Panama Canal

Cruise Port schedule, map, terminals, news

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Region
Hawaii - Mexico - Panama Canal

Locode
PAPCN

Coordinates
9.07889 N, -79.66809 W

  Port Map

Linking the Atlantic to Pacific Ocean, Panama Canal provides one of the most unforgettable cruising experiences. More than 10 years were needed to complete canal's 51 miles in 1914 and thus to avoid the lengthy and dangerous cruise around Cape Horn. The ships are lifted by 'The Big Ditch' through a fascinating feat of mechanics that is aided by onshore 'mule' locomotives via 3 great locks, traversing artificial lakes, channels blasted through rock, and dense jungle. This unique narrow waterway has become a route between oceans for seabirds like cormorants and pelicans, as well as ships.

Panama Canal cruise ship transition

The Panama Canal was a culmination of a dream that begins in 1513 with Spanish conquistador Balboa who was the first European to travel the 43 mile wide isthmus. In 1880 the French Canal company started construction of Panama Canal but, plagued by financial burdens, engineering problems and disease, sold its rights to the United States for US$40 million, with a loss of US$240 million. The US began construction in 1904. The monumental project was completed in 10 years at a cost of nearly US$387 million. Currently the United States still oversee operations of the canal, though it signed a treaty during the late 1970s to transfer it back to Panama by the 21st century. 

Panama Canal new locks infographic

Although many cruise lines already feature Panama Canal on their itineraries, such as Holland AmericaDisneyOceania and Regent Seven Seas, among others, they are restricted to using their smaller ships. The expansion will allow for larger cruise ships to traverse canal's 49-mile stretch, though height restrictions because of the Bridge of the Americas still limit the size of the vessels.Princess Cruises currently offers sailings on the 2,214-passenger Island Princess and 1,970-passenger Coral Princess on the Panama Canal. The expansion will allow the line to sail the 3,080-passenger Caribbean Princess, launched in 2004, on the canal. 

The canal operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 35 to 40 ships are expected to pass through every day. Each trip takes about eight to 10 hours. During season 2016-2017, Panama Canal was transited by cruise vessels 241 times.

Panama Canal alternatives for ship crossings between Atlantic and Pacific oceans are the Strait of Magellan (between South America and Antarctca) and the Northwest Passage (in the Canadian Arctic territories).

Panama Canal new locks construction

On April 30, 2017, Disney Wonder became the world's first ever cruise vessel that passed through Panama Canal's new set of locks.

Disney Wonder cruise ship Panama Canal (new locks) transition

Disney Cruise Line's 2713-passenger ship Wonder was on a 14-night repositioning cruise from Florida to California (Port Canaveral to San Diego). From San Diego, the ship operated several Baja Mexico itineraries before its summer Alaskan season with departures from Vancouver BC Canada. The following table shows this unique itinerary as ports of call (dates, arrival/departure times) and port sequence.

23 Apr       Departing from Port Canaveral, Orlando, Florida   
25 Apr 09:00 - 16:00      Cozumel, Mexico   
28 Apr 06:00 - 14:00      Cartagena, Colombia   
29 Apr      Panama Canal   
04 May 08:00 - 15:00      Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Riviera   
05 May 08:00 - 15:00      Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Mexico   
07 May       Arriving in San Diego, California   

Cruise ship transiting Panama Canal via the old locks operate full transition cruises through all the 3 sets of old locks - named Pedro Miguel, Miraflores and Gatun (bordering the lake). Some Princess ships offer an extra day in Port Fuerte Amador (Panama City).

The first Princess cruise ship with partial transits throuth the new locks was Caribbean Princess - on 10-day roundtrips from Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades, Florida). The ship's first ever transit was on October 26, 2017.

Panama Canal cruise ship transition cost (fees)

Following the Panama Canal Authority Board's recommendations, on April 28, 2015 Panama officially approved the proposal to revise the canal's toll structure.

  • By the new structure, each transiting vessel's passage is segmented in different units of measurement:
  • LNG carriers (liquefied natural gas) and LGP (gas) tankers' tolls are based on m3 (max capacity).
  • Dry bulk carriers tolls are based on DWT (deadweight tonnage).
  • Tankers' tolls are on PC/UMS tons and metric cargo tons.
  • Container (boxships) tolls are based on TEU capacity (max containers).
  • Cruise vessels' tolls are based on passenger capacity. They are levied based on PC/UMS or pax berths.
  • A new segment was created to toll local tour ships.
  • Cruise ships through Panamax Canal are charged USD 138 per berth. Cruise ships passing through the canal's new locks (post-Panamax) pay USD 148 per berth.
  • When this decision was made, the new canal locks were 85% complete. The new toll system was implemented April 1, 2016.
  • On May 7, 2008, the boxship MSC Fabienne paid a record highest Panamá Canal transit toll - USD 317,142. Currently, the canal's average transit cost is USD 54,000 per vessel. 

Highlights: Gatun Lake, giant locks, Gaillard Cut

Panama Canal cruise terminal

A complete Panama canal transit is comprised of sailing through 3 sets of locks. Gatun Locks are located on the Caribbean side of Continental Divide while Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks are situated on the Pacific side. Vessels transiting the canal are being raised and lowered 85 ft in this 3-lock system. Other special highlights of Panama canal are the Gaillard cut and Gatun Lake. Gatun Lake is among the largest man-made lakes in the world covering 163 sq.miles. Gaillard Cut is 8 miles long channel built through solid rock that was the most difficult excavation in canal construction.

Panama Canal infographic

The new Panama Canal locks were officially inaugurated on June 26, 2016 following the completion of a 9-year USD 5,2 billion construction project. Originally scheduled for completion October 2014, a hundred years after it first opened, the expansion of the canal will provide an additional lane of traffic through construction of two new locks, each with three slots, this way doubling the capacity of the waterway.

The Panama Canal cruise port map is interactive. It shows the port's exact location, along with the real-time cruise ship traffic (if any) in its vicinity - today, and right now. By zooming-out you can see other cruise ship ports located near Panama Canal.

If you lose the Panama Canal location on the map, simply reload the page (also with F5 button). This feature is integrated with the CruiseMapper's cruise ship tracker tracking the vessels' current positions at sea and in ports.

Port Panama Canal cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Panama Canal. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.

Day Ships in port
Tuesday
2 May, 2017
Pacific Princess(arriving at 05:00 - departing at 16:00)
Sunday
7 May, 2017
Celebrity Infinity(arriving at 07 May - departing at 07 May)
Monday
8 May, 2017
ms Maasdam(arriving at 19:00 - departing at 08 May)
Wednesday
10 May, 2017
Crystal Symphony(arriving at 06:00 - departing at 18:00)
Monday
22 May, 2017
Pacific Princess(arriving at 05:00 - departing at 16:00)