Cruising the Panama Canal in 10 Days

cruising the panama canal in 10 days

Can I see the entire Panama Canal on a 10-day cruise? The answer is Yes!

My husband and I left on January 14, 2016 for a 10-day Panama Canal Cruise on the Island Princess. This cruise was round trip from Fort Lauderdale, and it was our third time cruising through the Panama Canal.

Eight years earlier, we sailed from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles on a 14-day Panama Canal cruise. I wasn’t all that excited to go that first time—I thought it was a cruise only my husband would appreciate. Little did I realize how much I would enjoy it, too. Before our first cruise, my husband bought the book The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough and we both read it. The history behind the building of the canal is amazing; the financial issues, disease, failed attempts, and the relatively simple design that still works today! If you don’t have a chance to read the book (which is also for sale on the ship, though it sells quickly and costs a few bucks more), you will still learn a lot about the history and construction of the canal during the cruise. A historian speaks over the ship intercom during most of the 50-mile long transit.

By Thomas Römer/OpenStreetMap data, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The difference between the 10-day and the 14-day cruise is that you cruise through the entire canal on the 14-day—because the journey continues to either the west coast or Florida, depending on where you embarked. The 10-day (or partial transit) turns around in Gatun Lake, but you still have the opportunity to transit the entire canal by way of a Princess shore excursion. A full-day shore excursion is on a small ship limited to only 90 passengers, so it’s very important to book your cruise early and sign up for this excursion as soon as it’s open for booking. Although I haven’t taken the canal shore excursion, I talked to shipmates who have. Other than it being a long day, they loved it!

1 - entering the first set of locks from the atlantic
Entering the first set of locks from the Atlantic Ocean.
2 - going through the locks
Going through the locks.
3 - gatun lake ahead
Gatun Lake ahead.
4 - heading west toward the pacific ocean
Heading west toward the Pacific Ocean
5 - Calebra Cut on the left and the Millenium Bridge
Calebra Cut on the left, and the Millennium Bridge.
6 - Passing under the Millenium Bridge heading west toward the pacific
Passing under the Millennium Bridge, heading west toward the Pacific Ocean.
7 - bridge of the americas entering the pacific ocean
The Bridge of the Americas– the entrance to the Pacific Ocean.

Ready to cross the Panama Canal off your bucket list? Join us for an 11-night cruise adventure along the engineering wonder that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Along the way, Caribbean, South and Central American ports offer a wide array of cultures and sites. Find the tour brochure and additional details here!

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