20 Day Cruise – Panama Canal 4/18/20192019-01-08T22:12:15+00:00

20 Nights

Panama Canal

April 18, 2019 | aboard Volendam

Inside starting from: $3,869
NOW $3,199 CAD
w/ Free Air*, Taxes & Fees Included

INCLUDES

  • With Air for Vancouver or Toronto Gateway (One-way Air* from YVR, Roundtrip Air* from YYZ)
  • 20 Nights Cruise + 1 Night Pre-Cruise Hotel
  • FREE Transfers (From airport to hotel, hotel to ship)
  • Travel Insurance (Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption)
Cruise Connections Exclusive Price/person (CAD)
INCLUDES: With Air*| Taxes & Fees | Travel Insurance
Cabin Category Total Fare
Special Offer from
(Gateway: Vancouver)
Special Offer from
(Gateway: Toronto)
Savings (per couple)
Inside $4,269 $3,199 $3,599 $1,340
Oceanview $4,379 $3,499 $3,899 $960
Vista Suite $6,982 $5,399 $5,799 $2,366
Daily Itinerary
Date Port Arrival Time Departure Time
Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) 4:00 pm
Cruising
Cruising
Cartagena, Colombia 7:00 am 1:00 pm
Panama Canal, Panama 5:00 am 5:00 am
Panama Canal, Panama 7:00 pm 7:00 pm
Cruising
Cruising
Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica 8:00 am 6:00 pm
Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua 10:00 am 5:00 pm
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala 8:00 am 6:00 pm
Puerto Chiapas, Mexico 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Huatulco, Mexico 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Cruising
Manzanillo, Mexico 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 8:00 am 3:00 pm
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Cruising
Cruising
San Francisco, California 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Cruising
Victoria, British Columbia 2:00 pm 11:00 pm
Vancouver, British Columbia 7:00 am

Forth Lauderdale, Florida, US

Shimmering blue waters, swaying palm trees and soft ocean breezes greet you in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where you'll find yourself somewhere between laid-back island time and the fast pace of a thriving city. In this sun-filled, year-round beach town, pristine beaches are the main attraction, shorts and flip-flops are the daily uniform, and yachts are often the preferred form of transportation. It's a place where you can do as much, or as little, as you desire.
Because of its many canals and waterways, Ft. Lauderdale is sometimes called the Venice of America. It's home to the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, one of the largest in-water boat shows in the world. Visitors can easily get a taste of the area's nautical lifestyle by cruising the Intracoastal Waterway on an old-fashioned paddle wheeler. Other options include hopping aboard one of the popular water taxis or Venetian gondolas that glide down the historic New River, which flows right through town.
While Ft. Lauderdale is often overshadowed by its flashy neighbor, Miami, the port city is expanding rapidly as major developers and high-end resorts build up the beachfront and surrounding neighborhoods. Visitors will find world-class shopping on famous Las Olas Boulevard, celebrated restaurants and a cultural explosion in the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District. It's clear that Ft. Lauderdale is solidifying its place as a sophisticated destination.

Cartagena, Colombia

Its official name is Cartagena de Indias—or "Cartagena of the Indies"—but call it Cartagena for short. The formal name hints at this Colombian city's colonial relationship with Spain; it was founded in 1533 and named after the mother country's Cartagena. Colombia declared independence in 1810, but there's plenty about its fifth-largest city that evokes old Spain, including the impressive fort of Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, and the wall that encloses the old town, one of the few intact structures of its kind in the Americas. Both were considered important enough to inscribe on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1984. They may be historical artifacts, but the fortress and wall aren't merely tourist attractions; they are central to daily life here. Take a stroll and you'll see couples sitting atop the wall, locked in passionate embraces; parents watching their children walk it like a balance beam; and friends chatting while enjoying the Caribbean breeze. Along with history, there's cultural and culinary intrigue here, too. This colorful city was a muse of the late Nobel Prize–winning writer Gabriel García Márquez, and is increasingly being recognized outside Colombia for its cuisine, which takes many cues from Caribbean ingredients.

