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twangster

ūüéĶPanama! ūüéĶ Vision of the Seas Oct. 30, 2019

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1 hour ago, FManke said:

The QE2 is supposedly haunted. Anything?

It's a ship.  No different than sailing a modern cruise ship.  No matter what ship you board the same stories are rumored.  Same with hotels.  How old is the oldest hotel you've stayed in?  More than 20 years old year?  See any ghosts?

1 hour ago, FManke said:

Silly question, but I just thought of it when I saw the picture. Do you always sleep in the same bed, or do you switch off? 

Also, I know people generally don't care for shower curtains, but I'll take that over a tube shower any day!

I tend to use one bed for stuff so that leaves one bed for snoozing.  

1 hour ago, WannaCruise said:

It's a beautiful ship from twangster's photos, but I personally find it creepy.  Maybe because it reminds me of the titanic and that one didn't end so well.

That was 1912.  This ship, the Queen Mary sailed for the first time 24 years later and for over 30 years since did that same route weekly, week after week.  In fact the crossing to Long Beach was sailing 1,000.  One thousand sailings across the very same stretch of water.  Her sister ship did the same.  Two thousands crossings and no Titanic moment.  

Learning from that tragedy the QM had lifeboat and liferaft capacity for 8,000 with a typical guest count of just over 2,000. 

The Queen Mary is proof that human engineering does evolve.  It learns from mistakes.  Those same lessons make cruising as safe as it is today.   

For me it's a time capsule or time machine.  A very rare opportunity to go back in history and see where this whole cruise industry evolved from.   

Fly in an airplane?  Want to list airline disasters over the past 30 years?  Didn't think so.  

1 hour ago, FManke said:

Damn iceberg. Both beautiful and dangerous.¬†ūüėā

Indeed.  Mankind learned a very big lesson that day that humbled a lot of learned scholars from that time.  We can all thank marine disasters such as Titanic for cruising to be as safe and casual as it is today.  

That's the takeaway - this beautiful old ship learned from previous disasters and was an incredibly safe means to travel.

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Day 5 Sunset pictures

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Later that night after the show I saw a large city off to the port side.  Acapulco, Mexico.  

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Day 6 Sea Day pictures

Our progress...

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For those who don't believe they ever open the roof of the solarium, behold the solarium in sunlight.

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From the top tier event.  Four new Pinnacles crowned on this day.

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Day 7 - Puerto Queztal, Guatemala

As we approached land you could clearly make out several volcanoes through the morning mist.

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The one on the left would occasionally left off a small puff of dark smoke.  It must be active.

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Black sand beaches were a hint at this regions volcanic past.

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Entering the port area also used by cargo ships.

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And with that we were clear to debark in Guatemala.  

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50 minutes ago, twangster said:

For those don't believe they ever open the roof of the solarium, behold the solarium in sunlight.

Good to see! I have yet to see them open the Solarium roof on Brilliance.

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Today's excursion... Panoramic Antigua.  

The cruise port area of Puerto Queztal is nice but on the small side and an isolated area within an industrial port area offloading coal, fuel and containers.  It's not an area where you can walk anywhere really, an excursion is recommended.   

Antigua is an old city in the mountains at an elevation of 5,029' (1,532 m) above sea level.  The bus ride is ~ 90 minutes.  The third capital City of Guatemala, it was founded in 1543.  

One of the benefits of a long bus ride is getting to see the country or at least this coastal volcanic region of Guatemala.  Our guide on our motorcoach talks about the four volcanoes clearly visible as we drive away from the coast.

One of these volcanoes is Fuego and still active.  We see evidence of this as we are driving with several puffs of dark smoke erupting from time to time.  Our guide tells us these are actual eruptions just on a smaller scale compared to the sort of eruption that causes damage. 

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The volcano Aqua was the reason why the city of Antigua was created as the third capital.  In 1541 Aqua had a near perfect crater on top.  During the rainy season this crater filled with water until an earthquake cracked the crater sending torrents of water flooding downhill and wiping out the capital city at that time.  Hence this volcano got it's name Aqua or water in English.

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As we climb into the mountains we pass through several small towns and villages.

