In 1914, the completion of the Panama Canal was considered the greatest engineering feat in the world. Being able to experience it first hand is an unforgettable experience.
Tours through the canal can be a partial transit or a full transit. A full transit trip takes about eight hours and is well worth it. I booked my day trip through Ivantours. I was fortunate to be there for the 100th anniversary of the canal which made the trip even more special.
My $210 ticket included a full passage of the canal, lunch, and bus transportation back to Panama City from the other end of the canal. Additional snacks and beverages are available for purchase throughout the passage.
I recommend you claim a front seat on the observation deck as quickly as possible since those are the best seats and they go fast. Make sure you pack sunscreen and reapply it throughout the day. Sunglasses and a sunhat would be helpful too.
Check in for the cruise is at 6:30 a.m. and the boat leaves approximately an hour after the start of check-in.
There are a total of three locks all ships enter. The first two sets of locks raise the boats up 85 feet and the last set takes the boats back down to sea level.
Here is our ship entering the first set of locks.
Note the water level upon entering the lock.
Now the ship is lifted and ready to move through the doors to the next level. Note the water level in this picture.
The locomotive-type vehicles are called mules. They attach to the ships and pull them through the canal.
The opened doors of the canal.
Here workers look down on a ship that will soon be at their level.
The half transit tour ends here.
The third set of locks as the ship entered.
Now the water level drops as the ship arrives back to sea level at the Atlantic Ocean.
Water levels are even and the doors open.
Looking back at the height change and the mule tracks that allow the ships to be pulled through.
Overall, this was the highlight of my trip to Panama. I am always left in awe when I see something that required so much planning and engineering. Simply amazing.