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Canal's Reservation System Changes

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As many of you probably know cruise ships almost always make reservations to transit the Canal on a particular day when the cruise includes the Canal on the itinerary.  While cruise ships are a big user of this function, reservations are made by other ships as well.  These include ships that are running on fixed schedules as well as ships that can't afford to gamble on a several day wait for their turn to transit.  The fee for reservations is a graduated fee schedule with the highest fee paid by the larger ships.  The Transit Reservation Fee, unlike making a guaranteed ressie at your favorite motel is an addition to the regular tolls that will have to be paid for the transit.  Also, it is largely non refundable if you are unable to make the scheduled transit date.  The top tier fee which the bulk of cruise ships fall under is presently $35,000 for the reservation, which was applied regardless of which locks were used (original or new).  New reservation fees will take effect in April and it might be time to watch your wallet!  The top tier fee for the Panamax Locks (original) will jump from $35K to $50,000 and the top tier fee for the NeoPanamax Locks (new) will move from $35K to $85,000.  The only silver to be found here is that most cruise ships using the new locks will generally fall into the second highest tier which will shave off $15K bringing the reservation fee to just $70,000, but that is still a hefty increase just to make a reservation.


The larger passenger ships pay in tolls, $138 per passenger berth to transit the Panamax Locks (original) and $148 per passenger berth for the NeoPanamax Locks (new).  To be sure you can't leave out tug fees, locomotive wire fees, linehandler charges which are in addition to the toll.   So the bottom line is if (maybe I should be optimistic and say when) cruises start back and you doing a Panama Canal cruise, don't be alarmed when you look at the taxes and government fees portion of your fare.  Nowhere to go but up!

Edited by BillB48
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