Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call LIVE! Guidebook
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To a large extent, the tale of Panama is the tale of the canal, and you’ll be witnessing it first-hand as your ship passes through its massive locks and cruises across man-made lakes and through a towering, man-made gorge. You’ll follow in the footsteps of Spanish explorers, American railroaders, French canal-builders, and the most “bully” of American Presidents. You can only begin to imagine what the canal has meant to world growth and commerce as you contemplate the ships that had to sail ‘round the Horn of South America in the era before the canal. And you can watch it all from the comfort of your verandah or from the height of deck 10.
The notion for a canal (and a route very close to today’s actual path) goes back to the early days of Spanish rule. The explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa was the first to cross Panama (and “discover” the Pacific) in 1513. By 1534, King Carlos V of Spain commissioned a survey to plan a canal, which concluded that current technology wasn’t up to the task. Gold from Peru and other Pacific Coast Spanish holdings crossed the isthmus by mule train instead. In the wake of the California Gold Rush of 1849, U.S. interests built a railroad across the narrow isthmus, so for the first time, transcontinental cargoes could bypass the long route around South America. However, passing goods from ship to rail and back to ship again wasn’t the easiest or cheapest way to get things done.
Top Photo Slice: A pilot boat guides the Magic into the narrow Gaillard Cut. (℗ 8444) Photo contributed by © Earkid
You are viewing page 338, which is section 114 of chapter 7 of PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line guidebook.
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