American History21 Sep 2010 01:14 pm
The Panama Canal begun in 1904 and finished in 1914 is a 77 km (48 mi) ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Annual traffic has risen from about 1,000 ships in the canal’s early days to 14,702 vessels in 2008, measuring a total 309.6 million Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tons.
One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the canal had an enormous impact on shipping between the two oceans, replacing the long and treacherous route via the Drake Passage and Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America. A ship sailing from New York to San Francisco via the canal travels 9,500 km (5,900 mi), well under half the 22,500 km (14,000 mi) route around Cape Horn.
Will the widening project currently underway at the Panama Canal — scheduled for completion in 2014 — result in a rash of new and unusual cruise itineraries? Don’t count on it, says the head of the world’s largest cruise company.
Even though the industry operates a growing number of “post-Panamax” ships that are too big to fit into the current canal — and thus limited in their ability to navigate between the Atlantic, Caribbean and the Pacific — a wider canal only will have a marginal impact on operations, says Carnival Corp. chairman and CEO Micky Arison.
“The only thing it adds is a bit of flexibility to our post-Panamax ships,” Arison told Wall Street analysts on Tuesday during a conference call to discuss third quarter earnings. “Obviously, if we have post-Panamax ships that become Panamax, it gives us a little bit greater flexibility, but I wouldn’t say it’s a huge indicator.”
With a widening of the canal, “theoretically, they can move back and forth” between the West Coast and the Caribbean more easily, he notes. But it won’t be a game-changer for the business.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.