Fuerte Amador, Panama
Learn about the history and future of what some call "the eighth wonder of the world" -- the Panama Canal -- while visiting Miraflores Visitors Center. Hear how this engineering masterpiece operates and witness firsthand the locks, designed to raise ships into the Panama Canal, in action. On other popular excursions you might visit La Reprosa, where you will find reproductions of pre-Columbian artifacts and jewelry, or take a canoe ride to an authentic Embera Indian village.
Marvel at the panoramic view from a train traveling the tracks of the first railroad to connect two oceans, the Panama Railroad. Look out for wildlife as you travel through the rain forest, parallel to the Panama Canal. Want to see the rain forest another way? Try sightseeing from the sky in the Gamboa Aerial Tram, which takes you to an observatory 65 feet above the ground.
A highlight of any cruise to this port is a visit to the largest city in Panama, and its capital, Panama City. This diverse cosmopolitan metropolis offers layers of history -- within the larger city are the ruins of the original 16th-century settlement and Casco Viejo, the neighborhood containing remnants of the region's colonial past. Tours of this historic area include the Municipal Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Church of San Francisco and Plaza Santa Ana. A lively nightlife and a variety of restaurants are some of the city's contemporary features.
Climb aboard a replica of a Spanish galleon for a cruise in Cartagena's historic harbor. Pirates are your hosts as you sit back and enjoy the view of stunning colonial architecture, such as the San Felipe de Barajas Fortress, which was built more than 130 feet tall to keep pirates out. Walking tours on land are also a great way to see the buildings of the Old City -- Las Bovedas, or the dungeons, are a popular attraction.
Puntarenas, Costa Rica
View Costa Rica's wilderness from above as you walk along suspended bridges over the lush green forest surrounding Carara National Park -- you might see monkeys, butterflies and a variety of tropical birds. Another trip in this region takes you on a scenic drive along the Pan-American Highway to Sarchi, a small village known for its brightly colored oxcarts and handmade wooden crafts. Watch the artisans at work and browse the goods for a souvenir to take home.
Limon, Costa Rica
Possibilities abound here -- taste various types of organic chocolate at a cacao plantation, get up-close views of Costa Rica's flora and fauna while kayaking the Tortuguero River, enjoy a buffet lunch in a vast tropical garden, visit a sloth sanctuary, see the countryside from an all-terrain vehicle in an off-roading adventure or go white-water rafting along the Reventazon River.
Experience Acapulco's history through a night show of sound and light at Fort San Diego. After the presentation, head to La Quebrada where you will witness the area's world-famous cliff divers take a daring leap into the dark waters below. Looking for something to do during the day? Take a rafting trip down the Papagayo River or help conservation efforts of a local endangered species by releasing baby sea turtles into the wild.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Take a lesson in mixology in this Mexican beach town. Visit a luxury resort, where you will learn a bartender's secrets to making some of the Baja Peninsula's best frozen concoctions. Keep the cocktail recipes and impress your friends when you return home. This tropical paradise offers a variety of other fun excursions including soaring along a zip line, horseback riding on the beach, whale watching, swimming with the dolphins, scuba diving and fishing.
San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua
Enjoying the picturesque colonial city of Granada on a tour by horse-drawn carriage is just one of the options available here. Other tours visit a historic spice plantation and a family-owned rum estate. Nature lovers will have the opportunity to hike Mombacho Volcano or ride horseback through the Nicaraguan countryside.
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala
Tour the Filadelfia Coffee Estate, where you will get a chance to see how Guatemalan coffee is made; follow the coffee bean from cultivating to processing and then sample some delicious blends. Alternative options here include visiting a local textile cooperative, cruising beautiful Lake Atitlan, taking in architectural gems in colonial Antigua, or journeying to the magical Mayan ruins of Tikal.
Speak to a Panama Canal
Mon-Fri 5:30am to midnight, Sat-Sun 7am to 10pm, U.S. Central Time