Panama Canal Cristobal

Think of the Panama Canal, and the image that may come to mind is of the world’s huge tankers and cruise ships passing through a series of locks. That, however, reflects only one aspect of this part of the world. As ships travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific, they also pass colonial towns, historic fortresses and manmade lakes that are today home to sanctuaries for hundreds of different animal and plant species. At the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, Colón evokes the old Panama of yesteryear, with its historic buildings gradually being restored. Some 77 kilometers (48 miles) to the south, at the canal’s Pacific entrance, Panama City's glittering skyline of office towers and condominiums reflects the country’s dynamic present and future. Traveling between these two cities, an epic tale unfolds before you—an old-school feat of engineering, ambition and courage. As David McCullough recounts in his sweeping history The Path Between the Seas, it was a combination of sheer human might and engineering prowess that today allows ships to cross the Panama isthmus, saving sailors from making the dangerous, almost 13,000-kilometer (8,000-mile) journey around the tip of South America.

Cruising Panama Canal

The construction of the Panama Canal is one of those epic tales from the past, an old-school feat of engineering, ambition and courage. A cruise along it today is a journey through the centuries, from the Spanish fortifications near Limón Bay to the glittering skyline of Panama City, not to mention the canal itself. Over the course of a decade a little more than a century ago, tens of thousands of workers drilled dynamite holes, drove belching steam shovels and labored with pickaxes, all the while fighting off malaria. While the French builders of the Suez Canal ultimately gave up in Panama, American crews persevered and created a route allowing ships to travel across a continent. As David McCullough recounts in his sweeping history The Path Between the Seas, it was a combination of sheer human might and engineering prowess. In 2016 an expansion more than doubled the canal's capacity, ensuring it will continue to be central to the world's maritime traffic.While many think of the Panama Canal only as a remarkable manmade achievement, the area is also of interest to naturalists. Panama’s rain forest suffered great biodiversity loss during the canal's construction, but today more than 100 species each of mammals and reptiles, as well as some 500 different birds, thrive in the nature reserves along the length of the canal.

Exit Panama Canal Balboa

At the end of your journey along the Panama Canal, you’ll reach Balboa, the town that sits at the Pacific entrance of the canal. Its namesake is Vasco Núñez de Balboa, the famed Spanish explorer who was the first European to see the Pacific from the New World. Balboa’s journey was historic, a legendary feat of the age of exploration. The construction of the canal that crosses the isthmus today was also a historic achievement, to this day the largest civil engineering project ever. Over the course of a decade at the beginning of the 20th century, a combination of sheer human might and engineering prowess was responsible for the construction of the canal.
A journey from Colón, at the Caribbean end of the canal, to Balboa, at its Pacific end, allows you to marvel at this world wonder, as well as see colonial towns, historic fortresses and sanctuaries for Panama’s wildlife along the way. Measured by miles, the journey along the canal is relatively short, but it is one with an epic sweep. You will follow in the footsteps of giants from Balboa to the workers who built the canal.

Puerto Caldera (Puntarenas), Costa Rica

One of the stops along the Panama Canal Zone route, Puerto Caldera on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast isn't your ordinary port of call, positioned as it is within easy day-trip distance of the country's multiple national parks. The town itself is small, but makes for an ideal base from which travelers can venture out to explore the variety of this Central American country's outdoor attractions and activities. These include snapping photos of gushing waterfalls (and swimming at the base of one, if you bring your swimsuit!), sightseeing near active volcanoes, bird-watching in nature reserves and sanctuaries and horseback riding on Pacific beaches . . . and that's just for starters. Visitors to Puerto Caldera and the surrounding region also enjoy shopping for handicrafts that local artists sell at their cooperatives, as well as sampling traditional Tico cuisine, especially gallo pinto—a combination of rice and beans eaten at any time of the day or night. Puerto Caldera is the perfect reminder that adventure often awaits just around the bend.

Corinto, Nicaragua

As a travel destination, Nicaragua still remains below the radar for many Americans, despite a recent surge of media interest in this Central American country. One of the region’s most politically and socially stable nations, Nicaragua has been billed as the next great spot for eco-, cultural and culinary tourism. Adventurous guests keen to experience its charms are rewarded richly for their efforts. The country’s most visited cities are Managua (the capital), Granada and León; the latter sits near the Pacific Coast. Corinto is the nearest port town, just northwest of León and along the route to the Panama Canal Zone. It offers many of the charms of the larger cities, including their colonial-era architecture, as well as a number of cultural and ecological attractions in surrounding areas. Given the port's proximity to León, it’s easy for cruise passengers to take a day trip to this beautiful city established by Spanish conquistadores in 1524. While there, be sure to sample the traditional dish called vigorón, a hearty plate heaped with pork, boiled yuca and cabbage salad. Though residents of Granada claim to have invented it, vigorón is popular around the entire country and is a true taste of Nicaragua.

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

Puerto Quetzal is Guatemala's largest port on the Pacific Ocean side of this Central American country, important for both cargo and cruise ships. There's not a great deal to see and do in Puerto Quetzal itself, and visitors should adjust their expectations accordingly. Yet you shouldn't despair, either; Puerto Quetzal is an ideal point of departure for exploring several corners of the country. Choose your mode of transportation—plane, bus, car or boat—and decide whether you want to take in Guatemala's stunning, volcano-studded landscape, one (or more!) of the country's Maya sites, the UNESCO–recognized colonial city of Antigua (the former capital), a coffee plantation or one of the many beguiling bodies of water. In addition to the gleaming Pacific, there's Lake Atitlán, which 19th-century German explorer Alexander von Humboldt described as the most beautiful lake in the world. All of these attractions are accessible as day trips, and getting to them is all part of your Guatemalan adventure.

Puerto Chiapas, Mexico

The southernmost port on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Chiapas is named for the state in which it is located. It is relatively new, built in 1975, and is the primary hub from which the region’s agricultural goods, including coffee, are sent abroad. For travelers arriving by cruise ship, the town of Puerto Chiapas is a jumping-off point to explore surrounding areas, including Tapachula, the second-largest city in the state of Chiapas. In addition to visiting the coffee estates and banana and cacao plantations of the area, day trips include excursions to Maya sites such as Izapa. Although not as well known as some of the Maya sites of southern and eastern Mexico, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site Chichén Itzá, Izapa is impressive nonetheless. In addition to its interesting location—it sits along a river and is aligned with a volcano (the sixth-tallest mountain in Mexico)—archaeologists have found numerous stelae and evidence that it was the largest Maya site in Chiapas. While in the area, don’t miss the opportunity to sample the cuisine of Chiapas, which is influenced heavily by the Maya. One typical dish is tasajo, a thinly sliced beef steak marinated in a sauce made with achiote (also known as annatto) and chili.

Huatulco, Mexico

Huatulco, situated on Mexico's Pacific Coast in the state of Oaxaca, has nine bays and 36 beaches, offering more than enough opportunities for fun in the sun. The most popular beach is La Entrega, with clean white sand and calm waters, perfect for snorkeling and swimming . . . or just relaxing. But Huatulco's attractions aren't limited to sand and surf; there are also archaeological sites to explore, rivers to raft, and waterfalls whose pools invite childlike splashing. Bird lovers, in particular, will find Huatulco to be especially captivating. The region is home to more than 225 bird species, including many rare ones and a number that are endemic to Mexico, like the Colima pygmy owl and the wildly colorful orange-breasted bunting and citreoline trogon. Bring your bird list, because you're sure to add new species to your "sighted" column. And the food in Huatulco! The food will give you plenty to write home about. The state of Oaxaca has some of the most iconic dishes in Mexico's culinary repertoire. You won't go home hungry.

Manzanillo, Mexico

A glance at Manzanillo’s coat of arms tells you most of what you need to know about one of Mexico’s most significant port cities. Divided into four quadrants, the shield features a multi-masted sailing vessel, a ship’s wheel and anchor, a coconut palm rooted in golden sand against an ocean backdrop and a sailfish arcing out of the water. The only item missing, perhaps, is a plate of freshly caught seafood. Manzanillo is one of Mexico’s busiest, most important ports (some say the busiest and most important). Located on the Pacific, it’s nicknamed the Sailfish Capital of the World. It’s little wonder, then, that most of the activities in Manzanillo are centered on or near the water, and most of the city’s culinary specialties are inspired by the fruits of the sea. Don’t have high hopes if you plan to shop for authentic souvenirs here; many of the options are chain stores that may be familiar to you and which offer the same goods you could buy at home. No worries, though: Your money is best spent on Manzanillo’s experiences.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Unique compared to Acapulco, Cancún, Zihuatanejo and several other coastal resort towns in Mexico—many of which were created by the government as planned communities—Puerto Vallarta ("PV" to locals), on the Pacific Ocean, retains quite a bit of its colonial-era charm. Its town square, Plaza de Armas, and the gorgeous parish church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, topped with an ornate crown and overlooking the port, serve as the loveliest representations of bygone ages. Alongside these echoes of the past are more modern attractions, including an ambitious public art project along the seaside walkway (the malecón) and trendy restaurants such as La Leche, serving contemporary Mexican cuisine. Round these out with plenty of fun-in-the-sun outdoor activities on and along Banderas Bay (whale-watching! snorkeling! jet-skiing!), excursions that reveal the best of Puerto Vallarta's flora and fauna, and a side trip to one of Mexico's pueblos mágicos (magical towns, a designation conferred by the government to recognize smaller towns that possess historical and cultural value), and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more pleasant place to spend part of your cruising vacation.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Los Cabos doesn't exude the same kind of charm as many other areas of inland Mexico do, but its twin towns—San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas—don't seem to mind, and neither do visitors, who are drawn here less for traditional Mexican culture than for the sun, the sand and the opportunity to just slow down and relax. Los Cabos—or the Capes—sits at the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula, a narrow strip of land whose varied geography, both above and underwater, makes for plenty of interesting activities and some unusual ones, too. Did you ever think you'd ride a camel in Mexico? You can do that here, or enjoy more predictable pursuits including fishing, golfing and whale-watching. Want something still more laid-back? Visit picture-perfect El Arco, an arch that may look familiar thanks to its cameo on postcards and tourism advertisements. North of the capes, you can drop by the famed Hotel California. And if you've worked up an appetite, you won't be disappointed: Los Cabos offers plenty to enjoy at the table as well, with farm-fresh fruits and vegetables and, of course, seafood being the mainstays here.

