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BillB48

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About BillB48

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  • Location
    Florida
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    Cruising!
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Royal Caribbean
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Panama Canal, TAs, Alaska

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  1. Perhaps the captain was just trying to give a brief description of the tolls calculation, it's a little complicated than that... but I'll be brief! Fifteen years ago the Canal was primarily using a volume measurement of the revenue generating parts of the ship. Spaces that were used to operate and crew the ship were not included in that measurement. The process was similar to how the net tonnage of a ship is calculated. It is a wee bit more involved than that now, but the tolls are determined by the revenue generating space on the ship. Tolls for a pure container ship are determined by, the total capacity of containers the ship can carry. The capacity of a container ship is expressed in TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units). The largest container ship that can use the original locks is around 5000 TEUs, for the new locks 15,000 TEUs. The second part of the the toll calculation is the number of loaded containers that are on board the ship. For most passenger ships the toll is calculated on the total number of passenger berths. It was pointed out earlier the ship pays for all the berths, occupied or not. There are other charges that can be included that may not be actual tolls such as reservation for a particular day, daylight transit guarantee and tugs. The list goes on, but those mentioned are the bigger ones. I'm sure it won't come as a surprise, but tolls are going up in January. So see it soon while it is still "cheap"!
  2. I am sure you could find someone who was not pleased with Embera excursion, but most do enjoy it. Perhaps you could differentiate the excursions with the Embera, more of look into a distinct native cultural. The indigenous peoples of Panama have somewhat maintained their identity over the years. There are about 6 or so distinct indigenous groups and even more languages, but most speak Spanish as well. The Tram of course will cater to the eco/nature areas. The trip to Portobelo, more historical... the ruins of the various fortifications that guarded the harbor at Portobelo as well as the old Customs house which dates back to the 1600s. I don't know if I mentioned it in this thread but, I am not sure what they are going to provide you for Gatun Locks portion since the visitor's center at Gatun Locks has been closed. I suspect they will go to the visitor's center at the new Agua Clara Locks instead.
  3. We did this tour in Puerto Quetzal and it was a ship's tour from Royal Caribbean, the coffee plantation was the only stop. The tour lasted about 5 hours and it included a nice drive by the volcanoes.
  4. Two words explain a large part of these fees... Panama Canal! Most cruise lines allot somewhere around $180pp for Canal fees.
  5. IMO the IMAX presentation and the Path Between are two different presentations, they really cover the Canal in two different points of view. The good thing is the IMAX presentation isn't nearly the commitment the Path is! LOL. Well, I don't know the other countries as well as Panama and the Canal, but in Costa Rica the nearest I could find in the tours that are offered for your cruise is the one on the Tarcoles River. Interesting with some really industrial sized crocodiles on a very comfortable boat. Have done the Tarcoles in conjunction with other tours and recently they have tamed it down a bit. Previously the guides would leave the boat and interact with the crocs by feeding them. On my last visit they said that was no longer permitted. Oh well, progress. Did the Antigua thing in PQ, my daughter loved it while I was perhaps a little "meh". Probably the only place that the street vendors can go toe to toe with the ones in Cartagena! Then on another trip we did the coffee plantation tour. They both were fine because I enjoy just seeing the country more than anything else. By myself I did the Pacaya Volcano and came to understand that the people who write the tour descriptions have never been out of their office!! Can't help you with Nicaragua, my dance card is empty on that one even though my wife was born there and she would like a return visit.
  6. Thanks Roy, I came across the same thing somewhere when I first heard the Koningsdam would not be transiting the Canal. Still from what I have come across, that reason just doesn't seem to ring all that true. The new locks were scheduled originally to open in August 2014 to coincide with the Canal's 100th anniversary. Of course missing an original deadline on a $5 billion dollar project that commenced in 2007 is certainly not that uncommon. The Canal expansion opened to ship traffic June 2016. The Koningsdam's keel was laid down in August 2014 as well, launched in Feb 2015 entering in service April 2016. The Canal published the Official Notice to Shipping which contained requirements for ships using the new locks in Feb. 2014 six months before construction started on the Koningsdam. Even though official guidance was not provided until Feb. 2014, I feel certain that any requirement would have been known prior to the official publication of the Notice to Shipping. The Canal is routinely provided ship's plans for new construction from the owners for review to ensure the vessel will be in compliance with the Canal's limitations. The find it hard to think someone would have dropped a ball this big. There was a similar discussion about lifeboat overhang for Celebrity's Solstice class ships. Now the latest I have heard on that matter is Celebrity is not satisfied with the fendering in the new locks as why they have not transited any of their Solstice class ships. Just never sure if the answers you are given are really the correct answer or not.
