4
   

A clean slate to redo my South Pacific Cruise

 
 
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 04:50 pm
I started this clean, new, thread, because the last one just made it too difficult to keep up with the photo share sites that disallowed the posting of pictures. I made it worse by trying to use several other photo share sites that just didn't work well, and I added to the confusion by breaking the chronological order.

I'm now back to using photobucket, and I hope this will allow me to post everything in its proper order.

I'm also doing this, because several of my friends have shown interest in seeing this travelogue with pictures on the 26-day cruise in the South Pacific, and it's important enough for me that my travelogues have some semblance of organization.

I'll begin with my first post from the other thread.
******************************************************************


The summarized itinerary of our 26-day cruise from December 19, 2008, until January 14, 2009:

Some stats on the Tahitian Princess:
This is the same ship that Oceania Cruise uses with the same floor plan. It holds about 680 passengers, and moves at about 18 knots (about 20.7 mph). When this cruise went on sale, it sold out, but when the economy started to tank, many people canceled. We had only 618 passengers for this cruise. They have open seating for breakfast and lunch, but fixed seating for dinner at 6:15 and 8:15. We sat at a table for eight. There are two alternative restaurants; a steakhouse that charges a $15 fee (where we had dinner three times), and an Italian restaurant also charges a $15 fee (never tried it), plus the buffet that is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night snack. They also have an open grill on deck 9 where you can order hamburger, hot dog or sausage. The quality and variety of food offered was excellent, and one can order as many dishes as one pleases. Greg, my roommate, ate seven lobsters for dinner in one sitting. All the kitchen and dining room staff numbers around 150, and the people consumes about four tons of food every day. There is a small swimming pool on the 9th deck with two jacuzzi pools (where I have spent a few hours on several occasions when the weather was hot). I also spent time in the gym to ride the stationary bike a handful of times and was able to reach burning 200 calories in 30 minutes. When we booked this cruise, we were assigned stateroom 6041 which is an outside stateroom, but blocked view from the tenders. However, when we arrived at the ship in Papeete, we got stateroom 6051 with a balcony. There are ten levels on the ship, but passenger staterooms start on the 3rd deck.

The staff on the ship comes from around the globe, but the majority from the Philippines. There are a few from the US, Balkans, India and Europe. Many staff work 14-hour days. The dancers and singers on the ship was medeocre, but most of the professionals were above average to excellent. Duncan Tuck, a guitar player-singer was one of the best. I even purchased one of his CDs. The best show (in my opinion) was the cultural show put on by Peruvians when we were in port of Callao.

All alcoholic and soft drinks have an additional “service” charge of 15% added to the bill. They also charge for special coffees such as cappuccino and espresso. Beers cost about $5, house wine $6.33, and vodka martini $8.91. Most mixed drinks sell for $6.75 to $7.75 plus the 15%.

The cruise line adds $10.50 per day ($273 for 26 days) per passenger for staff tips, but this is “optional.”

This is the first Panama Canal transit for the Tahitian Princess, and the first time cruising the Atlantic Ocean since its inaugural cruise nine years ago. They will be changing the name of the ship to Ocean Princess before they begin their world cruise this year.
***********************************************************************************
Our first travel day wasn't too bad compared to many who came from the mid-west and East Coast of the US. We had about fifty percent British with the other half made up of Americans, Australians, Canadians, Panamanians, and a few others from other countries.

The summary of our cruise and the places we had port of calls or anchored were Moorea, Bora Bora, 3-days at sea, Pitcairn Island (anchored only), 2-days at sea, Easter Island, 4-days at sea, San Martin, Peru; Callao (Lima), 1-day at sea, Manta, Ecuador; 1-day at sea; Panama Canal and Colon; San Blas Island; Limon, Costa Rica, 3-days at sea, then Ft Lauderdale and our flight home.

Dec 20, Moorea: Greg, my roommate from Sacramento, and I rented an Avis car to drive ourselves around the one-road island for $74 after we tendered in from the boat to the northern village of Papetoai. We invited a lady, Pat, from York, England (we were seat mates on the flight from Los Angeles to Papeete), to join us, and she did. The language on these Tahitian Islands are French and Tahitian, but many also speak English " especially in the tourist areas. Although the currency is French Pacific Francs, most business also accept US dollars. The island is shaped like an isosceles triangle with two mountain ranges. The one word that describes Moorea is “beautiful.” It's lush green landscape with the turquoise water surrounding it is this side of paradise, and the clouds also added to the beauty.

