Panama Canal Cruise travel blog

Gala evening in the dining room

Map and cruise info display

At the Test Kitchen cooking demo

Tea time

Our daily suprise--is it a peacock or a turkey?!

The fortress in Cartagena

View from the top

Woman costumed for tourists

Street in old Cartagena

Hat salesman

Church in old Cartagena

Colorful bags in the market

Monday, January 21

Today we are at sea. I made it to the kitchen tour (which I missed on the Alaska cruise because of seasickness). It is a marvel of organization and immaculate stainless steel. It takes a lot of people to feed 1400 people, and the crew. Just a couple of statistics: 12,500 lbs of meat per week, 3500 lbs of rice (mostly crew), and 29 lbs of caviar (not at my table!). They make all of the breads and desserts except the hamburger buns.

I found the delicious salad bar section for lunch, which was supplemented with a few other items and dessert. Then I went to another cooking demo, a talk on Costa Rica and Nicaragua, enjoyed afternoon tea, and then adjourned to a deck chair in the shade to enjoy reading. The shops opened today, but they are mostly very high-end stuff (jewelry) that isn’t my thing. We had another nice dinner with congenial company (table for eight).

I watched a little of the Beatles tribute show before going to see Oceans 8 for the movie. Then it was off to bed for our early arrival in Cartagena. We dock at 7:00, meet our tour on the dock at 7:25, and then have to be back on board for the 12:30 departure—definitely a quick trip. We actually set the alarm for 6:00.

Tuesday, January 22

Up early for our time in Cartagena. We ordered room service breakfast, and watched the modern city go by as we pulled into port. The buses were lined up on the pier and we climbed on. First we drove

up to the fort overlooking the harbor. It was quite a climb up the ramps to the top of the fort, but it gave wide panoramic views of the area. Even early in the morning (8:00) it was quite hot and humid. As the guide said, Cartagena has two seasons—hot and hotter! I really appreciated the cold water I found for a dollar when I got back down (after bargaining down from two dollars!).

Next we went to the craft market in the old inquisition building, but only had 20 minutes to explore some interesting shops. (I found a little nativity and an ornament.) Cartagena has an interesting old colonial town with narrow streets resembling Spain, plazas and cathedrals as well. It was very scenic, and there were lots of vendors selling hats, magnets, jewelry, and dressed in costume wanting money to have your picture taken with them. The women all had the big fruit baskets on their heads, and the hat seller must have had a stack of 20 hats on his head! We stopped at an emerald shop with too much time, but the street was interesting and we checked out a bakery. There was a stop at a chocolate shop before getting back on the bus for a drive through the modern city and back to the ship where we were met with cold water and cold towels (aah).

The buffet was rather crowded, but we found a seat and could watch the container cargo cranes and tugboats working away from our window until we sailed away. Between the early morning, the heat, and the humidity, we were tired and had a lazy afternoon reading and napping before a leisurely dinner. Later in the evening we watched a couple of documentaries on the canal construction and operation in preparation for our crossing tomorrow.

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