Passing through the Panama Canal
We got up very early to as we approached the entrance in to the Panama Canal.
Approaching the entrance to the canal area, we saw many ships waiting their turns (apparently, cruise ships are given priority).
We were a little worried about this ship – it was really rocking – none of the other ships had so much motion.
It was interesting to watch the operations.
As we approached the first lock – our onboard port lecturer started broadcasting throughout the ship – and explained the whole process to us as we went through it. He was very informative and gave us a lot of interesting information about the history of the canal and the locks and the lives of the folks who helped build the canal.
The guide explained that as we approached the locks – the arrow on the top of this center building would point toward the side we were to enter.
We thought the front of the ship would be an execellent place to view the passage, however we found that our fellow passengers were a bit unwilling to share the vantage point. Some folks had multiple cameras set up – and were crowding other people away from the railing – so we decided that we’d just enjoy the view from our stateroom balcony.
They use small locomotives called ‘mules’ to assist the ships as they travel through the locks. The guide explained that they do not pull the ship through the lock, but rather keep it centered. There is very little clearance between the ship and the sides of the lock. We had four of these mules attached for the first lock. Here are some of the photos we took as we went through the first set of locks (there are three).
We didn’t see Monkeys or wildlife on the islands like we would have liked but we forgot our binoculars AGAIN (we’ve since located them and won’t forget them next trip!).
There were three different sets of locks and the whole passage took the entire day. We had a few delays while ships were ahead of us but it was a leisurely and interesting experience. As we started to leave the canal, it was getting dark so we didn’t get to see much of the view after the final lock.
The canal took the entire day – and it was informative, interesting and enjoyable. We were happy to mark the Panama Canal off of our ‘bucket lists’ and recommend the experience!