In March, we took a cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to San Diego, passing through the Panama Canal. Besides the amazing engineering that went into construction of this series of locks and lakes through the Isthmus of Panama, there were a variety of different types of ships passing through.  My first career was in export shipping and freight forwarding so the loading and passing  of container ships still holds my interest to this day.

Therefore, it was the perfect opportunity to participate in Nancy Merrill’s Photo A Week challenge with this week’s theme Boats and Ships.

First, let me introduce you to the ship we were on, the M/S Veendam, a smallish member of Holland America Line’s fleet.  Our first stop after sailing from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, was at an island in the Bahamas, Half Moon Cay.  The small boat off to the right is the tender, the boat that shuttles people back and forth from the ship, as there is no place for a cruise ship to dock at Half Moon Cay. Most impressive is the color of the water as it changes from turquoise near shore to dark blue where our ship awaits.


When we entered the first stage of the canal, alongside us was the much larger cruise ship, the M/S Norwegian Pearl. It was fun to watch as that ship was lowered into a position below that allowed it to enter the first set of locks.

Panama Cruise C 258

In the middle of the isthmus is a large man-made lake, Lago Gatún.  This lake was created when the Gatún Dam was built between 1907 and 1913. This lake forms 33 km (21 mi) of the transit through the canal.


KODAK Digital Still Camera
Another cruise ship and a cargo ship on Lake Gatun


KODAK Digital Still Camera
Cargo ship being towed by a tug boat

KODAK Digital Still Camera



KODAK Digital Still Camera
NYK is a major Japanese cargo/container ship company. 


KODAK Digital Still Camera
This Maersk Line ship seems to be overflowing with containers!


KODAK Digital Still Camera
Maersk Line is a Danish owned carrier which operates many container ships throughout the world.


KODAK Digital Still Camera
Loading or unloading at the port of Colon, Panama



The small vessel alongside this massive cargo carrier is probably a pilot boat. When a large ship approaches or leaves a port, local pilots are brought out to board the ship to assist the ship’s captain in navigating into or out of the port. This is helpful because local pilots are the most knowledgeable about their local waterways.

Stay tuned for more on the Panama Canal in a future post!








2 thoughts on “Ships on the Panama Canal

  1. I would love to cruise through the Panama Canal. What a great adventure. Great way to get a nice collection of boats pictures, too. 🙂 Thanks for joining the challenge!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s