Royal Caribbean decides against a Pacific-side port in Panama
Excitement was in the air in 2011 when the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) revealed plans to build a cruise ship port terminal in the Amador Causeway. The location of the new port was supposed to be in the area that is currently operated as the Balboa Yacht Club. This would bring cruise customers right to Panama City, on the Pacific side of Panama. Currently there is only a port on the Atlantic side of Panama in Colon. Several cruise lines expressed an interest in concessions at that time. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Holland America and Princess were among the companies involved.
The lease structure would have been similar to the agreement now in place with the port in Colon. The concession would be awarded for a period of 20 years, renewable for another 20 years, with a monthly fee per square meter. Negotiations have been underway, until recently.
At the time that the original plans were announced, feasibility tests had not been conducted. Since then, studies have revealed that to dredge the area where the port would be located to the depth required to accommodate a cruise ship would cost upwards of $24 to $30 million dollars. This cost is not considered economically feasible by the cruise lines. They have lost interest in the Pacific routes and plan to continue their focus in the Caribbean, where they have an established market.
Now that the cruise lines have backed out, the government has abandoned the project.