S: Panama Canal 2012
FC: Coral Princess
1: We took a "red eye" flight from Phoenix at 11:20 p.m. on March 26, 2012, arriving in Charlotte, NC, at 6:00 a.m. (EDT) on the 27th. We left Charlotte at 8:00 a.m., arriving in Fort Lauderdale, FL, at 10:03 a.m. A bus met us at the airport and drove us to Pier 4 where the Coral Princess was docked. We then had to wait in a large stuffy room until we could board the ship. Through all of this, I became very faint and ended up boarding the ship in a wheelchair! Thankfully, it was all uphill after that, and we had a great time on our 14-day cruise of the Panama Canal with shore excursions in Aruba, Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica.
2: We sailed from Fort Lauderdale at 4:00 p.m. and were at sea until Friday, March 30th. We spent those days exploring the ship, enjoying the piano music in the atrium, having a cool one now and then, and just relaxing in this luxurious setting. Fred took advantage of the hot tub, and I enjoyed reading on our balcony and went to see "Sarah's Key" in the Princess Theater one afternoon. There was also a musical production we attended one evening.
3: Our mini-suite with balcony (D327) on Dolphin Deck 9 | Cesar, our room steward
5: Scenes of the atrium.
7: Founded: cWhile native tribes from Venezuela flocked to Aruba as early as 1000 A.D., Europeans did not discover the island until 1499, with the explorations of Amerigo Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda. After years of colonial rule, it was not until 1986 that Aruba became its own country, although it still remains a Dutch protectorate. Region: Located in the southern Caribbean, Aruba is 20 miles long (69 square miles) and lies north of Venezuela and east of Colombia. Population: 103,000 (est. 2009) Climate: Due to a tropical marine climate, temperatures remain stable around a pleasant 82 degrees. It lies outside the hurricane belt. Language: Dutch/Papiamento (local dialect) Currency: Aruban florin ($1.78 florins = $1.00 USD) | ARUBA "One Happy Island" | Friday, March 30, 2012
8: Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba, where our shore excursion was an underwater adventure on the "Atlantis" submarine to a depth of 132 feet!
9: Under the sea...this is natural light; for the various colors to show brightly, artificial light has to be used.
12: Our room
13: Founded: Established by the Spanish explorer Madrileno Don Pedro de Heredia in 1533. Region: Located in the northwestern area of South America, Cartagena sits on the northern coast of Colombia and shares its borders with VEnezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama. Population: 952,024 (est. 2010). Climate: Situated so close to the equator, Colombia doesn't have seasons and maintains an average temperature of 82 degrees. Language: Spanish. Currency: Colombian peso | COLOMBIA | Saturday, March 31, 2012
14: Colombia is the only South American country with coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. | 95% of the world's emeralds come from Colombia.
15: Colombia is the second largest fresh flower exporter in the world. | We didn't do a shore excursion in Cartagena; instead, we walked to a big gift shop where there were some birds and an internet cafe where we had a cool drink.
16: The Panama Canal is the result of a saga of human ingenuity and courage that goes back to the early 16th century when the Spaniards arrived on the Isthmus. Since then, the idea of building a route that would join the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was conceived. The first firm effort to build an all-water route through Panama began with the French in 1880, but financial troubles and diseases made the initiative fail. After its independence in 1903, Panama negotiated an agreement with the United States for the construction of the canal which the U.S. completed on August 15, 1914, and then managed the waterway until 1999. On December 31, 1999, Panama took over full operation, administration, and maintenance of the Canal. An expansion program is scheduled to be completed in 2014. By using the Canal, 7,800 miles is cut off of a journey from New York to San Francisco. | Sunday, April 1, 2012
17: The Panama Canal is an 80 kilometer waterway through one of the narrowest points of the Isthmus of Panama and the American Continent. Since its opening in 1914, more than one million ships from all over the world have transited the canal. The canal uses a system of locks with two lanes that operate as water elevators, raising the ships from sea level to the level of Gatun Lake, 26 meters above sea level to allow crossing through the Continental Divide, and then lowering the ships to sea level on the other side of the Isthmus. During construction, over 200 million cubic meters of material were removed; were this material placed on railroad flatcars, it would circle the globe four times.
18: The canal took more than 34 years to complete and cost the lives of over 25,000 who died from tropical diseases or landslides.
21: The Panama hat originated in Ecuador, but was worn by the balding Ferdinand de Lesseps during the building of the canal. They were then imported by the 1,000s to protect the canal workers from the intense tropical sun.
