Sunday, December 23, 2012

Eastbound Panama Canal Cruise, Part 3

One week down, and one to go!

2012-12-17 Monday: Panama Canal. We spent our daylight hours traversing the Panama Canal. It is a mind boggling feat of engineering that you get a visceral feel for when you’re going through it up close. We had excellent views from the Decks 9 and 10 forward, Decks 3 and 4 port and starboard, and from our stateroom’s veranda on the starboard (right) side of Deck 8 midships. Hallie got our passports stamped and received official Panamanian postcards. She even managed (very briefly) to get online and check in with a family member or two while getting addresses to send postcards. Mike took the kids topside in the morning and again in the afternoon after Eliza’s nap. A cool breeze helped compensate for the warm temperature, and we avoided rain until after we had cleared the canal. Even though the kids had spent ample time playing by the pool (with sunkissed cheeks to prove it), they were still really wound up at bedtime, so Mike took them for a few laps around the ship. Hallie got burned, so she didn’t feel so hot. Mike finally finished delivering the remainder of our fish extender gifts. Glad that’s done. We’re still receiving a few each day and have accumulated quite an assortment of Disney, cruise, and people’s hometown gifts. Now that we are back in the open water on the Caribbean Sea north of South America, the ship’s rocking movements have picked up again. Mike enjoys the sensation. It’s kind of like being on an airplane, but you have ample space to move around. We all seem to have adjusted very well to the ship’s motion. Eliza and Landon walk around as if they hardly feel the ship moving around beneath them, but Landon makes comments about the rocking every so often. He calls the stateroom our “hotel.” We could get used to this!
Last sunrise on the Pacific side

Panama City and other ships waiting in line

Crowds gathered on the forward part of Deck 10

Bridge of the Americas

Under the bridge

Is that the Panama City LDS Temple? 

Sure enough! 

Here is how Hallie watched us cross in air conditioned comfort.

Pilot boats help guide the ship.

Into the lock. It's a tight fit!

Locomotives pull the ship along.

Forward views also available on Funnel Vision

View from the lunch buffet restaurant

Pacific locks almost done

The commemorative T-shirt

Views of the upcoming expansion

It really is a tight fit!

We're as much a spectacle as the canal itself.

Rising as the lock fills as seen from Deck 3

Passing under Centennial Bridge

Pile drivers in the Culebra Cut. The machine echoed loudly through the canyon!

Entering Gatún Lake
Monitor view of our progress through the lock

Sun-kissed cheeks

Another ship passing through the lock gives an idea of how our ship passed over to the Caribbean side.

. . . And, we're out of the canal!

The rain courteously waited for us to get through the canal. 

Caribbean trade winds

2012-12-18 Tuesday: Cartagena, Colombia. It was hot, hazy, and humid this morning in Colombia! After breakfast, we went on an excursion into the city by horse-drawn carriage. We took in the colonial architecture and the colorful sights, sounds, and people in the city’s old quarter. Hallie even bought an emerald ring! In honor of our entering the Caribbean, the ship had a “Pirates IN the Caribbean” theme night, complete with costume party and fireworks, and pirate-themed music continually playing in the halls and other public spaces. The kids dressed up for photos and dinner, then they crashed while Hallie went to see Wreck-It Ralph and Mike joined the kids in the stateroom. The trade winds cooled the air, but the water on this side of the continent was quite a bit more active, rocking us more than we have been to date. After Hallie got back from the movie, Mike went topside to see what there was to see and then caught the premier of Monsters, Inc. in 3D at 12:01. He didn’t last the whole way through.
Entering Cartagena

Did we mention it was humid? Hallie's lens fogged up, it was that bad. 

Taking to old town's narrow streets by horse-drawn carriage

"Wake up, sleepyhead!"

Vendors and street performers (like this clown) would come up peddling their wares whenever the carriages slowed down.  

Shopping at a local market

Castillo San Felipe de Barajas

Don Blas de Lezo lost an arm, a leg, and an eye in various wars and successfully defended Cartagena against a British attack in 1741.

They way they played, you wouldn't know it was 90-plus degrees and 90-plus percent humidity.

This Ship Is SO Big!

When Hallie left us, she got her own souvenir of the journey. 

Time for a pirate party! We're pirates IN the Caribbean!

Themed dinner

"Watch out! I have a butter knife, and I know how to use it."

With Raskesh from Trinidad and Tobago, our head server

Apparently the kid can't hold his chocolate liquor.

2012-12-19 Wednesday: At sea. It had rained overnight, and the seas were still rolling with whitecaps visible to the horizon. We tried to make it a mellow day after our raucous time in port and partying like pirates. Even so, the presence of our little prince and princess was requested at a tea hosted by Princess Ariel in Triton’s restaurant. The kids didn’t last long, but they did make it long enough for Eliza to get a sash and for Landon to get a kiss from Snow White. We rested some in the afternoon and even contemplated doing a little packing. We have received many cute and creative fish extender gifts and will enjoy these mementos after we return home. Mike attended a crew talent show in the evening, and then it was time for some shut-eye.

All dressed for the Princess Tea, sliding down the stairs as they learned to do

Eliza wanted nothing to do with her crown and sash.

We managed a tiara for a while.

From pirate to prince with a simple wardrobe adjustment

Finger sandwiches and sweets to go with our "tea" (apple juice)

Landon's first princess kiss

Remember: Wrist-wrist, elbow-elbow

And of course, Queen Hallie reigned over all. 

Rakesh stopped by to say hi.

The Prince and Princess theme continued all day, so Sandor continued in his tux through to dinner. Landon opted for a pirate Mickey-themed T-shirt he received as a fish extender gift earlier in the trip. We parents chose cruise casual.  

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