Too large for effective photography was the ship's centrepiece:
the Clock Tower Planeto Astrolabium, rising through the Atrium from
the third or Lower Promenade deck, through the fourth or Promenade deck, to the fifth or Upper Promenade deck.  As with most of the wonderful objects on the ms Amsterdam by the end of the cruise it had become my firm belief that 99% of the ship's passengers walked by
the Clock Tower (en route to bingo, the casino or the ice-cream bar) without giving it a second glance.  A detailed description of the parts
of this huge, ornate, dull-silver mechanism follows.

"Clocks, mixed media, design by VFD, F.C.J. Dingemans/ V.H.F
Jansen,execution by Lebigre & Roger, Italy, 2000.  Carillon by Royal Eijsbouts BV, the Netherlands.  The astrolabium clock has a tellurium above the clocks, which shows the exact position of the moon in
relation to the earth.  On top is a large dome with the zodiac and stars.  The first clock is connected to the carillon, which sounds hourly. 
The second clock shows the sky over the city of Amsterdam with the
pole star in the centre as reference.  The third clock is a world clock
that shows the time in different cities around the world.  The fourth
clock is a planetarium which shows the motion of the planets in
relation to each other.  The ladies gracing the four corners represent
the four seasons."

After lunch, Allen Wrenn gave his second slide lecture: this time on
the history of the Panama Canal up to the time the U.S. took over its
construction, plus its historical usage, and some details of the recent
history of the canal.

Of course, the idea of a canal across the isthmus did not originate in
the 19th century.  Such a thoroughfare for shipping was first mooted
in 1524, when King Charles V of Spain ordered a feasibility study;
but it was not until 1878 that the Colombian government awarded a contract to build a canal paralleling the railroad built by the U.S.A.
in 1850-55.  The California gold rush of 1848 had made this railroad
a highly profitable venture and spurred efforts to construct an interoceanic canal across Central America.  The canal concession, awarded to Lucien N.B. Wyse, was sold to the French diplomat, Ferdinand de Lesseps, then basking in his success as the contractor -builder of the Suez Canal.  The tale of how De Lesseps' company
began work in 1880 on a sea-level canal, the tragic incidence of yellow fever, malaria, landslides, etc. which followed, killing about 22,000 workers, and the financial mis- management that finally drove the company into bankruptcy by 1889 need not be recounted here. 
Suffice it to say that the French eventually agreed to sell the
concession to the U.S.A. in 1903; and, when the Colombian
government refused permission for the sale, the U.S.A. and France backed a revolutionary junta, which declared Panama independent
on November 3, 1903.  Philippe Bunau-Varilla, as Panamanian ambassador to the United States, took it upon himself to sign the Hay-Bunau-Varilla treaty before the Panamian delegation to
negotiate treaty terms could reach Washington.  Its 26 articles gave
the U.S.A. far more than had been offered in the original U.S.-French treaty rejected by the Colombian government, including: "sovereign rights in perpetuity over the Canal Zone", an area extending eight km. on either side of the canal, and a broad right of interference in Panamanian affairs.  Allen Wrenn went on to sketch highlights of the continuing friction between Panama and the U.S.A. regarding this
treaty right up to the final transfer of the canal back to Panama on December 31, 1999.

That evening, there was an Informal dinner (dress or blouse and
slacks for ladies, jacket required for men) that featured a Dutch theme--with little Dutch caps by everyone's plate!

Electing to eschew Showtime and the various other activities on offer that night, I went to bed by 10 p.m.  It was interesting to observe that other passengers, who tried to fit in every activity possible, rapidly exhausted themselves and began to succumb to colds and headaches.


