OVERVIEW OF PANAMA, SOUTH AMERICA

If you don’t know by now, the Panama Canal is an engineering marvel of a shipping route shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. But more than just innovation, it’s also regarded as one of the most scenic cruise routes anyone can ever experience. As you come on board our Panama Canal cruise vacations, your journey will take you from scenic all the way to South America, where steamy beaches, luscious rainforests and passionate tango parlours await you. Be warned, South America is a place of extremes – by that we’re referring to the fun you’ll have.

   Ports of departure

Famous as the home of Evita Peron, Buenos Aires is more European than South American in feel. Cobbled streets, charming cafés and cosmopolitan restaurants all give it a unique flair befitting the resilient people who live here. Through good times and hard, Buenos Aires has remained the political, economic and cultural heart of Argentina.

Once home to pirates and slave-traders, Buzios is a beach-lined peninsula jutting out into the sea. Made famous by Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s, today its beautiful beaches are frequented by the rich and famous. It's the perfect place to play all day in the sand and surf, then play all night in the clubs and bars.

Cabo Frio got its name - "Cold Cape" - from the low temperature of the sea water there. A unique submarine current brings cold water up from the South Pole to the coast nearby. But the cold water is more than compensated for by the beautiful scenery in this unique beach resort. The beaches have fine white sand shaped into striking dunes.

Once referred to as the "millionaire's sandbox," Cabo San Lucas is Mexico's jewel resort at the very tip of the Baja Peninsula. Its remote location and unspoiled beauty make this a seaside paradise.

 

Cobbled streets, balconies with blooming bougainvillea, and pastel plazas make Cartagena one of Latin America's most photogenic cities. But it's not just another pretty seaport. Founded in 1533, this Spanish-Colonial city is steeped in history. Its location made it a popular port for plunderers and pirates.

 

Cobbled streets, balconies with blooming bougainvillea, and pastel plazas make Cartagena one of Latin America's most photogenic cities. But it's not just another pretty seaport. Founded in 1533, this Spanish-Colonial city is steeped in history. Its location made it a popular port for plunderers and pirates.

In Copacabana, things heat up when the sun goes down. As we cruise by one of the world's most famous beaches by night, you'll see the lights of this vibrant resort town, with it's dramatic backdrop of Sugarloaf and giant statue of Christ the Redeemer. Listen closely and you're likely to hear some pulsating salsa rhythms as the locals party long into the night.

 

Fort Lauderdale lies along the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the New River, 25 miles north of Miami. Its warm tropical weather attracts many people throughout the year. For sun-worshippers, the city has six miles of beaches. There are also many recreational waterways with extensive boating facilities, access to every conceivable watersport, a variety of fascinating museums and trendy restaurants, and an array of entertainment venues.

The green, mountainous island of Ilhabela has always held itself slightly apart from the mainland of Brazil. Discovered in 1502 by Américo Vespúcio, the island has served as an outpost against foreign navies, pirates, slavery and smugglers. Later attempts at taming the island for coffee production failed.

If you've spent your life searching for paradise, you'll find it in Ihla Grande. The former inhabitants who made this paradise a home have long abandoned their posts. There has been little colonization since, which has helped to maintain Ilha Grande's charming appeal, sparkling waters, lush rainforests and natural beauty.

Tucked in a hidden bay in southern Bahia sits the colonial seaport of Ilhéus. This charming harbor town has been made famous by the acclaimed author Jorge Amado - it's the setting for the novelist's well-read story Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon. Fall under the spell of the city's history, beauty and intrigue on paper and in person.

Uruguay's capital city and one of the Americas' most important seaports, Montevideo draws travelers from all over the world. Narrow streets and varied architectural styles ranging from colonial to Art Deco reveal this vibrant city's strong Spanish, Portuguese, French and British influences.

The canal is both an engineering marvel and one of the most significant waterways on earth. Stretching 50 miles from Panama City on the Pacific side to Colón on the Atlantic side, it provides passage for over 12,000 ocean-going vessels per year.

For centuries, Guatemala's cobblestone streets, breathtaking landscapes and diverse cultures have welcomed visitors from all over the world, helping to make Guatemala City the widely celebrated jewel of Central America.

This once-sleepy fishing village became a popular resort after The Night of the Iguana was filmed here in 1964. Nestled on the 28-mile curve of Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta has steadfastly held on to its character. Red tile roofs and rows of balconies, spilling over with colorful bougainvillea, still line its cobblestone streets.

This former jet-setter's paradise is in the midst of a renaissance and it's easy to see why. Sure there are the stylish streets with designer shops and discos where you can dance till dawn, but the real draw to this decadent peninsula are its beaches.

Tiny Puntarenas, on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, is situated between the volcanic beaches of the Golfo de Nicoya and some of the country's highest mountain peaks. Within a half-hour's drive from the port, tropical jungles give up their secrets to the casual observer.

Rio is famous for its wild beaches and outrageous Carnival celebrations. But this energetic city offers so much more. It lies between the sea and several fertile green mountains, including Pão d'Açucar (Sugarloaf) Mountain, and Corcovado, home to the famous art-deco statue of Christ the Redeemer.

Northeastern Brazil, where Salvador de Bahia lies, developed as an important center for sugarcane production. You can see the enormous wealth that came from the crop reflected in the grand mansions and gold-lined churches in Pelourinho.

 

San Diego is California's "first city," with roots dating back to 1796. San Diego's beautiful harbor is a lovely place to stroll and explore. Historic Seaport Village, along the Embarcadero, is filled with fascinating shops and galleries. But if you wish to explore further, San Diego offers a world of excitement.

 

Home to 17 million people and spanning over 3,000 square miles, São Paulo is the third-largest city in the world. The warm climate and red clay soil surrounding the city are perfect for growing coffee. And with the arrival of the railway in 1867, large-scale cultivation took hold.

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