Associated Press recommends how to experience the bustling Panama Canal
The Panama Canal has recently opened its $7.45 billion expansion that allows larger ships, including cruise liners to travel along the waterway through new lanes and locks. Juan Zamorano, a writer from the Associated Press, visits the Panama Canal on an excursion to highlight why people should visit the huge Latin American hub of trade, transportation and commerce.
Earlier this month, thousands of people witnessed the opening of the Panama Canal expansion, a project that took 10 years to complete and cost $7.45 billion.
The Panama Canal celebrated the long-anticipated opening of its expansion last month in front of thousands of onlookers.
Writer with the Associated Press, Juan Zamorano, visit the famous canal to showcase its cultural offerings to holidaymakers. He declared:
“Shipping geeks in particular will delight at this engineering marvel that revolutionized global maritime trade when it opened for business on Aug. 15, 1914. But it also appeals to a broader audience with nearly 3,000 people visiting each day during the January-April high season.”
The expansion project included a third shipping lane and new locks at both sides of the canal that will cater for huge vessels known as Neopanamax ships. The new Agua Clara Locks on the Atlantic side and Cocoli Locks on the Pacific side are 70 feet wider and 18 feet deeper than the original ones, and there are large basins that recycle 60 per cent of the water used in each transit.
A good news is that visitors don’t have to be on a ship to experience the bustling hub of activity of the canal. Travellers with a long wait at Panama Airport or visitors to Panama City can pop across to the observation deck and watch huge freighter vessels make their journey across the canal from the United States to China.
At the Miraflores Visitor Centre, visitors can learn about the history of the canal and its construction, and they can get a close view of the machinations of the canal. As ships pass through the canal, a professional guide can tell visitors facts about the locks that fill with 26 million gallons of fresh water before emptying out into the Pacific Ocean.
Tom Matz, a spectator and retired lawyer from New York that was visiting Panama, says to Zamorano:
"This is spectacular. The past, present and future of the canal, all right here."
There’s also a theatre and museum at the canal with exhibits that display the timeline of the canal’s construction, and stories of how more than 25,000 people lost their lives during its construction, mainly due to tropical diseases. There’s also a simulator where tourists can play the role of captain on a huge ship and virutally guide it through the locks, and there’s a cafe and restaurant.
Travellers can book an organised tour with a travel agency or tour operator to the canal, or they can pay around $30 for a 30-minute taxi ride from Panama City to the facility. Also, cruises companies are expanding its product offerings to get to enjoy the new facilities of the Canal.
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