Princess plans 52 Panama Canal voyages

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- Princess Cruises will operate 52 Panama Canal voyages in their 2003-2004 season, more than twice the number of sailings offered during the 2002-2003 season.

Princess' 88,000-ton Coral Princess and Island Princess, which the line said were "built specifically for Panama Canal sailings" each will offer 20 10-day cruises through the canal, with calls in Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Limon, Costa Rica; Cozumel, Mexico; and Cartagena, Colombia, plus a round-trip Panama Canal transit to Gatun Lake.

The line also offers 12- to 18-day repositioning cruises on the Regal Princess, Sun Princess and Dawn Princess, with cruising along the Pacific Coast.

But Panama Canal cruising may come at a hefty price.

As reported, Princess officials, along with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, met with officials of the Panama Canal Authority to protest a 13% hike in canal tolls, which Princess' vice president of Caribbean and Atlantic shore operations, Steve Nielsen, said would cost the line $40,000 per cruise -- and possibly force the line to reposition their ships away from the canal.

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