San Francisco, California, US

San Francisco, California, has long been America’s shining city by the sea: a beacon on the West Coast that boomed during the gold rush of 1849 and, for much of the 20th century, embodied the sunny California dream. It has always been a city of dreamers, a place that appeals both to the country’s counterculture and also, ironically, to those looking to strike it rich. The Summer of Love unfolded here in 1967, while today it is the epicenter of the Internet economy, enjoying yet another period of expansion.
One thing has remained constant throughout its colorful history—the city’s enviable location at the tip of a peninsula separating San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. Around every corner and from every hilltop, views of the water and the city’s bridges wait to be photographed.
San Francisco’s appeal has also owed much to its role as one of the Pacific Rim’s major metropolises. Its restaurants and neighborhoods reflect a population that includes communities of people originally from Asia and Latin America, and the city proudly embraces its multiculturalism. Finally, if you want to venture beyond San Francisco, some of California’s most celebrated attractions are nearby, from the soaring redwoods of Muir Woods to the infamous Alcatraz Island in the middle of the bay.

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Of all the cities in Canada, Victoria may be the furthest from Great Britain, but it has the most British vibe. Between sipping afternoon tea, visiting flower gardens and castles and stopping in at pubs, one could easily forget about the Pacific Ocean lapping at the other side of Vancouver Island. The influence of the First Nations culture is also strong here in Victoria, with totem poles taking a front-and-center position on the Inner Harbour and in Beacon Hill Park. Extensive galleries are devoted to the history of the First People at the Royal British Columbia Museum, too, one of Victoria's top tourist attractions. Other waves of immigration besides that of the English are evident in the streets of Canada’s oldest Chinatown here, as well as on the menus of the city’s many restaurants, pizzerias and tavernas.
Start your visit to Victoria's sights and attractions at the Inner Harbour. Whale-watching cruises and sightseeing floatplanes take off and return from their excursions here and government buildings, museums, the Visitor Centre and the grand Fairmont Empress provide a dignified welcome. Just around the point, Fisherman’s Wharf offers a lively contrast with working fishing boats, barking harbor seals and busy seafood restaurants serving up the catch of the day. Take time for a jaunt to the famous Butchart Gardens, a truly stunning show garden developed on the site of a depleted quarry. Enjoy afternoon tea or a walk in the park or a shopping trip to Market Square or along Government Street. However you choose to spend your day here or decide where to go in Victoria, the city’s civilized delights will charm you.

Vancouver, B.C., CA

Once a trading post and a rough-and-tumble sawmilling settlement, today modern Vancouver, Canada is many things. It’s a bustling seaport, a hub for outdoor enthusiasts looking for active things to do in Vancouver, an ethnically diverse metropolis and Hollywood of the North. Hemmed in by mountains and sea, Vancouver seduces visitors with its combination of urban sophistication and laid-back attitude against a backdrop of glass towers and modern sights and plentiful green spaces.
Vancouver's culinary and cocktail scene is on the rise—and its excellent restaurants and hopping bars have a distinctively local stamp on them. If you are looking for where to go in Vancouver for music, theater and the arts, they are thriving in the city’s many museums, galleries and performance venues. Beyond the downtown attractions in Vancouver, days of exploration and sightseeing await among the colorful suburbs, unspoiled islands and the vast, rugged wilderness.

EXCLUSIVE OFFER

Limited Inventory

Cruise Connections Exclusive Price/person (CAD)

INCLUDES: With Air*| Taxes & Fees | Travel Insurance

CABINS:

Inside:   $4,269  $3,199 (Vancouver) – $3,599 (Toronto)  save per couple ($1,340)

Oceanview: $4,379  $3,499 (Vancouver) – $3,899 (Toronto) save per couple ($960)

Vista Suite:  $6,982  $5,399 (Vancouver) – $5,799 (Toronto) save per couple ($2,366)

Daily Itinerary
Date Port Arrival Time Departure Time
Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) 4:00 pm
Cruising
Cruising
Cartagena, Colombia 7:00 am 1:00 pm
Panama Canal, Panama 5:00 am 5:00 am
Panama Canal, Panama 7:00 pm 7:00 pm
Cruising
Cruising
Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica 8:00 am 6:00 pm
Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua 10:00 am 5:00 pm
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala 8:00 am 6:00 pm
Puerto Chiapas, Mexico 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Huatulco, Mexico 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Cruising
Manzanillo, Mexico 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 8:00 am 3:00 pm
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Cruising
Cruising
San Francisco, California 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Cruising
Victoria, British Columbia 2:00 pm 11:00 pm
Vancouver, British Columbia 7:00 am

Forth Lauderdale, Florida, US

Shimmering blue waters, swaying palm trees and soft ocean breezes greet you in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where you'll find yourself somewhere between laid-back island time and the fast pace of a thriving city. In this sun-filled, year-round beach town, pristine beaches are the main attraction, shorts and flip-flops are the daily uniform, and yachts are often the preferred form of transportation. It's a place where you can do as much, or as little, as you desire.
Because of its many canals and waterways, Ft. Lauderdale is sometimes called the Venice of America. It's home to the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, one of the largest in-water boat shows in the world. Visitors can easily get a taste of the area's nautical lifestyle by cruising the Intracoastal Waterway on an old-fashioned paddle wheeler. Other options include hopping aboard one of the popular water taxis or Venetian gondolas that glide down the historic New River, which flows right through town.
While Ft. Lauderdale is often overshadowed by its flashy neighbor, Miami, the port city is expanding rapidly as major developers and high-end resorts build up the beachfront and surrounding neighborhoods. Visitors will find world-class shopping on famous Las Olas Boulevard, celebrated restaurants and a cultural explosion in the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District. It's clear that Ft. Lauderdale is solidifying its place as a sophisticated destination.

Cartagena, Colombia

Its official name is Cartagena de Indias—or "Cartagena of the Indies"—but call it Cartagena for short. The formal name hints at this Colombian city's colonial relationship with Spain; it was founded in 1533 and named after the mother country's Cartagena. Colombia declared independence in 1810, but there's plenty about its fifth-largest city that evokes old Spain, including the impressive fort of Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, and the wall that encloses the old town, one of the few intact structures of its kind in the Americas. Both were considered important enough to inscribe on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1984. They may be historical artifacts, but the fortress and wall aren't merely tourist attractions; they are central to daily life here. Take a stroll and you'll see couples sitting atop the wall, locked in passionate embraces; parents watching their children walk it like a balance beam; and friends chatting while enjoying the Caribbean breeze. Along with history, there's cultural and culinary intrigue here, too. This colorful city was a muse of the late Nobel Prize–winning writer Gabriel García Márquez, and is increasingly being recognized outside Colombia for its cuisine, which takes many cues from Caribbean ingredients.

Panama Canal Cristobal

Think of the Panama Canal, and the image that may come to mind is of the world’s huge tankers and cruise ships passing through a series of locks. That, however, reflects only one aspect of this part of the world. As ships travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific, they also pass colonial towns, historic fortresses and manmade lakes that are today home to sanctuaries for hundreds of different animal and plant species. At the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, Colón evokes the old Panama of yesteryear, with its historic buildings gradually being restored. Some 77 kilometers (48 miles) to the south, at the canal’s Pacific entrance, Panama City's glittering skyline of office towers and condominiums reflects the country’s dynamic present and future. Traveling between these two cities, an epic tale unfolds before you—an old-school feat of engineering, ambition and courage. As David McCullough recounts in his sweeping history The Path Between the Seas, it was a combination of sheer human might and engineering prowess that today allows ships to cross the Panama isthmus, saving sailors from making the dangerous, almost 13,000-kilometer (8,000-mile) journey around the tip of South America.

