Are you thinking about taking a small ship cruise and looking for a truly memorable vacation experience? A Panama Canal cruise on a small cruise ship combines a touch of the exotic along with the opportunity to see one of the world’s engineering marvels. In this article, you will learn about the history of the Panama Canal, what you can expect to see on your cruise and what makes experiencing this cruise aboard a small ship the perfect vacation
Originally built to reduce the time for large sea going vessels to cross from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans, the Panama Canal is today a major shipping channel used by over 13,000 ships per year. Prior to the Panama Canal being built, the only option for ships navigating from San Francisco to New York was to sail around the tip of South America via Cape Horn a 14,000 mile journey.
Today, over one million vacationers cruise the Panama Canal year after year and continues to be probably the most well-known cruise selections for Central America. So what makes this cruise stand out? There are numerous things. First is the canal itself. The Panama Canal is often referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World and is truly an engineering marvel. Boats transit the canal through a set of locks – the Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores. The locks lift the ships from sea level up to 85 feet and then slowly lowers the ship using a series of water chambers and gravity. By using the three locks, the ship is lifted a total of 170 feet when traveling from one ocean to the other.
Next, this cruise will take you through the very heart of Central American, filled with tropical rain forest and exotic jungle wildlife. There are several cruise itineraries readily available, but for the traveler trying to find an additional touch of adventure or just an off-the beaten-path cruise experience, cruising the Panama Canal aboard a small expedition ship is the way to go.
What makes small ship, expedition cruises different? Small ships can go to out of the way places the larger ships cannot. This allows for exploration of tiny ports and remote locations. Small ships often use Zodiacs, inflatable motorized rafts, to carry guests to secluded beaches and other undiscovered spots.
Expedition cruises feature lectures concerning the local wildlife, background and culture. A small ship also means a far more intimate atmosphere, more personal service and also less formality. T-shirts and shorts are the norm here, which means you can leave your cocktail dresses and tuxedos at home.