Experiencing History: The Panama Canal
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” — Walt Disney
What better way to celebrate your first wedding anniversary than to experience the 7th Wonder of the Modern World — the Panama Canal. Our cruise ship began it’s voyage through the Canal at 5:00am, the sun nowhere in sight. I’m no early-bird, but I wasn’t missing this. My husband and I got cozy on our balcony, awaiting the breathtaking sunrise.
The 48 mile-long Canal allows ships to pass from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, saving about 8,000 miles from the journey around the southern tip of South America. On average, it takes a ship 8–10 hours to travel through the Canal through a system of locks raising the ship 85 feet above sea level. Another interesting fact? Ship captains are not allowed to navigate the Canal on their own. Instead, the ship is hooked up to canal pilots that run along tracks on the side of the Canal, pulling the vessel through. The pilots looks like little trams and they do all the heavy lifting (literally!).
Around 14,000 ships sail through the Panama Canal each year. That number will continue to increase as new locks were opened just last year, allowing even larger ships to pass through! I was excited to experience the original locks because I’m a purist and this felt more authentic.
I’m a huge history lover, and seeing how the Canal works from a first hand experience was incredible. Watching the locks fill with water to lift our massive ship up, up, up was an experience I won’t soon forget. Knowing that I have witnessed the journey that so many ships since 1914 have seen feels like I have my own little piece of history.
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If you’re thinking about cruising the Panama Canal, I highly recommend this trip. I have cruised my whole life, and there is nothing that compares to this experience.
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