Cruising Panama Canal

The construction of the Panama Canal is one of those epic tales from the past, an old-school feat of engineering, ambition and courage. A cruise along it today is a journey through the centuries, from the Spanish fortifications near Limón Bay to the glittering skyline of Panama City, not to mention the canal itself. Over the course of a decade a little more than a century ago, tens of thousands of workers drilled dynamite holes, drove belching steam shovels and labored with pickaxes, all the while fighting off malaria. While the French builders of the Suez Canal ultimately gave up in Panama, American crews persevered and created a route allowing ships to travel across a continent. As David McCullough recounts in his sweeping history The Path Between the Seas, it was a combination of sheer human might and engineering prowess. In 2016 an expansion more than doubled the canal's capacity, ensuring it will continue to be central to the world's maritime traffic.While many think of the Panama Canal only as a remarkable manmade achievement, the area is also of interest to naturalists. Panama’s rain forest suffered great biodiversity loss during the canal's construction, but today more than 100 species each of mammals and reptiles, as well as some 500 different birds, thrive in the nature reserves along the length of the canal.

Exit Panama Canal Balboa

At the end of your journey along the Panama Canal, you’ll reach Balboa, the town that sits at the Pacific entrance of the canal. Its namesake is Vasco Núñez de Balboa, the famed Spanish explorer who was the first European to see the Pacific from the New World. Balboa’s journey was historic, a legendary feat of the age of exploration. The construction of the canal that crosses the isthmus today was also a historic achievement, to this day the largest civil engineering project ever. Over the course of a decade at the beginning of the 20th century, a combination of sheer human might and engineering prowess was responsible for the construction of the canal.
A journey from Colón, at the Caribbean end of the canal, to Balboa, at its Pacific end, allows you to marvel at this world wonder, as well as see colonial towns, historic fortresses and sanctuaries for Panama’s wildlife along the way. Measured by miles, the journey along the canal is relatively short, but it is one with an epic sweep. You will follow in the footsteps of giants from Balboa to the workers who built the canal.

Puerto Caldera (Puntarenas), Costa Rica

One of the stops along the Panama Canal Zone route, Puerto Caldera on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast isn't your ordinary port of call, positioned as it is within easy day-trip distance of the country's multiple national parks. The town itself is small, but makes for an ideal base from which travelers can venture out to explore the variety of this Central American country's outdoor attractions and activities. These include snapping photos of gushing waterfalls (and swimming at the base of one, if you bring your swimsuit!), sightseeing near active volcanoes, bird-watching in nature reserves and sanctuaries and horseback riding on Pacific beaches . . . and that's just for starters. Visitors to Puerto Caldera and the surrounding region also enjoy shopping for handicrafts that local artists sell at their cooperatives, as well as sampling traditional Tico cuisine, especially gallo pinto—a combination of rice and beans eaten at any time of the day or night. Puerto Caldera is the perfect reminder that adventure often awaits just around the bend.

Corinto, Nicaragua

As a travel destination, Nicaragua still remains below the radar for many Americans, despite a recent surge of media interest in this Central American country. One of the region’s most politically and socially stable nations, Nicaragua has been billed as the next great spot for eco-, cultural and culinary tourism. Adventurous guests keen to experience its charms are rewarded richly for their efforts. The country’s most visited cities are Managua (the capital), Granada and León; the latter sits near the Pacific Coast. Corinto is the nearest port town, just northwest of León and along the route to the Panama Canal Zone. It offers many of the charms of the larger cities, including their colonial-era architecture, as well as a number of cultural and ecological attractions in surrounding areas. Given the port's proximity to León, it’s easy for cruise passengers to take a day trip to this beautiful city established by Spanish conquistadores in 1524. While there, be sure to sample the traditional dish called vigorón, a hearty plate heaped with pork, boiled yuca and cabbage salad. Though residents of Granada claim to have invented it, vigorón is popular around the entire country and is a true taste of Nicaragua.

