I’m Back… from the Canal

_DSC2499Another great trip through the Panama Canal on a wonderful ship… The Island Princess. We visited Aruba, Cartagena, the Canal, and stopped in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Mexico.

The Princess did live up to her name and served up some great food, exceptional service, and a mild dose of adventure.

Here are some photos and descriptions of the voyage, so enjoy.

Fort Lauderdale Arrival… As you can see from the photos, we got in late and left for the ship (Island Princess) mid-morning. I would highly recommend the “day early” approach to meeting your cruise ship, to allow for some travel decompression and to allow time for your bags to travel with you.

We stayed at the Beachcomber Resort in Fort Lauderdale and as you can see, the wife was happy with the selection, and correspondingly, I was happy (that is how it works). Diner on the beach was very nice, with a matching breakfast, and walk on the beach to round out the morning…

Leaving Fort Lauderdale… After a shuttle to the Princess and joining the ship, I got to meet my new boss (Micca), line out my talks (nine of them), and settle in for a fifteen day voyage through the Panama Canal (transit #29 for me). As a retired Anthropologist, it is hard for me to think of a better job… guest speaker on a cruise ship.

At Sea Formal Night… Since the theaters were booked with rehearsals and other events, I got the day off. Normally sea days are presentation days. The guest speakers provide another layer of “enrichment” or useful information for those shore-bound passengers. “Stay in the stripped lines when crossing the street” or “The best place to get a drink” type of information… the good stuff. This particular Canal transit was going to be my first, not on the bridge. In the past, I would arrive with the canal pilot, or be on-board doing the “bridge talk,” pointing out crocs, telling stories, or just warning guest not to try to touch the side walls of the canal. On this transit my role would be as an enrichment speaker falling back on my anthropology and museum presentations. It would be an interesting voyage…

At Sea First Talk… Another grand day at sea, and then my first talk. And the first talk needs to be a good one or there may not be any “come back” guests. Tutankhamun: The Boy Pharaoh was a hit with the guests… plenty of mystery, lots of bling, and a story that started over 3,000 years ago, and didn’t end in 1922. And I do like to weave a good story and leave the audience looking forward to our next get-together…

Aruba… Horseback Riding and Town… A day in Aruba arriving ahead of the competition and getting the “good berth.” To clarify, there are two good berth positions in Aruba and then there is the container unloading area (not good). The Princess did a serious sprint across the Caribbean to arrive ahead of a competitor that left Fort Lauderdale hours ahead… to get the good berth. Of course, that is my analysis and in no way reflects any information provided by Princess Lines… but we did get the good berth.

After a day in the saddle (see the photos) and a walk about in Oranjestad (capital of Aruba), lights out early…

Halloween at Sea… Another day at sea and a work day for me, if you can call talking about fun stuff for an hour… work. An since it was Halloween it was time to break out my pirate outfit, and everyone travels with a pirate outfit in the Caribbean, right? And I think Piratical Dave was a hit with the guests. And the crew and guest did get into the Halloween spirit as you can see from the photographic evidence…

Cartagena… Always a favorite stop with plenty of photos to prove it…

The Panama Canal… The Canal is always the high point of the voyage and cruise ships are also a favorite with the locals. Out of the forty or so ships through the Canal daily, only one or two will be cruise ships. Passengers on-board the Island Princess had prepared signs, and so had the locals on shore… sort of like a sign and waving contest at the visitor centers and at the locks.

It was a smooth transit with no paint loss or fingers mashed, and Bill (port lecturer) worked from sun up to sun down… I took the day off and played passenger with plenty of photos to prove it…

Days at sea followed with more talks and more happy guests…

Costa Rica… We docked at Puntarenas… a little town at the foot of the pier, but largely a nice little fishing village and a place to walk about, grab a beer, and barter for local goods. We headed south towards Jaco and the rain forest. After a ride through the forest canopy, nature walk, and a serious buffet we returned to the cruising life… and more buffets.

San Juan del Sur… A new destination for many cruise ships as Nicaragua opens its doors wide to guests. Although it is the second poorest country in the hemisphere, you would never know it. It is clean and pretty and just plain nice… a wonderful place to visit.

We took a tour to Granada and walked ancient streets and gardens and had a wonderful lunch in one of the old colonial buildings. And the country is green, and not just the color… wind power is being put to work and green energy is a government priority. I do see great things ahead for this nation in the coming years, and we will be back…

Cabos San Lucas… was a blast! We signed up for the Salsa and Salsa tour and it was too much fun! We made salsa (six of them), we ate salsa and lots of goodies, and we learned to dance the Salsa. We have been to Cabo many times and this was a different Cabo… like I said, too much fun!

About

Dr. Dave (Roberts), Anthropologist, Photographer, Historian…

Dr. Dave has worked in the field of applied anthropology for over thirty-five years from a conference speaker and published author, to a field researcher… from the Caribbean, to Central and South America.

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  1. […] was one of the smoothest and most pleasant voyages through the Canal in many years. And the proof: I?m Back? from the Canal | Dr. Dave (Roberts)… Destination / Special Interest Speaker Dr. […]