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Best Panama Canal Cruise Shore Excursions
A cruise through the Panama Canal is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many travelers. The canal is an engineering marvel connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans via the 50-mile long Isthmus of Panama. The original construction of this narrow waterway was completed in August 1914, but the most recent expansion project, which doubled its capacity, began operation in June 2016. Completing the passage through these world-renowned locks is a highlight of any Panama Canal cruise, but the surrounding region and ports of call offer extraordinary opportunities for exploration and sightseeing in Central and South America. We've compiled this list of the must-do tours when visiting the Panama Canal. Many cruise lines offer similar excursions, but depending on the itinerary, they can depart from either Colon, Gatun Lake or Panama City. You can also independently arrange for a private or group trip for some of these tours. No matter which excursion you choose, they all afford opportunities to explore the rich biodiversity of the Panama Canal region. They also offer historical perspectives about one of the world's most incredible engineering feats.
Windstar vs. Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is an ecotourist's paradise, and an ideal destination for a small-ship cruise. The region is one of the most bio-diverse in the world, with opportunities to see exotic wildlife on land and in the water. Combine that with beautiful beaches, water sports from snorkeling to kayaking, active land pursuits like hiking and ziplining and ports inaccessible to large cruise ships, and active travelers can revel in a unique cruise getaway. Many cruise lines stop in Costa Rica and Panama -- and many transit the Panama Canal -- but not many offer entire seasons exploring Costa Rica's Pacific Coast because their ships are simply too big. Windstar Cruises and Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic are two of the small-ship lines that offer cruisers the chance to immerse themselves in this Central American destination, combined with a full crossing of the Panama Canal. While both cruise lines visit roughly the same areas of Costa Rica and Panama, their trips and ships are markedly different. Windstar offers more of a typical cruise experience, with plenty of creature comforts and choice in what you do in port, but with onshore experiences priced a la carte. Lindblad is an expedition line and takes a more nature-based approach to the journey, with all excursions ashore and at sea included in your fare, and staffs its ships with expert naturalists and photographers. If you're looking for an off-the-beaten-path getaway in Costa Rica and a bucket list transit of the Panama Canal, we compare Windstar vs. Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic's cruises.
Best Month to Cruise to the Panama Canal
A cruise through the Panama Canal, from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean, is a trip of a lifetime for many travelers, who geek out over modern engineering as well as thrill to the extraordinary biodiversity and lush landscapes and rainforests of Central America. The height of Panama Canal cruise season runs October to April, but the best month to travel will depend on how much you expect to be active and outdoors. The year-round tropical climate of Panama and bordering countries of Costa Rica and Colombia get unbearably hot and humid, with a dry season and a rainy season. We've listed the pros and cons of travel by each month so that you can make the best of your Panama Canal cruise. Prices quoted are per person, double occupancy.