Next stop was the highlight of our tour. Actually we only went part way though the canal. We went through the locks on the Caribbean Sea side to the man-made Gatun Lake. The lake was created to provide water for the locks. Those locks raise and lower ships 85 feet as needed because the lake is 85 above sea level. To accomplish this, the Gatun Locks uses a set of 3 chambers each of which raise or lower a ship about 24 feet.
On the Pacific end, the Miraflores locks have two sets of locks as needed because the tides on the Pacific side are larger.
A French company tried to build a canal through Panama in 1880 but gave up because of financial and tropical disease problems. After Panama gained independence from Columbia in 1903, the U.S. built the original locks which opened in 1914. The locks and canal zone were transferred to Panama's control on December 31, 1999. In 2016, Panama completed a new set of locks that can handle longer and wider ships.
After traveling through the locks on the Caribbean side to Gatun Lake, we took a tour that included a bus trip to the visitor center for the new locks, a short nature walk, a boat ride on Gatun Lake, and another bus ride to Colon, Panama. There we reboarded the Coral Princess which had made the return trip through the locks.
You can click the buttons above or below the picture to scroll through the pictures. Use the buttons to change the image or control the speed of the slide show.
Slides 1-2 are maps of our trip and the canal.
Slides 3-8 show the harbor in Colon before we got to the locks.
Slides 9-19 show our transit through the locks.
Slides 25-29 show the nature walk.
Slides 30-36 show a boat trip on Gatun Lake.
Slides 37-39 show Colon again as we rejoin the ship.