Delays to the expansion project underway at the Panama Canal will affect the itineraries of cruise lines that had intended to send their larger ships along the iconic waterway this year.

The canal is currently undergoing a multi-billion dollar widening some 100 years after it was first opened, which will see it able to hold ships larger than the existing locks allow for.

Currently, only vessels measuring approximately 290 metres or less in length and up to 32 metres in width can traverse the canal.

However, the consortium undertaking the work to widen the waterway – which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans – has threatened to down tools if authorities do not compensate it for the significant cost overruns on the project, amounting to $1.6 billion (£975 million).

As a result, Cruise Critic reports that larger ships could be forced to wait until April 2015 or later before they are able to pass through the Panama Canal.

The expansion plans would see ships measuring approximately 425 metres in length, 55 metres in width and 18 metres in depth capable of traversing the canal.

That should be enough to accommodate the current largest cruise ships in the world, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.