On 14th May, Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) 168,000 gt, 4,004 pax capacity ‘Norwegian Bliss’ became the largest passenger vessel to transit the waterway to date.
“The Panama Canal is proud to welcome the ‘Norwegian Bliss’ and recognises that this distinct milestone is made possible by the canal expansion, as well as the experience and efforts gained in the two years since its inauguration,” said Deputy Canal Administrator, Manuel Benítez.
‘Norwegian Bliss’ left Germany’s Meyer Werft shipyard in March and began a 15-day cruise this month, sailing from Miami, Florida through the Panama Canal to Los Angeles in California and Seattle, Washington. The ship will then serve the Alaska region until the end of the cruise season, after which she will reposition to the Caribbean.
“We are very proud to help the Panama Canal close out the season with the crossing of our highly-anticipated ship, ‘Norwegian Bliss’,” said Andy Stuart, NCL president and CEO. “As she makes her way to Seattle, we are excited for this 16th ship in our young and modern fleet to begin welcoming guests and providing them with the stand-out service, dining, entertainment and amenities for which we are recognised.”
For the Panama Canal, 24th May marked the unofficial end to the 2017-18 cruise season when the ‘Pacific Princess’, operated by Princess Cruises, transited as part of her 17-day voyage from Los Angeles, California to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The canal authority’s international trade specialist, Albano Aguilar, commented on the waterway’s successful season. “By the end of its cruise season, the Panama Canal will have transited a total 248 passenger ships with a total of 312,304 passengers on board. Of this, 20 cruise ships will be Neopanamax vessels, including the ‘Caribbean Princess’, ‘Carnival Freedom’, ‘Carnival Splendor’, ‘Norwegian Bliss’ and ‘Disney Wonder’ – all able to transit the waterway thanks to the expansion of the canal.”
Smaller ships, such as the ‘Safari Voyager’ and the ‘Wind Star’ also contributed to the total number of transits. These vessels, with itineraries of eight and 11 days, respectively, visited ports located on the west coast of the Central American isthmus.
In addition, the Panama Canal received passenger ships that did not undertake a full transit, such as ‘Le Boreal’ and ‘Logos Hope’.