Exploring the Panama Canal is one of the most unique travel experiences, offering vacationers a close-up view of Central America's engineering marvel. The journey from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean (or vice versa) is full of extraordinary destinations to explore, from Isla Coiba's pristine beaches to Chagres National Park's lush rainforests. International cruises are a convenient and safe way to visit these exotic locations, but navigating the Panama Canal comes with some potential risks. When looking for itineraries in the Caribbean or Central America that stop in Colón, it is important to carefully check the offers of shore excursions.
The average transit time through the 50-mile canal is 8 to 10 hours, according to the Panama Canal Authority, leaving travelers with plenty of free time. Most full-transit cruise ships make stops on both sides of the isthmus, allowing travelers to visit places in the western Caribbean, such as Limon and Cartagena in Costa Rica, as well as destinations on the Pacific side like Puntarenas, San Juan del Sur and Acapulco. The peak Panama Canal cruise season runs from October to April, but tourists who enjoy warm weather can find affordable deals during the summer months. To make your tour of the Panama Canal more efficient, it is important to plan ahead and align your travel goals with your cruise itinerary.
Additionally, it is important to be aware of hurricane season in both the Atlantic (June 1 - November 30) and Eastern Pacific (May 15 - November 30), as some cruise lines may be closed during this time.