This year sees the 100 year anniversary of the construction of the Panama Canal, one of the world’s most important feats of engineering. Originally built to create passage between the East and West coast of the Americas, today the Panama Canal represents so much more than a quick route from Florida to California. Cruises through the region allow passengers to witness the verdant scenery of Central American destinations like Costa Rica and Mexico, as well as all the twists and turns of this impressive international waterway.

At 48 miles long, the Canal shaves a huge 8000 miles off the journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and features a series of three lock gates which take around 15 hours to navigate. Following the independence of the nation of Panama in 1903, the US negotiated the rights to build the canal, which then took 10 years to complete, opening for the very first time on August 15th, 1914.

Events are being held throughout the year to count down the days until the centenary this August, with upcoming exhibitions, historical and cultural events planned at Miraflores Locks and a set of specially commissioned murals already on display in the Panama Canal Administration Building. The biggest celebration has arguably been the 5 million-dollar cash injection by the Panamanian Government: work to widen lanes, improve locks and expand ports has been ongoing since 2007.

However, in honour of the upcoming anniversary, Holland America are also offering several cruise departures from 10 to 22 days between now and April 2014. They’re even adding a generous $100 spending tab to all stateroom bookings on selected trips. And it’s not just the American cruise line celebrating 100 years of the canal: companies like Celebrity Cruises, Regent and Carnival are all scheduling sailings both westbound from Fort Lauderdale in Florida and eastbound from San Diego, California this year.

As many of these cruise ships are on repositioning voyages between routes in the South Pacific and North America, there are plenty of great deals to be found on cruise holidays through Panama. So if you fancy getting involved in the 100 year celebrations and voyaging through one of the world’s most diverse regions, why not check out our selection of Panama Canal cruises to see if anything whets your appetite?

Images by GameOfLight and Joe Ross, used under Creative Commons licence

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