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Cruise ship season begins in October

Travelers aboard cruise ships have only a few hours to enjoy Panama. Many buy a pre-booked shore excursion.

Travelers aboard cruise ships have only a few hours to enjoy Panama. Many buy a pre-booked shore excursion.

Panama’s Tourism Authority (ATP) is getting ready for the start of the 2014 – 2015 cruise ship season that begins in October with the arrival to the country’s ports of ships like the Monarch, the Vision of the Seas, the Grandeur of the Seas, the Coral Princess and the Regatta.

The cruise season brings very good prospects for the country’s tourism sector and has become a benchmark for the industry. ATP director, Jesus Sierra Victoria, said the cruise season is one of the main contributors to the development of the sector and the Panamanian economy.

In 2013 cruise tourism to Panama grew by 11.7%, translating into the arrival of about 400 thousand passengers aboard 135 ships. These numbers are expected to be exceeded this season which lasts from October 2014 until May 2015.

Among the major cruise lines that will anchor in Panama are the Pullmantur’s the Monarch; and Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas. Added to these are Millenium’s Celebrity Cruises which can accommodate 2038 passengers; the Infinity; the Coral Princess and Island Princess. Other cruise ships that will arrive in Panamanian ports are the Wind Star, the Regatta; Holland America’s Zuiderdam; and the Freedom from Carnival Cruises. The Horizon Pullmantur and Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas are considered the major players of the season.

Passenger figures aboard cruise ships is expected to increase this season because of the Canal’s centennial.

Passenger figures aboard cruise ships is expected to increase this season because of the Canal’s centennial.

The myriad activities cruise passengers to Panama seek include learning about the history of the Canal and seeing the nation’s capital, the Old Town and Portobelo. They flock the visitor centers at the Miraflores and Gatun locks; take tours by train to Colón; take walking tours through the historic areas of Panama City as well as transit tours that showcase the operation and expansion of the Canal.

Some cruises have the Pacific Ocean or Caribbean islands as their destination. With the Canal celebrating its centennial, the ATP is counting on more travelers opting to stay in country and taking exotic journeys into the jungle of Darien aboard exclusive luxury vessels.

The Discovery is a ship that offers such a cruise. This well-apointed vessel has capacity for only 24 passengers with 12 spacious, tastefully decorated cabins. The ship features personalized service and crosses the Pacific to reach the Panama Canal on a seven day cruise. Its itinerary allows travelers to discover the most unique and historic places in Panama.

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