Map of the Journey
|Starting from Ft Lauderdale, Florida|
Aruba, Cartagena, Panama Canal,
San Juan del Sur, Cabo.
Los Angeles, California
Approach Panama Canal - Atlantic Side
|Early morning March 8, 2014, approaching|
breakwater to enter Limon Bay
from the Atlantic Ocean.
We must pass through the Bay to enter
|When you read about bridges across the Panama Canal this one,|
in the center of the photo, below the lock gates, is rarely
mentioned. It swings in and out of place to allow traffic
to pass on this Atlantic side of the canal.
|Island Princess is designed to fit snugly.|
|The ship is close enough that you could touch the|
wall of the canal.
|Gatun Operation Office|
|Note passengers waving at canal workers|
|Yes, Customer Service Week!|
"Committed to Customer Satisfaction"
|Note water level difference|
|Locomotives guide the ship|
|Gatun Locks Lighthouse|
|No, the locks are not curved. It just looks that way in this|
panorama put together from several shots as we were
headed into Gatun Lake.
|Maersk Cargo Freigher going the opposite|
Of course, you are aware that the canal finances itself by charging a toll.
From Wikipedia we find this info on tolls: The most expensive regular toll for canal passage to date was charged on April 14, 2010 to the cruise ship Norwegian Pearl, which paid US$375,600. The average toll is around US$54,000. The highest fee for priority passage charged through the Transit Slot Auction System was US$220,300, paid on August 24, 2006, by the Panamax tanker Erikoussa, bypassing a 90-ship queue waiting for the end of maintenance works on the Gatun locks, thus avoiding a seven-day delay. The normal fee would have been just US$13,430. The lowest toll paid was 36 cents by American Richard Halliburton who swam the Panama Canal in 1928.
We were told that the toll for the Island Princess on this voyage was nearly US$300,000.
This Maersk probably paid a lot less!
|Ship moves under its own power|
but is guided by locomotives
|Yet another Freighter passes us.|
This was a very warm day ... temps were in the 90s (F) and, of course, the humidity was up there. We are so close to the equator that daytime high temps don't vary that much. The climate only adds to the fascination with construction of the canal.
|Canal work Tug|
|Looking back as we leave Gatun Locks and move into|
During the middle of the day there is time to relax (well, from all that photography work!) and enjoy a nice lunch followed by a celebratory cake. What are we celebrating? Well, just getting to pass through the canal would be enough, but this happens to be the 100th year of the canal's operation ... the Centennial celebration.
|The Island Princess staff was friendly and|
seemed as excited about this Centennial
passage as we were.
Typical views from the cabin during passage
|Typical travel through the canal looking aft.|
Centennial Bridge and Bridge of the Americas
|Centennial Bridge ... one of the two primary bridges|
over the canal and opened in 2004
|More locks. |
On the Atlantic side, the Gatun locks raise the ship to the level of Gatun Lake. The lake is about 85 feet above sea level and plays an important role in the operation of the canal. Then, on the Pacific side there are two sets of locks to lower the ship back to sea level.
|How would you like to be launched in that|
orange rescue raft?
|Freighter passengers seem as interested in us as|
we are in them.
|Construction to expand the canal is now underway.|
Bridge of the Americas in the distance.
Our cabin is on the bridge level. In the photo above, you can see three people on the bridge. The person on the left, in white uniform, is the Captain. Looks like he is enjoying a cup of coffee or tea. To the right is a person, dark silhouette, he is Dr. Dean. Dr. Dean is an expert on canal history and used the ship's public address to provide commentary all day during the transit. He is quite interesting and knowledgeable about the area and also provided information on the ports in this area. Then, the person on the far right, leaning against the window, I believe is the Staff Captain, second-in-command, who seemed to be operationally in charge of the passage. He was frequently on the two-way radio with canal authorities. The bridge level, on this ship, is, for cruisers, referred to as Aloha deck.
|Swing-Aside Railroad bridge links the Americas|
|Bridge of Americas ahead|
|After passing under Bridge of Americas|
the Island Princess heads into the
Pacific Ocean and the
transit is done.
Thanks for stopping by John's Island.