Mike and Renée cruise
the Panama Canal
December 2016

For our Christmas cruise in 2016 we flew to Fort Lauderdale to board the Coral Princess for a partial transit Panama Canal cruise.

The entire ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Everyone on the ship, including 400 kids, were in a holiday mood.
We were traveling with our friend and frequent cruisemate Sue Fletcher. The first night we enjoyed hors d'oeuvres in our cabin.
Renée and I were both using our mobility scooters to get around this large ship so we had a handicap accessible balcony cabin. It was well designed and met all our needs. There was a roll in shower, and pull down clothing racks in the closet. There was plenty of room to store our two scooters. We had brought a heavy duty power strip to accomodate the chargers We found that we could usually go a whole day, aboard or ashore, on a night's chartge.
An interesting new feature on this ship is an app which allows you to create your own schedule on your phone. Since I always seem to lose the Patter, I was glad to have this feature.

Aruba was the first stop, and we had been there previously so we stayed aboard and enjoyed the ship's facilities.

There were many special events in the fabulously decorated Atrium. These elegant choral singers entertained us nightly.
Cartagena Colombia was the next stop. Renée took the city and folkloric show. She managed very well on her scooter.
The next day, we entered the Canal. We were in the older narrow Canal, and the ship had very slight clearance on either side. It was pleasant to watch the canal mechanism from the balcony.
The Panama Canal is certainly one of the great engineering feats of the modern world. Watching the massive locks in operation is nothing less than fascinating.

The Captain announced that he toll for our ship to pass through the old Canal was a quarter of a million dollars. If we had used the bigger, new canal which runs alongside the old one, it would cost a cool million.

He announced that we took on board four licensed Panama Canal pilots who took over the helm of the ship for the transit.

Renée disembarked by tender in Gatun Lake, the middle of the Canal
She then transferred to a dugout canoe to visit the village of the Embera Indians beside the lake.
The next stop was Limon, Costa Rica. Here we both joined a ship's excursion, and had no trouble at all with the scooters. Everyone was extremely helpful and considerate of our needs.
We visited the Sloth Conservation Center. Here we learned a great deal about this amazing animal and had a chance to visit many of the rescued sloths. This is Buttercup, at age 23 the grande dame of the Center.
A small boat then took us through the waterways to spy the rehabilitated sloths in the trees in their typical upside down posture.
Then the big day arrived! Christmas was heralded by no less a celebrity than Santa Claus himself, attended by two very attractive elves. I had to shoot the picture from two decks up as all the kids were lined up to receive their gifts!
Then the ship made its final port at Grand Cayman. Here Renée took the ship's tour around the island including the turtle farm.
We enjoyed playing the Trivia aboard, usually teaming with our new friend Kathie. One magical day, we actually achieved the practically impossible, a PERFECT score!
We found that the Coral Princess was a wonderful place to spend Christmas. She is a beautiful ship and the decorations made the holiday truly special.

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