Water level in the locks before the fill
We eventually did make the canal tour but no thanks to Grayline Discovery Tours, with whom we had a paid reservation and instructions on where to meet the bus at 7:15 for an 8:00 a.m. departure to the boat pier. We arrived at 7:20 and waited, and waited and no Grayline bus arrived nor any other people waiting for a bus. At 8:15 a small 20 passenger bus from another company arrived. We asked if they knew about Grayline and how we might contact them as there were no public phones in the area. She called the number on our paid voucher but got no answer. Since the tours only go on Saturdays, this was our only chance. Finally she came over and said we could ride with her group to the pier and then she had arranged with another group to bring us back in their bus after the tour as her group was going on an all-day tour through all the locks and we were scheduled for the partial tour. We climbed onto the bus and were greeted by 18 "Gutentag's." It was a German speaking tour. Neither of the tour operators would take payment. They just made room for us. They asked us to demand a refund from Grayline and gave us their numbers and said they would be glad to verify that they provided the service. I've never before used Grayline and now I certainly never will!
Once on our 100-passenger boat that was only half filled, we had a marvelous experience. The tour was narrated in English, Spanish and German. Breakfast, lunch and cold drinks were provided. You can view the Panama Canal 24-hour webcam here. The large cargo ship partially visible above is what we followed through the first three locks. In this photo below you can compare the water level after only 7 minutes in the lock.
Fully filled lock and ship underway
The other boat that joined us and the cargo ship is the one below. Because the engine wash could toss them around a bit, they tied onto our boat for the trip through the locks.