Bisecting the country is the celebrated Panama Canal, which took 11 years to build and was one of the most difficult construction projects ever undertaken. The 77 kilometre-long Panama Canal was finally completed by the Americans in 1914, finishing earlier efforts by the French in the 1880’s.
The 8-10 hour boat trip down the canal takes visitors from the Caribbean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. The canal is crucial to world trade as well as providing pleasure to visitors on sightseeing excursions with cruise ships.
The famous white straw ‘Panama’ hats were originally crafted in Ecuador and were sent to Panama to be shipped to the rest of the world. The hats were worn by workers who built the canal and the name stuck. President Roosevelt wore a hat on a trip to check the progress of the canal and increased their popularity.
Panama is a fascinating country to visit, aside from these two main draws; the landscape is lush and mountainous and the country enjoys a warm tropical climate. MSC cruise ships call at the Panama’s port of Cristobal, and from here holidaymakers can travel to the pretty seaside town of Portobelo or Panama City, and even onto the Gatun Lake to visit the native Embera tribe community.