Panama Cruise. Through the Panama Canal: The birth of the art of navigation took place around 3500BC. Navigators stayed close to shore and navigated by sight of landmarks or land characteristics and anchored at night.

The canal is about 74 kilometers of aquatic highway, which saved early mariners a 13,000 kilometer journey around Cape Horn. To go through the canal, some vessels pay only USD$1,000 based on size and whether they are carrying passengers or minerals or container cargo. 16,000 vessels make the trip each year, some of them every month!

The Azamara Journey paid USD$113,000 to use the canal for its passage!

Initially, the French tried to build it in 1880, however, the project was plaqued by disease such as malaria and yellow fever and by poor planning. Eventually, the Americans built the canal on a 99 year territorial lease. By mid-2016, the current canal expansion will allow ships twice the current maximum size to pass through.

Three lock systems raise and lower pleasure boats and ships 90 meters during a 9 hour transit process. The original cog wheel systems are still used from 100 years ago. As we travelled through, large crocodiles slithered on the surface, and exotic birds, insects and iguanas could be seen on the shores.

The Panama Canal has a webcam system in place, but it was mostly out of order during our transit.

Next, I’ll have some photos of the New Year’s Eve party aboard the Azamara Journey.

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