Cruising With Hiccups- Panama Canal 2012
Started out as usual. Stayed in Ft Lauderdale the night before at the Comfort Inn Airport/Cruiseport South. They have a free shuttle from the airport and to the cruiseport.And for $10 per person they will pick you up when the cruise is over and take you to the airport.
We took the last shuttle to the ship at 12.30. Got to the ship about 1.00. Best plan ever. Dropped off bags and walked into the embarkation area. Right up to a check in desk. Showed our passports and received cruise cards. Absolutely no lines. 20 minutes and we were in our room. Aloha deck 710. Room was set up and ready.
First hiccup coming up. There was some mechanical problem that delayed sailaway. We were in the dining room eating when we finally set sail.
We had had odd dinner arrangement. We were seated in the Bourdeaux dining room which is usually anytime dining. We go for traditional. Must have been overflow in the other room at early seating.Met your table mates. All wonderful company. Our waiters were Aris and his assistant Ronald. Both from the Philippines. Could not ask for better service.
Second hiccup. We did not head for Aruba first. Because of hurricane Sandy we headed for Grand Cayman. First sea day our roll call had a meet and greet in the Crooner`s lounge. Finally could put faces with the names we had been talking to for months
Went to the stage production. Fun as usual. Very small theatre on Island Princess. If you want a seat you better arrive 1/2 hour early.Grab a drink at the Wheelhouse bar before you go in and it makes the waiting less painful.
Since this was our 40th anniversary celebration I had promised my wife we could do some dancing. Little did i know it was going to be most every night. The Wheelhouse became our evening hang out. Phoenix Rising plays some dance music to suit almost anyone.
Time for hiccup number 3. Got to Grand Cayman and the seas were too high to tender in. So all of the hiccups amounted in 3 1/2 days at sea before we docked in Costa Rica. We got it lots of reading time. I got my hair cut. And my wife used the gym. She said the equipment was the same as her gym at home. So she was happy.
Still we were happy with the cruise. Did not used the buffet at all. Ate all our meals in the dining room. Sure was nice . I am not fond of standing in line to get my food.
Island Princess has a covered pool area that found to be a cool place to hang out. Could sit in there and read and watch the ocean and be nice and cool. We usually like to go to movies under the stars. Not this time. Most of the cruise there was football or the world series. So no going there.
Finally hit land in Costa Rica. We had a private tour there arranged by one of the members of our roll cal. She could not have picked better Eduardo Humphreys from My Lucky Tours was waiting out side the port for us. Once we got loaded up we were off on a super tour. Stopped at a fruit market where he talked about the local produce. Then it was back on the bus for a stop at Delmonte for a tour of a banana processing plant. Learned more about them than I ever thought I would. So back in the bus and head for Jungle Breeze zip line. That was the high light of the tour. They harness you into two separate rigs and fasten a line to the cable. You grab the handles and glide into space. If I can do it at 67 with a bad back anyone can. And it is a blast. After a fresh fruit break we loaded up and headed to the canal tour. Spend about an hour on the canal. Saw a sloth up in the trees. Plenty of birds and lizards.Nice pleasant ride. The heat was pretty bad by now so we stopped at the Red Snapper bar and grill for a cool drink and a photo op since the place is on a hill above the city.Last stop before the port was at a grocery so people could buy coffee.
Speaking of coffee I did buy the coffee card so I could have my daily cappuccino. Didn`t use it all. But can use it up on our cruise next year. Stuck it in with the passports so I would know where it was.
Here comes hiccup number 4. Because of some civil unrest in Colon Panama people who were planning on tours to the other end of the Panama canal were cancelled. All the busses and trains had been shut down. So they couldn`t have gotten back to the ship.We could still do our partial transit of the canal. And that was why we were there. And I got to see all the working of the locks just like I wanted.Since we didn`t have to wait for tours we were on to Cartagena early.
No more hiccups from now on. We had booked another private tour here. Again Portia did a super job. Dora our guide knows here town from one end to the other. And it is a beautiful one. The biggest complaint is all the peddlers. They are everywhere. But if you just keep walking they don`t pester.
Last stop on the cruise was Aruba. We had no plans for this port. So we went into the town and walked around. Bought a few things and went back to the ship. The heat and humidity I think was starting to wear on us. So the two days at sea on the way home was nice.
More pampering from the staff. More good food and drink was the perfect ending to our cruise.A new feature since we cruised last was the E-Z check bag program. For $20 a bag you set your bags out as usual. The next time you see them is at your home airport. Plus they print out your boarding passes for the plane. The program is only good with certain airlines. It is definitely worth the extra money.
It was a great experience as usual. Maybe things weren`t as planned at the start. But we were safe and well taken care of. What more can you ask? Of course we will cruise with Princess again. And will use the Island Princess again.