Panama Canal Cruise travel blog

Cabin part 1

Cabin part 2

Pool (with retractable roof--this ship does Alaska in the summer

Leaving Fort Lauderdale

What day is it? (this can be helpful)

View of the island

Loading the tender to go ashore

Wading in the Caribean

Tropical flowers

On the beach

Friday, January 18

Sailing away today! We took the shuttle from the hotel to the huge cruise port—there were several large ships in port. The embarkation was speedy—handed off our bags, went through a short line to have passports checked and get our on-board card, got snapped by the photographer, and then got on the ship and were able to go directly to our room (although the luggage came a few hours later).

We settled in, read the program for the day, and then set off to explore the ship. We stopped at the service desk and figured out how to access the app for our phones that has a ship map, daily schedule, etc. Pretty neat features.

There are many exotic services at the spa, but I don’t think I will be splurging! We got all the way to the top of the ship, locating exercise room, pools, snack bars, and then the buffet for lunch (delicious). We found the library, casino, and several lounges along the way.

I thought I had lost my key card, but it was only misplaced, hiding in one of the many little slots in my new purse. I found it when I decided to take a Bonine when we started to leave port (anti-seasickness medication). The card was in the same slot as the medication.

The Coast Guard escorted us out to sea and we were on our way. We enjoyed watching the scenery as we sailed away.

Our luggage was delivered, so we unpacked and put things away. No more suitcase for the rest of the cruise! We headed up for dinner and had a short wait since they were busy before being seated at a table for eight. It was a congenial group, I was talking to a retired teacher and pharmacist from Toronto, and Janet chatted with a retired pilot for Delta. We’re going to try to go to dinner earlier tomorrow, as the movie had started before we got there and was full. They have a library of over 1000 DVD’s we can check out to play in the room if we choose.

Tomorrow is the private island, and I have a 9:00 tour. We have to take a tender in to the dock, so have to allow time for that, so I’d better get to bed, and maybe even set the alarm!

Saturday, January 19

Note: The map shows Nassau, as this small island is not identified on the map available.

Today we visited Half Moon Cay, the private island owned by the cruise line. (Actually, it is leased from the Bahamanian government for 99 years for 6.9 million dollars.) My little tram tour was at 9:00 and I needed to get up pretty early to have breakfast and catch the tender (shuttle boat) in to the harbor. There is another ship in the harbor today. Our ship has 1440 passengers, and the other one has 2600. It was interesting to see how the island absorbed so many people, but of course they weren’t all there at once, and a few may have stayed on the ship.

The tram took us around the semicircular bay to the horse ranch, where we saw folks in their beach clothes and safety helmets getting ready to head out on their beach ride. Further along we stopped to look at the stingrays, and got a look at the maintenance and staff housing. (49 people live on the island, and the rest commute from other islands.)

After the tour, I checked out the shops and went to the beach. It was pretty crowded but beautiful. I went wading, which was refreshing on the hot day. The sand is very white and fine, and the water was cooler than expected, and so blue.

I went back to the tram stop and got a lift down to the lunch pavillion. There were BBQ hot dogs, burgers, and Jamaican jerk chicken, and a variety of salads and fresh fruits. There were four lines, and they really moved people through efficiently.

I decided to beat the rush back to the ship, and took a dip in the pool. It really cooled me off! Then read and watched scenery for a while, before heading back to the cabin to clean up and see what to do next (after writing this). I enjoyed chatting with several interesting people throughout the day. It was nice to find a quiet spot to read and watch the sea go by before making our way to dinner. We chatted and got advice from a guy who has been on over 50 cruises (including 58 days in one stretch). After dinner we watched Crazy Rich Asians (which definitely had some crazy moments). It was one that I enjoyed as a freebie, but was glad I hadn’t spent a lot to see.

Sunday, January 20

This was our first full day at sea. After our hurried morning yesterday, it was good to relax today. After breakfast I walked on the promenade deck, along with many energetic people. I just enjoyed the fresh air and found a comfy spot to read for a while!

The app for the ship works great, but the ATT phone plan I purchased does not, so I will have to get that canceled. Somehow in setting up the app I accidentally signed up for the $119 internet plan which I don’t want, but I got it canceled. I found this out when I used the app to check my bill—so it is really handy!

I went to a presentation on Cartegena in preparation for the visit there. We have a short time to visit, so will probably only get to take the tour. It looks like a fascinating city with both an historic old town and a very modern city.

After the big breakfast we couldn’t face a big lunch, so we went to the pool bar and had some things from the Mexican buffet (a small burrito) and shared a burger. About this time we passed by Cuba, just visible on the horizon. Afterwards we went to the ‘America’s Test Kitchen’ cooking demonstration (no free samples!) They will have several presentations throughout the cruise that I plan to take in. They also have a guy doing classes on Microsoft Windows features, but that seems a little like work!

I enjoyed taking in the afternoon tea. There was a little serving tower with mini scones, cakes, and finger sandwiches, not too big, but of course I sampled more than one. There were a couple of sisters from England at our table. There is an international crowd on the ship, but mostly US, plus a lot of Canadians.

Tonight was the first ‘Gala’ night, so we put on our ‘posh frocks’ (or pants), and went to the dining room. I kept it light with a salad, fish, and a ‘no sugar added’ cake. It was very good, slightly more gourmet that other dinners—escargot were available as an appetizer, and duck was one of the entrees available, for example. It seemed the dining room wasn’t quite as crowded tonight—maybe people didn’t want to dress up. The food at the buffet is really quite good too, and quicker than the leisurely pace in the dining room. The conversations at the table have been quite enjoyable in the dining room though.

I am relaxing in the room this evening. It was quite warm in our room, but our purser found us the last fan on the ship, so that has made it better. Tomorrow is another sea day, so I need to go through the program and add the things I want to do to my online schedule.

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