Last year we both retired and we had a 1st cruise to the Alaska on board Celebrity Century. It was so relaxing trip and we enjoyed our moving hotel and services. This time we chose 19days Panama Canal Cruise by Norwegian Cruise Line. We had a wonderful time on board the Sun. A long 19days cruise, but every fellow passenger on board ship became a like best friend to us to the end. Kids were busy studying at school that very few kids on board the ship, we heard just over 10 kids including babies on boarded.
We flew to Tampa by Delta airline 2nights before the cruise, and stayed Quality Inn Airport Tampa. This Inn was a typical Urban Motel, conveniently located and clean. They offered shuttle bus to the cruise terminal for $12 p.p. but we had 3 large luggage and 2 carry-on, therefore we chose to call a Yellow cab ourselves to reach Tampa cruise terminal. Less than 15mins ride and the taxi fare were $18 + tip. If your party was more than 2 persons, it might be cheaper and convenient to use a taxi.
The embarking was a little bit nightmares, around 10:15am when we arrived at Cruise Terminal by taxi; In front of the terminal, there were huge pails of disembarking passengers and their luggage from previous cruise. So many disembarking passengers were trying to find their bus and/or taxi that drugging our luggage to drop off station was almost impossible. Long lines up to checked-in but soon we on-boarded ship and found ourselves eating lunch at Garden Café.
Our Balcony cabin #0218 on deck 10 starboard side was a great location, just 1 flight to the pool deck and Garden café. Our room was just below the spa facility on deck 11 that there was no nuisance noise at all. It was a very well organized balcony cabin; there were amount of storage spaces, big comfortable bed, and nice balcony with 2 chairs and a small table. However, we found very tiny shower stall in the cabin, even I could not bend myself to wash my feet. It was a practical shower booth but too tiny to do anything but just standing and get shower. We could store our luggage under the bed.
Don’t miss out Tampa River Walk; we started to walk from Water Park to Cruise Terminal. The beautifully constructed walkway and serenely was just breathe taking especially at evening. In front of the cruise terminal we took a street car and visited historical Ybor city, regrettably just an old town nothing special about….
Two of us hired a taxi to explore Cartagena. We visited Popa Monastery($5pp), San Felipe Fortress($10pp), and walked around Old Town with taxi driver, enjoyed a drink in the Wall city . It took 4½ hours to see them all with our own timetable; total cost was still less than the Ship’s excursion price.
Tender boat to the shore. We saw the “El Arco” when ship entered the Cabo San Lucas Bay. Looks very interesting from the distance, we hired a small boat at harbour to see Land’s End. We took a ton of photos with El Arco in back ground. It was better to see El Arco from small boat than big tour boat. Again 1hr Land’s End Boat Tour by ship’s excursion was $29pp but it cost just $25+tip for two of us.
Our ship docked in San Pedro, LA, about 20 minutes from Long Beach. We wanted to see Ship “Queen Mary” in Long Beach. We found a commuter bus to the downtown, and then there was a free Red color bus called “Passport” to get the Queen Mary. 30 some years ago, we saw a ship Queen Mary, at that time it was a beautiful ship. Sadly, present time, Queen Mary itself was very bad shape.
Our ship docked Pier#35, easy walking distance to Peir39, and Fisherman’s Wharf. In the afternoon we took a bus to Chinatown. The Largest Chinatown in US, but looks like not much difference than our home town’s Chinatown, always feel likes same ambience. Next, we went to see Japan-Town, it was more organized town than Chinatown and felt much safer. We found interesting things to see, authentic Japanese foods and shops.
It was a beautiful and clean city to explore. We followed the signs and walked along the shore to reach Victoria downtown. Walking to downtown was very easy. It took about 20 minutes to get the heart of Victoria – Empress Hotel, BC Parliament Buildings, etc. The weather was great and Canadian people are gentle and polite.
According to the news media, Acapulco became a dangerous town because of the drugs trafficking gang activities but from the sea it was such a beautiful harbour and town. We ventured out ourselves again into the town with very cautious minds. We walked Acapulco beautiful beach awhile from the cruise terminal to the Huge Mexican Flag at the beach and got a beach restaurant to have a beer. From there we picked up a taxi to “La Quebrada” to watch Cliff Dive($7pp) show. Great performances but looked very scarily indeed. Next we got a taxi again to see Fort of San Diego($5pp) just below the cruise terminal. We saw the great view of the Acapulco harbour from there. Funny thing about taxi in the town, before get into the taxi, asked “how much?” their answer was always “$5 US….. it didn’t matter how far to drive. Again, this venture we spent a half the ship’s excursion price.