Traversing the Panama Canal March 4 Morning
Considered one of the 8 Wonders of the World, the shortcut through the isthmus of Panama is an amazing engineering accomplishment. Considering its era, this accomplishment is even greater. Originally a French project and based on that country’s success with the Suez Canal in the late 19th Century, the USA took on the challenge after the French company went bankrupt. With hundreds of ships passing through every week, we in the Azamara Quest began our traverse early in the morning before breakfast. The canal is a series of water elevators that lift the ship from sea level to an artificial lake (Gatun) eighty-seven feet into the central highlands of Panama. From the Pacific side we entered the first lock (Miraflores). From there, we went through the narrowest part of the canal, The Culebra Cut. This excavation done in the early 20th Century produced enough material to build 63 pyramids! But the rock and dirt was used to dam up the Chagres River to form Gatun Lake - the highest altitude point of the canal itself at 27 meters.