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PANAMA CANAL

Luxury cruisers are making the exciting 50-mile crossing

from the Caribbean to the Pacific in true style.

Luxury Travel Advisor
 



 
Luxury cruisers are making the exciting 50-mile crossing from the Caribbean to the Pacific in true style. Here are our tips for a most enjoyable voyage.

A Panama Canal cruise is a must-do voyage, just as it was nearly a century ago. While some cruises are only a partial transit, all major luxury cruise lines offer the full 50-mile crossing from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean through three sets of locks.

How does it work? Simply put, a ship sails from the Caribbean westward into the Gatun Locks, which raise the ship about 85 feet to Gatun Lake. Then it’s a journey through the narrow, scenic Gaillard or Culebra Cut to the Pedro Miguel Locks, where the ship is lowered 30 feet. Continuing westward to the Miraflores Locks, the ship is lowered another 52 feet before exiting to the Pacific. The entire process, which is also operated in reverse, takes from eight to 16 hours.

Some lines, including Regent Seven Seas Cruises (www.rssc. corn) and Silversea Cruises (www.silversea.com), stop at Gatun Lake. There, guests relax at the Gatun Yacht Club or head out on an eco cruise or a locks or rain forest tour. Regent’s 20-minute Gatun locks by Air helicopter adventure gives travelers a chance to take in dramatic views of the Panama Canal, Gatun and Colon towns, the Chagres River from just above the treetops and the ruins of San Lorenzo, an old Spanish fort.

Back on the ship, cruisers eagerly peer out to both the jungle rainforest and the man-made lock chambers (110 feet wide by 1,000 feet long ) and the machinery that operates them. You should move around the ship for different vantage points. You will get the big picture from the top deck on both starboard and port sides. It takes eight minutes for each lock chamber to fill with water, and a whopping 52,000 gallons are used for each ship transit.

As water is pumped from the lock, guests might head for their suite or a lower-level lounge with windows to starboard or port, such as The Bar on the Silver Shadow's Deck 5. Why? As the water level drops in the lock chamber, the walls of the lock seemingly envelop the ship, at times with only inches to spare.

Suites with windows or balconies facing forward also have a bird’s-eye view of lock gates as they open. Seabourn’s Owners Suites 03 and 04 on Deck 6 of the Seabourn Legend and the Queen Mary or Queen Anne Suites on Deck 10 of Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 are examples.

  PANAMA CANAL
WHO GOES THERE:

Panama Canal
It was an ocean connection that changed the world. The result? An engineering marvel bordered by beautiful, lush, tropical rain forests.

Check on available Dates and Rates

and read the Reviews. Click Here

Crystal Cruises
Crystal Symphony on Nov. 12 and
24, Dec. 6 2006. Jan. 4, 20 and
31, Feb. 11, Nov.4 and 14 and
Dec. 8 2007
Crystal Serenity on Jan.12 and
Nov. 19 and 30 2007

Cunard Line
Queen Elizabeth 2  Jan. 10 2007

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Seven Seas Mariner on Dec. 26
2006; April 27 and Dec. 21 2007

Seabourn Cruise line

Seabourn Legend on Nov.21 and
Dec. 5 2006; Jan. 2, Feb. 5, Nov.
21 and Dec. 5 2007

Silversea Cruises

 

Silver Shadow on Sept. 26 2006 and Jan. 15 2007


Windstar Cruises

Wind Star on March 31 and
Dec.1 2007

Guests also might just head for the forward public observation area. Exiting to the Pacific, some ships call at Fuerre Amador, Panama. Why not take a Panama City, Miraflores Locks or Emberá Indian community tour.

Tip: Travelers who want to learn more about the canal before cruising should read David McCullough’s “The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914,” or check out www.pancanal.com and visitpanama.com.

What’s ahead? Panamanian President Martin Torrijos wants a $5.3 billion expansion to add new locks for larger ships. Panamanian's will vote later this year; construction could begin as early as 2007, and the new locks might open by 2014, just in time for the canal’s centennial.

     
Panama Canal
It was an ocean connection that changed the world. The result? An engineering marvel bordered by beautiful, lush, tropical rain forests.

Check on available Dates and Rates

and read the Reviews. Click Here

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The Panama Canal

Among the great peaceful endeavors of mankind that have contributed significantly to progress in the world, the construction of the Canal stands as an awe-inspiring achievement.

The unparalleled engineering triumph was made possible by an international work force under the leadership of American visionaries, that made the centuries-old dream of uniting the two great oceans a reality.

In 1534, Charles I of Spain ordered the first survey of a proposed canal route through the Isthmus of Panama. More than three centuries passed before the first construction was started. The French labored 20 years, beginning in 1880, but disease and financial problems defeated them.

In 1903, Panama and the United States signed a treaty by which the United States undertook to construct an interoceanic ship canal across the Isthmus of Panama. The following year, the United States purchased from the French Canal Company its rights and properties for $40 million and began construction. The monumental project was completed in ten years at a cost of about $387 million. Since 1903 the United States has invested about $3 billion in the Canal enterprise, approximately two-thirds of which has been recovered.
 


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