Sunday, September 18, 2016

Panama Canal Cruise: part 2 the canal

The Disney ship anchored in line on the west side of the canal the night before. Some people got up as early as 4:30 am to get good spots on deck 10 forward.
Around 7:30 am, we ate breakfast on the deck while moving through the fog toward the Bridge of the Americas, which connects North and South.
In the close up, you can see buses driving over above and the freight cranes below. For those ships that are too big to fit or can't afford half a million bucks to transit unload here and use the railroad to reach the other side. The weather isn't bad yet.
The air is so hot and humid most days that each time I went from the air conditioned room to the deck, my glasses fogged up.
By now, a canal pilot is on board to steer us through. Lines of buoys (green on on side, red on the other) and about four tug boats guide us up to the first lock. The old canal, opened in the 20's, has three locks up to the man-made fresh-water lake and three back down to the Caribbean. 
Cables are attached to locomotives on each side in order to prevent us from hitting the side of the canal. From our room, I could see the dungeonesque stone walls two feet from my porthole. As the lock filled, I watched the blocks pass like the window of an elevator.

The design of the double doors is cool, dating to the time of DaVinci. These have been working flawlessly for a hundred years.
Two ships going the same direction pass through at the same time. We tailed a huge container ship all the way to the lake. If you look in the upper left-hand corner, You'll see a ship on the recently opened NEW Panama Canal, built by the Panamanians. It opened late and already there have been problems. Because of a cement company strike, the different layers don't match and leak.

From our deck, you can see the three drainage ponds for the new locks next-door. It looks much more modern. Rumor has it that the Chinese are building another canal in the Guatemala region.

I included this photo to show the trains. Also, from the observation decks on the right of the third lock, people on the shore take photos of us taking photos of them.

On the other side, we see another bridge. The terracing on the mountain side from explosives was cool. The jungle has already covered it. The lake was huge and placid. Not a lot of private craft, though, for our security as much as theirs. A previous cruise ship once went off course and took out their yacht club.

The other side, we follow the same step in reverse, with the cargo ship on the opposite side. The pool belongs to the crew until the Wonder's refit is done at the end of this cruise.

See how huge the doors are.

In some places, local car traffic crosses when they're closed.

Afterward, we had a Pixar party. Sully was an awesome dancer, but the giant French rats were a little scary.

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