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Cruising Article –05/27/2011

Mayan and colonial heritage in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

Panama Canal cruise destinations

Guatemala has a rich cultural history, ranging from its status as the heart of the Mayan civilization to its important colonial hubs. During a Panama Canal cruise, you can experience this heritage firsthand when you go on a shore excursion to Puerto Quetzal.

Although the Mayan Empire has long since collapsed, its legacy lives on in the indigenous people of modern-day Guatemala. You can learn about their culture, history and lifestyle when you pay a visit to a local handicrafts cooperative. After your tour is complete, you can even buy some gorgeous hand-woven textiles to commemorate your trip to Guatemala.

One of Guatemala's most famous attractions is the colonial town of Antigua, which has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. When you explore this iconic destination, you will see everything from majestic churches to historic hotels. No visit to the town is complete, however, without paying a visit to the Plaza de Armas, the main square of Antigua.

If you're interested in a more adventurous excursion in this Central American country, why not go for a hike up the side of the towering Pacaya Volcano? Guatemala is home to 37 different volcanoes, but Pacaya is one of the most scenic, offering you amazing views of forests, meadows and the surrounding countryside. Better than all the views, however, is the triumphant feeling of accomplishment you achieve when you finally reach the apex of the fiery peak.

For a more relaxing outdoor excursion, you can go for a cruise on the serene Lake Atitlan. Famed for its picturesque beauty, this body of water allows you to stretch out and enjoy the cool breeze as you take in the scenery of the lush mountains that surround the area.