ROL Cruise recommends...
1. Cross the canal by foot, car or water
For travellers who want to get to grips with the Panama Canal, there are a number of ways to do so. If your cruise ship doesn’t have a crossing through the canal on the itinerary then try a scenic sightseeing cruise along the water instead. To watch a ship pass through the canal’s locks, you can visit the popular Miraflores Locks, close to Panama City; Pedro Miguel Locks (which aren’t set up for visitors so have more viewing space); and Gatun Locks near the city of Colón, an hour’s drive from Panama City. You can even walk across the canal via a pedestrian walkway at Gatun Locks, or drive along a narrow road at the same place.
2. Ride a century-old trainline
First established in 1855, the Panama Canal Railway was the first interoceanic rail line in the Americas. Before the canal's construction it was the only way to travel relatively quickly between two oceans. Nowadays, the train sets out from Panama and zips through tropical jungle with occasional glimpses of the famed canal until it reaches Colon an hour later.
3. Learn about the canal’s history
There are two museums devoted to the Panama Canal: one at Casco Viejo features Panama’s cultural history and bridging of cultures, and the Visitor Center at the Miraflores Locks offers insights to the mechanical working of the canal through . Moreover, the restaurant in the Visitor Center's top floor offers visitors a viewing platform where you can watch the transiting vessels in the canal below.
4. Explore Panama City
Apart from the canal, Panama’s capital has plenty to excite its visitors. Stroll through the cobbled alleys of Casco Viejo, the colonial Old Town which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998, or lose yourself inside Metropolitan Park, a rainforest oasis of jungle dwelling animals right in the centre of the city. Wandering along the two-mile-long Amador Causeway, a waterside promenade filled with restaurants and shops, joggers and rollerbladers, provides some extraordinary views of the city skyline set against the Pacific Ocean. Equally impressive are the queues of freight ships patiently waiting their turn to pass through the Panama Canal.