Cruising with Mary Alyce, Statendam, Jan 2009

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(Editors Note: Mary Alyce is one of our field reporters here at cruise talk. She cruises about 3 or 4 times a year and sends us her daily blog to post here at cruise talk. For this cruise she is traveling on the Statendam, by Holland America. Her voyage includes the Caribbean, Panama Canal and South America)


First Port: Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

We are on the Statendam and have a spent a sunny and Warm day At Half Moon Cay. It was 76 degrees and the water was cool but blue and clear and lots of fish enjoyed our cheerios.

We had an interesting time avoiding the snow and leaving a day early for our Inca discovery cruise. We enjoyed dinner in Ft. Lauderdale on the beach at the Casa Blanca, great mahi mahi and lobster ravioli. Our friends Mel and Helene made it out Saturday morning and were in time for launching. The ship waited for some delayed passengers so we did not leave until about 6:30. We had a water show from the fire boats because the Statendam will not be back to Florida until the fall. It was spectacular but a bit damp as the spray came over the deck. Tomorrow is Turks & Caico should be warm and sunny.

Turks and Caico and Aruba:

We enjoyed a rainy day in Turks& Caico. We ventured into the beach shopping area for a few minutes but the deluge chased us back to the ship. We caught a few rays on the deck and did lots of ship activities. We accrued quite a few “Dam” Dollars for playing games. We can redeem them for “Dam” gifts at the end of the cruise. We are on a back to back cruises called Inca Discovery. As we discover we will keep you updated.

Yesterday we were at sea. As it was a bit rough, it kept quite a few people from dinner, but not us. I enjoyed a demonstration by the ships’ florist. I have all kinds of great ideas. The guest lecturer was really informative about the indigenous tribes inhabiting the areas we are going to visit.

Today we were in Aruba one of our favorite ports. We were treated to lunch by our friend Tesh at Kay Family Jewelers. We had a great drink with Brazilian rum and lots of limes. We both won at the casino in Aruba. So, we were happy campers when we headed back to the ship in the 80 degree sunny weather. We also found out one of our favorite dining room stewards, Bevy is on the Statendam. It was fun to see him and pictures of his family. Tomorrow we are in Columbia. This will be a first for us.

Columbia

Today we spent a busy day in Santa Marta, Columbia. A port city of 600,000. It is a city rich in history and the place where the “Great Liberator, Simon Bolivar” died. They are very proud of their heritage. We visited the farm where Bolivar died in 1830 after liberating most of South America. We saw many iguanas, green, orange and giant guys. We explored the museum and learned of the indigenous people, the European imigrants, and the African heritage that influences the people of Columbia. They had some interesting jewelry that was used as body piercings. Ouch! The cathedral was built in 1645 and is still in good condition with many upgrades. There were about 20 statues of Mary, the Blessed Mother, very ornate with an abundance of gold leaf. We the went to Iotama and saw a folkloric dance and music show. It was extremely colorful with dancers and musicians. The women were very beautiful and the men handsome. Their dances were spirited and full of hip movements and flashing feet. We headed back to the ship in time for trivia and culinary trivia (herbs and spices.) We are heading to the San Blas Islands tomorrow. We will transit the Panama Canal on Sat. 1-17-09 starting early in the morning. We should end our transit around 3pm the Miraflores locks. .

San Blas

It was a sunny warm and humid day in the Islands of San Blas. Panama. We visited Coraputi Island,
The Cuna indians ,the indigenous population, are an organized society. They are economically savvy, charging $1 for a picture. They sell all types of moles, an embroidered piece of fabric quite intricate. They are an extremely small people only about 4ft – 5ft tall. I did pay to photograph couple of elderly woman with interesting faces. There were many outrigger canoes around the ship selling fish, crabs and lobster. We heard one of the chefs bought a big lobster for the captain.
We had dinner tonight with the Hotel manager and 3 other couples. Lots of excellent food and conversation. There are lots of swells in the Bay of San Blas tonight really hard to take a shower. We are sailing slowly as we await our turn in the Canal.

We are doing the cycling challenge at 3pm on the outer front Lido deck. They have great exercise classes on the ship every morning, stretch and aerobics and then into the pool to cool down. See you in the canal.

Panama Canal

We hit the canal early with 75 degree temps and a nice breeze. The sun rose at 6:50 and began to bake us. The breeze kept us comfortable until noon, when the temps kept us in the shade. Sorry to make the people in Michigan feel bad! We heard we missed record setting low temps. The ride through the canal was interesting. There is lots of new construction, no more jungle on the banks. There is also an additional canal being built for larger ships. We are anchored off the coast of Fuerte Amandor, Panama. It is right by Panama City. We are going to explore tomorrow. The Port lecturer lives in Panama and has given us an exact itinerary to see the highlights. We had Panama rolls the morning, It is a roll with custard and apricots that hits the spot at 6am as you watch the ship head into the first lock. Of course, Jim was sawing locks as that occurred. As many times as we go through the canal, I have to be on deck for the first lock. We had an Indian lunch with curry and nam. For dinner they had Dutch and Indonesian and our dining room steward brought us crew (homemade) sambal sauce(hot). really good!!
see you tomorrow.

Panama City

Well, it was an interesting day in Panama City. We tried to get a taxi at the port but they were only letting limos into the quay. We asked to go to the old city and ended up paying 25 DOLLARS TO GO TO A HUGE SHOPPING MALL. We explored for awhile and then found a taxi to take us downtown. We ended up at a center with 4 hotels and a casino. While there we decided we would try our luck I quadrupled my $5. We were able to get a taxi back to the ship with a tour of the old city saw the cathedral and the university. It was an interesting day. The citizens were helpful and friendly but the Limo drivers were a pain. The taxis were cheap and wild as they drove through the city at breakneck speed and played chicken along the way. We are at sea tomorrow. Tonight is the Idonesian crew show and stargazing with the officers. We won trivia today on the tiebreaker.