Our Panama Canal Cruise Adventure on the Coral Princess April 2014


Thursday April 17, 2014 Fort Lauderdale

Coral Princess from Parking Garage

Drove to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) at 9 am. It was overcast and rainy. We arrived to the port around 1230 pm. Nicer terminal leaving from Pier 21. We were late leaving because of the loading of food. We dropped our bags and met Jeffrey, our cabin steward from the Philippines. We told him about our beds, robes, mattress pads, and ice. Went to the buffet since it was after 2 pm by the time we ate. Steve and KIP went to register her for the teen club (yeah there’s teens on board-due to it being Holy week!). I went to unpack and organize. We had muster in the Princess Theater. Then went to Bayou to get a reservation for Monday after Easter for KIP’s birthday. Then we dropped our life jackets back off in the room and decorated our door for Easter.

Stateroom Stateroom Bathroom
Stateroom Door Stateroom set up with drop down bunk

Went back to deck 7 to get more maps of ship, get our future cruise credits and Ruby pins. Looked at the shops. Came back to change clothes, eat dessert at Horizon. Then on to comedian Scott Wyler’s show, then to Explorers lounge for trivia. We got 17 out of 24 correct for 3rd place. Back to room to download pics, see tomorrow’s Patter and go to hot tub. Found out hot tubs close at 10 pm so no hot tub or ice cream tonight.

Friday April 18, 2014 At Sea

Didn’t sleep last night. The walls in the cabin creak. It sounds like styrofoam rubbing up against itself. Started the day off with a nice breakfast in the Horizon Court. Saw small islands off the side of the ship. We looked like we were sailing right into a storm but it disappeared. Weather was great today. Very windy on the decks. Then went to Explore Ashore which was a talk about port excursions with pictures. KIP went to the Team Trivia challenge in the Explorer Lounge. Her team scored 17 tying again. Then they lost the tie breaker. Walked around until the Cruise Critic gathering at 11 am in the Wheelhouse Bar. Some officers and crew came and introduced themselves and told us about our destinations. After that we ran down to the Art 101 talk but didn’t stay too long. Kip was studying in the library. She has AP tests when we get back. We then had lunch in Sabatini’s with personal pizzas, they were just as good as the Island Princess’.

Then KIP and I came back to nap and Steve went to the port talk with Chris Robert’s who is the guest lecturer on this sailing. He stayed for the Panama Canal video which he said he fell asleep in.

I woke up and walked around and saw them getting ready for Pictionary in Crooners. Eventually I went to tea in the Provence Dining Room with a table full of Canadians until KIP showed up. KIP and I went to get a frappaccino afterwards with our coffee card. Then I went back to the room washed my hair and got ready for formal portraits. We were able to get to about 7 stations for pictures. Then we changed into casual clothes and went to HC for dinner. KIP went to Teen Club but they were at dinner so she ate with the counselors. Then went back with them.

I changed and went to the hot tub with Steve (he didn’t get in). KIP came along and got ice cream and sat with me in the hot tub. We were in the solarium by ourselves. Steve left to go to learn how to play craps.

I came back to journal and get comfy in bed. Got an invitation to the Captain’s Circle exclusive. We might go because there is a drawing for Elite status for this trip.

I watched Chris Robert’s on the stateroom’s TV about the ports.

Cuba from deck of Coral Princess Main pool on Coral Princess

Saturday April 19 At Sea

Not too much to do today. Basically just relaxing. Watched the Wake Show and had room service breakfast delivered. Steve went to a photography class then to the casino. I went and checked out the$10 sale and KIP went and studied. KIP and I did the Chicken Little Hunt but we only found ½ of the20 chicks that were hidden. They gave us 30 minutes to look on 3 floors to find the eggs with chickens painted on them. Prizes were chocolate bunnies.

The pastry chef did a lot of chocolate eggs and they have them displayed in the atrium and at the buffet. I took several pics and a movie.

