Panama Canal

Panama Canal

When you want to get away there are few places as beautiful as the Caribbean and no more relaxing way to travel than on a cruise. With that in mind we set sail on December 9 for an 11 day Southern Caribbean cruise with Holland America.

The adventure began early when flights from all over the country were delayed due to the deep freeze and ice storms. We were not spared since may flights out of DFW canceled over several days, ours included.

After spending the night before departure re-arranging flights so we could get to Fort Lauderdale on time our non-stop was delayed because it was originating in Boston… yikes! A quick call to Holland America informing them of our plight gained us an edge and they delayed sailing for over an hour, had a representative meet us in baggage claim and whisk us off to the ship. We stormed though the terminal and up the gangway onto the ship, showed them our passports and off we went. Fastest check-in of my life. (SECRET – book your air with your cruise package if the cost is similar and if you miss the ship they will get you to the next port of call.)

The two highlights of the trip were the Panama Canal and ziplining in Costa Rica. I’ll get to that shortly.

Jagged peak below McKinley.Our first stop was at Halfmoon Cay (pronounced KEY) in the Bahamas; the cruise lines private island. The water was beautiful, the sand like powdered sugar and the temperatures were just right – a splendid day. I spent some time in the water and made a stop at the local ‘pub’; a replica pirate ship complete with a band stand, deck and bar. The reggae band playing songs from the 60’s was a little hard to take, but the view from the upstairs deck was awesome.

After spending the next day at sea we woke up the following morning in Aruba, just a few miles off the coast of South America. It was here that we joined others on a catamaran and skirted the beaches until we arrived at a spot that was touted as a great snorkel. After seeing the waters in Cozumel, Jamaica, the Caymans, Bahamas and other placed in the Caribbean it was a little disappointing; the water was murky and there weren’t really any reefs, just large rocks that looked like the remnants of construction debris. I would recommend doing another type excursion there than to snorkel. The beaches were very nice, but the water was sub-par.

Jagged peak below McKinley.Curacao was our stop the next day. A very interesting little island with a swinging pontoon bridge that opens to allow ships into port and temporarily strands pedestrians waiting to cross the channel. Here we took an island bus tour with the highlights being the Curacao Distillery and iguana soup; it does taste like chicken!

After a brief stop in Columbia we were off to the highlight of the trip – the Panama Canal. This was the stop I had been looking for and to see the marvel for myself was a treat. To see how the ships in front moved forward and up, forward and up was enticing. We soon followed suit and in no time we were in Lake Gutan with dozens of other ships waiting their turn turn to exit into the Caribbean or Pacific. They are building two new and larger canal_locks that will allow larger tanker and cargo ships to navigate the canal and it will open on the 100th anniversary of the opening of the canal in 2015.

The next stop was equally as interesting, but for a different reason – adrenaline! We ported in Limon, Costa Rica on our last stop and boarded a motor coach destined for the mountainous rain forest we could see in the distance from the ship. After a two hour drive we arrived at our destination and robed ourselves in the gear we would need for the zipline. We crossed a suspension bridge, trekked up a series of steps into the jungle canopy to our first platform and set ‘sail’.

The next stop was equally as interesting, but for a different reason – adrenaline! We ported in Limon, Costa Rica on our last stop and boarded a motor coach destined for the mountainous rain forest we could see in the distance from the ship. After a two hour drive we arrived at our destination and robed ourselves in the gear we would need for the zipline. We crossed a suspension bridge, trekked up a series of steps into the jungle canopy to our first platform and set ‘sail’.

There were 9 ziplines of various lengths leading to the last – a half mile long cable stretched across a ravine and labeled the ‘Arenaline’ – a nice play on word. We observed the line from below on several occasions during our adventure, but seeing it first hand from the final platform was incredible. It was a beautiful view from our mountain top perch. Our objective could be seen as a white dot across the treetops. One-by-one, we stepped off the platform and raced across to our final goal which left us wishing we could start again. SEE VIDEO – CLICK HERE

The bus trip back to the ship brought about the realization that this was our last stop on the cruise before our return to Ft. Lauderdale. It was nice that we had two more days to enjoy the many activities on the ship, but it is always nice to visit new ports of call and I can’t wait for my next trip.

Panama

Panama Canal

Contact us today to begin your journey back into history from the balcony of a modern day cruise ship.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your Phone (required)

Departure City (required)

What type of vacation are you interested in?

Inidicate your travel interest for this inquiry.

AlaskaCaribbeanEuropeOther

Your Message

CAPTCHA Text

captcha