This account of my Panama Canal cruise is continued at:

                      MY TRIP TO PANAMA

                                                     Part One
                                                  

                                            by Maureen Halsall


On Saturday, December 22, 2001, arising just after midnight, I was
picked up at 3:30 a.m. for transfer to Toronto's Pearson International Airport.  The journey to San Jose, Costa Rica (where I was to overnight at a hotel before travelling to the Pacific Coast to board Holland America's ms Amsterdam) was not the normal two-flight itinerary (Toronto-Miami, Miami-San Jose) but a four-flight marathon
(Toronto-Minneapolis, Minneapolis-Orlando, Orlando-Miami,
Miami-San Jose), scheduled to total fifteen hours from taking off
at 7 a.m. EST from Pearson International to arriving just before
9 p.m. CST at Juan Santamaria International in Costa Rica.  Little
did I know that events would stretch those fifteen hours to twenty, meaning that it would be fully twenty-five hours from the time I left
home before I reached the desk of the Melia Cariari Hotel in San Jose.

The day didn't start out too badly.  My Airways Transit vehicle
reached Pearson by 5 a.m. and I was through check-in and U.S. Immigration and  Customs before 6 a.m.--only to find that NorthWest flight 1242, scheduled to depart at 7 a.m., would be delayed by an hour while a new nose-wheel inspection light was procured.  This delay did
not prove to be all loss, however, in that just before departure at 8 a.m. my seat was changed to first class.  The change meant that, unlike the economy passengers, I actually was given a small breakfast of cereal, muffin and banana: the last solid food served on any of my "beverage only" flights that day.

Despite its late departure, NW 1242 reached Minneapolis in ample time
for me to make the first of my three connections: NorthWest flight 580
to Orlando, which departed close to the scheduled time at 11:10 CST--
but not before I had been subjected to the first of several carry-on and body searches.  After a while, I began to observe a pattern in these so-called random searches.  It seems that, for airport security
personnel, the paranoia omnipresent in the U.S. since September 11
is tempered by a healthy fear of accusations of racism.  Hence, the bulk
of the time, their target turns out to be, not a bearded, dark-
complected young man of possible Near Eastern origin, but a pale, elderly WASP lady (preferably, it seems, somewhat decrepit and
tottery).  Incidentally, after running the security gauntlet and boarding NW 580, I discovered that the airline had descended to what must
rank as a new low in meal service for a three-hour lunchtime flight:
water and pretzels!

Arriving at Orlando by 3:10 p.m. EST, I took the shuttle to the main terminal, then a second shuttle out to gates 1-29, where I managed to obtain boarding passes for my next two flights (both with American Airlines).  Learning that these two flights also would be "beverage
only",  I popped into Burger King for a Whopper and a Coke--not perhaps very nutritious, but my only actual food for the rest of that
day.   It proved quite an experience finding my way about Orlando Airport: never in my previous travels have I encountered such
rudeness and even outright hostility from airport staff. 

My dislike of the airport was exacerbated by the massive security
in place at the departure gate.  Talk about hysterical over-reaction.  Suddenly, the young official searching my carry-on cried out loudly
to his colleagues, "I've found something!" and then proceeded to confiscate my tiny blunt-ended eyebrow tweezers.  Only by virtue of
an enormous exercise in self-control did I refrain from asking him how much success he estimated I might have if I were to brandish that fearsome "weapon" at the flight crew and try to take over the plane. 
Of course, when the crew fell down and rolled about the aisles
laughing, perhaps I might be able to brain them all with my carry-on
and then break down the cabin door and attack the pilot with my terrorizing tweezers.

AA 725 departed Orlando half an hour late at 5:30 p.m. EST, but
reached Miami only a few minutes late at 6:10 EST.  There was no
gate free for us, however; so we sat on the tarmac for twenty minutes more.  Still, there turned out to be plenty of time for passengers to transfer to American Airlines flight 2171,  which departed only ten minutes late at 8:15 p.m.

AA 2171 proved to have quite a few passengers bound, as I was, for an overnight hotel stay in San Jose, prior to embarking on the twelve-day
Holland America Panama Canal cruise.  By 9:30 p.m. we were circling Juan Santamaria International Airport, eager to see the end of our
day's travel...only to learn that the runways had just been closed on account of poor visibility.  Our aircraft then diverted to Panama City
for refueling and to await a change in the weather.  Finally, the fog lifted and we were able to return to San Jose, where AA 2171 at last put its wheels down on Costa Rican soil over five hours late at 2 a.m. CST.

