Transiting the Panama Canal

2019 HAL World Cruise

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Because we’ve now transited the Panama Canal many times, it is no longer an all-attention-consuming event.  We now tend to sleep our normal 8 hours rather than set the alarm to arise at the first light of day.  We no longer have our noses plastered to the windows, or cameras attached to our hands, or layers of sunscreen to protect us from 8 hours of exposure to the sun.

Today, we awoke while sailing thru the first approach channel.  I took some photos from our cabin as we transited the Gatun Locks.  We ate lunch while sailing across Gatun Lake.  At this moment in time, we are transiting the Miraflores Locks and will soon be on our way to Fuerte Amador, the port city for Panama City.

Please read the blog from 1/14/2018 for more photos and details.

Meanwhile, here are the photos taken from our cabin this morning:

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Because we’ve been thru the Panama Canal before, we chose to view the passage, this time, from our cabin and on the TV. It’s amazing how narrow the canal is! You think you could reach out and touch the wall!
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Every time a ship goes thru the canal,the prow is opened to the passengers for exceptionally grand viewing. Notice how few people are on the prow this time. This is a highly well-traveled group. A degree of “been there…done that” has crept in.
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In this photo, we are transiting the Gatun Locks. It will take three different lock systems to move us up the 85 feet to Gatun Lake from the Caribbean and then down to the Pacific.
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As we rise in the lock, normal canal operations are visible. trucks and people are often spotted walking by.
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It takes about 8 hours to navigate the entire journey. It is about 40 miles from seashore to oceanside thru 3 locks systems (Gatun, Pedro Miguel, & Miraflores), 2 lakes (Gatun & Miraflores) and the Culebra Cut. As I write this, we are not there yet!

Patmos, Greece An Article in Milieu Magazine

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Recently, I picked up the Fall 2018 issue of Milieu Magazine.  This is the 5-year anniversary issue and is simply chock-full of interesting articles!  One, in particular, captured my attention.  It was in the travel section.  Written by Charlotte Di Careaci with photography by Miguel Flores-Vianna, it transported me to the fall of 2015 and our very first visit to the amazing Greek island of Patmos!

Milieu Magazine, Fall 2018, 5th anniversary issue.
Milieu Magazine, Fall 2018, 5th anniversary issue.

Located in the Aegean Sea, Patmos is famous because John of Patmos, who wrote the Bible’s Book of Revelation, did so, here, sometime around 70AD.  The cave where John received the Revelation is located between the capital city of Chora and the port city of Skala.  The Cave of the Apocalypse is open to the public and has made Patmos a destination of pilgrimage.  In 1999, Chora, the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, and the Cave of the Apocalypse were all named UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The port city of Skala as seen from the Aegean Sea.
The port city of Skala as seen from the Aegean Sea.
The road from Skala to Chora.  The Cave of the Apocalypse is along this route.
The road from Skala to Chora. The Cave of the Apocalypse is along this route.
The Monastery of Patmos built c. 100AD uphill from the Cave of the Apocalypse.
The Monastery of Patmos built c. 100AD uphill from the Cave of the Apocalypse.

Today, Patmos is a destination paradise for travelers seeking solitude, beautiful beaches, awesome mountain cliffs, amazing monasteries & convents & churches.  Oh yes, the architecture is enchanting!  We have visited the port city of Skala.  Our short visit consisted of strolling the narrow streets, sipping coffee in welcoming outdoor cafes, shopping charming independent boutiques, savoring the seafood, and gazing, in admiration, upon the sites!

Walking the streets of Skala.
Walking the streets of Skala.
Windmills on a hillside above the town.
Windmills on a hillside above the town.
Seafood is the specialty!
Seafood is the specialty!
Wonderful cafes are everywher!
Wonderful cafes are everywhere!
Boutique shopping in Skala.
Boutique shopping in Skala.
One of the more than 300 churches on the island!
One of the more than 300 churches on the island!
The charming port city of Skala.
The charming port city of Skala.

Reading this Milieu article took me back to that most pleasant port -of-call.  We look forward to returning, someday!  Meanwhile, I thank talented people like Ms. Careaci and Mr. Flores-Vianna for awakening the memories that bring the sights, smells, and emotions of travel back to the forefront!

Rotterdam, Netherlands Day 2

2018 HAL Voyage of the Vikings

Monday, August 6, 2018

 

I must confess, day 2 in Rotterdam was consumed by all things SS Rotterdam and Holland America Cruise Lines.  We had ended Day 1 coming aboard, checking-in, dinner & drinks, and a little wandering through the public rooms before settling down in the cabin.  We had a comfortable room:  sitting area, desk space, king-size bed, TV with some English language programming, and a really nice curved-glass enclosed shower.  We slept well under feather duvets with the porthole windows open to catch the breeze.  But we did find the mattress to be hard as a board!  This has been a problem that pops up frequently in European hotels.  Could it be we’ve grown old, soft and stiff?

We awoke on day 2 to a bright, warm, sunny day.  After breakfast on the outside Lido deck, we took the Engine Room Tour and then followed it up with the Bridge Tour and Ship’s Tour.  Roger, of course, loved all the mechanical details; I was more interested in the history and design aspects.  It was all fascinating!

