALL INCLUDED: Free Classic Beverage Package + Basic Wi-Fi
  • Back to Back Savings: Save up to $200 Savings when you book a back to back cruise
  • SAVE: up to $50 ONBOARD CREDIT on select departures!

Holland America Line

  • Reduced Deposits From US$100 : per person on select sailings
  • Up to 50% OFF, Up to $300 Onboard Credit + Reduced Deposit: on select categories and sailings
  • Up to $150 Onboard Spending: per stateroom on select sailings
  • Amenities include a Cocktail Reception, Exclusive Shore Event + more
  • Up to $100 Onboard Credit
  • Up to $50 Onboard Credit
  • Enjoy specialty dining for two at Rudi’s Sel de Mer
  • Complimentary Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  • Complimentary Chocolate Covered Strawberries & Complimentary Bottle of Wine

Viking Ocean Cruises

  • Viking Ocean Amenities: FREE Shore Excursions, Wi-Fi and Beer & Wine with lunch & dinner

Royal Caribbean Cruises

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  • Fun Select Rates: Enjoy a Two Category Upgrade
  • Reduced Rates for Military Personnel!

Princess Cruises

  • Princess Premier Upgrade: Beverage Package, Wi-Fi, Crew Appreciation, Specialty Dining + more
  • Up to 35% Off + 3rd & 4th Guests Sail Free + More
  • MILITARY: Up to $250 Onboard Spending


  • Upgrades On Us Up to $1,000 Onboard + Stateroom Location Upgrade
  • Military Special - Up to $250 Onboard Credit
  • SPECIAL AMENITIES: Cocktail Reception, Exclusive Shore Event + more


  • A Sail to Remember Savings of Up to 15%
  • FREE Gratuities, FREE Open Bar, All Suite Accommodations + more

All offers are based on select sailings and categories and are subject to availability at time of booking. All rates are per person based on double occupancy.

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Panama canal and central america cruise highlights.

The Panama Canal Locks

The Panama Canal Locks Panama Canal Cruises are available in a variety of itineraries. Partial transit itineraries are offered for those seeking the convenience of departing from and returning to the same port. Full transit Panama Canal cruises are also offered for those who prefer to sail coast to coast and can often be combined with back to back cruises to create a longer and more diverse cruise experience.

Variety of Itineraries

A Variety of Itineraries Panama Canal Cruises are available in a variety of itineraries. Partial transit itineraries are offered for those seeking the convenience of departing from and returning to the same port. Full transit canal cruises are also offered for those who prefer to sail coast to coast. Full transit Panama Canal cruises can often be combined with back to back cruises to create a longer and more diverse cruise experience.

Variety of Excursion Opportunities

A Variety of Excursion Opportunities A variety of excursion opportunities are offered in the different ports on a Panama Canal cruise. In the Caribbean there are beautiful beaches and a variety of watersports and shopping. In Central and South America guests on a Panama Canal cruise can explore local markets, colonial towns and exotic surroundings.

Diverse Ports

Diverse Ports In addition to the time spent transiting the canal, the itineraries include diverse ports throughout the region including beautiful Caribbean ports, Central America ports as well as stops in South America and Mexico.

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Royal Caribbean Cruises 60% OFF ALL Guests + Kids Sail FREE + FREE GRATUITIES OR Onboard Credit

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Holland America Cruises 50% OFF Signature Beverage Package, Specialty Dining, Shore Excursions & Wi-Fi

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Best Panama Canal cruise excursions from Colon and Panama City

Local Tour Guide Walking and Pointing Toward the Skyline with a Group of Cheerful, Fashionable Afro-Descendant Tourists Together with a View of Panama City

While the actual crossing is the true highlight of any Panama Canal cruise, cruisers should not forget about the fascinating things to see and do in Colon and Panama City. These Panamanian ports might be stops on your itinerary or embarkation/debarkation ports, depending on the length of your sailing and which direction your ship travels through the canal. No matter which you visit, either will give you access to active, cultural and outdoor pursuits.

For cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Don't miss out on all Central America has to offer cruisers. Here are some of the best Panama Canal excursions to book during your journey.

Things to know about Panama Canal excursions

best panama canal cruise line

Keep in mind that prices vary among tour operators and cruise lines. For this story, here is a price key to give you a general idea of the expected cost for these itineraries:

  • $ = less than $75
  • $$ = $75-$150
  • $$$ = $150-$200
  • $$$$ = over $200

Also, here are a few tips to follow while preparing for your Panama outing:

  • Wear comfortable shoes, clothing and a hat, and carry a small backpack with necessities for the day, including a refillable water bottle and snacks if food isn't included in the tour.
  • If you're doing an excursion in the jungle or around any foliage, be sure to wear insect repellent.
  • Wear sunscreen for any tours that are outside; even if you're not going to be in the water, Panama's close proximity to the equator makes the sun intense. If you're snorkeling or swimming, use reef-safe sunscreen, which won't harm coral or marine life.
  • Take cash for tips for your guide and to purchase souvenirs and handmade items from indigenous peoples. U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere.
  • Before taking pictures of any indigenous people, ask them or your guide if it's permitted.

Panama City

best panama canal cruise line

Aerial tram tour at Gamboa Rainforest Reserve Price: $

About 45 minutes from Panama City lies the lush tropical paradise of the Gamboa Rainforest Reserve, where visitors can book various eco-focused experiences. The reserve is part of Soberania National Park, which encompasses 55,000 acres on the shores of the Panama Canal.

On a 90-minute aerial tram tour, visitors can get a peek at the local wildlife from a unique perspective. Board a gondola for the 2,000-foot-long, 400-foot-high ride above the rainforest canopy, during which you'll feel like you can almost touch the trees. Spot sloths, nesting birds and various species of monkeys.

Once you arrive at the top station, you'll disembark for a five- to 10-minute walk to a 100-foot-tall observation tower that offers a scenic 360-degree-view of Gamboa, Soberania National Park, the Chagres River and the Panama Canal.

Native peoples tour at Gamboa Rainforest Reserve Price: $$

During this two- to three-hour cultural tour, you'll learn about the Wounaan, one of the country's seven Indigenous groups. For centuries, the Wounaan people have lived in the Darien, a geographic region with a watershed, forest and mountains close to Colombia. Over time, however, some members of the Wounaan have migrated to other regions close to the Chagres River, giving visitors to the region a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture.

Related: Top Panama Canal cruise tips and tricks to get the most out of this unique crossing

The Wounaan community is known for its artistic and warrior skills. As you walk through their settlements, you'll get to experience some of their traditions and purchase authentic tribal souvenirs.

Driving/walking tour of Old Panama City Price: $$

Old Panama City, or Panama Viejo, is what remains of the original city, which dates back to 1519 and was destroyed in 1671 by Welsh privateer Henry Morgan. Sitauted in the suburbs of Panama, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

Getting here requires an hour-long drive from Colon or a half-hour drive from the Panama City cruise port. When you arrive, you can explore the Old Panama Cathedral and other ruins on foot, climb up the bell tower for a view of the skyline and shop at the artisan market.

The tour continues to the old colonial city of Casco Antiguo (also called Casco Viejo), a hip neighborhood with lots of architectural variety that gives it an eclectic vibe. Wander the city's cobblestone streets, and take in the colonial mansions, the Metropolitan Cathedral, art galleries and the Interoceanic Canal Museum. The final stop is Las Bóvedas in Casco Viejo, the sea wall on the Spanish fort, where you'll stroll along the top for a view of Panama City across the bay.

Free time is built into the tour, so branch off to try some local cuisine or shop for souvenirs.

Taboga Island catamaran tour Price : $$

This island in the Gulf of Panama was discovered in the 16th century by Balboa, who called it Isla de San Pedro; its current name derives from an indigenous word "aboga," meaning "many fish." Taboga Island's beaches, hiking trails, and fishing and snorkeling opportunities (not to mention its proximity to Panama City) make it a popular destination for tourists.

A six-hour catamaran tour lets you experience some of what Taboga Island has to offer. The tour departs from the Panama City cruise terminal, where you'll board a large catamaran equipped with everything you'll need for the day.

Related: 12 best Panama Canal cruises for a bucket-list trip

The first stop is a bay on the back side of the island, where you can swim or lounge on the boat's nets. Next, you'll sail to the beach side, where you'll have the opportunity to visit the village of San Pedro, home to the town church of the same name (said to be the second-oldest church in Latin America). You can also grab some snorkeling equipment on board and take to the water. The tour concludes with lunch and drinks on the ride back to Panama City.

Miraflores Visitor Center Price: $

If you fully transit the canal to the Pacific side, you'll pass through the Miraflores Locks, where you'll no doubt see visitors waving and cheering from a platform at the visitor center. It's worth a trip to come back here, where you can learn more about the process of ships passing during a self-guided tour. The center is about a 30-minute drive from the Panama City cruise port.

Currently, the four exhibition halls that portray the canal's history, construction, biodiversity and importance are temporarily closed for renovations. A trip is still worth it for the excellent 3D IMAX film narrated by Morgan Freeman, which does a great job explaining the trials, tribulations and perils of building this awe-inspiring feat.

You can also stand on the ground-level terrace or grab a seat in the bleachers on the first level to watch ships pass through; often, a staff member is on hand to provide commentary as the cargo and cruise vessels navigate the final set of locks in the Canal before reaching the Pacific. Before leaving, pick up all kinds of souvenirs, from hats to shirts and books, at the on-site gift shop.

best panama canal cruise line

Embera tribe village Price: $$

The Embera people, also called the Choco or Katio Indians, are indigenous to Panama and Colombia; today, about 33,000 people living in Panama identify as Embera. A tour of an Embera tribe village is immersive but also long (generally six to seven hours).

The tour starts with a 45-minute drive to Chagres National Park, followed by a ride in a traditional Embera dugout canoe on the Chagres River in an area full of flora and fauna; you might even spot a toucan. Once at the village, the chief welcomes your group, and the Embera people perform a series of traditional dances. Guests will have time to explore the village independently and listen to locals talk about their lives, including how they use the medicinal plants they source from the jungle.

Lunch is usually included and often consists of a traditional meal of fried fish or chicken, yuca and fried plantains. Visitors can shop for handwoven baskets, plates and masks made from palm leaf fibers, cocobolo wood and tagua seeds, before heading back to the ship.

Related: What to pack for a Panama Canal cruise

Kayaking in the Agua Clara Locks Price: $$

This tour is perfect for active travelers who will get to see Gatun Lake from a kayak. The roughly five-hour tour starts with a 75-minute drive to Gamboa Resort, where you'll get your kayak and get on the lake. While you paddle, keep an eye out for wildlife; the area is home to more than 300 species of birds, along with capuchin monkeys.

The tour continues to the Agua Clara Visitor Center to see ships passing through the canal and learn more about the canal's construction, expansion and operations through interactive displays and a rainforest trail.

