Ft. Lauderdale

Bahamas - Half Moon Key

Our Room and Towel Animals

Scenes around the Ship

Views from our Balcony


Entering the Canal Locks

Sights along the Canal

Exploring Gatun Lake

Costa Rica


Chiapas, Mexico

Huatulco, Mexico

Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Panama Canal Cruise

November 2009

Cruise Route

Lights on a map showing the route

Empress Hotel

Our ship anchored in the Bahamas

Panama Canal

Entering the Panama Canal Locks

In November of 2009, we went on a cruise with Holland America that started in Ft. Lauderdale and ended up in San Diego. The highlight of the cruise was the passage through the Panama Canal, but of course there were very many other interesting sights along the way.

The cruise was 19 days long, so describing each day in detail would be very boring. There are links to pictures of some of the highlights in the menu on the left.

We went to Ft. Lauderdale a day early to see the sights. We hadn't been there since 2004 when we were there in our sailboat. Ft. Lauderedale was our jumping off point for our passage to the Bahamas. Here are some pictures from our day in Ft. Lauderdale.

We sailed away Monday evening, November 2nd, headed for the Bahamas. Our first stop of the cruise on Tuesday was Half Moon Key, a private island owned by the cruise lines. We hiked a couple of miles on the beach, swam and had a barbecue lunch. It was very relaxing.

Wednesday we were at Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos islands (south of the Bahamas). Kathy went sailing and snorkeling and I went scuba diving. The diving was mediocre but it was fun and relaxing.

Thursday was the first of our six days at sea. On these days, we explored the ship, went for a 2 or 3 mile walk around the promenade deck, listened to lectures and took pictures from our balcony. The lectures were quite interesting. A professor from Georgetown University talked about what was to come on the cruise. He gave two lectures on Panama and the Canal, one Costa Rica, one on the Mayan civilation, etc. We also worked on our photos on our computers. We had two desks in the room so we could both work at the same time.

Friday we were in Aruba. Kathy and I walked around town. The colorful buildings reminded me of the family cruise that stopped here in 1994. On Saturday we were at sea again.

Sunday morning we arrived at the entrance to the canal. Kathy was up at 5:00 AM to see us approaching the breakwater. Here are pictures of the sunrise and entry into the canal locks. All day we watched as we passed other ships and we marveled at the jungle on shore. Here are pictures taken during the day.

On Monday we took a shore excursion that drove back along the canal to the Milaflores locks. We toured the visitor's center and then drove to a river that feeds into the Gatun Lake part of the canal. There we took a small boat and headed out into the lake. We saw the big ships going back and forth and we saw sloths and monkeys in the trees on the islands in the lake. These islands were formed when the river was dammed to create the lake.

The next day we were in Costa Rica. We hiked in the rain forest, including crossing suspension bridges in the canopy. After lunch at a local botanical gardens, we explored the gardens and were amazed at the flowers. Unfortunately, it rained and I headed back to the restaurant after getting a nice waterfall picture.

After a day at sea, we were in Guatemala. We didn't take a shore excursion. We stayed in the shopping area near where ship was docked. There were girls weaving on a back-strap loom; also, some of the locals put on a show displaying native costumes.

After Guatemala, we stopped in Chiapas, Mexico. Again we stayed near the ship. We took pictures of the ship and shopped in the nearby shopping arcade. Local dancers and musicians entertained us both on the dock (we took pictures from our balcony) and in the arcade.

Next came Huatulco, Mexico where we rode mountain bikes to tour the beaches and hills around the town. One hill was very long - we had to get off and walk. At the end of the tour, we went to a resort where we swam in the ocean and in their pool. It was very refreshing after the strenuous bike ride.

Then it was on to Zihuatanejo, Mexico - a small, sleepy fishing village. We wandered ashore and took pictures of the beach, the boats, the fish and the shopping.

After another day at sea, our final port of call was Cabo San Lucas. We wandered around the marina and into town. We took pictures at the marina and as we sailed away that afternoon. Later we took a final sunset picture and headed for San Diego and home.


C. Brandon Jones
email: Brandon "at" cbjones.info
updated January 25, 2010