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rafinmd

Around the Horn in 80 days.

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10 hours ago, rafinmd said:

I learned at dinner that the crew member evacuated was the fitness director.  He was diagnosed with appendicitis. 

 

 

Thanks for the update.  Hoping the crew member's operation goes well and he has a speedy recovery.

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11 hours ago, cruzingnut said:

I had heard that at least Orlando was on (P'Dam) in Northern Europe at one point to see (scuttlebutt had it) what people liked about small ship sailing. 

He was aboard the Prinsendam during my River cruise in September for a couple of days.
Whether or not he was talking to passengers, I can't say; he sure didn't talk to me. He was exploring the ship, usually with a large contingent of Seattle and ship people.

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Ann, I doubt if anybody we know is in that photo.  I think most people went aft after the group photo was taken.

 

Roy

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Day P4, Tuesday, January 8, 2019, San Blas Islands, Panama


It was a largely cloudy day.  I hung out on the back deck for a while, finally giving up on seeing a sunrise and started walking.  Unlike my port day in Santa Marta I did walk my full (pending recovery) walk of 6 laps.  Right after giving up on a sunrise I came around the bow and found the sun low in the sky just on the verge of rising behind yet another cloud.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/dawn0108.jpg


With a noon arrival we had a 9AM talk in the Showroom.  EXC guide Heather and Staff Captain Paul Massolt joined forces to give an overview of the process of transiting the canal and Paul handled a number of questions from the audience.  While the bow on the Prinsendam, unlike other HAL ships, is a working area normally open only to the crew Paul announced it would be opened up for us for the transit.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/paul.jpg


I’m getting into a bit of a rut on lunch getting fries from Dive-In again.  While up there I noticed the Grand Voyage logo.  The Amsterdam has a huge white front wall at the bow there is no such surface on the Prinsendam.  The Grand Voyage logo is painted on the superstructure just forward and aft of the midship pool.  I noticed Wednesday morning that the star logo is also on the front of the ship but quite small.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/gvlogo.jpg


We dropped anchor off the San Blas islands around 11AM.  While there are over 200 islands only 49 are inhabited.  There are several small islands close together where we anchored and the tenders had a clear path to one of them.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/islands.jpg


I had pictured the islands much like Mystery Island in the South Pacific but couldn’t have been farther from the truth.  While I pictured them as remote they are less than 3 miles from a settlement on the mainland, and a road leads 15 miles to the Pan American highway.  They are also VERY densely populated with nearly every square foot occupied by houses separated by dirt pathways.  Most of the houses were simple with dirt floors but also with solar panels and satellite antennae.  


I left the ship about 1 for a mile or so tender ride.  I found the paths around the island very crowded but eventually found a spot looking out at the ocean and the Prinsendam floating majestically in the distance.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/eesanblas.jpg


From one side of my island to another was probably the equivalent of about 2 blocks, I didn’t take a lot of pictures but one cute little girl posed for a dollar.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/cutie.jpg


Apparently the local school only covers the primary grades and was quite simple.  Just across the street was a building that appeared to be a community center.  Several other small and equally settled islands were within a couple hundred yards of our island.  I only stayed an hour or so and then spent a quiet afternoon on the ship.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/sbschool.jpg


There were 2 special dinners.  The Pinnacle Grill had a special “Secrets of Columbus” menu while the rest of the ship observed a tropical evening with the dining room specially decorated.  One odd setup related to our extended voyage was 3 penguins outside the dining room wearing grass skirts.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/tropicalpenguin.jpg


Two of our members at table 19 had reserved the Pinnacle Grill but joined us at the beginning of dinner for a chat and a drink.  I chose a tropical fruit plate as a starter along with the roast turkey and pineapple crisp.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/dishes08.jpg


The featured entertainment was magician Devlin.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/devlin.jpg


Each night at turndown the stewards leave us a little card with a saying on it.  I thought the one delivered today was worth a parting shot–I’d rather own little and see the world than own the world and see little of it.

Roy

 

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4 hours ago, rafinmd said:

Ann, I doubt if anybody we know is in that photo.  I think most people went aft after the group photo was taken.

