August 2014 will mark the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Panama Canal. Celebrate the Anniversary of the Panama Canal aboard a Crystal Cruise ship. Consistently at the top of the list for luxury and locations, a cruise through the Panama Canal is the ultimate vehicle for celebrating the 100th Year Anniversary. There are several very long cruises via the canal, however this shorter trip provides an up-close look at the canal workings and some great swimming and touring opportunities. Snorkel crystalline waters in Mexico, dive the Great Blue Hole in Belize, zip-line over rainforests in Costa Rica…and transit the Panama Canal.
Nov 30, Sunday Caldera Costa Rica, first day out. Dec 1, Monday Cruising the Coast of Panama. Adjust the compass of your mood and design your day exactly as you wish: pamper yourself at the Feng Shui-inspired Crystal Spa, work-out at our state-of-the-art fitness center or Walk-on-Water along our 360o Promenade Deck; teach yourself something new with complimentary language lessons by Berlitz or piano instruction with Yamaha; enhance your computer skills at our Computer University@Sea or learn about art, history and worldly destinations with our engaging celebrity entertainers and speakers; sneak away to watch recently-released movies in the Hollywood Theater, shop our luxury boutiques, or simply relax by one of our tranquil pools. From Tai Chi and yoga to PGA golf instruction and paddle tennis on full-size courts, today is all about you. As evening arrives, dine on the inspired cuisines of Nobu Matsuhisa, Piero Selvaggio and Crystal’s own acclaimed chefs, enjoy special wine-makers dinners, lavish Broadway-style productions, intimate lounges, a pulsing dance club or our action-packed Crystal Casino.
Dec 2, Tuesday. Transit The Panama Canal. Spend an unforgettable day cruising the Panama Canal, a fifty-one-mile waterway through the rainforest that is one of the world’s engineering masterpieces. The ship glides down the canal with inches to spare, through locks that raise and lower it like a toy. Along the way it crosses enormous Gatun Lake, and the amazing Gaillard Cut, blasted out of a solid mountainside.
Dec 3, Wednesday. Puerto Limón, located on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, boasts a rich combination of sights sounds and smells. Once ashore, embrace these elements as they surround you, filling your senses with the essence of this delightful port city. The growth of the coffee market prompted the Costa Rican government to search for an Atlantic port to facilitate shipping coffee to Europe and beyond. In 1871, the port of Limón was established and what was once a migrant fishermen’s village of five huts grew into an important center of commerce. With the introduction of a rail service the following year between San José and the Atlantic coast, Limón became a thriving railroad and banana town.
Dec 4, Thursday. Cruising the Caribbean Sea. Dec 5, Friday. On Central America’s Roatan Island off Honduras, you can aim a point-and-shoot camera in almost any direction and get a beautiful picture. Skies are wide expanses of blue. Water is a transparent turquoise. Beaches are the classic smooth white, edged by lush growths of palms. Even if you are no shutterbug, you will find many things to do. Water activities include diving, snorkeling and swimming with the dolphins. If you prefer to stay dry, you can tour the reef in a glass-bottom boat, go into town to shop for island crafts, or see the butterfly and floral gardens.
Dec 6, Saturday. Belize City, Belize. While you wouldn’t necessarily associate a Central American city with Victorian architecture, Belize City indeed offers some striking examples. Several Victorian mansions have been restored and converted into inns, museums, galleries and restaurants. Other structures in the city range from British Colonial to the oldest Anglican cathedral in Central America, St. John’s Cathedral. The appeal of Belize’s buildings extends to their interiors. The Marine Terminal, for instance, is a beautifully refurbished former fire station dating to 1923. Inside are two museums-the Coastal Zone Museum with displays highlighting the local reef ecology, and the Maritime Museum with a collection of paraphernalia centering on Belize’s seafaring history. Finally, and not insignificantly, is Central America’s remarkable wildlife, which Belize has made a point of preserving. A short distance from the city is the Belize Zoo, which is actually more of a wildlife preserve. Its exotic species live happily in roomy, natural-looking accommodations with dense vegetation. Keep the camera ready for jaguars, as they spend much of their time hunkered down in the shade, slinking out into the open for only a momentary stretch.
