Best Cruise Line for Cruises through the Panama Canal

Panama Canal Sunset
Panama Canal Sunset

Finding the best cruise line for cruises through the Panama Canal allows you to get the most from your trip to the world-famous landmark.  There are several cruise companies which offer Panama Canal sailings throughout the year, so finding one to meet your needs, wants and budget shouldn't be too difficult.

Panama Canal Cruise Options

The Panama Canal is a popular cruise destination. It stretches from the city of Balboa through Cristobal in Central America. The man-made canal allows for easy travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. In addition, the modern marvel in engineering is also classified as one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, as described by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Consequently, there are a number of cruise options to choose from.  Several major cruise lines travel through the Panama Canal, each offering a distinct itinerary for its passengers.

Holland America

Holland America offers both eastbound and westbound Panama Canal cruises from the fall to the spring months. Some of its itineraries include port stops in the Caribbean, South America and Central America. The shortest cruises offered by the company are 10-day Sunfarer cruises. The longest are 34-days Collectors Voyage cruises. Port stops on this extensive voyage may include:

  • Cartagenta
  • Columbia
  • Fuerte Amador
  • Panama
  • Half Moon Cay
  • Bahamas
  • Costa Rica

To find a full list of cruises available, visit  Holland America's website.

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival is another cruise line which offers sailings through the Panama Canal. Choices include 14-day tours departing from Tampa, Florida, and traveling to Los Angeles, California. Ports of call include the Cayman Islands, Cartagena, Columbia, and a voyage through the Panama Canal Transition. Other ports of call may include Puntarenas, Costa Rica, Acapulco, Mexico and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. In some cases, the company offers eastbound cruises with the same stops. 

Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises is a luxury cruise line. Though they offer trips throughout the world, one of the popular options the company features is the Panama Canal cruise. Some of the highlights of this cruise include:

  • Naturalist lectures on board at each port of call
  • Rain forest exploration in Bahia Drake
  • Diving on the Isla de Coiba to see sea turtles and dolphins
  • Visiting the Kuna Indian village in the San Blas Islands
  • Shopping at the Cristobal Pier in Colon

This company offers both  7- and 14- day cruises. The 14-day cruise departs from Puerto Caldera and travels to St. Martin. The shorter cruise travels from Puerto Caldera to Colon; however, other options may be available. 

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises also offers a cruise through the Panama Canal on board the Island Princess or the Coral Princess cruise ships. These cruises vary in length, depending on the season. The company offers round-trip sailings leaving from Fort Lauderdale, though some of these trips only include a partial transit through the Gatun Locks. Some of the ports of call included in the Fort Lauderdale departure are:

  • Aruba
  • San Juan del Sur
  • Cabo San Lucas
  • Puntarenas, Costa Rica

One of the features that sets this cruise company apart for its competition is its signature, Two-Day Canal Experience. During the cruise, you will experience a full transit through the canal, with an additional day spent exploring Fuerte Amador, a city along the canal. Other optional shore excursions include trips into the rainforest and traveling on the transcontinental railroad. For more information on available cruises, visit Princess Cruises' website.

Planning Tips

The best cruise lines for cruises through the Panama Canal are those which offer various amenities and activities throughout your voyage both onboard and on land.  Whether you want to explore rainforests, swim with the dolphins or take historical tours of the cities along the Panama Canal, there's a cruise company that has what you are looking for. To find the right cruise line, contact the companies directly or consult a reputable travel agent. 

Best Cruise Line for Cruises through the Panama Canal