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twangster

🎵Panama! 🎵 Vision of the Seas Oct. 30, 2019

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With that it's day 6 and I'm caught up to real time on board.  Posting will slow down now until something post-worthy comes along.  

 

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Following. I'll be doing the return journey starting November 15th! 

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ooooo thanks @twangster for doing another review!  Looking forward to reading about your newest adventure. 

 

4 hours ago, twangster said:

Cars were in ditches, accidents were seen all over.  It was early in the season so people new to snow were learning the hard way how not to drive in the snow.

Your Uber/Lyft driver deserves a medal for (eventually) getting you to the airport!  The first few snowfalls here are usually similar disasters.

 

Did you see any ghosts while staying on the Queen Mary?  🤣

 

Have you been through the Panama Canal before?  My second cruise ever was a full Panama Canal transit from CA to FL on the Radiance.  Seems like I got bucket list cruises crossed off the list before bucket lists became a thing - my very first cruise was Alaska (inside passage) also on the Radiance.  Go big and all I guess.....trying to figure out how to repeat Panama and Alaska but life keeps getting in the way.

 

Here's hoping that something post-worthy happens soon or not.  Have a great trip!  🥂

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Top tier event

 

1942 total guest count, 1,373 Crown and Anchor members on board.

 

395 Gold, 249 Platinum, 152 Emerald, 359 Diamond, 191 Diamond Plus, 27 Pinnacles

 

Top three cruisers have 1,270, 1,500 and 1,590 points.

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Years ago, I went on vacation to PV and stayed at one of those beach front resorts. It was beautiful! Not sure why I haven't been back... Thanks for sharing your live review!

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Twangster, thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures of the Queen Mary! DH and I visited her on our honeymoon, but, unfortunately, I lost the pictures I took of her that day due to a computer crash and pictures not properly backed up. We still have one picture from that visit. We were standing on the gangway prior to boarding Queen Mary - in front of a picture of Queen Mary. So, the ship you see in our picture is not the actual ship! It is a picture of the ship behind us as we were boarding the ship. Got it? 😀  

 

Your room looks beautiful. I’d love to stay aboard the QM if we ever manage to get back to the west coast.

 

I’m interested in following you through the Panama Canal. We had a canal cruise booked a few years ago, but life got in the way and we had to cancel. I’m about ready to try again. 😎  Hopefully we can make it work the next time! 

 

Glad and you were able to make it to your cruise through the snow. That rideshare driver who got you to the airport deserves a commendation of some sort for getting you there!

 

 

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I've been watching your scopes and it's great to see that you'll be doing a live review!  Love those signature Twangster wide angle shots.  I just added a stay on the QM to my to do list.  Looks fascinating.  Enjoy the transit.

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Many years ago I visited the QM.  This was before I had actually gone on a cruise ship.  I don't think I took any pictures.  At least I don't have them now. Your pictures are beautiful of her. Enjoy the rest of your cruise and thanks for sharing. 

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Thanks for sharing your cruise with all of us.

This itinerary is definitely a cruise I want to experience one day. 

Looking forward to more.

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23 hours ago, twangster said:

Top tier event

 

1942 total guest count, 1,373 Crown and Anchor members on board.

 

395 Gold, 249 Platinum, 152 Emerald, 359 Diamond, 191 Diamond Plus, 27 Pinnacles

 

Top three cruisers have 1,270, 1,500 and 1,590 points.

Similar to our numbers last November when we did the canal on Vision

1960 passengers   1475 C&A

407 Gold,  237 Platinum,  130 Emerald,  360 Diamond, 250 Diamond Plus, 92 Pinnacle

Mario has 7717 points

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Following this great review and fabulous pictures!

 

Hope you can do us a favor. We will be visiting Colon on the Serenade and want to do the Panama City tour. The itinerary says it goes to old town Panama, a modern shopping mall (eh) and the locks. Can you please check with the cruise desk and see how long they stay in the Old Town? For those who have not seen it, it is really great. I know it is a long ride to get there and they have three stops planned. Also, how long do they stay at the "mall"??

