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,’ 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,’ he added,
In April 2017, Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder became the first cruise ship to transit the newly expanded waterway.
It will transit again this season along with Caribbean Princess, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Splendor and Norwegian Bliss. Together, the five ships will make a total of 20 transits.
11 new cruise ships will transit either the Canal’s Panamax or Neopanamax Locks for the first time from the following lines: Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises, Viking Cruises and Lindblad with each ship making multiple transits.
Perhaps the most visible sign of the Expanded Canal's impact on the cruise market this season will be Norwegian Bliss, when it makes a repositioning transit through the waterway en-route to the US West Coast to begin an Alaska season. Currently under construction, the ship will become the largest capacity cruise vessel to ever transit the Canal.
The Panama Canal’s 2017-2018 cruise season begins October 2, 2017 with the partial transit of Princess’ Island Princess on a roundtrip voyage to and from Los Angeles with stops along the West Coast of North and Central America.