Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sailing south across equator

25 Jan 2009 – Sailing south along the coast of Ecuador. The reality of such a long trip is that you need to do laundry once in awhile. For us it was today. We then caught a quick lunch so we could be on time for the Equator crossing ceremony. This follows an old seafaring tradition in which those who have never crossed the equator (called pollywogs) are judged by King Neptune for various past actions. When (always) found guilty the pollywogs are accorded punishment by the King’s court. (See photo) It was a riotous affair with lots of great music and laughter. Clyde chose a site where he could see the action without getting involved in the mess. King Neptune, his “queen” and the court really go into it. Various passengers and crew members were judged, found guilty and “punished”. I think we will cross the equator several more times before the cruise is over.

Tomorrow we land in Manta Ecuador and take a shore excursion for several days to Cuzco, Machu Pichu and Lima where we will rejoin the ship. Our tour leaves at 0615 in the morning (ugh).

We took most of the day yesterday to transit the canal. It is really quite an impressive sight. There are a series of locks at each end of the canal and in between there is a large lake (Lake Gatun) and a series of “cuts” make through the isthmus that form the canal. They run the canal from East to West for 12 hours and then run it from West to East for 12 hours. Lots of small islands in the Lake, some inhabited by indigenous people. Other just by monkeys and crocodiles. It appeared that the Panamanians were taking pretty good care of the place and we could see areas where they were dredging to widen and straighten it.

King and Queen Neptune

Neptune's victims

Neptune's Victims

Neptune's court 1

Neptune's court hands our punishment to polywogs

Neptune's court 1

Neptune's court hands out punishment to polywogs

Crossing the Equator

clyde chose a safe spot to view the ceremony


Not all passages through the locks are as uneventful as ours

Mule towing our ship

Ships are towed into and out of locks by "mules" -- electic locomotives positioned front and rear and on each side to carefully position ships and hold them in position.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

24 Jan 2009 Saturday

24 Jan 0839 – We are anchored in Lake Gatun for a couple of hours waiting our turn to enter the locks at the Pacific end of the Panama Canal. Yesterday was a day at sea and just as mellow as that sounds. We read, hit the gym and attended a lecture by former astronaut Rusty Schweikert – he was on the Apollo 9 mission. He spoke of that mission and showed a lot of interesting photos. Brian and Clyde were fascinated – Mary was filled with ennui. He is also involved with a group that is focused on protecting the earth from future strikes by asteroids – and that will be the subject of a future talk. Last night was a formal night. Clyde went to the dining room and only needed a bow tie to supplement his natural tux. He also enjoyed a little casino action later.

We were up bright and early this morning to see the Royal Princess enter the Panama Canal at 0645. We had a champagne breakfast out on the balcony – many thank for that to our intrepid travel agents Kern and Judy.

While sitting in the locks we saw a little everyday Panamanian scene play out. There is a road that is parallel to the canal there. First a yellow school bus pulled up a parked. Then a truck with a cage on the back containing a huge Brahma bull pulled up and parked about 150 yards from the bus. We had the sense that the bull was on the way to see a girlfriend. He was loose in the back of the truck and seemed very relaxed – looking around and occasionally changing postion. Papa and son got out of the truck and walked to the bus – sonny got on. A small motorcycle then arrived – same deal. Then a car. Apparently this is a gathering point and parents bring their kids to the bus.

The ship’s photographers have a gimmick here to sell more photos and videos. They provided materials yesterday for people to create their own signs for the canal passage. The photogs got off the ship prior to entering the canal and shot pics of the ship with the signs displayed over the side. Clyde got into the spirit of things (see photo).

BTW Clyde is becoming very well known on the ship and has made lots of friends.

Clyde in Formal Dress

He doesn't mind getting dressed up.

Breakfast in Gatun Locks

thanks to Kern and Judy

Casino Action

Wombat World Tour 2009

Goodbye Atlantic Hello Pacific

Gatun Locks

A pair of electric locomotives (front and rear) tows and positions our ship in the lock.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

22 Jan 1700 – We have just pulled out of Grand Cayman and are headed Southeast to Panama. Kind of a cloudy drizzly day so we did not go to the beach. Did some minor shopping and had a nice long lunch at Casa Nova – an excellent local Italian place. Last time we were there the waiters were all singing along to Andrea Bocelli. Grand Cayman is known for pirates and Clyde had a minor altercation with one (see photo)







Wednesday, January 21, 2009




Clyde Settling In

21 Jan 1000 – We are travelling west and can see Cuba off to the south. Just escaped Ft Lauderdale yesterday before the temp was due to drop to near freezing. Champagne sailaway was very festive yesterday. With all great music and the free wine, everyone was in a good mood – Clyde was dancing on the ships rail as we headed out to sea. One of the first people we saw when we came on board was a casino dealer that greeted us like old friends (Brian spent a lot of time in there on the last cruise). Cloudy today, moderate seas and temp in the 80s. Today is a day at sea and Clyde is planning a trip to the gym to get off to a good start on keeping those pounds off.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

At the starting line

Clyde, Brian and Mary are all packed and ready to jet off to Ft Lauderdale tomorrow morning. Staying the night at a hotel there and doing some last minute shopping for some disposable items that were too heavy to take on the plane (laundry detergent, etc). Clyde packed light (see photo), Brian and Mary did not.