Friday, October 2, 2009
The last two days at sea were great. First we won several trivia's with Judy being the star. We had great entertainment including a wonderful performance by Adrian Zmed and the Island Princess singers and dancers. Adrian was a huge TV, stage and movie star in the seventies and eighties with starring roles on "TJ Hooker" Grease and some movie roles. Our head waiter was ending her current contract and was heading home to Bulgaria to see her five year old son. She is one of the best waiters we have ever had. It was tough to say goodbye to wonderful table mates Judy and Bryan from Denver, but who knows we may run into them again. It was an enjoyable cruise with our friends Sheila and Seldon and we might find ourselves traveling with them again, perhaps to the Greek Isles. The Island Princess is a beautiful ship with wonderful performance venues and open spaces but with the smallest showers we have ever seen on a ship. As always the lunch with the Captain was one of the highlights as was crossing the Panama Canal. Not sure what our next cruise is going to be, but we are working on it.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
We arrived in Aruba about noon today. We didn’t have an excursion booked because we have been here before, so Judy went into the port with Seldon and I stayed onboard and took a nap. Aruba is actually mostly made up of desert and beaches. The used to take excursions to the natural bridge, but it collapsed in recent years so now they take tours to what was the natural bridge. It was a bridge that was formed by the sea coming in and out. We have played lots of trivia, not winning often but learning a lot. Now two days at sea and then Fort Lauderdale.
Monday, September 28, 2009
We arrived in Cartagena early and we had scheduled a shore excursion on a Pirate Boat. The boat was parked close to our ship and we were soon on board. We were greeted by a folkloric group that was very enjoyable and we spent the next two hours touring the Cartagena Harbor. Cartagena has a very modern new section with dozens of high rise condo buildings and a lovely walled old city that includes some beautiful churches old buildings and lovely walkways. I can’t say too much about our table mates. Of course they Include Sheila and Seldon, but also Bryan and Judy from Denver. They are a little younger that we are and we can’t wait to hear about their days adventures which are much more daring and difficult than ours. Tomorrow, Aruba and our last stop before heading for home.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Today we did the transit of the Panama Canal and even though we have done it before, it was another great experience. Spain first did a survey of doing a canal between the two oceans as early as the middle of the sixteenth century. It wasn’t until 1903 when Panama got their independence from Columbia that the US bought the properties from the French and starting construction on the canal. It was completed in 1914 at a cost of 387 million dollars and guess what “IT STILL WORKS”. We got up early for the transit of the Mira Flores Locks and after the Pedro Miguel locks and the Gatun Locks we were finally in the Caribbean about 3pm. It cost the Island Princess $226,000 to go thru. Tomorrow, Cartagena and our ride on a pirate ship.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Puerto Amador and Panama City seem to be a city of contrasts. We took a tour that we found interesting even if it was in a very small and cramped bus. We first saw the area that serves the Canal which was designed and built by American Contractors. It has great roads, nice office buildings and a great layout. From there we drove through very rundown areas of Panama City where the average monthly wage of its population is $310. We went from that to a part of Panama City that was nothing but high rises with condo’s starting in the $300,000 for 1200 sq ft. I know that at one time it was a retirement place for people from around the world, but it is surely not Judy and My cup of tea. Shiela and Sheldon took the tour with us and we both agreed it was an interesting tour. Tomorrow, the transit of the Canal.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
We arrived in Puntarenas, Costa Rica early this morning and left on a wonderful tour of the countryside about 8 AM. The tour was wonderful; we had a great tour guide and went to some small towns inland. At one of the stops we had a group of young kids from a local school do some dances for us. They ranged in age from 2 years to probably 13 and were extremely enjoyable. I was adventurous and tried a locally prepared fried tortilla with beans and it tasted great. Our guide told us a lot about the history of Costa Rica and its current state. In 1948, they disbanded their army and now spend 36 percent of their taxes on education. Every child who is capable is offered education including the University level for free. We saw happy people and more importantly happy children. Tomorrow, another day at sea and some wine tasting. We are really enjoying the Island Princess and later on I will do an entire entry talking about it.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
We had a short stop in Huatulco, Mexico. Judy took a short walk into the small town. Huatulco has wonderful beaches and many overlooking cliffs that make this a unique community. The Mexican government has made a commitment to the area to develop it into a resort community much like they did with Cancun. There are marvelous hotels al over the area, each overlooking or on a fabulous beach. We have been playing trivia daily, but still no wins, but we keep trying. Tomorrow is another sea day and also a day we get lunch with the Captain because we are among the most 40 traveled passengers. The next port is Puntarenas, Costa Rica.