Around 235 cruise ships are forecast to transit the Panama Canal through both sets of locks during the forthcoming 2017-2018 cruise season.
This will be the first full cruise season, which begins this month, in which cruise ships will use the new lock system.
“In addition to the existing locks, cruise lines now have the option to include the Expanded Canal as part of their itineraries,” said the Panama Canal’s international trade specialist Albano Aguilar.
“This will open up additional scheduling and repositioning opportunities for the industry and its larger cruise vessels, and provide new and unique experiences for their passengers.”
In April 2017, Disney Cruise Line’s ‘Disney Wonder’ became the first cruise ship to transit the new locks.
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 another 11 cruise ships will transit either the Canal’s Panamax or Neo-panamax locks for the first time, the Panama Canal Authority said.
According to the authority, on of the highlights of the season will be a transit of the ‘Norwegian Bliss’, which will make a repositioning cruise en route to the US West Coast to begin her cruise season in Alaska. Currently under construction, the ship will be able to carry up to 4,200 pax and will become the largest capacity cruise vessel to transit the canal.
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 or partial transits through the Panama Canal.
Smaller cruise ships, 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 2nd October, 2017, with the partial transit of Princess Cruise Line’s ‘Island Princess’ on a voyage to and from Los Angeles.