--------- Panama Canal 2002 ---------

Return to Trips

-------------- Seattle, Washington --------------

On October 20, 2002, we embarked on Holland America's MS Zaandam. This 20 day fall repositioning cruise allows the ship to return to its winter sailing schedule in the Caribbean after spending the summer going from Seattle to Alaska. Captain Tore Lura was in charge and we sailed promptly at 4:30 PM.

-------------- Astoria, Oregon --------------

Astoria, Oregon, was our first stop. It had been many years since a cruise ship docked here and the town went all out for us. It was very festive, complete with the high school band and greetings from The Astoria Cruise Committee. We spent the day exploring the town, visiting the Columbia River Maritime Museum and meeting the local residents.

-------------- San Diego, California --------------

Balboa Park, in the heart of the city, has much to offer : museums, gardens, the zoo and plenty of open space. The founders planted trees here from around the world.
san diego

The San Diego Museum of Art houses contemporary works by Californian artists as well as Old Masters and Asian pieces.
san diego

At the Mingei International Museum of Folk Art we viewed the special exhibit, "Silver and Silk", textiles and jewelry of Guizhou, China
MINGEI Gallery

Annamarie, on deck, ready for the traditional evening sail-away party at 5:00 PM.
Leaving San Diego

-------------- Cabo San Lucas, Mexico --------------

We viewed this famous stone arch, called El Arco, from our small boat excursion. It's a magnificent natural rock formation at Land's End, the tip of Baja Peninsula.
Cabo San Lucas

-------------- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico --------------

Beach damage due to Hurricane Kenna which made landfall in San Blas, (state of) Nayarit, very close to Puerto Vallarta. The day before we docked here winds had reached 140 mph and 20,000 people had to be evacuated.
Puerto Vallarta

For $1.50 we made the trip into town and back on this city bus. People were very friendly and helped us get off at the right stops. One of the local men entertained the passengers with guitar music.
city bus

Due to Hurricane Kenna the main section of town was barricaded off by the military. This is the closest we could get to the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Church courtyard

One of the main streets in town, not far from the Plaza Prinicipal.

-------------- Santa Cruz de Huatulco, Mexico --------------

Santa Cruz, 425 miles southeast of Acapulco, is nestled in one of nine pristine bays in the newly developed tourist area of Huatulco. We were "at anchor" and went ashore by tender. This colorful bus took us to a nearby nature preserve for a bird watching walk. The local guides were very enthusiastic as very few cruise ships stop here and they were anxious to make a good impression. They appear to be doing a responsible job with their development and are working on a pier.
tour bus

-------------- Costa Rica --------------

From Puntarenas we took a guided bus tour to the 4,500 foot elevation in the Los Angeles Cloud Forest. Our local guide explained the environmental issues and how they are being managed.

We were fascinated by the flora and fauna.

After our walk we enjoyed a Costa Rican lunch at a hotel. This cart was in the lobby.

We loved the Costa Rican art work.

The Costa Ricans are very proud of and enthusiastic about their country. On our four hour round trip bus ride, he and another guide kept a running dialog of everything from the top industry, which is INTEL, to the national political system and their various political parties.

---- The Panama Canal, Fifty Miles from the Pacific to the Caribbean ----

Before 7 AM we are able to spot the "Bridge of the Americas" (on the Pan American Highway) arching over the entrance to the Pacific side of the Canal. People are already beginning to fill the decks, looking for the best viewing spot as we approach the Miraflores Locks, the first of three sets of locks.

Next we cruised through five mile Miraflores Lake, and here we are exiting the Pedro Miguel Locks. A local guide/narrator and a special pilot from the Panama Canal Commission were with us during the entire seven hour transit.
Pedro Miguel

This is the infamous eight mile Gaillard (or Culebra Cut), a V shaped channel through the Continental Divide, carved from granite and volcanic rock. Due to soil instability on both sides it was the biggest engineering obstacle in the Canal's construction and required the excavation of hundreds of millions of cubic yards of rock and dirt.
Culebra Cut

When it was first created. Gatun Lake (160 sq. mi) was the largest man made lake in the world. It is 85 feet above sea level and is restrained by the locks and Gatun Dam on the Atlantic Ocean side.
Gatun Lake

Just to our left a container ship was leaving the Gatun Locks. ahead of us. These triple locks, dropped us down in three 28 foot segments. This picture was taken from the "The Crows Nest Bar" on deck nine.
Gatun Locks

-------------- Aruba, Dutch West Indies --------------

Aruba is a Dutch island about 35 miles off the coast of Venezuela. The city of Oranjestad is beautiful with lots of plantings and bright colorful buildings.

New buildings have been designed to retain a similar historic style.

A traditional house that was donated for public viewing.

This church was visible from quite a distance.

The steeple is on a building next to the church, not atop the actual church.

A channel connecting the sea to a mall across the street. The Zaandam is in the background.

One of seven natural arch bridges on the north side of the island. This was formed by erosion of material under a layer of lava.

-------------- Grand Cayman, British West Indies --------------

This museum, in George Town, was the Old Courts Building, built in 1830 and restored in 1990, it has interesting displays and also serves as a research and preservation center for Caymanian heritage.

We went down in this 65 foot Atlantis XI submarine to explore the coral reefs and feeding grounds of exotic sea creatures at 80 to 100 foot depths.

There wasn't enough light to get good pictures at this depth, but this one captures some of the color. Our guide explained that red breaks down at 60 feet while yellow appears to look like green and at 90 feet green begins to look like blue.

--- Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, Holland America's Private Island ---

The color of the water at Half Moon Cay was quite remarkable due to the white sand bottom and clear water. It is a beautiful setting with wide beaches and a warm ocean for swimming.

Plantings on the grounds are quite colorful and there were lots of things in bloom. Holland America turned this into an ideal resort.

It was 82 degrees with a moderate breeze and lots of sunshine and Annamarie didn't want to leave this lovely place, but it was time to sail to Port Canaveral, FL, our final port of call.
Annamarie at beach

-------------- Desserts on the Zaandam --------------

Desserts on the Zaandam were works of art, and they never ran out. There were ice sculptures, chocolate sculptures, and even bread sculptures.