Why You Should Go To Panama by Alex Page – To Cruise The Canal On The Variety Voyager

Variety Voyager

Cruise through the Panama Canal on board the mega-yacht Variety Voyager

This summer, the incredible Panama Canal celebrates 100 years of history, having opened to shipping traffic for the first time on August 15th 1914. The local tourist authorities cannot be said to be milking the milestone, though, having been commemorating it for the past year with a variety of events.

Considered the epicentre for world trade, it still sees a phenomenal amount of traffic. Roberto Roy, president of the Panama Canal Authority’s (ACP) board of directors, is among those celebrating its uniqueness. “The Panama Canal has been connecting the world since Aug. 15, 1914,” he told Inside Costa Rica.

“The fact that 14,000 vessels make use of the waterway every year in order to serve 1,700 ports in 160 countries is sufficient proof of this statement.” But what exactly is so special about this spectacular waterway? And why should you make it the focus of your cruise holiday? Trade history The Panama Canal is a 50-mile stretch of water that links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Initially opened for trade, it has also since become something of a cruise favourite thanks to the hive of activity that can be seen on an everyday basis.

The waterway itself was a catalyst for world trade, reducing distances, costs and shipping times for the movement of merchandise between production and consumption centres. Initial construction proved tricky. Started by the French, who later abandoned the project thanks to various difficulties, it was eventually completed by the US after 23 years of work and a ten-year hiatus. But the history doesn’t stop there, as the waterway has seen its fair share of controversy since, including a territorial issue in the 1960s that threatened to close it.

On a cruise As well as experiencing all this history as close to first hand as it is possible to get, there are a number of other advantages to cruising the Panama Canal. Spectacular places to experience along the way include Panama City and the various locks ships have to traverse in order to pass, at which stringent checks are in place.

CC Utrillo in Panama CanalThen there are the various sights and sounds of Panama to experience – Pacific and Atlantic beaches, volcanoes and jungles are just some of the many landmarks to be visited. It is important to bear in mind that there are size restrictions in place on the waterway. Obviously for the mega yacht Variety Voyager, this is not a problem, but more importantly, as a smaller vessel it can access some of the smaller bays and coves beyond the reach of the big ships, allowing guests to experience some of the national parks and tropical natural wonders of the region up close.

What does the future hold  for this iconic waterway? Current projects are on track that will allow the trade route to accept vessels twice the size as the ones that currently float along it, by next year, so a visit in 2014 could be your last chance to witness the Panama Canal in its current state.

If all this has got you itching to experience a cruise on this incredible stretch of water, consider checking out a Costa Rica and Panama Canal cruise. You will not be disappointed by the sights, history and culture on offer.

For further details please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. In North America call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

Transit The Panama Canal And Explore the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica In The 72-passenger Mega-Yacht Variety Voyager

We get requests all the time from people wanting to transit the Panama Canal by cargo ship. However, these are not really practical requests as in order to do so one must book a long trip from Savannah to Sydney or from Hong Kong to New York and most people do not have that sort of time. But it can be done in a week without taking a huge cruise ship, with canal transit by daylight, obviating the risk that you might go through in the dark!

Variety Voyager PanamaVariety Cruises have an easy 7-night solution – a cruise in the 223-foot Variety Voyager with a small number of passengers starting in Los Suenos, Costa Rica and finishing at the Departure Bay Marina in Colon, Panama – with a visit to the San Blas Islands thrown in. This winter’s departures run from December 21 through March 1, 2015.

The same Panama Canal and Costa Rica exploration can also be booked in the other direction, with boarding at the Departure Bay Marina and sailings running from December 14 through to March 8, 2015. Fares in either direction start at  €2,150 (about $2,999 or £1,785) per person double occupancy for 7 nights, plus €320 (about $445 or £265) port charges. Calls are also made at Curu, Tortuga Island, Puerto Jimenez and Golfito (do you remember that Fyffes banana boat called Golfito?) in Costa Rica and Amador and Coiba Island in Panama.

The Variety Voyager was built at Perama, Greece, in 2012 and can accommodate a maximum of 72 passengers in 36 double cabins.  Her sleek lines and ample deck space are very much what one might expect from a millionaire’s super yacht. Her cabins and public areas are finished with warm fabrics, rich marble, axminster carpeting and soft-tone wood panelling., with unobstructed views from the decks and lounges of the ocean and of ports visited. Above all, you will have the professional service of a crew of 30, always with a smile and a desire to satisfy.

For further details of cruising the Panama Canal and Costa Rica in a small ship please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk or in North America 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.