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John and Diane's Amazing Round the World Aventure

Johnny B

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Oh My gosh, I feel like I am on board again. Thanks for sharing your trip with all of us. I was on the 2006 RTW Cruise with my mom abord the mighty Princendam.

I will have to call mom and read your posts to her, she will get a kick out of it.

I hope your cruise is everything you want it to be. Susiesails

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Johnny B: I'll go blind by the time your cruise is over unless you break your reports into two or three paragraphs!


However, even if you don't, I'll still try to hang on your every word.


Thanks for sharing your trip.

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January 8, 2008


You’ve all been to Disneyland or Disney World, right? Most of you have been on the Jungle Ride, too, right? Well, today we did the Jungle Ride, but the animals and birds were real. We docked at Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, on the Atlantic side, and went on a riverboat ride on the Tortuguero Canals. I swear, the boats even looked like those at Disneyland. We saw two and three-toed sloths, howler monkeys (tossing their babies around the treetops), beautiful green iguanas, and birds without number. I really, really wanted to see a crocodile, but that was not to be. We were on the river/canals for about an hour and a half and, if nothing else, it was a beautiful ride through a mangrove jungle with snowy egrets, white baby blue herons (they turn blue as they get older), and the huge, grand, great blue herons flying overhead. After the boat ride, we spent about a half hour eating some of the most perfect watermelon and pineapple I’ve ever tasted, and washing them down with Costa Rican beer (pretty darn tasty).


On the way back to the boat, the bus stopped at a Dole banana plantation where we saw bunches of bananas (on the tree) wrapped in blue plastic to protect them from critters. The processing area had an overhead assembly line with huge bunches of bananas. First they were washed down by a woman with a hose, and then they were broken into smaller bunches and thrown into cold water to remove any dirt and bugs from the outside. One bunch of bananas had a beautiful green tree frog attached to them, and when it discovered itself in the water, it took a huge leap to escape. Fortunately for the froggy, someone tossed it onto the grass outside, and it (apparently) lived happily ever after. What impressed me the most about the dozens of young people employed there was how hard they worked. We were told later that they must fill 3000 boxes of bananas a day. Our guide even said that he thanks God every day for his job and that he doesn’t have to do such difficult physical labor.


Puerto Limon is a large city (and state) populated by both former Jamaican slaves and Costa Ricans of Spanish descent. As a friend commented, “the downtown looks seedy, but it really isn’t.” There is an automobile-free downtown with stores selling all sorts of things. We went into a well-stocked pharmacy because I couldn’t find my anti-itch cream, and I’ve got a few bites already. The people are friendly, and the market in the middle of town has every kind of fruit, vegetable, and meat one could desire.


Last night was the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party (anything with free drinks gets capital letters) and the first formal evening. It is interesting the variety of clothing that some people consider “formal.” There were elegant beaded gowns, tuxedos, suits, really nice skirts and tops, and then there were the folks in cotton dresses and casual jackets. I guess if folks are paying for a round the world cruise, they should dress in a way they consider comfortable. Officers join tables on formal nights, and we were hosted by Henk, the Hotel Manager, second ranking officer on the ship, after the captain. He’s a very funny Dutchman who bought a great deal of wine for the table. His wife is the Guest Relations Manager, basically head of the complaint department. It’s a job they couldn’t pay me to do, but Christel does it efficiently and gracefully.


On the Regis Philbin front, we saw him and Joy stroll past as we were soaking in the Lido Deck spa this afternoon. Since we figured he probably didn’t want to be bugged, we ignored him and only surreptitiously watched as they headed down the stairs to their suite. We’ve heard that he’s headed home from Panama the day after tomorrow.


Tomorrow is our transit of the Panama Canal, and even though we’ve done it before (in 1967, if you were alive then), it’s still pretty darn exciting. Stay tuned.

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Sounds like you had a terrific time in Puerto Limon. We were there on December 16, 2007 and had a full day of sightseeing that was very rewarding. Part of our exploration took us to the Tortuguero Canal as well. Like you, we did not see any crocodiles, but lots of birds, iguanas, sloths, and lizards. We were especially impressed with the guide's ability to spot the small critters from a long distance - the "Jesus Christ Lizard" - so named for its ability to walk on water, was a highlight.

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You suggested that the Puerto Limon excursion was like Disney World. Well, it is. Walt got all the ideas from the real wild. Every time I go to Disney I realize that I've seen it in real life.


My Mom noted that the rides were like the rides from the World's Fair in the 30s. I guess there isn't much new in the world. BUT, it is new to us and that is what is important.


Enjoy your sea days!!!



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January 10


The Panama Canal is amazing. Even though we’ve been through before (when God was a boy), it still manages to be fascinating enough to get nearly everyone on board up at 6:00 as we entered the first lock, Gatun. The geography of it always confuses me, though. Somehow, I have it in my head that the canal should go east and west, but no, it has to go north and south. We entered from the Caribbean (north) side and proceeded through the Gatun locks into Gatun Lake. We stood and watched as the ship was guided slowly by “mules” into each lock (three on this side) and then just continued watching as the water was added until we were at the right level for the next lock. Originally, real mules pulled the ships through, but when they were replaced by little trains, those vehicles were still called by the original name.


A little background: The first recorded idea for a canal was when Balboa suggested to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1513 that it might be a good idea. The idea was kicked around until it was eventually taken seriously during the Gold Rush of 1849. There was an overland railroad, but after 150 men, women and children died from cholera under Grant’s administration, the idea was dropped. Ferdinand de Lessups, the designer of the Suez Canal, tried to construct a canal beginning in 1880, but after eight years, flood, heat and disease drove out the French. Using the French ideas, the Americans took over and the canal was officially opened in 1914. We were told by our lecturer that it costs a large cruise ship an average of $200,000 to traverse the 48 miles of the canal.


We sailed slowly across Gatun Lake so that we didn’t get to Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks too early. Even though there are two channels at each lock, traffic only goes in one direction at a time. It seems (and I am only guessing here) that in our direction, we could only traverse the Gatun locks in the morning and the other two in the afternoon.

We went through all three sets of locks alongside the Regent’s South Seas Mariner, and it was great fun in the morning to watch all the people spectating from their balconies in bathrobes.


Last night’s entertainment was folkloric dancing by Panamanians, and the colors of their costumes were brilliant. It was interesting, after watching about five dances, to realize that every dance we saw was a courtship dance. We were impressed by their dancing ability, but we were told by a Panamanian woman today that if a Panamanian cannot dance, he or she is laughed at. So those of you with two left feet need to be grateful that you weren’t born here.


It was a long day, but everyone seemed energized by the activities we watched. However, all that excitement had to come at a cost, so we collapsed into bed about 10:30, the earliest so far on the cruise. Even though this was only our 6th day on board, it seems as though Ft. Lauderdale was months ago. (Panama will be continued tomorrow)

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