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Our guide tells us the story of the chicken buses.  In the U.S. when school buses reach 10 years old or 150,000 miles many jurisdictions require they be retired and new school buses acquired.  Guatemalans are just one destination where the old school buses go.  They are purchased privately and souped up.  They install motors from 18 wheel semi trucks, beef up the braking system, convert automatic transmissions to standard, add leafs to the suspension and turn them into private buses offering public transportation.  They make other modifications like installing the hood of a semi-truck or putting chrome on them.

Our guide tells us no self-respecting chicken bus owner would be caught without a 1,000 watt stereo system and a 32" flat panel TV on their bus.  So these aren't school buses anymore.

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Our drive continues to an area called ground zero from the June 2018 eruption of Fuego.¬† This eruption involved a pyroclastic flow of ash, boulders and debris heated to 600¬įC.¬† In this former river bed it deposited over 50' of volcanic debris.

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Numerous bridges were damaged or destroyed and they are still rebuilding them today.

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This community was one of the hardest hit.  With little or no warning the pyroclastic flow traveling at an estimated 150 mph destroyed the area and claimed hundreds of lives.  The superheated temperature and gases caused the greatest loss of life.

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Another bridge that had to be rebuilt.

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Looking up the valley of this former riverbed you can see just how deep the volcanic debris is.

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Once we reach the outskirts of Antigua we have to transfer to smaller buses that can navigator the small streets of this 400+ year old city.   This broad avenue is not what we'll find once inside the city.

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One of many colonial churches from the past.

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This is a public laundry that is free to residents.

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The cobblestone streets make for a bumpy bus ride. 

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The minimum wage in Guatemala was said to be around $250 per month with an average income of $400 per month being typical.  Many people take multiple jobs to make ends meet.

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For our next stop we get off the bus and walk to the Central Park of Antigua.  

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The ladies you see walking around with merchandise are not aggressive but they are plentiful and each is eager to offer you something.  You'll need to repeat 'no' several times but they are just trying to make a living and are not aggressive so be patient and understanding.  Negotiating your price is expected.  All items are handmade in Guatemala and there are many beautiful items to choose from. 

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Numerous colonial churches exist within Antigua.  A series of earthquakes in the 16th through 18th century did extensive damage and eventually led to moving the capital away from the region.  At the time people believed the earthquakes were caused by volcanic eruptions and the proximity to the volcano Fuego was determined to be undesirable.  Only later with modern science was it noted that this area of Guatemala sits where three of the earth's tectonic plates come together making it rife with earthquakes.

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The outside of these businesses only tell a little bit.  The real beauty is in the courtyards within.

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I even spotted some foreign food:

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Several hundred years ago this was the seat of the Central American government.  

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The next stop was at a Jade factory.

Jade and Guatemala has a long and storied history.  The tectonic plates in this region make it a source of Jade.  

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The visit here starts with a brief lecture on the history of Jade in the region and the use of Jade in ancient cultures. 

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On the ride back down to the coast Fuego remains a prominent feature occasionally popping into view.  You can see the scar from the 2018 pyroclastic flow.  

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Back in Puerto Queztal here are some pictures from around the cruise port.

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Back to the ship...

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Nearing sail away from Puerto Queztal this is a look back towards the cruise port area.

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The distinct smell of campfire filled the air and a haze formed over the area.

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While we didn't need a tugboat one was at the ready to help us make the sharp turn to leave port.

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With that our day in Guatemala was complete.

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I forgot to mention the phone call the other day.   My cabin phone rang and a woman from guest services introduced herself.  

They had noticed I was booked on Empress out of Miami when this cruise ends.  They would be offering transportation from Vision in Ft. Lauderdale to Empress in Miami.  Details would be forthcoming as we get closer to Ft. Lauderdale.

This was unsolicited.  I didn't mention my plans to anyone. 

I was planning on using a rideshare figuring I could take my time debarking and making my way to Miami.  This is even better.  

#royalwow

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2 minutes ago, twangster said:

I was planning on using a rideshare figuring I could take my time debarking and making my way to Miami.  This is even better.  

