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Hflors

Port charges - Sounds like a lot to me.

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I am doing some research on a cruise.  I wanted something special for my 65th birthday.  Because of health issues this year is out so I will need to plan a 66th birthday instead of a 65th.  Anyway I always wanted to get on a ship in Ft. Lauderdale, go thru the Panama Canal, then stay on the ship when it docks in San Diego and come back thru the Canal to Ft Lauderdale.  The price of the cruise is what I expected, but the port charges,,,,  Well all I can say is "Wow"!  to do this for 2 people is an extra $1800!  (it breaks down to $450.00 pp.X 4)  So this cruise each way is an additional $450 pp, and according to HAL's website these are Port Charges!   To tell you the truth I am really re-thinking this idea!  Does anyone else think this is a bit high???   Maybe it is just me.   Let me know what you think.

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That sounds about right.

 

We did a partial transit, only going through the Gatun Locks (in/out) and port fees were close to $350pp.

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When the US turned over the canal to Panama, the charges for the ships going through the canal were raised quite a bit.

 

I can remember when we were doing a full transit when this happened.  We all got notices once on the ship about extra Panama charges being added to our shipboard accounts.

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49 minutes ago, Hflors said:

I am doing some research on a cruise.  I wanted something special for my 65th birthday.  Because of health issues this year is out so I will need to plan a 66th birthday instead of a 65th.  Anyway I always wanted to get on a ship in Ft. Lauderdale, go thru the Panama Canal, then stay on the ship when it docks in San Diego and come back thru the Canal to Ft Lauderdale.  The price of the cruise is what I expected, but the port charges,,,,  Well all I can say is "Wow"!  to do this for 2 people is an extra $1800!  (it breaks down to $450.00 pp.X 4)  So this cruise each way is an additional $450 pp, and according to HAL's website these are Port Charges!   To tell you the truth I am really re-thinking this idea!  Does anyone else think this is a bit high???   Maybe it is just me.   Let me know what you think.

The PC Cruises have high Port Fees.  We've done the Partial PC twice and the Full Transit last Fall from San Diego.  We really enjoyed the Full Transit.  Wonderful Cruise!  Go for it!

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1 hour ago, mcrcruiser said:

Yes those port charges are very normal for a Panama  Canal full transit 😂

Agree.  If a passenger wants this experience, they pay for it in taxes!  We've done a partial once, and it was wonderful.  A real highlight of our cruising experiences.

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3 hours ago, msmayor said:

That sounds about right.

 

We did a partial transit, only going through the Gatun Locks (in/out) and port fees were close to $350pp.

 

2 hours ago, CruiserBruce said:

Totally normal for a Canal transit, and you are doing 2!!

 

17 minutes ago, sevenseasnomad said:

Agree.  If a passenger wants this experience, they pay for it in taxes!  We've done a partial once, and it was wonderful.  A real highlight of our cruising experiences.

 

Spot on!  👍👍👍

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Don't forget Panama just constructed their massive new super-size canal and shipping traffic is actually down, as we learned on our last transit through - the money has to be made up somewhere.  We saw no activity on the new canal route either when we could observe it,  and very few other cargo ships on the old canal.

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I wonder people think the cost ought to be for a Canal transit, when you consider the cost of construction, operation and maintenance, including the tugs or mules and personnel. And what they base that calculation on. I think (BillB48 will correct me) the per person charge is something like $130, for 8 or so hours in the Canal. (There are additional charges for other things...most importantly for cruise ships, the guaranteed times of passage).

 

Plus, the Canal is essentially at capacity...tight supply can drive up the price. By the way, one reason the prices have gone up is that it was the policy of the US government to operate the Canal at break even. The Panama Government has no such policy.

 

Maybe you can get a lower rate at Costco or Amazon...🤑

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31 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

I wonder people think the cost ought to be for a Canal transit, when you consider the cost of construction, operation and maintenance, including the tugs or mules and personnel. And what they base that calculation on. I think (BillB48 will correct me) the per person charge is something like $130, for 8 or so hours in the Canal. (There are additional charges for other things...most importantly for cruise ships, the guaranteed times of passage).