But this was not to be the end of the frustrations associated with
AA 2171. After waiting in a long, slow queue for the Immigration formalities, I stood expectantly by the baggage carousel, anticipating
the arrival of my suitcase...which failed to appear.  After repeated inquiries, the AA Claims Officer determined that it was still in Miami,
but promised faithfully that it would be on the next AA flight arriving about noon that same day (for, of course, it was now the small hours
of December 23).  So, I arranged with Swiss Travel, who were handling all the Holland America transfers--both people and luggage--to pick
up my case and deliver it to the ms Amsterdam before the ship sailed
at 8 p.m.  After that, I was transferred to the luxurious Melia Cariari Hotel at 3:30 a.m. CST (4:30 a.m. EST) for a little sleep before the scheduled transfer at 10 a.m. to Puerto Caldera on the Pacific Coast, where our ship was to dock that morning.  Luckily, I had had the
foresight to put a nightgown and a change of underwear and socks in
my carry-on.

On Sunday, December 23, I awoke early after about two hours sleep
and at 8 a.m. was breakfasting by the hotel pool.
After breakfast, I learned that our departure for the Pacific Coast
would take place 2 1/2 hours later than previously announced. 
Accordingly, at 12:30 several buses filled with Holland America
passengers set out on the two-hour journey from San Jose to the
container port of Puerto Caldera.  San Jose has a mild spring-like climate, lying as it does up in Costa Rica's fertile Central Valley, surrounded by coffee plantations and rolling green hills that rise to heights between 3,000 and 4,000 feet above sea level.  The Swiss
Travel agent on our bus kept up a constant patter about the changing flora and fauna as well as the evidences of human activity (such as bungee-jumping sites!), which were intermittently visible over
shoulders and heads through the windows of our over-crowded bus
as we descended to the rugged Pacific coast. He also took pains to explain that the poor condition of this Costa Rican section of the Pan-American Highway was the result of a deliberate governmental strategy for discouraging large truck traffic.

From the moment we arrived at the hot, humid dock in Puerto
Caldera, the level of efficiency improved dramatically.  The
registration lines were processed smoothly; and in a very few minutes
I received my plastic all-purpose key-credit-identification card and
was escorted to Cabin 1831.  This proved to be a large outside double, well forward on the starboard side of the lowest or "Dolphin" deck. 
See below for the layout of the cabin (which is the same for both outer and inner cabins, except that the latter have no windows).  To accommodate me, as a single passenger, the twin beds had been
placed together and made up with "queen-size" bedding--perhaps in prophecy of how much rich food I was destined to consume en route
to Fort Lauderdale.

By 3 p.m., only half an hour after stepping down from the transfer bus,
I was up on the eighth deck eating lunch in the Lido Restaurant.

At 3:30 p.m. three of us passengers (out of a total complement of over 1,200) were gathered, awaiting a guide, at the prow on the ninth or Sports deck in the Crow's Nest: a popular bar that I later was to find made a spectacular vantage point for viewing our passage through the Panama Canal.
Boat drill followed at 5:15 p.m. and was taken very seriously by both passengers and crew.

Then it was time for the "Early-Sitting" Dinner I had opted for in the formal La Fontaine Dining Room.  Fortunately, dress for that night
had been designated as "Casual: comfortable attire, but no shorts, t-shirts or jeans".  Otherwise, since (despite all the American Airlines and Swiss Travel promises) my suitcase failed to reach the ship on
December 23, I should have had to make do with the Lido Restaurant, where dining was always casual.

At our table for six, I met my dining companions for the twelve nights
of our voyage.  These consisted of: Conrad and Brenda from the State
of Washington, a pair of experienced cruise-goers originally hailing
from England; Joe, a retired professor of Engineering from Penn State University, just beginning the second of two back-to-back cruises through the Panama Canal and hence a fount of information on what activities were the most rewarding; and last (but certainly not least)
Jack and his daughter Joan from Elizabeth, New Jersey--both of them storytellers in their different ways.  Jack regaled us nightly with tales
of his recent experiences driving a school bus for disadvantaged
children (not to mention his much earlier experiences during his young days at sea).  Joan kindly shared with me on her laptop computer the opening chapters of the fantasy novel which she is writing.  Indeed,
there was always such lively conversation at our table that the dinner music almost seemed an intrusion upon our self-generated entertainment.