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

Puerto Quetzal is Guatemala's largest port on the Pacific Ocean side of this Central American country, important for both cargo and cruise ships. There's not a great deal to see and do in Puerto Quetzal itself, and visitors should adjust their expectations accordingly. Yet you shouldn't despair, either; Puerto Quetzal is an ideal point of departure for exploring several corners of the country. Choose your mode of transportation—plane, bus, car or boat—and decide whether you want to take in Guatemala's stunning, volcano-studded landscape, one (or more!) of the country's Maya sites, the UNESCO–recognized colonial city of Antigua (the former capital), a coffee plantation or one of the many beguiling bodies of water. In addition to the gleaming Pacific, there's Lake Atitlán, which 19th-century German explorer Alexander von Humboldt described as the most beautiful lake in the world. All of these attractions are accessible as day trips, and getting to them is all part of your Guatemalan adventure.

Puerto Chiapas, Mexico

The southernmost port on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Chiapas is named for the state in which it is located. It is relatively new, built in 1975, and is the primary hub from which the region’s agricultural goods, including coffee, are sent abroad. For travelers arriving by cruise ship, the town of Puerto Chiapas is a jumping-off point to explore surrounding areas, including Tapachula, the second-largest city in the state of Chiapas. In addition to visiting the coffee estates and banana and cacao plantations of the area, day trips include excursions to Maya sites such as Izapa. Although not as well known as some of the Maya sites of southern and eastern Mexico, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site Chichén Itzá, Izapa is impressive nonetheless. In addition to its interesting location—it sits along a river and is aligned with a volcano (the sixth-tallest mountain in Mexico)—archaeologists have found numerous stelae and evidence that it was the largest Maya site in Chiapas. While in the area, don’t miss the opportunity to sample the cuisine of Chiapas, which is influenced heavily by the Maya. One typical dish is tasajo, a thinly sliced beef steak marinated in a sauce made with achiote (also known as annatto) and chili.

Huatulco, Mexico

Huatulco, situated on Mexico's Pacific Coast in the state of Oaxaca, has nine bays and 36 beaches, offering more than enough opportunities for fun in the sun. The most popular beach is La Entrega, with clean white sand and calm waters, perfect for snorkeling and swimming . . . or just relaxing. But Huatulco's attractions aren't limited to sand and surf; there are also archaeological sites to explore, rivers to raft, and waterfalls whose pools invite childlike splashing. Bird lovers, in particular, will find Huatulco to be especially captivating. The region is home to more than 225 bird species, including many rare ones and a number that are endemic to Mexico, like the Colima pygmy owl and the wildly colorful orange-breasted bunting and citreoline trogon. Bring your bird list, because you're sure to add new species to your "sighted" column. And the food in Huatulco! The food will give you plenty to write home about. The state of Oaxaca has some of the most iconic dishes in Mexico's culinary repertoire. You won't go home hungry.

Manzanillo, Mexico

A glance at Manzanillo’s coat of arms tells you most of what you need to know about one of Mexico’s most significant port cities. Divided into four quadrants, the shield features a multi-masted sailing vessel, a ship’s wheel and anchor, a coconut palm rooted in golden sand against an ocean backdrop and a sailfish arcing out of the water. The only item missing, perhaps, is a plate of freshly caught seafood. Manzanillo is one of Mexico’s busiest, most important ports (some say the busiest and most important). Located on the Pacific, it’s nicknamed the Sailfish Capital of the World. It’s little wonder, then, that most of the activities in Manzanillo are centered on or near the water, and most of the city’s culinary specialties are inspired by the fruits of the sea. Don’t have high hopes if you plan to shop for authentic souvenirs here; many of the options are chain stores that may be familiar to you and which offer the same goods you could buy at home. No worries, though: Your money is best spent on Manzanillo’s experiences.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Unique compared to Acapulco, Cancún, Zihuatanejo and several other coastal resort towns in Mexico—many of which were created by the government as planned communities—Puerto Vallarta ("PV" to locals), on the Pacific Ocean, retains quite a bit of its colonial-era charm. Its town square, Plaza de Armas, and the gorgeous parish church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, topped with an ornate crown and overlooking the port, serve as the loveliest representations of bygone ages. Alongside these echoes of the past are more modern attractions, including an ambitious public art project along the seaside walkway (the malecón) and trendy restaurants such as La Leche, serving contemporary Mexican cuisine. Round these out with plenty of fun-in-the-sun outdoor activities on and along Banderas Bay (whale-watching! snorkeling! jet-skiing!), excursions that reveal the best of Puerto Vallarta's flora and fauna, and a side trip to one of Mexico's pueblos mágicos (magical towns, a designation conferred by the government to recognize smaller towns that possess historical and cultural value), and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more pleasant place to spend part of your cruising vacation.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Los Cabos doesn't exude the same kind of charm as many other areas of inland Mexico do, but its twin towns—San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas—don't seem to mind, and neither do visitors, who are drawn here less for traditional Mexican culture than for the sun, the sand and the opportunity to just slow down and relax. Los Cabos—or the Capes—sits at the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula, a narrow strip of land whose varied geography, both above and underwater, makes for plenty of interesting activities and some unusual ones, too. Did you ever think you'd ride a camel in Mexico? You can do that here, or enjoy more predictable pursuits including fishing, golfing and whale-watching. Want something still more laid-back? Visit picture-perfect El Arco, an arch that may look familiar thanks to its cameo on postcards and tourism advertisements. North of the capes, you can drop by the famed Hotel California. And if you've worked up an appetite, you won't be disappointed: Los Cabos offers plenty to enjoy at the table as well, with farm-fresh fruits and vegetables and, of course, seafood being the mainstays here.

