Carnival Cruise Line’s celebratory cruise following the christening of its new flagship Mardi Gras last Saturday made its first stop with a call in San Juan, Puerto Rico yesterday. As part of the day’s festivities, the reigning Miss Universe, Puerto Rico, Estefania Soto-Torres and the incoming Miss Universe, Puerto Rico, Michelle Colón welcomed some very special guests to their home island: Miss Universe Andrea Meza, Mardi Gras Godmother and Miss Universe, Dominican Republic, Kimberly Jiménez and Miss USA Asya Branch, as well as Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy.

Mardi Gras was christened during a “Universe of Fun” celebration on Oct. 23 in Port Canaveral, Fla. The celebration marked the first ship naming ceremony held in the U.S. since the cruise industry’s restart this summer. Godmother Jiménez blessed the ship in both English and Spanish and activated the traditional champagne bottle break, officially naming the ship.

“We are thrilled to be back in Puerto Rico and allow our destinations to participate in the celebration of our new ship,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “And to be welcomed by the current and incoming Miss Universe, Puerto Rico has made it even more special.”

Mardi Gras is the first cruise ship in the Americas to be powered by eco-friendly Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and features BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea. Guests can enjoy a host of entertainment experiences throughout the ship’s 19 decks and six distinct themed zones, including the first shipboard version of the hit TV show Family Feud, and more than two dozen restaurants with venues from Guy Fieri, Emeril Lagasse, Rudi Sodamin and the line’s Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal. Mardi Gras is sailing year-round from Port Canaveral, offering seven-day itineraries to the eastern and western Caribbean.

Containers led in total tonnage, while LNG, LPG, vehicle carriers and dry bulkers drove overall growth, leading to strong results for FY21 amid continued supply chain disruptions and a transition to sustainable shipping

The Panama Canal closed its fiscal year 2021 (FY21) with a record-breaking annual tonnage of 516.7 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS), coming in 8.7% higher compared to the 2020 fiscal year (FY20) and 10% above tonnage registered in FY19, the waterway’s last pre-pandemic fiscal year.

“I am grateful for and proud of our world-class workforce, whose resilience and dedication allowed us, throughout the pandemic, to continue providing a service of excellence and enabling the uninterrupted delivery of essential goods around the world,” said Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales. “This commitment was key in our ability to manage a record tonnage, which reinforces the Expanded Canal’s value to global trade after five years of successful operations.”

FY21 Performance in Detail

Fiscal year 2021 was marked by unprecedented supply chain challenges caused by the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Related disruptions drove container rates to rise exponentially and production to slow down across various sectors, due to raw material shortages. Amid this landscape, the Panama Canal saw traffic grow between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021, driven by liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), containerships, dry bulkers, and vehicle carriers.

Panama Canal Closes Fiscal Year 2021 with Record Tonnage and Plans for Significant Investments through 2030  

Containers led in total tonnage, while LNG, LPG, vehicle carriers and dry bulkers drove overall growth, leading to strong results for FY21 amid continued supply chain disruptions and a transition to sustainable shipping

Panama City, Panama, October 28, 2021 – The Panama Canal closed its fiscal year 2021 (FY21) with a record-breaking annual tonnage of 516.7 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS), coming in 8.7% higher compared to the 2020 fiscal year (FY20) and 10% above tonnage registered in FY19, the waterway’s last pre-pandemic fiscal year.

“I am grateful for and proud of our world-class workforce, whose resilience and dedication allowed us, throughout the pandemic, to continue providing a service of excellence and enabling the uninterrupted delivery of essential goods around the world,” said Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales. “This commitment was key in our ability to manage a record tonnage, which reinforces the Expanded Canal’s value to global trade after five years of successful operations.”

FY21 Performance in Detail

Fiscal year 2021 was marked by unprecedented supply chain challenges caused by the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Related disruptions drove container rates to rise exponentially and production to slow down across various sectors, due to raw material shortages. Amid this landscape, the Panama Canal saw traffic grow between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021, driven by liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), containerships, dry bulkers, and vehicle carriers.

LPG and vehicle carriers followed LNG in segment growth, closing FY21 with an 18.4% and 15.6% increase in tonnage through the waterway, respectively. While the latter saw growth in FY21, vehicle carriers are yet to fully recover from the pandemic-driven dip in traffic, similar to passenger vessels, which are expected to continue their gradual return to the waterway in FY22. Their return will be supported by proposed modifications to the segment’s tolls, which are expected to be approved in the coming weeks.

