Carnival Miracle Kicks Off Year-Round Schedule From Tampa

Carnival Miracle docked in Grand Turk, Turks and CaicosPHOTO: Carnival Miracle docked in Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. (photo via Wikimedia Commons/HurricaneX31)
Carnival Cruise Line’s 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle kicked off a year-round program of seven-day cruises from Tampa this weekend. The move doubles the line’s capacity at the port and further bolsters its position as the leader in Caribbean cruising.

Carnival Miracle will offer the only year-round, longer-length cruise program from Port Tampa Bay, offering an unbeatable mix of destinations that appeal to a broad range of consumers, including families seeking an attractive and affordable vacation option.

Carnival Miracle joins Carnival Paradise which operates year-round four- to eight-day voyages from Tampa to the Caribbean and Cuba. Together, Carnival Miracle and Carnival Paradise will carry an estimated 280,000 passengers annually from Tampa – the most of any cruise operator.

“Carnival Cruise Line has been sailing from Tampa for nearly 25 years and we’re thrilled to add a second year-round ship to provide our guests with an even greater variety of fantastic cruise vacation choices from this convenient homeport,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “We would like to recognize our partners at Port Tampa Bay and the Tampa community, as well as our valued travel agent partners, for their efforts in making Tampa one of our most popular and successful embarkation ports,” she added.

“We’re delighted that Carnival Cruise Line will have two year-round cruise ships dedicated to the Tampa market,” said Paul Anderson, President/CEO Port Tampa Bay. “It speaks to the record-breaking demand of passengers in the Tampa Bay area wanting to get on a Carnival cruise.”

Seven-Day Sailings from Tampa

On its week-long Tampa-based cruise program, Carnival Miracle departs Port Tampa Bay Saturdays or Sundays calling at four popular western Caribbean ports: Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Mahogany Bay (Roatan) and Belize, each known for their world-class beaches, varied shore excursion opportunities, centuries-old historical sites and excellent dining and shopping experiences.

These voyages from Tampa are part of Carnival’s exclusive Cozumel Plus program, which features extended stays that provide guests even more opportunities to experience and explore one of the Caribbean’s most diverse vacation destinations with a variety of exciting and unforgettable excursion choices, many taking place on Mexico’s mainland.

New Six- to 14-Day Cruises to the Caribbean, Panama Canal

Carnival recently added several six- to 14-day sailings aboard Carnival Miracle visiting spectacular ports throughout the Caribbean as well as an unforgettable opportunity to experience a partial transit of the Panama Canal. During the transit, guests will experience one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and sail on Gatun Lake, one of the largest man-made bodies of water in the world.

The new six-day voyages feature day-long stops at Cozumel, Belize, and Costa Maya or Mahogany Bay. Departure dates include Sept. 2 and Nov. 11, 2018, and Jan. 27 and March 31, 2019.

Eight-day Panama Canal cruises depart April 14 and Sept. 8, 2018, and Feb. 2 and April 6, 2019, and include a partial transit of the Panama Canal along with stops at Limon (Costa Rica) and Grand Cayman. There’s also an eight-day, five-port Caribbean cruise that departs Nov. 17, 2019, visiting Cozumel, Costa Maya, Mahogany Bay, Belize and Grand Cayman.

Miracle will also offer a 14-day Carnival Journeys Panama Canal cruise round-trip from Tampa Dec. 2-16, 2018, featuring Cozumel and Limon prior to a partial Panama Canal transit followed by visits to Cartagena (Colombia), Aruba, Curacao and Montego Bay (Jamaica). Guests sailing on Journeys cruises enjoy unique local dining and entertainment experiences and a number of shipboard-enrichment activities.

Signature Carnival Innovations

Guests sailing aboard Carnival Miracle can enjoy a wide range of onboard choices, the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, Nick and Nora’s steakhouse located atop the ship’s 10-deck-high atrium, a luxurious 14,500-square-foot spa, and a Serenity adults-only retreat. Of the ship’s 1,062 staterooms, 80 percent offer either an ocean view or private balcony.

