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Which Cruise Lines Go To Panama Canal


by Robby Dell



Welcome aboard! Are you ready to embark on an extraordinary journey through one of the greatest marvels of engineering? Look no further than the Panama Canal, a magnificent feat that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, offering travelers a unique and unforgettable experience.


In this article, we will explore the various cruise lines that offer trips to the Panama Canal, allowing you to discover the wonders of this man-made wonder. From the history behind the creation of the canal to the importance it holds in global trade, we will delve into the captivating world of Panama Canal cruises.


Whether you’re a history buff, adventure seeker, nature lover, or simply yearning for a relaxing vacation, a Panama Canal cruise is sure to fulfill all your desires. Witnessing ships navigate through the intricate locks and traversing the vast expanses of this engineering wonder is an experience like no other.


Get ready to be captivated by the breathtaking landscapes, lush rainforests teeming with wildlife, and the intriguing culture and history of the countries surrounding the canal. Panama Canal cruises provide an incredible opportunity to explore not just the canal itself but also the beautiful destinations along the way.


With multiple cruise lines offering trips to the Panama Canal, you can customize your journey to suit your preferences. Whether you prefer a large, luxurious ship with an array of amenities or a smaller, more intimate vessel for a personalized experience, there is a cruise line that will cater to your needs.


So, sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the fascinating world of Panama Canal cruises. Prepare to be amazed as we explore the history, significance, and the different cruise lines that will take you on a memorable journey through this iconic waterway.


History of the Panama Canal

The history of the Panama Canal is a tale of determination, ingenuity, and Herculean efforts. The idea of creating a waterway through the isthmus of Panama to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans dates back to the early 16th century, when Spanish conquistadors first explored the region.


However, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that serious efforts to construct the canal began. The French, led by Ferdinand de Lesseps, the mastermind behind the successful Suez Canal, initiated the first attempt. Unfortunately, due to technical and financial challenges, the project failed and thousands of lives were lost.


It was not until 1904, under the leadership of the United States, that construction of the canal resumed. The Americans were determined to overcome the difficulties faced by their French predecessors. They made significant progress in battling tropical diseases, such as malaria and yellow fever, which had plagued the region.


The construction of the Panama Canal was a massive undertaking. It involved the excavation of millions of cubic meters of earth, the creation of a system of locks to lift ships to the level of the Gatun Lake, and the building of a monumental Culebra Cut through the continental divide.


Finally, after ten years of relentless effort, on August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal was officially opened for navigation. It instantly revolutionized global trade by significantly reducing travel time for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.


The Panama Canal quickly became one of the most important strategic and economic assets in the world. It provided a shortcut for vessels traveling between the east and west coasts of the Americas, eliminating the need for lengthy journeys around the treacherous Cape Horn.


Over the years, the Panama Canal has undergone various expansion projects to accommodate larger vessels. The most recent expansion, completed in 2016, allowed for the passage of Neo-Panamax ships, significantly increasing the canal’s capacity and efficiency.


Today, the Panama Canal stands not only as a remarkable engineering achievement but also as a symbol of human perseverance and the triumph of technology over natural obstacles. It continues to be a vital link in global trade, facilitating the movement of goods and fostering economic growth.


Embarking on a cruise through the Panama Canal is not just a journey through a fascinating waterway but also a chance to witness firsthand the remarkable history and legacy of this engineering marvel.


Importance of the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal plays a crucial role in the global shipping industry and holds immense importance for both commercial and strategic reasons. It serves as a vital transit route, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and provides significant benefits to countries around the world.


One of the primary advantages of the Panama Canal is the reduction in travel time and distance for ships. Before the canal’s construction, vessels had to navigate around the southern tip of South America, a perilous journey known as the Cape Horn route. The Panama Canal shortened the travel distance for ships by thousands of miles, saving time and fuel costs.


The canal has transformed international trade, enabling goods to be transported more efficiently between the east and west coasts of the Americas. It has opened up new opportunities for global commerce and created a more interconnected world.


Furthermore, the Panama Canal has had a significant impact on the economies of countries along its route. It provides a crucial lifeline for several Latin American nations, allowing them to export their products to distant markets. The canal has stimulated economic growth, attracted foreign investment, and created job opportunities in the region.


The canal’s importance is not limited to commercial aspects alone. It also has strategic significance, allowing for the rapid movement of military vessels and personnel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. During times of conflict or humanitarian crises, the canal serves as a vital artery for the deployment of military assets and the delivery of aid to affected regions.


Additionally, the Panama Canal is a symbol of international cooperation and diplomacy. The management and operation of the canal have been transferred from the United States to Panama since December 31, 1999, following the Torrijos-Carter Treaties. This transition marked a significant milestone in Panama’s sovereignty and demonstrated the ability of nations to work together towards a shared goal.


Overall, the Panama Canal is a testament to human engineering prowess and a vital link in the global trade network. Its importance and continued operation are crucial for the smooth flow of goods and the economic development of nations around the world.


Cruise Lines that Visit the Panama Canal

Exploring the Panama Canal aboard a cruise ship is a popular choice for travelers looking to experience the marvels of this engineering masterpiece. Several cruise lines offer itineraries that include a journey through the Panama Canal, allowing guests to witness the locks and the stunning scenery surrounding this incredible waterway.


Let’s take a look at some of the major cruise lines that offer Panama Canal cruises:

  • 1. Carnival Cruise Line: Known for its fun and vibrant cruise experiences, Carnival offers a variety of Panama Canal itineraries. Guests can choose from cruises that traverse either the full canal or partial transits, allowing for flexibility in trip duration and destinations.
  • 2. Royal Caribbean International: With its fleet of modern and innovative ships, Royal Caribbean offers exciting Panama Canal cruises. Passengers can enjoy amenities such as rock-climbing walls, waterslides, and Broadway-style entertainment while sailing through this iconic waterway.
  • 3. Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line provides a range of Panama Canal itineraries, offering guests the chance to explore diverse destinations along the way. From historical sites to stunning natural landscapes, guests can immerse themselves in the beauty and culture of the countries surrounding the canal.
  • 4. Princess Cruises: Known for its elegant and refined cruise experiences, Princess Cruises offers Panama Canal itineraries that cater to a variety of traveler preferences. Passengers can enjoy luxurious amenities, enriching activities, and insightful shore excursions.
  • 5. Holland America Line: Offering a more intimate and upscale cruising experience, Holland America Line features Panama Canal itineraries that showcase the beauty of both the canal and the surrounding regions. Passengers can relax in elegant accommodations and indulge in world-class cuisine while exploring this iconic waterway.

In addition to these major cruise lines, there are also specialty cruise lines that focus specifically on Panama Canal voyages:

  • 1. Canal Barge Company: Canal Barge Company offers unique and intimate cruise experiences through the Panama Canal aboard small barges. These trips provide an up-close and personal exploration of the canal, offering a more immersive experience.
  • 2. Pearl Seas Cruises: Pearl Seas Cruises offers small-ship Panama Canal itineraries that provide a blend of luxury, comfort, and personalized service. Passengers can enjoy spacious accommodations and gourmet dining while experiencing the wonders of the canal.

When choosing a cruise line for your Panama Canal adventure, consider factors such as the size of the ship, onboard amenities and activities, the duration of the cruise, and the destinations included in the itinerary. Each cruise line offers a unique experience, allowing you to select the one that best suits your preferences and travel style.


Embarking on a Panama Canal cruise is an unforgettable experience, providing an opportunity to witness one of the world’s greatest engineering achievements while enjoying the comforts and luxuries of a cruise vacation.


Major Cruise Lines

When it comes to exploring the Panama Canal, several major cruise lines offer exceptional itineraries that cater to a wide range of preferences and budgets. From luxurious experiences to family-friendly adventures, these cruise lines provide unforgettable journeys through this engineering marvel. Let’s take a closer look at some of the major cruise lines that visit the Panama Canal:

  • Carnival Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Line offers an array of Panama Canal itineraries, with options for both partial and full transits. Passengers can enjoy a vibrant onboard atmosphere with various entertainment options, dining experiences, and exciting activities for all ages.
  • Royal Caribbean International: Royal Caribbean International offers Panama Canal cruises aboard their modern and innovative ships. Guests can indulge in a multitude of thrilling activities, from rock climbing and surfing simulations to Broadway-style shows and world-class dining.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line provides a wide variety of Panama Canal itineraries, allowing guests to explore the canal and the destinations along the way. Passengers can savor the flexibility of Freestyle Cruising, with numerous dining options and entertainment choices.
  • Princess Cruises: Known for its refined cruising experiences, Princess Cruises showcases the Panama Canal through a range of itineraries. Guests can enjoy the line’s signature service, enriching activities, and dining options inspired by destination flavors.
  • Holland America Line: Holland America Line offers Panama Canal cruises that exude elegance and sophistication. Passengers can immerse themselves in refined accommodations, exceptional cuisine, and immersive destination experiences that bring the wonders of the canal to life.

