The Panama Canal generally isn’t regarded as a cruise destination per se. Rather, it a passageway through which a cruise ship might sail, and it is also a relatively common stop for cruise ships traveling in this region of the globe. Even so, Costco Travel does essentially market the Panama Canal as a standalone cruise destination, and thus there could be said to be Costco cruises to the Panama Canal. In other words, there are Costco cruises that are advertised on the basis of the fact that they go to the Panama Canal. However, there are various difficulties with finding these cruises, so we have done our best to sort out the Costco cruises to the Panama Canal below.
Put briefly, the Costco Travel website is what one might call “internally incoherent” with respect to cruises to the Panama Canal. What we mean by “internally incoherent” is this: there is a page on the Costco Travel site specifically dedicated to the Panama Canal as a cruise destination. There isn’t much on this page, but it does list the “featured deals” for Panama Canal cruises (which are worth checking out), and in any event the point is that the Panama Canal is clearly categorized as a cruise destination in and of itself. However, when using the search tool on the site, which is the only way to look at cruise listings, there is no way to enter the Panama Canal as a cruise destination. Thus, Costco Travel simultaneously recognizes and doesn’t recognize the Panama Canal as a cruise destination, and thus they operate a system that is, as we said, internally incoherent. (Costco cruises to Australia and New Zealand suffer from exactly the same problem.) We acknowledge that this is a dramatically formal way to put the matter, but it is an annoying feature of the website that is as bizarre as it is unnecessary.
So, how do you go about finding Costco cruises to the Panama Canal? First, if you wanted to circumvent the website altogether, you can call Costco Travel toll-free (1-877-849-2730). This isn’t a bad idea considering that Costco Travel more or less operates like a travel agency for Costco members. You can benefit from their expertise and also avoid the hassle of searching for cruises to a destination that isn’t listed on Costco’s search tool. If you want to use the site, however, you have to search through two destinations to find cruises that go to/through the Panama Canal: “Mexico and Central America” (treated as one destination) and “South America.” Panama Canal cruise are scattered throughout each, and there aren’t that many of them, so if you want to see all the cruises that go here, you’ll have to look through both sections. More seem to be listed when you put “Mexico and Central America” as your destination, and these tend to leave somewhere in the U.S. and end up in another part of the U.S., which is probably of more interest to our average reader. However, the ones listed under “South America” might be worth checking out as well. If you happen to find yourself in Chile and are looking for a unique way to get back to the U.S., for instance, there is a 14-day cruise that goes from Valparaiso to Fort Lauderdale.
To recap, there isn’t a way (as far as we can tell) to search for cruises to the Panama Canal and only cruises to the Panama Canal using the Costco Travel website. Again, the Panama Canal generally isn’t considered a destination by itself, so you might not think this is a problem, but some people treat the Canal as a worthy destination in its own right, and moreover Costco treats it this way by giving the Canal its own destination page on the website. If you are one of the people who wants to go to the Panama Canal, you have to search through the cruises to “Mexico and Central America” and “South America,” but of course which one you focus on will depend on where you are and where you are going. Alternatively, you can just call Costco Travel and see what they can come up with for you. So, there is a way to cruise to the Panama Canal using Costco Travel – it’s just that finding it may be a little more cumbersome than it ought to be.