Today’s post is a bit of a throwback Thursday post. I wrote this post over two years ago when we did a Panama Canal Cruise. Somehow the post got lot in drafts and never published. I figured it would be a fun throwback Thursday to share it today. We truly loved the Panama Canal cruise that we took. We keep talking about needing to do another one soon.
Passing through the Panama Canal has been on my bucket list for years! I am so excited that we had the chance to do a full transit through the canal. The full day was filled with amazing views, bucket list experiences and people. We did the full transit aboard the Coral Princess cruise ship. The morning started early, really really early! We had heard that you want to be out on deck as early as you can. We had a nice early breakfast and headed out on deck. I have to say heading out on deck turned into a bit of people warfare. There were people absolutely everywhere staking claim on their spot of the deck. They had books, food and they were not moving for hours.
I was a bit worried that we were not going to get a good view of the first lock. We ended up moving around the deck and got a great view of passing through the locks. I am so glad we were forced to move around the boat. The views from the back and side of the boat were amazing. I am not sure what I expected but it was so quiet going through the locks. I thought you would hear the water rushing or some noise but it was really quiet. The movement through the locks was really gentle. The only reason I knew we were moving up and down was watching the light pole next to the boat. It started out a couple of feet above us and all of sudden the deck was higher than the light pole.
Going through the Gatun Locks was amazing. It is a 3 step process that took about an hour. We watched a huge cargo ship go through in front of us. It was crazy watching it go through the locks and get higher and higher as it went through each lock. It was cool to learn that the water is all gravity fed. The Panama Canal was built almost 100 years ago. 2014 was the 100 year celebration. They are currently working on a new section of the canal that will accommodate larger ships. The Coral Princess is 965 feet long and the canal can hold boats up to 1000 feet in length. The boat only had 2 feet of clearance on each side between the boat and the concrete of the canal.
Once we made it through the Gatun Locks we were into the freshwater lake. We had a couple of hours before we hit the next set of locks. This is the perfect break for a nap and a snack. It was so hot and humid that we needed a bit of A/C and time to cool off.
The next locks were really quick and easy to pass through. It was really interesting being able to see the boat next to us being moved into the locks. The water filled up so quickly! I could not believe that they could move that much water almost silently.
One of the interesting things about going through the Panama Canal is the mule cars that are used to move the boats. They are electric carts not actual mules. They attach to the boat and help move the boat along the canal. We were also helped along by tug boats. I learned more about tug boats from the boat commentator than I ever thought I would hear.