22: Founded: August 15, 1519, by the Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias de Avila. Region: Fuerte Amador is an artificial peninsula jutting into the Pacific Ocean that connects three small islands to the mainland; it is separated from Panama City by Ancon Hill. Population (Panama City and Amador): Metro area is approximately 1.2 million. (Panama) 3,460,462. Climate: Situated just a few degrees above the equator, Panama has daytime temperatures from 80-90 degrees. Language: Spanish, although English is a strong second language. Currency: U.S. dollar. | Fuerte Amador Panama City | Our ship anchored in the harbor; we took the tender to the Flamenco Island Marina and then took a private tour into Panama City. | Isla Flamenco | Monday, April 2, 2012
24: Panama Viejo (Old Panama) was founded in on the West coast of the Americas serving as Latin America. Once a thriving city of 10,000, attack by English pirate Henry Morgan in city. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Asuncion, preserved building of the ruins. It was designed a cross-like shape as viewed from the heavens. | 1519 by the Spanish. It was the first city the gateway city for the Spanish conquest of today's extensive ruins are the result of an 1671 which, along with a fire, leveled the built between 1619 and 1626, is the best so that its two side chapels gave the cathedral | Roberto, our tour guide
25: Most residential streets have no name or at least three different ones; this may be the reason why Panama City has never developed a postal delivery system.
26: Costa Rica | Founded: Costa Rica was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502 on his fourth and final voyage to the New World. Region: Located south of Nicaragua and north of Panama, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. At a little over 19,729 square miles, Costa Rica is slightly smaller than West Virginia. Population: 4.576.562 (July 2011) Climate: Costa Rica has an average temperature of 82 degrees. September and October are the wettest months while January through March are the driest. Currency: Costa Rican Colon, but the U.S. dollar is widely accepted. | Wednesday, April 4, 2012 | Hola, Dan Our tour guide and Linda's brother
27: Dan was a super guide...so knowledgeable. It's easy to see that he loves his country. Here he is showing us a cacao plant. Photo below is a natural fence; branches stuck into the ground that continued to grow. We were on the bus on our way to the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
28: Pop's Gift Shop | This terrain is on the Pacific side of Costa Rica.
29: Orchid growing beside the train tracks; there are 500 varieties of orchids in Monteverde Cloud Forest.
30: The highlight of this shore excursion was being with Marty, Linda, Lucas, and Sophia (Dan's daughter). What a great day!
32: Female Quetzal | The Cloud Forest is on the Caribbean side. | This tree does not flower but has brightly colored tips on the leaves that attract birds.
34: Male and female Quetzal... a rare sighting | Transparent fern | Most of these pictures were taken on our hike at the lookout; on a clear day, we would have been able to see the Arenal volcano.
35: "Poor man's umbrella" | A tree growing out of the top of another tree.
36: Typical Costa Rican lunch...black beans, rice, vegetables and choice of beef, chicken, or fish. | "Pura Vida"
38: Costa Rica's most famous product is coffee. Some other exports are pine- apples, bananas, and cocoa. | Costa Rica is a trailblazer when it comes to protecting the natural world. The Costa Rican Conservation Foundation protects, connects, and restores tropical habitats with a special emphasis on the deforested Pacific slope of the country. | Cashew tree...red fruit is an edible cashew apple which encases the cashew nut.
39: Costa Ricans are a highly literate people. The country boasts of 96% literacy in citizens 15 years or older. the most literate population in Central America. Costa Ricans believe the key to a good life is schooling and continued training. Many of its presidents have been educators. | On December 1, 1948, the military of Costa Rica was abolished after victory in a civil war in that year. The budget previously dedicated to the military is now dedicated to security, education, and culture. | The most popular and unusual souvenir is a brightly painted oxcart (caretta), which is a symbol of the country. These come in various sizes. | The Costa Ricans are also highly-skilled crafts- men in woodworking and' ceramics.
40: Bordeaux, our dining room | After leaving Costa Rica, we had five days at sea.
41: Crooner's Bar | Derek and Ronny
42: Fruit and vegetable artistry demonstration
43: We decided to eat at Sabatini's, one of the specialty restaurants on the ship...it was very elegant. The pasta was absolutely delicious. | Easter Sunday
44: "Welcome Back" cocktail party in the Universe Lounge for prior "cruisers". "New Orleans" production in Universe Lounge and "Dance" production in the Princess Theater. I also went to see the late movie "The Descendants" one night, a male vocalist, and a performance by Frank Sinatra's former piano player.
45: Fred strolling on the Promenade Deck | Sea turtle from our balcony...this day I saw flying fish, dolphin, and several sea turtles. | Passenger chorus performing in the atrium. | The Wheelhouse Bar where we attended a cocktail party for newlyweds or passengers married over 50 years.
46: Ice carving demonstration on the Lido Deck
47: Arrival in Los Angeles on April 10, 2012