Panama Canal Cruise Panama Canal Cruise, 2014

Our Panama Canal Cruise, April 2014

Marguerite and George agreed we would do the "old people" Panama Canal cruise when we got old. Well this year we both have to do IRS Minimum Required Distribution on our IRAs so that makes us officially old. As shown, our cruise was from Fort Lauderdale, FL, to San Diego thus eliminating one air leg of the trip, George hates to fly commercial, even when Margueritie uses United miles to buy him a first class ticket. The trip was on the Holland America Westerdam that we were on when we did the Eastern Med cruise in 2010.

Similar to the Med cruise we planned to do a Florida pre-trip to maximize our sightseeing in this part of the planet. Below are photos and commentary on our trip (yes Florida not as interesting as the French and Italian Riviera). Our trip was 2500 miles by air, 1500 miles by car, and 5000 miles by ship.

Florida Pre-Trip

We flew into Fort Lauderdale (where we will pick up the ship a week later) and then drove to Orlando/Winter Park Florida for a visit with Marguerite's sister Betsy and her husband Brent. George was too cheap to pay drop-off charges on the rental car. We rented a nice looking Ford Focus Compact. Made for 140 pound woman, not so much for a 380 pound Georgie.

Florida Capital in Tallahassee

The next day we drove from Winter Park to Tallahassee to visit the state capital. We visited the old capitol, the adjacent new capitol, and the state museum.

Naval Air Museum

The following day we drove to Pensacola to visit the Navy Air Museum. We had a guided tour by an old Navy Captain who flew most Navy fighters. He loved the work so much he volunteered twice a year to give tours. Like at the Air Force Museum, we saw tons of planes.

Saint Augustine and Jacksonville

We then drove to St. Augustine via Jacksonville. Jacksonville was having a party so we joined in and then we drove to St. Augustine for remembrance. Marguerite vacationed in St. Augustine with her first husband Crawford in 1965 and George vacationed there in 1976 with his second wife Kathy.


We then drove to Gainesville to visit Marguerite's Aunt Marga and Cousin Peggy. This is where Marguerite grew up. We visited the lot where Marguerite's mother died in a fire in her home (the ruins were demolished in 2008) and then we visited Marga's home (The "Pink House") before we went to early dinner. We then drove to Betsy's home for two nights so Marguerite and her sister could do sister stuff.

Our Cruise

Our cruise was not a Georgie highlight of old age. George likes historical sites, mostly Western Civilization, and he really does not like crowds and heat and humidity. Marguerite likes cruise life so she ate at fancy restaurants on the ship, George did not go, and she got massages, and acupuncture treatments. We both went on some tours and saw some shows. The weather was too hot to enjoy the tours and we had six days at sea which were fine since it was too hot to go outside. The Panama Canal was the highlight of the trip, but even that did not impress George much. Who gets most credit for the canal were medical people. Almost 40,000 people died making the canal, mostly from disease.

Two Sea Days in the Caribbean

The cruise started off with two sea days that were very hot. George caught a major cold and Marguerite took classes, ate and drank well, and read many books. Even George read a book by Senator Jim Webb - Born Fighting (How the Scots-Irish shaped America). Basically the justification on why Southern Conservatives are so crazy. They were mistreated by the Romans and the English so government does not have a positive connotation in their society.

Cartagena, Colombia

George had been here in 1996 and thus being the largest most historical city on the trip was not too exciting for George. We took a tour of the old castle, similar in design to Saint Augustine but much larger since much of the treasure of South America passed through this city on the way to Spain in the 1500s.

Panama Canal

It took us 10 hours to pass through the Canal going from the Atlantic to the Pacific using a west to east passage (sounds strange but that is the way they dug it). Our ship rose up about 70 feet, traversed the isthmus using a man-made lake, and paid fees to the Panamanians of about $238,000. The first picture is of where the French started digging their sea level canal which was abandoned. The other photos are of the canal during our passage. You see other ships waiting to pass through the canal but they are not allowed in until funds have been transferred to Panama (no tickie, no laundry).

Sea Day to Costa Rica

On our sea days to Costa Rica we ate, drank, and MJ got a massage. Hard work crossing the Panama jungle.

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica

Fiesta Movie

Another Sea Day

Puerto Chiapas, Mexico

Huatulco, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

The end of our trip and the end of California.

Arrival in San Diego and Camp Tonga

We arrived early in the morning in San Diego Bay. First trip we ever took from the Atlantic to the Pacific without using plane or land transportation. We were met by Misty at the dock and then we went to Camp Tonga (Meg O'Hearn's home) to pick up Dreyfus who was having a great time at his luxury resort. So nice to know one's dog is being well cared for while on a trip.

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