Today, the Panama Canal announced the transit of Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Spirit, marking the start of the waterway’s 2022-2023 cruise season.

The Canal will facilitate more than 200 cruise ship transits over the next few months, 44 of which will involve Neopanamax passenger vessels. This figure is 17 more than it anticipated in the 2019-2020 season that was cut short by the pandemic, and includes two transits by the Norwegian Encore, the sister ship of the Norwegian Bliss, the largest cruise ship to pass through the waterway.

“We anticipate a record number of Neopanamax vessel transits this year, which will help boost Panama’s tourism sector,” said Albano Aguilar, International Trade Specialist at the Panama Canal. “Given our role in international trade, we are thrilled to welcome visitors from around the world to experience the Panama Canal first-hand and to discover what our country has to offer.”

The Panama Canal cruise season runs between the months of October and May. This year’s awaited season was kicked off by the Carnival Spirit, which is on a 16-day voyage from Seattle, Washington to New Orleans, Louisiana. Built in 2001, the Panamax-size vessel has a length of 292 meters, a beam of 32 meters, and an approximate capacity of 2,680 passengers.

Shipping lines, such as Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean Cruises, are all expected to return to the waterway this season, offering guests itineraries that feature a complete or partial transit of the Panama Canal. They will deploy Neopanamax vessels such as the Norwegian Joy, Celebrity Edge, Caribbean Princess, Emerald Princess, Carnival Freedom, Ruby Princess, Carnival Glory, and Carnival Freedom. They will be joined by smaller cruise ships such as the Viking Star, Seabourn Quest, Star Legend, Windstar, and National Geographic Quest, among others.

At least 12 cruise ships are scheduled for inaugural transits this season. These new visitors include the Fridtjof of Nansen, Seabourn Venture, World Navigator, Celebrity Edge, Sea Cloud Spirit, World Voyager, Evrima, Le Bellot, Spirit of Adventure, Viking Neptune, Viking Octantis, and Viking Polaris.