Portobelo Price: $-$$

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Portobelo boasts sea views and ruins from its former life as a Spanish colonial town. After a 1 1/2-hour ride from Colon, you'll embark on a guided walk around town, dotted with houses in brightly painted colors, workshops and galleries housing Congo art installations. Congo dancers performing in the streets and restaurants serving Afro-Caribbean cuisine.

The tour stops at Iglesia de San Felipe, a Roman Catholic church that's also known as the Black Christ Church. Here, Christo Negro is on display, a life-size wooden statue of Black Christ that was found on the shores of the harbor and is celebrated with a festival every October. You'll also see the ruins of Fort San Jeronimo and Santiago Battery, two of the five Spanish ports in the area. You'll also notice the Royal Customs House of Portobelo, which was used in the 16th century to stash Peruvian gold and other loot that was seized in Latin America.

Depending on the tour, there may be time to take a short speedboat ride to Playa Huertas or Isla Mamey to snorkel or relax on the beach.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

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  • A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
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best panama canal cruise line

8 Best Cruises to Jamaica for Every Type of Traveler

T here’s no other voyage quite like a cruise to Jamaica , the Caribbean island that’s the birthplace of both reggae music and the legendary musician Bob Marley. When your ship arrives in port, you’ll find reef-lined sandy beaches, soaring mountains, tropical rainforests, and rum cocktails you’ll be daydreaming about for months. 

Jamaica is home to five cruise ports equipped to handle everything from intimate yachts to mega-ships. Ocho Rios is Jamaica’s largest port and a gateway to attractions like Dunn’s River Falls. Montego Bay is a golfer’s dream while Kingston, the Jamaican capital, offers an opportunity to visit the Bob Marley Museum and dine at a restaurant owned by Olympian Usain Bolt. Here's everything to know about booking a cruise to Jamaica .

All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. This story has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

What cruise lines sail to Jamaica?

Several cruise lines sail to Jamaica with most itineraries departing from the United States. Royal Caribbean sails to Jamaica from Tampa, Florida. Celebrity cruises to both Ocho Rios and another Jamaican port, Falmouth. Carnival has several itineraries that stop in Jamaica, including a few that sail the Panama Canal. Carnival Cruise Line and Princess Cruises sail to both Montego Bay, located on the northern side of the island, and Ocho Rios. MSC, Norwegian , and Holland America also include Jamaica on their cruise itineraries. 

MSC alone offers more than 50 cruises that stop in Jamaica.

Jamaica cruise itineraries often depart from Texas or Florida and include other Caribbean islands. Some include more adventures, sailing to Central America or through the Panama Canal. 

What cruise ships sail to Jamaica?

Cruises to Jamaica tend to be longer, with many itineraries falling into the five- to seven-night range, so you’ll need more than a long weekend for this vacation. Ships sailing here tend to be larger and stacked with onboard entertainment and activities. Most ships sailing to Jamaica, like Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas , the Norwegian Escape , and the MSC Meraviglia , carry thousands of passengers, but Viking Cruises and Oceania Cruises sail to Jamaica on ships that carry 1,200 passengers or less.

Whatever kind of cruise experience you’re looking for, you can find it on a ship headed toward the sandy beaches and reggae beats of Jamaica. These are some of the best Jamaica cruises for every kind of traveler. 

Which Jamaica cruise port is better?

Ocho Rios on Jamaica’s northern coast is the island's largest and best-located cruise port. It offers easy access to two of Jamaica’s top attractions—Dunn’s River Falls and Mystic Mountain, where you’ll find bobsledding and zip-lining—and several of Jamaica’s most popular activities. In Ocho Rios, you can ride horses on the beach, take a tour to learn about Bob Marley and the roots of reggae music, or relax on sandy beaches. The port is a quick walk from town, making it easy to explore on your own if you choose not to take an excursion.  

What is the best month to cruise to Jamaica?

There’s no place like Jamaica to escape winter. Jamaica’s dry season stretches from mid-December through April and brings sunny days with pleasant temperatures. Cruise to Jamaica between mid-December and April for perfect beach days and good weather for exploring rainforests and local markets. Avoid cruising the Caribbean in August and September, which is peak hurricane season. 

Find the right cruise for you:

  • Best Jamaica cruises for solo travelers  
  • Best Jamaica cruises for thrill-seekers  
  • Best cruise to Jamaica for families  

Best cruise to Jamaica for relaxing

  • Best cruise to Jamaica for partying  
  • Best megaship cruise to Jamaica  
  • Best smaller ship Jamaica cruise  
  • Best long cruise to Jamaica  

Best Jamaica cruises for solo travelers 

Holland America, one of the best cruise lines for solo travelers , offers a seven-night Western Caribbean itinerary that includes a full day in port in Ocho Rios. Check out Dunn’s River Falls and go for a swim at the Blue Hole. Relax on a bamboo raft, ride horses, listen to reggae or try zip-lining. Back on board the Nieuw Statendam , enjoy having one of the ship’s 12 oceanview solo staterooms all to yourself. These solo staterooms are small —between 127 and 172 square feet— but with so much to do onboard that might not matter. The Nieuw Statendam is a Pinnacle Class ship with several live entertainment venues, an expansive fitness center, shopping, and a spa. There are multiple dining options on board, and the cruise line hosts several events for solo travelers each sailing. The Nieuw Statendam ’s Western Caribbean itinerary departs from Fort Lauderdale, Florida , and also stops in Cozumel, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas. 

