Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss became the largest passenger vessel to cross through the Panama Canal on Monday, in another historic moment for the recently expanded Canal.
The massive 168,028-ton ship was making its maiden voyage from Germany to Seattle before starting service to Alaska. The old locks could not have come close to handling a ship this large; a ship this large could not have been comprehended when the locks were built.
“This distinct milestone is made possible by the Canal Expansion, as well as the experience and efforts gained in the two years since its inauguration,” said Deputy Canal Administrator Manuel Benítez.
In addition to the usual cruise ship amenities, the Norwegian Bliss features a two-level electric car race track, a laser tag course, and two multi-story water slides. It is 20 decks tall, 1,082 feet long and carries more than 4,000 passengers.
The crossing by the Norwegian Bliss comes as the official cruise seasons draws to a close. By the end of the season, the Canal is expected to have handled a total of 248 passenger ships with 312,304 passengers onboard, according to the Canal’s international trade specialist, Albano Aguilar.
Of the total, “20 cruises will be Neopanamax vessels, including the Caribbean Princess, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Splendor, Norwegian Bliss and Disney Wonder – all able to transit the waterway thanks to the Expansion of the Canal,” Aquilar said.
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