Crossing through the Panama Canal was one of the highlights of our 19-day sailing on the Island Princess. An engineering marvel, the live commentary elicited excitement and wonder as we spent the day travelling from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans.
Here is a photo recap of our day through the Panama Canal. Jeff added a bit of technical information below the photos:
Approaching the Panama Canal
Crossing Gatun Lake
Continental Divide and Centennial Bridge
Pedro Miguel Locks
Through the Panama Canal
The Island Princess was built to go through the canal, and she just fits. Ariel views of our crossing were available for purchase. Here are two of my favourites, used here with permission. The first in the Gatun Locks, the second, as we passed through Miraflores Locks. You can see the dredging for the new locks to the left.
This was one of many stunning days at sea.
A Bit of History from Rocket Scientist Hubby:
The modern Panama Canal crossing was first attempted by the French after their successful building of the Suez Canal in 1869. Engineering and medical science hurdles caused this attempt to fail in bankruptcy. The Suez Canal was a flat crossing excavated through the sand. The Panama Canal would need to excavate the 110-meter mountainous spine of Central America consisting of rock. In addition, the Chagres River crosses the canal and flows strongly in the rainy season making navigation difficult.
These difficulties plus tropical mosquito-born diseases doomed the French attempt. The French work was not in vain as a significant amount of excavation and dredging was completed. The Americans came in during the early 1900s under George Washington Goethals engineering direction to complete the task. The current canal uses a three-level lock system that raises ships 25 meters prior to transiting through manmade lakes and a cut through the continental divide. The ships then arrive at the other side of Panama to lower down 25 meters through 3 final locks that lead out to sea.
Practical Information on crossing the Panama Canal
- It cost the Island Princess in excess of $250,000 to cross the Panama Canal.
- Bookings for ships are made over 18 months in advance. Personal craft can book within 96 hours of arrival but will have inspections and other holdups prior to transit.
- The inaugural sailing of the new over five-billion dollar expansion of the Panama Canal was on June 26, 2016.
- The Panama Canal crossing a once-in-a-lifetime, not to be missed experience. While it took all day, the live commentary provided by Princess Cruises kept it fascinating. It is a day we will not soon forget, and one which I would recommend.
- It may be lower cost for the first and final cruise of each season, as these are considered repositioning cruises, as the ships move on to a new homeport.
- The cruise ports were also fascinating, and we were in Cartagena Colombia just prior to crossing the Panama Canal and will Visiting the Cruise Port of Puntarenas Costa Rica on the other side.
- If you are thinking about cruising, check out the deals at Princess.
Don’t Miss our Best Cruising Tips: 25 Tips for Cruising on Princess that Everyone Should Know
Have you been through the Panama Canal? Is it something you would want to do someday?
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Disclaimer: In addition to VIP treatment onboard the Island Princess we were provided with many complimentary extras. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own.