Book now with Holland America

Best Jamaica cruises for thrill-seekers 

Royal Caribbean cruises to Falmouth, Jamaica, on the Independence of the Seas , a modern cruise ship made for unforgettable adventures at sea. Spend your Jamaica port day zip-lining, bobsledding, or snorkeling. Try white-water rafting or go tubing through the Jamaican jungle. Climb to the top of Dunn’s River Falls or opt for a lazy day on a gorgeous beach eating beef patties. Back on board the Independence of the Seas , try out the 40-foot-long FlowRider surf simulator or scale an outdoor rock climbing wall with epic ocean views. Play glow-in-the-dark laser tag or race down dueling waterslides. You might just find yourself wishing for more sea days. The ship sails from and returns to Miami . Five-night itineraries also stop in Labadee, Haiti. 

Book now with Royal Caribbean

Best cruise to Jamaica for families 

If you’re looking for a cruise line that’s got something for everyone , MSC has you covered. The MSC Meraviglia starts its Caribbean journey in Port Canaveral, Florida, giving families a chance to visit Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, or the Kennedy Space Center before heading out on an unforgettable Caribbean vacation. The  11-night itinerary visits the Bahamas, Aruba, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. In Ocho Rios, guests can choose from several excursions including a traditional bamboo rafting tour. Adults may prefer the island tour and rum-tasting excursion. That excursion dives into the history of the island, taking travelers to historical sights as well as scenic spots. Guests learn about rum production on the island while sampling locally made rums. Juice tastings are available for any kids who may want to join this experience. 

But there’s so much to do on the Meraviglia , it may be tough to get your kids off the ship. The ship is home to a full-size bowling alley, F1 simulators, an epic waterpark with twisty slides and a sports field. There’s also a kid’s club, several shows to choose from, and an expansive pool. 

Book now with MSC

For a relaxing Jamaican cruise, jump on board the brand new Celebrity Beyond , which sails a  nine-night Caribbean itinerary round trip from Fort Lauderdale. The Celebrity Beyond is the cruise line’s newest ship. It boasts 32 restaurants, bars, and lounges and has a spa that offers a selection of more than 120 treatments. The cruise makes its first stop in Grand Cayman before stopping in Aruba and Curacao. Its last stop is Falmouth, Jamaica, a town with cobblestone streets lined with Georgian architecture that sits between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. From Falmouth, cruise passengers can opt to ride a bamboo raft along the Martha Brae River, climb to the top of Dunn’s River Falls, or lounge on the beach. This is an area of Jamaica known for its long emerald rivers, caves, waterfalls, and beaches, there may be no better place to relax in Jamaica. 

For a longer cruise, consider the  Celebrity Beyond ’s 11-night Southern Caribbean itinerary which adds a stop in Cartagena, Colombia. 

Book now with Celebrity

Best cruise to Jamaica for partying 

If you’re looking to party on your Jamaican cruise , look no further than Carnival Cruise Line. Carnival is the cruise line for travelers looking to let loose on vacation and is known for its fun onboard atmosphere. Carnival sails to Ocho Rios and Montego Bay from Florida. 

The  Carnival Sunrise sails roundtrip from Miami to Ocho Rios, Jamaica's most popular cruise port. This five-night itinerary starts with a day at sea—the perfect way to ease yourself into vacation mode, especially if you spent the night before sailing sampling Miami’s epic nightlife. The ship’s first port is Ocho Rios, where travelers can climb the 600-foot Dunn’s River Falls, drive a dune buggy through Jamaican woodlands, swim with dolphins, ride horses on the beach or try out river tubing. The ship stops in Grand Cayman before making its way back to Miami. 

Onboard, spend your sea days sipping cocktails by the pool. Spend your evenings at the Red Frog Pub, the onboard piano bar, or laughing your heart out at the ship’s comedy club. 

Book now with Carnival

Best megaship cruise to Jamaica 

To cruise to Jamaica with everything you could ever want on board, book yourself on the Norwegian Escape , a ship built in 2015 that can accommodate more than 4,200 passengers. This is a ship with dining options to suit even the pickiest palates. There’s even an American Diner on board should you get a little homesick. 

The Escape cruises to Jamaica on a  seven-day itinerary that includes stops in Cozumel, Mexico, George Town, Grand Cayman, and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, in addition to Ocho Rios, where it spends a full day in port. Excursion options in Ocho Rios include a 4x4 safari to Dunn’s River Falls, island sightseeing and beach breaks.

The itinerary includes two sea days, offering plenty of time for lounging by the pool or relaxing by the spa. Or try your hand at the ship’s ropes course and catch a show at the onboard comedy club. 

Book now with Norwegian

Best smaller ship Jamaica cruise 

If you’re looking for a luxury cruise experience and a trip of a lifetime that stops in Jamaica, Viking has you covered with its  15-day Panama Canal and Central America itinerary on board the Viking Star. The Viking Star is smaller than most of the cruise ships that call on Jamaica. It accommodates just 930 guests, ensuring top-notch service for everyone on board. 

​​Being a smaller ship, you won't find the same breadth of dining and entertainment offerings on board the Viking Star as you may on other cruise lines calling on Jamaica, but you're guaranteed not to get hungry or get bored on this luxury vessel. The Viking Star has two pools, a spa, and a fitness center. It also has a sports deck, piano lounge, and a handful of dining venues. This is a cruise line that focuses on enrichment, so expect lots of opportunities to learn about your destinations along the way. 

