Best Cruise Line for Panama Canal Cruise

Starting to look into a Panama Canal Cruise for 2019.  Interested in the 14+ day.

Looking for input on best cruise line for this type of cruise.  I have sailed on RCCL, Princess, NCL and Viking.  Leaning towards Royal.

Tags: Panama Canal Central America Panama Canal (Cruise Into Canal)

18 Answers

I think it just depends on your cruise line preference. I have sailed the canal on Princess(partial transit) and a full transit on NCL. Enjoyed them both. The question I have is do you want to transit the old locks or the new locks. I am not sure the Royal Princess can transit the original locks.

I do not think we all could agree about which cruise line is "the best" for any particular destination. Most of us have our favorite line and are loyal to that line. A few here have a few favorites (you have a nice variety of traveled lines).

If you read magazine A - they might pick Cruise Line A as the best Panama Canal Cruise.

Magazine B - picks Cruise Line B

And then Magazine C - picks Cruise Line DEF (where did that come from??)

All said, read past reviews, check prices and dates that fit your desires and needs. Maybe once you come back you can help someone else with a review saying why your cruise was so good, or offer cautious warnings. Good luck.

We only transited the Canal on Princess, but it was very good. The on-board expert was extremely interesting, funny and knowledgeable. We sailed on one of the ships made specifically to go through the "old canal" If I were to book another transit cruise I would pick a bigger ship so I could go through the "new canal". That said, it is very interesting to only have one foot clearance on each side of the ship if you choose any of the ships built for the Canal transit. The other thing I would do differently is go East to West. The time changes drove me batty...setting the clock back one hour each of the first three days was like stealing cruise time. I'd rather add ship time and lose it on my trip home.

I would recommend Princess based on my limited experience of one Panama Canal transit cruise.

There are so many differences between cruiselines, that only you will be able to make the decision as to which is best. To make that decision, I would recommend comparing a few - date to leave, cost, compare room size and location, port stops and excursions, dress code and other features on each ship.

Hope you have fun doing your homework and planning your cruise.

I did the Panama Canal on Holland America

In 2014 we did a partial transit with Holland America. I believe it was 11 days. Loved everything about it. The night before we reached the canal, the captain reminded everyone that we would approach the locks at a particular time. My husband and I were up and 5am to see the approach. As you might imagine, everyone was up and looking for a good viewing spot. Later in the morning, the waitstaff went around giving everyone coffee and these little sweet rolls that are popular in Panama. We didn't miss a thing and still had our coffee. The rest of the ports were great. I love the attention to detail on Holland America.

Thanks for all the input. Already learned something - there is an old canal and new canal. It will be fun researching all this.

I've cruised the canal on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. I liked both of them.

How can you tell which one it will use? Is it mentioned on their website? Does it really matter? I booked Oceania for next year, 18 night cruise from SF. It's more expensive than the lines that have been discussed here, but another option. Given that it's a smaller ship, I suspect it won't be as tight a fit as the larger ships when transiting the canal.

The smaller ships will transit the old canal as the new one is wider and made for the larger ships called "Panmax".

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