How to Get to Panama City
Your ship will dock in Panama Bay and you will arrive by tender at the Flamenco Island Marina on Flamenco Island, which sits adjacent to the Panama Canal. From there, it is just a 10-minute taxi ride into the center of Panama City.
One Day in Panama City
If you are not stopping in Colon on your trip, you will want to start your day with a trip to the Miraflores Locks to catch a glimpse of the Panama Canal in action. If you don’t want to do this as a shore excursion, you can easily arrange for a taxi ride there and back. Another option would be to take the train along the canal to Colon.
Begin your exploration of Panama City itself in Panama Viejo, the site of the ruins of the original city that was destroyed by pirates in the 1600s. Check out the ruins as well as the lively artisan market, which is one of the best in the city. Then, head back to Casco Viejo, the historic quarter of Panama City where the French influence is most apparent. There, you will find a variety of colonial buildings, churches and museums. Look for the Cathedral in the Plaza de la Catedral, the Teatro Nacional and the Palacio de las Garzas before going for a stroll along the waterfront promenade known as Las Bovedas. The old quarter offers some of the best dining options in the city, so stop here for lunch before moving on.
Museum aficionados may want to spend the afternoon visiting some of Panama City’s top museums, including the Interoceanic Canal Museum, the Museum of Biodiversity and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s small museum located near the port. Make your way back to Fuerte Amador for some souvenir shopping; Fuerte Amador Mall is a large duty-free shopping zone, while the Flamenco Shopping Center offers a variety of boutiques and souvenir shops. If you are looking for traditional handicrafts, check out the stalls near the marina. Time permitting, stop for a drink on Flamenco Island and enjoy the sea view before returning to your cruise ship.
If you want to explore the rainforest surrounding Panama City, you can arrange an excursion to the Gamboa Aerial Tram, about 45 minutes away. The tram ride will provide an amazing view of the entire park and the chance to encounter monkeys, birds and other wildlife up close. You might also arrange a tour to a nearby Indian village where you can get a taste of the traditions of the indigenous population.
The official language in Panama is Spanish, but English should be spoken at establishments catering to tourists. The local currency is the Balboa, although US dollars are used throughout Panama City.