We were up before the sun to watch our approach to the Gatun Locks. Transiting the Panama Canal is always exciting regardless of how many times I have done it before and always worth getting up a little early to watch our approach.
We went to the observation platform on Deck 6 right below the bridge. Orange juice, coffee and Panama Canal rolls were available and were being enjoyed by all the guests. A travel agency with a large group on board was hosting Champagne and Mimosas off in the corner. It seemed that half the people on this deck were associated with this particular group.
As we approached the entrance to the locks we watched the mobile car bridge swing away followed by the large doors of the lock. We were soon connected to the centering mules on either side of the canal and then we proceeded inside the lock and slowing to a stop. At this point we walked all the way aft were the observation deck was deserted and we were able to see the doors close behind us. Something to keep in mind for future travelers if you want to see the doors move closer up and with less people around.
The process repeated itself until we were at the level of Gatun Lake and we moved on toward the lake where the traffic going the other direction would pass. One interesting factoid is that the Canal itself generally runs north south and the Pacific Exit is actually further east than the Atlantic Entrance.
Today was the Panama Canal Crocodile Swim at 11:00 in the Seaview Pool. I missed the chance to do this on the world cruise and didn’t want to pass on it this time. Everyone interested assembled near the pool and signed up on a list with Show Hosts Joey or Iris. Once sign-up was complete we all gathered round the pool and proceeded to jump in one at a time after being recognized by Joey. There were a few no shows after signing up and one woman elected not to enter the pool even though she was sitting alongside with her feet in the water.
After my name was called I jumped into the pool with my GoPro taking a selfie video all the way in. The water temperature was refreshing, not too warm or too cold. One of the simple pleasures of cruising is the opportunity to take part of fun and silly events like these.
We spent midday cruising thru Gatun Lake before we entered the channel leading to the Pedro Miguel locks and later the Mira Flores Locks and ultimately the Pacific Ocean. One of the fun parts of this transit is when you pass by the Panama Canal Visitors Center and get to wave and yell at the tourists out on the visitors platforms. A ships photographer is usually roaming the area right next to the ship taking pictures of passengers waving down to the crowds. If you are interested in this type of photo, keep an eye out for the ship photographers during this part of the transit.
We spent most of the afternoon in our cabin observing the transit from our Verandah, with the port side cabins being preferable for this transit.
As we exited the last set of locks we went aft to Deck 7 which offers an excellent vantage point that is also in the shade. After a bit we went up to the Seaview pool to look at the progress on the new set of locks under construction to the west of our position.
Off in the distance you could see the skyline of Panama City. It seems like ages ago that we were going to spent the night here last January instead of continuing into the Pacific and turning north.
Bernie Fields, the fantastic Harmonica player we met back in April and saw again last night would be our guest for dinner this evening. Our table was light as 3 of our regulars went to the Pinnacle Grill, but the 4 of us had a wonderful time catching up since our last dinner and we enjoyed learning a little more about his background. Bernie is from Montreal and an avid Hockey fan so we were able to discuss our trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame last year.
Terry Davies, The Piano Man, returned to the main stage with his outstanding tribute show to Elton John and Billy Joel. This is the second time we have seen his show in as many weeks and they did not disappoint. This show is fantastic and not to be missed. We were fortunate to have them stay on the ship so we could see them again. Terry’s vocals are incredible and his piano playing amazing. The backup singers are the Abba Fab singers who were wonderful and dazzled the audience with their infectious smiles. The high energy show was the perfect blend of audience participation and entertainment and everyone left the Queen’s Lounge with big smiles. The final song “Piano Man” brought the crowd to its feet with a well-deserved standing ovation. We plan to see them again in Coronado, California, July 24th – More information here and here
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