PANAMA CITY – The Royal Caribbean cruise ship “Enchantment of the Seas” last weekend inaugurated a new Caribbean cruise route leaving from Panama, making it easier for Latin Americans to go on cruises without having to apply for a U.S. visa to travel to Miami.
The new cruise route – the first to leave from Central America – is expected to bring an additional 73,000 tourists a year to Panama City.
Bermuda, the Dominican Republic and Brazil are the other three Latin American and Caribbean ports where cruise ships embark in the region.
The Royal Caribbean cruise ships will leave from a new $16 million port in Panama’s Colón called “HomePort.”
The government next year will also be expanding the highway from Panama City’s TocumenInternationalAirport to the port town of Colón to help facilitate the new cruise industry.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines will launch 20 cruises each year from Panama, during the cruise season months of December through April. The tours will be marketed mostly to Latin Americans.
Panamanian officials calculate that the new industry will generate at least $1.5 million a month for the country’s tourism industry during cruise season.
The Enchantment of the Seas, which holds 2,5000 passengers, will leave Colón for a seven-day cruise with stops in Colombia, Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire, before returning to Panama.