Steve went to the Panama talk and KIP and I did the morning trivia in the Wheelhouse. Afterwards we all met up in Sabitini’s for pizza again. I wanted to see the art auction but instead I went up to the Lotus Pool deck to read then back to the cabin to nap. KIP went to the teen area to make a backpack.

I went to the portrait raffle but didn’t win anything. There will be another after the next formal night. Then at 4 pm we went to the Captain’s Circle talk in the Princess Theater. They introduced the band, singers and dancers. Then drew for champagne and Elite treatment for the rest of the cruise. We didn’t win. But we got 2 free drink coupons at the exit. Then we went to afternoon trivia in the wheelhouse again with KIP.

Then on to casual portraits on deck 6 and to the buffet in HC. Then made our way to the Universe Lounge for 50-60’s trivia. Afterwards we went to the hot tub and got ice cream.

Sunday April 20, 2014 Aruba/ Easter Sunday

Oranjestad from Coral Princess

Woke up at 630 am to get ready for Aruba. Went on the balcony to look out and get ready for breakfast. After breakfast in the HC we went to the secret deck with the binoculars to get a view of the town. We docked right at 8 am. We got off and walked into the terminal to look for Ivan. He was waiting for us right next to the door with a sign with my name on it. We went to his van and started our tour at the Colorado Lighthouse at the south side of the island. It’s more of a navigational aid than a pretty lighthouse. On the way we saw goats and the town of Oranjestad, we passed an oil refinery and Queen Beatrix airport. Then we went to Arikok National Park (entrance fee $24 for 3 people) and went into a cave that has bats in it. Ivan was telling us about the rattlesnakes and boa constrictors. When we got to the visitor’s center for a bathroom break we looked at the snakes and some lizards. He told us why they put a bounty of $10 for each live boa constrictor turned in and they hunt them 3 times a year. We stopped and looked at the windmills. Companies want to put up more because the island is very windy but it is a political fight where they will go and what company will run them. We have all been surprised at how dry Aruba is. It looks a lot like Arizona or New Mexico with the hills and cactus .Also a lot of sand and rocks.

Rodgers Beach Cactus
Colorado Point Lighthouse Quadirikiri Cave

Baby Natural Bridge
After leaving the National Park we headed to the Baby Natural Bridge which is right next to the larger one that collapsed. Ivan told us there are 5 more natural bridges but they are hard to get to and one needs a 4 wheel drive vehicle. We saw the blue spotted lizards from the cages at the National Park so we got some pics of them. From there we went to the Ayo Rock Formations and saw the petroglyph. We could not climb these rocks they are too steep.

We drove to the gold mine area and he told us a story about a company that wanted to mine but the Aruba government wanted ½ so they said no.

California Lighthouse
Then on to the California Lighthouse and the mass of people there. Lots of buses. Took our pics and then drove by the Casiban Rock formations but we didn’t get out to climb them.

We also drove by the donkey sanctuary, butterfly farm, and all the big beaches.

It’s Holy Week so people come down to the beach to camp all week. They set up their tents and live on the beach and enjoy the Spring.

We also passed a graveyard right across form Ivan’s house. They paint your crypt the same color as your house so they match. So it was a very colorful graveyard.

Cemetary in Ivans District Baby Beach area

After the tour was over we got back on the ship and had lunch at Sabatini’s again then went out to walk along the main street. We stopped at the Renaissance Hotel at Starbucks to check our email (We asked Jeffery our cabin steward where to find free or cheap wifi in all the ports we stopped.), and then came back to the ship. Most stores weren’t open today with it being Easter so no real shopping to do here.

Aruba Sign

KIP and I took naps and Steve went to read in the Lotus Solarium. Then we went to the Lotus hot tub and KIP went to check out the teen area. Then went up for lemonade in the HC. I was parched so I drank 2 glasses. We looked at our photos before we went to see the Illusionist Alexander the Great. It was OK I think he was on another ship because I have seen this very act before. I came back to the cabin to get a shower and watch World News. Then I went to Easter trivia with KIP. Steve showed up later. We all won Princess pens for answering questions about Easter.

Then we stayed for Princess Pyramid and Steve and KIP got 4 right. But the winning team had 13 right.