After dinner, feeling somewhat anxious about my missing luggage,
I consulted the Front Office on the fourth or Promenade deck, whose staff now firmly promised delivery of my suitcase at Puntarenas,
where we were scheduled to dock later that night.  While at the Front Office, I took the opportunity of selecting all my shore excursions for
the rest of the cruise.  Then, tired from so little sleep over the past forty-eight hours, I returned to my cabin to wash the few clothes in
my possession and got to bed by 10:30 p.m., in an effort to have a full night's rest for a change--instead of the couple of hours per night
of the past two days.  No cabaret shows for this weary passenger!

On Monday, December 24 I arose early, notified the cabin steward
that my bathtub would not drain, breakfasted in La Fontaine at 7:30
a.m., and by 8:30 a.m. was out on deck taking pictures of the long, narrow spit of land jutting out into the Gulf of Nicoya, where the now derelict port of Puntarenas is situated.
From the Crow's Nest we were taken on a tour of the public areas of the ship, including, on the eighth or Lido deck: the Ocean Spa Gymnasium, the Lido Pool (which has a retractable roof) and the Outside Pool.
Even this early in the morning, the sunny, hot and humid weather
drove me inside.  Dressed in my heavy Canadian travel gear and deprived of the sunhat and light cottons still reposing in my suitcase somewhere in Costa Rica, there was no way that I could even remain
on deck, let alone go ashore to explore the remains of what during the 19th century was Costa Rica's major port.   So I retired to the Crow's Nest to read and admire the view from its air-conditioned interior,
later adjourning for mid-morning coffee in the Java Bar on the Promenade deck, followed by a movie (Legally Blond) in the adjacent Wajang Theatre. 

After lunch in La Fontaine, I returned to my cabin to find to my relief,
not only that the plumber was there fixing my bathtub drain, but that
at long last my luggage had arrived--intact, and just in time for me to dress for the captain's Welcome Aboard champagne reception.   In
this regard, I proved luckier than some other passengers on AA 2171, whose luggage did not reach them until December 26--being brought
out by pilot boat from Panama City.  As it turned out, that evening's reception line served primarily an excuse for the ship's photographers
o snap passengers standing with Captain Corbijn (at 39 the youngest captain in Holland America's fleet).  Well, what was a girl to do? 
Spit in his eye?  So, below behold me and the captain.
After the reception and dinner, I was still feeling rather tired.  So I decided on another early night, going to bed at 10 p.m. and putting the clock forward by an hour, as we would be leaving Central Standard
Time and re-entering Eastern Standard Time that night.

On Tuesday, December 25, I arose at 7:30 a.m. and was at breakfast
by 8:30.  Then, since this was to be a quiet day at sea with no stops
at any ports, I visited the ship's library in quest of Large Print books,
of which there was a fair selection.  The quiet, unassuming boy from
San Diego who was in charge there that day turned out to be a
member of the Showtime company, who were putting on song and
dance performances in the Queen's Lounge every night or so,
including a performance that very night; so I decided to attend and
see what he and the others had to offer.  The rest of the morning
passed pleasantly in reading in the Crow's Nest.  Although I skipped
the Christmas Day group festivities beginning at 10 a.m. in the
Queen's Lounge, from time to time I could hear announcements about the sighting of an "unidentified flying object that looks like a sleigh"
and later about Santa's arrival on the Bridge and progress through the ship.  The considerable contingent of young children aboard obviously had a wonderful time.

After lunch, Civil Engineer Allan Wren, who has made a hobby of studying the Panama Canal, delivered the first of what was to be a
series of three slide lectures.  This one consisted of a pictorial cruise through the canal entitled: The Panama Canal - What it is Today",
which furnished an excellent introduction to what we were going to
see during our eight-hour transit of the canal on Boxing Day.

