Most of us have some things on a bucket list we want to do during our lifetime. One of mine was to travel through the Panama Canal. Fascination with, and dreaming about going through the canal began for me in elementary school when I saw a film on the building of the canal.
Last week, the dream became a reality in a spectacular way on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship Bliss. This spectacular ship only came out of dry-dock for sea tests a few months ago. It is the largest passenger ship to ever traverse the canal. I am on the Bliss for a cruise from Miami to Los Angeles. The Bliss is an amazing 19-deck ship with everything from a go-cart race track to an upgraded spa with ice room. It has eight specialty restaurants and the Observation Lounge, the most beautiful room I have ever seen on a ship. It was designed for Alaska cruising to allow passengers a 180-degree view while relaxing in total luxury. On our cruise it is the nightly meeting place for the LGBTQ+ happy hour or as NCL still lists it on its daily newsletter “Friends of Dorothy.”
Our fifth day at sea was Panama Canal Day. I was up at dawn and out on my balcony. There was a real feeling of excitement. The ship began to come to life at 5 a.m. and by 6 the sun was trying to break through the clouds as we passed Gatum Dam and headed into the lake where there were a least a dozen other ships, most looked like oil tankers, waiting to traverse the canal. The Amsterdam, a ship that had been by our side in Cartagena the day before was just ahead of us. She is a much smaller ship and was going through the old canal while we were headed to the new one.