Panama Canal

The day after Cartagena, on Christmas Eve, we went through three gates of the new locks of the Panama Canal. It was a beautiful, but hot/humid partly sunny morning. The bridge is called the Bridge of Atlantic. I took a bunch of pictures of it, looking for just the right angle. I liked this one best!

We were already headed towards the locks when we woke so we stayed in our cabin for a bit, watching/listening to the commentary on the TV while watching from the balcony as well. This first image (below) shows the entrance to both sets of locks, the left, our path to the new locks and the right, the path to the old locks. One of the things that was kind of sad, was the commentator pointed out that there is already damage, from ships running into things. Two of the pictures show this – along a dock area, and concrete damage along the stairs. I’ve added labels to those two pics.

As with many cruises of this type, Princess has experts come aboard and they broadcast a lot of information about the old locks and the new throughout the ship. We learned that each door of the new locks were made in Italy and shipped over, and weigh 4200 tons each. Mind you, a lot more information was given, but I didn’t jot it down. The gates stuck in my head though! The gates on the new locks slide in/out unlike the old which I believe are two gate doors that swing open/closed.

Once we passed through the third gate, we entered Gatun Lake. It was at this point, that they began calling for excursion groups to meet for debarking. They were taken off by the lifeboats (used for tendering), to shore for their excursion. We would not see these folks again until early evening.

While most folks went ashore on excursions, we opted to stay onboard. I knew it was going to be particularly hot/humid and we agreed after the warm day in Cartagena that a day out of the sun would be a good break before Costa Rica the next day. Interestingly enough, it seemed as though every other person who stayed onboard were at the pools lol. We took the day and enjoyed time chatting with crew, enjoying a beverage or two, lovely lunch in the dining room, a nice nap/movie and just relaxed.

Around 4:30 PM we headed out of Gatun Lake and back through the three gates and made our way towards Cristobal, Panama. This is where we docked and waited for the folks on excursions to rejoin the ship. I will add that Cristobal is a working dock and there are very limited facilities. When we docked, two tour buses were waiting for us, and more arrived over the next couple of hours. We noticed that, because it is a working dock, passengers had to stay onboard the bus to wait for our arrival.

Although part of me wished we had done an excursion anyway, ultimately I was glad we stayed onboard as the temp tipped to about 91f with humidity in the 80 something %. We both realized we had a slight sunburn from Cartagena so it was good to not overexpose. And you can’t fault a nice relaxing day onboard a cruise ship!

Our next stop, Christmas Day, was Costa Rica…..