Panama Canal Expansion Reaches the Countdown Phase

The Panama Canal Expansion project entered the countdown phase this month with 93% of the overall project complete. The final leg of the project focuses on the third set of locks which is currently just over 90% complete. The video below is the official August 2015 status update from the Panama Canal.

The breakdown of the southern plug was briefly shown in the first video. The following video provides a longer look at the plugs removal and the Pacific Ocean waters meeting the Cocoli locks for the first time.

The extension is the largest Panama Canal infrastructure project since the waterway’s original construction will create a new lane of traffic along the Canal through the construction of a new set of locks, increasing the waterway’s capacity. The new locks will have three chambers, water-saving basins, lateral filling and emptying system & rolling gates.

Currently, the Disney Wonder is the only ship in the fleet able to transit the original Panama Canal. Once complete the New Panama Canal will enable all of Disney Cruise Line’s ships to transit. However, the clearance under the Bridge of Americas would still prevent the passage of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy as the clearance under the bridge is between 201 ft and 205 ft depending on the tides. According to the Disney Dream technical information sheet, the air draft of the Dream/Fantasy is 188ft which is under the 201ft limit imposed by the Bridge of Americas.

Disney Dream Technical Measurements

The following infographic is a not to scale, modified depiction of the World canals created by the US Energy Information Administration with the addition of the Disney Cruise ships.

DCL Ship World Canal Size ComparsionAccording to various reports, the Panama Canal Expansion project is slated to be complete and operational by April 2016.

12 Replies to “Panama Canal Expansion Reaches the Countdown Phase”

  1. Marion

    What a neat graphic! thank you for sharing! That’s kind of exciting to think the Dream and Fantasy could head west now.

  2. David

    While the Dream and the Fantasy will be small enough that they would be able to transit the canal, they are still too tall to be able to get under the Bridge of the Americas at the Pacific end of the canal. The Bridge of the Americas can only accommodate ships up to 203 feet tall at high tide; Dream and Fantasy are 217 feet tall.

    1. James

      The 14 ft difference might be radio masts and other things that can be lowered to fit under the bridge. Ships have to do it all the time on the Mississippi river. Now, how easily the Dream/Fantasy can lower the running gear would be the issue.

  3. Bill B.

    I emailed Scott a picture taken at the fort on Nassau which is pretty even with the top of the Dream’s stacks an superstructure. I don’t think they can just lower the antennas and go under the Bridge of the Americas from the looks of it.

  4. Rick W.

    One thing that I can’t seem to find any information on is whether the “217 foot” height of the Dream/Fantasy is the actual height of the ship or the “air draft” of the ship. The Dream/Fantasy have a draft (underwater part) of 28.6 feet, which means the if the 217 foot figure includes the underwater part, the “air draft” of those ships is only about 188 feet. According to wikipedia the maximum air-draft for the bridge is 190 feet under normal circumstances (but can get a specific exception during low-tide for up to 205 feet, but exceptions would likely only be grated for a one-time repositioning, not on an annual basis).

    (The fact that 188 is so close to 190 makes me think that it’s not a coincidence and that the measurement of 217 feet is the overall height of the ships including the underwater part)

      1. James A Arthur

        @Rick, I agree, It makes no sense to design the ships the the beam, length, and draft req but not the height. I suspect that the fix height fits under the bridge and anything that is taller then the bridge will allow can be lowered.

        So, do we start queing up the rumors of 2 more Dream/Fantasy sizes ships? With the Magic staying in the Mediterranean, and the Wounder receiving outfitting for permanent cold water operations? (aka, Alaska, New England/CA Coast, ect) If i remember right, Princess has a ships with a bubble over the pool areas.

    1. Scott Sanders Post author

      The clearance of the bridge is 201’… the air draft of the Dream/Fantasy is 188′. Based on this it should be ok, but I have not gotten an official statement.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.