Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Panama Canal Cruise

380249_3401612672278_1028659823_33154458_612716085_n[1](Jan) We’re back and had a marvelous time on the cruise. Our 14 day Panama Canal Cruise from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale exceeded all expectations!

We arrived in San Diego by rented car so we could leave our Jeep & Motorhome in Yuma and were driven to the B Street Pier where the Rotterdam wasCanal Cruise 687 waiting for us. We boarded with our friends Ron & Bernita, Bruce & Dee and Dean & Judy and then met up on the LIDO deck for a late lunch. The LIDO deck soon became our favorite with it’s sumptuous food bar, swimming pools and full wall windows for viewing. Chuck soon referred to it as ‘home.’

The ship itself was fun to explore from our stateroom on Deck 2 up to the the Sports Deck on 10 at the vary top of the ship. 
The Rotterdam cutting through the ocean waters. The picture was taken from the Promenade on Deck 3.Canal Cruise 363 (2) Looking down into LIDO from Deck 9 through the retractable roof.Sheeley 099 Deck Ten-Chuck at the top of the ship looking aft.Canal Cruise 077 (2)
The guys near the grand staircaseCanal Cruise 387 (2) on Deck 4 Our StateroomCanal Cruise 108 on Deck 2. Up in the Crow’s Nest on Deck 9. This was a fun gathering place, a bar and a dance area.Sheeley 376
A varied schedule of sea and shore days turned out to be a very pleasant mixture for all of us.  A typical day found us up at varied times and meeting up on LIDO for coffee and tea followed by breakfast. We then went different directions to walk on the Promenade Deck, go to classes on anything from astronomy to photography to cooking or play team trivia, bingo, take dance lessons or learn about our shore destinations in the Showroom. Most days we met on LIDO for lunch  The food selection and variety were amazing at the foot bar and we also had a separate burger  taco bar plus a pizza place to choose from. We could have also gone to the dining room for lunch but saved that for our evening experience. Each evening we enjoyed going to the Showroom for some great entertainment; singing, dancing, comediennes, a Motown review and a magician.

scan0004DSC08725Each evening at 5:15 we had a reserved a table for eight. The dress code for the ‘Elegant’ Rotterdam (as our ship’s Captain referred to her), was dressy casual most nights with four nights designated as formal dress. It was an experience of 5 star dining which we don’t usually get. We enjoyed trying new things such as escargot & stuffed grape leaves and favorites like lobster, prime rib and prawns.

Our Ports calls were all unique. The eight of us rented a van in Peurto Vallarta to tour the city. In Haultulco, Chuck & I and Bruce and Dee spent our time on the beach and swimming in the ocean while the others toured. In Chiapas several of us visited the welcome center on a very hot and humid day. In Gautemala the group boarded the ship’s excursion buses for a ride up to colonial city of Antique where we spent the day exploring. Friday the 13th was our day to go through the locks on the Panama Canal. The following day we rented taxis together to go into the walled city at Cartagena, Colombia, where we hired a guide and did a walking tour. We visited Cartagena on the same day as all the American Leaders were there for Summit so there was lots of security present. 

DSC08600Coming up to the Mira Flores Locks on the Panama Canal. These are the locks on the Pacific side going into a lake and then into the Pedro Miguel Locks. Canal Cruise 636Judy, Dean, Bernita, Ron and Jan going through the locks on Deck 3. Notice how close we are to the side. Canal Cruise 538This is the Rotterdam going through the Mira Flores. We were allowed to go onto the bow of the ship on Deck 4 for the day.
Sheeley 513Bruce, Chuck & Jan, Ron & Bernita, Dee and Judy & Dean in Cartagena, Colombia. Canal Cruise 794On the Cartagena streets. Canal Cruise 210In Puerto Chiapas, Mexico
Canal Cruise 412 (2)The Rotterdam at the dock in Hualtuco, Mexico. Canal Cruise 458In Hualtuco above and at right, a church in Antiqua, Guatemala. Canal Cruise 236 (2)

(Chuck) The Panama Canal was the focus of this cruise and it was a great experience. Our transit was of course scheduled in daylight hours. Most large ships are known as Panamax which means that they are of maximum size for the locks. As we negotiated the locks we had only 12 inches of clearance on each Panama Canalside. Each ship is held steady with tractor mules on each side as it passes through the locks. It is a precision dance that is carried out 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Our ship, the Holland America Rotterdam, was billed just under $300,000 for the passage.
A new set of locks is under construction which will allow a bigger series of ships to pass from the ocean to ocean. The new locks are wider, deeper and longer than the present locks and will accommodate this larger series of ships. This upgrade will be completed in the year 2014.

It was interesting to find the transit of the canal actually took us on a Northerly route.

For a web-cam of the Panama Canal visit this site:

(Jan) After fourteen days of ship board luxury and adventure we sailed into Fort Lauderdale. We rented a 12 passenger van to accommodate us and our luggage and drove across Florida through Alligator Alley and then north through the Tampa/St. Petersburg area to Ron and Bernita’s home. We spent 6 fun days eating, touring, swimming, playing games and visiting before we all parted at the Tampa airport to journey on our separate ways. It was an amazing vacation with some amazing friends.

061The girls finishing a puzzle Sheeley 671Bruce & Dee, Jan & Chuck, Judy and Ron out geocaching and hiking. And at right one of the many Pegs & Jokers games. 001 (2)


Laurie and Odel said...

I've been anxiously awaiting your post about your cruise. Sounds like it was everything you had hoped, and probably more. What a wonderful experience! I've heard lots of folks talk about how much they like cruising, but this is the first time I've seen a post that made me think "hey, that looks GREAT!". Well done. Thanks for sharing.

Jim and Bobbie said...

Wonderful blog post, guys. How wonderful to cruise with friends and share such memories. Happy for you.

Nancy said...

Loved reading your post on the fabulous cruise! You told the story so well I felt like I was almost there. Looks like a great group, interesting sites on the trip and on land, and just lots of laughs.
Now I'm also enjoying the updates on Lake Tahoe, etc. Keep them coming. You guys are great bloggers!

room reservation in London