Panama Canal Cruise – 12/18/09 to 1/3/10
This was the best vacation we have ever taken in our 20 years of marriage!!! It was the perfect combination of casual and upscale.
I felt like we were newcomers on the ship having only taken 5 cruises. The clientele was from all over the world and had cruised to many ports of call. We picked this cruise since it was through the Panama Canal and was from 12/18 to 1/3. If you have never been through the Panama Canal, we thought this portion of the trip was worth taking the vacation for. We sprung for a room with a balcony and it was worth every penny as we often sat out there to read or take in a sunset or slept with the door open to hear the sea.
Ports of Call
Port Antonio, Jamaica – We have been to Jamaica before and didn’t like in the past on this cruise. Wish it would be replaced by another stop.
Cartagena, Columbia – We took the Fortress tour which was interesting. The street vendors in Columbia are pretty pushy!
Panama Canal, Panama – It is hard to describe going through the locks, especially seeing enormous vessels with only 1-2’ to spare on either side…..Amazing!
Puntarenas, Costa Rica – We went on the Cloud Forest tour. This started with a 2 hour bus ride from sea level to 4500’ elevation to the Cloud Forest. The ride scenery was great and once you get to the top, we went on the Suspension Bridge tour over the rain forest. A wonderful tour and one of the highlights of the trip.
San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua – We decided not to take another 8 hour tour and took the shuttle to the town. After we got there we took off our shoes and walked the beach for about an hour before we decided to have a few beers at a local place. Lots of fun.
Hautulco, Mexico – This is a made up Mexican city for cruise boats. Given that, it is small and quaint and a good place to spend a few hours.
Acapulco, Mexico – Best tour for us….Releasing baby turtles to the wild. We had about 30 folks on the tour and we got to learn about sea turtles. The baby turtles we released were hatched that morning and we placed them on the beach so they could get to the ocean. By the way, make sure you have them make you a corn tortilla from their small restaurant, it was great.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – We spent a week in Cabo about 7 years ago. It has changed greatly and is way too commercialized. If you can, try and avoid the downtown area….too many tourist shops. We were there with 3 other ships and the downtown was mobbed. We did have a nice lunch in a small café later in the day after many of the other tourists had left.
Azamara Highlights: 1. Casual relaxed atmosphere throughout the ship. 2. Staff was friendly. 3. Prime C and Aqualina were much better than the Discovery Dining Room. Service and food were definitely worth the time to get a reservation and you can easily go more than the two allotted times. 4. New Years celebration was fantastic! They sure know how to throw a party. 5. Loved the morning/lunch/dinner buffet for the variety and especially the outdoor seating area. 6. We noticed that given 24 hours notice the chef would make any request as was seen by an Indian feast at the table next to us that was not on the menu. 7. Healthy eating options. We both spent 18 days away from home and did not gain an ounce! It was equal parts exercise and healthy eating. You can see how we did it on my wife’s blog at Foodsforlonglife.com. 8. Tony, their cruise director, was amazing. He also was an incredible professional singer. They are lucky to have him. Azamara items to improve: 1. Ship galley and bridge tours should be limited to fewer guests even if that means giving more tours. Our galley tour had around 35 people and if you were not near the chef you could not hear anything. 2. There should be more of a selection of herbal teas. They had flavored black teas instead of pure herbal blends.