Flying Longhorns Tour the Panama Canal


One of the world’s greatest engineering feats, the Panama Canal turns 100 this year. The 48-mile-long canal sees more than 14,000 ships annually. This spring, two of those ships were carrying Flying Longhorns. They got an up-close view of one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

The Flying Longhorns’ Panama Canal & Costa Rica trip was  so popular that the same route was sailed twice in order to accommodate everyone on the waitlist. Although the itineraries were nearly identical, two separate ships made the weeklong journey to the Caribbean. The M.Y. Variety Voyager, which sailed on February 23, was hosted by Texas Exes director of advocacy Daniel Becka. The M.V. Tere Moana sailed nearly a week later and was hosted by Brigid Anderson, a member of the Texas Exes accounting and finance team.

Both cruises were held on small luxury ships. The Tere Moana had just 45 staterooms, and the Variety Voyager was even smaller. The close quarters brought passengers together, Anderson says. “It’s not your typical big cruise line vessel,” she says. “But it’s great because it really allows for a more intimate setting.”

Flying Longhorns - Panama '14Another great thing about the small ship was that it allowed for passengers to get a better view when passing through the canal.

“When you travel in a large ship, a big chunk of your view is obstructed because the ship itself can barely fit,” Becka says. “In a smaller ship, you see less boat and more environment. It’s easy to get that full 360-degree view.”

Although the group stayed busy during days at sea, most passengers listed days spent exploring the islands as a highlight. Snorkeling and just touring the beautiful islands of Panama seemed to be a crowd favorite. Besides having fun and trying new things, people also found it to be a great cultural experience. Panama City’s biodiversity museum was one of the most interesting and informative excursions.

“They were still building the museum when we were there so we were able to actually walk through one side of it while it was under construction,” Becka says. “It was so unique. People loved it.”

This being the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal made the trip all the more special. But even though they were cruising on the other side of the world, passengers brought a little part of UT-Austin with them. Crew members on the Tere Moana carved a giant watermelon into the shape of a Longhorn one night at dinner, and atop the Variety Voyager’s mast flew a huge Texas Longhorns flag.

Top: the Panama Canal. Photo courtesy Flickr user Bruno Farias

Bottom: The second of the two groups of Flying Longhorns who traveled to the Panama Canal.


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