Panama Canal Cruising

Cruising through the Panama Canal is an astonishing experience. Here we offer an overview of the trip, some history on the building of the canal and a guide to cruise options to when selecting your cruise.

scrapes from the passage through the locks. East bound cruises heading into the canal often sail past Panama City at dawn, usually a stunning sight with the sunrise and skyscrapers welcoming the ships into one of the engineering wonders of the world.

Up until recently, the canal could only accommodate ships designated as Panamax. The original locks are 1,050 ft (320.04 m) in length, 110 ft (33.53 m) in width, and 41.2 ft (12.56 m) in depth. These limitations had influenced the ship building industry for the past hundred plus years. On September 7, 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaty and Neutrality Treaty promising to give control of the canal to the Panamanians in the year 2000. After Panama took control, the Panama Canal Company started an expansion project which started

construction in 2007 and opened for commercial operation on June 26, 2016. The new locks allow transit of larger, Post-Panamax and New Panamax ships, which have a greater cargo capacity than the original locks could accommodate. The new locks are 1,200 ft (366 m) in length, 160.7 ft (49 m) in width and 49.9 ft (15.2 m) in depth. Unfortunately, many of the cruise industry’s new mega-ships still cannot cruise the canal as they are too tall to pass under the bridge at the Pacific end of the canal.

All-in-all, this is a fascinating journey and one of the three or four best itineraries we’ve sailed. The ports-of-call are an opportunity to visit a number of Central American countries and see some of this interesting region.

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