Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal Transit
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TOUR DESCRIPTION On August 15, 1914 the SS Ancon made the first official ocean to ocean transit through the Panama Canal. This event, that soon proved to have changed the world forever, was possible thanks to the labor of more than 75,000 men and women who worked for 10 years facing unprecedented challenges. Since 1914, more than 900,000 vessels have transited through the waterway bringing commerce, cultures and people from all corners of the world closer together.

US$255 per person plus 7% tax

INCLUDED Bilingual Narrator on board, soft drinks, and water (all you can drink), light breakfast coffee station, lunch, transportation from/to your hotel in Panama City (please note that a $35 per person roundtrip surcharge based on 2+ persons must be added to day tours beginning and/or ending at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, Canopy Tower, Playa Bonita or hotels near Tocumen Airport)

DISCLAIMER Prices and itineraries are correct at the time of printing, however, they are subject to change due to weather or local conditions, availabilities, or factors beyond our control.


The Panama Canal tour starts with an early morning pick up at your hotel in Panama City by an Ancon Expeditions of Panama driver. Enjoy a short transfer to Flamenco Island, at the Causeway of Amador on the Pacific side of the canal where our tour outfitter welcomes you for the embarkation. You will first sail under the bridge of the Americas, which raises over 100 meters above sea level and reunites the land divided during the construction of the canal forming another link in the Pan-American Highway. Breakfast is served buffet style.

The Panama Canal is 80 kilometers long from deep waters in the Pacific Ocean to deep waters in the Caribbean Sea. It was cut through the lowest and one of the narrowest saddles of the long mountainous Isthmus that joins North and South America. The original elevation was 95 meters above sea level where it crosses the Continental Divide.

Northbound on the Panama Canal, the first stop is at Miraflores locks, which are the tallest in the locks system due to the extreme tidal variation of the Pacific Ocean. The boat will be raised 17 meters above sea level in two steps to enter Miraflores Lake which is almost 2 kilometers long. A transition from saltwater in the Pacific Ocean to fresh water in the locks chambers and lake take place here. Next, the ship is raised in one step, this time an additional 9 meters, at the Pedro Miguel locks. At this point, the ship will be sailing in Gatun lake at 26 meters above sea level and entering Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal. The 13.7-kilometer long portion of the waterway was carved through rock and shale and it is flanked by the backbones of the Continental Divide. The original width of Gaillard Cut was 92 meters and was increased to 152 meters in the early 1970s. In order to accommodate the demands of today's transit needs, the Panama Canal Authority recently completed the monumental task of widening the Cut to 192 meters in straight sections and up to 222 meters in curves.

This allows for unrestricted two-way traffic of Panamax vessels, the largest ships that fit in the Panama Canal locks. Gaillard Cut opens up into Gatun Lake where the Chagres River flows into the waterway near the town of Gamboa, the site of the Panama Canal's Dredging Division. The Chagres River has the distinction of being the only river in the world that flows into two oceans and it is the main source of freshwater which guarantees the operation of the waterway.

Lunch is served while enjoying views of the giant cranes and dredging equipment near Gamboa, ships traveling southbound carrying cargo or passengers, and the islands that dot Gatun Lake.

Halfway through the voyage in Gatun Lake you will pass by Barro Colorado Island where the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute has been carrying out research on rainforest biodiversity since soon after this area was flooded and the lake was formed. Gatun Lake covers an area of 423 square kilometers and the islands in it are actually the tops of hills and mountains that were not flooded. Gatun Lake was once the largest man-made lake in the world. Just before reaching the Gatun locks on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal you will see Gatun Dam. The locks at Gatun will lower the ship 26 meters to sea level in three steps and the ship will continue along a channel to the Port of Cristobal. You will disembark in Cristobal and board a coach bus that will take you back to Flamenco Island on a 1:30-hour comfortable ride. At Flamenco Island, your Ancon Expeditions of Panama driver will be waiting to take you back to your hotel.



  • 6:30 a.m. Approximate pick-up time at your hotel in Panama City (depending on your hotel location)
  • 10-12 hours Approximate tour duration*

* The duration of the full transit greatly depends on the ship traffic on the Panama Canal. Please be aware that in exceptional cases you might return to your hotel at night time.

DATES 2023 (all northbound: boat goes from the Pacific to the Atlantic) 
August 19
September 2, 16
October 21
November 18
December 16

DATES 2024
January 20
February 17
March 16
April 20
May 18
June 15
July 20
August 17
September 21
October 19
November 16
December 21


  • Binoculars (available for rent at Ancon Expeditions of Panama)
  • Camera
  • Cap or hat
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Light clothing
  • Light raincoat
  • Tennis shoes or sandals
  • Cash in small denominations is suggested if interested in purchasing souvenirs, snacks and alcoholic beverages


"On Saturday, I did the full transit and had a wonderful time!  I had specifically come to Panama for this--I bought the transit ticket before airline or hotel reservations.  It was everything I could have imagined.  Good service, great explanations, and overall just a lovely day. Thank you!"

Roena Oesting, USA

"The tour was great ! Well organised, well commented, the speaker was interesting, food was nice, the pick-up by car well organized and the driver very professional and nice. Everything's perfect! Many thanks!"

Marie Chamayou, France

"Saturday's Ocean to Ocean Transit was really good. We both liked the Pacific Queen and the English
speaking guide who offered an abundance of informations about the Canal and Panama, in general.
The food was good and lots of it. It was a very good tour and we would recommend it to others."

Deborah Connors, USA

"The Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal Transit was a very interesting experience and specially because I was able to do the whole tour from Panama to Colon. I enjoyed the company of nice people and the guide was very helpul in explaining the tour and with a good sense of humour!"

Maria Nistal, Spain

“Great trip. Look forward to trying other tours in Panama.”

Bennie Torres, USA

“The tour guides were great and the drivers were, too.
The day after we got back from Chiriqui we took the Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal Transit.
It was excellent as well. We look forward to taking some more of
Ancon Expeditions of Panama's tours that we missed!”

Nancy Wagner, USA