“We experienced the magnitude of the man-made interoceanic waterway but also felt fully immersed in the nature that surrounded us. At each port, the ship dropped anchor near small marinas or in picturesque bays where we were the only cruise ship and sometimes the only ship.”
Some three million years ago a narrow isthmus rose from the sea, forming a land bridge between North and South America that allowed species to mingle. A hundred years ago the Panama Canal cut across that land bridge giving nations around the globe a shortcut so they, too, could mingle. These two events have led to a region so rich it’s proven irresistible to history buffs, engineers, and nature lovers alike.
With staggering biodiversity and the epic engineering achievement of the Panama Canal (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the opportunities for adventure and enrichment are endless. Enjoy a unique daylight small ship view of the canal, locks, and Lake Gatun as a Canal Historian describes each phase of your journey. Wade ashore as your Zodiac makes “wet landings” in small ports and on remote beaches backed by rainforest. Watch for birds, monkeys, and species found nowhere else on earth. Encounter indigenous tribes who only recently emerged from the jungle. It’s an intoxicating voyage that will thoroughly satisfy the adventurer in you.
Windstar Ranked No. 1 Small Ship Cruise Line in 2018 for Panama Canal and Central America by Cruise Critic Cruisers' Choice Destination Awards
• Costa Rica has 12 ecosystems, each home to its own species. Two you don’t want to miss are the rainforest canopy (which you can explore by aerial tram or zip line) and the mangrove estuary, home to shore birds, caimans, and more.
• Up until the 1960s, the Embera Indians lived deep in Panama’s Darien jungle. A visit to one of their small villages is a rare opportunity to experience traditions and lifestyles as they were before the Spaniards colonized the region.
• One of the best Panamanian souvenirs is a mola – an appliqued and hand-embroidered textile made by the Kuna Indians. One of the best places to buy them is at the handicrafts market in Panama City.
• You’ll make wet landings in 2 ports—Golfo Dulce and Isla Parida. Wear waterproof shoes and shorts for going ashore, and bring a ziplock or watertight bag for valuables.
• The day of our Canal crossing starts early with history and insights from a canal expert. Get a good sleep the night before, put on your sunscreen, and remember to stay hydrated.