PANAMA CITY – The Disney Wonder, which can carry 2,713 passengers, became the first cruise ship to cross the widened Panama Canal this weekend, the Panama Canal Authority said.
“Good day! We welcome a Disney cruise ship. The first Neo Panamax passenger ship,” Panama Canal Authority administrative chief Jorge Quijano said in a Twitter post on Saturday.
The ship began its crossing Saturday morning at the Agua Clara lock on the Atlantic side of the canal and reached Cocoli, on the Pacific side, around 3:00 pm.
The Disney Wonder, sister ship of the Disney Magic, entered operation in 1999, was overhauled in 2006 and has 11 decks, Disney Cruise Line figures show.
Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line are among the other cruise lines whose ships include canal crossings on their itineraries, the Panama Canal Authority said.
A total of 233 passenger ships are expected to cross the canal during the current fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1, 2016, to Sept. 30, 2017, carrying an estimated 237,298 passengers, Panama Canal Authority international trade specialist Albano Aguilar said.
Since the Panama Canal’s new set of locks were inaugurated on June 26, 2016, a daily average of 5.9 New Panamax ships have transited the waterway.
The canal, which handles roughly 6 percent of world trade, was built by the United States at the start of the 20th century and currently links more than 140 maritime routes and 1,700 ports in 160 different countries.