January 2019 - Cruise to Panama

Earlier Cruises

We booked a cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Panama for January 2019.  Instead of flying to Florida, we decided to make another Road Trip out of it.  We rented a car, loaded up and left allowing 4 days to get down there.  We planned to do some sight-seeing on the way, like Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.

We intended to take a leisurely route on surface roads into Indiana and then head south.
But light snow started as we left home, so we headed for the expressways.

It became a Snow Storm by the time we were in Indiana. Dozens of cars off the road and several semi-truck accidents.


Our first night, we stayed near the Louisville, KY, airport.

We intended to visit Mammoth Cave National Park on our way to Tennessee.  But the government shutdown was in effect and national parks were closed!

Thru Kentucky and Tennessee, the weather was mostly rain and fog.  So no photos.

Our second night, we stayed in McDonough near Atlanta, GA. Dinner at a Japanese restaurant.

In Georgia, chunks of fiberglass and styrofoam, from a trailer ahead of us, bounced off our fenders, hood and roof. Luckily, cosmetic damage only.

Our third day, we drove on to Daytona Beach, FL.

Dinner at the European Cafe and Schnitzel House.

The weather was still gray and chilly.


On Daytona Beach I wear sandals even at 60 degrees.

Our fourth day we drove US1 and A1A along the coast, so we could see the Palm Beach area of Lawrence Sanders' Archy McNally stories.

We stayed at the Grand Hotel in Oakland (Ft. Lauderdale).  It was OK but not grand.  We left our car parked there for the cruise.

Start of Cruise out of Fort Lauderdale.  Finally weather in the 70's.

Leaving the dock at Ft. Lauderdale, same scene as other cruises we've taken.

The building on the right is new since our earlier cruises.


Half Moon Cay - Holland America's private island


  Our Zuiderdam and sister ship Vollendam

  Cafe and waiting area for Half Moon Cay tours

  Glass Bottom Boat

  Cabin Steward "Critter Art" (more on other days)

A day at sea, to walk the deck, lay around, read, eat, watch movies.

Aruba - from our cabin's veranda


Tour boat taking us to the semi-sub tour boat from De Palm Pier in Oranjestad.

Aruba is only 18 miles from Venezuela.


Semi-sub Tour Boat - to the Antilla shipwreck


The bus tour continued around the island.

  This is Arashi beach.

California Lighthouse, named after the steamship California, wrecked in 1891.

The baby natural bridge.  The larger natural bridge collapsed years ago.

How Cashews grow.  The nut is the top; its shell is poison.

  Houses outside the city

Willemstad, Curacao

View from the ship

Street level
  Across St Anna Bay

  The Queen Emma Bridge

A pontoon bridge across St. Anna Bay.

The bridge is hinged and opens to enable the passage of oceangoing vessels.

  One of the market stalls along the Bay.

  Villa Maria

  One of several small bridges

  Our veranda

When it's time to leave in the evening, the Queen Emma Bridge blocks the ship's exit from the harbor.

To open the passage, it moves toward the right side of the bay, as the colors change.


When it's fully moved, the ship can pass.

  Viewed as the ship is passing it.

Cartegena, Colombia


Fortifications originally built to protect the city from pirate attacks.


Our walking tour of the old walled city was interesting but there were too many pushy street vendors.

Monastery of St. Peter Claver


  Docked next to another Holland America ship.

  Cartegena skyline as we're leaving in late afternoon.

Panama Canal

Approaching the lock early in the morning

That's a Japanese car carrier going thru the lock to the left.

Looking down on the strip between the two locks, you can see the tracks for the mules (engines) that pull the ship thru the lock.

The gates of the first chamber closing behind the ship.


As seen from the inside of the chamber

Once closed the chamber is filled with water.

The top of the gates is a railed walkway.

The car carrier is now thru the locks and another ship is entering to go the other way.

This is a ship entering the new locks.

These are much wider and have a different design.

The ships are pushed thru the lock by tug boats instead of being pulled thru by mules (engines).

The gates slide out from the side.

When closed, water is pumped from/to holding reservoirs on the side of the locks.

Overhead view of the new locks and the water reservoirs.

Old locks, upper left.  (This is a photo of a poster.)

One of the gates being brought in during construction.  (Another poster)

Costa Rica

Spending time on our veranda.

The walkway from the ship to the gift shops - as far as we went in Costa Rica.

Two days at sea, to walk the deck, lay around, read, eat, watch movies.

Grass patch for magician's doggie.  I passed it while taking walks on the deck.

After the cruise, we went back to pick up our car and drove west across Florida to visit a friend in Lake Lucy, near Port Charlotte.  It rained the whole way.

We spent the day and over night with John and Laurie before driving home.


After leaving John's, we drove north thru Florida and Georgia.

We stayed overnight in Chattanooga, TN.

Because the weather was lousy, instead of taking our time to sightsee along the way, we decided to drive straight home.

We got home just after 8:00 PM to -6 degrees (that's 6 degrees below zero F).

We had a couple days before Helen's flight home, so...
we returned the rental car
got my car thawed out
watched old movies

Helen's flight left a little late, but she made it home safely.