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Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama Canal February 4th 2014

27thJanuary 2014 Transit of the Panama Canal This to me is one of the highlights of the World Cruise. The sheer size of everything is something to try and take in, they are currently undertaking expansion work and at the first lock, on the banks were the new lock gates (picture). The Queen Elizabeth is known as a Panamax ship, i.e. it is the biggest ship in width that can fit .through the locks. There was 2ft each side when entering the locks, a tight squeeze!! It costs Cunard in the region of 300,000 US dollars to use the canal (one way). We arrived at the entrance to the first lock at 8 am with the temperatures already in the high 70’s. The transit of the canal takes about 8-10 hrs depending on canal traffic. Some ... read more
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Central America Caribbean » Panama » Chiriquí » Boquete January 23rd 2014

My first stop in Central America after Chile was Panama City. I stayed 6 long, hot days in Panama City so I could be assured of watching the New England Patriots lose the AFC Championship Game in demoralizing fashion to the hated Denver Broncos and golden boy Peyton Manning. It wasn't a total waste, however, as Panama City is actually quite nice, my hostel was great, and there was a fantastic place to eat close by. The only other place in Panama that I visited was Boquete, high in the coffee growing region and a welcome relief from Panama City's oppressive heat. Now in Costa Rica where I hope to soon tackle the second Central American peak on my list - Chirripó, a bit higher than Barú but not a night ascent as there is a ... read more
Sunrise
Volcán Barú Summit Cross
Shadow of Volcán Barú

Central America Caribbean » Panama January 14th 2014

Hello everybody, This 77 kilometre canal between the Atlantic and Pacific celebrates 100 years this August. France started the project in 1879, but disease--malaria and yellow fever--plus a lack of engineering expertise did them in. Although the excavation was two-fifth finished, it sat for many years until the United States got involved. At the time it was part of Colombia. Panamanian rebels got support from the U.S. and separated from Colombia. The new state of Panama sold the rights to the Panama Canal to the U.S. for $10 million. The U.S. gave France $40 million for the excavation work they had completed. By this time is was 1903 and technology and disease control was much better. During construction, 200 million cubic metres of material were removed. If you put this stuff on railway cars, it would ... read more
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We arrived in San Jose at 11.30pm after about 26 hour travel, into the hotel at 11.30pm back out again at 8.00am for city look and to the ship, SanJose very Spanish, we went to the National Theatre built with the tax on coffee, then Museum for a bit f there culture, to Grecia to view the steel church, yep whole church prefabricated and shipped to be erected. Next stop to the ship and at last somewhere to relax. Steamed through the night to Golfo Dulce and next morning into the zodiacs to look around the mangrove and river entrance, after noon to the Animal Rescue centre where many animals now have refuge from being put into captivity many are released but many must remain there, very hot 24c and humid, also to the Orchid House ... read more

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá January 2nd 2014

Panama- December 2013 We visited Panama in December 2013. Here are some highlights from the trip. Panama Canal- Still considered as one of the engineering wonders of the world, this is Panama’s most famous site. French started the construction of canal in 1880; U.S finished the construction in 1914 and managed it till 1999.It connects Atlantic Ocean (via Caribbean Sea) to Pacific Ocean. There are locks at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake; 85 ft above sea level to allow the crossing through the continental divide, then lowers the ships to sea level on the other side. The current locks are 110 ft (allow for Panamax ships to pass) but wider lock needed for newer, wider ships (Pospanamax ships) is under construction. We visited both locks, Gatun at Atlantic side and Moraflores from ... read more
2.View of the Caribbean Sea from San Lorenzo Fort
3.Rusty Canon at San Lorenzo fort
4. Locking gates at Gatun Locks

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama Canal December 22nd 2013

Sunday 8th – Sunday 22ndDecember 2013 Including Jennie’s 50th Norwegian Star – Panama Canal transit and Mexican Riviera Two weeks of mostly fine and sunny with some rain – averaging 29c The Norwegian Star is our last NCL ship for this holiday adventure. It is not a large ship as it needs to be able to transit the Panama Canal. Its gross tonnage is 91,740 and guest capacity is 2,350 looked after by 1,100 crew. The Topaz Suite on the Norwegian Star was our two bedroomed apartment at sea for this sailing. What a great stroke of luck in getting this amazing suite. NCL had overbooked and so asked that we combine cabins with Di and Max and hence we got this amazing upgrade! A lovely birthday present and a great surprise. The master suite came ... read more
What an ensuite!
Colourful Colombian birds
Colombian architecture

Central America Caribbean » Panama December 14th 2013

The Virgin Mary festivities having ended meant the end of fireworks and less noise, not bad. Had breakfast and strolled back to my humble lodgings the anti thesis of luxury, but then again you don't get much for 15 bucks the bed was good enough though and the place quite silent so all in all not to bad. I met up with two Farangs that I'd met the other night they were going for breakfast and I tagged along and had a fruitjuice with them. Then I got my first job of the day, yours truly: Medical Interpreter! The German bloke was hard of hearing so I found an Ortorinolaryngologist which to you means and ear, nose and throat doc. He got his ears rinsed out and felt like a new man, then we went and ... read more
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Central America Caribbean » Panama November 25th 2013

PANAMA CANAL AND COLON, PANAMA--Monday, November 25, 2013 Overcast and nice and cool. We were up early to watch the ship go through the first lock (Gatun) and then sail into and anchor in Gatun Lake. The four of us gathered after breakfast in the lounge until our tour was called, as we had to tender to the pier. The tender craft were lifeboats that held up to 120 or so people. We then got on our small 20 passenger bus and rode by the construction of the new canal just as it opened up and started pouring rain. We were able to see some, but the rain made it difficult to see clearly. By the time we got to the lock itself the rain had cleared and we could watch a freighter go through the ... read more
1311-162 everyone waiting for our ship to pass into the lock--more cars on the other side
1311-163 The pilot of our tender boat
1311-164 The tourist gate for Gatun Lock


The San Blas islands are an archipelago located in the Kuna Yala district in the Caribbean sea off Panama, however they do stretch all the way down to Colombia. Only around 15% are inhabited, with the rest comprising of a small piece of sand and some coconut trees, just above sea level. They represent to me the typical picture post card snapshot that you have in your head of the Caribbean, with aquamarine water, eye-burning bright white sand and the green of coconut palms. Underneath the water lies the world's third largest reef. On our first stay in Panama City a few months back, we had found a good company to do a trip with out to the islands, and it made it easy for us to arrange as we burnt our way down south from ... read more
Isla Achutupo
Mojo enjoying the sun at Isla Achutupo
One of the many small islands


The sloth was languid in the tree, curled up on a fork in the branch structure, preventing its fall with one long, vertically outstretched arm wrapping its three fingers around an overhead tree-limb. This was not what I had expected when heading to the idyllic island archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Panama. The islands are located in the Caribbean Sea, a half hour boat ride from the mainland town of Almirante and only about 30kms from the border with Costa Rica. We travelled there on an overnight bus from Panama City, having seen the ships pass through the famous canal and wandered around the old town, which is somewhat reminiscent of Havana in Cuba. Bocas del Toro consists of numerous islands; however the real gems are the uninhabited keys, known as Cayos Zapatillos. These ... read more
Cayos Zapatillas
A typical view.
Our transport for exploring the islands.




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