Came back to the room and Jeffrey stopped us to give KIP some Peeps and show us pics of his new baby who is 4 months old named Mandela. He has not seen her yet. He will be leaving after this cruise to go home to his wife and daughter.

Steve then downloaded pics while I journaled. Tomorrow is a sea day so more relaxing. All of the pics from Aruba can be found here

Monday April 21, 2014 At Sea

Watched wake Show and found out we won. Went to library to put in today’s answer. KIP and I went to morning trivia and Steve went to the port talk on Costa Rica. Afterwards I went to work out in the gym and grab an iced coffee and walk 3 times around the deck. Saw flying fish on the starboard side. No rocking or squeaking from the cabin last night. KIP went to study. We weren’t eating lunch today because we booked the Bayou Cafe for KIP’s birthday dinner tonight ($25 pp). Steve did go into the main dining room for a hamburger and fries. We then came back to the cabin to relax and read /watch TV. At 2 pm I went to the Ammolite presentation in Facets, then onto the Scattergories game in Crooners. Fun game but not in that venue, too hard to hear. Host Debbie needed a microphone but didn’t have one. I gave up after 1 round and went to the emeralds presentation at 3 pm in the Wheelhouse. We didn’t win any of the raffles but I did guess which one was the fake emerald and was real close to the real price of one of the pieces.

We then went up to the HC to get iced tea, lemonade and fries. Then onto afternoon trivia in the wheelhouse.

Then KIP and I decided to dress up for dinner and also get our pics made. After pics we went to dinner at the Bayou, which was good. We had sausage and grits, salad, jambalaya, mud dog bisque. Then Steve had a NY strip steak, I had filet mignon, and KIP had catfish. Then with the entre they serve all the sides together, family style. They had fried green tomatoes, dirty rice, and succotash. Then we had all the desserts along with a birthday cake for KIP. The staff sang to her and embarrassed her.

We missed the evening performance because we were at dinner and instead played Guess that Song trivia. We didn’t score too well. Then we were off to bed, we have to set our clocks back tonight. We won Wake Show trivia again the prize is some casino card.

Tuesday, April 22,2014 Cartagena, Columbia

Cartagena Harbour

We changed time back today, so supposedly we have an extra hour of sleep. Not for me- my stomach was upset from all the rich food from last night. I got up at 615 am and we were already sailing into the port. There were so many high rises, and the port was really hazy. We saw a small lighthouse and a fort across form each other.

Our prize from the Wake Show came in our mailbox-we got a casino voucher for a chance at the grabber claw machine. We had breakfast and then got ready to go ashore to meet Claudia, our guide for today.

Cartagena has a pretty walk through terminal with animals and exotic plants. We actually walked far enough that we came to the working docks.

We met Claudia and her driver, Pilar, who was awesome at navigating the horrible traffic. There were so many motorcycles as they are considered taxis here taking people into downtown and they weave and bob all through the traffic.

View of Cartagena from La Popa

Courtyard of Monestary at La Popa
We first stopped at La Popa Monastery of Our Lady of the Candle. It has an unbelievable view form the highest hill. We walked through the chapel and center of the monastery and saw the altar. We then drove to San Felipe de Barajas Fortress. We did not enter but took several pics of the fort from outside. Claudia told us it looks much like St Augustine’s fort.
Fort San Felipe de Barajas in Cartagena
The vendors weren’t too bad if I said no they left me alone. Then we drove through the Old City walls. We decided not to stop for shopping at Las Bovedas. Then we traveled to an area where we got out of the van and walked into the Old City. Claudia explained the architecture and the ½ floors and showed us several examples of private homes turned into hotels.
Looking Down Street in Old Town Cartagena
We walked by a cathedral, the Inquisition Palace, Bolivars Plaza, and Customs Plaza. We ended up at the Sanctuary of Saint Claver. Afterward I bought 3 bags of coffee from a street vendor.

