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Cruising Article – 2012-08-02

Exploring the natural and historical splendors of Panama City

If you've always wanted to explore all that the Panama Canal has to offer, there's no better way to do so than on a Panama Canal cruise vacation. Whether you're traveling with your spouse or the entire family, there's a Princess Cruise for you and your loved ones to explore this exotic region of the world. You may have heard of the canal and all its glory in the past, but there's no other way to get a taste of the area than to experience it firsthand.

On your Panama cruise, you'll be able to indulge in the local culture and see what it's like to live in a bustling Central American metropolis in Panama City. This hub is home to several dance clubs and restaurants for couples who want to make the most out of their evenings at port. Once you get your fill of the nightlife, there are many exotic parks to visit as well. Here are some of the must-visit spots in and around Panama's capital.

Darien National Park

Although Panama City is a busy metropolis full of thousands of people, the area is surrounded by nature and exotic wildlife - much of which you'll have easy access to on your Princess Cruise. One location many people visit while in the area is Darien National Park. According to the facility's official website, this park has been under protection since 1972. Here, you can explore a wide range of landscapes including beaches and marshes, meaning many different types of animals call the park home as well.

Panama Historical District

It's true that Panama cruises put you closer to the thrilling nightlife and culture of downtown Panama City, but there's nothing like getting a dose of history during your trip, specifically in the Panama Historical District. Yahoo! reports that the Panama Historical District was founded around 1519 and was one of the first examples of a planned town in the Americas. Here, you can view early architecture in Spanish, French and American styles, making it a unique destination and the perfect spot for photos.

Parque Natural Metropolitano

The Parque Natural Metropolitano is another popular stop for visitors on Panama Canal cruise vacations for a number of reasons. In addition to being more than 200 acres, this park is home to several unique creatures, including 250 species of birds, according to LonelyPlanet.com. Today, you can go on a guided tour with a park ranger or a self-guided tour of the area to explore all of its natural wonders. There's also the opportunity to book a ride on a crane to get a bird's-eye view of the park and the rainforest canopy.

Gatun Lake

TripAdvisor.com recommends Gatun Lake as one destination to check out once you've already visited all of the Panama City clubs and eateries. This man-made lake is open to visitors who want to explore it by boat. Gatun Lake is home to several different types of animals, ranging from monkeys to alligators. There are also many species of birds that call Gatun Lake home.

Panama Interoceanic Canal Museum

If you want to learn more about the area you're passing through on your cruise, there's no better place to do so than at the Panama Interoceanic Canal Museum. TripAdvisor.com states that the facility was opened in 1997 to provide history to visitors on this iconic canal and all its glory. The museum is a must-visit for history buffs who want to come back home with a story to tell.