Monday, May 11, 2009

Cruising through the Panama Canal - Part 1

Saturday, 18 April, my DH and I flew off to Ft. Lauderdale, the departure point for the cruise. DD took us to the airport, good thing she now has a license. OK, it has been about a year now. We had an early morning flight, so left around 4:30am, ouch! Everything went smoothly and we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale. I read Jennifer Chiaverini's new book, the Lost Quilter, on the flight and started a Noro silk scarf in two colors, alternating every two rows. The Holland America scheduled transportation to the hotel went smoothly, although it took awhile for everyone to assemble. We ate at the hotel, not great food, but OK, then walked along the beach boardwalk until it ran out of road.
Next day was boarding day, and Sunday brunch at the hotel. Again, HAL transportation went smoothly. Embarkation onto the Westerdam went well, very smooth. They have mini-cams that they use to take your picture for security, much quicker than lining up for a photographer. Then we got on board and it was a zoo. No one could go to their rooms yet and they had us all herded to the Lido deck so we could eat. We were not that hungry since we ate at the hotel. And finding a place to park was not that easy. We found a spot by the pool where we could leave our carry-ons (subsequently delivered to our rooms) which made it easier to walk around. Then we went to the Explorations Cafe, to become our favorite place to hang out, and had a Mojito, the drink of the day. Pretty good too. While there we heard the announcement that we could go to our cabins now, so found ours and while there my Dad and step-mom showed up (they had the cabin next to ours).
That night we went to dinner and met our wait staff, Mario and Arnold. They were wonderful throughout the cruise. Our cappucinos after dinner became automatic, and they arranged for Hank's creme brulee for dessert too. It is his favorite and he had it just about every night after the first night. Hank and Gwen are friends of Marion's, and became friends of ours too as the cruise progressed. Our evening schedule was pretty much dinner at 5:30, then show at 7pm, Hank and Gwen securing us front row seats, then something, followed by a drink at the Crow's Nest listening to a singer/guitarist, Ian Toomey. Not a great singer, but fun. Sometimes I knit, sometimes not. The Crow's nest was part of the Explorations Cafe, and on Deck 10 forward. Great place to hang out when we went through the canal.

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