Chinese-Belgian Consortium Wins Panama Cruise Terminal Contract




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After a long and arduous bidding process, a consortium formed from Belgium’s “Jan de Nula” and China’s “China Harbour Engineering Co.” won a $165 million contract to design and build a new cruise terminal in Panama. The terminal, which will be built at the Pacific entrance of the canal, will house international cruise ships adjacent to Panama City, something that has been in planning for quite some time now. The consortium, called Cruceros del Pacifico, is expected to complete the entire process within two years, hoping to make it fully functional by the end of 2019. The Panama Maritime Authority will be in charge of the overseeing of the project, and the terminal’s operation once complete.

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Bringing cruise ships to the Pacific side of Panama

While Panama does have a number of cruises that end in Colon on the Caribbean side of the country, it doesn’t have the capacity to hold large-scale cruise ships on the Panama City side. Building a viable terminal will attract dozens of new ships to come via the Pacific, which will be a huge economic advantage for Panama City and its oceanside suburbs. The port/terminal will be public, and include parking for over 300 vehicles, buses, and trucks. According to the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), it will serve up to 10,000 passengers at peak volume, and will have more than two hectares of green area and natural paths. The terminal’s structure will also be built with “green” building certification, limiting any negative environmental impact on the area.

According to sources…

“The AMP and the country will have a project that will be the jewel of the Pacific and will come to drive our national tourism,’ said Panama’s minister of maritime affairs and administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority. The work will be carried out within 24 months. The terminal will have capacity to accommodate two ships of 360 metres in length, with a capacity of 5,000 passengers per vessel, in an area whose draught must reach 10.5 metres and be able to receive cruise ships at any time of day, regardless of the condition of the tide.”

No stranger to Panama

The consortium that received the contract is already known in Panama, largely from the work that Jan de Nul did on the Panama Canal Expansion. Chinese firm China Harbour Engineering Co. is also known, as their partner China Communications Construction Co., has worked on a number of projects in Panama for decades. Panamanian authorities and members of the consortium party are optimistic that this project will be complete and operational on schedule. The hopes, at least in theory, are that it will open up the tourism industry to a wide new audience, and one that can be competitive for cruise companies around the world. In order to ensure this, the AMP plans on signing a cooperation agreement with the Port of Hamburg (Germany), to make a strategic partnership that would send European vessels to the isthmus, and vice versa. Exciting times are on the way!

About Manoj Chatlani


Manoj Chatlani is a Senior Partner at POLS Attorneys, a full-service law firm in Panama City, Panama. Specializing in offshore services, including asset protection, estate planning, offshore banking, and offshore corporations, as well as Panama immigration and real estate transactions, Panama Offshore Legal Services offers clients a streamlined solution to all their Panama legal needs. Manoj is a Panamanian lawyer and holds a law degree from USMA and earned a Masters in Communication Law and Panama Tax law.

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