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Category: Panama

The Panama Canal Expands

The Panama Canal Expands

The giant Panama Canal expansion opens June 26 amid much fanfare and one of the worst shipping industry slumps ever. While it won’t do anything to help the dire state of the industry near-term, the changes are critical to Western trade in the long run. 

The canal, which handles about a third of Asia-to-Americas trade, had no choice but to expand. As the industry copes with its downturn, major shipping companies are pooling their resources and using fewer but much bigger ships—ones that are too large to fit through the pre-expansion Panama Canal.

 The nine-year, $5.4 billion expansion more than doubles the canal’s cargo capacity. A third lane has been added to the canal that accommodates ships large enough to carry up to 14,000 containers, compared with around 5,000 currently. This alleviates a cargo bottleneck caused by the smaller ships that was due to get worse over time.

The expansion makes the Panama Canal more competitive with the Suez Canal in Egypt, shortening the one-way journey by sea from Asia to the U.S. East Coast by roughly five days and eliminating the need for a trip around Cape Horn to get to the Atlantic.

It is expected to shift about 10% of the Asia-to-U.S. container traffic from West Coast ports to East Coast terminals by 2020, according to a recent report by global business adviser Boston Consulting Group and supply-chain management provider C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. So far, 136 ships that wouldn’t have fit through the pre-expansion canal have made reservations to follow.

China COSCO Shipping has won the draw for the first transit through the Expanded Panama Canal during the waterway’s inauguration on Sunday, June 26. The shipping line’s container vessel Andronikos will be making the inaugural transit. The vessel, which has a maximum capacity of 9,400 TEUs, is 8.25 meters in beam and 299.98 meters in length.

At the opening ceremony there will be dozens of international delegates and over 40 thousand spectators.

In addition, more than 100 Neopanamax ships have already made reservations for commercial transit through the new locks, which will begin on June 27, 2016, following the historic inauguration.

 

Whale Watching Holiday to Panama

Whale Watching Holiday to Panama

The Humpback Whales of the Pearl Islands

Tour Destination: Pearl Islands – Panama

Tour Dates: July to October.  The official season ends on October 15th.

Whales Worldwide have created a unique, island based whale and dolphin watching expedition to one of the World’s finest whale watching destinations; the fabulous Pearl Islands off the beautiful Central American country of Panama. The focus of our attention will be the charismatic humpback whales and dolphins of this outstanding, but little known whale watching destination. The humpbacks we encounter around the Pearl Islands migrate from their Antarctic feeding grounds to these warm Pacific waters to calve and mate and mother/calf combinations are regularly seen on this tour. This is a fully guided, all inclusive whale watching wildlife holiday led by marine zoologist Nic Slocum.

Panama, the jewel of Central America, is a closely guarded secret but has to be one of the top 10 whale watching destinations in the world and a must visit destination for any whale and dolphin watching enthusiast with Pacific humpback whales on their “to see” list. The Archipelago de Las Perlas (The Pearl Islands), our ultimate destination lie just off the coast of Panama and provide us with a fabulous island base from which to board the boats for our daily whale watching expeditions. The humpback whales of Panama are part of a southern hemisphere population that migrate north from their Antarctic feeding grounds during the Antarctic winter to the protected coastal waters of Panama. Frequently with calves in attendance, these charismatic icons of the cetacean world provide us with some lovely views of their acrobatic performances. 

The Panama waters are home to over 30 species of cetaceans. So keep in mind that on any whale-watch trip, you have a great chance to see dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles and more aquatic denizens.

You can also stay on one of the tropical islands for diving, snorkeling, sunning on a white-sand beach and relaxing in tropical style in general.

Travel + Leisure: Bocas del Toro Panama. Best Places to Travel in 2016

Travel + Leisure: Bocas del Toro Panama. Best Places to Travel in 2016

The Isthmus of Panama is home to some of the purest natural beauty in Latin America: dense tropical rain forests, wide savannas, coral reefs bursting with aquatic life, and delightfully deserted beaches. The latest idyllic spot to emerge on travelers’ lists is Bocas del Toro, an archipelago made up of nine islands and hundreds of cays and islets. In the country’s northeastern corner—a one-hour flight from either Panama City or San José, Costa Rica—it’s a sanctuary where the main mode of transportation is a wooden motorboat, dolphins swim through crystalline waters, and dockside restaurants serve the local fishermen’s catch of the day. Bocas Town, the archipelago’s main village, is equal parts rickety and charming, with tin-roofed wooden houses converted into colorful boutiques, guesthouses, and restaurants—head to Ultimo Refugio for the best food in town. And while Bocas isn’t losing its ruggedness anytime soon, a new hotel is likely to redefine tourism there. Sarani Resort, scheduled to open this summer, will bring unprecedented style to the area. The 35 hardwood bungalows, on 75 acres, were designed with the quiet mood of a Balinese resort in mind. There will be an infinity pool, an outdoor bar crafted from old wooden boats, and a restaurant serving organic Caribbean food. —Paola Singer.