Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Cruising - A Yearly Tradition


Nearly every year my husband, Steve, and I take a cruise in December. It’s our Christmas present to each other. We usually settle on a five-seven day cruise in the Caribbean, but this year we decided to do something different. We went to the Panama Canal and South America on the Island Princess.
The trip included five days at sea and five ports of call—Aruba, Cartagena, Panama Canal and Colon, Limon and Ocho Rios.

Our favorite stop was the Panama Canal and a trip through the Panamanian rainforest. Early in the morning, special canal pilots boarded the ship to steer it through the locks. As our ship entered the Gatun locks (there are three), Steve and I stood on the balcony of our room and watched the process while the sun came up. It was an interesting scene. The canal is 50 miles long, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the Isthmus of Panama, but once we went through the locks, our ship only traveled as far as Gatun Lake. The port lecturer on the ship provided a running commentary over the loudspeaker as we passed through, giving us plenty of detail.

Once we entered Gatun Lake, we left the ship and were tendered to shore to meet our tour bus for our trip to the rainforest. This is a view of the Gamboa rainforest (inside the Soberania national forest) from the main balcony of the Rainforest Resort, looking out at the Chagres River. We stopped there for a few minutes on the way to the aerial tram that took us across the jungle canopy (where we saw sloths sleeping in the trees and listened to toucans calling each other). The view of the rainforest is amazing! Panama has set aside one quarter of their country as protected lands so there is plenty to see.

At the end of the tram ride through the jungle canopy we encountered a visitor, just hanging around, waiting for nice tourists to provide free treats.
This little guy is a “Coati,” a mix of raccoon and anteater. He was quite the little extrovert, standing on his haunches to reach up as I fed him a chunk of banana.

By the time we finished the tour, it began to rain steadily. I grabbed my umbrella and spent a couple minutes just strolling around. I figured I might never experience a shower in that rainforest again and I wanted to enjoy it while I could. Perhaps one day I’ll be fortunate enough to see the Amazon rainforest. I certainly hope so.
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 Denise Devine is a USA TODAY bestselling author who has had a passion for books since she discovered Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder in second grade. She wrote her first book, a mystery, at age thirteen and has been writing ever since. Merry Christmas, Darling is a light romantic comedy and the first book in the "Counting Your Blessings" series. She's currently hard at work on book two. To find out more about Denise, please visit her at www.deniseannettedevine.com




6 comments:

  1. Denise, I'm so envious. Thanks so much for sharing your cruise adventure. My hubby and I cruised each December the first few years we were married. We often think of doing it again and your post has made me long for it. Like you, we typically did the Eastern Caribbean cruises of 7-8 days but your 10 day one sounds just wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing.

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    1. It was a lot of fun. The sea was very calm this time. I'd love to do a cruise around the West Mediterranean next, but don't know when that will be.

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  2. Your cruise sounds wonderful. We've taken several Caribbean cruises, and I've tried to talk my hubby into the Panama Canal, but he doesn't like all the days at sea. Maybe one day I'll change his mind.

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    1. There is a lot to do if you get on one of the bigger ships--movie theaters, bowling alleys, things like that. Panama is building a new canal right alongside the present one and it is much bigger. It will accommodate the big ships.

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  3. Sounds like a terrific trip with wonderful memories!!

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  4. I've known quite a few folk who go on cruises and love them!! One day....

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