Partial Panama Canal Transits

24 Jan

Our Millennium cruise will be what is called a “full transit“. That means we will go through the entire length of the Panama Canal. Many cruises, especially the round-trips out of Florida, only do a “partial transit“. That means the ship will only go through part of the canal.

Here is an example of a partial transit from today. The Island Princess is on what is advertised as: “Panama Canal – 10 Days Roundtrip Fort Lauderdale“.

Island Princess Itinerary, January 2011

19 Ft. Lauderdale, Florida    5:00 PM
20 At Sea
21 At Sea
22 Aruba    7:00 AM 12:30 PM
23 Cartagena, Colombia    9:00 AM 3:00 PM
24 Panama Canal, Panama    5:00 AM 3:30 PM
24 Colon, Panama    5:00 PM 9:00 PM
25 Limon, Costa Rica    7:00 AM 6:00 PM
26 At Sea
27 Ocho Rios, Jamaica    9:00 AM 4:00 PM
28 At Sea
29 Ft. Lauderdale, Florida    7:00 AM

As can be seen in the itinerary, the ship spends part of a day in the Panama Canal, entering and leaving from the Caribbean (Atlantic) side at Colon. So what does the ship actually do during this time? The web site Marinetraffic.com provides the answer. Here is a map showing the actual route of the Island Princess today. The downward arrows show the ship entering the canal. The upward arrows show the return path, leaving the canal.

Island Princess Partial Panama Canal Transit, January 24, 2011

At about 7:30 a.m., local time, the ship entered the first of the Gatun locks. After going through all the locks, she spent about 3 hours, at anchor, in Lake Gatun. She then turned around and went back the way she came, through the Gatun locks. The U-turn at the top shows her lining up with breakwater entrance to Colón 2000 terminal where she will spend the evening. The total time spent in the canal was about 8-hours.

The Island Princess cruise passengers will only get to see about 10 miles of the canal (twice). Compare this to our itinerary. We will get to see the entire 52 miles from the Limon Bay breakwaters to the last set of red/green channel buoys in the Pacific.

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