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A new, wider set of locks is open for business at the Panama Canal, and over the weekend the first cruise ship passed through them.

Disney Cruise Line's 2,713-passenger Wonder vessel did the honors, crossing the new locks during a 14-night voyage from Port Canaveral, Florida, to San Diego.

Here's what the big moment looked like:

The more than $5 billion Panama Canal expansion project was originally scheduled to be finished in time for the engineering marvel's 100th birthday in 2014. But construction delays, cost overruns, and other setbacks nixed that plan.

Now that cruise lines have begun making use of the locks, however, they'll be offering new opportunities for travelers to experience Panama's rich natural and cultural attractions via shore excursions.

That's one reason we listed the canal and its environs among the top places to travel in 2017.



Tags: cruises, disney, panama

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