The World’s Most Expensive Shortcut

How much does it cost to transit the Panama Canal?

Norwegian Pearl

Norwegian Pearl

Many have asked me how much did we pay to cross the Panama Canal?

A lot!

Panama Canal is The World’s Greatest Shortcut with over 40 ships transiting each day of the year. Instead of traveling 20 000 km all the way through Cape Horn- the ocean’s most dangerous passage, thousands of boats choose to cross the 77-kilometer long canal, for a fee. The toll is different for each boat and depends on the type and size of the boat, as well as of the type of cargo transported.

Containership in Panama Canal. The little thing next to it is S/V Anka

Containership in Panama Canal. The little thing next to it is S/V Anka

Yachts and other small boats pay based on boat size between 900 and 2,500 dollars.

Loaded containreships pay based on tonnage and volume between 50,000 and 250,000 dollars

Cruise ships pay for each berth about $100 per berth (occupied or not occupied) a total of 80,000 to 300,000 dollars.

Norwegian Pearl

Norwegian Pearl heading to Panama Canal

The worlds’ record for highest canal toll was held by the cruise ship Norwegian Pearl in 2007 and broken by the cruise ship Disney Magic in 2008 who paid $331,200. This is what you will find out if you google the information, but there are no updates for more recent record tolls paid by cruise ships.

We are sitting in the La Playita anchorage at the canal entrance and we see every boat that comes in or our of the Miraflores locks. We have become Panama Canal Vigilantes. Today, October 14, 2015, we just watched the Norwegian Pearl heading to the locks once again, so maybe she broke a new record and paid “the biggest Panama Canal toll ever” in front of our eyes!

Watching Norwegian Pearl from La Playita anchorage, October 14, 2015

Watching Norwegian Pearl from La Playita anchorage, October 14, 2015

With 965ft length, 106 ft beam and 93,530 tons, the Norwegian Pearl is slightly smaller than Disney Magic, but has more passenger and crew capacity (more berths)- 2,394 passengers and 1,100 crew.  She is massive and is built to the maximum size possible to fit in the Panama Canal locks. She is a Panamax ship offering cruises to the Bahamas, to Alaska, as well as Panama Canal Cruises.

For comparison, our Fata Morgana is a small sailing craft, barely 36 feet long and we paid the minimal fee of US$982 to cross the canal. For us this was the biggest toll ever paid in the history of our travels.

Fata Morgana at La Playita anchorage

Fata Morgana at La Playita anchorage

  • Read how we crossed the Panama Canal with a lot of information, historical and interesting facts about the canal here.

 

About the author: Mira Nencheva, her husband Ivo and 11-years-old daughter Maya are sailing around the world and living off-the-grid full-time aboard their 38 feet Leopard catamaran Fata Morgana since July 2013. Their journey is documented in a travel-adventure blog www.thelifenomadik.com and in theirFacebook page: Facebook/TheLifeNomadik

 

 

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