Sunday, March 25, 2007

Cruising News.

Celebrity Cruise Line.
On board the "Mercury" from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA, across the Caribbean Sea and Panama Canal, up the Pacific Mexican coast to San Diego, California, March 4-18, 2007.

Cruising has become the most popular form of vacationing for a lot of people,- for the young, for families, for the not-so-young and retirees,- even for the disabled. The cruise companies cater for all and provide activities and facilities to suit all ages and all tastes, educationally, recreational and entertainment. The lecturers are first class, the entertainers are also from the top ranks in the industry and the variety shows are often worthy of Broadway! Spas and fitness facilities are now de riguer on all cruise liners. Many newer and bigger liners are constantly being built, but until they enlarge the Panama Canal, only the medium-sized (78.000 tons!) ships can pass through. The Mercury just scraped through the 3 Locks,- literally!

We don't have to mention the food,- the quantities and variety of dining venues and cuisines is legendary on board most of the modern cruise-liners. For those who suffer from sea-sickness, these ships are fitted with stabilizers so that one hardly feels any movement of the boat even in rougher seas. Luckily for us, most of the waters which we traversed were calm, the weather was warm to hot and all was "smooth sailing" during our cruise-holiday. The ports we visited were: Oranjestad, (Aruba) in the Caribbean, Panama Canal crossing which took most of a day and Puerto Amador ( Panama City) in the evening, Puntarenas (Costa Rica), Huatulco, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.

All these ports were colourful, lots of local arts and crafts were on sale and display, but especially the bountiful silver jewellery was the major item of interest for most of us who were commissioned by our kids and grandkids to bring back! There are tours available to all majpr sites of interest, but for most younger folk and the more adventurous, these ports afforded plenty of opportunity for beach visits and water-sports, snorkelling, whale-watching, hinterland tours, etc. Acapulco's famous cliff-divers were particularly popular.The Mexican coast is being developed for the well-heeled vacationers from the USA and beyond and building programs were in evidence everywhere and seems to be going ahead full speed.

The best part for the four of us Aussies, was the fact that we had such pleasant table-companions. We were an international lot,- Mexican and USA, Spaniards, Canadians and we Aussies. The Spanish couple were mere youngsters against the rest of us and with very limited English, but we all got on like a house-on-fire with lots of laughter and merriment during dinner! If Marcello and Maggie (USA), Bill and Janet (Canada), David and Eva (Spain) read this blog of mine, we send them greetings and best wishes for future happy holidays!

Finally, we disembarked in San Diego and spent 4 nights in La Jolla where we met up with our friend Martha and her family who looked after us admirably for a whole day. San Diego has much in common with Melbourne, though much hillier and more spread out. The Zoo, Coronado island, the restored Old Town and the Gas Lamp district were the main attractions as well as La Jolla's beautiful district itself. Australia seems to feature quite large in the area, with Westfield Shopping Malls, indiginous Australian Art Galleries, an Aussie pub which we kept passing and the most magnificent restaurant and bar called "Bondi" in the Gas Lamp tourist belt. The ultra modern design and interior decor are unbelievable!

Getting to the LA Airport was a bit unnerving. The driver of the shuttle van with whom we had booked our tranportation, proved unreliable and when he failed to turn up on time, we had to resort to alternative transport. Luckily the gracious old-world and renowned hotel "La Valencia" where we stayed was able to contact another company and we were expertly driven through a variety of side streets to avoid the rush-hour traffic on the freeway! We did manage to get to the airport on time and after an uneventful 15hour flight during a long night, we arrived safely home in the morning of Saturday, two days later! We missed out on a Friday on our way back , making up for the 2 Fridays which we had on the way in 3 weeks earlier!

Speaking of the freeway traffic,- we were particularly impressed by the orderly way in which it was organized. Our full passenger vehicle had its own fast outer lane; the trucks stayed in their inner lane. This is in direct contrast with the Ausralian experience on our freeways, where "anything goes"! Trucks overtake everyone everywhere and cause many accidents. Last Friday, just before we arrived home in Melbourne, a horrific pile-up occurred inside our city-fringe tunnel due to a couple of trucks colliding apparently,- with 3 innocent fatalities, some injuries and a fire which resulted in the forced evacuation of the whole tunnel. (A horror scenario which occurred in the European Alps once when we were in the region.)

Esta la vista,- au-revoir,- until next time!


No comments: