A Travellerspoint blog

Sailing in the Region of Panama

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The morning started with a depressing solid overcast and fog. Temperatures are moderate and the humidity is high. The sea is calm and there is only a light breeze. In the Horizon Cafe there is an ominous sign that the health state of the ship is deteriorating in that salt & pepper shakes have been removed from the tables. Cutlery is normally placed on the tables wrapped in a napkin, now only available from the stewards.

Jenny is making a return visit to the doctor and has been diagnosed with a bronchial infection. She's been given a number of medications and advised to keep using her puffer. She's been told to report back if her condition worsens. There are a significant number of people with cold and flue symptoms.

While Jenny was at the doctor I attended a Culinary Demonstration in Club Fusion by the Chef de Cuisine of the alternate dining options. He made a proud claim that all food served on Princess ships is prepared on board. The way he put it, they don't have scissors or can openers. Nice generalised statement and generally true.

We met up to attend the lecture by Robert Schirn, today's topic being the Menendez Brothers brothers who murdered their parents. I'm sure it was interesting but I went to sleep about 20 minutes into the talk. We had a pie each for lunch from the International Café. Decided not to attend the movie and Jenny's asleep as I write this.

Had a visit from Mary to tell us that she and Donald wouldn't be there for diner. Donald's cough has got worse and he's seeing the doctor. We had a quick diner, the show was at 19:00 tonight and we wanted to get out early. Went to the Theatre to be entertained by Oli Nez who played a number of instruments. A particularly moving piece was backed by images of Wales and the sounds of a Welsh Male Choir.

In case you've wondered what the food options are here is a brief overview. The regular dining options are all 'free' - no extra charges.
Michelangelo - any time dining 17:30 to 22:00
Botticelli - 1745 (first seating) and 20:00 (second seating) - Traditional
De Vinci - 07:00 to 10:00 breakfast, 12:00 to 13:30 lunch, 17:30 enhanced diner and 19:30 to 22:00 any time dining
Horizon Court - 05:00 to 06:00 continental breakfast, 06:00 to 11:00 breakfast, 11:30 to 15:30 lunch, 15:30 to 17:30 snacks 17:30 to 24:00 diner buffet.
Café Caribe - 12:00 to 13:30 - theme lunches
Trident Grill - 11:00 to 23:00 burgers, fries and hot dogs
Pizzeria - 11:00 to 23:00 four styles of pizza.
Wheelhouse Bar - English Pub Lunches - some days
The International Café - 24 hours light snacks and deserts

Additionally there are two alternative dining options, reservations required and cover charge.
The Crown Grill - 17:30 to 22:30 - red meats and seafood - generous portions, refined dining.
Sabatini's - 17:30 to 22:30 - Italian Cuisine cooked to order.

Finally there are waffles, ice creams, snacks, canapés and even popcorn served at various bars and functions. Perhaps you can see why an element of weight gain is inevitable.

Tomorrow we will be in Puntarenes, Costa Rica where we have a shore excursion booked.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 19:51 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Crossing The Equator

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Today started with one of the most spectacular sunrise displays for the cruise. There was a perfect combination of clouds, colour and even a fog bank to brighten up the day. Schedules for today are a bit awry because of the visit from King Neptune at noon today. After breakfast we made our way to the Theatre for an early lecture by the Destinations Lecturer. Since the introduction of the simulcast on stateroom TV there is less crowding in the Theatre but there was a good crowd anyway. Today's talk was about Costa Rica in general and San Jose and Puntarenes in particular. Looks like an interesting place.

We stayed in the Theatre for a talk by Robert Schirn, today's topic being the trial and acquittal of OJ Simpson. He left me in no doubt that OJ was guilty and should have gone down for the double murder. The physical evidence was overwhelming in favour of a guilty verdict.

At noon we met with Al and Deb and had lunch in the dining room. First time we've done this on this cruise and rather surprised at the extensive menu available. I think my choice wasn't the best but it was alright and I probable ate less than I would have at the Buffet.

I had all kinds of good intentions on return to the cabin but decided to 'read' for a while. After picking up the Kindle from the floor for the second time I figured I might as well give up. Before I knew it almost three hours had passed and it was time to dress for the Formal Night.