Then we walked back to the van and drove into the new city and beaches. We stopped at the Joyeria Caribe Emerald Museum and factory. Our guide Jaime, took us around and showed how they mined the emeralds from the Earth. Then we saw many beautiful examples of cut gems. I liked one emerald cut 1.99 carat for $1400 but I resisted. We had a drink while we were there as well.

Birds at Cruise Terminal Birds at Cruise Terminal Sloth at Cruise Terminal Flamingos at Cruise Terminal

Then Claudia took us back to the terminal and we walked back through the animals to get to the ship. We dropped our stuff in the cabin and went to Sabitini’s for lunch. Then KIP and I napped before sail away. At sail away we went to the private deck up front and got pictures at 2 pm. Then I napped again until 3 pm when I went down to check on our pictures and another $10 sale. At 4 pm was the afternoon trivia which we finally won 17/20. Then I went back up to the HC for chips and salsa and sat and talked for awhile.

Then we changed and went to see Synergy Duo- a twin violinist group. Then back to take showers and journal. The entire set of pictures that we took in Cartagena are here

Wednesday April 23, 2014 Canal Day/ Colon, Panama

Looking back at Gatun Locks at end of Transit

Today we had breakfast in the cabin as we came to the canal. We ate, then moved to the open deck on deck 10 in the front. We moved around as we were going through the locks to get the best views. I spotted a crocodile as we were going through. We went to the top decks as well as deck 7 and the back decks.

Approaching the Gatun Locks
Around 8 am we entered the locks and were done by 1030 am. Pictures of our transit of the canal are here.

Then they started calling the group numbers and we were number 2 so we went to the Explorers Lounge to wait for the tender. The tender loaded and took us to a parking lot where we boarded a bus to go to a hotel where we would catch a boat to cruise the lake to get to the Embera Indian village. Embera Indian Welcoming Committee When we got there they greeted us with some music and then a description of who they are and how they live. After that they danced for us and with us. Then they showed us their huts and we looked at their merchandise they sell. I bought a bowl that was made from the reeds in the lake. We boarded the boats again and cruised the lake and found 2 sloths in the trees. Pictures from visit with the Embera Indians are here. Then we went back to the hotel and boarded the buses to go to the visitors center at the locks. On the way we passed through the neighborhood where Steve lived when he was little.

Freighter moving torward visitors center in Gatun Locks At the visitors center we were given 45 minutes to view the ships going through and look at the displays. (Also of note, this is one of the free wi-fi locations on this cruise.) Pictures of our stop at the Gatun Locks Visitor’s Center are here. Then we boarded the buses to come back to the ship. Yesterday the workers broke the main water pipe that runs to the center so there was no water there to drink or bathrooms available.

Shops in Free Trade Zone in Colon We got back to the ship at 3 pm and it had just docked from going back through the locks again. We put our stuff in the cabin and went off the ship to the Super 99 store to look for coffee. We got some local cold drinks and sipped as we walked back.The pictures we took wandering around the free trade zone in Colon are here.

We went to the 430 pm trivia but only got 10 answers (only 3 groups played). Then we went to get hamburgers and fries, we also took a dip in the hot tub and had a shower. Back to the HC so Steve could eat dinner and then to deck 10 to watch sail away but it was an hour late. Later we found out the tour that took the ferry all the way through the canal had many problems with traffic accidents and a shooting scene and that was why we were late leaving. We pulled out at 8 pm then we tried to watch a movie we had brought but it wouldn’t work. So I journaled and we watched TV.

Thursday April 24, 2014 Limon, Costa Rica

We got up and had breakfast and watched the docking in Limon. Got off the ship at 730 am to meet our tour guide for Greenway. Our guide starts the hike Giselle was our guide and we were on our way at 8 am. Our first stop was the Veruga Rainforest. Our driver Luis was able to get us up a narrow trail to the top of La Jungla mountain trail. We had a bathroom break and then started our 1 km trail walk. We were able to see red dart frogs, green spotted frogs, spiders, howler monkeys and 3 toed sloths. Red Frog A few birds but they were too fast for pics. After we finished the hike we had another break with some fruit provided, and got back on the bus to go to the Tortuguero Canals. Bird Along River We then boarded a boat to travel through the canals. We were able to see a mom and baby 2 toed sloth, howler monkeys, and iguanas. A few blue heron and green backed kingfishers. Then we had another break with more fruit and got back on the bus to go to the Del Monte banana plantation. We saw how the bananas were grown and harvested and then shipped. Bananas Arriving from the trees They are picked about a month before they ever reach a store. A banana tree has only about a 9 month lifespan.

