Panama City, Panama, April 29, 2017 – Today, the Expanded Panama Canal welcomed its first passenger vessel through the new locks: the Disney Cruise Line Disney Wonder. The milestone signals the further diversification of traffic through the Expanded Canal and with it, introduces new repositioning opportunities for the cruise industry and benefits to its customers.
“The original Panama Canal has been a cruise destination for many years,” said Panama Canal Deputy Administrator Manuel Benitez. “Today’s historic transit marks the beginning of cruise lines being able to include the new locks as part of their itineraries, opening up additional transit options and allowing cruise passengers to witness first-hand this feat of modern engineering.”
> The Disney Wonder is one of several cruise ships to have transited the canal during the 2016-2017 cruise season that ends in May. Notably, the Disney Wonder’s transit on April 29, marked the first time a passenger vessel utilized the new locks of the Expanded Canal. Other lines such as Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line all sent passenger vessels through the original locks. In addition, smaller vessels, such as the Safari Voyager and National Geographic’s Sea Lion, which call on ports in the Caribbean and along the east and west coasts of Central America, contributed to the segment’s traffic as well.
By the close of the 2017 fiscal year, which ends September 30, Panama Canal International Trade Specialist Albano Aguilar expects 233 passenger vessels – representing a total 237,298 passengers – to have transited both the original and new locks.
On April 1, the Panama Canal began accepting booking requests for passenger vessels in the new locks. So far, 18 reservations have already been made for passenger vessels to transit the Expanded Canal for the 2017-2018 season, a number which is expected to increase in the coming months.
About the Panama Canal Authority
The Panama Canal is run by an autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the ACP’s website: http://www.pancanal.com or follow us on Twitter @thepanamacanal.
About the Panama Canal Expansion
The Panama Canal Expansion is the largest enhancement project since the Canal’s opening in 1914. Considered and analyzed for a decade with more than 100 studies, the Expanded Canal provides the world’s shippers, retailers, manufacturers and consumers with greater shipping options, better maritime service, enhanced logistics and supply-chain reliability. The Expansion included the construction of a new set of locks on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the waterway, creating a third lane of traffic and doubling the cargo capacity of the waterway. While the expanded locks are 70 feet wider and 18 feet deeper than those in the original Canal, they use less water due to water-savings basins that recycle 60 percent of the water used per transit. In line with its commitment to customer service, the Panama Canal will continue to provide the world with value for another century and beyond.