 

Plus, the Canal is essentially at capacity...tight supply can drive up the price. By the way, one reason the prices have gone up is that it was the policy of the US government to operate the Canal at break even. The Panama Government has no such policy.

 

Maybe you can get a lower rate at Costco or Amazon...🤑

 

Chinese are exploring a lower rate by building a canal across Guatemala. Did canal capacity get over-built and perhaps over-charged after the opening on the new super-tanker Panama accessory canal? Verdict unknown presently.

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2 minutes ago, OlsSalt said:

 

Chinese are exploring a lower rate by building a canal across Guatemala. Did canal capacity get over-built and perhaps over-charged after the opening on the new super-tanker Panama accessory canal? Verdict unknown presently.

 

Are you saying ships are not using the Canal because it is too expensive? I doubt it. The cost to sail around South America is far higher.

 

China has been "thinking" about this for a while. The are many negatives about that route are also numerous. But China will take a loss to get their political foot where ever they can.

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34 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

 

Are you saying ships are not using the Canal because it is too expensive? I doubt it. The cost to sail around South America is far higher.

 

China has been "thinking" about this for a while. The are many negatives about that route are also numerous. But China will take a loss to get their political foot where ever they can.

 

NYT explores the issues now facing the Panama Canal, as well as seeing the impacts of lower fuel costs and factors regarding the  direction of fully loaded ships going  vs "empty" ships returning when making the  decision to use either the Suez or Panama canals versus taking the long ways home.  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/06/22/world/americas/panama-canal.html   Shall we say it is a "fluid" situation by all counts.

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6 hours ago, OlsSalt said:

Don't forget Panama just constructed their massive new super-size canal and shipping traffic is actually down, as we learned on our last transit through - the money has to be made up somewhere.  We saw no activity on the new canal route either when we could observe it,  and very few other cargo ships on the old canal.

 

4 hours ago, OlsSalt said:

 

NYT explores the issues now facing the Panama Canal, as well as seeing the impacts of lower fuel costs and factors regarding the  direction of fully loaded ships going  vs "empty" ships returning when making the  decision to use either the Suez or Panama canals versus taking the long ways home.  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/06/22/world/americas/panama-canal.html   Shall we say it is a "fluid" situation by all counts.

Actually, the Canal had a record year for tonnage in FY 2018 (up 9.5%).  While the global economies may be slowing, over 85% of that world trade goes by ocean.

 

The new canal locks were designed to handle a limited amount of traffic, and I think they are at that point now, which is only about 15 transits per day, IIRC.  Even though the new locks recycle water, the number of transits is limited to control water useage, and to be able to charge a premium for those limited slots. The real mark of how busy the canal is, is better determined by how many ships are anchored awaiting transit, not necessarily those in the canal at any one time.

 

For a passenger vessel, the new locks are only about $12 more than the old locks, per berth ($136 old, $148 new).  All tariffs were raised a couple of years ago, and are subject to annual review, but they have not changed greatly over the last several years.

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6 hours ago, OlsSalt said:

 

Chinese are exploring a lower rate by building a canal across Guatemala. Did canal capacity get over-built and perhaps over-charged after the opening on the new super-tanker Panama accessory canal? Verdict unknown presently.

 

Nicaragua :classic_cool:

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22 minutes ago, Copper10-8 said:

 

Nicaragua :classic_cool:

Right you are. Thanks for the correction and thanks chengkp for your always welcome insights and fact checking. 

 

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When just reading the title of the thread and before reading the OP's post I thought this must be a Panama Canal cruise.

Charges for transiting the Canal are based on ship tonnage and then allocated to the cost of the cruise based on the expected passenger capacity.

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2 hours ago, caribill said:

When just reading the title of the thread and before reading the OP's post I thought this must be a Panama Canal cruise.

Charges for transiting the Canal are based on ship tonnage and then allocated to the cost of the cruise based on the expected passenger capacity.

While the canal tariff is based on tonnage for most vessels, and even for some passenger vessels, for most main stream cruise lines' ships the passenger/tonnage ratio is such that the tariff is set based on the number of passenger berths, not tonnage.  And the tariff is based on the actual maximum capacity of the ship, not just the number of passengers actually onboard, and then, as you say, it is divided between the actual passenger count.

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2 hours ago, chengkp75 said:

.And the tariff is based on the actual maximum capacity of the ship, not just the number of passengers actually onboard, and then, as you say, it is divided between the actual passenger count.

 

Not having taken a Canal cruise yet, to account for this calculation, does the Line adjust the ‘per  person’ tariff upon sailing once final actual passenger count known? Just curious how this is handled when ships aren’t at capacity, if this occurs. 

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The ships are at capacity (double occupancy capacity) the vast majority of times, or so close you can't tell the difference. I believe the charge is actually "per berth"...double capacity possible pax load.

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8 minutes ago, Dogstar said:

 

Not having taken a Canal cruise yet, to account for this calculation, does the Line adjust the ‘per  person’ tariff upon sailing once final actual passenger count known? Just curious how this is handled when ships aren’t at capacity, if this occurs. 

Yes, this is why port charges vary during the booking period, as more folks book or cancel.  They start out figuring the historical occupancy for canal transits, and that is what they set the initial port charges at, and then they will go up or down a little depending on actual occupancy.

 

And, no, not double occupancy capacity, but maximum capacity.  The Canal Authority doesn't want to miss out on any revenue possible.  Similarly, a container ship whose Net tonnage is the amount of enclosed cargo space, typically carries 40% of its cargo in stacks up on deck, so the tariff is based on "potential" deck cargo, not just tonnage, or the number of actual containers carried on deck.

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To the OP... Yes, the port charges for a Canal cruise are a bit steep.  Just from anecdotal observation the cruise lines will add about  $200/pp for Canal fees and the remainder is for all the other usual  taxes and fees.  As mentioned earlier the tolls are calculated somewhat differently than the tolls are calculated for general cargo, containers, gas ships or other bulk carriers.  Most passenger ships are charged per passenger berth while the other ship's tolls are calculated on the amount of cargo they can carry.  There are different rates applied if they are carrying cargo or if they are considered in ballast.  Rates per passenger berth for the original locks and the new locks $138/111 and $148/119 respectively.  The lower number is the ballast rate for passenger ships. To qualify for the lower rate there can not be any  paying passengers on board, just one paying passenger on board the higher figure is used.  Celebrity has had some experience recently with using the ballast rate... ouch!  Other significant fees that are in addition to the per passenger berth figure are $35K reservation fee, $30 daylight transit guarantee, $12K for tugs and the list goes on.  Oh, and there is no significant difference between a full transit and a partial, just a few less tugs are used on a partial transit.

 

The Canal authorities are planning on being able to transit around 12 neoPanamax ships a day using the new locks.  Right now they are averaging a little over 7 ships per day.  Total tonnage is the basic yard stick (or is that a meter stick now?:classic_wink:), it took from 1914 around 1956 for a billion tons of carried to be carried through the Canal.  Today a billion tons traverses the Canal in a little less than 3 years.

 

As far as competition from Nicaragua... I don't think that will ever come to fruition in spite of what Ortega says.  The backer of a canal in Nicaragua Chinese gazillionaire Wang Jing, has had some reversal of fortune of late and work on the canal project has been next to nothing over the last couple of years.  Of course you can never underestimate the ability or desires of mainland China to exert influence in the area.  On related note, Panama was one of the handful of countries that maintained diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) until in 2017 when it severed relations and recognized the People's Republic of China.  So, Big China is in a good spot to exert some influence in Panama if it chooses to do so.  There recently was dust up in Panama when the government of Panama agreed on a 100+ year lease for PR of China to build an embassy on Ft. Amador which is outside of the normal embassy areas and of course right next to the Canal!  Don't know how that will shake out,  but it is prime real estate!

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