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May 22, 2017
Pictures from Our Panama Canal Passage

The Pacific Princess approaches the Bridge of the Americas, our gateway into the south end of the Panama Canal

Yesterday, Russell spent most of his birthday in the Cabaret Lounge. He attended all the background presentations on the Panama Canal, including a Panama overview lecture, a Panama port lecture, a Princess documentary on Panama, a PBS documentary on Panama, and a lecture on ship operations from an officer and engineer.

Our passage through the Panama Canal would take most of the day on Monday, May 22. We won’t bore you with the 103-year-old history of the canal, but here are some photographic highlights from our passage through this engineering marvel…

For the past several days, passengers have been encouraged to make banners and signs they could wave as we went through the canal. Yesterday, Gail decided to make one at the last minute.

This morning we were both up before dawn. We got to see a gorgeous sunrise, as well as Venus and the Moon almost touching each other.

We started at the south end of the canal (Pacific Ocean side), where we passed under the Bridge of the Americas at about 7:00 am. For once, Gail was happy to be tall; she captured a rare snapshot without a window in the way.

We were out on deck until it got too hot and humid. Then we parked ourselves in the forward-facing Pacific Lounge, where we got some terrific front-row seats (and unfortunately kept working).

Panama recently opened some new canal locks that can accommodate wider and longer ships. As a small cruise ship, we went through the old locks. But you can see the newer locks here in the background.

At 8:00 am we went through the two Miraflores Locks at the south end of the canal. With the San Miguel Locks that followed, our ship rose a total of 26 meters above sea level.

At noon we reached the infamous Culebra Cut, where workers had to cut through solid rock at the Continental Divide. Some 22,000 workers (mostly French) lost their lives in the making of the canal.

At 2:00 pm we reached the Gatun Locks at the north end of the canal. These three locks lowered us back to sea level.

The Panama Canal’s official webcam (www.pancanal.com) captured this shot of the Pacific Princess going through the Gatun Locks (upper right corner). By 4:30 pm, we were in the Caribbean Sea.

We were expecting to give our next lecture during tomorrow’s sea day, and we prepared accordingly. So we were surprised to open the daily Princess Patter this evening and see that we are not on the schedule. This means that we will have a rare full day off tomorrow – our first. Time to start enjoying this cruise!


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