Partial vs Full: Panama Canal Transit Tours

Disponible en Español: ¿Parcial O Completo? Tours De Tránsito Por El Canal De Panamá

Are you interested in making a transit through the Panama Canal? But do not know which would be the best for you? Next, I will help you make the best decision so that you can live this experience on your visit to Panama.

Panama Canal Transit Tours

Partial and Full Transit Panama Canal Tours are very popular amongst tourists and Panamanians. Next, I will explain the differences between them so you can choose the one that suits you best. If you come on a cruise or you will stay for a few hours in Panama, and you are interested in getting to know the Canal, there are other ways to see the Panama Canal in less time.

Partial Transit Tours Through the Panama Canal

Northbound Partial Panama Canal Transit Tour Map
Northbound Partial Panama Canal Transit Tour Map

The Partial Transit can be done in two tour directions, which are the following: Northbound Transit tour and Southbound Transit Tour. Both tours last 6 hours and include pickup and drop-off at your hotel in Panama City (only foreign tickets and at selected hotels). If you have resident ticket, you have to make your own way to Amador the day of your tour. The tours include lunch and snacks during the journey.

Partial transit tours normally depart every Saturday and Sunday during the low season (from May to October) and everyday of the week during high season (from November to April).

If you want to know more about the differences between Northbound and Southbound tours, I recommend you read the blog Northbound vs Southbound: Panama Canal Transit Tours.

Full Transit Tour through the Panama Canal

Full Panama Canal Transit Tour Map
Full Panama Canal Transit Tour Map

The Full Transit tour, as it names implies, is the complete transit experience through the Panama Canal, on this interoceanic route which connects the Pacific Ocean with the Caribbean Sea. It lasts 12 hours, and as it is a tour that takes quite a long time, it includes breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack throughout the journey.

The Full Transit Tour Through the Panama Canal begins when you are picked up from your hotel in Panama City (foreigners tickets and selected hotels), to be taken to Amador to board the boat. If you have a resident's ticket, you have to make your own way to Amador on the morning of the day of your tour. 

Full transit tours depart less frequently than partial transit tours. Normally the full transit tours depart the first Saturday of each month of the year.

The Full Transit route is from Amador to Colón (on the Caribbean side of the country). On the way you will make the transit through the Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and Gatún Locks. Once the transit in Colón ends, there will be buses waiting for you ready to bring you back to your hotel in Panama City, but first, the bus will stop in Amador, to leave the passengers who have resident ticket.

Is there any Partial or Full Transit Tour from Colon?

Cruiseship at the Colon 2000 Port
Cruiseship at the Colon 2000 Port

Many people come to Panama on cruises that arrive at Colon, and they want to make the transit through the Panama Canal in the 8 hours they have in Panama. Unfortunately, there are no transits from Colon. The boat that completes the Full Transit and finishes at Colon, then returns with no passengers to Gamboa so that the next day it can make the Southbound Transit, which is only a Partial Transit. If you don’t have time to do a full or partial transit of the canal, the next most recommended tour for people who come to Panama on cruises and would like to know the Panama Canal is the Tour to the Miraflores Locks Visitors Center or a Tour to The Agua Clara Locks Visitors Center because these are fewer hours tours, and they will be able to visit other places of interest in Panama.

Conclusion: Which is the Best Transit Tour?

Now that we know the tours that exist to make transits through the Panama Canal, we can say that the one you choose will depend on how long you want your experience to last. If you want to live the experience of transiting the Panama Canal in a short time, you can take one of the Partial Transit Directions and if you want the complete adventure, and have the experience of navigating from ocean to ocean, the Full Transit is the option to you.


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