Travel is one of my passions, but another is photography. Since my trips are only occasional, I have decided to add more of my photographic experiences to this blog.

Since you are obviously here, please enjoy.


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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Panama Cruise

November 2012 - Panama Canal Cruise
After driving to spend Thanksgiving with our very good friends and their family in Carlsbad, California we continued north, briefly stopping in Newport Beach to visit my "Colorado rafting buddy" and his wife, before heading to our final destination, San Pedro (Port of Los Angeles) to begin  our Panama Cruise.  

In late afternoon we departed the coolness of Southern California looking forward to the warmth of Central America and beginning with two sea days, our arrival in Cabo San Lucas.

With the heat of a warm southern sun, we dropped anchor in the lee of El Arco, a haven for sea lions, and tendered in to Cabo.  The streets, lined with locals hawking their deals for tours and trinkets, and bars offering specials on cervesa, tequila and food, proved to be less than appealing to us, and after an hour of walking in the heat of the day, we returned to the ship to enjoy its amenities.  After lifting anchor in late afternoon, we look forward to the tranquility of more sea days before our next port.

Cruising is an ideal way to break the normalcy of daily life.  After a couple of sea days comprised of sleeping, eating, reading, exercising in the gym, and other shipboard activities, we arrived in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua where we board a tour bus for a 2 hour ride to visit Granada and Lake Nicaragua where our small boat cruised Las Isletas, 365 small islands created when a volcano erupted long ago.  In Granada, we toured an ornate cathedral, viewed a collection of pre-Columbian artifacts and enjoyed lunch in a local restaurant.  Departing in early evening we then headed to our next port - Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

Since we are returning to Costa Rica in 2 months for an extended visit, we opted to take a short walk in town before retiring to our ship to enjoy the pool and relax.

Another day at sea before entering the locks of the Panama Canal and while enjoying breakfast on the Lido deck, 14 floors above the water, we watched dolphins play in the ships' wake, and observed a sea turtle scurrying away to escape the drag of the ship.

Finally we have reached Panama and as dawn breaks we jockey for position to enter the Miraflores Lock, the first of 3 locks that will take us to the Atlantic Ocean.  Now close to celebrating its' 100th anniversary of the opening, we are treated to one of the engineering marvels of the last century.  Although a bit jaded since we have locked though many waterways during our boating years,  the enormity of the Panama Canal and the number of ships awaiting passage is staggering. We also got a glimpse of the new larger locks being constructed for the megaships which until now, exceed the maximum dimensions allowable.

After several hours of watching how these ships are maneuvered into position and coddled through the narrow passageways, arrive at the Gatun Lock where we descend to the Atlantic and then on to other ports before heading towards our final destination.

Cartagena, a jewel of Columbia - one million plus, this city of contrasts, with the old walled city overpowered by the many high-rise buildings fronting the shoreline.  Once ashore, we toured the old walled city, slowly being restored to its former beauty.  The variety of color continues from street to street, each different but similar so that it is easy to become disoriented.  Reaching the barriers of the old city walls, you soon realize that by following the wall will take you back to your point of origin.  Many stores feature emeralds mined in the country.  Since ridding itself of the vicious drug cartels, the country is concentrating on promoting tourism.

Aruba, our last port to visit before two days at sea to disembark in Fort Lauderdalea, Florida.  Again, we experience hot, humid weather, which makes us so uncomfortable and stimulates our yearning to return home to Arizona (it's not the heat - it's the humidity).  Once off the ship we walk the main street of the port of Oranjestad, lined with quaint facades of Dutch colonial design.  Unfortunately, in our opinion, it is ruined by the repetition of stores offering jewelry, watches, clothing and cheap trinkets, but obviously we are in the minority as we see many shipmates carrying bags  back to the Island Princess.

Once back on board our ship, we cruise northwest by north to Florida and the end of our travels - for now.  February is only 2 months away and our next destination - Costa Rica.

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