A Travellerspoint blog

Day Thirty Five - Busy Day at Sea

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Sunrise was due at 05:48, I was there but massive clouds blocked the sun from showing through. It appears that the region is experiencing a number of tropical storms. The ship is showing little sign of the slight sea and the wind across the deck is not uncomfortable. There is a full set of enrichment lectures scheduled so we should be kept fully occupied throughout the day.

Starting before 10:00 we selected our 'regular' seats in the Theatre in readiness for the technical presentation by the First Engineering Officer. All the hidden features that make the ship work were covered. From the massive diesel engines that drive the alternators to generate the power to drive the propulsion system. Sounds complicated but electric motors turn the main propellors and the side thruster. The ship also has a gas turbine which is used when the ship is operating in a location where there are restrictions on exhaust emissions. Masses of information.

Stayed in our seats for the Shore Excursion presentation on Cartagena and Aruba. The main aim is to sell ship's tours but along the way we were shown a number of highlights for these two destinations. We have tours booked and see no reason to cancel or change them.

A very short break and Bruce Vancil launched his presentation on what sank the Titanic. It appears that there are a number of theories which have had followers at certain times but Bruce is convinced that detailed analysis by credible experts has determined that the entry of water into places it was not intended is what sunk the ship. A number of design faults as well as timing circumstances all contributed to the disaster.

Another short break and Bill Keene spoke at some length to another 'full house' audience. A captivating hour of diagrams, images and figures that described the need for the additional lanes in the Panama Canal. A massive operation employing about 33,000 workers and costing billions of dollars. Given the size of the project it is surprising that it is within 10% of budget and mere months behind schedule on completion. It is expected the the extra lane will be operational early in 2016. His show finished a mere 10 minutes before the Afternoon Movie started, the full house trying to exit while the movie crowd tried to get in caused quite a chaotic tangle on the stairways.

Yes we stayed for the Afternoon Movie. Starring Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson - The Longest Ride was a captivating movie and we were pleased to have stayed there but it amounted to about seven hours in the Theatre and no lunch!!

On our way back to the cabin we were struck by the potential for a great sunset. I went down and collected the camera. Jenny joined me at the stern of the ship on Deck 7 for almost 40 minutes as the sun, the clouds and the sea provided an incredible show. I captured over 60 images with many of them suitable for enlarging, framing and hanging on the wall. Yes I was excited. To add some spice to the sunset we watched a large pod of dolphins cavorting in our wake.

Finally made our way to the Horizon Court for a light dinner before returning to the Theatre for an entertaining show by Glenn Smith and the Coral Princess Orchestra. The show consisted of a free-flowing collection of music from blues to rock'n'roll with the musicians obviously enjoying themselves.

Tomorrow is a tendered port, San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua.

Today's images is one of this evening's sunset, hope you like it. You can view the image by following this link to my main album.

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

Posted by greynomadm 20:52 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

Day Thirty Four - After The Storm

Monday, 28 September 2015

Woke up this morning to a generally calm sea after some significant pitching of the ship overnight. Tried to go to the outside decks to see if there was a sunrise. All external decks were still closed. All of the deck furniture had been lashed down and all the pools drained. I've never seen the pool deck stripped naked like that. A fine misty rain added to the desolate feel of the ship. By 07:00 the deck crew were hard at it to tart-up the old lady.

Today's activities are somewhat limited in my sphere of interest with a destination presentation by Bill Keene. He attracts a full-house and he again provided an excellent coverage of Costa Rica in general and our destination of Puntarenas in particular. After seeing his images we reviewed our booked shore excursion and were happy to stick with what we've booked. We booked these excursions with the option to cancel as we came closer to the port.

A brief light lunch and I attended a short talk by Bruce Vancil as he quickly covered the 'short' history of the Los Angeles Steamship Company which sailed a variety of ships between Los angeles and Honolulu. The demise of this company was hastened by the introduction of regular air travel in the late 1960s.

Called in at the Future Cruises desk to cancel one of our cruises booked for next year. We've decided to cancel the mid-year cruise out of Perth and instead add some extra time in Europe before we sail on the Emerald Princess from Southampton in September next year. Been talking to an American and he mentioned some of the WWII historic sites and Jenny has expressed interest in visiting Amsterdam again. We've also considered some coach tours in Britain while we are there. Sorry I digress, he can't change the booking because it was booked in Australia, seems strange.