As we left the port area in our rented car, we drove clock-wise around the island. Our first stop was Belvedere Mountain to get an excellent view of the harbor, then on the way back to the main road, we stopped at a location where the natives used to make human sacrifice. We stopped at a location where we saw a bus tour, and do we also stopped and saw what they were looking at; a group of bungalows that sits on the water they rent out at $300 to $500 a night. In addition to the beautiful sites, we stopped at a beach front restaurant-bar for drinks where we sat with a young couple from New Zealand on their way to PA for the holidays to visit with the wife's family. We sat at a table under the shade of a tree to enjoy the expanse of turquoise water with a long stretch of white sand beach with mountains in the background. We also stopped at a Catholic church for some picture-taking. A bus tour group also stopped to visit. At $33 each for Greg and I for the car rental and fuel, it was a bargain, and a very good way to tour this beautiful island.

The island of Moorea.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1410.jpg

Moorea from the ship.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1436.jpg

Belvedere Mountain.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1418.jpg

The bay from Belvedere.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1412.jpg

A sacred site where they made human sacrifices.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1420.jpg

A four masted ship in a bay.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1425.jpg

Bungalows on water.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1432.jpg

Refreshments and a visit with a couple from New Zealand.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1447.jpg

On our way to Bora Bora.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1467.jpg

Next: Bora Bora.
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McTag
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 04:53 pm
Aloha

(McT preparing to be entertained)
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 05:09 pm
Dec 21, Bora Bora: We were planning to do the same on Bora Bora, but the Avis car rental place wanted to charge $118 for two hours. We took the $35 van tour of the island instead. We learned very quickly that Bora Bora is an expensive place to visit and live. In addition to the picture taking stops, we visited a place where they were demonstrating the batik designed Polynesian moomoo, and the sale of the local crafts of wood sculptures and necklaces. We also had a stop at a new resort hotel, Sofitel Motu, with both over water bungalows as well as those on land adjacent to the white sand beach. The place looked empty of customers. The shops close to the pier seemed busy for a place where everything seemed over-priced.

Bora Bora from the ship.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1542.jpg

Visitors Information Center.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1509.jpg

This is a batik map of Bora Bora.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1505.jpg

A pier at the Sofitel Resort Hotel.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1496.jpg

Other scenes at the Sofitel.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1490.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1495.jpg

A demonstration on how to wear the batik moomoo.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1479.jpg


Some stats on the Tahitian Princess:
This is the same ship that Oceania Cruise uses with the same floor plan. It holds about 680 passengers, and moves at about 18 knots (about 20.7 mph). When this cruise went on sale, it sold out, but when the economy started to tank, many people canceled. We had only 618 passengers for this cruise. They have open seating for breakfast and lunch, but fixed seating for dinner at 6:15 and 8:15. We sat at a table for eight. There are two alternative restaurants; a steakhouse that charges a $15 fee (where we had dinner three times), and an Italian restaurant also charges a $15 fee (never tried it), plus the buffet that is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night snack. They also have an open grill on deck 9 where you can order hamburger, hot dog or sausage. The quality and variety of food offered was excellent, and one can order as many dishes as one pleases. Greg, my roommate, ate seven lobsters for dinner in one sitting. All the kitchen and dining room staff numbers around 150, and the people consumes about four tons of food every day. There is a small swimming pool on the 9th deck with two jacuzzi pools (where I have spent a few hours on several occasions when the weather was hot). I also spent time in the gym to ride the stationary bike a handful of times and was able to reach burning 200 calories in 30 minutes. When we booked this cruise, we were assigned stateroom 6041 which is an outside stateroom, but blocked view from the tenders. However, when we arrived at the ship in Papeete, we got stateroom 6051 with a balcony. There are ten levels on the ship, but passenger staterooms start on the 3rd deck.

