Cruising Through the Panama Canal
A cruise through the Panama Canal is an unforgettable experience and an absolute must-do if your family loves history and adventure. Our cruise aboard Holland America’s ms. Volendam began in Ft. Lauderdale and sailed to ports of call in the Caribbean, Central and South America and then into San Diego. Along the way, we learned about many different cultures, viewed beautiful scenery, and witnessed first hand the process of navigating through the locks of the canal, which is truly fascinating! This a wonderful cruise for school aged kids, one they’re sure to remember.
Families Should Know:
- Be prepared for hot temperatures, humidity, rain and cool evenings. Pack a variety of clothes and dress in layers. I usually say pack light, but for this cruise bring as many different outfits as you can fit in your suitcase!
- Pack insect repellent, it may be necessary to wear in certain ports, especially in Costa Rica.
- Bring along tennis shoes or other closed toe, comfortable shoes. Most of the tours and excursions call for walking shoes.
- It takes a full day (8-10 hours) to go through the 6 locks, be sure to be on deck for the lock transfers to watch first-hand as the ship is raised and lowered by the water. There will also be a commentator on board to explain the process.
- The cruise is a long 14 days, so bring along a few comforts from home – you child’s favorite toys, games or books. Your child may tire of the ships toys and activities, so bring some of your own too.
In Puntarenas, Costa Rica, the tropical mangrove river cruise is a fun excursion where you’ll cruise the Tarcoles river among the mangrove forest. This is one of the best sights for sea and shore birds, crocodiles, iguanas, and lizards.
The historic town of Antigua, Guatemala, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is definitely worth a visit. Explore this charming town of historic buildings, cobblestone streets, museums and cathedrals. Kids will love watching the local women carry items on their heads.
Be sure to go ashore a visit the tiny town in the San Blas Islands, Panama. Very primitive, children will appreciate differences in everyday life. See inside the local homes and schools. Be sure to buy a beautiful hand-made mola (textile art).
Cartagena, Colombia is a lovely city. To get an overview that the kids will enjoy, go on a medieval Cartagena by Horse Carriage tour. Enjoy the sights of this beautiful town inside its walled city. Your carriage will travel down narrow cobblestone streets where you’ll see colonial mansions, historic squares and shops.
For a beach outing, go ashore in Huatulco, Mexico. A fun port for beach activities, swimming, sailing and especially snorkeling.