It is a formal night but we can't be bothered getting all dressed up. We did change out of our day-time gear and had dinner on the Horizon Court. I finished up with a bewildering array of flavours on my plate. Certainly gave the old taste buds a bit of a thrill. Young Cris, the young pastry chef, insisted I try a chocolate cake pie, WOW !!

Joined an almost full house in the Theatre for almost an hour of quick-fire quips from Scott Wyler. He managed to hit on every ethnic group and subjects from politics to sex. Very funny even if one or two of the names of local celebrities went over my head. His best lines were aimed at 'dumb Americans' when he asked an older chap if he liked last night's ventriloquist, the old guy said he didn't think much of the man but the manakin was very funny. Go figure.

Another sea day tomorrow and a full set of enrichment lectures.

This morning's image of the naked pool deck made quite an impression. You can view the image by following this link to my main album.

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

Posted by greynomadm 20:27 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Day Thirty Three - Approaching Heavy Weather

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Another sea day today as we sail SouthEast towards our next destination. Walked around the upper decks before the sunrise and captured the rising sun into a generally cloudless sky.

A busy morning of lectures starting with a presentation by Bruce Vancil on the subject of Ocean Liners and Art Deco. Using images from the original ships and the Travel Posters of the time he showed how the two elements were used to create that air of elegance of that era.

Next in the theatre we were shown a video which documents the history of the Panama Canal. It was produced for Princess and will be part of the video package being offered for sale. The size of the project is unbelievable both in financial cost and the loss of lives during the construction. The economic benefit for the region and the impact on world trade were also covered.

With just a short break we sat through the Destination Lecture by Bill Keene on San Juan Del Sur. Bill's presentation style and his clever use of the technology makes his talk both informative and entertaining. Despite the increasing turbulence of the ocean and the forward location of the Theatre every seat was occupied. We've reviewed our booked Shore Excursion and have decided that most of it repeats our visit in March so we've cancelled.

Next on stage was one of the Third Officers to present a lecture on Navigation at Sea. At the end he fielded a range of questions which he handled with all the aplomb of a seasoned lecturer. He admitted this was his first time on stage and his Irish charm and wit endeared him to his audience.
An announcement from the Captain warned us of increasing swells and wind being generated by a Tropical Storm to the South West. He has set a course close to shore to reduce the impact. All pools have been drained and many public areas are only sparsely populated. It was just after 15:00 before we left the theatre and made it up to Deck 15 for a hot-dog and fries. The wind was so strong some of the fries were blown off the plate.
Not many people in the Horizon Court for dinner and no competition for window tables especially those facing forward. With the pitching motion of the ship it is a bit disconcerting to be seeing almost nothing but sky followed shortly by a view of nothing but white-capped waves. I find it best to only glance at it intermittently. There's no point testing fate.

So far we haven't felt queasy. When walking along the ship we find we're learning the Coral Princess Three Step, one step forward, one step to the side and one step backward. Takes a while to get anywhere. Went to the Theatre for ventriloquist Don Bryan's show. Nice mix of new material as he 'played with his dolls'. Some very funny quips.

This morning's sunrise are the only images captured today. You can view the collage by following this link to my main album.

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

Posted by greynomadm 04:37 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Day Thirty Two - Cabo San Lucas

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Early in the morning we arrived in Cabo San Lucas Bay at the Southern tip of Baja California. Our meeting time was 07:45 for the tender ride to the port. There was the usual delay as the ship positioned itself to provide best protection from the wind and swell. The tender provided an exciting ride with the crew handing out sick-bags during the 10 minute trip. Unusually in my experience there was even a wheel-chair bound person aboard. Normally you need at leased limited mobility.

Our tour started with a drive through the town and a visit to the Glass Factory. Quite an extensive facility that melts down recycled glass bottles to create beautiful art objects. We were treated to a demonstration by one of the artists as he quickly created a turtle with a sombrero. The obligatory gift shop was crammed with many objects in a bewildering range of colours, sizes and shapes.

A short distance along the highway we stopped at a restaurant where we were treated to a cold drink. The second floor provided an excellent view back to the Bay where our ship was riding at anchor. Also in the Bay was the Crown Princess and they made for a pretty picture on the deep blue water.

The coach took us along the coastline to San Jose del Cabo past many extensive and expensive resorts. The economy of the region has been completely changed from fishing, including one-time a fish cannery, to now tourism and related services. The resorts have extensively planted gardens and even golf courses in an environment that is fundamentally desert with less than four inches annual rainfall.

