Six Holland America Line ships will sail 28 full and partial transits of the Panama Canal during the fall 2013 through spring 2014 season, which coincides with the canal’s 100th anniversary. Ranging in length from 10 to 22 days, the extensive itinerary options provide guests with more ways to experience the Panama Canal than any other cruise line.
From September 2013 through April 2014, ms Amsterdam, ms Statendam, ms Veendam, ms Westerdam, ms Zaandam and ms Zuiderdam will transit the canal from six departure cities — including Veendam’s new departure from Boston, Mass. — going between the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean.
“The Panama Canal is a ‘must see’ for many travelers because of the historic technology and beautiful scenery,” said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line’s executive vice president of sales, marketing and guest programs. “The Panama Canal changed travel by enabling easy travel between oceans, and it’s exciting for us to make several canal cruises in the season celebrating its 100th year.”
Sailing through the Panama Canal with Holland America Line is more than moving through the locks and lakes that make up this man-made marvel. The itineraries feature ports with attractions such as walking along the ramparts of a colonial Spanish castle, exploring ancient Mayan ruins or going on a “skywalk” in the Costa Rican rainforest.
The Veendam makes the most Panama Canal transits for Holland America Line this season with four, including a new departure from Boston. The ship sails Oct. 19, 2013, from Boston or Oct. 23, from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego on a 21- or 17-day cruise, respectively. The ship will call at Port Canaveral and Key West, Fla.; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Cartagena, Puerto Caldera, Corinto, Puerto Quetzal, Puerto Chiapas, Huatulco and Puerto Vallarta.
Veendam returns to San Diego on a 14-day transit departing Feb. 8, 2014, then sails back to Fort Lauderdale Feb. 22, on an itinerary that includes scenic cruising in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica, one of three tropical fjords in the world. The two February departures can be combined for a grand 29-day Panama Canal Collectors’ Voyage. The ship makes its final transit of the season March 30, from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale on a 15-day journey that calls at Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal, Corinto, Puerto Caldera, Cartagena and Half Moon Cay.
Zaandam sails from Vancouver, British Columbia, or San Diego, Calif., to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on an 18- or 15-day transit depending on embarkation port. The ship departs Sept. 15 or 18, 2013, respectively, and calls at Astoria, Ore.; Cabo San Lucas, Santa Cruz, Huatulco and Puerto Chiapas, Mexico; Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, and Cartagena, Colombia.
Sailing from Vancouver or San Francisco, Calif., to Fort Lauderdale, Zuiderdam departs Sept. 28 or Oct. 1, 2013, respectively, on a 20- or 17-day transit. As the ship sails from west to east, it will call at Astoria, Cabo San Lucas, Santa Cruz, Huatulco, Puerto Chiapas, Puerto Caldera; Fuerte Amador (Panama City), Panama; Cartagena and Half Moon Cay, the line’s private Bahamian island. The ship will overnight at Fuerte Amador so guests can get an in-depth experience of Panama City’s sights, sounds and flavors.
Zuiderdam sails back to the West Coast April 18, 2014, from Fort Lauderdale on an 18- or 22-day transit to San Diego or Vancouver calling at Half Moon Cay, Curaçao, Aruba, Puerto Caldera; Corinto, Nicaragua; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Puerto Chiapas, Huatulco and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; San Diego and Victoria, B.C.
Guests looking for a shorter transit can take Westerdam’s 14-day cruise from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale departing Oct. 19, 2013. The ship will call at Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, Puerto Chiapas, Puerto Caldera and Cartagena. This itinerary also can be combined with a seven-day round-trip Fort Lauderdale cruise to Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Maarten; and Half Moon Cay, making it a 21-day Collectors’ Voyage.
Westerdam returns to the West Coast April 15, 2014, with a 14- or 18-day transit from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego or Seattle, Wash. The trip includes calls at Cartagena, Puerto Caldera, Puerto Chiapas, Huatulco, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, San Diego and Victoria, B.C.
Statendam transits from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean Jan. 15, 2014, on a 15-day cruise from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale. Calls on that voyage include Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal, Corinto, Puerto Caldera, Cartagena and Half Moon Cay. The ship immediately returns to San Diego from Fort Lauderdale on a 15-day transit departing Jan. 30, that calls at Half Moon Cay, Cartagena, Puerto Caldera, Corinto, Puerto Quetzal, Zihuatenejo (Ixtapa), Mexico, and Cabo San Lucas, including scenic cruising in Golfo Dulce.
Making the last transit of the season, Amsterdam sails from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego, Seattle or Vancouver on a 15-, 19- or 20-day voyage, respectively. After departing April 28, 2014, the ship calls at Half Moon Cay, Cartagena, Puerto Caldera, Corinto, Puerto Quetzal, Puerto Chiapas, Cabo San Lucas and Astoria.
Rounding out the Panama Canal offerings with 16 cruises from October 2013 through April 2014, Zuiderdam features 10- and 11-day Panama Canal Sunfarer itineraries that sail roundtrip Fort Lauderdale and explore the southern Caribbean with a partial transit of the canal. The 10-day route highlights the partial transit and calls at Half Moon Cay; Aruba; Curaçao; Colon, Panama, and Puerto Limón, Costa Rica, while the 11-day cruise features the same ports of call with an addition of a port call to Cartagena, Colombia.
During the sailings, guests can enjoy all of the onboard experiences that are exclusive to the premium cruise line. For example, with the new and engaging On Location program, guests can enjoy steel drum lessons or learn to weave and craft with palm leaves during Caribbean cruise days and listen to an authentic mariachi band during a Mexican fiesta on deck while visiting Mexican ports. In the Panama Canal, an expert historian recounts the history and drama of constructing the famous waterway. The itinerary sets the scene for guests to indulge in localized experiences that make time on board as enriching as visiting the ports of call through lectures, demonstrations and performances.
Panama Canal cruise fares range from $899 for the 10-day itinerary to $2,599 for an 18-day voyage. Fares are per person, double occupancy and do not include government taxes.