Next I attended an art auction, at which one of the helpers distributing our programmes and bidding cards turned out to be a girl from Newfoundland, who also was a member of the Showtime company. 
In the end, I did not bid on any of the art works.  Although I seriously thought about purchasing a highly decorative one on canvas by Linda LeKinff, it seemed to me that $900 U.S. plus 15% commission was rather too steep a price.
After enjoying a formal Christmas Dinner in the La Fontaine, I made
my way to the Queen's Lounge for Showtime, this evening entitled "Personality, Too!" Imagine my surprise to discover that the two youngsters met earlier in the day were the show's star singers.  The Canadian girl, Michelle Doyle, proved to have a very fine voice; and
the unassuming nineteen-year-old boy from San Diego, Adam
Lambert, was transformed on stage into a charismatic show-stopper.  Since the other eight youthful performers also were very good, "Personality, Too!" provided an entertaining conclusion to a pleasant Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 26 was the day I was waiting for (my only
reason for taking this cruise in the first place): the transit of the
Panama Canal.  I arose at 5:30 a.m. in order to be up breakfasting
on the Lido deck before 6 a.m. in time to witness the boarding of the
pilot at the Balboa Pilot Station.  Then at dawn I was out on the second
or Main deck to photograph Panama City, the Bridge of the Americas and the shoreline, as we approached the first of the two sets of double locks at the Pacific end of the canal: the Miraflores locks.
By 7 a.m., as the sun rose higher and the heat increased, I retreated from the exposed prow of the Main deck up to the shadowed forward section of the eighth or Lido deck to photograph our approach to and passage through the two Miraflores locks from 8 to 9 a.m..
From this vantage point, high above my sweltering former companions,
I photographed the riggers coming out in their tiny rowboat to pass
us the first of the taut lines that would secure us to the big "mules"
(electrical locomotives travelling along a cog rail line on each side of
the channel) that would accompany us through the lock, preventing the ship from grazing its sides on the concrete walls only eighteen inches away.  This process reoccurred at every set of locks we traversed. 
The mules--as many as eight for a very large ship--do not actually tow the ship through the lock, since 90% of the power comes from the
ship's own engines); but they work in tandem to keep the vessel
aligned and are essential to its safe passage.
Passing the communication tower, whose cameras monitored our progress and beamed it live to www.pancanal.com, we continued into
he second Miraflores lock and from there out onto Miraflores Lake, beyond which lay the Pedro Miguel set of double locks.  By this time,
the heat was such that I retreated still higher to the air-conditioned Crow's Nest on the ninth or Sports deck and thereafter was reduced
to taking the rest of my photographs through glass.
Slightly ahead of us and paralleling our course in the right-hand
channel of each of the two double locks at Miraflores, was the ZIM Iberia out of Haifa, a giant container ship, like us 106 feet across the beam: the maximum widthof vessel allowed through the canal.
The Pedro Miguel lock, which we traversed between 9:15 and 10 a.m., represented the final stage in raising our ship the 26 metre difference
in height between the Pacific and the 12.6 km Gaillard (or Culebra)
Cut through the Continental Divide.  Later, when we reached the Atlantic end of the canal, the third set of locks (the three Gatun locks) would reverse the process and lower the ms Amsterdam 26 metres to
sea-level.  Probably the following material from the Panama Canal Authority's official brochure will explain where we were at this point
and what was happening to our vessel far more clearly than any
verbal commentary.
Of an interest almost equal to the operation of the locks was the canal and lakeside activity, especially the sight of the huge cranes on the dredgers.
Finally, we sailed into the snake-like Gaillard Cut, where other ships
that had entered the canal from the Atlantic that morning awaited the mid-day reversal of direction which would open them passage through
the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks.  Here, one of these ships gets
up steam and passes us en route to the Pacific.
After passing through the Gaillard Cut, which is not very interesting visually--except for the places where the instability of the rock and
shale of the isthmian mountains has resulted in devastating land-slides, we entered Gatun Lake. 

