Thursday, May 27, 2010

Getting from Florida to Alaska the long way!

The Coral Princess - 30days at sea from Ft. Lauderdale to Whitter Alaska!

Aruba: Beautiful little dutch colony. Went snorkeling here, diving under the mast of an old war wreck and scaring the scuba divers down deeper was the highlight. Plenty of fishy stuff also!

Cartargena (Columbia): Old Spanish fort and walled city were the attractions to see. Alet having her photo taken with Columbian lady, so much colour but to much clothing for that heat! Had a feed of fish and banana fritters and back to the ship (and air-con).

Panama Canal: The size of the Coral Princess leaves 6 inches space each side and 1 foot short of the maximum length...this is how to fit a VERY large ship into an elevator (lock) your life you must see at least 1 transit of the lock system, incredible how the ship is manoeuvred and raised, hard to believe created 100+years ago!

Puerto Amador (Panama): A taxi driver played tour guide and showed us the city and Old City (another Spanish fort) Seafood curry in a pineapple was lunch and back to the ship (and air-con).

Puntarenas(Costa Rica): 'Pura Vida' - Spanish for 'all is good'...yep love the life in Costa Rica...and the Zip Line's. Great tour through jungle, a fauna/flora talk with the downhill rush of Zip Lines!

Huatulco (Mexico): For a few hours we could escape the ship to enjoy a beer on shore. I explored the town first trying to find a pair of cobra cowboy boots (no luck) and also mango (the ONE food not available on the ship).

Acapulco (Mexico): Here I refused to go along with the geriatrics and wanted to feel the pulse of the place. I hailed a local taxi bus and had a flamboyant ride along the coast, went to the aquarium and was amazed at the human sardines on the beaches (public holiday in Mexico brings everyone out). The city is famous for its cliff divers...yeah they had bigger balls than I do...its a big jump off and you have to time it perfectly so that you land in the top of the swell or your going to hit the rocks under the water!

San Lucas (Mexico):
The end of the Baja Peninsula is a mecca for American tourists and deservedly. Its close to the USA, beautiful (deserts and dramatic ocean) and things are cheap (Mexico). I spent the day snorkeling where the oceanic currents swirl and create a fiesta of fish. Pity about the sunburn but beautiful location.
Los Angeles (California): Here I rung Adrian and we went for Taco-Van taco's...just as good again. Big ship but still doesn't compare to the feeling of riding in Adrian's monster truck!
Victoria (Canada): Until this stage I had been filling time on the ship reading, eating, going to the gym, eating, talking to the old folks, was nice to be able to go for a run on terra firma! Although I had been in Victoria before it was a totally different was sunny and the British buildings and manicured gardens were fantastic to walk around.
Vancouver (Canada): Did a complementary tram tour of the city...nice way to catchup on some sleep before re-joining the ship.

Juneau (Alaska): I went Zip Lining again...totally different to Costa Rica. The spruce and hemlock (pine trees) held the cables and you went whizzing over snow and creeks...very different to the tropical jungle of Costa Rica. Then a visit to Mendenhall Glacier...the first of many glaciers I would/will see in Alaska!

): Snorkeling...yep another snorkeling experience and probably the best and most memorable. The water may have only been 8deg Celsius but nothing that a wet suit couldn't keep out! Gloves and booties but stunningly beautiful. The sea felt thick and soupy with life and to dive between the kelp was amazing. So many starfish, sea cucumbers and hermit crabs. FANTASTIC
Vancouver (Canada): Caught up with Matt who has a very enviable job-holiday working between Canada and Hawaii. I made it back to the ship with plenty of time to spare yet held it up...apparently $10,000 USD per hour to dock at the port and I held it up...caused some tension obviously. I had been waved onto the ship with a valid Visa stamp that needed to be re-validated...bugger!

Ketchikan (Alaska): I had come a long way to go hiking in was only small day hike but enough to want more...strange to find solitude after 5 min outside the town...tourists madly buying "crap" and salmon 'this and that'...nice to escape humanity before re-joining the 3000+ people on the ship after a few hours of solitude!

Juneau (Alaska): I went for a walk up around the hills behind the capital city. Great to get outside and walk again and then the added bonus of being in the right place at the right time get a free Glacier flight.

): More day walks...this time followed by a beer sampler...a sign of things to come in Alaska. Wild-west appearance to Skagway, looking forward to getting back later in the summer and making it to the top of the trails that I couldn't get to because of so much snow.

Glacier Bay National Park &
College Fjord are where those cruise ship advertisement photos are taken of the Alaskan cruise experience. However most tourist don't get to see the glacier because of rain, clouds, mist and the other examples of fine Alaskan weather (even in summer). The days we were there were perfect - sunshine, clear skies and the captain was able to take us right up to the glaciers where we could watch them calve (break off) into the water. The cruise ship experience wouldn't be complete without a smorgasbord of Alaskan salmon and a buffet to feed on whilst viewing the glaciers!

Whittier (Alaska): Time to long last I was getting off the ship! What a fantastic month, I don't know how I will ever be able to repay Alet for inviting me on the ship. Amazing memories and a different way of travelling. Not going to mention the cost because you wont believe it anyway!
If I make it to a ripe old age book me onto a Cruise boat...apparently it is cheaper than a retirement home and much more fun and I can eat myself to death!

Considering my famed appetite and the amazing buffet selection I came out weighing just the same...perhaps slightly fitter though as I spent those long hours at sea not only eating but watching movies from the treadmill or bike
Thank Alet and thankyou Princess Cruises!