First lock of the Panama Canal crossing (Tourist Time)

Having found our position at the very front of the ship, we were determined to stand guard, watching intently at each and every aspect of the going through the locks whilst crossing the Panama Canal. We weren’t disappointed, it was AMAZING!

Over this summer vacation I’m taking trips of another kind. Of a Thursday I’m traveling down memory lane, reminiscing a little about all the traveling we’ve done to various parts of the world as a family!

 

 

 

 

 

High HUMIDITY Levels (One Word Photo Challenge)

In preparation of our crossing the Panama Canal, we were up on the front deck by 6am armed with both children and champagne. Alas, the HUMIDITY changed our plans with both these things as you can see from this hazy photo.

High Humidity Levels

My camera, much like the children, was not responding well to the heat. Even the official photographer was experiencing the same problem which, although bad for her, made me feel a little better to know it wasn’t something I was doing.

As for the champagne and children, the champagne we put back on ice and drank that evening whilst the children, well… they lasted until the scheduled time we were meant to do our first crossing and when that didn’t happen and wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, they left.

OWPC Icon

 

 

 

Sitka… simply breathtaking!

Yesterday I bet money on the fact today was a sea day – I lost big time! Well, it was only the bet I lost as Sitka was such a beautiful port of call.

Sitka - how gorgeous is this?!

Like us, many of our fellow passengers, we opted NOT to do any shore excursions, preferring to walk around the small town, exploring it for ourselves.

Sitka Totem Square!

One great find was The Back Door Cafe. We literally entered via the back-door having walked around the streets admiring the architecture of the various buildings. This eclectic cafe had our heads darting in all directions admiring the various collections.

Back door Cafe - a quick favorite of ours!

We sat enjoying the sun and scenery, sipping hot coffee on our balcony when leaving port. That was until the ship turned and once out of the sanctuary of the bay, the icy Alaskan winds hit us. We attempted “toughing it out” but we soon turned to each other with a look that said… “mum, how much longer?”

Icy Strait Point, hmmmm…

Talk about bad luck, Hubby and Master Twelve were schedule to go “Deep Sea Halibut Fishing” today whilst we were docked at Icy Strait Point but sadly a bug had Hubby confined to bed all yesterday so it was Mama who went fishing instead. Didn’t take long before our bait was taken!

H bringing in the big one!

Talk about catching the big one!

The one that didn't get away!!!

Only joking, as you can see that photo was taken in Juneau with the aid of a green screen up at the Raptor Center. We did however have some wonderful company as we fished.

Fishing buddies - how cute are they?

On returning from our fishing trip we had not only a lovely surprise of Hubby and Miss Ten meeting us, but some wonderful local culture greeted us also.

Traditional dancers!

This was our only port using tenders to take us ashore, the pier providing an ideal setting to enjoy a fresh seafood lunch.

Icy Strait Point Pier

Although tenders are the children’s preference it’s not mine as when using tenders it always makes me overly aware of the time, asking myself many, many times… “mum, how much longer?”

Glacier Bay – Glacier Heaven!

Although officially a sea day, today was spent ogling the many and varied glaciers that give Glacier Bay its name. With the sun as our beacon we entered Glacier Bay for a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Entering Glacier Bay guided by the morning sun!

When first entering Glacier Bay a mournful cry had me racing to the balcony just in time to see a whale beside the ship slowly submerging.As he swam away turns out he wasn’t traveling alone!

Whales joining us for Breakfast!

This was then followed by a succession of sea otters frolicking along-side.

Sea Otter being a Cutey-Pie!Which were then replaced with small icebergs. A few even having hitchhiker or two!

Iceberg Eagle!

There were so many glaciers, with not all being your typical ice-meets-water glacier (tidewater glacier if you prefer). Some were high and white.

Contours of Glaciers - how surreal looking is this?

Some were low and dirty.

Dirty Glacier, not my idea of a glacier!

Margerie Glacier by far was the most majestic though being 34 km long, 1.6 km wide and 110m high but only 76m above water level. The sounds of ice cracking in the center of this glacier was quite eerie to hear. We were even treated to a few occasional ice falls. In the photos below there are only two seconds separating each photo!

Glacier Crashing - only two seconds seperates each the second and third photo!

