We just got off the Azamara Journey, sailing from Miami to Costa Rica… through the Panama Canal, of course. This was our first time with Azamara, but transit number thirty-one for me. Normally cruises through the Canal start and end at a US port, but this was a different itinerary starting at a US port and then allowing us to spend some time in Costa Rica before flying home. Here are some of the photos of our journey:
Leaving Miami… Got to love Miami, but on this trip it was the dreaded red-eye and then a shuttle to the ship. First impression was that Azamara is all about relaxed travel with a lot of comfort. Even boarding the ship was smooth and well managed from the refreshment in the waiting area, to the effortless boarding process. Oh, and did I mention the on-board buffet was pretty spectacular. Needless to say we left on time, while sipping a glass of wine at dinner.
Curacoa… After a bumpy couple of days at sea we got into Willemstad a bit late and only had a few hours to roam around the city. The floating bridge that connects the two parts of the city was undergoing repair so we took the free ferry across the harbor to the main shopping area. The city is a typical Dutch design with clean streets, colorful buildings, and plenty of upscale shops and dinning options. We wished we could spent more time ashore, but the pleasures of Azamara called us back… not a bad life.
Aruba… has become an old friend with three visits in as many months. Rather than take another tour, we just took our “ocean walk” along the harbor to Starbuck’s (free WiFi) and a free trolley through the shopping district. If you plan to spend more time ashore, I would highly recommend horseback riding, or just a day trip to some of the beaches… they are spectacular!
Cartagena, Columbia… is always a wonderful place to visit, a mixture of the Old World and the 21st Century. Since we had been in Cartagena just a short time before, we elected to just take a $5 taxi ride to the Old City and just walk around. As you can see, there is a lot to see, from museums to churches to fine dining to just relaxing in one of the many city squares. Of course, if you are a first-timer, the fortress is a must to see, or the monastery overlooking the city where the views are the best.
Panama Canal Transit and Azamara Evening… Transit day I was busy working with our Panamanian guide and adding my narrative to the journey. All day it was a tag team effort that seemed to work well, with Marshall, our Panamanian expert filling in many of the details mixed in with my stories of the “olden days” on the Canal (Zone era). The evening ended at the Fuerto Amador Peninsula, and tendering the passengers to an Azamara Evening at the Frank Gehry Museum… too much fun!
Panama City… One of the nice things about the Azamara Journey’s itinerary was the time allowed on shore. We had a whole day in Panama City to explore and see some of the out-of-the-way spots. A trip out to the Mirafloras Locks and Museum was the first order of business and a tour of the old and new city. And at the end of a busy day, it was back to the ship and another evening of fine dinning and with a glass of wine (alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are included in the passage).
Golfito and Azamara White Night… Golfito is a place to dock and tour local parks and sights. Fortunately Azamara was ready with an evening of entertainment… their White Night, where white was the color to wear, and eating and dancing were the order of the evening. Of note: Some passengers did attempt the walk to town but most turned back at the bar district and “no problems” were encountered. Like I said, Golfito is a great launching point for tours of the many parks and sights… all very safe and a lot of fun.
Golfito, Costa Rica… We like different and found it at Golfito. There was a local legend of an American the locals called “Robert the Gringo” who had stayed behind when the United Fruit Company left in 1985. Since then Robert had built a life and a wonderful garden on the nearby Rio Claro. Following up on the legend, we found a real treat. Robert’s gardens are open to the public on a sort of reservation basis… call in advance would be nice. And our visit live up to the legend… it was a wonderful experience. Included in the photos is Robert’s contact information, and tell him Dr. Dave sent you.
Quepos, Costa Rica… is the gateway port to many of the national parks and sights of Costa Rica. We elected to go out to Manuel Antonio National Park and view some of the wildlife and take a short hike. To say the park was crowded would be an understatement, since the gates were closed shortly after we arrive. We did get to see the typical local wildlife and especially a troop of white faced monkey. In all it was a pleasant trip and I would recommend it, but expect to see more people than wildlife.
More will follow…