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Cruising the Panama Canal

Some travel tours cover the same path as everyone else and are distinguished by the quality of the guides, the cuisine, and where you bed down at night. "The Journey Between the Seas," a Panama Canal cruise on the ship MY Discovery, is a different story. It does get all the details right on the pampering side, but it follows a unique path, transiting the Panama Canal over a two-day period and exploring the oceans on both sides of the Americas.

Board the yacht at the Flamenco Marina, at the end of the Amador Causeway, and head south toward the Pearl Islands, a heavenly area for birdwatchers. The trip hits the Darien Gap, another part of the Pearl Islands, and visits an Embera Indian village. It then travels through the Panama Canal, spending a night docked in Lake Gatun near Barro Colorado, a Smithsonian research center. After exiting the canal, the Discovery heads into the mouth of the Chagres River from the Caribbean side and spends a night there. The trip concludes in the Caribbean by the old Camino Real gold transfer city of Portobelo. The daily schedule is a perfect mix of activities and lazing around, with an open bar welcoming everyone back after an afternoon of snorkeling, kayaking, or nature hiking. Mojitos while watching the sunset over palm trees? A glass of wine while watching porpoises play alongside the ship? A good book, a sea breeze, and sun on your face?

With a maximum of 24 passengers, there is plenty of space for everyone to spread out ---- on one of the back decks, on the front bottom deck equipped with lounge chairs, or in the spacious great room. A wall of glass (cleaned daily) provides panoramic views of everything on all sides, whether it's whales surfacing nearby, tropical islands, or the walls of the canal locks. The well-designed cabins -- turned down each evening - have full windows, individual climate controls, a steaming shower with great water pressure, and quality toiletries.

A crew of ten has been carefully selected and trained to ensure a perfect journey for the 24 exclusive passengers of the MY Discovery. Inside the cozy, spacious cabins and lounges, the magic of night melts imperceptibly with the fabulous sunrises at amazing places that offer their purest charms at dawn, ready for a day of excursion. From its decks, everything looks close, vivid, amazing, moving and . . . unforgettable.

Cindy Smith thoroughly enjoyed her Panama Canal voyage aboard the MY Discovery in 2007.  Contact her to discuss your own small ship transition of this engineering marvel - a 'Journey Between the Seas.;