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twangster

ūüéĶPanama! ūüéĶ Vision of the Seas Oct. 30, 2019

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2 minutes ago, twangster said:

The third and final bridge over the Panama Canal is the Atlantic Bridge.  This bridge was completed August 2019.  

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I know sometimes pictures can be deceiving, but the bridge seems tall enough to accommodate ships, larger than I would think can travel through the canal? 

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2 hours ago, FManke said:

I know sometimes pictures can be deceiving, but the bridge seems tall enough to accommodate ships, larger than I would think can travel through the canal? 

Clearance of 246 feet below so most ships will have no issue clearing it. 
 

The Bridge of the Americas on the Pacific side remains the challenge for shipping with a clearance of 201 feet.

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One of my dilemmas as I thought about how to capture this day was where to go on the ship for the best pictures.  I captured the timelapse on my GoPro while I waited on deck 10 forward for the morning approach and the first set of locks.  However I didn't want to stay there the whole day guarding my GoPro. 

At the same time I really wanted a full transit timelapse so I cheated a little bit.

Vision of the Seas has a TV channel dedicated to the forward facing bridge camera.  It's channel 41 on the TV system.   Hmmm.  What if I used my other phone to capture a timelapse of channel 41?

The full transit in 21 seconds.

 

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What does it cost a for ship like Vision of the Seas to transit the Panama Canal?

Bill Benny admits he hasn't seen our bill but he can guestimate it pretty close.

Ship are charged based on capacity.  For cruise ships it's the number of berths regardless if they are being used or not.  For cargo ships it's based on their cargo capacity regardless of the amount of cargo actually being carried.  

Cruise ships pay $138 per berth.  To go through on a specific day they have to make a reservation.  This costs $35,000.  To go through in daylight hours also has a fee of $30,000.  The tugs come with a charge between $12,000 and $14,000.  The Panamanian sea men who come on board to handle the cables cost around $4,000.  Each cable on a locomotive has a $300 charge.  There are some other fees and charges that are pocket change in the bigger picture. 

Bill's guestimate for Vision is about $380,000.00.

Ship's are tagged with a new name when they transit.  We were N 29 Zulu.  Northbound, 29th ship of the day and zulu means preferential treatment (daytime reservation).

Remember the NCL Bliss that used the new locks last year?  They paid $880,000.00

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On both sides of the canal there have been ships at anchor waiting to transit the canal.  This leads to the question how long do they have to wait?  

Bill Benny offered that the typical wait time without a reservation can be up to ~ 36 hours.  Timing varies based on demand and how many ships have reservations.    Typical volume is forty ships per day.  

The new locks don't have locomotives.  Each ship is allocated two tugs, one forward, one aft.  They do all the control, forward or aft or lateral movements that the locomotives do in the original canal.

The entire Panama Canal system uses gravity.  There are no pumps.  Water flows from Gatun Lake into upper lock chambers then to the next lock chamber down to the ocean.  This area of the Americas receives a lot of rain, it always has.  The Chagres River which was dammed to create Gatun Lake flowed into the ocean.  The man made Gatun Lake is a reservoir that flows water into the locks as they operate replacing the natural draining of the Chagres River into the sea.  

Too much rain isn't a serious issue as spillways can dissipate excess water.  If nature changed rainfall amounts downwards there are concerns about a lack of rain impacting canal operations.  If there was a major change in weather patterns that denied the region the rain it normally receives it is conceivable the canal would reduce operations compared to how it operates today.  

Gatun Lake is freshwater.  It also supplies drinking water to millions of people.  Gatun Lake has Crocodiles and Caiman.  

The canal generates around 3 billion USD in revenue annually.  Roughly half of this goes to the Panamanian treasury and half is consumed by the canal for operational use and development.

 

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Day 12 - Colón, Panama

Our progress...

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We sailed right past here yesterday, went to sea for the night then came back in the morning.

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At sea last night it felt like a storm was moving in.  Winds of change were in the air.   We've been very fortunate on this cruise during the rainy season since we've encountered very little rain.  This morning that changed.  We had rain, heavy at times.

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After it cleared a bit in the distance I could see the Atlantic Bridge.

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More ships at anchor waiting.  

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The night before I received notice my excursion for Colón had been modified and I was given an option of a 20% discount or a refund.  I was pretty tired from an active and long day running around the ship during our day transiting the Panama Canal so I decided to take the day to rest and I took the refund.

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I did leave to ship to see what the area was like near the terminal. I noted a few scars from the canal.

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In a couple days time these would be painted over.

I took these pictures leaving the ship.  Of course it started raining while I was off but the walk back to the ship outside in the rain was brief.  

