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Cruise ship passing locks in the Panama Canal (Photo: Sorin Colac/Shutterstock)

About Panama Canal & Central America Cruises

A cruise on the Panama Canal through Central America can appeal to more than one type of passenger. The Panama Canal portion of the trip focuses on the transit itself,with onboard lectures as ships make their way through the locks. Within the rest of Central America, put on your hiking boots and head for the rainforest or kick off your shoes and hit the beach. Port highlights include Costa Rica's Puntarenas and Limon, with excursions that cater to adrenaline junkies.

  • More about the Panama Canal & Central America

  • What is the best time to cruise to the Panama Canal & Central America?

  • Which cruise lines go to the Panama Canal & Central America?

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More about the Panama Canal & Central America

What is the best time to cruise to the Panama Canal & Central America?

Panama Canal and Central America cruise season is from October through April. The rainy season doesn't end until November, so cruises here are more popular from December onward. For more: Best Month to Cruise to the Panama Canal

Which cruise lines go to the Panama Canal & Central America?

Most major cruise lines, including Princess and Holland America, feature at least a few Panama Canal sailings in addition to expedition lines like Tauck and Lindblad. Cruisers can choose from a partial or full transit of the canal (Panama Canal: Partial Transit vs. Full Transit). Cruises that specifically explore countries like Costa Rica (without the canal) are on offer, from small-ship lines like Windstar Cruises.

What are some things to do in the Panama Canal & Central America?

In addition to either a full or partial crossing of the Panama Canal, most cruises in this region include stops in popular ports throughout Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. That means you can do anything from lounge on the beach to explore ancient ruins or enjoy some duty-free shopping. If you can, trek Arenal Volcano from Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.

Do you need a passport to take a cruise to the Panama Canal & Central America?

Yes, a passport is required for travel throughout Central America, including Panama.

What should I pack for a cruise to the Panama Canal & Central America?

The weather in this region tends to be hot and humid, so pack plenty of shorts and t-shirts. Since Panama Canal crossings tend to be longer sailings, be prepared that your cruise might have more than one formal night.

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