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2023 Grand World Voyage with The Inside Cabin


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13 hours ago, Sharon in AZ said:

If you can please tell Henjie hi for us, Sharon & Craig. He was on our Med cruise June 2022 Oosterdam. He will probably remember because Craig was in covid jail during that cruise and he was very nice to me since I was alone. 

Henjie says hi.  He hopes to see you on another ship soon! 


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Puerto Limón (Post#7)

By The Inside Cabin on Jan 08, 2023 12:39 am
Click "Show More Posts" to show all the links to the other posts for the 2023 World Cruise


Puerto Limon Feature

We enjoyed street food in Puerto Limon and climbed on the world’s largest chair (sorta)

ofLeaving the ship was like walking down a deep canyon.   We were between the Zuiderdam and the Volendam and the sun was blocked out for most of the day.

cruise-ship-canyon.jpgCruise Ship Canyon!

The port had several nice props for people to take photos with the name of the port.   


selfies-2.jpgLot’s of props for guests to use in their pictures

The welcome band was playing the same song – over and over again – as we walked out toward the town.   You may not have noticed it if you keep moving.  It was catchy and fit the mood of the port nicely.


Near the exit from the port security area there is a craft market selling every tourist item you could possibly desire – from post cards to snacks, from costume jewelry to more expensive items.   One of the common opening lines we learned was “Not from China” as the vendors were eager to point out that their goods were all made locally.   Well, at least the one’s from the booths where they were making this claim.

inside-craft-market.jpgInside the craft market

Judy bought some silver, flower earrings, a bracelet, and a small bag.

judy-with-bracelet.jpgJudy with local artisan – posing with her bracelet

It was much cooler near the ships, and once we left the port area, it started to feel more humid and sticky.   The streets were busy with many people selling items from tables set up along the sidewalks. 


I always enjoy trying street food – and as long as it is grilled and thoroughly cooked I have never had a problem.    The young women selling the Carne Asada on a stick asked if I wanted it Spicy – Sure I replied – not sure what I was getting myself into, but while it was a little tangy,  it was more on the mild side of spicy hot – but it was good – Three Dollars.

street-food-770.jpgLooks good! $3 a stickstreet-food.jpgI got the spicy version – not too hot!

Young men gathered near the park outside the gate and were eager to point out the Sloths in the trees.   I couldn’t make them out, but Judy was able to spot them. 

entrance-to-port-area.jpgEntrance to the port area from the town

On our way back to the ship we came across the largest chair in Costa Rica! – not sure that’s true, but that’s my story and we are sticking to it!

worlds-biggest-chair.jpgThe worlds largest chair! At least in the port area!

It’s nice to see Henk and the other senior officers at Sail Aways.  I spoke with the Executive  Chef at the Sail Away and he said that he portion sizes have remained unchanged for years – I have heard reports that they are smaller, but they look the same to me.   FWIW.

Volendam.jpgSunset on the Volendam as we both left port at about the same time

The food in the MDR remains wonderful – the service is great.   

Steven Scott was in the Rolling Stone Lounge for his second show – packed!  We went to the Main Stage where Lincoln Center performed its second show of the cruise.    The 9:30 show only had about 50 people, but we heard that the 7:30 show was well attended.   


We transit the Panama Canal tomorrow



The post Puerto Limón (Post#7) appeared first on The Inside Cabin - Exploring the world from the inside cabin.



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2 hours ago, The-Inside-Cabin said:

The Capt and Henk said this was the first time either of them had seen two HAL ships side by side in the same locks.....Has anyone else seen this before?

No but it must have been eerie to see an R Class ship out of your cabin while on the GWC. 🤔

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I occasionally see ships from other lines in the canal together...its not usual to have them side by side, as most often the lanes are going opposite directions, plus the procedure seems to be to have an empty lock between ships.  I did have a couple of days in Nov. when there were sisters at Gatun together.  I posted it in the Panama Canal board under Ports of Call:


Oosterdam and Eurodam





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3 hours ago, Essiesmom said:

I occasionally see ships from other lines in the canal together...its not usual to have them side by side, as most often the lanes are going opposite directions, plus the procedure seems to be to have an empty lock between ships.  I did have a couple of days in Nov. when there were sisters at Gatun together.  I posted it in the Panama Canal board under Ports of Call:


Oosterdam and Eurodam






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Masks no longer required as of 7 AM tomorrow.   I was at the Sea View pool - crew started dancing when the Capt made that announcement.     


We got a memo saying to expect poor internet until Tahiti.   If I can't post here - check my twitter feed for updates -  @theinsidecabin 

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19 minutes ago, The-Inside-Cabin said:

Masks no longer required as of 7 AM tomorrow.   I was at the Sea View pool - crew started dancing when the Capt made that announcement.     


