People on boats in Panama

© John Elsmore

Why a cruise to Panama will surprise everyone

Cruising through the Panama Canal offers adventure for every type of traveller

October 2020

From exploring lush Panamanian rainforest and meeting native indigenous tribes to watching global cruise ships navigate one of the world's most innovative waterways, sailing the Panama Canal should most definitely be on your travel bucket list. And whether you're holidaying as a couple, with good friends or with the whole family (including the kids as well!), a cruise along the Panama Canal and around its surrounding areas will excite, entertain and enthral absolutely everybody, as these guests tell us...

The intrepid explorers

John Elsmore, from Ottawa in Canada, left the tourist trail to meet the locals with his wife, Sam

John and his wife, Sam

John and his wife, Sam © John Elsmore

Food offered by the Embera people

Food offered by the Emberá people © John Elsmore

'We travelled far from civilisation'
'In Panama, we visited the indigenous Emberá people. Their village is located deep in the rainforest and only accessible by a 45-minute journey in a dug-out canoe. When we arrived, it became apparent how far from civilisation we’d come! The Emberá people were so welcoming. They gave us a presentation about their way of life and served us plantain chips and delicious freshly cooked tilapia. We then wandered around their village and Sam had traditional body art painted on her arm. She was given a handmade headdress made with beautiful fresh flowers, too.’

‘We had an authentic experience’
‘I’ve travelled extensively all over the world and I didn’t realise such an authentic experience could be had on a cruise shore excursion. I truly felt as though I had journeyed back in time during our visit with the Emberá people. It’s one of my most memorable trips.’

‘There was always somewhere to unwind’
‘This was my first cruise with Princess, and one thing that impressed me onboard was the amount of space on the ship. We never had to search for a quiet spot to relax. The Movies Under The Stars amphitheatre, where we watched films in the evening, was a big hit for us.

The fun-loving family

Sarah Kennedy, from Folkestone, headed to Panama in celebration of her 60th birthday and her daughter’s 30th birthday

Formal Night in the Crown Grill on their Panama cruise

Enjoying Formal Night in the Crown Grill while onboard © Sarah Kennedy

Canoe Ride Sarah

‘I loved seeing the ships navigate the Panama Canal’
‘The journey through the Panama Canal, watching such a large ship navigate through the locks, while my husband and I enjoyed breakfast from our balcony, was fascinating.’

‘It was great to spot a wild sloth’
‘During the cruise, we had an amazing visit to the sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica. The trip also included a river canoe ride, where we saw a sloth hanging out in the wild along with lots of other incredible wildlife.’

‘We always felt welcomed’

‘The crew were so helpful, and they were always smiling. Our favourite bar was in the Atrium, where the staff learned all our names.’

‘Cartagena was so vibrant’

‘On a stop in Cartagena, Colombia, we wandered the colourful streets of the old town and stumbled across a backstreet café, where we ate delicious empanadas and drank limonada de coco (a local coconut limeade).’

‘Posting photos of our trip was easy’

‘Almost every day, I was sharing pictures of our adventures with friends on Facebook as the ship’s MedallionNet Wi-Fi was great.’

The solo venturer

Jamie Doherty, from Southampton, explored the Panama Canal with just himself as company

Jamie in Cartagena with brightly dressed dancers

Jamie meeting the locals in Cartagena © Jamie Doherty

Handmade crafts

Handmade crafts oh his travels © Princess

‘Experiencing the Canal on a vintage train was incredible’
‘I travelled in a beautiful deluxe 1938 vintage executive railway car on the Panama Canal Railway. The journey took in the stunning Gatun Lake and lots of lush rainforest. This excursion really is a must-do.’

‘Cartagena’s port was unforgettable’

‘I’ve never experienced a cruise terminal with so many exotic animals surrounding me. There were parrots, toucans and monkeys to name just a few.’

‘The handmade crafts were amazing’

‘I went off the beaten track and took a walk around the markets in many places on my cruise. The crafts made by locals were so beautiful. I loved the hand-painted tiles in Cartagena, while in San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, the necklaces and bracelets were created using the lava from the nearby volcano.’

‘I really connected with the crew’

‘The crew were so friendly, they always asked how my day was – and always knew what I wanted to drink! It was great to see them around the port and getting to enjoy the magnificent destinations as well.’

‘My trip did not disappoint’

‘I’ve been fortunate enough to cruise to destinations all over the world, including Alaska, the Caribbean and the Baltics. This was my first time cruising through the Panama Canal and the different ports along the way, and it lived up to my expectations.’

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