The staff on the ship comes from around the globe, but the majority from the Philippines. There are a few from the US, Balkans, India and Europe. Many staff work 14-hour days. The dancers and singers on the ship was medeocre, but most of the professionals were above average to excellent. Duncan Tuck, a guitar player-singer was one of the best. I even purchased one of his CDs. The best show (in my opinion) was the cultural show put on by Peruvians when we were in port of Callao.

All alcoholic and soft drinks have an additional “service” charge of 15% added to the bill. They also charge for special coffees such as cappuccino and espresso. Beers cost about $5, house wine $6.33, and vodka martini $8.91. Most mixed drinks sell for $6.75 to $7.75 plus the 15%.

The cruise line adds $10.50 per day ($273 for 26 days) per passenger for staff tips, but this is “optional.”

This is the first Panama Canal transit for the Tahitian Princess, and the first time cruising the Atlantic Ocean since its inaugural cruise nine years ago. They will be changing the name of the ship to Ocean Princess before they begin their world cruise this year.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 05:20 pm
Dec 25, anchored off of Pitcairn Island: Rather than the 618 people on the boat to visit the island, the citizens (all 48 of them except the ten children) of Pitcairn Island visited us on the boat. Since this was the Tahitian Princess' first contact with the island, the captain of our ship gave a plaque to the mayor of Pitcairn. One of their citizens provided us with some information about life on Pitcairn, followed by a Q&A period. They have one doctor on the island, but many are treated by ships' doctors or transferred to New Zealand for major health problems. They purchase many food stuffs from cruise ships in addition to their own gardens and fishing. Some of us wondered if the remaining inhabitants were related to each other. Some believe the first inhabitants of Pitcairn arrived about 3500 years ago.

As most people are aware, Pitcairn is famous for the HMS Bounty, Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian; the mutiny and the following desertion by many of the sailors. The story goes that the navigator who posted the position of the island made a mistake, and nobody was able to find the deserted men, and lived out their lives on the island. Others who remained on the ship were persecuted by the government.

Here's an interesting story about one man who came on this cruise for a purpose connected to Pitcairn Island. When he was 14 years old, he made contact with a gentleman on Pitcairn Island by ham radio " some 65 years ago, and they have kept in contact ever since. Although we were unable to set foot on Pitcairn, the ham radio man came on board to meet his old ham “friend” from the US. They're now in their eighties which must be some kind of record in the ham radio world. But the real “zinger” about this story is that the ham radio guy's name on Pitcairn island is “Christian.”

Pitcairn Island.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1569.jpg

Captain Ravera giving a plaque to the mayor of Pitcairn.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1575.jpg

0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 05:42 pm
Dec 28, EASTER ISLAND: Easter Island is the reason most people came on this cruise, and all three tours sold by the cruise line were sold out at $84 a pop. The bad news is that our tour of the island was for only 3.5 hours max.

In addition to the several mysteries surrounding Easter Island, it's also the most remote inhabited island on earth. It's 2300 miles west of South America, 2500 south-east of Tahiti, and its closest inhabited neighbors, Pitcairn Island, is 1260 miles away. It was first discovered by the Polynesians about 400 AD, and it is believed that the rock sculptures were made between the 4th and 5th centuries. They weigh from 40 to 50 tons each, and all came from the same quarry on the island.

Easter Island got its name because a Dutch explorer, Jacob Roggeveen, sighted and visited this island on Easter Sunday in 1772. It is now a territory of Chile, and we were able to visit without the $100 VISA to visit for the half day.

The people of Easter Island are called “rapa-nui.”

Our three hour “cultural” tour covered three sites, and was lead by a Chilean, Jose Letelier, who earned his degree in Architecture at UC Berkeley, and also lectured at Stanford. He was an excellent tour guide. All the roads outside the port village are unpaved and more than a little bit bumpy.

We drove up the hill for twenty minutes to our first site, ORONGO, a ceremonial village with 50 stone houses used only to sleep and get shelter from the heavy rains. They faced the sea, and their entrance faced away from the volcano (rano kau) near by which they considered to be evil and represented hell (fire). One long curved rock was used at the short entrance that kept the inside of the “room” dark to bop people on the head if they tried to enter uninvited.