The City Hall, the Town Square and the Spanish Mission of San Jose del Cabo were all immaculately clean and looked to be freshly painted. The remnant decorations from the recent Independence Day celebrations provided unexpected sparkle under the blazing sun. We spent some time visiting a number of stores selling silver, glass and pottery objects. There was also some amazing bead-work consisting of wooden carved objects decorated with thousands of tiny beads.

Back on the coach and we drove the 30 minutes or so back to Cabo San Lucas where we joined a long queue of passengers waiting to board a tender back to the ship. Members of the ship's crew provided us with chilled towels and cups of iced water. They were certainly needed as the temperature was well over 30 °C and there was only limited shade. The line moved surprisingly quickly and we were soon aboard a tender and back to the ship. Rarely has the air-conditioned cool of the ship been such a relief.

Glasses of iced lemonade and some food restored our hydration and after some last-minute snaps from the open deck we both adopted a horizontal position on the bed. No great surprise that we didn't wake up until after the ship had retrieved the tenders, raised the anchor and was on her way South once more.

A lovely collection of flavours from the Mexican Taco counter made for an interesting dinner. Topped that off with a generous slice of pecan pie and we were well on the way to being sated.

Tonight's entertainment is limited to a 'Piano Entertainer' with no further description, we've decided we can have a better time reading our books. In case you remember, I have been reading the book about the bombing of Europe during WWII. I'm about two thirds through and it has been a revelation with details about the effectiveness from both sides of the conflict. It also exposes some of the questionable actions by commanders at the highest levels. War is certainly a dirty business.

The ship is thundering along at 20 knots I believe we're trying to avoid a meeting with a patch of bad weather. It looks like something to keep an eye out for.

That's about it for today other than to report an alarming 'blue screen' on the laptop when we returned aboard. I switched it off, gave it a break for an hour or so and it now appears to be functioning normally.

Today's image is of the Spanish Mission in San Jose Del Cabo. You can view the image by following this link to my main album.

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

Posted by greynomadm 18:39 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Day Thirty One - Second Sea Day Baja California

Friday, 25 September 2015

The open deck temperatures are increasing as we enter the more tropical zone along the West coast of Baja California. The humidity is also increasing and as a result I'm having problems with condensation on the camera lens. The sunrise was short of spectacular but quite interesting.
As it is another Sea Day my schedule is determined by the timing of the lectures and other events like lunch are adjusted around them. The slack time in between is soaked up reading and writing and occasionally snoozing.

First up was Bill Keene with a comprehensive pop quiz on facts and features of the Panama Canal. It has a long and chequered history and over the years has collected a number of myths, he not only dismissed them but explained how they originated. The canal is oriented North South not East West as I had assumed. The canal is owned and operated by the Panamanians not Chinese interests as may be assumed from the ownership of some of the port facilities at either end. The fact that made the greatest impact on me was the almost US$ 500,000 it costs Princess to sail this ship through the canal. With about 2000 passengers aboard that works out at about US$ 250 each all included in the ticket price of course.

Bruce Vancil drew the short straw, his lecture was scheduled for 12:30 and I suspect the low attendance was due to the conflicting priority of lunch. He spoke passionately about the illustrious career of the RMS Queen Mary, the last surviving example of her class now a tourist attraction at Long Beech in California. She served as Cunard's fastest liner between England and the USA for over 30 years, for five of those she was commandeered to serve as a troop transporter. Her regular passenger compliment was about 2,500, when rigged for troops and refugees she carried about 15,000. These numbers are from memory and may be inaccurate to some degree, perhaps you should add '-ish' after each of them.

Despite a very long list of activities from 13:00 on into the evening, we have nothing specific highlighted until 19:45. Just made a quick count and the number of activities comes to 30. So there is plenty on offer, there just isn't anything that interests us. We spent part of the intervening time on lunch and dinner, reading, watching TV and yes even a short nap :-)

Had dinner in the Horizon Court and finished it off with a generous slice of Black Forest cake. The young pastry chef who cuts and serves the cakes has been very attentive and engaging. he uses that old line "Once the cake or pie is cut all the calories drain out". I certainly hope he's right.

Went to the show in the Theatre where the performance by Wayne Hoffman left me trying to rationalise what I witnessed. If ever a performance can be called 'incredible' this mentalist's performance fully qualifies. His feats defy credibility. I saw it happen but I don't believe it.

Tomorrow we're in port and we have a shore excursion booked.

Today's image is of a simple sunrise with a slightly fogged lens, I like it, hope you do too. You can view the image by following this link to my main album.

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

Posted by greynomadm 20:02 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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