The night finished as the day began, as Miss Ten and I dined sea otters resumed their play, seals dived for cover, whilst whales gave us farewell spurts as they left the company of the ship. As to when we’ll experience something so amazing again… “mum, how much longer?”

What will we miss the most???

For the risk of sounding like a cliché, this has been the best holiday… EVER. We certainly covered some ground, or should that be sea?!

Our brilliant cruise

It’s still undecided which was best – the ports of call or our ship. Our ship life was rather splendid. Seriously, there was so much to enjoy. Live music by the pool in the sunshine.

Poolside entertainment whilst in port

The water-slide naturally was a HUGE hit with our two. Master Twelve I think liked it the most!

HLR belly sliding!

Not that Miss Ten didn’t give it her best shot!

MMR showing her brother how its done

Then again, Master Twelve quite enjoyed perfecting his golf swing.

Perfecting one's golf swing

Yep, we could dress our two up, but taking them out, lol. Always the goof-balls!

Goofing off for the camera... again

What can I say, Master Twelve was working up an appetite for this – a 16oz steak.  FYI: he couldn’t finish it which was a first!

16 ounce steak!

Having so many different restaurants to choose from each night just outside one’s door was addictive. What was even more addictive was my fish bowl or as they were officially known as… Rebellious Fish!

My Fishbowl - loved these things!

The one thing I know we’ll ALL miss are the fresh towels each and every day and of course, the towel creations each night. This bunny was my favorite.

Cool rabbit towel

This little cutie was a family favorite also!

Towel Girl

What I’ll miss most though will be the sunrises and sunsets each day. Watching the sun rise each morning either from our balcony or as we watched from our bed through the window over the bath was just lovely.

Sunrise from our bed

And the sunsets, oh how I LOVE THEM!

One of our last sunsets of our cruise

Yep, tomorrow we disembark and this will feel as if it’s all just been a wonderful, wonderful dream. What can I say… BEST HOLIDAY EVER!!!

Another tick off the Bucket List!

For our last port of call of our cruise we finished on quite the high in Cozumel, Mexico. How beautiful was this sunrise?

Sunrise over cozumel - beautfiul!

The lighthouse looked a tad different once the sun had risen but the best was yet to come.

Cozume Lighthouse

For the longest time both children (and parents for the that matter) have wanted to swim with the dolphins but age restrictions prevented it so had to console ourselves with merely feeding and kissing dolphins. Not really the same but NOT so today!

HLR loving his dolphin ride

Today we all SWAM with the dolphins!

MMR enjoying her dolphin ride

We also danced with the dolphins.

Hubby enjoying a dance with a dophin

And cuddled the dolphins!

Mama having a snuggle of a different kind

There were also kisses and dolphin whispers to be had before we headed off to snorkel at the same establishment followed by a lite lunch. What an exhilarating day – these dolphins were just magnificent!

Jumping Dolphins

With temperatures nudging the mid-30’s again, once we’d finished our incredible dolphin encounter we took the children back to the ship to kidz club before Hubby and I headed out again ourselves.

You see, this was our fifth Mexican port of call but we’d yet to have a Corona. This situation needed to be rectified immediately and Hard Rock was the perfect venue.

Finally having a Corona in Mexico

This would have had to be one of the smallest Hard Rock’s we’d ever visited. There wasn’t a crumb in sight unfortunately as we’d been looking forward to a Hard Rock Nachos so finished our beers to walk 20 meters to Hooters for this. We weren’t disappointed!

Afternoon snack at Hooter

Making our way back to the ship, we marveled yet again at not only the brilliant blue of the water, but as to how clear the waters were. When docking this morning, we were able to see the ocean floor. Not often that happens!

The Blue Oceans of the Day

Our last port of call, an absolutely brilliant day, a fabulous end to our fabulous cruise… sniff, sniff 😦

The people you meet at sea!

This cruise had us meeting some very interesting people, with the children having a ball with the small group of other children up in kidz club.

Kidz Club Crazys

I personally had the opportunity to meet quite the television and movie star – how thrilling!

Sponge Bob Square Pants

And we even met the Captain, having drinks with him on two occasions and our photo taken with him the third time!

Captain Lars in our family portrait

Yep, cruising certainly gives you the opportunity to meet very interesting people! 🙂

An afternoon in Cartagenas!

