Ever daydream about cruising through the Panama Canal? Well, YouTube has several videos that can show you what the trip is like. My favorite is one that was uploaded a couple of weeks ago. This six-minute video of a Panama Canal crossing was shot from the deck of the Peaceboat as it sailed to Panama City. The video captures the flavor and telling details of the trip and is cleverly set to the song "El Cuarto De Tula" by Buena Vista Social Club.
For a faster tour, look instead for this 90-second time-lapse video of a Panama Canal crossing, which will send you on an amazing race through locks and lakes. The video was shot from a top deck of Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas by a ship employee, Jeff Birmingham, during a May 2003 cruise. [link from CruiseJournals.com, via YouTube]
And here's a historical perspective on the Panama Canal from David McCullough:
The lesson to be learned from the Panama Canal is that it succeeded by taking its greatest problem and making the problem an advantage. The problem was the rainfall and the Chagres River. The Chagres River was a surging monster, a lion in the path, as they said. The key was not to try to dig a Suez-type of canal, a great sea-level trench from ocean to ocean, but to create a lock-and-lake canal, where the ships are lifted up by a series of locks to a man-made lake, and then they sail across that lake, and then they are set back down on the other side by another series of locks. The source of the water is the Chagres.--Excerpted from The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914. Buy it at Amazon.com.