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Monday, October 4, 2010

Panama Canal Cruise — October 3, 2010 – Day Ten

Day nine was an at sea day so I did not have too much to report. Day ten was our Panama Canal transit day so I will have some things to report. I will not say too much about the Panama Canal as I will leave that to my newsletter, however, I am posting captioned pictures and I will tell you a little about our day transiting the Canal.

Our day began at 0430 when we arrived at Balboa to await our pilot and be cleared for the transit. As we were a big cruise ship and paying $287,000 dollars to transit the Canal we were given priority. Just before sunrise at 0610 we began our transit by entering the canal and making for the Miraflores Locks, the first set of locks on the Canal. By now the decks were crowded with onlookers and I had to elbow my way into positions to get my shots.

It was difficult to show much of our ship passing through the locks, but I could get some good shots of our neighboring ships passing. We also had a one hour delay at the entrance to the Miraflores Locks due to a medical emergency. A senior citizen slipped and fell breaking his hip and he had to be evacuated to a hospital in Panama City. We found out later that he was okay and would be going home soon. This delay gave me an opportunity to get some good shots of he other ships passing through the locks.

After the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks and crossing Miraflores Lake we reached Gatun Lake. Gatun Lake is a manmade lake that was created by a damn to hold the water to control the locks. It is one of the major attractions in Panama. We would be leaving the Radiance vis tender for the shore to visit the Gatun Locks so we could witness a ships passing at ground level and for an eco cruise of Gatun Lake itself.

Both tours were interesting and the time spent at Gatun Lock allowed me the opportunity to get some shots of Holland America Ryndam from the level of the men who work the canal. The eco cruise was interesting for two reasons. One, we had the opportunity to see some of Panama’s flora and fauna and second we passed through what used to be the School of the Americas where so many special operations forces and foreign troops were trained until the school was closed when we gave the Canal to Panama. The only inhibitor to our fun was the expected daily tropical rain.

What I want to talk about now is some of the people of this ship. For starters the elderly English are pretty bad. They seem to have a sense of entitlement about everything and when things don’t go exactly the way they expect they get upset rather quickly. They also tend to be know-it-alls, which can be fairly annoying.

Next are the elderly fat women. If you ever want a role model to help you lose weigh take one of these cruises. They can barely get around and more than a few ride around in those electric scooters. They are bitchy and rude. The men aren’t much better. Most of them have trouble walking or some other malady. It’s like traveling on an AARP hospital ship.

Now for my best example of people I would not want to be associated with. There are three couples seated at the table to our right in the dining room. Imagine a clock face with the six o’clock pointed directly at our table and the three o’clock to your right. At six o’clock sits a man who I will call Al Gore. I call him this because he brags that he voted for him and believes he is the greatest fellow in the world. At four o’clock sits his mousy wife with stringy brown hair. She doesn’t have much to say and if she did would not be able to get it anyway. At two o’clock is Mr. Know-it all. He tends to dominate the conversation and from what you can hear you know he is a big liberal. He thinks Obama is wonderful and has an opinion that he is willing to share on just about everything.

Moving on to ten o’clock we have Mr. Know-it-all’s wife, an aging hippie from a bygone era. She has stringy dirty blond hair and wears no makeup or lipstick, a real “earth” person. She probably is a member of PETA and donates to Save the Whales and Greenpeace. She doesn’t say much and keeps her head down most of the time as though she has been totally intimidated by her husband.

Know we come to the nine o’clock position and no doubt the most obnoxious person of this sextet, Mrs. Boobs-hanging-out. Every night she comes to dinner with a dress cut so low you would think her breasts were held in with glue. She is constantly bending over so Mr. Know-it-all can look down her cleavage while his wife looks down at her plate as praying that Mrs. Boobs hanging out would go away. Mrs. Boobs-hanging-out doesn’t have a mouth, she has a red outlines gash on her face. Her voice is louder than Phyllis Diller and she cackles rather than laugh. She is a real dream to be teamed with for dinner.

Finally at seven o’clock we come to Mrs. Boobs-hanging-out’s husband who sits out of view behind a pillar. I can’t say much about him except he speaks with a Scottish accent. I can occasionally hear him agreeing with Mr. Know-it-all, but he is usually drowned out by Mrs. Boobs-hanging-out. Last night we did not go to the dining room as we returned to the ship in Colon rather late after a long day of lock viewing and eco touring so I am anxiously awaiting another evening with our neighbors at the table to the right.

If this sounds as though we are not having fun it is just the opposite. We are having a great time touring, participating in ship board activities, eating and people watching. Five days to go and then the worst part, boarding an airliner.

This has been an at sea day and I have been able to catch up on my photo uploading and blogging. Tomorrow we will be in Cartagena, the drug exporting capital of the Caribbean.

Click here to view an updated version of my Panama Canal Gallery.

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