The history of the Panama Canal is actually quite a long and complicated one, several countries got involved, construction would halt for years at a time and there were many issues with disease, particularly malaria, but eventually it was completed and officially opened in 1914.
A crossing between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans had long been a thought for many, but it was the late nineteenth century that brought the opportunity to build it thanks to technological advances and a great deal of commercial pressure. France initially attempted to build a sea-level canal but this failed. The United States then took advantage of the extensive excavation that had been previously carried out by the French and they completed the Panama Canal in 1913. On January 7, 1914, the Alexandre La Valley, an old French crane boat, became the first ship to make a complete transit of the Canal under its own steam, having worked its way across in the final stages of construction.
To this day, the canal is still a vital link in the shipping world, allowing vessels to easily pass between two oceans and ultimately avoiding the treacherous waters and long journey around South America and back up the coast towards North America.
Panama Canal Expansion
In 1940, work began on a set of three new locks at Gatún, Pedro Miguel, and Miraflores. They would run parallel with the existing locks, and be served by new approach channels. In 1941, the project was abandoned. More than 50 years later, the ACP proposed a new plan which would see them using the abandoned approach canals from the 1940’s, work officially began on this in 2007.
The project, once complete, will double the capacity of the Panama Canal and allow larger ships to make the transit. At present, the canals can accommodate vessels of 965 ft in length, 106 ft in width and with a draft of 39.5 ft, these are known as Panamax vessels. The introduction of the new locks will see larger vessels make the transit and these will be known as New Panamax. The new locks will be able to accommodate vessels that are 1,200 ft in length, 161 ft in width and that have a draft of 50 ft. Although these locks offer the option of transit for larger vessels, there will still be many that are just too big, including Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas.
Panama Canal Cruise
A voyage through the Panama Canal is a truly incredible experience. To stand out on the open deck and watch everything come together as your ship effortlessly glides through is something that you will never forget.
Because it is so incredible, we want to help you make the right choice when it comes to your Panama Canal cruise, so here are three of our favourites for 2016. To see our full selection, visit our dedicated Panama Canal cruises page.
Miami to Los Angeles aboard Oceania Insignia – 25 November 2016, for 16 nights
Itinerary: Miami | Great Stirrup Cay | At Sea x2 | Cartagena | Panama Canal Transit | Golfito | Puntarenas | Corinto | Puerto Quetzal | At Sea | Acapulco | At Sea | Cabo San Lucas | At Sea | San Diego | Los Angeles
Valparaiso to Fort Lauderdale aboard Silver Spirit – 3 March 2016, for 18 nights
Itinerary: Valparaiso | Coquimbo | At Sea | Arica | Matarani | At Sea |Pisco | Callao (overnight in port) | Salaverry | At Sea | Manta | At Sea | Panama Canal Transit | Puerto Limon | At Sea x2 | Key West | Fort Lauderdale
Miami to Vancouver aboard Seven Seas Mariner – 20 April 2016, for 28 nights
Itinerary: Miami | Nassau | Cruise the Bahamas Channel | At Sea | Cartagena | Colon | Panama Canal Transit | At Sea | Puntarenas | San Juan Del Sur | Puerto Quetzal | At Sea | Acapulco | At Sea | Cabo San Lucas | At Sea | San Diego | At Sea | San Francisco | At Sea | Astoria | Cruise the Outside Passage | Sitka | Cruise Hubbard Glacier | Juneau | Wrangell | Ketchikan | Cruising Tracy Arm Fjords | Vancouver
Book Your Panama Canal Cruise with The Cruise Line
If you are looking for a luxury Panama Canal cruise then we highly recommend you contact us today for details of our best 2016/2017 offers. Founded in 1993, The Cruise Line has established a reputation for offering clients outstanding customer service alongside highly competitive pricing and special offers. For further details, please call one of our Cruise Experts on 0800 008 6677.