Panama Canal Cruise – Day Nineteen

We are now getting ready for our last two sea days before landing in Vancouver.  We had breakfast delivered again but it was too cold to go outside.  The seas were especially rocky last night and pretty rough this morning.  There was a lot of rocking going on.  Here is the one downside to having the bigger room.  They are on the upper floors and the higher you go on the ship the more it rocks.  Not good.

Gail was off to the spa for a body wrap early in the morning.  She barely made it back before seasickness overtook her.  I’d been feeling queasy all morning so after I got her a couple of Gravol we spend most of the day in bed….in our own beds just in case you were wondering.

I wasn’t quite as bad so I went up to the Lido and got us some crackers and green apples to help counteract the upset tummies and then a little later was able to order lunch for us that would stay down.  Since we are in the Superior Verandah Suite we get to rent free DVDs so I went to the Explorer Lounge and got “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”.  So for the afternoon we stayed in bed and watched TV – reminiscent of my trip to Hawaii with another friend, Marlene, a couple of years ago.

Fortunately, the seas died down and so did the stomach rocking, so we were able to get dressed and head down for the Formal Dinner – the last on this cruise.  One of our group, Michael, needs a gluten-free diet and he has been amazed at the wonderful meals that have been served by Holland America for him.  He has to pick from the next day’s menu beforehand and then they prepare the same delicious meals we have but to his special dietary requirements.  I don’t think he will ever want to leave the ship.

After dinner we went to see the Westerdam Dancers and Singers perform again and then off to the Queen’s Lounge for 50’s and 60’s Prom Night.  That was a lot of fun.  Charlie and the HAL Cats mixed it up so there were both slow and faster twisting songs – music for everyone.  There was another contest where one of the entertainment staff would be told where to walk to and then wherever she landed that couple would get a free bottle of champagne. Well, guess what?  I did it again.  Another bottle of champagne to share with my friends.  I could get used to that.

As per usual we then spent the rest of the evening rotating between the Piano Bar and Northern Lights disco until after 2:00 am.  We’ve been trying to figure out how to get room service in a bar rather than our separate rooms for the middle of the night.  I’m sure glad we were feeling better tonight.

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Panama Canal Cruise – Day Eighteen

We arrived at Avalon, Catalina early in the morning.  Catalina is such a beautiful island with a cute little shopping area, wonderful restaurants and interesting architecture such as the Casino.  The Casino in Avalon isn’t a casino as we have come to known them now but rather reverts back to the old meaning of Casino which is a “gathering place”.  It’s a place to have concerts, meetings, shows, etc.  John Tesh used to have piano concerts there.

It was a beautiful California morning so my new roomy, Gail and I had breakfast on our verandah relaxing and basking in the sunshine. Being in a Superior Verandah room meant we could order breakfast in the morning rather than put a card out the night before.  Just something a little different.

We took a tender over to the island and proceeded to do some shopping.  We found that the further you get from the pier the better the deals got.  If you are planning on visiting the island, making sure to take plenty of cash or traveler’s cheques as a lot of the bike, golf cart, scooter rental places do not take credit cards.  Several people from the ship did the golf cart route as you can see a lot more of the island than if you are just walking dapoxetine 30mg.

We met up with most of our cruise friends on the island all pretty much doing the same as us – shopping.  Count Kody, Ann, Diane Fast, the Piano Bar entertainer and myself met for lunch at this great restaurant that Kody goes to every year but we can’t remember the name of and had 1 litre lagers and calamari steak.  It was amazing.  It appeared to be a very popular place as a lot of the ship’s entertainment staff were lunching there as well.

We all managed to make it back on board in time for sail away and enjoyed the music of Charlie and the HAL Cats on the Lido Aft Deck.  It was the eighteenth beautiful day of our cruise.  I can’t believe what great weather we have had on this trip.

There was a whole new bunch in the Piano Bar tonight as we had taken on hundreds of new people in San Diego.  There were 3 couples from Calgary, Alberta, Canada that are even more wild than us.  I don’t think we can keep up to them especially since we have had 2 prior weeks of fun and frivolity.

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Panama Canal Cruise – Day Seventeen

Disembarkation Day for those ending their trip in San Diego.  This was the worst disembarkation I have ever gone through.  US Immigration and HAL were totally disorganized.  Immigration required that all non-us citizens register whether they were disembarking or not and would not let anyone off the ship until everyone was accounted for.  This took about 4 hours where it usually takes an hour or so.  Some people missed their flights home because of the delay.