This huge artificial lake was created by the Gatun Dam across the Rio Chagres; and, when the canal opened in 1914, they constituted the largest dam and the largest artificial lake on earth.  Like Miraflores Lake, Gatun Lake  functions as a reservoir essential for the operation
of the canal, which (unlike the sea-level Suez Canal) is designed to
use fresh water.  Pumping seawater up 26 metres would have been prohibitively expensive and would have destroyed the Panamanian vegetation by salinating the rivers, not to mention compromising the canal's efficiency by corroding the lock mechanisms of the forty pairs
of huge miter gates that open and close the locks.  Each individual 305x33.5 metre lock acts as a water lift.  Fresh water originating in
the watershed rivers is pumped into each of the twelve locks that
make up the canal system, then drained out by gravity, and ultimately flushed into the sea.  Since filling a single lock requires 197 million
litres of water, it is indeed fortunate that rain falls so heavily on the tropical rain-forests of Panama.

Finally, just before 2 p.m., the ms Amsterdam reached the last set of locks to be traversed before entering the Atlantic: the three Gatun
locks.  This time we were piloted through the right-hand channel,
whilst another vessel: the Panama-registered  Dexter Eagle passed through the left-hand channel.
In the photographs below, water is pumped out of the lock on our left,
in order to lower the Dexter Eagle to sea level.   Then the same thing
is done in our channel for the ms Amsterdam; whereupon the lock
gates fold back into the canal walls to enable us to sail out towards
the Caribbean just after 3 p.m. --almost exactly eight hours since we entered the first of the Miraflores locks).
As we prepared to sail out of the last lock, past the heads of
passengers on the eighth deck I got a clear shot of how the huge gates fold down the rails of the workmen's cross-walks and slot into the walls of the canal to permit a ship to pass through. 
I also got a shot (framed by the windows of the Crow's Nest and the figures of other passengers on the eighth deck below me) of some of
the gears that once controlled the lock-gates before the recent introduction of hydraulics.  These great half-wheels are piled up on
shore in the middle distance.
By 4 p.m. we had reached the entrance to the canal and had
disembarked the Panama Canal pilot, as well as the official guide,
who had been broadcasting information all day over the ship's inter-comm system.  To pass along the fifty-mile canal route, the
ms Amsterdam had paid about $150,000 US in tolls and ancillary fees --money well spent, from the point of view of its tired but well-satisfied passengers.

That night, after a Casual dinner in La Fontaine, I was in bed by
10:30 p.m., putting the clock forward as additional hour as we left Eastern Standard Time and entered Atlantic Standard Time.

On Thursday, December 27, after breakfasting at 8:30, I dropped in
on the Curacoa Shopping Talk by Richard, our Port and Shopping Ambassador, but left early, vowing never to attend another. 

At 11 a.m. I joined half a dozen passengers in the Crow's Nest for an
Art and Antiques Tour with Robert, who also had conducted the art auction I attended on Christmas Day.  We began by looking at
various objects of interest there, including one of the many ship
models scattered throughout the Amsterdam's public rooms and also
the 19th-century British bird-cage (carved out of mahogany in the
shape of a cathedral) which is visible against the back wall on the right
in the first shot below --probably this was carved by an apprentice as
the piece required to earn his mastership. 

The ms Amsterdam is a new ship, built in the year 2000 in Marghera. Italy.  One of its special delights, however, is the consistent Art Deco style of its decor--including, for example, the modern pair of cut and blown glass torches at the entrance to the Crow's Nest, as well as
the hammer-shaped sheet gilt-bronze panels of the Four Seasons (originally made for s.s Amsterdam in 1926) that hang across from
the torches in the forward staircase.
Everywhere one looks, the ship is filled with objects of interest: paintings, tapestries, statues, statuettes and busts, terracottas, engravings, etchings, pietra dura table-tops, cabinets, inkwells,
mirrors, urns, armour, gablestones, nautical instruments--even in the Sports bar two circular collages, the first consisting of signed baseballs (one by DiMaggio), the second of signed hockey pucks (one by Wayne Gretzky).  Some of the works of art are replicas; others--such as the
pair of polychrome painted stucco-on-wood Chinese temple guardians (1350-1400)--are originals.  As a few instances of the interesting background created by the ship's decorators, see below: in the Lido
Pool, the patinated cast-bronze Grizzly Bears by Suzannne Holt,
USA, 2000; at the forward and aft entrances of the Lido Restaurant, Scenes from the Vecht River hand-painted on tile by Farnese, Italy, 2000, copying originals by Nicholas Visscher, 1718; and, in the
midship staircase down to deck 7, Fruit Still Life, oil on honeycomb aluminum by Giuseppe Linardi, Italy, 2000. 
Too large for effective photography was the ship's centrepiece:
the Clock Tower Planeto Astrolabium, rising through the Atrium from
the third or Lower Promenade deck, through the fourth or Promenade deck, to the fifth or Upper Promenade deck.  As with most of the wonderful objects on the ms Amsterdam by the end of the cruise it had become my firm belief that 99% of the ship's passengers walked by
the Clock Tower (en route to bingo, the casino or the ice-cream bar) without giving it a second glance.  A detailed description of the parts
of this huge, ornate, dull-silver mechanism follows.

