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October 22, 2011 - Panama Canal Cruise

This year's cruise was to and through the Panama Canal.  The trip started on Saturday, October 22, with flights from Tampa to Minneapolis and Minneapolis to Los Angeles.  After a short car ride, we were at the new home of Kristie, Kristoffer and Isabelle, where we stayed for a few days.  During these days, we saw some of the sights of the area, including the famous Santa Monica Pier, where we had lunch on Sunday.

On Tuesday, we boarded the Coral Princess for the cruise.  I liked our balcony cabin because we were on a "bump" and the front wall was removed so we could see all the way to the front of the boat.  Looking for wildlife was much easier with this configuration.

After an at-sea day, we arrived at Cabo San Lucas, where we took a small boat trip to Chileno Bay for snorkeling.  There were lots of small fish, but they were not very colorful.

Three more sea-days and we were at San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and a bus ride to the town of Rivas, and then on to Lake Nicaragua.  The lakeside restaurant where we stopped had nice views of the twin volcanic mountains of Maderas and Concepcion.

The next day found us at Puntarenas, Costa Rica, where we rode a bus to the Corobici River and a float trip down the river.  There was a lot of wildlife on the river, but since it was a raft trip, I left my camera on the Coral Princess.

After another sea-day, we were ready to transit the Panama Canal (wikipedia entry).  The trip through the canal started around 5:30 AM when we were cleared to enter the waterway.  We went under the Bridge of the Americas, through the Mira Flores Locks and then the Pedro Miguel Locks, under the new Centennial Bridge, through the Calebra Cut, merged into the Charges River and on to Lake Gatun, and finally went through the Gatun Locks and into the Caribbean Sea.  The transit lasted until nearly 4:00 PM, and I spent virtually the whole time out on our balcony.  This was our second trip through the Canal, and I think I enjoyed this one more than the first - it is an amazing engineering feat.

The next day found us at Cartagena, Columbia.  Here we went on a small boat cruise around the harbor, and a bus ride into the walled old city, and then to the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas ancient fort.

The last stop on this trip was to the island of Aruba.  We went on a bus ride to the Casibari Rock formations, to the California Lighthouse, and to a dock on the western coast where we boarded a small boat for the ride back to the cruise ship.

After two more sea-days, we were disembarked at Port Everglades for the drive back home.

Out of 425 photos that I took on this trip, I've selected 36 for you review.  The slideshow will start automatically, but you may want to start it over after you've read the above.


And, I didn't take video on this trip, except for the Parade of the Baked Alaska, served at the final dinner.  Click the start button at the lower left corner, and be sure your sound is on.