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John and Diane's Amazing Round the World Aventure

Johnny B

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Heavenly and wonderfully written... Puerto Limon and the Canal sound outstanding!! I'm there with you!! Taking notes for the time I TRULY get to do this!!!


How has it been with clothes. Have you realized you've taken too many or not enough??? Loved your comment about formal night...

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January 11, 2008.


If it’s true that Walt Disney got some of the ideas for Disneyland from real places, we know where he got the ideas for the Disneyland tram and for the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. Yesterday we took an HAL tour called “Aerial Tram and Ecological Encounter.” We tendered into Fuerte Amador, Panama, about 20 minutes away from Panama City, and then took a bus about half an hour into the rainforest. You know how you get a mental picture of the area you’re going to visit? Well, Gamboa, a town along the Panama Canal, is the least likely location of a luxury hotel of almost anywhere I’ve ever been. It used to be American Army housing, and now it’s a really lovely 4-star hotel set in hundreds of acres of rainforest. We had some time to look around and enjoy the untouched pristine surroundings before picking up a naturalist and continuing to a setting deeper in the rainforest. We saw the recreated village of one of the seven native Panamanian tribes and then went into the Butterfly House, the orchid preserve (if only ours looked so good), and the reptile house. You have to understand that the last was a visit made under duress and only so as to keep up the family honor. There were pythons, boas, and all kinds of creepy creatures, as well as Caymans, Panama’s answer to the alligator (yeah! I finally saw some).


The best part was kept for last, though. We drove a little further into the rainforest to a point where we boarded an aerial tramway to travel about a mile and a half quietly and peacefully and 50-75 feet over the floor of the jungle. It was absolutely magical, like we were invisible travelers who could watch everything going on without causing any disruption ourselves. We saw toucans, iguanas (in the trees, no less), heard howler monkeys (that sounded like panthers screaming), and then arrived at the turnaround point where we got out and climbed a 70-foot tower that looked, for all the world like the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse at Disneyland. Our reward was an incredible view over the canal and the rivers which feed it, a view that we would have had to fly over to have otherwise. (I forgot to mention yesterday the sheer beauty of the canal transit). On the return leg of the tram, we saw the funniest little white-faced monkey who jumped from branch to branch of an enormous tree on one side of the tramway and then crossed over and entertained us from the other side. Oh my gosh, I hope those photos come out!


One of the things that struck us was that, while Costa Rica gets a lot of credit for eco-tourism, Panama does an wonderful job of it too. In fact, because of the huge amount of water needed to feed the canal, they really must be very careful to preserve their rainforest.


On the way back to the ship, we learned that Panama has 3 million residents, and that 1 million of them live in Panama City. I swear, it could have been New York City, for all the huge high-rise buildings. Donald Trump is currently building a skyscraper which will be the tallest building in Latin America (surprised? I think not). There is a lovely little section of old Panama which we wanted to visit, but got back to the ship too late to leave us enough time.


So, when you’re planning your next cruise, if you haven’t transited the canal and seen some of the surrounding areas, we highly recommend it.

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John and Diane,


Thanks so much for giving us such a wonderful picture of the rainforest and the aerial tramway with your description. We did the Panama transit last year on our way from Vancouver to the Amazon but unfortunately we did not stop and I would have loved to have done the tour you were fortunate to choose and do.


Your writing is fantastic and I am enjoying each port you visit.



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Loving your review !!! Can't wait for more !


In my opinion, teachers are the hardest working people in any industry ! I am so glad you both are getting to enjoy this, you deserve it !!!


Unfortunately for teachers in my area they would not be able to afford such an extravagant vacation on their retirement !


Thank-You so much for taking precious time out on your vacation so we can feel like we are taking this journey with you :) !!!

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We have been cruising with our children 12 and 8 for the past 4 years. They could live on a ship if we would let them. Every now and again our youngest wants us to become dancers so we can sail as entertainers! We are awaiting our 8th cruise with them on the Noordam this coming March. They enjoy reading your reports of your fantastic adventure...want to know when they can retire and sail the world! Thanks for the ride. Take care. Erin, Rob, Sara, and Oliva

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John and Diane I am following your journey and really enjoying it! We were on the Amsterdam for 2 weeks preceeding your cruise and disembarked (sadly) on the day you embarked. Could you say hello to everyone at your table and send some love to them from Jessica and Scott, it would mean a lot to us. We enjoyed every single tablemate you are dining with so much.

Cheers to your cruise and keep the reports coming.

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January 12, 2008


“What in the world are you going to DO for 114 days?” is the question people most often ask (or demand) when we tell them about this cruise. When we point out that there are many ports we’ve been looking forward to seeing for years, they then want to know how in the world we’re going to fill the 61 days at sea. Actually, those are days that we look forward to, and right now we’re on day 2 of 8 days at sea between Panama and the Marquesa Islands.


We discussed the question above at our dining table one night and everyone laughed at it. One of our friends said, “The question is really how are we going to be able to do everything we WANT to do during the cruise?” We did hear a rumor at dinner last night that one couple got off the ship in Panama because they were “bored,” but how anyone can be bored on this ship is really beyond us.


Each evening, we find a program of the next day’s activities left by our room steward (after he cleans the room, leaves fresh towels, turns down the bed, and leaves chocolates by the bedside). The top of the program details the featured activity or speaker. That’s where we learned more about Regis Philbin and read about Gary Pudney, today’s speaker, an ABC television producer who is scheduled for several talks about his life in television and all the gory details about Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Grace, Princess Diana, Julie Andrews, Carol Burnett, and Lucille Ball. We went today, and he did put together an entertaining collection of anecdotes and film clips about Elizabeth Taylor.


“Today at a Glance” details all of the day’s activities, beginning with 7:00 AM body conditioning and continuing through Catholic Mass, Protestant Bible study, dance class, bridge, “Create your own bloody Mary,” Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament, Afternoon tea, Friends of Bill W., competitive sports of all types, (56 separate activities today) and on and on until tonight’s Black and White Ball at 10:15 in the Queen’s Lounge, followed by 50’s and 60’s music in the Crow’s Nest at 11:30. The nicest part is the very last entry: “Clocks Go Back One Hour” at 2:00 AM Sunday. Traveling west is really quite wonderful; we keep getting extra hours of sleep.


Our own day has some constants and a lot of variables. We generally get up around 7:00 and go to the gym to work out for about 45 minutes. The gym sits on the front of the ship on the 9th level, so the view is outstanding. We go directly from there to the Lido for breakfast, and then worry about showering and dressing for the day. Then it’s usually around 9:00 or 9:30. Sometimes I go to the Protestant Bible study, but I am going to get to that Tai Chi class one of these days. John loves the Sea View Pool on the back of the Lido Deck, but Diane tries to stay out of the sun most of the time. One nice thing about mornings is that there are always coffee and cookies around somewhere, and on the back pool deck they bring around iced team and lemonade mid morning and mid afternoon.


We do A LOT of reading. In fact, we brought a library of about 30 books,(it was free shipping after all), and as soon as we’ve both read a book, it goes to the ship’s library, either for their shelves or for the exchange cabinet. The Explorations Lounge, by the way, is the combined library/video selection/internet access (if you don’t have a laptop), and a very fine place it is, with lots of comfortable couches and chairs as well as a wannabe Starbucks next door. We do check email once a day (cabins are wified) and at the end of the month, the internet will be used for bill paying. We should have autopay, but we don’t, although I think that’s going to be done after we return.


John attended a French language speakers got-together yesterday and met a lot of French Canadians, and right now he’s meeting with one of the group members to practice. Lunch is almost always on the Lido deck, since we do like to eat outside as much as possible, although we much prefer dinner with our friends in the dining room.


Everything on the ship seems to be later than at home. We get up later, eat later, and certainly go to bed later. Naps are an important part of the day, too. I’m sorry to go on at such length, but there is, indeed, lots to do. All that eating is important, you know, and tomorrow I’ll tell you about it.

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People were bored? :confused: They left the ship? :rolleyes: They gave up the co$t of the cruise! :eek:

I'm amazed they didn't have a better handle on just what they were getting themselves into. Oh, well. Their loss.

Continued thanks for the continuing posts. :)

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Thanks for taking me along! Hearing about Panama & the canal was just grand...we plan to transit the canal with the family next spring...

The Grand Voyage is the main reason I go to work...it is on the WISH LIST!


I can't wait to read your daily happenings!



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Thanks for the wonderful postings!!

Unless I hit the powerball or have my only rich relative leave me some money, this is the only way that I can take the world cruise.

Did I read right that a couple left the ship because they were bored??

I guess it's better that they left now than continue on and whine and moan. That also tell me that they didn't fully research on the world cruise.

Enjoy your sea days!!

Happy sailing!!

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