Viking’s Panama Canal and Central America journey begins and ends in Fort Lauderdale. It takes passengers on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; Roatan, Honduras; and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, before sailing through a portion of the Panama Canal. Its last stop before returning to Fort Lauderdale is Montego Bay. 

Book now with Viking

Best long cruise to Jamaica 

Oceania's  27-day Rome to Miami Grand Caribbean Crossing may be the most exciting way to make your way to Jamaica. This epic journey begins in Rome and spends a day sailing the Mediterranean Sea before sailing to Valencia and Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain. From Spain, the Oceania Vista crosses the Atlantic Ocean for just over two weeks of hopping around some of the Caribbean's top destinations. The cruise stops in Antigua, Puerto Rico, and Cozumel, before eventually making its way to Montego Bay. 

This itinerary does include several sea days, but with cabins that feel more like a home than a room on a ship, lots of great food, and a selection of cocktail experiences, you may not mind. The luxurious ship also offers cooking classes, shows, a spa, and lots of gorgeous photo spots. 

Book now with Oceania

Paradise beach on a tropical caribbean island

The best cruises to book for 2024

Whether you're looking to sail near or far, these are the best cruises to consider for 2024

dubrovnik, fortress lovrijenac

So many places, so little time - and the best cruises for 2024 are ideal for seeing as much of the world as you can.

They also open up spectacular views you wouldn’t get on land, such as fairytale castles dotted along the Danube or the rolling vineyards flanking the Douro Valley .

Choosing a cruise means seeking new adventures, perhaps travelling to a continent you’ve never set foot in before or trying new activities like hiking, wildlife spotting or cooking . There are other ways to expand your horizons on a cruise too, such as seeing some local entertainment or making new friends on board.

As it’s become ever-more important to us to take a stress-free holiday, we've rounded up the very best cruise packages that won’t disappoint, with everything from the best river cruises to amazing cruises for couples and excellent cruises around the UK .

It doesn't matter when you're looking to sail either, as these cruises take in all the seasons. Fancy a wintery adventure? We've got an epic Norwegian expedition cruise for that. Feel like a spring cruise to escape the summer crowds? We've got the perfect cruise around Japan at the height of cherry blossom season . Japan cruises are always popular and tend to sell out early, but we've got you covered with an excellent 2025 sailing already available — make sure to take a look before it sells out.

However or whenever you want to travel, there's a trip for you, and the best cruises in 2024 take you to the most incredible destinations. You can travel with celebrities on star-studded holidays , visit lesser-known towns and villages to get a real taste of a location and sail to amazing wildlife destinations.

These are the best cruises for 2024.

Venetian Lagoon - Best cruises

best cruises

Venice is a city that's famous for its water, and a cruise around the Venetian Lagoon reveals more of this romantic and fascinating destination than a hotel city break ever could.

On a Venetian cruise, you can visit the islands of Venice's northern lagoon, including Mazzorbo, Torcello and Burano during a sailing on the luxurious SS La Venezia. Burano is known for its traditional lacemaking and its vividly colourful fisherman cottages lining the lagoon.

The opportunity to visit Burano isn’t the only reason to pick a cruise in the Venetian Lagoon. On Good Housekeeping's special cruise , you’ll sail in the company of top chef James Martin, who will give a talk and Q&A about his career, and design and cook a grand gala dinner on board the luxurious ship SS La Venezia.


If you fancy an autumnal sailing with more of a musical theme than a foodie one, you might choose to join an eight-day cruise of the Venetian Lagoon in the company of world-famous tenor Russell Watson, who will give a special talk and Q&A, sign your complimentary CD, and give an exclusive intimate concert. You’ll have a chance to explore the highlights of the Lagoon as well, with trips to its islands of Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello and private visits to Venice's iconic Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica.

Croatia - Best cruises

best cruises

If you're looking for a sunny Mediterranean cruise you'd do well to consider Croatia and its stylish seaside towns and dozens of sun-kissed islands and islets off the glittering Dalmatian Coast.

With their astounding natural scenery, stylish coastal towns and off-the-beaten-path beaches, Croatia’s islands are wonderful to explore by small ship where you can dock in hard-to-reach corners only accessible by boat.

There mainland has no shortage of attractions either, with bustling cities to be explored too, like Dubrovnik, with its labyrinth of limestone streets and alleyways, palaces, churches, monasteries and picturesque piazzas, and Split, which has a long and varied history and excellent museums.

On Good Housekeeping's cruise you'll dock in Hvar, Dubrovnik and Split as well as one of Croatia's most beautiful beaches at Zlatni Rat - the Golden Horn - whose distinctive shape has made it an icon of Croatian tourism. You'll also visit the island of Mljet and discover the Mljet National Park with its serene saltwater lakes and verdant pine forests.

Vietnam and Cambodia - Best cruises

best cruises

A cruise through Vietnam and Cambodia is a fantastic way to discover the rich cultures, fascinating histories, and delicious cuisines of these two Southeast Asian gems. The countries are connected by the mighty Mekong River, which is a destination in itself, providing a home for diverse ecosystems and fishing communities on the delta and with ancient archaeological wonders along its banks.

Good Housekeeping is offering a 17-day tour of Vietnam and Cambodia, which includes seven nights cruising the Mekong on board the Mekong Jewel - an ornately decorated luxury ship.

You'll visit Ho Chi Minh City, where skyscrapers tower over ancient temples, Phnom Penh, Cambodia's thriving capital, and Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, where you can visit excellent museums and historic sites before indulging in some delicious Vietnamese street food.