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Thank you so much for all of the pictures and information.  My parents are on a canal cruise in January and I’ve been following along and helping them get ready for the trip.  Can you tell me what your excursion would have been in Colon? They are trying to decide what to do. 
 

Thanks so much again-super interesting!

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13 minutes ago, GlassSlipper said:

Thank you so much for all of the pictures and information.  My parents are on a canal cruise in January and I’ve been following along and helping them get ready for the trip.  Can you tell me what your excursion would have been in Colon? They are trying to decide what to do. 
 

Thanks so much again-super interesting!

It was the Wonders of Engineering: Panama Canal Locks and Culebra Cut Tour

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1 hour ago, twangster said:

It was the Wonders of Engineering: Panama Canal Locks and Culebra Cut Tour

From what you described of the informational session given on board, and the live feedback you got during the actual transition, it seems like you kind of got that excursion anyway. From an informational standpoint at least. I don't blame you for taking the refund and just recovering from an exhausting prior day.

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1 hour ago, JLMoran said:

From what you described of the informational session given on board, and the live feedback you got during the actual transition, it seems like you kind of got that excursion anyway. From an informational standpoint at least. I don't blame you for taking the refund and just recovering from an exhausting prior day.

Based on other research I think I saw the type of excursion boat that would be used in the morning while we were at the Miraflores locks:

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The people on the top looked like they were getting to know each other on a personal basis.  Combined with a distinct opportunity for rain and the modification that would cut the tour length in half while skipping Culebra Cut plus my full day transit experience fresh in my head I was okay with missing the excursion.   

If someone was doing a partial canal cruise and they wanted to see Culebra Cut this would be a great excursion.  

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What a perfect ship on which to do the crossing.  The wrap-around Promenade deck is my favorite part of that class of ship, and your photos just reinforced how much I love them.  Thanks so much for always sharing fabulous photos and information about your amazing cruises.

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Thanks so much, @twangster!!  I'm in the process of reading Path Between the Seas, in preparation for our cruise on NCL Bliss through the Canal in April 2020.  I've been taking copious notes as I read your account.  How do you keep your notes aligned with your pictures?  It's amazing!

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5 hours ago, IRMO12HD said:

How do you keep your notes aligned with your pictures?  It's amazing!

I've wondered that myself as I've read this blog!  He does such an amazingly detailed job with his live blogs.  One of the best out there!

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6 hours ago, IRMO12HD said:

Thanks so much, @twangster!!  I'm in the process of reading Path Between the Seas, in preparation for our cruise on NCL Bliss through the Canal in April 2020.  I've been taking copious notes as I read your account.  How do you keep your notes aligned with your pictures?  It's amazing!

That's one I read to prepare.  There are also some videos out there.

The first one deals with the transition of the canal from the U.S. to Panama:‚Ä®
‚Ä®
https://www.pbs.org/video/panama-canal-prized-possession-angekx/

This next one deals with the widening of the canal before it was completed
‚Ä®


Post-Panamax construction:
‚Ä®

 

 

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Day 13 - Cartagena, Colombia

I had few expectations for this day and it turned into a highlight port that I intend to revisit.

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Today's excursion "Deluxe Cartagena & Fortress". 

Our first stop is at Castillo de San Felipe.  This old fortress built in 1536 was placed at a strategic point to protect the old walled city behind it.  It's cannons pointed towards land to deal with attackers approaching by foot.

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This is a walking tour that at times was uphill, both ways.

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While not hot by Colombia standards it was pretty hot and humid today and I was glad I brought water from the ship.

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Modern Cartagena with a bridge to the old walled city in the foreground.

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A church in the walled city in the distance our guide informs us we will visit later today.

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The fortress is pretty massive.

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Like all good fortresses built nearly 500 years ago it has a series of internal passages and access corridors.

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These were also used by soldiers as sleeping quarters.

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You had better remembered the days password because in the dark corridors they couldn't recognize friend or foe so failing to respond with the correct password when challenged meant a knife.

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They've updated the fortress with modern restrooms accessed through an old corridor.  It was kind of bizarre walking down an old passageway, turning the corner and walking into a modern, nicely appointed, well lit restroom.  

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Back on the bus to soak up some the cool air coming down from the air conditioning vents we head into the old walled city.

Our guide provides some history of how this area has had numerous conquerors. 

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Our next stop is at a market where we can do some shopping.

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Our guide informs us vendors accept USD and most vendors will provide change in USD.   Prices are in Colombian dollars so some math is required but prices appeared typical for many goods.

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This leads up to the top of the wall that protected the old city.

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