On Saturday morning, we woke up early once again to go on our voyage through the 99 year old Panama Canal.
Our voyage was on the 43 year old Pacific Queen, an old passenger ship which was previously used in Scandinavia (Some the compartments has Swedish writing), before being bought by the tour company a few years ago. For a 43 year old, the PQ was not a bad ship at all, the furniture is a little dated, but it was comfortable to ride on.
The cruise itself is eight hours long, going from Panama City on the Pacific Coast, to Colon on the Atlantic Coast. After arriving in Colon, the tour company sent us back to Panama City on a fleet of fancy buses similar to the Diversified buses (without seat belts) back home.
The locks on the canal are the same locks that have been there since 1914, they have never been modified, and are a true testament for excellent engineering. The locks themselves take eight minutes to raise or lower the water level. It's actually incredibly fast given the size of the area, and you can see the rapid water level movement.
My biggest criticism of the cruise was that it's too long. Yes, it is cool to see both oceans in one day, but by halfway it seemed like most people were no longer interested. I don't know if there is a realistic way to speed up the tour (likely not), but eight hours looking at rocks and trees can be a little much. This is especially true when the locks themselves are about only 1 hour of the cruise.
Regardless of the length, I encourage anyone who goes to Panama to take this tour. If you're not seeing the canal why bother going to Panama? It's like going to Egypt and not seeing the pyramids or skipping on the Great Wall of China.