And I have pictures:

Model of the SS Rotterdam as she looked in the 1950s.
Model of the SS Rotterdam as she looked in the 1960s.
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This is the type of whimsy you usually find on a Disney ship. It may look real, but this is a scuplture of a crewman painting the hull! The 4 windows above the painter belong to our cabin #6002.
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We booked a catagory of cabin billed as former Officer’s Quarters. This is a view of our cabin, #6002. The middle door of the hutch folds down to form a desk. The chair will do double duty at the desk.
A view of the siing area.
A view of the siing area.
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The sleeping area. I’m certain the officer who had this cabin did NOT have a king sized bed!
The end of day libation in the First Class Ambassador's Lounge.
The end of day libation in the First Class Ambassador’s Lounge.
Dinner in the Lido Restaurant
Dinner in the Lido Restaurant
Look at that photo on the wall.  Doesn't it look like Pat Sajak and Vana White!
Look at that photo on the wall. Doesn’t it look like Pat Sajak and Vana White!
Breakfast on the Lido Restaurant deckside.
Breakfast on the Lido Restaurant deckside.
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This is the promenade deck and that window at the end is the old purser’s office which is now the Ship’s Tour office. It is conveniently located just outside the gift shop!
Starting the engine room tour.
Starting the engine room tour.
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The engine room tour on the SS Rotterdam. All those white pipes are encased because they contain asbestos. Those red stripes are to remind us that care should be taken to not disturb the casing!!!
Starboard Propeller and Spare
Starboard Propeller and Spare
Stabalizer Shaft
Stabalizer Shaft
Engine Room Controls
Engine Room Controls
The engine room crew quarters.
The engine room crew quarters.
Starting the Bridge Tour.
Starting the Bridge Tour.
Fire Control
Fire Control
Communications
Communications
Navigation
Navigation
Bridge
Bridge
Captain's Quarters
Captain’s Quarters
Bridge officer's quarters.
Bridge officer’s quarters.
Foredeck
Foredeck
1000' of Anchor Chain
1000′ of Anchor Chain
All too quickly, the adventure comes to an end and we must depart.
All too quickly, the adventure comes to an end and we must depart.
Back we go on the water taxi.
Back we go on the water taxi.
Back to the New York Hotel Water Taxi Landing.
Back to the New York Hotel Water Taxi Landing.
Back to the MS Rotterdam.
Back to the MS Rotterdam.
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This time, our end of day libation is on the Lido Pool Deck of the MS Rotterdam during our sail away from Rotterdam.
And we wave goodbye to the lovely city of  Rotterdam.
And we wave goodbye to the lovely city of Rotterdam.

 

We are now on our way to Dublin, Ireland

Holland America Line’s MS Prinsendam SOLD!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Holland America Line has announced the sale of the MS Prinsendam to the German travel and cruise company, Phoenix Reisen.  The Prinsendam has been chartered back to HAL and will continue its planned itinerary through July 1, 2019.  At that time, Holland America will absorb the remaining Prinsendam voyages into those of the Rotterdam, Veendam and Volendam.

I’m writing this post because we have traveled aboard the Prinsendam many times and have a deep and enduring fondness for this unique ship.  She is known as the “Elegant Explorer” for her classic style and intimate size (she carries a total of 835 passengers.)  The Prinsendam can enter and explore ports that larger ships cannot.

We first sailed aboard the Prinsendam in October, 2009 to the Mediterranean and Black Seas (then repeated and expanded the experience in 2015); in 2011, and again in 2013, we sailed the Baltic Sea, North Sea and Kiel Canal; the most amazing cruise EVER was the South America and Antarctica adventure in 2014.  Our last voyage aboard the Prinsendam was in 2015.

 

Here is our photo tribute to a grand vessel:

San Juan, Puerto Rico

2018 HAL World Cruise

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

We were curious to see San Juan again.  The 2017 Hurricane season was very damaging to Puerto Rico and the repairs are on-going!  Ironically, just a few days ago, a contractor managed to knock down a critical power-line and wipe out the electricity!  Happily, power was restored by the time we arrived and Old Town San Juan looked as lovely as ever!  The buildings had been cleaned and many were newly painted.  Although lots of street signs were missing, the overhead electric wires were firmly replaced and in working order; the roofs were repaired; everything was neat and clean!

We awoke in San Juan to a bright and sunny morning.
We awoke in San Juan to a bright and sunny morning.
Old San Juan looked as lovely as we remembered.
Old San Juan looked as lovely as we remembered.
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It’s an easy walk off the ship and into town–which is, literally, right across the street.
Columbus Square
Columbus Square
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A tiny park across the street from both San Juan Bautista Cathedral and the El Convento Hotel. Love the old tree!
The San Juan Bautitsta Cathedral, containing the tomb of Ponce de Leon.
The San Juan Bautitsta Cathedral, containing the tomb of Ponce de Leon.
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The El Convento Hotel was once the nunnery of the Cathedral. Today, it is a lovely hotel and restaurant across the street from the Cathedral and just up the hill from Pigeon Park and the Chapel of Christ the Savior.
Looking towards La Forteleza, the Governor's Residence.
Looking towards La Forteleza, the Governor’s Residence.
Looking towards the Governor's Residence at the end of the street.
Looking towards the Governor’s Residence at the end of the street.
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The San Juan Gate. There are five gates in the Old City Wall. This gate was used by Spanish dignataries. They would enter the city and then walk up the street to the Cathedral and thank God for their safe arrival.
Shoppping in Old Town.
Shoppping in Old Town.
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Looking at Harmony of the Seas on the pier as she prepares to depart San Juan. We will follow her out a little later.

 

This was our last port-of-call for the 2018 HAL World Cruise!  We’ll be home in a few days and must now get busy packing up for the disembarkation!  Thank you for joining us on this adventure.  We love to hear from you as we travel; and it is our sincere hope you find these destinations as interesting as we do!

See you, again, next time!