 

Roy

 

 

Sorry I missed the Prinsendam going through the locks.

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San Blas islands -- on a repositioning cruise many years ago, we stopped at one of them.  A Princess ship stopped at another one not too far from us.  Didn't take long to walk all around the small island.

 

Great report -- loved the pictures.

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Thank you for your interesting reports,Roy.

Hope the fitness director is doing well, have you heard a progress report?

 

Your foot must be improving with the walking that you are able to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Well I’m reading your blog this evening and as always Roy it’s great!! I’m glad to see your able to do your walking hope all is on the mend. The photo you took of the little girl was precious and worth the dollar also with her little dog. Tropical penguins 👍

I’d rather ownlittle and see the world than own the world and see little of it. That is a wonderful quote! 

Take care Roy

Denise😊

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2 hours ago, erewhon said:

Thank you for your interesting reports,Roy.

Hope the fitness director is doing well, have you heard a progress report?

 

Your foot must be improving with the walking that you are able to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

47 minutes ago, DeeniEncinitas said:

Well I’m reading your blog this evening and as always Roy it’s great!! I’m glad to see your able to do your walking hope all is on the mend. The photo you took of the little girl was precious and worth the dollar also with her little dog. Tropical penguins 👍

I’d rather ownlittle and see the world than own the world and see little of it. That is a wonderful quote! 

Take care Roy

Denise😊

Thank you.  I haven't dared to take the bandages off my foot today for a look but I think it's improving.  I want to keep protecting it from further rubbing and think it's at least helping.

 

I've heard the problem was not really appendicitis and the crew member will rejoin the ship in Panama City Thursday.  A lesser problem but he will get another  day of rest.

 

Roy

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Thanks bennybear.

 


Day P5, Wednesday, January 9, 2019, Transit Panama Canal


It seems like I will never tire of the Panama Canal.  This is my 8th transit, all but one of the previous 7 have been on the Crystal Symphony, the most recent one in August.  My last crossing to the Pacific was last January 10 on the Crystal Serenity.  This transit started out very early.  I was up at 5 and on deck at 5:30.  At that time we were almost to the new Atlantic bridge but it was still too dark to see much of it.  One of the things that comes with a Panama Canal transit is a local narrator.  This time she was in the Crows Nest.  I asked her about the bridge and the bridge is finished but not ready for use.  The contractor just builds the bridge and the government of Panama is supposed to build the road on it but they have not started on making the bridge a highway and she had no idea when it would happen.  Go figure.  I would also have taken note of the remains of the French canal and the entrance to the new locks but it was too dark to see either.


I had planned on going to my cabin for the first lock.  I’m on the lowest deck above the water and actually go pretty deep into the lock chamber at low water entering pretty close to total darkness and then rising magically into daylight.  The only problem was when we reached the first lock there was no daylight to raise into, so I did that with the second lock, going into darkness with a closeup of the lock walls and then getting gradually brighter until in the open.  The effect was not quite as much as I was hoping for since the Prinsendam’s 96 foot width leaves extra room for light to get deep into the lock chamber.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/2ndlock.jpg


For years I had heard about Panama rolls from HAL cruisers.  I had one and for me it was good but nothing special.  In the future I might take one again but will leave the majority of the rolls to people who like them more.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/panama.jpg


The bow was open to passengers for the transit and there were signs leading to it although they really were not necessary.  I went in briefly a couple of times but liked it best for a look back at the porches and found they had the best view.  There are exterior stairs from the promenade deck and each has some doors into the ship.  I assume the one from deck 8 (the lowest) leads back stage into the Showroom but it is a crew only door.  Right above is deck 9 (AKA Kathi’s deck on Cruise Critic) with doors leading into the deck 9 cabin corridor.  There is a third porch but it is right below the bridge and crew only.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/porches.jpg


We cleared the Gatun locks just before 8AM and a few minutes later got a great view of the Gatun dam.  The dam backs up the Chagres river and our path through Gatun Lake pretty much follows the path of the Chagres river all the way to Gamboa.  We stopped just after entering Gatun Lake for about an hour.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/gatundam.jpg


