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DocH2O

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  • Content Count

    77
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About DocH2O

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Arvada, CO
  • Interests
    Photography, wine, gardening
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Star Clippers; Cruise West
  1. DocH2O

    October Barbados to Panama

    Cruisingbarb - apologies for not responding, but I haven't been on the site since March... various reasons meant a cruise is not in the immediate future for us, so I have spent my on-line time on other things. I agree with Grampylo that it is personal preference regarding which ship to choose. Itinerary and dates that don't conflict with vital things on my work schedule really will drive our choice on future trips. The one thing that was important to me on the Royal that I missed on the Flyer was the gym... I really did use it - mainly the treadmill - on our transatlantic trip. It was not a huge problem on the Flyer because we generally put into port most days and I could get some walking exercise then, although I wasn't as regular about it as I was on the Royal. I have arthritis and can't do the on-board walks because taking the stairs repeatedly and at speed is just too much on my knees. Grampylo - I am so happy to hear that your health problems are behind you. I have thought of you and Jan often. Geoff has been having some pretty major problems with his knees and almost had a knee replacement, but instead is going to be doing some new sort of injections. I still haven't done anything with my photos from our trip... still plan to but who knows when. Are you planning another trip at some point? I am getting to that point where I want to get something planned, but don't have anything definite in mind yet. Sounds like some changes coming in the various areas visited.
  2. DocH2O

    Royal Clipper TransAtlantic

    I believe the singing of "Salve Regina" is a tradition from Estonia or Russia, carried on board and continued by Captain Sergey Utitsyn of the Royal Clipper. We did not sing "Salve Regina" on the Star Flyer, and I wonder, are there any passengers who were on the Royal when it was under the command of someone else who can tell me if "Salve Regina" was sung nightly when Capt. Sergey wasn't in command???
  3. DocH2O

    October Barbados to Panama

    I find I'm not sure what to say about the canal passage - it was wonderful. We started through around dawn, and it was worth being up on deck very early..... but I know the timing of each passage depends on factors specific to that trip. They brought a guide on board who was very knowledgable - but it was difficult to get close enough to hear him and see all that you wanted to see at the same time. I hope they figure out how to make his commentary more audible. THe biggest challenges are the heat (at least we had cloud cover or I am not sure how I would have tolerated it) and when to go down below to eat without missing too much! Are you staying in Panama City for a while? If so, I'll try to send you some info on my favorite spots there.
  4. DocH2O

