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Today Marks the Panama Canal’s 100th Anniversary

Today marks a huge milestone for the Panama Canal — the centennial anniversary of its opening. Construction began in 1904, and the passageway opened 10 years later on Aug. 15, 1914, as the first ship came through.

Through the years, Holland America Line ships have transited the lakes and locks of the canal on hundreds of itineraries. The coming season is no exception, with more diverse offerings through one of the world’s greatest man-made marvels.

From fall 2014 through spring 2015, the line is continuing the celebration with 11 full transits ranging from 14 to 22 days aboard ms Amsterdam, ms Statendam, ms Veendam, ms Westerdam, ms Zaandam and ms Zuiderdam. Along the way, the ships will explore ports in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and more!

Onboard, the 100th Anniversary celebration continues through the “On Location” enrichment program that has a lot to offer for the Panama Canal sailings. Guests will enjoy Panama Canal history presentations, fun facts in the ships’ daily programs and a poolside Panamanian Market on the day of the transit with market stalls, music and local food and beverages.

The Panama Canal has been a favorite feature on the Holland America Blog, and past posts have included the history of the canal and an account of a transit by the hours, not to mention posts with photos from guests, like the ones below.

The Panama Canal, clockwise from top left: Frederick Siegel, Jan Hinman, William Camp and Renate Kaspar.

Guests photos of the Panama Canal, clockwise from top left: Frederick Siegel, Jan Hinman, William Camp and Renate Kaspar.

Guest Bill White filmed his transit and sped up the hours-long sailing for all to witness in just minutes:

Panama Canal Fun Facts:
Did you know that in 2008, a Disney cruise ship paid the highest toll to date of $330,000? Or that in 1963, fluorescent lighting was installed, allowing the canal to begin 24-hour operations? Here are some more facts about the Panama Canal, thanks to uk.news.yahoo:

The fastest transit was completed in 2 hours and 41 minutes by the U.S. Navy’s Hydrofoil Pegasus in 1979.

The most transits on a single day was Feb. 29, 1968, when 65 ships crossed the isthmus.

Ships traveling between New York and San Francisco save 7,872 miles by using the Panama Canal instead of going around Cape Horn.

The Canal transports 4 percent of world trade and 16 percent of total U.S.-born trade.

More than 60 million pounds of dynamite was used to excavate and construct it.

After the U.S., the canal is used most by China, Japan, Chile and North Korea.

Around 40 ships cross the Panama Canal every day, amounting to between 12,000 and 15,000 a year.

Annual traffic in 1914, when the canal opened, was around 1,000 ships.

Holland America Line ships transit the Panama Canal several times a year.

Holland America Line ships transit the Panama Canal several times a year.

Have you transited the Panama Canal with Holland America Line? What impressed you the most? Tell us below, and send your photos to info@hollandamericablog.com to be featured on social media.

1 Comment
  • KarenJ503

    What has impressed me the most? Besides the romanticism of the voyage and the scenery, especially through Gatun Lake?

    How much the Canal itself has changed from our first voyage through in 1999-2000 (HAL’s Millennial Panama Canal cruise) through the years, as work has progressed on widening the narrowest passages.

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