Your question is a little confusing - what is the issue?
Panama is safe - people go from CR to Panama all the time, are you talking about taking a boat?
Safe to stay in Panama? Panama has less crime than CR -
you need to to a lot more research, read these forums, possiblly the Lonely Planet Panama forums - you will be more informed and be able to ask more specific questions.
If time is an issue you will have to fly. I don't know of any boats, if there were, it would be a longer trip than by bus. Panama is probably safer than CR, similar to any large U.S. metro areas, although recently with the influx of tourism and immigrants it has been on the rise. If I had a day in Panama, the Canal would probably not be THE thing I would go there for... IMHO.
Oh really? Where would you suggest? My ten yr old nephew is dying to see the canal. We do have a 14 day pass on Nature Air.
The canal is a great thing... For a short visit, but flying for a day to just see the canal is sort of like flying to Paris to just see the Eiffel tower. There is a lot to do and see in Panama. IMHO more then CR. Panama has a lot more cultural variety, rich history, indigenous cultures, etc. Just browse the forum. Canal is fine, but take a few days.
Does not make sense just for a day - unless you are flush with cash - then just fly in and out -
Nature AIr - don't believe they fly into Panama - probably would have to fly Copa from San Jose - which takes you to PTY from there about 45 minute to 1.5 hour taxi ride to the canal - depending on the time of day.
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