By Jite Eriabie
Panama Canal expects to receive approximately 235 cruise ships through the Panamax and Neopanamax Locks during the upcoming 2017-2018 cruise season.
Beginning in October, this will be the first full cruise season to welcome vessels through the Expanded Canal.
“In addition to the existing locks, cruise lines now have the option to include the Expanded Canal as part of their itineraries,” Albano Aguilar, the Panama Canal’s international trade specialist, said.
“This will open up additional scheduling and repositioning opportunities for the industry and its larger cruise vessels,” Aguilar added.
In April 2017, Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder became the first cruise ship to ever transit the Expanded Canal. This season, the ship will transit again along with the Caribbean Princess, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Splendor and Norwegian Bliss.
Together, the five ships will make a total of 20 transits, and 11 new cruise ships will transit either the Canal’s Panamax or Neopanamax Locks for the first time.
A highlight of the season will be Norwegian Bliss which will make its repositioning transit through the waterway en route to the US West Coast to begin its cruise season in Alaska. Currently under construction, the ship will be able to carry up to 4,200 passengers once complete, and will become the largest capacity cruise vessel to ever transit the waterway.
As in previous years, the main cruise lines such as Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line will offer itineraries for complete and partial transits through the Panama Canal. Smaller cruises, including the Wind Star and National Geographic Quest, will offer seven and eight-day itineraries, respectively, to the west coast of Central America.
The Panama Canal’s 2017-2018 cruise season begins on October 2, 2017, with the partial transit of Princess Cruise Line’s Island Princess on a roundtrip voyage to and from Los Angeles with stops along the West Coast of North and Central America.
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