There are excursions to the sprawling temple complex of Angkor Wat, the remnants of the last capital of the Khmer Empire, Angkor Thom, and to local villages and markets on sampans - traditional wooden boats.

Northern France - Best cruises

waterfront with beautiful old buildings in honfleur, famous french town in normandy

If you want to enjoy pretty coastal towns with a touch of history, a cruise to Northern France can offer you all of this without having to spend a huge amount of time at sea.

Sail to the Normandy region and you'll discover charming harbourfront towns like Honfleur, where you can sample local delicacies like camembert and Calvados, a rich local brandy made from apples and pears. Originally occupied in the 9th century by the Vikings, Honfleur has attracted artists for many years, including a young Claude Monet.

Join Good Housekeeping on a cruise to Normandy on board the luxurious ship Borealis. On the way to Northern France, you'll make several stops in the Isles of Scilly and the Channel Islands, including Guernsey, with its elegant Georgian and Regency architecture, and St Mary's, a marine conservation zone with lovely coastal walks. FIND OUT MORE

Japan - Best cruises

best cruises

As each new spring begins, millions of Japanese residents and tourists wait with anticipation for the first buds of the pink cherry blossom, known as sakura , to appear.

These blossoms are a symbol of renewal, vitality and beauty, and they make Japan's already spectacular cities and landscapes even more breathtaking than usual.

You'll have the chance to experience this phenomenon for yourself with Good Housekeeping's once-in-a-lifetime two-week cruise around Japan. The journey begins and ends in Tokyo, where you'll find soaring skyscrapers contrasting with blooming gardens and traditional noodle houses.

Along the way, you'll stop in Hiroshima, where you can learn about its devastating Second World War history, Osaka, where you can see some of the country's most ornate shrines and temples, and you'll even make a stop in Busan in South Korea to enjoy the city's subtropical landscapes. FIND OUT MORE

Norway - Best cruises

aurora borealis over snowcapped mountains and fishermen cabins by the sea, sommaroy, troms og finnmark, norway

Another wonderful European cruise destination for seeing the Northern Lights is Norway. It's one of Europe's best destinations for aurora spotting, especially if you head north above the Arctic Circle, where sightings of the lights are an almost daily occurrence at certain times of year.

From the Arctic capital of Tromsø, you can sail on to the remote and mysterious Lofoten Islands and visit North Cape, Europe's most northerly point, passing ancient Viking villages and herds of reindeer on the way.

On Good Housekeeping's Northern Lights cruise of Norway , you'll enjoy all the highlights of Norway's spectacular coastline: from exploring the Unesco-listed port of Bergen, the city of Tromsø and the ancient Viking trading post of Trondheim. You'll sail through some of Norway's most jaw-dropping landscapes, cruising past more than 1,000 mountains and 100 fjords. There'll be opportunities for wildlife spotting and stargazing and you'll be sailing with an expert expedition team who'll give you the best chance of catching a unique light display.

If you'd prefer a summer sailing, Good Housekeeping has a wonderful cruise over the August bank holiday weekend. You'll sail through several of Norway's most heavenly fjords, learning about ancient Viking history and the fascinating myths and legends that surround these icy waters.

Scottish Highlands - Best cruises

best cruises

Loch Ness, Loch Nevis, the Sound of Mull, Iona, Eigg, Skye, Fort Augustus, Fort William… these names conjure up images of glistening waters, wild landscapes and towering castles, majestic flora and fauna, and ancient myths and legends.

A cruise in this part of Scotland would surely be a contender for the most scenic of British getaways. You can travel through the Highlands and islands of Scotland to explore the endlessly beautiful Caledonian Canal, the magical islands of Scotland's western shore and hidden sea lochs that are only accessible on the water.

The deluxe Lord of the Glens hosts a maximum of 54 passengers and is one of the best ways to sail the Highlands. Guests stay in outward-facing en-suite cabins and enjoy superb cuisine throughout.

You can experience this ship on a exclusive sailing with weather presenter Carol Kirkwood, who'll join you on a journey through the tranquil Caledonian Canal and onwards towards the Sound of Mull, sharing stories of her Scottish family's history.

Egypt - Best cruises

north africa, egypt, luxor

If you're looking for a culture and history-filled cruise a little further afield, a river cruise through Egypt is a great option. Sailing along the Nile allows you to visit magnificent temples including Kom Ombo, Philae, Edfu and the Valley of the Kings, the ancient burial grounds of Egyptian royalty.

Good Housekeeping has a fabulous 12-day trip to Egypt packed full of historical and archaeological excursions. The trip begins in Cairo, where you'll take a trip to Giza to see the ancient pyramids and the Great Sphinx before heading to Luxor and boarding an opulent river ship for your seven-night cruise.

Making this cruise extra special is the company of historian Lucy Worsley. Lucy is an expert in Agatha Christie and will share her knowledge of the author's work during Q&As and talks, pointing out her connections to Egypt and the locations which inspired one of her most famous works, Death on the Nile.

Antarctica - Best cruises

best cruises

Choosing the best Antarctic cruise can seem like a daunting task. It’s an investment of your time and money and likely something you may only do once and remember in exquisite detail. It’s a remote and thrilling part of the world to explore, where 12 million penguins live in the coldest, highest, and driest place on earth.

To get the best out of this bucketlist experience, you need to go with experts who will take care of everything. Hurtigruten expedition cruises have explored Antarctic waters for over 20 years, and their premium ships have been designed so guests can explore the region comfortably.

