If you're considering booking a Caribbean cruise and wonder why it includes numerous stops at ports-of-call in Panama, know this: in the increasingly competitive battle for ship calls, Panama is aggressively offering to pay cruise lines $2.50 - $12.50 -- per passenger -- to stop there. Other countries jumping into the fray, though not to this extent, include Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras and Colombia, according to WICO, an organization that manages cruise ship calls in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Typically, cruise lines are the ones that shell out per-passenger dollars at each port-of-call; stopping in St. Thomas, for instance, costs them $7.50 per cruiser. That's one of the reasons you pay a port charge).
So will cruise lines who garner the extra revenue from Panamanian stops reduce port fees for passengers? Not as yet -- but stay tuned.