Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call LIVE! Guidebook

PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line LIVE! Guidebook
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Knowing the Most About the Panama Canal

Knowing the Most About the Panama Canal

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When constructed, Gatun Lake was the largest man-made lake in the world, its dam the largest earthen dam on Earth, and the canal’s locks were the largest structures ever built of concrete. More than 900,000 vessels have passed through the canal since it opened. More than 5% of the world’s trade goods pass through every year.

The Panama Canal is now a three lane “highway,” two lanes provided by the historic locks, with the new locks adding a third, much larger lane. Even the Dream Class ships will have plenty of breathing room; they’re 85 ft./24 m. shorter and 39 ft./13 m. narrower than the largest vessels allowed in the new locks. • The shipping channels through Culebra Cut and Gatun Lake were dredged to handle today’s super ships, and Gatun Lake’s level was raised, both to reduce dredging and to deliver the water needed by the new locks. • No water pumps are required to fill and drain the lock chambers. Electrically controlled valves are opened and closed, and gravity does the rest. • The new locks use a series of “water saving basins” to hold and recapture 60% of the water needed to raise and lower the ships. • Though electric “mule” locomotives move ships through the original locks, tugboats are used in the new locks.

What do we save by going through the Panama Canal instead of the old route around the “horn” (southern tip) of South America? More than 9,000 nautical miles/16,668 km., greater than the distance from Los Angeles to Hong Kong! Port Canaveral to Los Angeles ‘round the Horn is approx. 14,500 mi./26,850 km. To look at it another way, the earth’s circumference at the equator is 21,600 nautical miles/40,000 km. At her cruising speed of 21.5 knots (and ignoring stops at such fabled ports-of-call as Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Santiago, and Lima), your ship would be at sea at least 20 more days. Not that more time on a Disney ship would be such a tragedy, but we’d also have to cope with some of the worst oceangoing weather on Earth. And since it’d be the depths of winter down at Cape Horn... no, we wouldn’t want to go there!

After the addition of stabilizing "duck tails" to the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, all of Disney's ships are too large to pass through the canal's original locks, but all can fit handily through the new locks opened in July 2016. Though the Wonder will be the first Disney ship to pass through the new locks (in 2017), who knows what the future will bring?

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Top Photo Slice: Eight cables and mules total are used to guide the Magic into place. (℗ 8440) Photo contributed by © Earkid


      You are viewing page 341, which is section 117 of chapter 7 of PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line guidebook.
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