2023 HAL World Cruise
Sunday & Monday, January 8 & 9, 2023
Have you noticed; this post is coming to you a week after the events took place???
No, your Roving Raconteurs have not been lazy and inattentive!!! We are transiting the South Pacific on our way to Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands. It is an 8-day journey across miles and miles of beautiful, uninterrupted ocean!!! Internet service is sketchy: often unavailable and even when available slow and unable to transmit photos.
We don’t know when you might receive this,
but we are planning for better service as we approach French Polynesia. Working on that assumption, here are the photos from our Panama Canal transit and our overnight stay in Fuerte Amador:
On Sunday morning, we awoke, turned on the TV and found we were already in the Panama Canal and working our way thru the Gatun Locks!!! This set of three double-lock chambers will raise our ship to the level of Gatun Lake.
As we hurredly dressed, the ship made swift progress thru the locks and approached Gatun Lake. We continued to take photos off the live TV feed.
Here, you’re looking at Gatun Dam on the Chagras River. Constructed in 1908, the dam produces all the electricity for the canal.
Gatun Lake was formed in 1912 after the damming of the Chagras River. The little islands you see were once the peaks of hills. The lake is 166 square miles and sits at an elevation of 82 to 87 feet above sea level.
Here we are on the Pacific side entering the Miraflores Locks. The MS Volendam is ahead of us. To the right, you can see the Cocoli Locks–a canal expansion for large cargo ships that opened in 2016. From here, we are on our way to the Pacific.
The Miraflores Locks follow Miraflores Lake which separates these locks from the Pedro Miguel Locks. A tectonic fault beneath the lake led to these chambers being spread apart, unlike those in Gatun where they are in the same place.
Along the way, we watched the “mules” guiding the ship safely thru the canal.
The Panama Canal may be one of humankind’s greatest engineering achievements. But in reality, only the portions at each end of the canal, these narrow channels and locks, are the real, functioning portions of the canal.
In between, there is Gatun Lake. Here you’ll find small towns (like Gamboa); a National Park (Soberania); visitor centers; and several nature reserves with hundreds of species of reptiles, mammals and birds thriving on the islands and along its edges.
Here you see the Cocoli Lock Approach, on the right, and the Bridge of the Americas, ahead.
As we cross under the Bridge of the Americas, we complete our Panama Canal transit.
And we arrive in Fuerte Amador where a brand new Cruise Port Terminal is under construction.
Downtown Panama City, as seen from the ship, is 20 miles away. We don’t know why the air was so hazy. Perhaps because this photo was taken early in the morning and the fog had yet to burn off???
Shuttles were provided to Perico Island and the Mall in downtown Panama City. We chose to have lunch and our afternoon libation on Perico Island.
The area is home to a hotel, restaurants, limited shopping, a marina, and an amusement park.
We chose Hacienda Colombiana for lunch.
As we awaited our burgers and fries, we enjoyed the local beer and wine–served in paper cups for a reason we did not quite understand. No matter, we enjoyed!!!!
And we enjoyed the view.
And then we returned to the ship.
As we sailed out, we took our last view of the Bridge of the Americas and the Frank Geary designed Biomuseo beneath it.
Next, we look forward to our arrival in Taiohae, Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia.
Let’s hope the internet connection holds!!!