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April 3, 2024

Crossing the Panama Canal

Crossed the Panama Canal from Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. This was on a cruise ship.

Crossing the Panama Canal from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, or vice versa, is a remarkable maritime journey that showcases one of the world's most impressive engineering feats. 

The ship we were on is a bigger ship and used the new locks.  The new locks in the Panama Canal are called the Gatun East and Miraflores West locks. They were added between 2007 and 2016 as part of the canal's expansion. The new locks are larger than the original locks, allowing larger ships to travel through the canal. The ship enters the lock chamber, and water is either released or added to adjust the water level and help the ship ascend or descend.

Tugboats are used to help ships maneuver through the Panama Canal

The old canal utilized locomotives on either side of the ship to pull the ship into the lock. The new canal uses tug boats. From the Pacific side we go through three locks. Then we cross Miraflores Lake, Gatun Lake then 3 locks to go down to Atlantic sea level.

Gatun Lake Crossing:

Once the ship passes through the locks, it enters Gatun Lake, an artificial lake created as part of the canal system. This is the highest point of the canal and offers beautiful views of the surrounding rainforest.

Gatun Locks:

On the Atlantic side, the ship goes through the Gatun Locks, which consist of three chambers. The ship is lowered back to sea level, allowing it to continue its journey toward the Atlantic Ocean.

Atlantic Ocean Exit:

Once the ship passes through the Gatun Locks, it enters the Caribbean Sea, marking the completion of the Panama Canal transit. From here, ships continue their voyage to their final destination.

Duration and Experience:

The time it takes to complete a Panama Canal transit varies depending on factors such as the size of the ship, traffic, and canal conditions. Generally, the transit can take around 6 hours. Passengers on cruise ships or other vessels often have the opportunity to observe the process and enjoy the scenic views along the way.

Crossing the Panama Canal is not only a marvel of engineering but also a chance to witness the historic importance of this waterway and its role in global trade and transportation. 

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