Contributed by: Don WinnerRoyal Caribbean's "Grandeur of the Seas" and Pullmantur's "Horizon" are the two cruise ships that have sailed throughout the season from Home Port Colon 2000, with 100% occupancy. The "Horizon", which can handle 1,828 passengers, leaves on Fridays and will end its program on 9 March. Meanwhile, the "Grandeur of the Seas" has a capacity for 2,426 passengers departing on Sundays, will continue until 15 April.
High demand - These two cruisers launched an offer to the Latin American market, but there has been a high demand among tourists from Canada and Finland who have arrived to Panama in charter flights. Augusto Terracina of Colon Port 2000 said the operation's success is due to Copa Airlines' Hub, and the growth of Panama as a destination. "Copa has direct flights to major cities across the continent," he said. South America has become a big market for Panamanian tourism and cruise ships also feature among them.
Expand supply - Terracina said operating with 100% occupancy is pushing Royal Caribbean to bring in a bigger cruise ship for future seasons. For now, the "Horizon" restarts its season on Nov. 30 then will continue throughout the year 2013, which means there will be year-round cruises departing from Panama. Lyany Caballero from the company Grand Tour, said the market has responded very well. "We had a great season with all the spaces sold and demand continues to grow," he said. To catch a cruise in Panama a visa is not required and Panama is easily accessible by air. Experts state the operation of the Home Port Colon 2000 helps hotel occupancy, because more than 3,500 passengers arrive per week and they extend their trips by booking hotel rooms. There is already interest from other cruise lines to depart from Colon.
Prices - If you are interested in enjoying a well deserved vacation and the idea is to celebrate on a cruise, there is still time to buy your ticket. To give you an idea and you place your budget, the itinerary of the "Grandeur of the Seas" of Royal Caribbean, which starts on March 18 from the port of Colon 2000 and includes a stop in destinations such as Cartagena, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and returns back to Columbus, is at $533 (inside cabin) and $753 (balcony cabin), not including taxes. (Dia a Dia)