We got a memo saying to expect poor internet until Tahiti.   If I can't post here - check my twitter feed for updates -  @theinsidecabin 

Enjoy the break and Magellan's "Peaceful" Ocean. 

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January 8th 
bow sign feature

Panama Canal Transit by day – and Panama City at Night

We approached the Gatun Locks early in the morning at first light.   The Volendam was ahead of us, and we would follow her throughout the day.

Volendam-1.jpg We follow the Volendam thru the Gatun Locks C-B-and-P.jpg Cindy, Pete and Brad

One benefit of a canal transit as part of a World Cruise is that the prime viewing spots are never very crowded.   Most people on world cruises have been through the canal before, and they are less likely to camp out for the whole day during the transit.

Not-busy.jpg Deck 9 observation area while approaching the Gatun Locks

Holland America is well known for Panama Canal Rolls.   These tasty pastries are featured during every scenic transit and are renamed to fit the occasion.   Today they are Panama Canal Rolls.   Soon enough, they will be Sydney Opera House Rolls or Cape Town Rolls etc.   You can find the recipe HERE 

crew.jpg Holland America crew provides the best service on the high seas. panama-canal-rolls.jpg Panama Canal Rolls

The Cruise and Travel Director, Ian, provided commentary throughout the day.

While we followed the Volendam thru the Gatun Locks, we were side by side as we transited the final two sets of locks, the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks.   We knew a few people on the Volendam, and many crew members had friends on each ship, so there was a lot of waving as we were quite close most of the time while in these locks.

volendam-2.jpg The Volendam was side by side during our final two sets of locks

The bow was open and accessible on Deck 4, and you could get to the Deck 9 viewing platform by walking thru the Spa area.   The Crow’s Nest was also popular but not very crowded.   You could find an empty seat whenever I stopped by during the day.

visitor-center.jpg Watching people wave from the Miraflores Visitor Center is one of the highlights of a canal transit.

Panama City, or Fuerte Amador, used to be a tender port but now has a long pier that handles two cruise ships simultaneously.   We moored around 7 pm and were berthed alongside the Volendam.   We would part company tomorrow, and she would head south on her Grand South America cruise while we continue west on our Grand World Voyage.

While tenders are no longer required, you must take a shuttle bus to leave the port area due to the massive construction underway as work on the future cruise terminal and road network continues.  The last time we were here was in 2018, and there have been massive changes, with many more shops and restaurants available near the ship.

There were two options for leaving the ship- the shuttle bus to the nearby shops or a different shuttle bus to a nearby Multiplaza Shopping Mall.

Our plan for the evening was to head out to Old Town Panama with about 16 others for dinner and some drinks and nearby rooftop bars.   @Richwmn, from our Cruise Critic Roll Call, used to live in Panama and had some contacts who could organize our evening tour.

We had a nice dinner at Nomada Eatery.   We enjoyed Steak Arrechera (Adobe Marinated Beef Steak) after some Pumpkin soup.   During our dinner, a man at a nearby table, with a large group, arranged to have flowers delivered during their dinner, and then he produced an engagement ring and proposed.  From her reaction, we were fairly certain she said yes.

proposal.jpg She said Si!

After a short walk, we headed into CasaCasco, “a perfect blend of antique and avant-garde divided into five floors, where you can enjoy three fabulous restaurants and a Terrace (Rooftop) with a panoramic view of the city”  We headed to the rooftop bar where we enjoyed our choice from a nice selection of specialty cocktails.

Our final stop was the Selina Rooftop bar.  We arrived around midnight and the bar, located on the 6th floor, was full of young local people dancing and enjoying recorded pop music.  The views were spectacular and we could see a nice full moon, along with a view of the Volendam in the distance.

roof-bar.jpg Cindy and Brad enjoy drinks at CasaCasco

We returned to the ship around 12:30 am after a wonderful evening.

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4 hours ago, The-Inside-Cabin said:

Grand Opening of Library today at 9 AM - Capt was present to make some remarks


1800 total books - not 1800 unique titles - many duplicates


Books checked our on honor system - 2 at a time.  Looks the same as the Rotterdam



library open.jpg


I hope they add this to the Eurodam before our cruise in Oct 2023.  

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street art feature

We explored the Two Faces of Panama as we visited El Chorrillo and the Casco Viejo historic district

In every port we visit, we always try to see something unique to the local area.   Sometimes there is an interesting geographic feature or historical place.   There are always interesting people, and the challenge is to try and find a way to meet them in a relatively short period.

Cooking and food tours are often a great way to meet people and sample some of the local cultures.  They are usually our first choice in most ports.  In Panama, we discovered Victor’s tour, “Two Faces of Panama”   Here is a link to his Facebook page.  

Here is the tour description:

“Get off the beaten path with Victor and see where boxer Roberto Duran trained, learn about how the U.S. invasion of Panama affected this neighborhood, try local food and drinks, visit the park where dominoes are played, chat with the locals in their homes and get to know the people of this area, and learn about the gentrification that has taken place in the now trendy Casco Viejo historic district.”

I set up the tour using WhatsApp – Victor responded quickly, and we arranged our meeting time and place.  Normally Victor will meet you in the Casco Viejo area, but since we were arriving on the Cruise Ship – he was able to arrange for transportation to and from Fuerte Amador for an additional charge.  The driver would meet us at 10:15, and the tour would start at 11 am.  Treat this port like a tender port, as it took us about 25 minutes to get a shuttle bus for the short ride.  Once the terminal is finished – this will be a very nice port.

ship-pier-terminal-construction.jpg The road to the pier is dirt and there isn’t a sidewalk – taking the shuttle bus is mandatory


bus-line.jpg Long lines for the shuttle bus to the shopping area near the pier where you could get taxis Port-area-770.jpg This shows the location of the old Tender Pier and the new shuttle bus drop-off area

Selecting a meeting spot was a little confusing since many people still remember the spot when cruise ships were tendering.  We agreed on a Gourmet Ice Cream Place called Gelarti which is very close to where the ship’s shuttle bus arrives.

Christian was our tour guide, and we started at 11 am in front of the same restaurant bar we visited the evening before, CasaCasco.  The 6 of us from the Zuiderdam were joined by a family of 4 from Toronto who was visiting Panama on a land tour.

street-art.jpg Christian discussed the history behind many of the colorful murals we encountered local-residents-2.jpg Our Tour guide, Christian, talked to a resident about her life in the neighborhood.

Today, January 9th, is Martyr’s Day, a national holiday in Panama, and most stores and museums were closed.  You can read more about Martyr’s Day HERE.  Martyrs day remembers the 22 Panamanians killed in a clash with US Forces in 1964.  The violence resulted from disputes involving flying the Panamanian and US Flag, but the underlying issue was the US ownership of the Panama Canal Zone in perpetuity.  This incident was one of the major events that led to the U.S. decision to transfer control of the Canal Zone to Panama through the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties in 1999.

Our tour started in the very upscale Casco Viejo historic district, which has been heavily developed over the years and has forced many of the original residents to find alternative places to live – which was often difficult or impossible.  Our tour covered these Two Faces of Panama as we moved from Casco Viejo into the El Chorrillo neighborhood.

The contrast between these two areas was stark, and Christian shared many of the issues and challenges facing the residents.  The El Chorrillo area was once very violent and controlled by gangs, but while an increased police presence has restored order and safety, the area remains economically depressed.

hat-repair-shop-770.jpg A large Panama hat is a sign that this is a hat repair shop

Walking along the streets, we discovered residents raising roosters for legal ***** fighting.  We also spent time in a small park playing dominoes with some local children.

domino-player-770.jpg Several dominoes games were in progress as we watched pete-playing-dominoes.jpg We played a game of dominoes with a young boy from the area fighting-roosters.jpg Cockfighting is legal in Panama.

We enjoyed lunch at the Copacabana restaurant, which served our choice of fish or chicken along with some local beer.  The food was excellent, and we continued to learn more about the area as we ate.

We stopped here for lunch We stopped here for lunch local-lunch.jpg Fish and fried plantains – very good.

Most of the shops were closed today due to the Holiday, so there wasn’t much of an opportunity to do any shopping.  The streets were likely less crowded than they would have been otherwise.

World Champion boxer Roberto Durán grew up in El Chorrillo, and there were several large murals of him painted on buildings in the neighborhood.


While the tour covered about 4 miles, the pace was leisurely over level ground.  We enjoyed the tour very much and recommended this to anyone who wants a different perspective of Panama City.

cafe-coca-cola.jpg The Coca Cola Cafe is full of history, over 100 years old and one of the few establishments allowed to use the Coca Cola name


Back on the ship, we were startled by a brilliant flash and a simultaneous canon shot from a lightning strike with a thunderclap.  The Captain announced later that the strike damaged one of the antennas and cracked a window.   There were no injuries, and the damage would not impact our cruise.

The movie “Panama” was shown on the main stage.  We rarely watch movies while on a cruise, and we chose to watch the College Football Championship game instead.

Port-area-2-770.jpg The ship provided a shuttle bus to the MultiPlaza Mall

Tomorrow is the first of 8 sea days as we head across the Pacific to Nuku Hiva.

Edited by The-Inside-Cabin
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