We woke up to waves battering the hull as we transited from Coiba National Park to the Bay of Panama and the Panama Canal. At 9:00 a.m., our expedition leader gave us a morning briefing, explaining what the canal crossing would be like and introducing activities for tomorrow.

Afterwards, we watched a fascinating film on the construction of the Panama Canal. We enjoyed a delicious lunch in the dining room while watching brown boobies swoop and dive all around the boat.

After lunch, guests were treated to presentations and a Q & A by Panamanian naturalists Joshua and Gabriel. By the time they finished, we were waiting in the Bay of Panama for our turn to cross the canal. We enjoyed sangria and ceviche on the sundeck as we watched whales spouting among the cargo boats. Panama City gleamed white in the distance.

For dinner, we had a Panamanian feast, featuring chicken tamales, “ropa vieja” or shredded beef, tortillas, and fried mature plantains. The staff wore festive Panama hats and carried maracas.

After dinner, everyone waited eagerly on the bow for our 8:00 p.m. appointment to enter the canal. Joshua and Gabe talked about the canal as we waited and answered guests’ questions as the lights twinkled beautifully from shore and from the other ships. Finally, we entered the locks and began to cross, eventually anchoring at Barro Colorado Island in Lake Gatun.