Of course a detailed answer will depend on how quickly you plan to get to Panama
. Is this a direct, hurry up trip or stop and smell the roses which will determine your ETA to the Canal.
In general, from PC to Florida the two options would be a little east of north to the Windward Passage
or NW along the coast to the Yucatan
east or west coast of FL would be a factor in choosing which way.
Winter crossing the Caribbean
to the WP can be big winds and waves and a beat to weather
but once you pass Cuba
it's a downwind run to FL. To the Yucatan
the trip north will be easier and you can tourist on the way but after passing the west side of Cuba
you will have a beat unless you are going to Tampa area where you might have a reach.