The main trade routes using the Panama Canal by tonnage in FY21 included the U.S. East Coast – Asia, followed by the U.S. East Coast – West Coast of South America, West Coast of South America – Europe, South America Intercoastal, and the East Coast South America – Asia route, the latter of which replaced the East Coast U.S. – West Coast of Central America route in the Canal’s top five routes. South Korea also moved up the ranks to become the fourth top user of the waterway this year, preceded by the United States, China, and Japan, with Chile coming in fifth.

All in all, the Panama Canal recorded a total of 13,342 transits in FY21, driven by an increase in Neopanamax transits. Though their average size increased, Panamax transits declined in total, an anticipated shift accelerated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as shipping lines consolidated more cargo onto larger ships to decrease frequent transits. To help facilitate this transition, the Panama Canal increased the maximum allowable length (LOA) for vessels transiting the Neopanamax Locks, a move made possible by the waterway’s experience operating the Expanded Canal. The waterway also began offering a 50-foot draft, the highest level allowed at the Neopanamax Locks. Achieved through effective water management and an increase in rainfall, the higher draft ultimately increased the waterway’s capacity to maneuver larger and heavier vessels.

Looking Ahead – Securing a Sustainable Future

The Panama Canal also advanced its commitments to accelerating the decarbonization of shipping in FY21. In January 2021, the Panama Canal announced the creation of the CO2 Emissions Dashboard, which calculates the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions saved by vessels that choose to transit the Panama Canal over the most likely alternative route. Building on these and other longstanding efforts, the waterway then committed in April 2021 to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, with plans already underway to invest roughly $2.4 billion in modernizing its equipment and infrastructure to meet this commitment. The Canal will also spend $2.8 billion in maintenance, as well as $500 million in digital transformation initiatives to maximize its capacity and value offered to customers for years to come.

The Panama Canal is working on its roadmap outlining the specific steps it will take to reach carbon neutrality by 2030, from generating electricity from renewable sources to migrating the Canal’s fleet to electric vehicles and hybrid tugboats. The Canal will also explore a pricing strategy that promotes the efficiency and low-carbon emissions of the ships that transit the waterway, as well as participate in the upcoming 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) and IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC77) meetings.

About the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal Authority is an autonomous legal entity of the Republic of Panama in charge of the operation, administration, management, preservation, maintenance, and modernization of the Panama Canal, as well as its activities and related services, so that the Canal may operate in a safe, continuous, efficient manner.

The Port of Seattle's commission has voted to speed up its carbon-cutting efforts by ten years and now aims achieve net-zero emissions from its own operations by 2040. The port has also committed to accelerating its goal for tenant and port user emissions to be carbon neutral or better by 2050.

The policy directives were timed to coincide with the Conference of Parties 26 (COP 26) meeting in Scotland. "The urgency for climate action is underscored by the UN Secretary General’s recent statement that the impacts of climate change are a ‘code red for humanity,’" said Port of Seattle Commission President Fred Felleman. "As a public port, these investments are not just the right thing to do, but they also give us a competitive advantage because businesses are increasingly seeking ways to reduce their emissions."

The port also highlighted its participation in new exploratory studies of renewable hydrogen as a maritime fuel source; a new partnership with Seattle City Light (SCL) and the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) to focus on waterfront electrification; and its membership in the Getting to Zero coalition. 

“These improvements happened because our community demanded them. Residents, workers, and business owners called on us to accelerate our efforts to address climate change, and Port staff and leadership took those concerns seriously. As a result, the Port of Seattle’s Maritime Climate and Air Action Plan is better,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins. 

The Port of Seattle is already making progress. A new 2020 inventory revealed that greenhouse gas emissions from port-controlled sources dropped 20 percent last year. While the COVID-19 slowdown had an effect, the expanded use of low carbon fuels and clean electricity drove the majority (60 percent) of the decline in emissions. 

The port says that it is engaged in a new energy planning effort with Seattle City Light (SCL), the NWSA and industry partners. It is on track to wrap up by the end of next year, and it will provide a roadmap for the clean energy infrastructure and energy sources needed to decarbonize Seattle’s maritime industry by 2050. 

The port is also participating in two regional studies to evaluate the potential role of renewable hydrogen - among other potential fuels - as an emerging zero-emission energy source for maritime industrial uses. 

The commission will vote on a more detailed regional plan to cut seaport-related emissions on November 16. This plan calls for cutting maritime emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and phasing out all maritime emissions at the port (including tenants and port users) by 2050.

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