Cruises continue growing in the tourism sector

The arrival of cruise ships continues to be important for Panamanian tourism in recent years. In 2013, the economic impact of this tourist segment once again contributed more than $45 million dollars to the national economy. Panamanian ports annually receive an average of 135 cruise ships.

Figures from the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) show that a total of 301,149 cruise passengers disembarked in the month of November 2013, representing a 9.2% increase, or 25,470 more tourists, over the same period in 2012.

Calculations by experts from the Florida Caribbean Cruises Association (FCCA) reveal that every passenger who disembarks at a port spends an average of $125 dollars per day.

This month more than 21 of these large ships loaded with tourists are expected to arrive. The Port of Colón 2000, located at the entrance of the Canal and on the shores of the city of Colón, will be the busiest, with 19 ships set to dock. This port allows cruise lines to combine visits to the locks, the area of ​​the Panama Canal expansion, and shopping malls with trips across the isthmus on buses and trains.

Among the major cruise ships that will pull into Colón 2000 are Celebrity Cruises' Equinox and Century, and Princess Cruises' Coral and Island. These two lines have scheduled itineraries that go up the Gatún Locks and back down to the port of Colón.

The Vision of the Seas, by Royal Caribbean, will make a total of four departures, setting sail from the Caribbean port every Saturday in January.

The Colón 2000 port has been awarded for its excellent services by the Princess Cruises line.

Augusto Terracina, a businessman in the cruise industry, pointed out that, after over 12 years of operation, the local Colón labor force has developed discipline and commitment in their work, as well as improving their services, security, and quality of dockhands, porters, and other service providers.

ATP General Deputy Administrator Ernesto Orillac expressed that the Canal is a great attraction for cruisers, and that the numbers reflect that 85% of the passengers are North Americans.