Dec 7, Sunday. Costa Maya, Mexico. Adventure, archaeology, water, sun and beach. These are all to be found in and around Costa Maya, the Caribbean’s first port planned solely for cruise guests. Designed to resemble an ancient Mayan city, Costa Maya features three grand pavilions, where you can see folkloric shows, observe local artisans creating their works of art, and witness cultural and culinary events. Within easy reach of the port are ancient cities boasting impressive temples and fascinating archeological sites. And you needn’t venture far from port to enjoy a range of water sports, including diving and snorkeling amid the world’s second-largest coral reef.
Dec 8, Monday. Cozumel, Mexico. Just 11 miles off the eastern coast of Mexico lies Cozumel, the country’s largest island and the gem of the Caribbean for water sports. Relax and bask in the sun on pristine palm-lined beaches or snorkel amid intricate coral formations at nearby Palancar Reef. On the island’s west coast lies the bustling town of San Miguel, which boasts deluxe hotels, inviting shops and tempting restaurants. Off the island of Cozumel is Playa del Carmen, your gateway to the Mayan mysteries of the intriguing Yucatán. Inland lies Cobá, a splendid reminder of a civilization that existed thousands of years ago. Closer at hand lies Tulum, a massive fortress built in 564 AD and the only Mayan site to overlook the Caribbean Sea.
Dec 9, Tuesday. Cruising the Straits of Florida.
Dec 10, Wednesday. Key West, Florida, USA. In the past, Key West was the winter home of Ernest Hemingway, John James Audubon and President Truman. Today it is a stylish retreat for writers and artists. Its atmosphere is reminiscent of the Caribbean, yet it is the southernmost town of the continental United States. Take a stroll along Duval Street, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, or explore its interesting art galleries and boutiques.
Dec 11, Thursday. Miami, Florida, USA. It has the largest city population in Florida, is the third most visited American city among international travelers and showcases an Art Deco Historic District encompassing one of the largest neighborhoods entered on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Miami certainly boasts its share of impressive characteristics, even before adding to the list its gorgeous beaches, spirited Cuban population and ritzy enclaves of Coral Gables and Coconut Grove. Miami wasn’t always the glamorous and energetic city you see today. Until the late 1800s, it was mostly swamp, disconnected from the rest of the country thanks to its position on the edge of the continent and lack of the essential link of the day: a railroad. All that changed in 1896, when the railroad in northern Florida was extended to the latent tropical paradise of the south. The rest, as they say, is history, as Miami has since seen recurrent booms fueled by surges of immigration, perennially good weather and an insouciant refusal to do anything halfway. Admire the full glory of Miami Beach with a stroll along South Beach’s famous Ocean Boulevard, where splendidly restored art deco buildings compete with fashion models and sun worshipers for attention. For a taste of Cuban cuisine and culture, visit Little Havana on the mainland (Miami Beach is separate both in its municipality and its geography: it sits on a barrier island four miles off the coast, and is reached by a causeway). Also outside mainland Miami are the acres of rare tropical plants nurtured to their fragrant and beautiful best in Fairchild Tropical Gardens. The aforementioned slice of heaven known as Coral Gables lies to the southwest. A gem of 1920s city planning, the city unfurls impressive boulevards and features the alluring Venetian Pool, where waterfalls and underwater caves offer the chance for a uniquely refreshing dip.
Panama Canal Facts
- Once touted as the Eight Wonder of the World the notorious canal took well over 5 years and some 56,307 people to build.
- Its construction cost $375,000,000 dollars, took an estimated 30,000 lives and effectively opened up trade to the Americas.
- Long considered to be an engineering marvel, the canal spans 50 miles and takes the average ship an estimated 8 to 10 hours to sail through it from end to end.
- It also requires the use of 52 million gallons of fresh water during each ship’s transit, thanks in part to a series of chamber locks.
- One hundred and ten feet wide and one thousand feet long, each lock takes only 8 minutes and 101,000 cubic meters of water to fill.
- There is a toll charged to pass through the Panama Canal, with the smallest toll amount ever being charged ringing in at a mere thirty six cents.
- That was the amount assessed to renowned swimmer Richard Halliburton in 1928 as he passed through on his way to become the first person to swim the length of the canal.
Photo and Content Courtesy of Crystal Cruises