San Francisco, California, US

San Francisco, California, has long been America’s shining city by the sea: a beacon on the West Coast that boomed during the gold rush of 1849 and, for much of the 20th century, embodied the sunny California dream. It has always been a city of dreamers, a place that appeals both to the country’s counterculture and also, ironically, to those looking to strike it rich. The Summer of Love unfolded here in 1967, while today it is the epicenter of the Internet economy, enjoying yet another period of expansion.
One thing has remained constant throughout its colorful history—the city’s enviable location at the tip of a peninsula separating San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. Around every corner and from every hilltop, views of the water and the city’s bridges wait to be photographed.
San Francisco’s appeal has also owed much to its role as one of the Pacific Rim’s major metropolises. Its restaurants and neighborhoods reflect a population that includes communities of people originally from Asia and Latin America, and the city proudly embraces its multiculturalism. Finally, if you want to venture beyond San Francisco, some of California’s most celebrated attractions are nearby, from the soaring redwoods of Muir Woods to the infamous Alcatraz Island in the middle of the bay.

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Of all the cities in Canada, Victoria may be the furthest from Great Britain, but it has the most British vibe. Between sipping afternoon tea, visiting flower gardens and castles and stopping in at pubs, one could easily forget about the Pacific Ocean lapping at the other side of Vancouver Island. The influence of the First Nations culture is also strong here in Victoria, with totem poles taking a front-and-center position on the Inner Harbour and in Beacon Hill Park. Extensive galleries are devoted to the history of the First People at the Royal British Columbia Museum, too, one of Victoria's top tourist attractions. Other waves of immigration besides that of the English are evident in the streets of Canada’s oldest Chinatown here, as well as on the menus of the city’s many restaurants, pizzerias and tavernas.
Start your visit to Victoria's sights and attractions at the Inner Harbour. Whale-watching cruises and sightseeing floatplanes take off and return from their excursions here and government buildings, museums, the Visitor Centre and the grand Fairmont Empress provide a dignified welcome. Just around the point, Fisherman’s Wharf offers a lively contrast with working fishing boats, barking harbor seals and busy seafood restaurants serving up the catch of the day. Take time for a jaunt to the famous Butchart Gardens, a truly stunning show garden developed on the site of a depleted quarry. Enjoy afternoon tea or a walk in the park or a shopping trip to Market Square or along Government Street. However you choose to spend your day here or decide where to go in Victoria, the city’s civilized delights will charm you.

Vancouver, B.C., CA

Once a trading post and a rough-and-tumble sawmilling settlement, today modern Vancouver, Canada is many things. It’s a bustling seaport, a hub for outdoor enthusiasts looking for active things to do in Vancouver, an ethnically diverse metropolis and Hollywood of the North. Hemmed in by mountains and sea, Vancouver seduces visitors with its combination of urban sophistication and laid-back attitude against a backdrop of glass towers and modern sights and plentiful green spaces.
Vancouver's culinary and cocktail scene is on the rise—and its excellent restaurants and hopping bars have a distinctively local stamp on them. If you are looking for where to go in Vancouver for music, theater and the arts, they are thriving in the city’s many museums, galleries and performance venues. Beyond the downtown attractions in Vancouver, days of exploration and sightseeing await among the colorful suburbs, unspoiled islands and the vast, rugged wilderness.

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