Family-friendly options include Seuss at Sea, an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Hasbro, The Game Show, with larger-than-life adaptations of the company’s iconic games and complimentary programming for children in three age groups – Camp Ocean (ages 2-11), Circle “C” (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17).

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Just one cruise ship scheduled to use new Panama Canal locks

Caribbean Princess

The new, wider locks on the Panama Canal will open June 26 with the first official transit of a cargo ship, but don’t expect much traffic through them from cruise ships.

Only one cruise ship has reserved space to move through the new locks, which are open to one cruise ship a day starting in June 2017, according to the Panama Canal Authority.

Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess is scheduled to make a series of thirteen 10-day cruises through the canal beginning Oct. 21, 2017.

At 118 feet wide, the 3,080-passenger Caribbean Princess can’t fit into the 110-foot locks that were opened in 1914. The new locks had been scheduled to open in time for the centennial but were delayed by disputes between Panama and the consortia of contractors that built them.

The new locks rely on tugs rather than electric locomotives to move ships through them. Doubts have been raised about the ability to fit the tugs in the locks along with the longest ships, but at 951 feet, the Caribbean Princess will have room to spare in the 1,400 foot locks.

For cargo ships, questions have also been raised about the record-low depths of water in Gatun Lake, which connects locks on the Atlantic and Pacific side of the canal. Depths hit 81.75 feet earlier this year. But large cruise ships typically need only about 30 feet to operate.

Most cruise ships transiting the Panama Canal will continue to use the old locks. Cruise lines have several ships operating in Alaska that would need the new locks to move to the Atlantic, such as Royal Caribbean International’s Explorer of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice. But for now they are stationed year-round in the Pacific, moving to Australia, New Zealand and the Far East during the winter.

A spokesman for Carnival Cruise Line said Carnival doesn’t have any full transit Panama Canal cruises scheduled through April 2018.

Holland America Line recently launched the Koningsdam, the first HAL ship that will not fit through the old locks, but it is currently deployed in Europe during the summer and the Caribbean during the winter.

PHOTOS: First Ship Passes Through Panama Canal’s New Locks

The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Thanks to https://gcaptain.com/ for the story.

A post-panamax bulk carrier became the first ship to pass through the Panama Canal’s new locks on Thursday, kicking off a series of trial runs ahead of the expanded canal’s grand opening later this month.

The $5.3 billion expansion project involves the construction of a new set of locks on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides and multiple dredging projects to create a second lane of traffic along the canal. The new locks are much wider and deeper than the current locks.

The first run was meant to simulate a southbound transit through the new Agua Clara locks on Atlantic side of the 255-meter-long, 43m wide MV Boroque, which was chartered by the Panama Canal Authority specifically for this purpose.

The trial runs will help Panama Canal workers prepare for the start of commercial operations on June 27 when the first vessels will begin using the new “neopanamax” locks on either ends of the canal. Unlike the existing locks, which use locomotives, the new locks require the use of two tugs positioned forward and aft to guide the ships through.

For that reason, Panama Canal pilots and tugboat captains have been required to go through extensive training at the canal’s own simulator training center and a nearby scale model facility, but there’s nothing like the real.

Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority

Before heading through the new locks, the MV Boroque was boarded by Panama Canal pilots before entering designated canal waters.

Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority
Headed for the new locks. Panama Canal Authority
Headed for the new locks. Panama Canal Authority

Like you will see in this video explaining the operation of the new locks, the MV Boroque was met by two tugs, one forward and one after, before entering the locks.

Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority
The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

The lead tug here was the Cerro Santiago, one of many built by the Panama Canal Authority in anticipation of the new locks.

The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Workers pull the rope during the first trial run of a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Workers pull the rope during the first trial run of a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority
A tugboat drags a Post-Panamax cargo ship during the first trial run at the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
A tugboat drags a Post-Panamax cargo ship during the first trial run at the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
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Panama Canal Authority

Inauguration of the Third Set of Locks project is scheduled for June 26 with commercial operations scheduled to begin the next day. During the initial stage of operation, only four vessels per day will be allowed to use the new locks to allow workers the chance to get used to the new operation.

Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority