The Hidden Gems of the Panama Canal with Windstar Cruises | TravelResearchOnline


The Hidden Gems of the Panama Canal with Windstar Cruises

The Panama Canal is so much more than simply a waterway from point A to point B. This marine highway has a life of its own, from lush rainforests to hidden coral reefs and adventurous shore excursions. Let Windstar Cruises show you the most exciting and invigorating sights this region has to offer!

60-Second Geography

Panama Canal

Aerial view of the Panama Canal
[/media-credit] Aerial view of the Panama Canal
A fisherman's hut along the Panama Canal
[/media-credit] A fisherman’s hut along the Panama Canal

Capuchin monkeys watching visitors from the brush along the Canal
Capuchin monkeys watching visitors from the brush along the Canal
  • Prior to construction of the Canal, the fastest method of transportation across the Isthmus of Panama was by railroad. The King of Spain wanted a route from Spain to Peru in order to attain a military advantage against the Portuguese. Because of the California Gold Rush in the 1840’s, the United States developed a vested interest in the development of the route as well. William Kennish, a United States engineer, was the first to propose an ocean-to-ocean canal and name it the Panama Canal.
  • France was the first to attempt to construct a canal in 1881 under the supervision of diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps, who raised large sums of revenue for France during his Suez Canal project. Unlike the Suez Canal, de Lesseps men were ill-equipped for the rainy seasons that swelled the Chagres River, and in the next 13 years natural and financial obstacles bankrupted the French project. The United States ratified an agreement in 1903 after Panama separated from Colombia that allowed it to continue the canal project. Under the United States, the canal took ten years to construct, with completion in 1914.
  • Today trips through the Canal are some of the most popular tours among cruising companies. The lush tropical rainforests, fascinating wildlife, and adventure opportunities are second to none. The beginning of the Canal, Colón, has one of the largest free-trade ports in the Americas in Zona Libre. Colón also sports gorgeous beaches perfect for snorkeling and diving. Further into the Canal is the Isla de Coiba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and framed by one of the largest coral reefs in the Pacific.
  • One of the most chic capitals in Central America, Panama City is a casual and vibrant hub of East meets West. With modern buildings mingling with the aged remnants of its colonial past, Panama City offers visitors the best of both the old and new within its borders. Take the time to sample homemade tortillas and empanadas, and local specialties including pernil de pueco al horno (roasted pork leg), ceviche (raw fish cooked in acid), and plátano en tentacion (plantains cooked in sweet syrup). From the natural beaches and rainforests to stunning art galleries, chapels, and museums, Panama City has something to satisfy both the nature and culture lover in all of us.

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