Nice!  I had heard they did this when there were several S2S cruisers that needed to go between different terminals within Miami, but I haven't seen them offer the port transfer in a while!  

Let us know how many folks take advantage of this; I am definitely curious how many people are doing a S2S.

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18 minutes ago, AshleyDillo said:

Nice!  I had heard they did this when there were several S2S cruisers that needed to go between different terminals within Miami, but I haven't seen them offer the port transfer in a while!  

Let us know how many folks take advantage of this; I am definitely curious how many people are doing a S2S.

Coming off the Symphony TA last year they provided a bus for roughly 30 of us going to Ft Lauderdale on Serenade.

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I visited Antigua several years ago and our guide kept discussing the earthquakes that had destroyed the city over and over again until the point that the capital was moved.  After getting back to our high rise hotel in Guatemala City; the next day we experienced an Earthquake!  No damage done, but there was quite a bit of sway from the top floors of the building.  All I could think about for those briefs moments were the ruins we had just left.  An experience not soon forgotten. 

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Day 8 - Sea Day

Ugh.  The cruise is half over!

Our progress as we sail off the coast of Nicaragua... 

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Pretty great weather so far as we do some bird watching on this sea day.

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It's pretty amazing to see them fishing.  They dive completely underwater to pursue a fish. 

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When one of them catches one it's like a 2 for $20 t-shirt sale on the promenade.  

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43 minutes ago, twangster said:

Day 8 - Sea Day

Ugh.  The cruise is half over!

Our progress as we sail off the coast of Nicaragua... 

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Pretty great weather so far as we do some bird watching on this sea day.

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It's pretty amazing to see them fishing.  They dive completely underwater to pursue a fish. 

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When one of them catches one it's like a 2 for $20 t-shirt sale on the promenade.  

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I love bird watching - these photos are amazing!!! So envious - thank you for sharing!

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On 11/3/2019 at 3:06 PM, twangster said:

Walking around the marina in almost a full circle you come to that beach we could see from the ship.

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Thank you for sharing all of your awesome pictures!  I vacationed in Cabo San Lucas twice back in the late 80's and stayed there almost 2 weeks. It was still somewhat of a sleepy little fishing town at that time...The only thing recognizable is the arch!  One of the activities I did while there was to catch a 95 lb sailfish. It took over 2 hours and I thought my arms were going to fall off! 

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Day 9 - Puntarenas, Costa Rica 

This area has a tidal approach that required we enter at high tide so at 3:30am the bow thrusters woke me up.  

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Finally the sun broke the horizon and day began.

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This area was dark when I first went top side so I started to see why this area is called Puntarenas or point of sand.

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The pier is halfway down the point and in the early dawn light I could tell this area looked spectacular.

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Lots of these guys checking us out.  They have a pretty large wing span and that beak looks like it means business.

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5 minutes ago, twangster said:

Day 9 - Puntarenas, Costa Rica 

This area has a tidal approach that required we enter at high tide so at 3:30am the bow thrusters woke me up.  

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qsVhonz.jpg

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Finally the sun broke the horizon and day began.

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This area was dark when I first went top side so I started to see why this area is called Puntarenas or point of sand.

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The pier is halfway down the point and in the early dawn light I could tell this area looked spectacular.

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Lots of these guys checking us out.  They have a pretty large wing span and that beak looks like it means business.

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Love the early morning pictures. One of my favorite times on board. Walking around with a cup of coffee, enjoying the quiet beauty of the morning. The best!

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Forgot to mention this the other day...

One of the side effects of cruising often close together is that the Crystal Block providers don't always keep up with you.  Even though I technically earned a block on a recent cruise on another ship because the points take so long to post, sometimes that can work in your favor.  And so it is that I found this in my cabin:

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2 minutes ago, twangster said:

Forgot to mention this the other day...

One of the side effects of cruising often close together is that the Crystal Block providers don't always keep up with you.  Even though I technically earned a block on a recent cruise on another ship because the points take so long to post, sometimes that can work in your favor.  And so it is that I found this in my cabin:

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It's a major award!¬†ūüėĀ

Seriously though, what does it take to get these?

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