Transit through the entire canal takes 8-10 hours and costs a large passenger ship between $100-200,000 in fees. Although opened in 1914, the canal continues to be extremely well-maintained and a model of efficiency. Over 800,000 vessels have gone through the canal. Vessels transiting the canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans sail northwest, ending up more westerly in the Atlantic Ocean than in the Pacific. Locks raise or lower vessels 85 feet during the voyage and locks fill or empty with water at the rate of 3 million gallons per minute, all without any pumps. Canal ownership will transfer to Panama on December 31, 1999.
The Bridge of the Americas at the Balboa (Pacific) entrance to the Canal
One of the tugs that guide the ships into the canal
Holland America's Maasdam, a ship that followed us closely through the canal all day
A row boat crew that catches the ship guidance lines for canal transit
Trains, or "mules" that will use the guidance lines to guide the ships though the canal
The first of the canal's three sets of locks (at Miraflores)
View forward of Miraflores Locks towards Miraflores Lake