Panama Canal adds new milestone with the passage of a luxury megacourse

The cruise Norwegian Bliss, with a capacity for 5,000 passengers, crossed the expansion of the Panama Canal on Monday and marked a new milestone for the interoceanic route, since it is the largest ship of this type that has traveled through its waters in its history.

The Norwegian Bliss is "the largest passenger ship that has traveled the interoceanic way. It has a total length of 325.9 (1,069.2 feet) meters width, sleeve 41.4 (135.8 feet) meters and an 8.3 meter (27.2 feet) draft", said the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).

The vessel, operated by Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) and whose weight exceeds 168,000 gross tons, entered first in the morning through the locks of Agua Clara, on the Atlantic side.

The cruise started the trip in Miami and after crossing the canal it will visit the east coast of Central America and Mexico, until it reaches its final destination in Los Angeles, California, said the ACP.

The Norwegian Bliss is one of the last passenger vessels that will cross the channel in the cruise season 2017-2018, which officially ends on May 24 with the passage of the Pacific Princess, explained the water route.

"By the end of the cruise season, a total of 248 passenger vessels with a total of 312,304 passengers on board will have traveled through the Panama Canal," the Albano Aguilar international trade specialist said.

With the closing of the season "renowned cruise lines such as Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, among others, maintain their proposal to offer itineraries for full transits and partial transits that include Panama and, in particular, the interoceanic route, "the official information added.

The expansion, whose cost already exceeds 5,600 million dollars and was inaugurated in June 2016, was built precisely so that the so-called neopanamax could cross the canal, which has the capacity to carry up to 14,000 containers.

Container transport remains the main business of the water route, but the new locks have allowed the canal to open to other products, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) or large cruise ships.

For the channel, built by the US at the beginning of the last century and transferred to Panama on December 31, 1999, it passes close to 6 percent of world trade and connects more than 140 maritime routes and 1,700 ports in 160 different countries.