Please visit our Travel Alerts page for current COVID-19 updates.

Building The Panamá Canal


Natalie Javadi, UnCruise

You’ve heard about it in history lessons; the expansive, 50-mile route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is world renowned.

You’ve also probably heard about its crucial role in facilitating and maintaining international maritime trade. But few know about the rich history behind the water route that has been named by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

The Panama Canal has cemented itself as a quintessential bucket list item and guests aboard the Safari Voyager have the opportunity to experience why.

The idea for the canal was first proposed in the 1500s by King Charles I of Spain who proposed a route for travel through the Chagres River.

Sufficient technology to build such a canal was not available at that time, and the idea was eventually dismissed. However, it did not completely fade.

Over the next few hundred years, the proposal to build a pathway into and out of the Pacific Ocean continued to be entertained.

In 1881, France began the first actual work under Ferdinand de Lesseps, who had previously worked on the Suez Canal. When the French failed to create a successful sea-level route, the U.S. stepped in under Theodore Roosevelt, buying the assets in 1902, and beginning construction in 1904.

John Stevens, creator of the modern lock system, led construction of the canal which was completed and opened in 1914.

Panama Canal

If you think a root canal is painful, the building of the Panama Canal was nothing short of gruesome.

By its completion, an estimated 25,000 workers had died. With more than $350 million invested into the project, it was the most expensive construction project in U.S. history to that point. Luckily for you though, UnCruise Adventures is not your dentist and the Panama Canal is open for business.

Depending largely on the schedule of the Panama Canal Authority, the Safari Voyager will likely pass through the canal in the late afternoon or in the evening.

Panama Canal Crossing at night

Regardless of daylight’s presence, the experience is something to behold.

On board, you will be joined by a Canal Authority Pilot, and together you’ll watch line handlers prepping the ship for changing sea levels in the locks.

The Panamanian employees are more than happy to provide insight into this intricate endeavor, and UnCruise will supplement the learning experience with corresponding videos and onboard narration.

As the sun sets over the equatorial horizon, the locks are lit up like a stadium.

But this isn’t any old ball game. This is the maneuvering of ships up to 100 feet wide from one massive ocean to another. It’s not every day you can fall asleep in the Pacific and wake up in the Atlantic.

With a Granada cocktail in hand, you can lean back and swipe that off your bucket list.

Loading Conversation