Cruise Ship Oceana traverses Miraflores Locks

We were lucky enough to be passing Miraflores locks just as an enormous cruise ship, the Oceana, was approaching. Here she is sailing behind the sluice gates of the Panama Canal.

We hurried to the visitor centre to get a grandstand view of her entering the Locks. It was well worth it as you can see!

The boats are guided by miniature trains called ‘mules’ which run on tracks alongside the lock. This is one of Oceana’s mules.

The next panorama photo gives a good idea of the amazing length of this ship. Apparently this 11-storey giant is classed as a ‘mid-size’ cruise ship by P&O. The mind boggles.

As the boat passed the viewing areas, the crowd shouted out ‘Uno, dos, tres – BIENVENIDOS EN PANAMA’, which was really exciting to hear.

And finally, an HD video of the Oceana entering Miraflores locks.

Cruise Ship Oceana entering Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal from Panamajama on Vimeo.


Panama Freight Train

I was out a drive this morning with my toddler son – I often take him up to Pedro Miguel locks to see the boats going through. On our way there today we were stopped at the level crossing as the Panama Canal Railway train was passing loaded with containers. I was lucky enough to be at the front of the queue and managed to capture this on my phone.
The video certainly shows the length of these trains – the number of containers they carry is mind-boggling.
The Panama Canal Railway trains go back and forward between Panama City on the Pacific side and Colón 50 miles away on the Atlantic side. I think some ships offload their cargo at one end of the canal and it is picked up at the other end by a different ship – but this is sheer speculation on my part!

Panama Train from Panamajama on Vimeo.

At the end of the video the camera pans to the right and you can just see a ship that has passed through the locks. This ship was directly in front of the level crossing as the train was approaching, so it actually moved through surprisingly quickly.

Devil Train

Panama Canal Railway Freight Train, Diablo

While tasting my new-found freedom the other day, I drove past this magnificent beast. A freight train from the Panama Canal Railway loaded with containers. Very exciting if you’re me! It stretched out of sight as far as the eye could see.
The Panama Canal Railway was constructed before the Panama Canal with great difficulty and much loss of life. It runs from the Pacific side of Panama to the Caribbean/Atlantic at Colón. At this point where the picture was taken it runs parallel between the road and canal in an area in the outskirts of Panama City called Diablo – Devil.

Coral Princess

Coral Princess approaching Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal

The other morning I was dropping my husband off to work when we spotted this enormous cruise liner, the Coral Princess, heading towards Miraflores Locks. I took this with my phone, so it may not be the best quality, but I think it gives some idea of the scale of the ship. Believe me, it was enormous – I checked the stats online and this beauty is 975 feet long, weighs 88000 tons, has 6 bars, 3 swimming pools and a 9 hole putting green!

The Coral Princess is travelling to the right while the white pick-up truck is heading left. This picture was taken just one mile from our house. At home we can actually hear the ships sound their horns as they go through the canal.

The main road from our house to Panama City runs parallel to the canal, with the Panama Railroad between the two. A mile further down is Marcos A Gelabert Airport. So, within 2 miles of our house we have practically every conceivable method of transport.

Here is a link to a little video I took of this ship, as it pans to the right you can see the Miraflores Locks visitor centre.

Reefer III

During our recent trip to Colón on the Caribbean/Atlantic side of Panamá we noticed this rusting ship on the shorefront.

Reefer III, Colón, Panamá

I found out a little information about it today coincidentally, including its name, Reefer III. Apparently it has gone up in smoke and is burning as I type. It seems a gang of men were working inside the ship and some sparks ignited fuel in the engine room. Los bomberos – the Fire Brigade – arrived on the scene and could not extinguish the fire. So on it burns, seemingly. My Spanish is still pretty ropey and I attempted to translate this from the tvn Panama website, so may be missing some salient details!
Here is a link to that website which includes a video of the ship burning.

Road Trip

Last weekend we went out driving, heading north out of Panama City towards the jungle. It struck me that although we were in the middle of a tropical rainforest, there were still signs of heavy industry due to the proximity of the canal. This crane, appropriately called Titan after the Greek giant gods, is one of the largest floating cranes in the world. A little bit of internet research on this has informed me that this crane was in fact built by Hitler’s Germany then taken by the United States after the Second World War. Apparently its nickname is ‘Herman the German’.

Shortly after seeing Herman, we crossed a rather ramshackle bridge with lots of cracks and tracks down either side. All the way along the bridge it felt that the car tyres were going to slide into these tracks – it felt about as stable as a rope bridge, but for cars. There is a train track just beside the road. It was a bumpy crossing as you can imagine!

The Hand of Fate?

Ever since I’ve had internet access at home, I’ve been obsessed with the Panama Canal, to the extent of regularly logging on to the webcams on the canal website to watch ships transit through. That is over 10 years of boat watching! It has felt like fate in some ways to actually get to live here and get to visit it whenever I want. Here is a pic of a Panamax container ship going through Miraflores locks to give you some idea of the scale of everything. The canal currently has three sets of locks linking the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean 50 miles or so south. Each set of locks consists of two ‘lanes’, one for ships travelling south, and one for north. It is currently being expanded to create a third ‘lane’, even wider than the current two, so that the newest, biggest ocean liners can pass through. The current locks are 110 feet wide. The new ones will be 180 feet wide and a new Panamax – the size of the largest ships that can transit the canal – will be created.