By the time we had visited the markets in the Old City of Cartagena’s yesterday, which incidentally were originally dungeons, the children had had it. They done so well in the heat but it was excruciating so after we’d been dropped off back at the ship, we had lunch with them, deposited them at kidz club, then headed back down to the dock since it was a late departure.

The plan was to take a taxi back into the Old City for some serious shopping but you know what happens with best laid plans… they seldom happen. Particularly when you come across a field of pink flamingoes!

Flamingoes

There was quite the assortment of animals in this park. My goodness there was even a deer, well perhaps a deer’s cousin!

A deer or not a deer, that is the question

There were even the obligatory peacocks strutting around but it was around the corner that we discovered the true wonderland with bird-life.

Macawl cuties - we couldn't get enough

There seemed to be Macaws in every direction we looked. It was glorious!

A couple of birds out for a chat

Selfies with a Macaw proved easier said then done as this one at least much preferred to preen then look at the camera.

Macawl selfies

Preen, preen, preen, that’s all it wanted to do!

Macawls are so cute - even when preening!

We were impressed with the Macaws until we looked up to see Howler Monkeys above us. Hello cutie! 🙂

Howler Monkey - how cute is he?

We almost walked over the top of this colorful creature taking a time-out on the path. The photo is a tad blurry as some fool was attempting to kick it whilst we took photos. In this twots defense I do think he was trying to help the Toucan by shooing it off the path but his approach was a little too much unfortunately.

Tricky toucan - an intersting speedbump!

This next bird was actually the most brilliant orange but being in such dense foliage didn’t make for such a good photograph but I still wanted to share.

A bird that brilliant orange in reality

We had to take a second-look at these ducks to determine if they were real or plastic, they were just beautiful. Oh, and they were real!

Ducks looking like plastic

There was the most delightful cafe in the midst of this park where we hoped to sit and enjoy a nice cold drink as we watched the wildlife strut by but apparently there’d been a boat-load of Australians through hence there wasn’t even a lite-beer available, dang it. Why did we get the feeling this flamingo was laughing at us?!

Dancing Flamingo

Back on board we left the children at kidz club whilst we enjoyed the champagne we’d bought for our Panama Canal crossing but never had a chance to drink.

Another bonus was as it was a late sailing the children were having dinner at kidz club so once we finished the champagne we strolled down to the ship’s French restaurant where we were seated at a table by the window, able to watch Cartagena’s night sky-line disappear behind us.

Cartagena night sky line

What an absolutely delightful day, simply perfect!

What an AMAZING day, AGAIN!!!

It’s been astounding how many times this cruise that from just a basic plan for the day, the most phenomenal day eventuates.

Then again, when a submarine sails directly past your balcony first thing in the morning, you get a hint that something wonderful is about to unfold.

Excuse me theres a submarine outside our window

This structure we passed on our way into port also had us intrigued – fort or prison do you think?

Interesting buildings on the way to port

The men of the family were very excited when we left the ship for our tour bus, they convinced themselves I was surprising them with this gift. As if!

Surprise boyz... NOT!

It was only just on 9am but the thermometer was already sitting at 35C when we arrived at our first stop, the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. A fortress built in the early 1600’s. It was certainly magnificent, but with the heat and humidity, ugh. 😦

Standing in front of the old city

We saw a lot of colored every day buses driving around the city. The reason they are colored is that “back in the day” not many people could read so instead of writing destinations on the buses, they simply colored each particular destination a particular color and, well its kinda stuck!

Colored Coded Buses

Our next stop put a smile on the dial the little people – a horse and carriage ride around the old city.

Heading off on our horse and carriage ride

In 1984 this walled city was heritage listed by UNESCO World Heritage Site and understandably so. This city is just gorgeous.

Old city roof tops

These colorful buildings were the first we saw after we rode through the gates – it was love at first sight!

Colorful houses

The architecture was so very different through out this city. The children found the various artwork scattered around the city quite interesting also!

Quite an interesting square

Whilst some buildings have been restored beautifully…

Loving this architecture

Some yet to receive some tender loving care…

Restoration work yet to be completed

Some of the street performers we saw had our complete and total admiration as the heat and humidity was unbearable.

Unusual street performers

The street vendors also had our admiration having to carry such large amounts of produce around in such temperatures.

Local fruit seller

And this was just our morning, lol, I’ll save our afternoon adventures until tomorrow since it’s a sea day!