Rightfully one of the 7 Engineering Wonders of the Modern World and on most people's bucket list. we did a full transit from Panama city to Colon on the Norwegian Star. We were lucky that the weather was fine throughout the 12 hour transit, 50 mile transit.
Most people think of the canal as a long trench, as per the suez Canal, but in reality it is a series of locks at both ends, with a large lake in the middle. The French tried to build a trench from Pacific to Atlantic at sea level, but failed. Then the US took over and decided on the current format ie locks at the Pacific end raising ships 85 feet up to the lake (formed by river damming) and then locks that take you 85 feet back down at the Atlantic end. Considering it is 100 years old in 2014, the canal is in good condition.
There are more locks being constructed at both ends, to take longer, wider and deeper ships.Due to open 2015. You can see the work going on as you transit the locks.
I thought the canal was wonderful and I'm so glad that we did a full transit, whereas many ships do a part transit and turn back.
We were very lucky with the weather, as it can rain a lot in this area.
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