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 was 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.
Each 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.
(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 side. 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: http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html
(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.
|The girls finishing a puzzle||Bruce & Dee, Jan & Chuck, Judy and Ron out geocaching and hiking. And at right one of the many Pegs & Jokers games.|