A 168,028-ton Norwegian Cruise Line ship traveled through the Panama Canal Monday, becoming the largest-ever passenger vessel to traverse the narrow waterway.
The Norwegian Bliss traveled through the recently expanded Panama Canal on its way from Germany to Seattle. The new ship will cruise from there to Alaska through the summer, Norwegian Cruise Line said in a statement last month.
The trip through the Canal would not have been possible without the completion of a nearly decade-long expansion project that doubled its capacity for cargo ships, making locks 70 feet wider and 18 feet deeper to accommodate bigger ships. The hefty infrastructure project was completed in June 2016.
The 1,094-foot-long Norwegian Bliss left a shipyard in Germany in March and traveled to Miami and, now, through the Panama Canal on its way to Seattle. Manuel Benítez, the deputy administrator at the Panama Canal Authority, said in a statement that the passage marked a “distinct milestone” in the Canal’s expansion. Officials said the Canal will see a total of 248 passenger ships pass through it by the end of cruise season later this month. Twenty of those vessels are larger ships that could not have passed through the Panama Canal before its expansion.
“We are very proud to help the Panama Canal close out the season with the crossing of our highly-anticipated ship, Norwegian Bliss,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line, in a statement.