Then back on the bus to go drive back into the port area and our final stop at a shopping area near the ship. I bought some Dota coffee and a painting of a sloth on a feather. Steve got his Costa Rica pin. Back on board we dumped our stuff and got lunch. Then KIP and I napped and missed the afternoon trivia. Then we set sail around 6 pm. I went to the hot tub and then showered. Later meeting up with Steve and KIP in the atrium and walked around for awhile. There’s not much to do tonight. We did not go see “On The Bayou” since we saw it on the Island. Tomorrow is a sea day with not much going on. All the pictures from our day in Limon, Costa Rica are here.

Friday April 25, 2014 At Sea

Not much going on. Slept in until 7 and then went up to breakfast in HC. I answered the Wake Show question about how many Jack eyes are in a deck of cards. There are 12. Then we went to morning trivia and actually won. A couple from NY helped us to finally get our key chains. Then we watched carpet bowling in the atrium, which is actually Bocci ball. It was kind of dangerous for the people walking by since they didn’t know people were throwing hard balls into the walkway.

Before trivia I had gone up to workout (5K) and then lift weights then did my nails. KIP studied US History for her AP test and Steve read somewhere.

After trivia I went to the Zultanite show and raffle which I did not win. Steve and I ate in Alfredo’s (Sabitini’s) and had our usual pizza. KIP was hanging with the teens.

I then went to the future cruise show while Steve and KIP just walked around deck 7 until I met up with them and suggested golf. So KIP and I went up to deck 15 to play. Steve went to a port talk on Cayman Islands. Afterward KIP went back to the teens and I came back to nap, until Steve came into the room so we left to go to the HC to get some lemonade. I tried their guacamole and chips and I was hooked! Tasted so good. Then onto afternoon trivia which we did not win (for a pen). Then we left to get ready for formal portrait night again.

Went down and had 6 portraits made and 13 chances to win again. Then onto dinner in the HC. KIP joined us later. We all shared desserts, chocolate volcano cake was the best. Then onto the show “Dance” in the Princess Theater. It was packed. I didn’t want to have to squeeze by people so I stood at the back. I ended up leaving early and saw Jeffery in the hallway and talked to him. The towel press had broken so no one was getting beach towels until it got fixed. He had actually taken some from another cabin to give to us. Shows it’s important to make friends with your room steward!

KIP went back to the teen club and was supposed to go to the “Marriage Show”. I guess she’ll tell me later what she did. Steve went to use his Blackjack coupon in the casino.

Saturday April 26, 2014 Grand Cayman

Gerogetown from deck of Coral Princess

Today started at 6 am with the alarm going off. We ate breakfast in the HC. Then put our answer in the box for the Wake Show. The question was about the Grand Cayman flag and the colors. We didn’t get picked for yesterday’s even though our answer was correct. I also put a note in about KIP’s 16th birthday.

Then we went to the Provenance Dining Room for a tender ticket but they just sent us down to the tenders. I think we were on the first one at 730 am.Kelsea as Mayor of Hell We got on land and just walked around until we found some wifi and checked our messages. Captain Marvin’s didn’t open until later when a bus driver named Melford came to pick us up. He took us to another location where we paid. They tried to get us to change to the morning snorkel and sting ray but I stuck to our plan to go the the Turtle Farm first. Melford was our guide and there were about 9 of us on the tour. He started driving and telling us about Grand Cayman. We drove by the governor’s mansion which is right on the beach, then he took us to the Hell Post Office. We stopped and took pics here and KIP got a T shirt. It was named that because of the strange looking rocks near the beach area. It looks kind of swampy now.

