The MS Disney Wonder transits the Agua Clara locks of the Expanded Panama Canal, April 29, 2017. Photo: Panama Canal Authority
The Panama Canal over the welcomed its first passenger vessel, the Disney Wonder, through the new and larger locks of the expanded canal.
The milestone is the latest ‘first’ since the opening of Expanded Panama Canal in 2016. The Disney Wonder’s transit on Saturday, April 29, marks the first time a passenger vessel has used the new locks. During the 2016-2017 cruising season, which ends in May, other lines such as Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line all sent passenger vessels through the original locks.
“The original Panama Canal has been a cruise destination for many years,” said Panama Canal Deputy Administrator Manuel Benitez. “[Saturday’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.”
By the close of the 2017 fiscal year, which ends September 30, the Panama Canal 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.
The Panama Canal Expansion opened to commercial transits in June 2016, allowing larger ships to use the waterway and opening it up to new vessel segments, such as LNG carriers.
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