Ocean to Ocean
Opt for a cruise that actually goes through the Panama Canal, instead of one that stops short and just visits the port. That way you can enjoy and experience the transit of the ship from one ocean to the other as it cuts through the jungles of Central America.
Where to Start
Typically, a Panama cruise that transits the Panama Canal originates at a port on one coast of the U.S., like Florida or Texas, and ends on the opposite coast in Los Angeles or San Diego. Round-trip cruises are available, too, and nontransit Panama cruises usually return to the port of call on the same coast where it started.
Length of Trip
A transit Panama cruise can last anywhere from 10 to 14 days, although some cruises last as long as three weeks. You will usually have more time at sea if the trip is longer.
Best Time to Go
The Panama Canal cruise season runs from October to April. Don't forget, though, that the hurricane season lasts through October, and Panama's rainy season ends in November.
Ports of Call
While most cruise lines offer a varied itinerary, they tend to have some common destinations such as Grand Cayman in the Western Caribbean and Costa Rica in Central America. There usually are stops in Mexico as well.
When planning your land excursions, explore the tropical rain forests or take part in a variety of water sports like snorkeling and deep-sea fishing. Don't forget to buy some traditional souvenirs, like wood carvings or ceramics.