Cruise: Panama Canal

The last time I blogged was last month while on vacation. We returned home from our cruise on February 21, and I’ve been bogged down trying to get caught up with email and work and just haven’t had time to post anything. Figured I’d better give a rundown on what happened after my last post.

Our day in the Panama Canal was quite an experience. It started a couple hours later than expected due to inbound traffic. We were sailing from the Caribbean to the Pacific, so we entered at the Gatun Locks. There are three chambers, each one lifting vessels 28 feet for a total of 84 feet, in order to reach Gatun Lake. As we approached the locks, we saw Coral Princess, the sister ship to Island Princess, the ship on which we sailed for our Alaska cruise last year. Coral was entering the lake, but would head back out later that day back into the Caribbean.

To get a good view, we headed to the front of the ship to the viewing area on Deck 8. We were there from the time we approached the breakwater all the way into the second chamber. We finally retreated back inside due to the unbelievably intense sun. We returned to our cabin to apply more sunscreen, and I fashioned some protection from the sun by putting a hand towel in my baseball cap. I looked like an extra in some low budget movie about the French Foreign Legion film. We watched the rest of the Gatun Locks from the back of the ship where there was shade.

The next several hours were spent making our way through the canal. Along the way we saw crocodiles and various types of ships including one U.S. Navy ship. Quite strange to pass ships heading the other way, with little room to spare. Finally we passed through the Pedro Miguel lock (one chamber) and then the Miraflores Locks (two chambers) and then on our way under the Bridge of the Americas. Because of the late start to the day, we didn’t make it to Puerto Amador until late, so we tendered in the dark and went on our tour of the Miraflores Locks and Visitor Center. It was interesting, but probably would have been more so had we not been in the canal all day long.

The following day was a sea day, and then we arrived at Puntarenas, Costa Rica. More on that in the next post.