Normally disembarkation happens in waves.  People are issued tags with a colour and number of it and when their colour and number is called, they can proceed to disembark.  After the shemozzle with immigration Cruise Director Jimmy announced that everyone could get off the ship now.  Can you imagine 2000 people all trying to get through one door at the same time?  What a nightmare.  Fortunately our group managed to stay together and find the bus for the city tour they were going on.

Since I had to change rooms yet I decided not to accompanying them on their tour so Rick was on his own from this point on with the group.  There were lots of hugs and bittersweet goodbyes to go around.  Our group from Niagara were wonderful and I enjoyed spending time with them and they seemed to enjoy having me around. 

After I got settled in my new Superior Verandah Suite, I took a pedicab to Seaport Village.  The driver was a neat lady who gave me a little tour of the waterfront on the way.  I’ve been to San Diego several times before but decided to take the Trolley Tour anyway and was glad I did.  We had an absolutely crazy driver who could spout off unlimited information about the city and its history. 

I got back to the ship after the lifeboat drill which was really a good thing.  I’d already done all that when I first came aboard.  Then I met my new group from Calgary:  Gail, Janice and Michael.  Gail and I are sharing the Superior Verandah Suite.  I would highly recommend travelling in a room such as this.  It is twice the size of the regular stateroom with a huge bathroom and lots of room to move.  And there are all kinds of little niceties that you don’t get in the other room such as a beautifully soft bathrobe, free DVD rentals, 24-hour concierge and more.  Even if you can only afford a short cruise, it’s worth trying out this life.

I don’t know if the spin doctor managed to blog on this day as he had a lot to do with the group to get them settled in their hotel and take them to the zoo, but you can still check him out at CAA Niagara Travel 

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Panama Canal Cruise – Day Sixteen

Last day at sea for the first leg of my voyage.  Thank God.  It’s just a couple of days too much.  Rick and I met with our group and then took them to the Disembarkation Briefing and Crew Farewell.  The staff here have been totally confused by the fact that Rick leaves tomorrow and I continue on to Vancouver.

The Mariners’ lunch was today. Every Holland America cruise has a Mariners’ lunch to thank us for travelling HAL.  They have different lapel pins and medallions based on the number of days you’ve sailed with Holland.  There were some people there who have sailed 500-1000 days.  They must the ones that use the cruise lines as their retirement home.  It is a pretty good deal- cheaper than a home.

We had a “dress rehearsal” for our Passenger Cabaret.  Rick had to change his comedy routine as Cruise Director Jimmy did “stupid cruise questions” at the disembarkation talk.  His new act is much better anyway.

We went to the dining room to a final dinner schmooze with our guests but didn’t stay to eat as we had the pre-performance jitters. The Passenger Cabaret Performance was presented in the Queen’s Lounge and it was packed.  All of our guests and the great people we have met during the cruise were there, as well the other performer’s friends.  It was pretty exciting to have such a big crowd.  Everything went off well.  The performances were great and we had a really fun time.  There goes my 15 minutes of fame…

The rest of the evening was spent singing in the Piano Bar and dancing in the disco.  This is the last night for a couple of our nightly group so it’s a little sad so know our group will be changing shortly.  There should a whole bunch of crazy Canucks joining us in San Diego for the last leg.

For more info go to CAA Niagara Travel


Panama Canal Cruise – Day Fifteen

3rd day at sea.  Another packed day with the Songwriting Seminar and Passenger Cabaret Class.  The show is really coming together.  With all of the great songs written about our missing Mexico Diane decided to merge the two classes so that the songwriters would have their works debuted at the Cabaret.  It should make for a really unique and fun show.

Lunch today was a California Cookout at the Lido Pool with all kinds of Tex-Mex food and BBQ steak.  It was another beautiful day so we took our plates out to the Aft Pool and relaxed with some Coronas.  You can tell everyone is getting a little antsy being stuck on the ship for so long.  Fortunately, as usual, there are lots of interesting things to do and its fun to see what events your friends and acquaintances partake in just to have something to do.

There are several passengers with dance experience – dance instructors – and they kindly volunteered their services to teach their fellow passengers how to dance. Today’s lesson was the Cha Cha.  We didn’t have time to participate as we are still working on our Passenger Cabaret Show

The Westerdam Superstar Finals were on tonight.  The three finalists were very talented.  Bob is an older gentleman who not only sings but writes beautiful love songs about his wife of 54 years.  2nd place went to Art from Vancouver who likes to do the standards – Frankie, Tony, etc. and 1st place went to Jeannie from California with her lovely voice and great stage presence.  It was a fun evening.

Tonight was the Dessert Extravaganza in the Lido mid-ship pool area.  The chocolate and ice sculptures were pretty cool.  What do you do with the ice sculptures after they melt? (Another stupid cruise question).

For more information go to CAA Niagara Travel   

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