We then proceeded to the volcano a short distance away with water and vegetation settled on the bottom. As we approached the volcano, Jose told us about how the rapa nui people selected their king. During the bird's mating season, the men swam out to an island, Motu Nui, two miles away in shark infested, heavy current waters to fetch an egg and bring it back in a basket attached to their head. The first one to do so was declared king for one year. Jose also told us that the volcano was one mile wide, and the vegetation on the other side were trees and not bushes as they appeared to the naked eye. On the site are petroglyph's that resembles Roman numerals. Nobody has been able to translate them, because for the lack of a “Rosetta” stone.

On our way to the second site, we stopped on a hillside to take pictures of the port village, Hanga Piko, and the 2.5 mile runway built by the US for shuttle landings, but it has never been used for that purpose " yet. Chileans do use it regularly for flights from and to Chile.

The second site, VINAPU, is a location with stone walls constructed in the same manner as the Incas where the stones fit perfectly from piece to piece in many different shapes and forms. We were told similar walls can also be found in Peru and China. The front of the walls look almost perfect, but the backside remains the original rough rock. On the site is also another mystery; there's a rock sculpture buried with only the head showing, and a “hat” sitting out in the open field some distance from the buried sculpture. The rock statues are called “moai,” and there are (at last count) about 877 of them. In addition to the rapa nui people destroying them during their many battles, the missionaries who arrived on their island saw them as idols, and had them destroyed. Jose told us about a Japanese team that made a cement sculpture weighing 20-tons to demonstrate how the rapa nui people were able to move the sculptures that weighs about 45-tons from the quarry to the many locations throughout the island. They essentially built a tent like structure with poles, and “rocked” the sculptures to the different locations on the island. Once they got the “hang of it,” they moved them with some speed.

The last site on our tour was saved for the best, AHU AKIVI; seven rock statues, the only ones found inland and nine miles from the quarry. They line up perfectly with the equinox, and was used for the best seasons for planting and fishing based on a 28-day “month.”

Like other Easter Island sites the statues were found knocked off the ahu (base), lying face down in the ground. In 1960, American Archaeologist William Mulloy and his team spent several months raising the statues to their original positions.

Tenders to Easter Island.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1703.jpg

Our first site at ORONGO.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1603.jpg

Stone houses at Orongo.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1612.jpg

Motu Nui.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1607.jpg

Rano Kau volcano.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1622.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1626.jpg

Petroglyphs.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1620.jpg

Port village with runway.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1633.jpg

Our second site, VINAPU.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1656.jpg

Rock wall from behind.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1642.jpg

Facade.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1646.jpg

Buried rock sculpture in front of wall.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1649.jpg

Our third and last site AHU AKIVI.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1690.jpg

Left view.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1672.jpg

Right view.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1659.jpg

Back view.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1679.jpg

The "single" at the port.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1699.jpg

We sailed towards South America.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1723.jpg

0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 05:57 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Terrific, Tak.

Got your photo, by the way, a nice treat.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 05:58 pm
Info on the Pacific Ocean (you always wanted to know, but was afraid to ask):
The existence of the Pacific Ocean was unknown until Vasco Nuez de Balboa marched across the isthmus of Panama in 1513. When he first set his site on this broad expanse of water, he fell on his knees and thanked heaven for being the first European to have this great ocean revealed to him. However, it was Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese navigator, who first crossed the ocean between 1520-1521, and he named it PACIFIC OCEAN. The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the oceans measuring twice the size of the Atlantic Ocean, and stretches 10492 miles from east to west with the average depth at 14000 feet. The Mariana Trench at 36198 feet (about six miles) is the known deepest on earth.

Jan 2, 2009: San Martin, Peru: San Martin was named after the liberator General San Martin. San Martin is also the gateway to Machu Picchu, the famed Nazca Lines, or to sail the beautiful islets of Islas Ballestas. 89 from the ship took the Machu Picchu/Cuzco optional tour at $2400 per head for a half day visit to Machu Picchu and two nights at hotels. Because of bad weather, they could not fly out of Cuzco, and missed the ship in Callao (Lima), and rejoined the ship two nights later in Manta, Ecuador. The way I evaluated the total cost to those who took this option, it cost them $2400 for the tour and $800 for the four nights they didn't spend on the ship for a total cost of $3200 for a half day tour of Machu Picchu. Pat, the lady from York, England, went to Machu Picchu, and another couple went to Machu Picchu on their own on an independent tour. They must have paid a fortune to pay their way back to the ship in Manta.

Some from our ship took the 11-mile cruise to Islas Ballestas to see the thousands of Humbolt penguins, sealions, and millions of birds including Chilean flamingos, seabirds, and boobies. Some call it the “mini-Galapagos,” and raved about their experience seeing all those animals, but it was my personal opinion that the $139 the ship charged for this optional tour was highway robbery even if they included lunch.

Greg and I took the $10 r/t bus ride into Pisco (known for their Pisco sour) to visit the shops and booths selling t-shirts and souvenirs, and to look at the fishing boats " and to have a couple of Cristal beer (best in Peru) sitting at an outside cafe watching the world go by.

Preparing the gangplank at Manta.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1738.jpg

The drive from Manta to Pisco was through this very arid land.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1743.jpg

Tourist information booth, but nobody spoke English.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1750.jpg

The "main" strip mall in Pisco.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1752.jpg

A little music while having our beer.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1760.jpg

Fishing boats.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1754.jpg

0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 06:19 pm
Jan 3 and 4, Callao (for Lima): Callao is a port city of 600,000, but it has merged with Lima and it is now considered one metropolis of 8 million. I had the opportunity to visit Lima on my journey to Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and the Galapagos in 2003, and remembered the San Francisco Cathedral with their catacombs, the “lovers” statue by the beach with the Gaudi-like benches, the restaurant built on a pier over the water where our group had dinner, and the Larco Museum. Lima with its Spanish architecture, ancient ruins, mixed in with the old and the new is a city of contrasts and the unexpected. Greg and I hired a taxi for $15/hour, and visited the San Francisco Cathedral, Plaza de Armas or Plaza Major, Plaza San Martin with his statue, the Gran shopping street before we visited the Larco Museum to view the largest collection of antiquities in Peru. Our private tour cost us $30 each for the taxi plus the entrance fees; a cheap way to see this huge city compared to the $89 the ship charges for a similar city tour.

Dock at Callao.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1781-1.jpg

The welcome we received as we got off the ship.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1783-1.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1787-1.jpg

A poster board I saw on our bus to Lima.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1790-1.jpg

Plaza Major.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1799-1.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1801-1.jpg

San Francisco Cathedral (door to catacombs).
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1803-1.jpg

San Martin Plaza.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1807.jpg

Gran shopping street.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1812-1.jpg

Larco archaeological museum.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1816-1.jpg

Some of the display.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1817.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1826-1.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1830.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1832.jpg

The Lima beach front.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1852.jpg

Gaudi-like benches.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1857.jpg

"Lovers" sculpture.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1860-1.jpg

JW Marriott Hotel, our bus stop for the ship.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1874-1.jpg

The underground shopping mall not far from the Marriott Hotel.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1877-1.jpg
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 06:31 pm
The following day, Greg and I took a taxi for $10 to the largest shopping place called MINKA in Callao I've ever seen in my life. They have a huge produce section, a huge meats section, cheeses, spices, hardware stores, souvenir shops, fast food and local fare, clothing, banks, cheap internet and international telephone service, and everything we might find in any large shopping mall in the US plus more.

A welcome to Callao sign on our way to Minka.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1905-1.jpg

Scenes at Minka.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1907-1.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1909-2.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1910.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1911.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1913-1.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1916.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1918-1.jpg

Back at the port.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1919-1.jpg

0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 06:36 pm
Jan 5: We're now cruising towards Manta, Ecuador. Ecuador is Spanish for the equator, and the smallest Hispanic nation in South America. The ship put on a celebration on the pool deck for those who crossed the equator for their very first time with costumes and fanfare.

Some info on the equator:

It's an imaginary line on the earth's surface equidistant from the poles, and divides the earth into the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere. The latitude by definition is 0 degrees, and its length is about 24901 miles.