    October Barbados to Panama

    So sorry to take so long to get back to this. Let's see how far I can get tonight. After Los Roques came the ABC Islands, starting with B - Bonaire. It was a quiet, unassuming little place. We enjoyed our wander around the town of Karlendijk although it was blindingly hot (should be better in January), and found a very funky museum that had staff who spoke English (and no signs in English) but were very friendly. There were lots of excursions that we didn't take, and I can't remember which ones people liked. I think I'd take one next time though, as the town really doesn't offer much. Next stop stop Willemstad, Curacao. We made the right choice not to take an excursion here, as the town is wonderful. It was definitely one of my favorite places on the whole trip. It is charming to wander around, great markets, beautiful old buildings. I highly recommend the Kura Hulauda Museum, it was a wonderful look at the slave trade but also oh so much more, and in a wonderfully restored old part of the city. We ended the day sitting in a harbor-side bar, watching the swinging bridge go back and forth and the people walking by as the sun set - truly a beautiful scene. Next day was Aruba. I hope you don't go there on a Sunday,as it was dead! The best part was sailing into the harbor - quite a tricky maneuver that you will want to be on deck for. The most sought-after excursion, the submarine, was so murky from a nearby storm that they came back up before going all the way down, and eventually (after a bit of resistance) refunded the money for all who booked it. We found a cafe with free wireless and hung out there for quite a while, then took a taxi around part of the island... not nearly as scenic as I had imagined. We had two days at sea after Aruba, so a good time to say a bit about the on board experiences. The Flyer was lower-key with less organized activities and entertainment than the Royal Clipper had on the transAtlantic trip we did a year ago. I wondered if that was because our trip wasn't transAtlantic, but it appears instead to be a difference between the two ships and their crews. The crew on the Royal were very entertaining and usually hysterically funny, with activities and entertainment almost every night. We had very little evening activity and entertainment on the Flyer. One big issue when we did was smoking. Although the Tropical Bar was supposed to have a smoking and a non-smoking side, the rules were not well enforced, and the smoke tended to stray to the other side even when they were. I think that smoking should be banned during entertainment, personally. The Flyer sails a lot more than the Royal Clipper, because of the configuration of the sails. That part of the trip was absolutely glorious, and I loved the days at sea. There were not as many sailing related activites as on a transAtlantic trip, but mast climbing was certainly popular. Next stop was Cartagena, Columbia. It is a fantastic city, beautifully restored, and felt totally safe. THey were gearing up for a festival, and some of the folks actually saw one of the many parades (we didn't). The walking tour was very popular, with earphones and a number of guides assigned to small groups of passengers. What I learned later talking to other passengers was that the quality of the guides varied considerably with some describing the tour as brilliant, and others finding it not helpful at all. We went on our own with friends, hired a cab driver who took us to several sites, then dropped us with a pre-arranged time to pick us up. This worked fine. After wandering for an hour or two, my husband decided that he really wanted to eat paella (I think because the city reminded us so much of being in Spain). We got directions to a small restaurant from a police officer. Not a soul in the restaurant spoke English, but my rusty Spanish sufficed and it was a wonderful experience. We ended the day while still in dock with a music and dance performance by local performers in the Tropical Bar that was fantastic (only marred by a passenger smoking a cigar right on the edge between the smoking and non-smoking sides of the ship.) I would go back to Cartagena in a minute.... it is a truly wonderful city. Oh, one other bit of useful info - the shop in the port that you walk through to get to and from the ship is excellent, with a great assortment of items, many at reasonable prices. After another at sea day, we headed for the San Blas Archipelago. We anchored off of three small, heavily inhabited islands and took the tender to one of them - I never did know its name. What an experience! The Kuna Indians who inhabit them were granted self-governing authority by Panama, and still live very much as they always have, fishing and selling the beautiful embroidery and other crafts they make to tourists who visit the islands and in Panama City. I have read reviews of the visit to San Blas that found the poverty overwhelming, but I did not see that... the people seemed well fed and happy, the children dressed in school uniforms and happy to chat in Spanish (their official language is a native indian tongue) with the tourists, although they expect a dollar to have their picture taken. No swimming beaches on these islands... the surrounding water is their sewer system so swimming is not a good idea. A tender took folks out for snorkeling and diving in a different direction from the inhabited islands, but the trip to the islands was enough for me. Take lots of one and five dollar bills so you can buy as many beautiful molas as you want. They are gorgeous - I have given many as presents and they are well appreciated. Gotta go again, but I'll try to get back in the next day or two to finish off the saga. In case I don't, going through the canal was wonderful!
  5. DocH2O

    October Barbados to Panama

    :)I am jealous.... wish I were going again in a month! Here are some highlights. First, your trip won't start like ours did... with a hurricane! My husband and I were on the last plane into Barbados before they closed the airport because of Hurricane Tomas. We spent Saturday, our Barbados sightseeing day, in our hotel with no electricity, no food until noon, lots of wind, rain, etc. Exciting. Sunday things were a bit better. Sightseeing was still impossible, so we made our way without incident to the terminal, where we ate, drank, and wandered for a few hours, then boarded and set sail on time - of course to the strains of Vangelis Conquest of Paradise. Our first stop was "Captains choice" in the Grenadines. We went to Carriacou Island and had a nice wander around - not a toursty place at all. Next day was Grenada, where the smell of spices in the market was fantastic. We bought necklaces of fresh nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and other whole spices and wore them around for the day, then they perfumed our cabin for the whole trip, and now hang in my bathroom where I continue to enjoy them and the memories they bring back. We went to two different Venezuelan islands, Isla Margarita, and Los Roques, substituted for Blanquilla by order of the Venezuelan government. (We never did find out why.) We took the bus tour around Isla Margarita. I enjoyed it; my husband was pretty bored. It's an attractive island, but not stunningly beautiful. It is known for its pearls, and I am still kicking myself for not buying a necklace at the stand at the roadside overlook we stopped at. Prices there were very reasonable, not so true at the shop we stopped at later. Los Roques was a disappointment. Because the crew had not known we were going there, they had no information about where the good snorkeling was.... and only a few passengers found it (not us). The beach was pretty though and the folks who went to the small town quite enjoyed it. One of the most interesting little quirks of the trip was the Venezuelan pilot, who joined the ship at Isla Margarita, and didn't leave until Curacao. He seemed to have gotten himself a nice little mini-vacation that extended far beyond Venezuelan waters! I was only going to hit a few highlights, but I am finding that impossible, and I need to sign off now. I'll be back soon and go on from there.
  6. Thanks so much for the show! I do miss sailing now that winter is upon us and my recent Barbados to Panama trip is fading from my memory. I'll have to get workng on my own photoshow soon to bring it all back to me.
  7. DocH2O

