Sunday's official opening of the Panama Canal's new locks open the waterway to more than the huge new bulk and oil carriers it was built to accommodate. Cruise lines will no longer be restricted to their smallest and often oldest ships on Canal cruises.
Princess Cruises has already scheduled trips using its Caribbean Princess, which couldn't transit the old locks, which were too narrow and too short. The new locks, built by a Spanish company on contract to Panama, are aimed at keeping the canal useful a century after the original was built.
The original canal locks continue in use for smaller ships. And for cruisers, there's still an important restriction: The Bridge of the Americas, which crosses the canal, puts a limit on height that larger cruise ships can't make. Cargo ships are not as tall as modern cruise liners, some of which approximate 20-story buildings.
It's not entirely clear that the new canal will be a big success; there are already questions about its construction and equipment, some of which may have construction flaws that will need to be addressed, but for now, clear sailing.