Cruise Lines Rush to Use New Panama Canal Locks
Due to passenger demand and the larger size of their vessels, cruise lines have been lining up to make use of the new Panama Canal locks. Princess Cruises plans to send its 3,080-passenger Caribbean Princess, which has a beam of 118-feet, through the new locks during several partial transits of the waterway to be conducted later this year while Disney Cruise Line has scheduled its 1,754-passenger Disney Wonder to make use of the locks when it re-positions from the Caribbean to Alaska this summer.
Norwegian Cruise Lines also plans to send its 4,000-passenger Norwegian Bliss, still under construction in Europe, through the larger locks when it positions to Alaska in 2018. In addition, Carnival Cruise Line has signed up to use the new locks when it moves its 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor to the west coast from Miami.
With a beam of 116 feet, the eight-year-old Splendor is too wide to fit through the canal's old locks and had to sail around the bottom of South America in 2009 when it re-positioned from the Caribbean to the Pacific, the first time a Carnival ship ever to made such a voyage. It repeated the trip eastbound in 2013 when it returned to the Caribbean. The ship's coming transit will see it replace the smaller Carnival Miracle at Long Beach, which will then be re-positioned to Tampa, Florida.