Seafaring tradition for those who cross the equator during a voyage undero rites of passage with elaborate rituals. Those who have never crossed the “line” are known as pollywogs, and those completing the initiation rituals are known as “Trusty Shellbacks.” A special title is conferred upon those crossing the equator at the 180th meridian, and the title of “Golden Shellback” is conferred. Those crossing at the Prime Meridian is considered to be an “Emerald Shellback.” These rituals have been ongoing since the Middle Ages, but the current cermonies are probably derived from Viking traditions.

Shellback ceremony.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2002-1.jpg
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I'm going to take a break.
0 Replies
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 06:38 pm
@cicerone imposter,
thanks for that wonderful travelogue , c.i. !

our future cruises will probably be shorter , but we still have the "travel bug" in our system .
(we just spent the weekend in toronto on a "cultural excursion" - "the sound of music" and mozart's "the magic flut" - and to see ehbeth . it was nice to have a short winterbreak . it's still well !!! below freezing here ) .
take care !
hbg
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 07:27 pm
January 6, 2009, Manta: Greg and I tried to venture on our own to see if we could find a taxi or van to take us to Quito, the capital, but without our ability to communicate in Spanish, we were relegated to a short trip to Manta, a tourist resort town of 140,000. The port at Manta provides free bus service to Manta for shopping and nothing much more. We hired a taxi at the shopping center to take us to Monticristi, birthplace for the Panama hats. Yes, they're not made in Panama. Monticristi has a one block vacant square in front of the church where they have established as their open marketplace. They sell Panama hats and other souvenirs including necklaces and other handmade crafts. After taking some pictures in and around the main square, the driver took us to the memorial built in memory of General Delgado. After driving us to a small village where they sell different kinds of sculptures, we asked the driver to take us back to our ship.

The ship docked at Manta.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1958.jpg

Off-loading fish from a ship. Looks like tuna.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1951-1.jpg

Church.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1980.jpg

View from church steps.
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An old wooden building.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1977.jpg

One of many shops making panama hats.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1981-1.jpg

A shop's display.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1983-1.jpg

Another church on the outskirt of town.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1969-1.jpg

General Delgado memorial.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1964-1.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1967-1.jpg


0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 07:45 pm
January 7, 2009: Today was the day the Captain held the Captain's Circle party for repeat Princess Cruise patrons.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_1780.jpg

Here's a math quiz for all you genius whizkids. 75% on this cruise were repeat guests. There were two parties during our cruise to handle the first and second dinner seating guests. At each party, they raffle three bottles of champagne by picking out the invitation that has our name and stateroom number on it. All three bottles of champagne were won by the other three couples at our dinner table. The question: Using 618 total guests on this cruise, what is the mathematical probability of this happening? (I took statistics in college, but don't remember a thing.)

January 8, 2009, The Panama Canal: This is the day we made the Panama Canal transit from the wee hours of the morning (about 5AM) till our arrival at the port of Colon about 4:30PM. It usually takes about eight hours to transit the Panama Canal, and I heard from one of the passengers that the Princess cruise ship was charged $80,000 (or about $129 per passenger, but Panama Canal charges its fees based on tonnage). Most of us who got off the ship at Colon were restricted to Pier 6 where they converted the whole terminal into one huge shopping mall with booths and fixed stores selling t-shirts and crafts. The only interesting aspect of this port stop was the natives (some of the older women showing their breasts), and the cultural show they provided in the terminal.

A BRIEF ON THE PANAMA CANAL: Charles I of Spain ordered the first survey of the canal route through the isthmus in 1534, but more than three centuries passed before the first construction project was started by the French in 1880. The French through private investments spent 20-years, but disease, financial, and engineering problems defeated their attempt. In 1904 after an agreement (under President Theodore Roosevelt) with the new Panamanian government having gained independence from Columbia couple of years earlier, the United States purchased the French companies rights and properties for $40 million and began construction. After three chief engineers, and defeating the disease problems (by Col. William Gorgas, MD, who identified the mosquito as the source of malaria, instituted mosquito control programs, and the project was completed in 1914 at a cost of $387 million. The project ended up costing over 21 thousand lives. In the year 1997, Jimmy Carter “gave” the Panama Canal to the local government.

The mammoth locks are 80 feet high, 1000 feet long, and 13 feet thick. From the Pacific to the Caribbean Sea, the first lock is the Miraflores locks (one hour to transit), the second the Pedro Miguel (40 minutes to transit), and the third and last, the Gatun Locks (2.5 hour to transit). It's really a treat to see and transit the Panama Canal to realize the engineering feat accomplished during the early part of the 20th century.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2021.jpg
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Pier 6 at Colon.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2176.jpg
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 09:31 pm
A good map of the Panama Canal.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2216.jpg
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 09:43 pm
Jan 9, San Blas Islands (also known as Kuna Yala): San Blas is comprised of over 370 islands but only 49 are inhabited. We were tendered to only one of them which seemed more like a Hollywood set than the "real" thing. The Kuna Indians have maintained their culture and lifestyle despite the relentless efforts by European explorers and the Panamanian government to adopt westernized lifestyles. Since 1925, the Kunas have enjoyed self rule, and each island has their own king or mayor. Visiting San Blas takes one back to a much earlier time (some claim it transport visitors 20 centuries into the past); their homes and buildings are made from bamboo and grass with dirt floors. Their dugout canoes and their use of stones to mill grain by hand is still used.

San Blas is famous for a rainbow colored fabric called the “mola.” Most have fish, birds, jungle animals and geometric designs, and Kunas use them to protect themselves from evil spirits. Colorful beaded mola head dresses embroidered by the Kuna women are favored souvenirs from San Blas. We were asked to refrain from taking personal pictures without asking permission or paying a dollar or two. What upset me was that children were asking for a dollar to take their picture. They even charge one dollar to take a picture of their (non-franchised) Hard Rock Cafe. My visit was over in a couple of hours, because of the small size of the island, and all the booths or tables set in front of their simple homes selling goods looked the same after seeing similar looking mola and other souvenirs that looked like they were “made in China.”

Welcome.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2222.jpg

Tender dock.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2238.jpg

The ship anchored about a mile away.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2240.jpg

Scenes at San Blas.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2243.jpg
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A titi monkey.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2250-1.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2256.jpg

A tender to San Blas.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2285.jpg

0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jan, 2009 11:42 pm
Jan 10, Puerto Limon, Costa Rica " our last port stop: Limon is located 100 miles east of the capital city of San Jose. What makes Limon somewhat unique is that the 60,000 residents are made up of descendants of Jamaican and Chinese immigrants. The Afro-Caribbean influence is evident from their speech and reggae rhythms, and from the colorful bungalows found throughout the area. The east coast of Costa Rica is a mixture of mangroves, pristine beaches and tropical forests and banana plantations.

The cruise line offered several optional tours in Limon including one to the beach and canopy ride for $199, the river cruise for $79, and a city tour for $59. Greg and I managed to do all three for under $100 plus tips. Even though I took my camera on the canopy ride (harness ride down a double cable system), we didn't have any opportunity to take pictures until we were back on the ground because our two guides (one who went down first, and the second followed us down) rushed us down from one platform to the next. We did see sloths, small colorful (green and red) poisonous frogs, iguanas, and birds from as high as 150 feet in the air. Our taxi driver, Mario, also took us to the Del Monte banana plantation where we saw them washing down the bananas hung on hooks with a hose, cut into bunches and thrown into a bath with some chemicals to resist ripening for up to three weeks, and packaging them for shipment. Our next stop was to our eco cruise on the Tortuguero Canals to see the animals and birds. We had two young boys as lookouts for fauna and sat in the bow of the boat, our driver Mario, the captain of the boat sat in the back, and Greg and I were seated in the middle. We saw many kinds of colorful birds, bats, iguana, a croc, mangroves, and other tropical plants. Our next stop was a public beach where I had a spicy chicken, bean and rice dish with a beer. During our return back to town and our city tour, he took us on the hillside where we were able to take a picture looking down on Limon with our ship in the background. Mario drove us through town and showed us the main shopping and souvenir streets. After he dropped us off at the pier, Greg and I walked around town to get a feel for the city and its people, and to shop. I purchased a brimmed hat with Costa Rica with two colorful birds on it for my wife at the pier before returning to the ship, because my wife lost her “Galapagos” hat during our visit to Hawaii in February. Greg stayed and walked around town a bit more before returning to the ship.