Good Housekeeping’s Antarctic cruise on MS Fridtjof Nansen has one of the lowest possible CO2 footprints of all expedition ships in Antarctica, thanks to a special hybrid engine on this future-ready vessel.

You’ll depart from Ushuaia, a city nicknamed ‘End of the World’ and head through the icy waters of the Drake Passage, home to the incredible marine life you may have only seen on screen, where the white wonderland envelopes you on an adventure like no other.

The Hebrides - Best cruises

best cruises

For a slightly different kind of island holiday - one that's more about getting out and about in wild, untamed nature and spotting incredible wildlife - try a cruise around the dramatic Hebrides .

These Scottish islands offer rugged coastlines, varied flora and fauna and delicious local whisky to taste at several historic distilleries.

Each island has its own special charms. There's the outstanding wildlife haven of Arran, the Isle of Mull with its brightly painted harbourfront houses, the 'whisky island' of Islay, world-renowned for its peaty single-malts, and the uninhabited Hirta Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If you're interested in exploring the Hebrides, we have an eight-day sailing that will take you to Iona, Eigg, and Skye, as well as many other picture perfect locations on the mainland.

Greece - Best cruises

samos is a greek island in the eastern aegean sea, south of chios, north of patmos

The idyllic Cyclades, a collection of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, are known and loved for their pretty white-walled houses draped in pink bougainvillea, sandy beaches and bright blue waters.

But there is more to the Cyclades than just sun, sea and sea. These isles have a rich history, shaped by their many past conquerors, including the Minoans, Persians, Byzantines and Romans. You'll see remnants of these cultures in the architecture, from the Monastery of the Apocalypse Patmos to the cliff-clinging monastery of Hozoviotissas on Amorgos.

Discover a range of these intriguing buildings and monuments with Good Housekeeping on a cruise of the Cyclades . As well as the Cyclades you'll also spend time in Athens and Kusadasi, a beach resort in Turkey.

Douro River - Best cruises

best cruises

Anyone wanting to explore the Douro wine region should choose a cruise along the Douro River. This scenic waterway is central to the Portuguese wine trade and is flanked by rolling hills and vineyards, with storybook villages rising from the banks.

The Alto Douro, the name of this wine-producing valley region, holds UNESCO status and is one of the oldest and most renowned wine-making regions in the world.

Good Housekeeping offers an exclusive cruise along the Douro, where you can truly soak in the beauty of this golden valley as you travel.

Whereas some cruises like their passengers to dress in their finest gowns for dinner, A-ROSA ALVA has no such rules. Instead, an eight-day cruise invites its guests to relax on a wine-themed voyage where you'll visit multiple wine estates. Depending on the time of year, you might even get the chance to take part in a traditional grape harvest, including crushing the grapes underfoot in traditional granite troughs.

Germany - Best cruises

best cruises

The Rhine Valley is a captivating part of Germany, characterised by storybook castles and hilltop vineyards. A cruise on the Rhine is particularly inviting during the weeks leading up to Christmas, when the towns, villages, and cities along its banks go all out for their famous Christmas markets.

Good Housekeeping has a Christmassy cruise which will take you to the best of these markets. Starting in elegant Cologne, you'll see the incredible Gothic cathedral before boarding your beautifully appointed ship and setting sail along the Rhine.

You'll make several stops along the way, including in Mainz, Frankfurt, Koblenz, and Rüdesheim. At each stop you'll have time to browse the fairytale markets, picking up unique gifts and trying local delicacies as the heavenly scent of roast almonds, mulled wine and spiced cider fills the air.

India - Best cruises

amber fort and maota lake at sunset jaipur, rajasthan, india, asia

The Ganges is India's most sacred river, meandering 2,500km through the country from its starting point high in the Himalayas. Flowing through sprawling cities, tiny villages, and spectacular nature, a cruise down the Ganges is a fantastic way to see some of India's best attractions.

On a Ganges cruise, you can visit highlights like the Rajbari temple complex in Kalna, the artisan village of Matiari, and the neoclassical Hazarduari Palace in Murshidabad.

Good Housekeeping has a once-in-a-lifetime tour of India , which includes a seven-night cruise down the Ganges. After exploring India's Golden Triangle – including an unforgettable trip to witness both sunrise and sunset over the Taj Mahal – you'll board the luxurious Ganges Voyager II, a spectacular ship adorned with hand-painted murals.

Another highlight of any trip to India is the food, and you'll be joined on board by the Michelin-starred British-Indian chef Atul Kochhar, who'll share his passion for Indian cuisine in a live cooking demonstration.

Alaska - Best cruises

best cruises alaska

With its staggering mountain ranges, lush forests, rolling tundra, dramatic glaciers and a jaw-dropping range of wildlife, ranging from bears and moose to whales, Alaska is wilderness at its best. And no location in Alaska is more inviting for nature lovers than its Inside Passage, a network of waterways that wind through the fjords and mighty forests of the USA's largest state. Cruising through this incredible body of water gives you a rare chance to glimpse humpback whales, orca, bald eagles and bears in their natural habitat, and to discover the diverse and fascinating culture and history on its banks. From intriguing Gold Rush history to the traditions of Native Alaskan communities, there's so much to learn about on an Alaska cruise. Good Housekeeping has a once-in-a-lifetime cruise of the Inside Passage as part of a Canadian and Alaskan adventure. You'll ride on a scenic train route through the Rocky Mountains to Vancouver, where you'll set sail for a week-long Alaskan cruise on board a well-equipped ship.

