This morning, Azamara Quest is waiting its turn to enter the Gatun locks at the north end of the Panama Canal. The fifty-mile long, man-made marvel was completed in 1914 to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Dozens of ships on the horizon, lined up to wait their turn to enter the canal
The canal transit is so smooth and painless for cruise ship guests that is is easy to ignore the monumental task of constructing the canal. The French tried first, and lost thousands of workers to malaria and other disease, only to finally give up. When America took over in 1904 and purchased the engineering rights from France, it only took ten years before the canal was open for business.
Transiting the canal requires ships to pass through three sets of locks, raising the vessels from sea level to the level of the man-made Gatun Lake, the largest man-made lake in the world.
Azamara Quest prepares to enter the first Gatun lock
We have a pretty good view of the action from our private balcony, and watch from there as Quest enters the Gatun locks. I was able to rig up my GoPro camera to the railing in an effort to create a time lapse of the transit into Gatun Lake.
Many guests go to the outer decks to watch the lock transit. However, Azamara's bridge cam allowed us to see the Captain's view of the locks from the bridge.
Bridge cam is displayed on our stateroom television
Dr. Dave Roberts, the destination lecturer, also provided commentary over the ship's PA system and stateroom TV on points of interest and canal history. There are several news channels on the ship's satellite TV system, all of which were broadcasting the swearing-in ceremonies of the 45th President of the United States.
Donald Trump is sworn in as 45th President while we transit the canal
So, from the comfort of our stateroom, we were able to watch from our balcony, go inside to see what the Captain sees, and periodically switch channels to watch the inauguration!
Enjoying the view of Gatun locks
After we entered Gatun Lake and began sailing toward the Pacific, we soon approached the first large bridge which spans the canal. We decided to head up to Deck 11 to get a good view.
Azamara Quest approaches the bridge
Soon, we were into the Pedro Miguel locks, followed by the Miraflores locks, after which Azamara Quest is in the Pacific Ocean! By the time Quest is anchoring off the coast of Panama City, it is time for the signature White Night Deck BBQ and Party. Guests are encouraged to dress in something white for the event and dine "under the stars" on the pool deck. The Patio (pool grill) has been converted into a large buffet area with every food imaginable. Steaks and lobster tails are grilled over charcoal, and are delicious!
Steaks and lobster tails
There are tables filled with salads, desserts, vegetables, breads...you name it. A stir fry station is making stir fry to order. There is a huge salt-crusted baked Cod that Rickee really liked. The Oxtail stew was one of my favorites.
Desserts, desserts and more desserts!
Soon after the sun went down, Cruise Director Russ Grieve kicked off the evening entertainment by introducing a group of local musicians and dancers who entertained with colorful costumes and local music and dance.
After the local entertainment, the Quest Singers and Dancers took the stage, along with the ship's musicians, and began a dance party that got everyone on their feet and dancing.
Guests dance to the music of the Quest Singers and Dancers
The party lasted into the night and a great time was had by all. White Night is always something special on an Azamara cruise!
Tomorrow, we will tender into Fuerte Amador, Panama.