Panama Canal is an artificial Canal that connects the two major oceans: Atlantic and Pacific. It is located in Panama City and is said to be 80 Km long. Panama Canal was built in 1914 in the United States and is owned by the Republic of Panama, located near Colombia. The purpose of building this canal was to facilitate trade so that ships can travel between the two oceans (Atlantic and Pacific) in a short period of time. Panama Canal minimized the distance that the ships had to travel and the goods can be cheaply transported in a lesser amount of time. It is 12900 km and 5 months less than original. Originally it had to travel all the way through South Korea.
The construction of the Panama Canal is one of the most commendable acts of civil engineering. One of the hurdles in its construction was that the artificially created Gatun Lake was 25 ft higher in level than the oceans at both of its sides. Thus it was a major engineering challenge to move 1000 ton heavy ships up and down. For this purpose, it is not straight. It has three parts, It has Gatun locks at both ends, and in the center, it has Miraflores Lake – which was already there, and another lake known as Gatun Lake, which was created. It is spread over an area of 425 square kilometers. A dam was created on one side of the mountain to create this lake. The lake is filled up with rainwater and the dam is used to maintain the water level of the lake between 85 and 75 ft. When the level starts to rise due to heavy rains, the gate of the dam is opened to maintain the water level of the lake.
The first attempt to build a sea-level canal was by the French during the period 1881 to 1889. The United States completed the work by using locks and dam concept and solving mosquito-borne diseases that prevailed in the area. Despite the consistent effort for eight years, they didn’t succeed. One of the major reasons was that they wanted to build it at the sea level. The cost of $639 million was overshadowed by the loss of 28,000 human lives among the 80,000 workers, mostly due to yellow fever and malaria.
Three sets of Locks and Chambers are used to elevate the ships to the level of 85 ft and are brought down in the same manner. The first chamber is at the pacific ocean sea level. Each chamber is 110 ft wide and 1050 ft long, giving the ship a 2.5 ft clearance at each side of the cruise ship. Electric locomotives “Mute Engines” at each side control lateral position of the ship. The second chamber is at 27 ft above sea level, raising the ship to 54 ft above sea level, reaching the Miraflores Lake.
After passing through these chambers it passes through Pedro Miguel Locks. Pedro Miguel Locks have a single chamber with a lifting capacity of 31 ft. Here, the water level in the chamber rises up to the water level of Gatun Lake. When the ship exits this chamber, it is 85 ft above sea level or the level of Gatun Lake.
Then comes the Centennial Bridge, it is a major bridge crossing over the Panama Canal. This bridge was built to compensate the Bridge of the Americas, which was overcrowded, and replace it as the carrier of the Pan-American Highway. This bridge was opened in 2004 and from there onwards became the second permanent crossing of the Panama Canal. After crossing this bridge the ship reaches Gillard cut which is now known as Culebra Cut. Gillard Cut is an artificially created cut and is said to be a difficult civil work during the construction of the Panama Canal. It cuts through the continental divide of Panam. It is 7.8 miles long. It links the Gatun Lake to the Gulf of Panama and hence the Pacific Ocean.
The ship then reaches the other side and passed through the Gatun Locks. The Gatun Locks have three chambers that are capable of lowering the ship from 85 ft to the Atlantic sea level. The ship is now moving towards the exit of the Panama Canal hence the lowering of water level. The water in the chambers is filled up from the Gatun Lake. No pump or motor is required for that as the level of Gatun Lake is higher. The ship will first enter the first chamber where the water will be discharged at the ship will move down. The ship then crosses the second chamber and goes further down. Finally comes the last chamber which lowers down the level further. The water is discharged towards the Atlantic Ocean until the ship reaches the Atlantic sea level. This way the ship travels all the way down from 85 ft to the Atlantic sea level. This transit takes 10.5 hours. In 2016, more advanced types of locks were introduced as an expansion of the canal.
The ship you see in this video contains the name “Disney Wonder” because inside this ship, there is a Disney world, the glimpse of it is shown at the end of the video. You can travel on this ship but it is expensive. It costs about $40 on a 3 Night Cruise per person, $54.00 per person for a 4-night cruise, and $94 for a 7-night cruise. The Disney Wonder itinerary program is a 7-day program based on Alaska cruises that depart from Vancouver BC, it has Mexican Riviera round trips out of San Diego CA, and Western and Eastern Caribbean round trips from Galveston TX. The Disney Cruise Line’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay is one of the feature port destinations.