November 10, 2019

Nov 9 - Crossing The Panama Canal

During the night there are several heavy storms. When I go outside just before 7:00 we are ready to enter the first lock, The skies are cloudy, but no rain. For many passengers this is the first time they have ever been thru the canal. The narration is excellent. Bill is a retired canal employee that worked in various positions across the canal in his 30 year career.  Steve, the cruise director, implies that he is just a passenger that has voluntered to narrate. I hope not, at a minimum he should have been given a free cruise.

We soon learn that the schedule for entertainment that had been revised yesterday, isn't going to work as our transit is scheduled to be much faster than anticipated.

Time to reprint the Compass for the third time, this time after they were distributed to the guests. God forbid if trivia didn't take place at the proper time. I often listen, but don't care to participate. Trivia is the one activity that some passengers are very passionate about. Key chains are so valuable.

Traffic in the canal doesn't appear to be very heavy. There is one ship directly in front of us, but by the time we get into Gantun Lake there are only a few ships holding for clearance into the next lock. A large container ship, a ship with a cargo of about 100 wind turbine blades stacked on the deck, and several tankers probably carrying crude oil or distilled product.

The weather remains ideal all day, mostly overcast but not any rain.

The passenger that caused so much trouble the first few days must have tamed his anger. He has been seen, but to the best of my knowledge there have not been any more altercations.

For the first time there is a "silent dance party" tonight. Popular on Royal ships for several years, I go with Chuck and Janice, a new experience for them. Besides chosing what music you want to listen to with your headphones, you get to control the volume.  Red and green lights on the headphones indicate what you are listening to. I find it interesting that some couples are each listneing to different sound tracks while dancing together.

I have never had much of a taste for whiskey or bourbon but tonight there is a free tasting in the shops. Chuck convinces me to go with them.  They are featuring a very rare Kentucky bourbon. I concede it is very good. Chuck buys two bottles, and I purchase the last one on the ship. Not having any more to sell, we help consume multiple samples from the open bottle that can't be sold and with no remaining inventory has no value to the shops for future sales. I think this is a good way to use up the remainder of the non refundable credit on my account.

We exited  the last locks about 3:30. Just outside the entrance to the canal there are about 30 to 35 ships holding for either entry to the canal or orders to pick up a load of cargo somewhere. We join the crowd as we need to waste more than 12 hours until we can tie up in Colon, Panama our next port which is just outside the entrance to the canal.

Nov 8 - A Sea Day

During the night there are several rainstorms. The ship has some motion, but to be honest, after being here for over three weeks it is no longer noticed.

The lectures on sea days are interesting, and provide a break from the ongoing trivia and other games. I mentioned one on animal intelligence the other day. With veterans day coming up, a very appropriate one was about the importance of naval campaigns in the Caribbean during World II. Something you seldom hear about.

Today's talk was about the evolution of pets. Obviously dogs are man's first choice. 

Not surprising, having seen them in Yellowstone, and observing tourist behavior, bison are not tamed for pets, and in fact kill more people than any other cause in all the national parks.

Throughout the day the temperatures remain in the high 70's or low 80's. Occasionally the sun peeks through for a time, but we escape any of the predicted  rain. 

I wouldn't call it heavy traffic, but we see more and more ships following the same heading we are on. Ships headed to the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal.

One of the headliner entertainers that was to board the ship yesterday was unable to make it, leaving Steve short on entertainment. A scramble to rearrange the schedule, and a quick call to Miami, and another entertainer is found that will board the ship in Colon, perform his show, and leave the ship the next morning in Cartegena.

The Compass, the daily program of activities, is all printed for our day in the canal when the ship receives word of a schedule change for the locks.  The compass needs to be reprinted. 

With our first locks scheduled for 7:00 am I set my alarm before I retire.