The Crystal Symphony entering the Gatun Locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal.
(Picture by Crystal Cruises)
The Chagres River is a bypass to allow water out of Gatun Lake.
a building, but a car-carrier that proceeded us through the Canal.
The Gatun Locks on the Atlantic side
The Gatun Locks
It cost the Crystal Symphony $111,000 in tolls (in 1999 dollars) to go through the Canal. I didn’t take a picture, but at the Atlantic side were easily 25–30 ships anchored, waiting their turn to enter the locks. The cruise ships pay a (“small”) surcharge to get in when they arrive. It’s not cost-effective for cargo ships to pay extra, so they anchor and wait their turn.
The little rowboat below the Symphony is bringing out the lines that tie the ship to the little tractors called electric mules. They've tried motorboats, and shooting the cables across to the ships: nothing works so well as the rowboat!
The two front mules holding the Symphony
The Cunard Vistafjord enters the right-hand lock, as the Symphony entered the left-hand lock.
Small workboats and pleasure boats usually fit in behind the larger ships.
The lock behind the Vistafjord, now swung closed, fills with water. You can see
the height differential of the water between inside the lock and the entrance below/behind.
to the entrance to do it all over again.
Through the Canal
Michael watching it slip past
Sailing carefully through Gatun Lake
The canal is dredged to 45 feet depth; the Symphony draws 25 feet.
Work continues all the time, because the walls keep sliding into the canal.
One slide caused the canal to be closed for ten months!
The size of the bulldozers and the backhoe show the size of the hill.
Two ships that pass in the… Canal?
In an delightful feat of scheduling, the Crystal Harmony and the Crystal Symphony (the only two ships in the Crystal line at the time) actually crossed paths IN the Canal!
all the passengers crowded their decks to wave and marvel!
The Pacific-side locks
the inner of the two lock-sets on the Pacific side (both ships going toward the Pacific).
(Photo by Crystal Cruises)
The Maersk liner
We saw lots of pelicans and herons.
One of the little tugs that help position ships in the Pacific-side locks
The Maersk liner leaving us behind as she steams out to Independence Bridge and the Pacific Ocean