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Diego to Panama & back!
we spent 21 days cruising down the western coast of Mexico and Central
America, then into the canal itself to turn around and cruise back up
towards San Diego. But before leaving the Panama Canal we took a
trip back across the continent to the Pacific Ocean and returned to the
ship, thusly crossing the continent twice, to say nothing about the
first cruise to the Atlantic Ocean, then the next morning back to the
Pacific - giving us 4 trips from ocean to ocean! All within 24
Now that's a fast moving experience all in itself!
since I had gone to Germany for the first time, on our first, really
true, cruise (trans-atlantic! mind you!), I'd wanted to experience a
cruise where I'd be at sea for several days - at least. Generally
it is somewhat difficult to be "at sea" for more than a day or two at a
time, unless you are going trans-some-ocean or other. People,
apparently, don't wanna be lost at sea for such a long time, and opt
out for flying to some distant city where they can pick up a cruise
that'll be stopping almost every day at some new port of call. To these
kinds of travelers a cruise ship is nothing more than a hotel to park
their clothing and sleep at. To me it should be far more, perhaps
because of those first trans-atlantic cruises from New York to Germany
in 63-64, the lost at sea has an amazing quality to it. That
cruise took place just weeks after Kennedy's assassination, over the
Christmas holidays during which time I was in my wife's homeland for
the first time - and my first Christmas with snow. I looked
forward to experiencing the same kind of voyage at sea when we took our
first Mexican cruise down the west coast in the mid-70's. But,
alas, it was 7 nights but two days in ports, so not much "at sea"
time. Then when we went to Alaska, we flew to Canada for Los
Angeles, and it was port stop after stop almost every day. Plus
we were within sight of land almost all the time. Horrors! That's
not being any where near "at sea"!
So, I'd wanted to see some Mayan Ruins, especially those in CHICHÉN
ITZA, so the Caribbean Cruise was
set into motion and I finally got a dream come true - insofar as ruins
are concerned - and seeing the Caribbean is a super plus. But no
long days at sea! But we were beyond sight of land at those times
when not stopped in some port.
The frustration of just one or two days in the ocean was a "learning
experience" or sorts. The lost at sea was out of the question. By
now, though, I'd gotten used to this kind of treatment I'd almost
given up; but had decided there were some 21 or more day cruises. And
when the Panama cruise came into being as a round trip from San Diego,
with only ten stops, I leaped at the chance. This time I was
willing to accept the ports of call and enjoy them for what they were
and to enjoy the days at sea as they came alone. This cruise offered as
many days truly at sea as they offered on land!
There is a kind of beautiful sense of being in some other dimension or
world when surrounded horizon to horizon by water. And I managed
to re-experience this kind of thrill. In our trip to Germany that
first cruise we'd been at sea from 6 days going and 11 days coming
The Panama Cruise turned out to offer up as much as I could have hoped
for - at last! Even unexpected dancing!
I have to confess that the Panama Canal
was never a major attraction to me one way or the other. I
understood the importance of it, naturally, but as a cruise destination
in and of itself it seemed (and is) somewhat of a "ho-hum" kind of
thing. Worth experiencing as a go through - obviously many people
disagree with me limited point of view. Why, then, pick this as a
cruise? Well, 21 days certainly appealed to me, and a round trip
without the necessity of flying, and the idea of seeing some of these
Latin American cities and town and countries was quite inviting.
Even then, I discovered the Panama Canal to be quite interesting and
worth experiencing for what it is - simply not as a sole and only
The trip in total was rather a strangely different kind of experience.
This might have been the destinations or it might have been the general
mood I was in that caused this kind of reaction. The ship itself
was smaller than some we'd been on before. It is the same ship
Holland America uses to go around South America - a trip I originally
figured would be an ideal one since it goes into bays where one can
experience glaciers - something Brigitte had missed in our Alaska
cruise (much to her great disappointment). But that cruise
required some serious flying time to and from! So we had opted
out for the Panama destination which delighted Brigitte more than
myself. [I suppose I'm just a narrow minded egg-head - scrambled
with canned cream!] But I sure enjoyed the dancing and the social
events of the ship itself. In fact what I was seeking most of all
was a combination of both ports of call and the enjoyment of a
cruise liner itself. We've experienced bigger ships and,
perhaps, more flashy ones. The Galaxy was much flashier.
The Wind which took us through the Caribbean was larger.
Brigitte would be delighted in taking a cruise on a smaller ship; I'd
like to get one of the biggest and go on it! Why not? But
chances are we'll never do either. Perhaps another major cruise in our
It is rather
exciting to take go on a cruise for 7 days, but even more so when the
time frame is extended a bit. Seven days is hardly long enough to
get used to the ship, to learn how to get from one point to the other,
let alone find your cabin! After the first week you are far more
comfortable and can relax and enjoy things without fear of getting
lost. By the middle of the third week, though, you feel pretty
satisfied and ready to consider the possibility of returning home.
Shorter trips leave you hungry and frustrated for more more more!
A DANCING MATTER!
There was a lot of
dancing going on, too. And like most dance people, they kinda of
clung together, becoming quite
a friendly group. Most were single, but it wasn't a serious
matter; all that counted was that somebody was there to dance
The lady to the right said she wanted to live
at least 10 more years cause then she'd be 100. I couldn't
believe it! She was a fantastic dancer, and had been on more than
70 cruises - and was taking them once a month! All she required
was that there were dance hosts; and her travel agent saw to it that
any ship she was booked would have the required number of dance
As is mentioned
throughout this CD we too a cruise in 1973 on the Sitmar's FAIRSEA.
Well as a BONUS I've included the pictures I took during that trip,
most of which are not of great quality, but they do reveal what we saw
back then and how that differs from some of the things we saw on this
So try out: