In June 2016, the Panama Canal officially opened its third set of locks to allow passage of larger vessels from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea and vice versa without the need to descend considerably farther around Cape Horn in South America. The greatest beneficiaries of the new lane will be mega tankers and cargo ships, but the occasional cruise ship passage can also take advantage of the larger size.
In the past, many cruise ships were specifically scaled to the former Panamax dimensions. This included Carnival Cruise Line’s Spirit-class and Princess Cruises’ Coral-class, but now, much larger ships, now classified as Neopanamax, can fit, opening up a whole new world of convenient itineraries for growing vessels.
Technically, the largest Harmony of the Seas from Royal Caribbean International would even fit the locks. However, it would not clear the Bridge of the Americas near the Pacific side of the canal. So, there are some limitations still.
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