Expansion of Panama Canal Begins

Cruise ships will have more space to operate once the $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal is completed by 2014. The seven-year project broke ground this week. Though the expansion was undertaken with cargo ships more in mind than cruise ships, many of the newer ships, such as the Genesis-class ships Royal Caribbean will unveil by 2009, will need more room than other smaller tonnage ships. Two new sets of locks will measure 400 feet longer and 70 feet wider than the current locks, which translates into more capacity. The new locks will also have a 50-foot draft, compared with the current 39 feet.

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