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Cruising Article –05/31/2012

Antigua, Guatemala: The jewel of a Panama Canal cruise

Antigua, Guatemala

The best way to experience Guatemala is to start in Antigua, a Spanish colonial capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Filled with museums, parks, shops and restaurants, this historic town is best explored on foot, especially for passengers on a Panama Canal cruise who want to take their time absorbing and taking photos of Baroque architecture.

On the way to Antigua, visitors will pass through a rugged mountain range and three remarkable volcanic peaks before the city emerges through the trees. Considered one of the most outstanding and best-preserved colonial cities outside of Spain, Antigua exudes classic charm from every street corner, house, church and even from its people, who exercise centuries-old traditions in their day-to-day lives.

Make a wish at La Fuente de las Sirenas

If being on a Panama Canal shore excursion isn't a dream come true for passengers, they can toss a penny into La Fuente de las Sirenas, the beautiful fountain nestled in the middle of Plaza Mayor. Built in 1739 by Diego de Porres, the lovely waterworks are surrounded by impeccably manicured gardens. Visitors and locals alike flock to this centrally located park and are invited to relax on a bench or have an impromptu picnic while looking around at the intricate architecture circling the grounds.

Take a walk through Catedral Metropolitana

Built in 1868, Catedral Metropolitana is a beautifully elegant cathedral that gives European churches a run for their money. Likened to an elaborate fortress, Metropolitana is a prime example of Spanish Baroque architecture with an embellished facade and sky-high towers. Although it was partially destroyed by minor earthquakes over the centuries, it has been restored to its almost-original form without challenging its historical integrity. Filled with colonial paintings and golden arches, the cathedral's interior inspires awe and wonder from every visitor.

Breathe in nature at Lake Atitlan

Situated in the middle of Antigua's seemingly endless mountain ranges, Lake Atitlan is located more than 4,000 feet above sea level and is the result of a volcanic eruption that took place about 85,000 years ago. Visitors on Panama Canal cruises will have a chance to enjoy their lunch while spoiling themselves with uninterrupted views of the 1,000-foot-deep lake before driving back to their cruise ship to embark on yet another incredible seafaring adventure.