Danube River - Best cruises

best cruises

The enchanting Danube is a wonderful river for a culture-packed European cruise. It winds through seven European countries and boasts opulent cities on its banks, as well as picturesque towns and villages and dramatic unspoilt rural scenery, including the UNESCO-protected Wachau Valley.

Good Housekeeping is offering a week-long Danube cruise , where you'll discover the highlights of three of the great capitals on its banks. You'll enjoy the culture and culinary treats of Vienna, marvel at the its magnificent buildings in Budapest, and take in the Gothic architecture and imposing castles of Bratislava.

In Vienna, you'll also have a very special event to look forward to; a trip to the famous Royal Lipizzaner Stables and Spanish Riding School with one of UK's best-loved historians, Lucy Worsley. Here, you'll get an insight into the training work of the riders with their Lipizzaner stallions as you watch them train to the sounds of classical Viennese music.

FIND OUT MORE Looking for inspiration for your next holiday? Grab a cuppa and browse our brochure packed with unique escapes.


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What's the best state for you », panama's president-elect vows to help fix canal water problems, build major train line.

Panama's President-Elect Vows to Help Fix Canal Water Problems, Build Major Train Line


Panama's President-elect Jose Raul Mulino receives from the President of the National Scrutiny Board (JNE) Nivia Rossana Castrellon, the certificate that formally installs him as the country's next president, in Panama City, Panama May 9, 2024. REUTERS/Aris Martinez

By Valentine Hilaire and Elida Moreno

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) -Panama's president-elect, Jose Raul Mulino, said on Wednesday he will urge lawmakers to approve a law enabling the Panama Canal to build large water reservoirs in the face of an unprecedented drought that has hit the capacity of the vital waterway.

In an interview at his office in Panama City, Mulino said he wants the law, which would grant the waterway permission to operate on land needed for the reservoirs, to be the first approved under his administration.

The canal, he added, needs a solution to the lost revenue linked to adverse climate conditions.

Mulino also said he wanted to make a major new tourist train - similar to one built in Mexico - a flagship project of his administration.

"One of the first decisions I am going to announce is the creation of a national railway secretariat," Mulino said, adding that studies show the line could help boost tourism.

The president-elect told Reuters that he has met with a Portuguese company that was involved in building Mexico's Mayan Train and learned about the advantages it could bring to the country, adding that the proper tender process will be kickstarted when he takes office. He did not name the company.

Mulino, a 64-year-old former security minister, won Panama's election on Sunday with 34% of the vote after stepping in to replace former President Ricardo Martinelli, who was barred from running due to a money laundering conviction.

After his victory, Mulino promised his government would be pro-investment and pro-business, adding that the Central American country would honor its debts, while he vowed to not forget the poor.

Panama's debt amounts to over 50% of its GDP, totaling $49.8 billion, and analysts have called for the new administration to curb the rising trend.

Mulino said his administration will make important sacrifices in public spending to curb unnecessary spending, while also eyeing major infrastructure projects to maintain dynamism in the economy.

The president-elect noted he will focus on effective tax collection rather than tax hikes.

Fitch ratings in March downgraded Panama's debt to speculative grade, citing fiscal and governance pressures aggravated by the government-ordered closure of a giant copper mine run by First Quantum Minerals.

Both S&P and Moody's told Reuters before the election they would monitor the government's first steps before taking any decision.

Mulino said he was confident other rating agencies would maintain Panama's investment grade rating and that agencies would be satisfied with his government's economic plans.

"I am sure that they (ratings agencies) will give their endorsement to what we are going to propose," he said. "I'm really positive and optimistic."

Mulino also said he has spoken with various world leaders following his win, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

After the talk with Blinken, Mulino expressed his commitment to create a team devoted to streamline the process for U.S. companies to invest in Panama, and also said he agreed with Lula to explore the possibility of Panama joining the South American Mercosur trade bloc.

As for Panama's state pension fund, which is running perilously low on reserves, Mulino said he enlisted a team of experts to find a solution, while requesting the outgoing government to hand over all related information to streamline the process.

"Don't sweep anything under the rug because I'm going to pull it up anyway," he said.

Reforms to the system will need to go through Panama's Congress, which after the change of government will be comprised mostly by independent lawmakers with whom Mulino says he is confident that agreements will be reached.

Mulino also noted Panama has yet to take full advantage of its strategic geographical position, and pointed to logistics as one of the sectors Panama needs to put more efforts into boosting.

The president-elect will take office on July 1 for a five-year term.

(Reporting by Valentine Hilaire and Elida Moreno; editing by Stephen Eisenhammer, Leslie Adler and Michael Perry)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters .

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Exclusive: Panama's president-elect vows to help fix canal water problems, build major train line

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Panama's President-elect Jose Raul Mulino receives certificate from electoral authority, in Panama City

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Reporting by Valentine Hilaire and Elida Moreno; editing by Stephen Eisenhammer, Leslie Adler and Michael Perry

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Thomson Reuters

Valentine, a French-Panamanian who majored in journalism and philosophy, joined Reuters in December 2021 after spending eight years in Spain. She studied at the University of Navarra and after graduation held different roles at Spanish news outlets 'El Español', 'El Confidencial', and 'La Información'. Valentine has helped boost the team's win rate, broke news on high-profile developments, and collaborated with the Spanish service and polling teams. She spends her free time producing podcasts, playing violin, trying to learn Mandarin, and searching for the best cafes in town.

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