Day five…Panama Canal Partial Transit

carnival pride

On Carnival Pride

We have been waiting two years to see the Panama Canal. We had a cruise scheduled on the Carnival Legend two years ago…and then came Covid. We’re not going to talk about that.

Up early

I knew that we were going to be getting to the canal early in the morning. I kept peeking out the window for any signs of dawn, and we finally got up at 7 am. We got dressed and skipped breakfast so that we could get a good viewing point.

Deck 9 at the very front of the ship was where we went. If you go through a door you can get to some prime viewing area with lower railings and no plastic windows to block the view. There were already a lot of people there, but we found spots and stayed there. This is the first time that I beat the sunrise on a cruise, I think. I did get some good pictures of it.

Long wait

What I didn’t realize was how slowly the ship would be sailing going up to the canal. It seemed like it took forever. It kept getting hotter and hotter and the ship wasn’t much closer to the canal. We went under a new modern bridge and then could see a Holland America ship in front of us waiting to get into the canal.

Finally…the pilot boat

We finally saw two boats heading toward the ship. One was a Pilot boat. The pilot will hop off of the boat and onto the ship. Then he will take over the controls of the ship because he’s experienced at guiding the ship through the tight space of the canal. The other boat must have contained the historic guide. I thought it was a cool feature to have a guide onboard who could give us facts about the canal. It was very interesting.

Getting through the Gatun locks

It took a very long time to get through the locks. There are three locks altogether. Going through the locks we had to be raised to meet the water level of Lake Gatun. First, the ship is guided into the very beginning of the lock. Lines are tossed onto the ship and secured, they are attached to locomotives or “mules” that will pull the ship into the lock. It’s a very delicate process because the locks are narrow. After the ship is pulled into the lock, the gate is shut, and the water starts rising, raising the ship up with it. Once the water level is the same height as the water in the next lock, the gates open and the ship is pulled to the next lock, where the same process will happen. It’s the same for the third lock. Once the ship is level with the lake, it can sail off.

First a pet peave about taking up tables during lunch hours…

After we got into Lake Gatun we stayed there for a while. We had time to get some lunch finally. One thing that I have to mention is about the Mermaid Grille and its seating. So many people were just sitting at tables watching outside that those who wanted to eat couldn’t find tables. And we’ve also seen people taking up tables during lunch hours just playing games with their friends. I understand that you need a large table to play, but it would be more considerate to play on non-peak eating hours. It’s a small buffet and sometimes it’s hard to find a table to eat at.

After eating I checked out several of the decks for taking pictures. 10 is a good deck also, and not as crowded as 9. If you can find a spot on the Serenity Deck in back, you can get some good pictures.

And then…back through the canal again

At around 2 pm we headed back toward the locks. I knew from this morning that it would be a very slow process, so I went to my cabin and worked on my blog for the day before. I always write them the day after so I can include the entire day. I finished my blog, and decided to try deck three for a different perspective of the locks.

Speaking of deck 3, normally that’s one of my favorite decks to relax on. But for some reason there are no chairs on deck 3 on Carnival Pride. Plus, there is smoking allowed on both sides. One side is for the passengers and the other for employees. Deck 10 has deck chairs, but it tends to be really windy up there. The deck does go around the back of the ship to the other side, but not all the way around. It was closed during the canal transit though, so no pictures from there.

Perspective from deck 3

It was interesting to go through the locks on deck three. You couldn’t see the gates opening or closing, but you could see the ship going down, and you could almost touch the side of the lock. Deck three was just above the ground line. We saw a lot of friendly lock workers too. Once again, they take you through three locks, bringing you lower each time till you were finally at the same sea level as the Atlantic. We could actually feel and hear the ship scraping the bumpers on the side of the locks. That’s how narrow the locks are. This transit took a long time to complete.

Time to refresh

We decided that we’d better get showered and dressed for dinner. At least it wasn’t elegant night, but we do like to dress up a little for the main dining room. Once you get through your first night at the 6 pm dining, you find your table yourself. Our table mates soon followed, and Sherwin John, our waiter, was quick to take our order. Our wait staff, Sherwin, Rohman, and Martin have been wonderful. They even bring us our Diet Pepsi’s before we ask.

Last night I chose Alligator Beignets and a Caprese salad for appetizer. You can order more than one if you want. Then I had BBQ spareribs for a main dish. These were nice and tender and delicious. It came with creamed corn and baked beans. For dessert I finally got my Chocolate Melting cake. It comes with ice cream. You can order it with peanut butter also. This is my favorite but I’m trying to avoid too much sugar or white flour.

Entertainment

Entertainment for the night consisted of a Motown Show and a Comedy Show. One thing that I wish would be changed is the timing of the two shows. Normally on a ship we can watch the main show and then go to the comedy show and get a seat. On the Pride, if we stay till the end of the main show, we cannot get a seat at the comedy show, even though it’s right under the theater.

We did go to the Motown show. I can’t remember the name of the singer, but he was really good. He sang a lot of the old Motown music including songs from Stevie Wonder and the Supremes. I felt rude, but we had to sneak out early to get to the comedy show. We did sit in the back seat though so we wouldn’t be seen. I saw a lot of people leaving early, probably for the same reason.

The comedy show was great also. The comedian was John DiCrosta from New York. I hope to see more of him. We did manage to get seats near the stage, but even coming in late, the Butterfly Lounge was very full. Carnival needs to rethink the timing of these two shows.

Tired after a long day

We got up really early so we decided to call it a day. Tomorrow is a Sea Day, so we’ll be able to relax.

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