While on Gatun we encountered a variety of other vessels including large freighters, tankers, and container ships, work barges, and even a pleasure craft or two.  The Windsong sailboat was following us and I thought might have been sharing lockage with us but did not and instead a tug boat shared the chambers with us.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/traffic.jpg


Most of the Gatun passage is pretty quiet but there is more of interest near the Pacific end, most to our port or left side.  First up was the canal maintenance base with the huge crane Titan, captured from the Germans in World War II.  Our guide said it would soon be retired and a new one was being built.  We will see what “soon” means in Panama.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/titan.jpg


Almost immediately after that we pass the Chagres River.  For many years there has been a narrow, single lane bridge, shared by trains and vehicles.  I have crossed it several times but a new highway bridge, started about 3 years ago is now in service.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/chagres.jpg


Soon after that we pass the prison where General Noriega spent his final years.  Our narrator says another former President resides there now.  Just before the Pedro Miguel lock we pass under the Centennial Bridge, completed in 2003.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/centennial.jpg


As we approached the Miguel lock I went up to the deck 8 porch for a good look at a panga in operation.  The Panama Canal is a fine example of very basic technology applied very effectively to solve 21st century problems.  For all the engineering marvels, the process of raising a ship 85 feet to cross a continental divide starts with 2 men in a row boat.  They carry a rope out from mules (locomotives used to center a ship in the locks) to meet up with a line thrown from the ship.  The linesman on the ship then pull the cables onto the ship and attach them securely.  They have tried alternatives to this system like line guns (too dangerous) and outboard motors (will not always start in a rain forest) and have not found anything as safe and effective as this simple system.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/panga.jpg


On the Atlantic side all 3 of the new locks come right together while there is about a mile gap between the 2 Miraflores locks and the Miguel lock.  While traversing that gap we are looking up at the new canal which is an interesting perspective.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/newcanal.jpg


When we entered the Miraflores locks we were all called up to the lido deck for a group photo commemorating the Prinsendam final transit of the canal.  We had all the passengers gather on deck 11 with most of the crew on deck 12 and the photographers stationed at a high perch.  We will all get a copy of the photo celebrating this event.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/massphoto.jpg


The canal used to have 2 visitor centers, one each at the Gatun and Miraflores locks.  The one at the Gatun locks is closed, probably because it is difficult to reach crossing the new canal and has been replaced by one at the new Agua Clara Locks.  In any case the one at Miraflores is much more modern than the old Gatun one.  It was very crowded as we approached and the ship added to the excitement with a couple of long toots on the ship’s horn.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/viscenter.jpg


Ever since I first visited the canal in 2002 there has been a little used swing bridge at the Pacific entry to the Miraflores locks.  The authority is now in the process of removing that bridge and the swing spans have been removed leaving just a couple of turntable remnants.


We returned to sea level and exited the final lock about 2:40 and passed under the Bridge of the Americas about 3:20, dropping anchor outside Fuerte Amador a little after 4.  Tender service did not start until about 5:45 but tenders were at least available all night.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/americas.jpg


We were all present at table 19. Those who had dined at the Pinnacle Columbus Secrets dinner reported they had enjoyed it but it was very poorly attended..  I opted for the Caesar Salad, Lasagna, and Strawberry Sundae.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/dishes09.jpg


The featured entertainment was the folklore troupe that had been on board for several days, A Taste of Colombia.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/colombia.jpg


I will repeat myself for my parting shot: “The Panama Canal is a fine example of very basic technology applied very effectively to solve 21st century problems.  For all the engineering marvels, the process of raising a ship 85 feet to cross a continental divide starts with 2 men in a row boat.  They carry a rope out from mules (locomotives used to center a ship in the locks) to meet up with a line thrown from the ship. ... They have tried alternatives to this system like line guns (too dangerous) to outboard motors (will not always start in a rain forest) and have not found anything as safe and effective as this simple system.“  Why do we always tend to assume that the newest and latest is better?

Roy

 

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Roy I loved the photos and how you describe everything!! I’ve heard about The Panama rolls but never saw pictures of them. Is it just a sweet roll? Didn’t look too appetizing. I’ll try one when we do our Panama Canal Cruise later.

Hope the progress of healing on your foot is getting better and better !

Talk to you later Roy!!

Enjoy your cruise

Denise😊

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Great report.

 

We have also done quite a few full transits of the canal -- the first one being in 1994 or 1995 on the old Royal Princess ship.

 

We love the Panama BUNs.  I usually have 2 or 3 of them for breakfast.

 

Great pictures.

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1 hour ago, DeeniEncinitas said:

Roy I loved the photos and how you describe everything!! I’ve heard about The Panama rolls but never saw pictures of them. Is it just a sweet roll? Didn’t look too appetizing. I’ll try one when we do our Panama Canal Cruise later.

Hope the progress of healing on your foot is getting better and better !

Talk to you later Roy!!

Enjoy your cruise

Denise😊

I liken them to something of a cross between a roll and a filled donut, something like a bun with a fruit filling (I'm thinking either peach or apricot) in the middle.  I have the same relation with Portugese tarts on Crystal, many people can't get enough I find that while they are tasty they are not really that much better than other things I can get.  Same with the Panama buns.

 

Roy

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18 minutes ago, rafinmd said:

I liken them to something of a cross between a roll and a filled donut, something like a bun with a fruit filling (I'm thinking either peach or apricot) in the middle.  I have the same relation with Portugese tarts on Crystal, many people can't get enough I find that while they are tasty they are not really that much better than other things I can get.  Same with the Panama buns.

 

Roy

Thanks Roy! 🤔... I don’t know if I’d like that much! I will be a trouper and at least try one! How is the weather? Looks like it has been overcast alittle. I bet it’s muggy too! Enjoy your morning walk tomorrow, and hope a sunrise might be in your next blog.

Denise😊

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Roy, when I first looked at Prinsendam in the Miraflores lock, I was totally confused.  I thought you were going in the wrong direction - and I could see the Bridge of the Americas, so I was relieved to hear your explanation.

 

"This transit started out very early.  I was up at 5 and on deck at 5:30.  At that time we were almost to the new Atlantic bridge but it was still too dark to see much of it."

 

1985084495_ScreenShot2019-01-09at11_19_35AM.thumb.jpg.cbe0b60ff82488eab0fdb9cb820d7c93.jpg

 

PS I'm also not crazy about the Panama buns.  Pretty "meh" to me, but I'm not much of a bread eater, either.

Edited by Vict0riann

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11 minutes ago, Vict0riann said:

Roy, when I first looked at Prinsendam in the Miraflores lock, I was totally confused.  I thought you were going in the wrong direction - and I could see the Bridge of the Americas, so I was relieved to hear your explanation.

 

"This transit started out very early.  I was up at 5 and on deck at 5:30.  At that time we were almost to the new Atlantic bridge but it was still too dark to see much of it."

 

1985084495_ScreenShot2019-01-09at11_19_35AM.thumb.jpg.cbe0b60ff82488eab0fdb9cb820d7c93.jpg

 

PS I'm also not crazy about the Panama buns.  Pretty "meh" to me, but I'm not much of a bread eater, either.

Ann, I'm pretty sure you're thinking of the Gatun locks.  The Atlantic Bridge is now getting to be pretty old hat to me as I've sailed the Panama Canal quite a bit and have been watching it the last few years.  My last time (August, after my HAL Grand Alaska combination) I put together a little collage of shots of the bridge:

 

Top Left: February 2016

Top Right: April 2017

Bottom Left: January 2018

Bottom Right: August 2018

 

newbridge.jpg

 

Roy

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Haha!  My picture was from the Miraflores locks - I wasn't up in time to see you at the Gatun Locks.  You can just faintly see a bridge in the background, and that was what put me off.

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Roy,

Thanks for your reply re the crew member.

Your parting shot for the Panama canal is so very true.

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Great reports, Roy.

 

Quite cool that they did the group picture for the last transit of the Panama Canal.

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Roy, when we were in Panama in early October 2018 we saw the southern end and landfall of the Atlantic Bridge on our way to and from the Agua Clara tourist overview of the new locks at Gatun.  The road on the bridge, while not open, was well underway being built.  Our guide said that they hoped to have it open and in use in about 6 months, which would be about March of this year.

Edited by 0bnxshs

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