Panama Canal Raises Rates Due to Drought Situation 

 Coral Princess

The Panama Canal has added new fees and changed its reservation system to counter historic drought levels.

“Due to changing rainfall patterns and historic low water levels at Gatun Lake, the main source of water for the waterway, the Panama Canal today that it will implement a series of new measures beginning February 15 to sustain an operational level of water and provide reliability to customers while it implements a long-term solution to water,” said a statement from the Panama Canal Authority.

This past year’s rainfall was 20 per cent below the historic average and the fifth driest year in 70 years. It follows several years of lower than average rainfall coupled by a 10 per cent increase in water evaporation levels due to a 0.5-1.5 degree Celsius rise in temperature.

Without fee and operational changes, the Canal’s water levels are projected to drop to levels that would affect the Neopanamax and Panamax Locks. These new measures are intended to better provide reliability in water levels and therefore transit schedules.

A new freshwater fee will be applied to all vessels over 125 feet in length overall (LOA) that transit through the Panama Canal, and will include the following components: A fixed fee of $10,000 per transit and a variable fee ranging from a minimum of 1 per cent to a maximum of 10 per cent of the vessel’s toll will be applied depending on Gatun Lake levels at the time of transit (i.e. if the lake has a higher level, the percentage will be lower and vice versa).

The Panama Canal will adjust the number of daily reservation slots available to 27, replicating the total offered during lane outages.

The waterway will also require that each vessel pays its booking fee in full no later than 48 hours depending on the booking period.

A handling service fee will be applied to all visits for transit at the time they are created in the system. The processing fee will be applied as follows: For vessels 91 feet in beam and over: $5,000. For vessels over 125 feet LOA, but less than 91 feet in beam: $1,500.

The fee will be deducted from the vessel’s tolls invoice once the vessel begins transit. If the vessel cancels the visit and does not transit, the Vessel Visit Creation Fee will not be refunded. All visits created prior to February 15, 2020 will be honoured and will not be required to pay this fee.

“The decision to adopt such measures was taken following an evaluation of the impact of innovative techniques already instituted to save water used in the Canal’s operations. For example, the Panama Canal has been implementing cross-filling lockages, a technique that sends water between the two lanes at the Panamax Locks during transits and saves an amount of water equivalent to that used in six lockages each day,” the Panama Canal Authority said.

Cruise Ship Passenger Safety In Focus After Woman Falls Overboard from Carnival Liberty

Carnival Liberty

Cruise ship passenger safety in once again in focus following a man overboard incident on a Carnival cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico.

Samantha Broberg, 33, was reported missing at about noon Friday to crew members on board the Carnival Liberty. A search of the ship turned up empty, and crews later uncovered surveillance video to confirm that Broberg had fallen overboard from the 10th deck at around 2 a.m. Friday as the ship was about 200 miles southeast of Galveston.

A coordinated search involving the cruise ship and Coast Guard aircrews spanned 20 hours and covered some 4,300 square miles of ocean before it was called off Sunday night.

Carnival said in a statement that the video, which has not been released, suggests that Broberg was sitting on a deck railing when she fell back into the water.

A map of the search area provided by the U.S. Coast Guard.
A map of the search area provided by the U.S. Coast Guard.

According to the website, which tracks man overboard incidents on cruise ships, over the past five years an average of 23 people fall overboard from cruise ships each year. So far in 2016, there have been four such incidents, including an incident on May 11 where a man reportedly jumped overboard from the Coral Princess, according to the Cruise Law News website.

Cruise Law News, run by maritime attorney Jim Walker, has been critical of cruise lines for failing to install state-of-the-art video cameras to document such incidents, as well as high-tech motion detection systems that would alert the bridge as soon as a man overboard incident occurs. In the case of the Carnival Liberty, Walker slams the crew of the cruise ship over a 15 hour delay in reporting Broberg missing to the U.S. Coast Guard – the crew did not report Broberg missing until 5 p.m. Friday. Another issue Walker raises is the issue of Cruise Lines over serving alcohol to passengers, as alcohol seems to be the common thread in many of these accidents.

“My thought is that cruise lines owe a duty of reasonable care to passengers pursuant to maritime law,” Jim Walker writes on his website.

So this begs the question: are cruise lines doing enough to protect passenger safety?

Crew Member Dies in Life Boat Accident on the Coral Princess

A crew member on the Coral Princess was killed last Friday in a tragic accident involving a lifeboat while the cruise ship was in Colon, Panama.  The incident was first reported by Cruise Law News.


Two crew members were in a lifeboat doing maintenance work on the hull of the Coral Princess when a cable snapped dropping the boat into the water.  Both of the workers were sent to a local hospital for treatment but one of the men died from injuries.

Reports are stating that the cable snapped as the lifeboat was being raised back onboard the ship.

The crew member that passed away was Husnan Fauzan, a 10 year veteran who served as a SCP1 for Princess Cruises.  The other worker was Bosun Steven Bagshaw who is currently still in the hospital in stable condition.

Cruise Fever reached out to Princess Cruises and received the following statement:

“On October 24 two of our crew members were in one of the ship’s rescue boats doing some maintenance work on the hull of the Coral Princess.  When the boat was being raised back onboard the ship, one of the cables that raises and lowers the boat parted, and the boat dropped back into the water with our two crew members inside.

We immediately responded and discovered that these crew members had, unfortunately, sustained injuries which necessitated their transfer to a shoreside hospital for evaluation and treatment.

It is with an extremely heavy heart that we confirm that one of our crew members subsequently passed away from his injuries. This has devastated everyone across the entire Princess Cruises organization.

We are, and will continue to support his family during this difficult period.”

Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Husnan Fauzan and the crew of the Coral Princess as they deal with this tragedy.

The Coral Princess is a 2,000 passenger cruise ship that has been in service since 2003. The ship was on a 12 night cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida that was sailing to the Southern Caribbean and Central America at the time of the incident.

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