Saturday, May 2, 2009

Panama Canal

The info below is copied from an SAS memo. If you're interested in seeing us go through check it out!


Panama Canal:

Our tentative schedule is as follows:

            0910-1000  Transit Miraflores Locks

            1050-1130  Transit Pedro Miguel Locks

            1245  Pass by Gamboa

            1445-1705  Transit Gatun Locks


When we go through the Panama Canal there will be a webcam at the Gatun Locks and the Miraflores Locks from the Panama Canal website:    This way your friends and families at home can watch the ship sail through! The Canal Website has a new High Resolution Webcam at the Miraflores locks for a very clear image of the ship! More information and links to the webcams are located on the Panama Canal folder on the public drive.



Hawaii Day 1

        After nine straight days on the ship I was delighted to get to Hawaii. TheVoice (aka Luke on the intercom) played “Coming to America” at 6:30am to wake us all up for customs. We had to go upstairs to the faculty lounge to hold up our passports for customs. Luke specified that ‘proper clothing’ must be worn. After that, I returned to the room to pack up a day bag for the beach and call everyone! That was one of the best parts! Rather than sit around and wait for them to call our sea we got to sit around and call family and friends since it counts as the USA! I swear I went through half of my phonebook.
        Somehow we (Britt, Perri, Becca, Jenna and I) managed to get off the boat by 9. Our destination was The Outrigger on Waikiki Beach (Perri, Becca and Jenna rented a hotel room). Since there were five us (split the ride 5 ways) and the beach was close we decided to hop in a cab to get there. It had been a while since I had taken a real cab so it was actually quite nice to go directly to our destination with no stops and in comfort.
        The hotel was in the perfect location, with the beach on one side and the main drag on the other. The room wasn’t ready for check-in so we (they were nice enough to let us drop our bags too) dropped our bags with the concierge and took a quick spin around the main drag. They had a lot of tourist shops as well as beach shops as well as the usual ‘name brands’. We stopped in at LeSportSac which had the cutest fanny packs in Hawaii exclusive prints. There was also a little enclave along the block called ‘International Market Place:Hawaii’. It had a ton of little vendors selling tropical jewelry, shells and knickknacks. You could bargain, but it wasn’t more than them knocking off a few dollars-no skill needed. After purchasing a small turtle necklace (the other girls bought a bunch of other stuff) we were on our way.
        Happy with our purchases we headed to the beach! We spent the morning laying out and taking in the sights and sounds of Waikiki. The beach itself is not very wide, unlike Miami Beach, but is absolutely beautiful with Diamond Head (an inactive volcano) picturesquely featured at the end. The surfers were everywhere and we were itching to give it a try. I walked up and down the beach trying to find the perfect afternoon lesson and the perfect price. I finally found a hut offering 1 hour lessons for 30$ each. Becca and Jenna and I booked a 1:30 appointment while Brittany decided to just rent a surf board. Feeling like we had all our ducks in a row, we headed to (believe it or not) The Cheesecake Factory for lunch. It’s always nice to have some sort of reminder of home and we all enjoyed the Americana for a little while (I actually had a Kaluha Pork pizza since that is what Hawaii is known for-it was very yummy and full of a BBQy flavor). Afterwards we headed back to the hotel to drop our belongings in the hotel room (it was very nice) and then went to our lessons. Our instructor was a Hawaiian man in his late 20s with a long ponytail. He was very helpful and I managed to even stand up on the board! It took me quite a few tries but it was a lot of fun! Granted he did push us into the waves (so we didn’t have to paddle as hard). After a little while, Brittany paddled over from ‘The Big Surf’ to play with us. We had bought an underwater camera and got busy taking pictures of each other. Somehow our one hour lesson turned into two (although he didn’t charge us more), but we weren’t complaining (who could really when the weather was sunny and the view of Diamond Head was beautiful).
        After our lesson was over we headed into the hotel to shower and change. Brittany and I headed out to the main drag because after much deliberation I ended up buying the LeSportSac fanny pack (Britt bought a couple different ones, Becca bought one, etc), which came in really good use as opposed to my usual money belt. The rest of them caught up with us and we all hailed a taxi to Diamond Head, our main go of which was to hike it at sunset. The bad news was once we got there they told us it was closed (it was 5pm and I guess they don’t like people hiking at dark). We ended up hopping out of the taxi anyway, there was a lovely overlook of the other side of the island which we took even more pictures with. The city was sprawling with the ocean’s waves meeting the shoreline at just the right distance, while the volcanoes peaked in the background.
        We decided to just walk back rather than pay for yet another taxi cab. It was quite a scenic (and long walk) through the streets of inland Honolulu. The houses were very modern and another reminder that we were in the states. We got back to the main drag around sunset and sat on the beach taking it all in. It was pretty beautiful but it had nothing on the ones we have on the ship. Afterwards we walked around the main drag some more and had sushi for dinner (there’s a large Japanese presence in Hawaii). It was really yummy and I even got wakame salad (I had searched all over japan for it!). We continued walking around the shops before heading back to the ship for a good night sleep.

Some Updates

Swine Flu:
I’ve been getting a lot of emails about this. When we went to Guatemala there were no reported cases and to the best of my knowledge there still aren’t. The big joke around here (its not funny) is that if someone ends up with Swine Flu on the ship that we are going to be quarantined outside of Ft. Lauderdale for weeks with a gigantic battleship to make sure no one jumps ship. I am REALLY glad that this just became a big deal because it could have really impeded on our travels (such as SARS did).

Leaving the Ship:

I’m really sad to be leaving this voyage and community but I am definitely ready to see my friends and family. I just took my last final so school is over (I think I’m getting 3 As and B+), which is fine by me. Right now we can see Central America in the distance, the little outlines of their coasts. It’s nice to have birds flying outside of the window too. It’s odd to have flies on the ship though (since we’re close to land now we have them). I’m going to miss the little things on this ship such as the noon update or even the structure of the nights activities (pre-port, etc). I can’t believe we’ll all be saying goodbye in just three days but I really feel like this is the start of a brand new chapter in my life and I can’t wait.

Happy Sailing,