DAY 1 ... FT. LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA
January 25, 2013
We arrived at Ft. Lauderdale after about a three and a half hour drive, with only one pit stop. Arrived at the Holland America cruise terminal for the Zuiderdam. After dropping off the bags we parked the car and returned to the terminal and boarded the ship. At 4:30 we had the Life Boat Drill and then set sail for Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, the private island for Holland America.
DAY 2 ... HALF MOON CAY, BAHAMAS
January 26, 2013
Arrived at Half Moon Cay at about 8:00 am. It was a cool and cloudy morning as we boarded the ferry to take us to the island. We scrolled along the beach and finally got in the water around noon time after eating the barbecue lunch on the island. Not to many people went to the island from the ship, probably due to the cool weather. returned to the ship on the second last ferry at 1:30 pm. Ship departed after two heading for Oranjestad, Aruba.
DAY 3 ... AT SEA
January 27, 2013
Today was a sea day and the day was sunny with a good breeze.
DAY 4 ... ORANJESTAD, ARUBA
January 28, 2013
Arrive in Aruba around 1:00 pm. Did not have any thing plan for the day other then to walk around, do some shopping and go to the casino for a bit. No luck at the casino, and it was back to the ship. After a quick dinner a friendly crew picked us up at the cruise harbor in a custom-built catamaran. We sailed past Aruba's famous beaches, along the island’s south coast and up the gorgeous west coast, taking in the spectacular Caribbean sunset. Experience the joy of sailing and take advantage of the many perfect picture opportunities as we glided over clear, turquoise waters past famous Palm Beach. It was absolutely wonderful! The music was great, the appetizers were plentiful... vegetarian spring rolls, chunks of cheese and baby cheese quesidillas. My guess is that it may not be the same with each sailing however this is what we received. Rum punch, local beer and other drinks were also served throughout the excursion. If you wanted non alcoholic beverages they were also available. Everyone had so much fun. The crew kept us comfortable and entertained during the two-hour trip and returned to the cruise terminal at the end of cruise adventure. We had this same crew on a day time catamaran cruise when we were in Aurba on another cruise.
DAY 5 ... WILLEMSTAD, CURACAO
January 29, 2013
Arrived at Willemstad at 8:00 am in the morning as the pilot boat arrived next to our ship. No tours planed today, just a walk around this Dutch island. If there were no canals, the Dutch would have invented them. Behold Willemstad, with its deepwater harbor, interlacing waterways, and narrow shop fronts that seem always to be stretching to their full height. The capital City of Curacao is a Caribbean cruise delight. Willemstad graces the Shottegat harbor with neighborhoods that mix Dutch, Spanish, and Portuguese urban styles and then dresses them in effulgent pastels. It's a combination seen nowhere else in former Dutch colonies. Today we wandered the shops and markets of the Punda and Otrobanda districts and soak up some color of the buildings along the water front.
DAY 6 ... AT SEA
January 30, 2013
Another day at sea as we get ready for tomorrows trip into the Panama Canal tomorrow. Did a little shopping on the ship and went to the pool. Tonight will be our second formal night for the cruise.
DAY 7 ... PANAMA CANAL
January 31, 2013
Arrived early in the morning for our transit into the Panama Canal. Got up early, had breakfast in the room and then headed to the front of the ship to view our entry through the locks. While, globally, the Atlantic Ocean is east of the isthmus and the Pacific to the west, the general direction of the canal passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific is from northwest to southeast. This is because of a local anomaly in the shape of the isthmus at the point the canal occupies. The layout of the canal as seen by a ship passing from the Atlantic to the Pacific is as follows:
- From the formal marking line of the Atlantic Entrance, one enters Limón Bay (Bahía Limón), a large natural harbour. The entrance runs 5.4 mi (8.7 km). It provides a deepwater port (Christóbal), with facilities like multimodal cargo exchange (to and from train) and the Colón Free Trade Zone (a free port).
- A 2.0 mi (3.2 km) channel forms the approach to the locks from the Atlantic side.
- The Gatun locks, a three-stage flight of locks 1.2 mi (1.9 km) long, lifts ships to the Gatun Lake level, some 87 ft (26.5 m) above sea level.
- Gatun Lake, an artificial lake formed by the building of the Gatun Dam, carries vessels 15 mi (24.2 km) across the isthmus. It is the summit canal stretch, fed by the Gatun river and emptied by basic lock operations.
- From the lake, the Chagres River, a natural waterway enhanced by the damming of Gatun Lake, runs about 5.3 mi (8.5 km). Here the upper Chagres river feeds the high level canal stretch.
- The Culebra cut slices 7.8 mi (12.6 km) through the mountain ridge, crosses thecontinental divide and passes under the Centennial Bridge.
- The single-stage Pedro Miguel lock, which is 0.87 mi (1.4 km) long, is the first part of the descent with a lift of 9.5 meters (31 ft).
- The artificial Miraflores Lake, 1.1 mi (1.7 km) long, and 16.5 meters (54 ft) above sea level.
- The two-stage Miraflores locks, is 1.1 mi (1.7 km) long, with a total descent of 54 ft (16.5 m) at mid-tide.
- From the Miraflores locks one reaches Balboa harbour, again with multimodal exchange provision (here the railway meets the shipping route again). Nearby is Panama City.
- From this harbour an entrance/exit channel leads to the Pacific Ocean (Gulf of Panama), 8.2 mi (13.2 km) from the Miraflores locks, passing under the Bridge of the Americas.
Thus, the total length of the canal is 48 mi (77.1 km).
We enter the canal early in the morning going through the Gatun Lock and entered Gatun Lake. We then boarded a bus which took us to a ferry which will complete our journey from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and go through the remaining two locks. We passed through the Gaylard Cut—the most important and difficult part of the Panama Canal’s construction and home of legendary Continental Divide. Next we enter the Pedro Miguel Locks and Miraflores Lake. On the far side of the lake we entered the Miraflores Lock and our passage to the Pacific Ocean. On our way, we passed the Centennial and Americas Bridges. Once we reached the Pacific Ocean we boarded a bus which transported us you back to the ship.
The Panama Canal is the 8th wonder of the world.
DAY 8 ... PUERTO LIMON, COSTA RICA
February 1, 2013
Arrived at Costa Rica port around 6:30 am in the morning. Today we have a bus tour to the Tavutic Hacienda. After breakfast in the room we departed the ship to our tour bus. The bus ride though the countryside of Costa Rica was just beautiful -- but wait -- the best is yet to come! High on a hill the Tayutic Hacienda had the most magnificent views of the valley. The in the hills of Turrialba belongs to the Ortuño family, whose wealth came from sugar cane, coffee and macadamias. Today we learned about the ancient methods of cultivation and processing the sugar cane, where you can see how the extract of the sugar cane is cooked, filled into the molds and converted into a delicious sweet candy with macadamia nuts. We also saw the process of cultivating coffee—from the red coffee berry to the roasted coffee bean, followed by a coffee tasting session. After the coffee talk, we learned on the picking and processing of macadamia nuts grown on the farm. After all the tours we visited the green house, with exotic orchids and different flower plants and were treated to a great lunch of Lunch of chicken, black beans, rice, potato salad and a delicious coconut thing for dessert. After lunch we walked up small hill, to a little beautiful church on the ground. After a bus ride back through town, we passed a cemetery in the town of Puerto Limon. It was back on the ship and two days at sea on the way back to Ft. Lauderdale.
To see larger picture, click on the picture.