This was my second visit to Costa Rica, and my love for this place is second to none. The people are friendly, discrimination is non-existent, they have universal health care, and no military. There are lessons here for many countries.

Our driver, Mario, stopped on the road to save this turtle.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2312.jpg

The canopy ride.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2428.jpg

Greg getting harnessed for the ride of his life.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2315.jpg

We stopped here to take a picture of this bridge.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2319.jpg

The river's flow was perfect for rafting.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2321.jpg

The bananas are set up on hooks for their first wash.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2332.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2335.jpg

The bunch are cut and put into the bath.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2335.jpg

From the baths to packaging.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2327.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2330.jpg

This boy was holding this sloth, so we stopped to take pictures.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2343.jpg

The eco cruise boat dock.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2347.jpg

What we saw during the cruise.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2350.jpg
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Our two lookouts.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2395.jpg
Lunch at the beach.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2405.jpg
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Limon.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2411.jpg
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http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2424.jpg


Night scene before we left for Ft Lauderdale. We cruised for three days, and passed very close to Havana, Cuba.

It was a good way to end our 26-day Cruise. I hope you got a flavor of what this cruise was like.

*******************************************************************
Meet some of the staff aboard our ship. Noel was our stateroom steward. He cleaned up our room and bathroom at least twice daily, and replaced our used towels. Domingo was our waiter for dinner, and his assistant John. Both are from the Philippines. Robert (bar manager on the ship) was our bartender at the casino bar where I had a vodka martini most evenings before dinner, and the bar waiter, Jason, also worked behind the bar a few times.

Christina from Bulgaria worked in the steakhouse, and she knew us by name because my roommate Greg gave her a gift (even got a kiss on the cheek). Victoria from the Philippines (married with a young daughter, and sends most of her earnings home) worked in the cabaret lounge, and she knew my name only because Greg also gave her gifts. She was the prettiest girl on the ship. I ordered drinks from her only a couple of times. Many of the other Filipino staff knew me by name because of Greg. Greg knew all the Filipino staff on the ship, and gave them all gifts from home. Greg's wife is Filipina.

Our table mates at dinner were Punch and Edith from FL, Gertrude and Stephanie from Vancouver, and Dixie and Clarence from Austin.
************
Entertainer.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2470.jpg

Sample of buffet menu.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2441.jpg

Sample of dinner menu.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2447.jpg

Victoria from Philippines.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2471.jpg

Robert from Bucharest.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2473.jpg

Dixie, Domingo and Clarence.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2479.jpg

Stephanie, John, Punch and Edith.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2533.jpg

Lobster and shrimp.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2517.jpg

Baked alaska.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2525.jpg

Boutique.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2485.jpg

Capt Ravera and I.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2496.jpg

Greg with one of the Philippino staff.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2499.jpg

Ft Lauderdale dock. My wife and I stayed at that hotel when we did our Caribbean cruise many years ago.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/IMG_2551.jpg

THE END
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2009 12:53 am
During the cruise, the best show without any doubt was the one performed by professionals while we were docked in Callao. It was a Peruvian cultural show with music and dancing. I just had to add them, because they were so spectacular. I hope the pictures will relate a little of what we saw.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/P8090101.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/P8090108.jpg
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http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/P8090125.jpg

The following pictures is what they call the "scissor dance." I'll remember it for a very long time.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/P8090134.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/P8090136.jpg
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The End.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/P8090141.jpg
0 Replies
 
flyboy804
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2009 09:05 am
@cicerone imposter,
Thanks for the redo, C.I. It was great seeing all of the pictures in their notated, enlarged and chronological order. Appreciate your extra effort.
0 Replies
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2009 06:24 pm
c.i. :

great job ! well done !
cruising through the panama canal is an experience not to be missed !
it's hard to believe that those huge locks need hardly any power to operate - the engineers and mechanics did an outstanding job when they built those "mechanical toys" 100 years ago .

thanks , c.i. !
hbg
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2009 06:39 pm
@hamburger,
flyboy and hbg, Just happy you enjoyed it.
0 Replies
 
 

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