Breeding Pool at the Turtle Farm Then back in the bus and we drove to the turtle conservatory. We were able to see Green Sea turtles. The female to male mix is 3:1. The hatching season just started but we didn’t get to see any baby turtles or eggs. The turtles were huge between 400-600 lbs and 35-55 years old. We also saw green iguanas, and striped iguanas. There were 2 other turtles here the Kemp’s Ridley. They had their own area to live in. We also got to hold the turtles and walk through the tank where they are kept. Then we went to the visitor center and bought a Christmas ornament and a small turtle for KIP. Then we were done and Melford drove us to the dock where we met our boat tour. We met Val and Vernon. Steve hold a stingray KIP said Val looked the same age as her. He did look very young but he’s been captaining for about 4 years already. He gave her a conch shell to keep which was very pretty. Vernon gave us the rundown on what we were going to do. And the best part was we were the only ones on the boat so it was a private tour. We were able to sit on the front of the boat until we came to the stingray area. Most of the other boats were packing their people up so it was very quiet and not crowded.

Vernon grabbed a few stingrays and we did several pics of us with them. We weren’t allowed to wear water shoes at all. We fed them squid and they sucked at it like a vacuum cleaner. The females are huge and the males look like babies.

We then moved on to snorkeling on the Barrier Reef which was close by. Elkhorn Coral see while Snorkeling on the Cayman Barrier Reef It was actually quite pretty. Vernon thought I couldn’t swim since I said I didn’t really like to snorkel. He didn’t understand that I have problems with finding a face mask that fits properly. So we swam around the coral for about 25 minutes. There were several types of coral and some fish in there. We then left and went to another location called Coral Gardens that had a lot of fish. Here we fed them and got so many pics of them. We stayed there about 20 minutes and then got back on the boat to return. We stopped midway and Val jumped off the boat and caught some starfish and brought them on board to show us. Then we threw them back. Captain Val with Starfish

When we reached the dock another boat had come in with a shark that they had caught. It was about 6 ft long. Then we were done and we were driven back to the the original location where we stopped to buy rum cake and Jamaican coffee.

Then we walked down to the craft market and looked for Caymanite jewelery but I didn’t see anything that I liked so we went back to the ship. Got back on board around 2 pm.

Sailing from Stingray City to Barrier Reef

KIP and I took showers and she napped. Then we met Steve for tea in the dining room. From there we moved on to afternoon trivia which we won! There was no prize at the end so we badgered James to give us something until he came up with the passport holders that I wanted the entire trip.

Then we went up for dinner in the HC and KIP went to hang with the teens. Steve and I went to the photo raffle and we won the Reflections DVD (2nd place). At 8 pm we went to the 50′-60’s music trivia (we got 10/25) not too bad since we really didn’t know any of the songs played. KIP went back to the teen club and Steve and I went to get ice cream. The full set of our pictures from Grand Cayman are here.

Sunday April 27, 2014 At Sea/Last Day

Today KIP got her 16th birthday announced on the Wake Show. We thought no one watched but she said her friends in the Teen club heard it.

Today is a lazy day since it’s our last one before we get back to FLL. There was another outlet sale and I bought a wallet and nail kit. The passenger talent show was canceled because there was only 1 person in it. I guess we aren’t that talented. I went to work out again and the gym was busy today. I guess everyone needs to get the extra weight off before we dock. Steve went and spent time in the casino today.

Abandon boat we passed In the afternoon we saw an abandoned boat off the side of the ship and tooted the horn to see if there was anyone needing help but no one responded so we continued on our way.

The highlight of the day was a talk by the cruise director and assistant of what it was like to live at sea. Then we went to afternoon trivia and then on to afternoon tea again.

Pretty much rested up until the farewell show with some of the non performing crew getting a chance to show their talents. The highlight for me was a man from Brazil who danced with scarves. He had them going so fast it looked like fire.

Then on to a last hot tub/ice cream session. KIP hung out with the Teens for her last night and we went to bed.


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