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tennisbeforewine

John and Diane's Lucky Number 7

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Welcome home!  I so enjoy following your travels and the pictures in this year’s blog were an added perk.  Thank you for taking the time to share your adventures.  ‘See you’ in January 2020.  

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Diane, it has been a great pleasure to sail around the world with you during these last 5 months. Thank you for the time and effort that you put into your posts. They have brightened the day for those of us for whom a world cruise remains a dream.

Have a great summer and here’s to embarking with you on a new odyssey next January!

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Thanks Dianne and John for your wonderful blog.  Enjoyed every minute.  Until next year 😘

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On 5/20/2019 at 12:23 PM, tennisbeforewine said:

Monday, May 20, 2019

Transit of the Panama Canal

 

As this is our eighth transit of the Panama Canal, you’d think it was a ho-hum situation, but it certainly isn’t.  The engineering marvel that this canal represents is truly amazing and we never cease to find it fascinating.  Also, the fact that we’re on Deck 1 now gives us an entirely new view of the whole process.  I was reading today’s New York Times Digest when suddenly the room became dark.  I thought John had closed the blackout curtains, but it turned out that we had entered a lock and were entirely enclosed by its stone walls.  After the lights went on in our cabin, I could clearly see the work that had been done over a hundred years ago in building the walls of each lock.

 

I think I’d been through the canal a few times before I realized why the locks were necessary.  Although all oceans are at the same level, Gatun Lake is 27 meters higher than sea level, so if it were not for locks, the lake would empty into both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.   So . . . in our direction, north to south rather than east to west as most people believe, we go through the Gatun Locks and into Gatun Lake.  There are two lanes, one in each direction, and sometimes it’s fun to be opposite a cruise ship and watch people come out on their balconies in bathrobes to wave to us.  

 

The tropical beauty of the lake is outstanding, with green islands everywhere and, hopefully, a quick view of a monkey or even a cayman (an alligator relative).  Cruising the lake is the longest part of the transit, but it’s the locks which take the most time.  A complete transit of the canal takes about ten hours.  Right now we’re in Gatun Lake, and later today we’ll go through the Culebra Cut, the narrowest part of the canal.  From there we enter the Pedro Miguel Locks and then the Miraflores Locks, leading us into the Pacific Ocean.

 

When Bruce, the Cruise Director, asked last evening before the show how many people were transiting the canal for the first time, more than half the hands went up.  We’ve listened to people talking about the canal being way near the top of their bucket list, and how many have planned this cruise for years.  We can certainly understand this being a goal; it really is a wonder of this modern world.  

 

Although you’re no doubt familiar with the history of the canal, a few highlights in case you’re not.  Although the French tried to build a canal in 1880, there were too many financial problems and tropical diseases, so the effort came to nothing.  After Panamanian independence in 1903, a second successful effort was made by the United States, culminating in the opening of the Panama Canal on August 15, 1914.  The agreement was that the United States would administer the canal until December 31, 1999, and it was then that Panama took over operations.  Operations continued smoothly through that transition and have worked beautifully ever since.  In 2016, the expanded second (almost parallel) canal opened, which has doubled the capacity of the canal and allows ships that were previously too large to fit.  Its locks are named Cocoli and Agua Clara, two sets instead of three.  

 

During a previous transit, we were told that our ship was charged about $250,000 to pass through the canal.  At first I thought that was outrageous, but when that information was followed with the approximate cost of sailing around South America (in the millions), it made much more sense.  Next year’s WC does just that, sailing down the east coast of South America, visiting Antarctica, and then up the west coast.  Just the cost of fuel alone is higher than the cost of transiting the canal, not to mention all the other costs of a cruise.

 

I guess this will be our last Panama Canal for quite some time, since next year we won’t transit at all.  All the more reason, then, to just relax and enjoy this one.  

 

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Loved this!!! We had not planned on the canal so it was a happy surprise to find the ports I wanted to visit again (Aruba and Curacao) paired with a partial transit we jumped at it. We are trying to decide on excursions now. We haven't been on a HAL cruise in 17 years and a cruise line excursion in 20 years.  My husband is having fun interpreting the language to see what the excursion is really encompasses. Just a part of the fun!

 

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