The Panama Canal

Trip Start Feb 04, 2008
Trip End Feb 21, 2008

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Island Princess

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Looking back on Gatun Locks from Gatun Lake

by Allen:

The Panama Canal Company's motto: "Land Divided - World United"

Before the cruise started I pictured reclining in a perfectly patinaed teak lounge chair on the promenade deck sipping an endless cold gin and tonic while being muled through the Panama Canal, with drawing tools in hand under a Panama hat.

Max and I started the Panama Canal on the top deck port side by gathering plastic chairs and loungers for our entourage (including a sick Kim who stuck it out). We ate breakfast there but soon we were all on our own only to meet up again at the final locks where we had celebratory drinks.

The locks are amazing, truly one of the eight modern engineering wonders. A real testament to mankind's perseverance. One of the things that struck me about the Panama Canal was the exclusion of information about the cost of human life in the Panama marketing and ship patter. Over 20 thousand people died, making the canal an epitaph.
The deck loungers on the promenade deck have blue cushions and would have been a good place to make a drawing.

by Keith:

The idea for this trip actually began several years ago when Keith and then Allen read David McCollough's excellent description of the building of the Panama Canal titled "The Path Between the Seas." Through the years of planning, our main requirement for the trip was that it include a full transit of the Canal.

We entered the Canal on the Caribbean side (the north) at approximately 6 am. Soon we arrived at the Gatun Locks, a series of three locks that took our ship up a total of 85 feet to Gatun Lake (a large, man-made lake created by damming the Chagres River). Watching the locks in operation was great fun, at least at first, but it was a slow process. Cruising was pleasant through the lake and especially interesting when we got to the Gaillard (Culebra) cut through the mountains.

Then the Pedro Miguel Locks lowered us to Miraflores Lake and the double Miraflores Locks returned our ship to sea level at the Pacific Ocean. It was a long day on deck, nearly 12 hours, but worth it. Even Max hung in there (with lots of swimming time as well as basketball, ping-pong, and reading), and we all celebrated with a drink on the by then nearly empty deck.

You gotta come see it for yourself!
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