One of the world's most impressive feats of engineering, the Panama Canal joins the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Panama Canal cruises usually call at several Caribbean cruise ports, as well as Panama City or Colon.
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Even if you are familiar with the concept of a canal lock, nothing can prepare you for the awesome scale and power of the locks you’ll encounter on your Panama Canal cruise. Closest to Panama City are the two-step Miraflores Locks, making them a possible excursion if you’re visiting the city, as there’s an informative Visitor Centre which explains how they function. The locks are named after the lake they give way to and once you’ve crossed it, you’ll arrive at the Pedro Miguel Locks, which serve the other end of the lake. Lying close to the Atlantic coast are the famous Gatun Locks. Gatun Lake is another of the most popular areas of the Panama Canal, being that is one of the world’s largest artificial lakes. It is crucial to forming a passage between both oceans in both directions and is bordered by dense rainforests which make for a truly spectacular natural backdrop. The lake’s water is what makes operation of the canal’s locks possible and it also provides the people of Panama City and Colon with drinking water.
Located at the Pacific end of the canal, Panama City is both a starting and finishing point for many full transits of the waterway. Even if you’re visiting the city as a cruise port on your itinerary and not travelling on the canal itself, excursions to the canal are readily available from Panama’s capital and indeed, it remains the city’s most popular attraction. If your canal transit begins with a stay in the city however, there are also a number of other popular attractions to discover, such as the Old City with its wealth of historic buildings and the altogether more contemporary bayside Cinta Costera precinct.
Overlooking Limon Bay, Colon lies at the Atlantic Ocean end of the Panama Canal and much in the same way as Panama City’s biggest attraction is the canal, so too is it in Colon, specifically the Gatun Locks and the watery expanse they give way to, Gatun Lake. Aside from the attractions the canal offers, Colon’s a great port to visit if you want to explore the wider region’s breathtaking rainforest and there are a number of historic landmarks to discover too, such as the commanding Fort San Lorenzo, built on the orders of King Phillip II of Spain in 1595.
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