Panama Canal Expecting a Record Setting 2022-2023 Cruise Season

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Spirit traversing the Panama Canal on Oct. 4. Photo: Panama Canal Authority.

On Oct. 4, the Panama Canal announced the transit of Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Spirit, marking the start of the waterway’s 2022-2023 cruise season, during which the Canal is expected to facilitate more than 200 cruise ship transits over the next few months.

Forty-four of the transits are expected to involve Neopanamax passenger vessels, which is 17 more than it anticipated in the 2019-2020 season that was cut short by the pandemic, and includes two transits by the Norwegian Encore, the sister ship of the Norwegian Bliss, the largest cruise ship to traverse the waterway.

“We anticipate a record number of Neopanamax vessel transits this year, which will help boost Panama’s tourism sector,” Albano Aguilar, International Trade Specialist at the Panama Canal, said.

The Panama Canal cruise season runs between October and May. This year’s awaited season was kicked off by the Carnival Spirit, which was on a 16-day voyage from Seattle to New Orleans. Built in 2001, the Panamax-size vessel has a length of 292 meters (958 feet), a beam of 32 meters (105 feet) and an approximate capacity of 2,680 passengers.

Shipping lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises are all expected to return to the waterway this season.

At least 12 cruise ships are scheduled for inaugural transits this season, according to the Panama Canal Authority, the governmental body that operates the waterway.