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.
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.
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.
Naturally one of the first things we did after we moved here was visit the Panama Canal. My husband is a Civil Engineer and is working on the project to expand the canal, so he has walked across the top of the locks! If you look closely you can see the yellow hand rails on top of them – that would be too scary for me I think!