  7. If you opted for the IMAX Experience, that will take you to a brand new purpose built theater at Miraflores Locks. Excellent documentary narrated by Morgan Freeman. It appears you will also have time to view the lock operations at Miraflores Locks as well. Even though you will transit the locks the following day I think there is value added to seeing things from the shore side perspective. There are a lot of exhibits and displays at the visitor's center as well. The bus ride back and forth to Colon will give you an opportunity so some of the country side. The Panama City tour will give you a great look at modern Panama City. That tour says it indicates a stop at the ruins of Old Panama and then on to the Casco Antiguo which was founded after Morgan made an unwelcome visit to Old Panama. The aerial tram at Gamboa will also give a chance to have a look at some of the country as well. In looking at the tours available I did not see any that would take you to the new expansion locks, all tours on the Atlantic side mentioned Gatun Locks. I am not sure Gatun Locks has a visitor's center presently, perhaps that will be clarified later.
  8. They love to commit suicide with moving cars...
  9. It really baffles me that HAL would build a class of ships that overall do not challenge in any way the dimensions of the new locks of the Canal except perhaps with overhang of the lifeboats. I have tried to scale the lifeboat height of above the water with existing images I could find on the web, but all I can get is a ballpark figure and that may not just be good enough. Overhangs are permitted at the Canal and the higher they are the more relaxed the figure. Wonder if someone like Copper 10-8 could direct me in some way to actually determine what the height above water the lifeboats or just have some one go measure it!😉 Ships like the Caribbean Princess have lifeboat overhang and are of similar size and are Canal customers. Anyway inquiring minds...
  10. When I first operated the mules (tho we never called them that, but the public did) in 1969, the usual number of locos used per ship was 4... two on the bow and two on the stern. Some of the larger vessels at that time use six locos, two on the bow, one each on port and starboard bow followed by two on the stern. Very rarely were more than six used on any ship. A four loco ship would not really be a challenge the width of the lock as their beam would rarely exceed 80', leaving ample room for water displacement as well as a lot of the six loco ships left ample room for water displacement. Draft was not a factor. On approaching the locks, normal procedure is to pick up the No. 1 center wall machine first, the pilot would use No. 1 cw to spring against or check movement towards the side wall along with his engine and rudder movements to position the stern. After reaching the jaws of the lock where the No. 1 side wall loco came on board, both No.1 locos would be ordered to tow. The stern was kept in check by the number 2 cw and engine/rudder movements. After 2 side wall came aboard, both 2 locos maintained a breaking lead. When the ship was far enough into the chamber No. 1 locos were brought back to a braking lead and both 1 and 2 locos were ordered to brake. After the ship was stopped No. 1 locos were moved ahead to towing position to hold the ship during the fill/spill. Moving between chambers... After the gates opened, the normal command from the pilot was No. 2s release, No. 1s tow. Depending on the ship and pilot the engine may (or may not) be used to overcome the initial inertia. Keep in mind that bridge control of the engines at that time was a rarity... just the old telegraph. Then you also had many more steam ships that often times by they had revs on the prop, the locos had the ship up to a standard towing speed which the fastest was 3 mph. Some times diesels were a little more responsive, but still not all that rapid response. Again when the ship was far enough into the next chamber, No. 1s were dropped back to a braking and then 1s and 2s ordered to break. Ships requiring 6 locos would operate much in the same manner. When a 6 loco ship was a Panamax, say 600+ feet and around 106' beam along with max draft (39 '06") more use of the ship's engine was the norm. This of course was when the ship had to overcome the "piston" effect, a lot of water had to move down the sides and between the the keel and lock floor. There can be as little as 2' of water between the keel and the lock floor. The ship's engine will be used for the bulk of the time necessary to place the ship in the correct position in the chamber. While getting the ship in the chamber it was normal procedure for the No. 1 locos to be towing and in some cases the No. 2 locos were in towing leads as well. However more times than not, the No. 2 locos would remain abreast the chocks with tight wires which helped minimize slightly differences in towing force between the two No. 1 locos. More than once I have had the No. 1 loco drawing over 500 amps during the towing portion of moving the ship. Even had cases where a deep draft ship using a lot of engine, would stop engine because the stern had squatted too much and just wait for the water to equalize some to raise the stern. OK, let's move into slightly more modern times. As ships continued to push the limits of the original locks which are presently 965'x106', is when the method in moving ships in and around the started changing. While there still were your classic 700 to 800 x106 max draft bulker ships, pure container ships and auto carriers were making their appearance. At this time bridge control of fairly quick responding engines and were in the 700x106 ballpark, they were not particularly deep draft making it much easier to move. There