The Cruise

World cruise on the Dawn Princess starting in Sydney on May 21, 2010 and sailing west around the world for 104 days.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dawn Princess World Cruise 2010 - Tuesday August 3, 2010

Day 74 Panama Canal
Correct! The Panama Canal runs North to South (not East to West). Today we spent ten hours passing through the Panama Canal, which is 80 kilometres long. The Dawn Princess was pulled through the locks by mules, not the animal variety, but small trucks. These mules were there to keep the Dawn Princess in the centre of the locks, as sometimes there was less than a metre to spare on each side when we were in the locks. With lush rain forests on both sides of the canal for much of the trip, the Panama Canal was more interesting than the Suez Canal, which was in a desert landscape. Evidently, jaguars roam the forests, there are crocodiles in the waters, Panama has 120 different species of snakes 20 of which are poisonous and there are many different birds. I saw many frigate (birds) soaring and gliding overhead and it was good to hear the birds singing in the trees. A couple of people with binoculars saw a crocodile, but nobody saw the jaguars or snakes. The Panama Canal was completed in 1914, but at present they are building a third set of locks. All through the canal we could see people working on this extension project. They are deepening the entrances at both the Atlantic and the Pacific ends, they are widening and deepening the Gatun Lake navigational channel, and deepening the Culebra cut, they
are building new locks and water reutilization basins at both ends of the canal and they are raising the Gatun Lake maximum operational level. The expansion began in 2007 and is due to be completed in 2015. The cost for the Dawn Princess to pass through the canal today was approximately $320,000, so with about 40 ships going through each day it is quite a little money - spinner for the Panamanians. At the moment the Dawn Princess is called a Panamax as it is the largest size that can fit through the canal. It is an amazing feat of engineering as the locks are like giant elevators that lift the ship up over the land - mass that was too high to dig out and then takes us down over the other side to sea level again. It is sad to think that 22,000 people died while building this canal. (Barbara) Into the Pacific now which makes it feel that we are on our way home with the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic behind us. I always thought that Kevin Costner’s movie “Waterworld” was a bit silly but this trip shows the reality of our watery planet. Unique in our solar system and probably a rare occurrence in the universe. (Bill)

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