Saturday, March 4, 2023

February 4, 2023 – Cruising the Panama Canal / Fuerte Amador – Sunny – 80F

A quiet night and a so-so night’s sleep.

We are scheduled to enter Gatun Locks at about 7 AM so I went up a little later than that to avoid the expected crowd. 

As it turned out there wasn’t much of a crowd, and I got my seat near the door on the starboard side of the Sunset Veranda.  I had my usual breakfast of pancakes, etc.  and basically, stayed in that spot the whole day. Besides taking photos, I also tracked Onward's progress through the canal on Google Maps.

Azamara Onward entered Gatun Locks pretty much on schedule. 

Gatun Locks

Because of my watch position, I saw the ship leaving locks but that was just fine. A selfie (the best I could do, and I should have worn a cap) documented my location.

A Selfie in the Locks (I tried)
Documenting Transit

Atlantic Bridge and Gatun Locks

Another ship enters Gatun Locks

Gatun Locks Gate

We went through the three locks at Gatun and were now at the level of Lake Gatun.  

Gatun Lake
Gatun Lake Trees
Container Ship Gatun Lake 

At this point, I could get a glimpse of one of the super Panamax ships in the new Agua Clara Locks.

Neopanamax Ship Agua Clara Locks

At this point, it was time for lunch. I had tuna on ciabatta roll – for some reason I got a second sandwich brought out to me on the veranda (what I wanted was the top half of my sandwich).  I had a Cesar Salad along with some baked tortilla chips plus guacamole and salsa.  Iced tea today. 

It took about two hours or so to get to Gamboa, where we got a good look at the super crane, Herman the German.

Herman the German

The ship then entered the Culebra Cut, the narrowest part of the canal and the reason that the canal is one-way depending on the time of day.  We passed Gold Hill and Contractor Hill and the Continental Divide on our way to the Pedro Miguel Locks.

Pedro Miguel Locks

Pedro Miguel Locks Closing

Pedro Miguel, I believe, is a single level Lock.  From there we traveled just over a mile to the final set of Locks, the Miraflores Locks, which has two locks that lower the ship to sea level.

Miraflores Locks
LNG Tanker Miraflores Locks

The Onward was now in Lake Miraflores and cruising toward the Pacific Ocean.  We passed Balboa Marina
Balboa Marina (beyond Canal)

the Bridge of the Americas

Bride of the Americas
Bridge of the Americas

Exiting the Canal

and got a nice view of Panama City.

Panama City

It was the most pleasant transit of the Canal to date.  In the beginning it was easy to hear David Robert’s narration – as people started showing up, you could barely hear him at all.  He’ll need to speak up next time or the volume on the PA needs to be turned up.

There was already a queue for the Canal.

The ship exited the Canal around 4:30 PM started toward Fuerte Amador.  

Ships docked at Fuerte Amador

I could see a large cruise ship (NCL) docked there along with a small ship – maybe a cruiser.  We did not dock right away so I thought this was going to be a tender port as it has been all the previous times we have been here.

It was getting pretty warm on the Veranda, so we went to the air-conditioned Living Room to read until dinner.  It was Italian Night in the buffet.  I had the chef make me the same pasta I had a few nights ago– Fettuccine with garlic, onions, peppers, and tomato sauce. Delicious again.  There was no green salad available tonight, so I grabbed some sun-dried tomatoes and added them to my pasta.  Perfect addition.

I got a nice picture of the Moon over the Pacific and Panama City at night.

Panama City at Night
Moon over the Pacific

During dinner, the ship left its position out in the bay and pulled in next to our old friend, the Jewel of the Seas. 

Fuerte Amador

(NOTE – we were told later by the captain that he had to wait for the Star Legend to leave the berth so the Onward could pull alongside.)  Most of the passengers are going on excursions to Panama City so the ship is relatively empty.  

The Headliner tonight is our own Roy Ryan, Assistant CD, and his show “Falling in Love”.  

He combined stories of his search for love with some excellently performed songs.  It didn’t really matter if the stories were true, because he has a great stage presence and a wonderful voice.  He is actually better than most if not all of the male vocalists we have seen over the years.  It was a great show.  BTW, the Cabaret Lounge was subzero again tonight – windbreaker required.

The ship is staying in Fuerte Amador overnight and not leaving until 4 PM tomorrow.

After the show, we went to the room until lights out.

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