is a huge difference in the way a ship that size handles with 34 or 35' draft, there is so much more room under the keel to get rid of that displaced water. This when the method of handling the ships of this type started to change. As the locos came on board it became easier to keep all machines abreast of the chocks and use the ship's engine to drive the ship into the chamber as well as move from chamber to chamber. Panamax ships that are not particularly deep draft often times use a blend of towing and substantial use of the ships engine. Also many of these Panamax ships are now using 8 locos, this in large part is due to fact because the height of the ship in comparison to the lock wall renders four of the locos useless at some portion of the lockage because of the almost vertical angle of the loco cable going to the ship. Only when the ship is low in the chamber do all eight locos have effective angles/leads to work the ship. On my last transit through the Canal in November, while moving from the upper level of Miraflores Locks, the control pilot had the No.1 and No. 3 locos in a towing lead and towing. Really depends on the pilot, the ship, time constraints and even the response the pilot is getting from the loco operators as whether or not the locos are used more actively or not. I think that many cruise passengers have been treated to the version that the locos just center the ship in the chamber, it is an easy description to picture in the mind's eye. While that is accurate to a degree, specially pertaining to Panamax passenger ships, it really is an over simplification of what is a fairly complex operation which has many different facets. A little historical look back... The first really modern pure mega container ship to transit was OCL's Tokyo Bay. She was around 800' long and was 106' in beam. She was just barely 2000 TEUs Meanwhile 5000 TEUs or the norm at the original locks and the new locks just transited a 15,000+ TEU ship!
  11. Actually in May the temps are rarely out of the 80s. Now that doesn't mean the humidity can't tack a few degrees of the what it feels like temp.
  12. Let add to what Bruce said. One of the biggest differences in the two locks is in the method the ships are taken through the lock. The original locks use up to 8 locomotives ( electric mules) to take the ships through the locks, whereas the new locks use tugs. The other difference that you would notice is the original locks is a twin flight, in other words two sets of locks side by side. There is much more to see as you can watch your ship as well as a ship in the other set of locks. The other "thing" about the new locks is the process to go through the three steps is a bit S-L-O-W-E-R. That is not to say going through the original locks in an "E" ride at Disney (remember those?), but there is certainly more to attract your attention.
  13. Sure, I think any and all of those ports are worth at least a one time look-see. Obviously some strike my fancy more that others, but they are just icing on the cake because of course in my mind the Canal is the main attraction. Random thoughts on some of the ports... Cartagena; Lots of history particularly in the old walled city, many tour the imposing Fort San Felipe de Barajas. Great sail into the harbor of Cartagena as you pass Fort San Fernando de Bocachica. Colon; Here you can have your choice to take a tour that will dig deeper into the Canal (pardon the pun) by visiting the locks and get a shore side point of view. Other popular things are to visit the Embera Indians, take in modern day Panama City with its walled section (Casco Antiguo), tours to the ruins of Fort San Lorenzo and the fortifications around Portobelo. Of course you can take a ride on the world's first transcontinental railroad also the quickest😉 and there are some eco based tours that could be of interest. You probably hear some horror stories about Colon, that really is a non issue since you only just drive through there on your way to your tour destination. Puntarenas; Nothing much in the town, most of the tours will be take you into the country for volcanos, coffee farms and the like. Puerto Quetzal; Probably one of the more popular things to do there is go to old capital city of Antigua. They have coffee plantations tours as well. The Mexcian ports are fine, just not a whole lot that I am particularly interested in, except I really did enjoy some of Acapulco. Been to cliff divers, but what I was fascinated with was the old Hollywood connection in Acapulco. We had a good tour that took in some the stars' old haunts. in terribly (how terrible?) hot and humid weather, with probably lots of heavy downpours — just to experience the Canal itself? Yes of course! Sure it can be tad warm in the places you will stopping and you may see some rain, but unlikely you will experience a wash out. Have made the trip numerous times during the rainy months and never really had any significant encounters with the wet stuff. On a lot of the Pacific stops many of the tours take you away from the coast into higher elevations which offers some escape from the real hot stuff. Seeing you are in Florida, summers here are a real good training aide for the H&H weather in the tropics. Weather in Mexico warm, maybe not quite as humid... but it is still pretty warm.
  14. That is exactly the way it works.
  15. Yes, that is correct. Passengers are tendered ashore where they meet their tours, after the tour they will rejoin the ship at Colon. I think the 8-5 times are just marks on the wall as far as to the start and end of the partial transit. It will just happen sometime around those times. Timing of when things happen at the Canal is often just a best guess!
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