Cruising through a canal is a very different experience from ocean sailing. While a cruise ship can sail at a rapid rate of knots in the open seas, the same ship has to take a slow and steady pace through a canal.
australiancruisingnews.com has sailed through a few of the world’s best-known canals and is always captivated by this very different cruising experience.
PANAMA CANAL (Central America): This short cut between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans rates on most travellers’ bucket list. A full transit takes from dawn to dusk, and is a thrilling ride through mighty lock chambers as mega litres of water lift ships up and down in the canal. Adding to the excitement is the howling of monkeys in tropical jungle nearby, and the occasional sighting of sun-baking crocodiles.
CORINTH CANAL (Greece): Another short cut, this time from the Mediterranean’s Gulf of Corinth and the Greek mainland to the Aegean Sea. There are no locks, but a breathtakingly narrow steep-sided channel some 90 metres above sea level, 21.4 metres wide at its base, and 6.4 km in length. Impassable by larger cruise ships, there is a real adrenaline buzz squeezing through it on a smaller cruise ship and being almost able to touch the cliff wall.
SUEZ CANAL (Egypt): This sea-level waterway connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, and through the years has occasionally been closed as a result of military action. Today, there is still a military presence with sentry boxes at intervals along the canal banks. For a large part of the 10-hour, 88 nautical mile transit, the vista from a cruise ship is of sandy desert that stretches to an endless horizon.
RHINE-MAIN-DANUBE (Germany/Austria/Hungary): This is the classic European river cruise that would not be possible without the canals that connect sections of rivers from one to another. Indeed, there are dozens of canal locks along the route that takes in some of Europe’s most stunning scenery, including hilltop castles, rolling vineyards, medieval villages, and world-class cities.