These major cruise lines not only provide an exceptional journey through the Panama Canal but also offer a wide range of onboard amenities and activities. From thrilling water parks and Broadway shows to relaxing spas and gourmet dining options, passengers can enjoy a complete vacation experience while sailing through this iconic waterway.


When considering a major cruise line for your Panama Canal adventure, factors such as ship size, onboard amenities, destination variety, and duration of the cruise should be taken into account. Whether you prefer an action-packed itinerary with plenty of entertainment options or a more relaxed and refined experience, there is a major cruise line that will fulfill your preferences.


Embarking on a Panama Canal cruise with a major cruise line ensures a well-rounded and memorable experience, combining the wonders of the canal with the exceptional service and onboard offerings provided by these industry leaders.


Specialty Cruise Lines

In addition to the major cruise lines, there are also specialty cruise lines that focus specifically on providing unique and immersive Panama Canal experiences. These cruise lines offer intimate and specialized trips, allowing passengers to delve deeper into the wonders of the canal and its surrounding regions. Let’s explore a couple of these specialty cruise lines:

  • Canal Barge Company: Canal Barge Company offers small-ship cruises through the Panama Canal aboard intimate barges. These cruises provide a more personalized and up-close experience, allowing guests to witness every detail of the canal’s operation. Passengers can enjoy guided tours, enlightening lectures, and exquisite dining while exploring this incredible engineering marvel.
  • Pearl Seas Cruises: Pearl Seas Cruises specializes in small-ship luxury cruises, including Panama Canal itineraries. Passengers can indulge in spacious accommodations, gourmet dining, and personalized service while experiencing the wonders of the canal. The intimate size of the ship allows for a more intimate and immersive experience, with an emphasis on destination exploration and cultural encounters.

These specialty cruise lines offer a more intimate and tailored experience, allowing passengers to truly immerse themselves in the wonders of the Panama Canal. With smaller ships and specialized itineraries, guests can enjoy a closer vantage point of the locks and gain a deeper understanding of the canal’s history, engineering, and ecological significance.


Embarking on a specialty cruise line for a Panama Canal adventure allows for a more personalized and in-depth exploration of the waterway. Passengers can expect exceptional service, enriching experiences, and a chance to connect with fellow travelers who share a common interest in this engineering marvel.


Whether you choose a specialty cruise line or a major cruise line for your Panama Canal journey, both options offer unique experiences that allow you to witness the grandeur of this incredible feat of engineering. Decide on the type of experience you desire, the level of intimacy you seek, and the specific amenities or activities that resonate with you to ensure a memorable and fulfilling Panama Canal cruise.



Embarking on a cruise through the Panama Canal is an experience of a lifetime. From the history and engineering marvel of the canal itself to the vibrant destinations along the way, a Panama Canal cruise offers a unique and unforgettable adventure.


Whether you choose a major cruise line or a specialty cruise line, there are plenty of options available to suit your preferences and budget. Major cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, and Holland America offer a range of itineraries, providing diverse experiences for all types of travelers. These cruise lines provide amenities, activities, and entertainment options to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable journey.


For those seeking a more intimate and in-depth exploration, specialty cruise lines like Canal Barge Company and Pearl Seas Cruises offer tailored experiences that focus on the wonders of the Panama Canal. These smaller ships provide a closer and more personal perspective, allowing passengers to immerse themselves in the history, engineering marvels, and natural beauty of the canal and its surroundings.


Whether you’re fascinated by the engineering prowess of the Panama Canal, eager to witness the lush rainforests and diverse wildlife, or simply looking for a relaxing getaway, a Panama Canal cruise has something to offer everyone. It’s an opportunity to traverse one of the world’s most iconic waterways, unravel its rich history, and witness firsthand the impact it has on global trade and connectivity.


As you plan your Panama Canal cruise, consider the duration of the trip, destinations included, onboard amenities and activities, and the size and style of the cruise ship. These factors will help you choose the perfect cruise line that aligns with your preferences and ensures a memorable and rewarding experience.


So, whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or looking to embark on your first voyage, don’t miss the chance to explore the wonders of the Panama Canal. Get ready to be amazed and create memories that will last a lifetime!