Had diner by ourselves as Mary and Don didn't make an appearance. With nothing better to do we decided to go to the Theatre for the Production Show "Stardust". It was a delightful show featuring many old songs beautifully presented by the Orchestra and the Singers and Dancers, Not exactly a cast of thousands but there were up to 24 artists involved.

We've received another 'Crossing The Equator" certificate. To the best of my reckoning that makes six each. Any more and we could start papering a wall with them. It is unusual for the two-way crossing to be recognised another indication that in some ways this cruise is treated as three back-to-back cruises.

Another sea day tomorrow as we sail further North off the coast of Colombia to Puntarenes.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 20:36 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Sea Day Off Peru

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Today marks the first sea day of three. These days are my 'normal' where events and timings are almost predictable. The sun rose as predicted but failed to impress due to various layers of clouds. Spent some time on Deck 19 but failed to capture any noteworthy shots. Usual routine of breakfast followed by some lectures, lunch and the afternoon movie.

The first lecture by Robert Schirn covered the development of DNA profiles as a tool in criminal investigation and prosecution. He also presented a number of case histories where the DNA from 'cold cases' resulted in convictions many years after the event.

Next up was Jeffrey Davidson on the topic of how to keep current in a world of rapid changes. The basic concept as I understand it is to make space for new things and remove clutter. He suggests that rather than spend hours trying to learn a new technology from a manual, find a twenty-year-old to explain it to you.

I had a manner of good intentions regarding lunch and was seduced into the Wheelhouse Bar for an English Pub Lunch. The 'fish and chips' were terrific. Caught up with Jenny who had skipped lunch and then went off to see the Afternoon Movie in the Theatre. It was the story of Stephen Hawkins - "The Theory of Everything". I knew who he was but didn't know how he grew up, struggled with his affliction and that he had three children. The acting was superb.

Had a lovely diner with Mary and Donald and went on to tonight's show. The hypnotist Matthew Fallon started with a lot of hype and continued in a loud rapid-fire voice. I stayed in the hope it would get better. Forty minutes into his 45 minute show I was still looking for the good stuff. Not likely to go to his show again. A waste of good sleeping time.

Clocks go back another hour overnight and sunrise will be at 05:35. We continue to sail North and the "Crossing the Equator" ceremony will be held at noon.

Two more sea days on our way to Puntarenes in Costa Rica.

f you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 19:30 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Callao (Lima), Peru

Monday, 9 March 2015

View 2015-02 South America on greynomadm's travel map.

The ship sailed into the busy port of Callao just as the sun battled with the fog which obscured the city. There was little time to wait as we were scheduled to rendezvous in the Wheelhouse Bar at 08:00 for our three hour city tour. The driver of our coach looked very familiar, I suspect he may have been the same as yesterday's. Our guide tried valiantly but her school taught English was difficult to understand at times. She admitted that she'd never even visited an English speaking country.

Our driver managed the difficult task of navigating through the chaotic rush hour traffic. Our first stop was the spectacular UNESCO World heritage site of the Plaza Mayor with its magnificent Cathedral and the Presidential Palace. Our tour continued past many opulent hotels and splendid examples of colonial Spanish buildings. We stopped at the "Indian Markets" for our last opportunity to stock up on unique Peruvian keepsakes and presents. It was barely past 10:00 and many stalls were still closed. Jenny spent a lot of time trying to track down that perfect item.
Back on the coach for a short trip to the area of Miraflores where we wandered through the "love" park and looked down to the Pacific Ocean below. Due to the lack of rain any plant life requires daily watering. An army of gardeners and a fleet of water-tankers keep the many public gardens looking great.

Back to the ship by just on 12:30 for a refresh and a substantial lunch in the Horizon Court Buffet. Lots of images to review and these brief words to write. We intend to fill in some time with a siesta and will head down to the Theatre for a 17:00 folkloric show by local dancers. Diner will be delayed.

I decided to forgo the siesta and climbed up to Deck 19 to watch the port operations. Of particular interest was the unloading of some form of yellow granular product from a bulk carrier using a clam-shell attached to the crane. The pattern of pipes and manifolds on a tanker also intrigued me. It appears that there are about 32 separate sets of pipes. Unfortunately the tanker was in the adjoining berth and I wasn't able to take an overall photo.

There was also a significant Peruvian Navy presence, I counted over a dozen vessels. There could have been more, most of them were double parked and a fair distance away.

The folkloric show by "Tierra Mia Peru" was fantastic and easily the best we've experienced. The six multi-talented musicians played the haunting melodies I associate with the 'pan pipes'. The drummer performed a solo using what looked like a wooden crate and just his hands. Just the music would have been terrific but there was also a troupe of dancers, two principle - one male, one female and a chorus of four males and four females. They danced with grace, vigour and lots of energy, each of the four sets in different and beautiful costumes.

The show went for a full hour so it was after 18:00 by the time we arrived in the dining room. Despite the late start and no doubt due to the lack of people dining, we were out of there before 19:00. Walked along the promenade deck to see the port lit up with a multitude of lights. 'All Aboard' is 20:30 and we should be on our way to the start of three sea-days by 21:00. I'm likely to be asleep before that happens.

Three sea days on our way to Puntarenes in Costa Rica.

f you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today
Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 18:16 Archived in Peru Comments (1)

San Martin (Pisco), Peru

Sunday, 8 March 2015

View 2015-02 South America on greynomadm's travel map.

After witnessing a murky sunrise the ship performed an about turn and found her berth at the most desolate wharf of any we've visited. There is no significant infrastructure and the most obvious sign of civilisation was the presence of five Peruvian warships. This part of Peru is a desert and the shoreline is dominated by enormous sand-dunes.

We met in the Wheelhouse Bar to be escorted onto the coaches for the ship's Shore Excursion to the complex of Tambo Colorado. The coach was comfortable and guide most informative.

We drove for almost 30 minutes to make our way to the nearest sign of a population, the village of Paracas, the local city of Pisco is a further 15 minutes away. Sand-dunes, bare sandy areas and ramshackle 'cottages' were dotted along both sides of the road.

We joined the Trans American highway for a while then turned inland towards the Andes Mountains. As we approached the foothills the landscape change with large fields growing green crops of corn, cotton and wine grapes. Most fields are protected from the frequent dust storms by high walls or windbreaks formed by plantings of eucalyptus trees. The nature of the 'cottages' did not alter though and it was difficult to determine if they were under construction or left as a ruin after the earthquake.

Travelling through what appeared to be a small village the coach comes to a complete stop. There's a lengthy and rapid conversation between the driver and a female person outside his window. Our guide explains that it is a check by the transport authority, he says repeatedly "I have no idea why". Next thing the driver gets out and we see him opening the luggage bins under the coach. More discussion. Now the guide gets involved and by this time there are four or five Princess Tour coaches pulled over. The latest demand from the official is a "list of passengers". Our guy doesn't have one so he borrows one from another coach. Our guide gets back on and shakes his head, repeating "I have no idea why". Eventually we are permitted to proceed.

We arrived at Tambo Colorado, one of the best preserved adobe ruins of Peru. The purpose of this complex cannot be accurately determined but it is believed to be an administrative centre and an army base in the time of the Incas. What is not in doubt is that the site had been occupied by at least four previous cultures.

The scale of the structures is amazing and pays a lasting tribute to the capability of the Incan architects and engineers. Apart from the nearby river course the area is barren and desolate. The extremely low annual rainfall ensures that the adobe remains are not likely to be washed away. We spent almost an hour marvelling at the clever use of the available resources. I was surprised that the Spanish Conquistadors did not lay waste to the place.

On our way back to the ship we stopped for a brief time to see the manual weaving of exquisite fabrics which are crafted into beautiful handbags and purses. The enterprise is designed to provide employment for local women. Their creations were fabulously beautiful but much too expensive for our budget.

On our return to the wharf, Jenny poked around the offerings at the market of stalls that had been set up. There was quite a collection of passengers with most of the men standing aside and watching wives trying to score a bargain. By the time we'd unloaded our gear and refreshed it was too late for the afternoon movie so we will fill in the time reading or taking a nap. It was very hot and dusty out today.

Just as well I have an alarm set for 1700, we'd have slept through diner. Lovely meal with Don and Mary, they didn't do a tour today but spent some time shopping at the market stalls. After diner the entertainment for tonight was a very funny, fast-talking New Yorker. Tom Briscoe fired off an endless string of jokes, most good for a belly laugh, some worth a chuckle and a few only worthy of a groan.

Port day in Calleo (Lima), Peru tomorrow.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 19:38 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

(Entries 16 - 20 of 63) « Page 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »