Destinations Central & South America

Panama Canal Construction Snafu Threatens To Scuttle Passage of Larger Cruise Ships

Excerpt from Cruise Critic

Jan 05, 2014 11:00 am

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Princess, Celebrity and Carnival cruise lines are among the lines keenly monitoring developments in the widening of the Panama Canal as it would enable them to help more of their passengers scratch this itinerary off their bucket lists.

— Dennis Schaal

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Carlos Jasso  / Reuters

Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano reacts during a news conference in Panama City January 2, 2014, to the development that a construction consortium threatens to halt widening the canal because of financial issues. Carlos Jasso / Reuters


Cruise passengers hoping to transit the Panama Canal on newer and larger ships will have to wait until at least April 2015 — and possibly even longer — due to delays affecting its expansion. A Spanish-led consortium threatened to suspend work on the $3.2 billion project in three weeks’ time unless the Panama authorities agree to compensate it for $1.6 billion of cost overruns.

The widening of the Canal was due to coincide with its centenary this year, allowing post-Panamax ships — those larger than the existing locks — to pass through. Currently only ships that are a maximum of 965 feet long and 106 feet wide (beam) can pass through, meaning just the smaller and often older classes of cruise ships can make the transit.

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