It’s delightful to cruise the world’s oceans and rivers, but you can also cruise some canals; they are marvels of engineering that are fun and interesting to sail through. These human-made waterways usually link two larger bodies of water. Because they often cut through solid rock, they can be quite narrow, which can make for an exciting passage.
One of the narrowest canals a cruise ship can pass through is the Corinth Canal in Greece. Four miles long, with steep limestone cliffs on each side, it cuts through the Isthmus of Corinth to connect the Ionian and Aegean Seas. Attempts to build the canal began more than 2,000 years ago, but they were unsuccessful until the 1890s. With a depth of 26 feet and a maximum width of just 81 feet, the canal can accommodate some smaller cruise ships. In 2019, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ 642-foot-long MS Braemar became the longest ship known to pass through the canal.
The Suez Canal has linked the Mediterranean and Red Seas since 1869. Sea-level water flows freely through this 120-mile-long canal, which passes through Egypt. You can see many landmarks along the way, including the Suez Canal Bridge at El-Qantara; the El Ferdan Railway Bridge, the world’s longest swing bridge, near Ismailia; and Great Bitter Lake, which was a dry salt basin before the canal was built.
The Panama Canal cuts through the Isthmus of Panama between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It takes a cruise ship about 12 hours to navigate the canal. It’s just 51 miles long, but it includes multiple locks that raise ships to the level of Gatun Lake, then lower them back to sea level. The ships have to be able to fit into the locks and to pass under the Bridge of the Americas on the Pacific side. The scenery along the canal is lovely; passengers often spot monkeys, toucans, iguanas, capybaras, crocodiles, and other wildlife.
Ocean and river cruise lines sail through other canals, including the North Sea Canal in the Netherlands, the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal of Central Europe, and the Soo Locks that connect Lake Superior with the Lower Great Lakes. And, you’ll soon have an opportunity to cruise through a tunnel. The Stad Ship Canal, which will be the world’s first large-scale ship tunnel, is under construction on the coast of Norway.
For more information about cruising through one of the world’s canals, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.
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