    Smoking Policy?

    My husband is working on a letter to Star Clippers as I "speak".
  8. DocH2O

    Smoking Policy?

    Quote Originally Posted by pralientje "I heard that on the cruise from Barbados to Panama a friend of mine had to go inside during a performance of local dancers, and that the hotel manager refused to do something about it." ________________________________________________________________ Indeed, this happened. :( I am the one who talked to the hotel manager, after our friend had to leave a wonderful performance in Cartegena due to her reaction to cigar smoke when a passenger lit his cigar right in the middle of the Tropical Bar. This passenger had been asked by several other passengers rather loudly to put it out and ignored that, so our friend had no choice but to leave. I went to find the hotel manager to ask him to at the very least have the cigar smoker move all the way to the far edge of the smoking section away from the non-smoking section, but he would not even do that, much less enforce the no cigar policy. The manager argued with me.... my favorite :rolleyes: quote of his, "What do you want me to do - throw him overboard? I can do nothing." I know of THREE people on the ship who were physically ill the day after this occurance due to the cigar smoke. One woman told me she had to use her inhaler for the first time in 4 years after this. My husband is refusing to go on more Star Clipper trips until the smoking situation improves. I love the two trips we have taken (so does he) so I very very much hope things change for the better soon.
  9. DocH2O

    Star Clipper/Star Flyer

    I don't have time to say all I have to say about this issue right now, but in short, while the Star Flyer has taken steps (they designate a smoking and non-smoking side [supposedly depending on how the wind is going] in the Tropical Bar, which is an improvement over the Royal a year ago where the whole Tropical Bar was open to smokers) the policy is poorly enforced, not well understood by crew, and doesn't go far enough.:( More later... I have to go to work this morning!
  10. DocH2O

    Star Clipper/Star Flyer

    Yes, electrical on the Flyer is 120V. There was a 220 hairdryer in our cabin, but I couldn't figure out why, as there was no plug it fit to plug into. It was fastened under the mirror in the cabin and couldn't be removed, so just took up space - a small annoyance. The hairdryer mounted on the wall in the bathroom worked fine.
  11. DocH2O

    October Barbados to Panama

    No visas required in Cartegena. It is a beautiful city.
  12. DocH2O

    October Barbados to Panama

    All passengers did make it, although some boarded late, and one poor couple never got their luggage. The trip, overall, was great. Transit through the canal was wonderful. More details later. I am still in Panama, returning to the US tomorrow. Going through the hurricane in Barbados was - I must admit - an adventure I didn't expect!
  13. DocH2O

    Star flyer in the panama canal

    Thanks for posting. Brings back wonderful memories. It was great!!!!!:D
  14. Proving that I operate on a just in time basis..... just in time to leave Friday for our cruise on the Star Flyer from Barbados through the Panama Canal:D, here are the pictures from our transAtlantic trip from Lisbon to Barbados on the Royal Clipper last fall. Note that there are two slideshows (it was too big to fit into one, and I basically had to redo it), and total time to watch is close to a half hour.... but there is nice music and a lot of video, so hopefully it is not boring. http://www.photoshow.com/watch/TV3wU2rs http://www.photoshow.com/watch/cg4az8YC
  15. DocH2O

    October Barbados to Panama

    We're leaving Friday - early. (but arriving late....:() See you in Barbados maybe... we are at the Silver Point Hotel on Silver Sands Beach. :):):)
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