"Clocks, mixed media, design by VFD, F.C.J. Dingemans/ V.H.F
Jansen,execution by Lebigre & Roger, Italy, 2000.  Carillon by Royal Eijsbouts BV, the Netherlands.  The astrolabium clock has a tellurium above the clocks, which shows the exact position of the moon in
relation to the earth.  On top is a large dome with the zodiac and stars.  The first clock is connected to the carillon, which sounds hourly. 
The second clock shows the sky over the city of Amsterdam with the
pole star in the centre as reference.  The third clock is a world clock
that shows the time in different cities around the world.  The fourth
clock is a planetarium which shows the motion of the planets in
relation to each other.  The ladies gracing the four corners represent
the four seasons."

After lunch, Allen Wrenn gave his second slide lecture: this time on
the history of the Panama Canal up to the time the U.S. took over its
construction, plus its historical usage, and some details of the recent
history of the canal.

Of course, the idea of a canal across the isthmus did not originate in
the 19th century.  Such a thoroughfare for shipping was first mooted
in 1524, when King Charles V of Spain ordered a feasibility study;
but it was not until 1878 that the Colombian government awarded a contract to build a canal paralleling the railroad built by the U.S.A.
in 1850-55.  The California gold rush of 1848 had made this railroad
a highly profitable venture and spurred efforts to construct an interoceanic canal across Central America.  The canal concession, awarded to Lucien N.B. Wyse, was sold to the French diplomat, Ferdinand de Lesseps, then basking in his success as the contractor -builder of the Suez Canal.  The tale of how De Lesseps' company
began work in 1880 on a sea-level canal, the tragic incidence of yellow fever, malaria, landslides, etc. which followed, killing about 22,000 workers, and the financial mis- management that finally drove the company into bankruptcy by 1889 need not be recounted here. 
Suffice it to say that the French eventually agreed to sell the
concession to the U.S.A. in 1903; and, when the Colombian
government refused permission for the sale, the U.S.A. and France backed a revolutionary junta, which declared Panama independent
on November 3, 1903.  Philippe Bunau-Varilla, as Panamanian ambassador to the United States, took it upon himself to sign the Hay-Bunau-Varilla treaty before the Panamian delegation to
negotiate treaty terms could reach Washington.  Its 26 articles gave
the U.S.A. far more than had been offered in the original U.S.-French treaty rejected by the Colombian government, including: "sovereign rights in perpetuity over the Canal Zone", an area extending eight km. on either side of the canal, and a broad right of interference in Panamanian affairs.  Allen Wrenn went on to sketch highlights of the continuing friction between Panama and the U.S.A. regarding this
treaty right up to the final transfer of the canal back to Panama on December 31, 1999.

That evening, there was an Informal dinner (dress or blouse and
slacks for ladies, jacket required for men) that featured a Dutch theme--with little Dutch caps by everyone's plate!

Electing to eschew Showtime and the various other activities on offer that night, I went to bed by 10 p.m.  It was interesting to observe that other passengers, who tried to fit in every activity possible, rapidly exhausted themselves and began to succumb to colds and headaches.


This account of my Panama Canal cruise is continued at: