Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main! From San Diego, my parents joined Josée and I on the Celebrity Infinity for a short jaunt down the Pacific coast to the Panama Canal, eventually arriving in Ft. Lauderdale – here’s a rough map. It was our first cruise and a sort of ‘replacement trip’ for our ‘diving with Great White Shark’ expedition which was postponed. Neither of us were sure what to make of the cruise. We both enjoyed it: great service from all crew members; wonderful shows and lectures; top notch fitness facilities (which we actually used most days!); and tremendous culinary experiences! In addition, we partook of some land tours arranged by the ship as well as arranged our own. That said, I think it was a little too much time on the boat for us and a type of travel not particularly suited to us as we prefer to spend more time in one locale. We enjoyed the cruise but will probably focus our travel adventures in other directions going forward.
The cruise had two ports of call in Mexico (Cabo / Pt. Vallarta) but it wasn’t until Costa Rica and Guatemala that we started having a few adventures. Both experiences were great and we loved what we saw of both tiny countries; we’ll be back for longer stays for sure. Guatemala saw us spend some time driving through coastal plains, flanked by a multitude of active volcanoes, eventually to arrive in a tiny village on Lake Atitlan where we had lunch and strolled around. Costa Rica was fantastic; we took a small boat along the Tarcoles River which swarmed with crocodiles and birds; got soaked, quite literally, as we rode through the rain forest canopy on a tram. Both countries looked like must visits so I’m sure they’ll get on our list.
The Panama Canal was an experience of awesome magnitude. I’d watched some documentaries and read some articles about the canal construction but nothing prepared me for the sheer size and engineering elegance. It was amazing watching massive ships slowly raise or lower a total of about 30 metres as the locks, built a century ago, spilled about 100 million litres per ship. Three sets of locks, two on the Pacific side and the largest man-made lake (Gatun Lake) helped us transit the 80km or so from Panama City to Colon on the Caribbean coast. Our ship was a PanaMax class which means it is the largest vessel capable of transiting the canal; you’ll see in the slideshow below where we have less than a metre of space between the ship and the canal-side.
One pleasant surprise was the old colonial city of Cartagena, Columbia. Extraordinarily well preserved and maintained, safe and walkable, the old city was the gem of our trip. We walked the streets for a couple hours, visiting a shopping area located in the old slave market, an old cathedral plaza and a house originally owned by Francis Drake.
Overall, we had a great time relaxing with Mum and Dad. We met a lot of nice people including our two new friends Rob and Teri from Maryland. Please enjoy the pictures and if you have any questions about the trip please ask!