 

We really appreciate you helping us out on this.

 

By the way, we love the Vision and should have taken your cruise! Who is the hotel director on board?

 

Looking forward to following your great posts!

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1 hour ago, travelwide said:

Following this great review and fabulous pictures!

 

Hope you can do us a favor. We will be visiting Colon on the Serenade and want to do the Panama City tour. The itinerary says it goes to old town Panama, a modern shopping mall (eh) and the locks. Can you please check with the cruise desk and see how long they stay in the Old Town? For those who have not seen it, it is really great. I know it is a long ride to get there and they have three stops planned. Also, how long do they stay at the "mall"??

 

We really appreciate you helping us out on this.

 

By the way, we love the Vision and should have taken your cruise! Who is the hotel director on board?

 

Looking forward to following your great posts!

 

We don't seem to have a tour that does "Old Town".  Is there a code like "COP6"?

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Day 5 Sunset pictures

 

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Later that night after the show I saw a large city off to the port side.  Acapulco, Mexico.  

 

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Day 6 Sea Day pictures

 

Our progress...

 

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For those don't believe they ever open the roof of the solarium, behold the solarium in sunlight.

 

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From the top tier event.  Four new Pinnacles crowned on this day.

 

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This is how it is described on the Royal website. It is CO52. I never noticed that! Great catch.  Reading your reviews and seeing your pictures makes a good day even better!!!!

 

Something very weird here. When we first looked at the tours offered it mentioned that they went to the Megaplex Mall. Now, it makes no mention of it! Maybe they had push back on that stop. Good for us!! Thanks so so much for your help.

 

Panama City Tour & Canal Locks
Colon, Panama
Duration: 7 Hours

Journey through the ages to discover the very first European city established on the…

from* $78.99 USD Adult $54.99 USD Child

 

Watch closely as the rich history, dynamic culture, and engineering prowess of Panama comes alive on a full-day tour that includes a stroll through Panama City and a stop at the world famous Panama Canal. Begin the day with a panoramic drive to bustling Panama City, the first European city established on the Pacific Coast of the Americas. As you pass cosmopolitan cityscapes and old Panamanian ruins, you’ll listen to the region’s expansive history from your guide. Hop off the bus and embark on a walking tour through the Casco Viejo historic district, across narrow cobblestone pathways and past stunning Spanish colonial edifices. Here you’ll admire wrought-iron balconies, roam plazas, view 300-year-old churches, and hear the rhythm of Latin music. Then enjoy an up-close glimpse of the Panama Canal, considered the world’s greatest shortcut. With a visit to the Miraflores Locks, you’ll learn the history and construction process behind this feat of engineering.CO52

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As I said before, we were going to book this trip and didn't. With your pictures and review, we are really regretting it.

 

Can you tell us who the Hotel Director is?  Thanks.

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Day 7 - Puerto Queztal, Guatemala

 

As we approached land you could clearly make out several volcanoes through the morning mist.

 

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The one on the left would occasionally left off a small puff of dark smoke.  It must be active.

 

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Black sand beaches were a hint at this regions volcanic past.

 

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Entering the port area also used by cargo ships.

 

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And with that we were clear to debark in Guatemala.  

 

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Today's excursion... Panoramic Antigua.  

 

The cruise port area of Puerto Queztal is nice but on the small side and an isolated area within an industrial port area offloading coal, fuel and containers.  It's not an area where you can walk anywhere really, an excursion is recommended.   

 

Antigua is an old city in the mountains at an elevation of 5,029' (1,532 m) above sea level.  The bus ride is ~ 90 minutes.  The third capital City of Guatemala, it was founded in 1543.  

 

One of the benefits of a long bus ride is getting to see the country or at least this coastal volcanic region of Guatemala.  Our guide on our motorcoach talks about the four volcanoes clearly visible as we drive away from the coast.

 

One of these volcanoes is Fuego and still active.  We see evidence of this as we are driving with several puffs of dark smoke erupting from time to time.  Our guide tells us these are actual eruptions just on a smaller scale compared to the sort of eruption that causes damage. 

 

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The volcano Aqua was the reason why the city of Antigua was created as the third capital.  In 1541 Aqua had a near perfect crater on top.  During the rainy season this crater filled with water until an earthquake cracked the crater sending torrents of water flooding downhill and wiping out the capital city at that time.  Hence this volcano got it's name Aqua or water in English.

 

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As we climb into the mountains we pass through several small towns and villages.

 

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Our guide tells us the story of the chicken buses.  In the U.S. when school buses reach 10 years old or 150,000 miles many jurisdictions require they be retired and new school buses acquired.  Guatemalans are just one destination where the old school buses go.  They are purchased privately and souped up.  They install motors from 18 wheel semi trucks, beef up the braking system, convert automatic transmissions to standard, add leafs to the suspension and turn them into private buses offering public transportation.  They make other modifications like installing the hood of a semi-truck or putting chrome on them.

 

Our guide tells us no self-respecting chicken bus owner would be caught without a 1,000 watt stereo system and a 32" flat panel TV on their bus.  So these aren't school buses anymore.

 

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Our drive continues to an area called ground zero from the June 2018 eruption of Fuego.  This eruption involved a pyroclastic flow of ash, boulders and debris heated to 600°C.  In this former river bed it deposited over 50' of volcanic debris.

 

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Numerous bridges were damaged or destroyed and they are still rebuilding them today.

 

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This community was one of the hardest hit.  With little or no warning the pyroclastic flow traveling at an estimated 150 mph destroyed the area and claimed hundreds of lives.  The superheated temperature and gases caused the greatest loss of life.

 

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Another bridge that had to be rebuilt.

 

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Looking up the valley of this former riverbed you can see just how deep the volcanic debris is.

 

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Edited by twangster

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Once we reach the outskirts of Antigua we have to transfer to smaller buses that can navigator the small streets of this 400+ year old city.   This broad avenue is not what we'll find once inside the city.

 

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One of many colonial churches from the past.

 

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This is a public laundry that is free to residents.

 

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The cobblestone streets make for a bumpy bus ride. 

 

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The minimum wage in Guatemala was said to be around $250 per month with an average income of $400 per month being typical.  Many people take multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Edited by twangster

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For our next stop we get off the bus and walk to the Central Park of Antigua.  

 

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The ladies you see walking around with merchandise are not aggressive but they are plentiful and each is eager to offer you something.  You'll need to repeat 'no' several times but they are just trying to make a living and are not aggressive so be patient and understanding.  Negotiating your price is expected.  All items are handmade in Guatemala and there are many beautiful items to choose from. 

 

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Numerous colonial churches exist within Antigua.  A series of earthquakes in the 16th through 18th century did extensive damage and eventually led to moving the capital away from the region.  At the time people believed the earthquakes were caused by volcanic eruptions and the proximity to the volcano Fuego was determined to be undesirable.  Only later with modern science was it noted that this area of Guatemala sits where three of the earth's tectonic plates come together making it rife with earthquakes.

 

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The outside of these businesses only tell a little bit.  The real beauty is in the courtyards within.

 

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I even spotted some foreign food:

 

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Several hundred years ago this was the seat of the Central American government.  

 

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The next stop was at a Jade factory.

 

Jade and Guatemala has a long and storied history.  The tectonic plates in this region make it a source of Jade.  

 

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The visit here starts with a brief lecture on the history of Jade in the region and the use of Jade in ancient cultures. 

 

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On the ride back down to the coast Fuego remains a prominent feature occasionally popping into view.  You can see the scar from the 2018 pyroclastic flow.  

 

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Back in Puerto Queztal here are some pictures from around the cruise port.

 

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Back to the ship...

 

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Edited by twangster

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Nearing sail away from Puerto Queztal this is a look back towards the cruise port area.

 

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The distinct smell of campfire filled the air and a haze formed over the area.

 

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While we didn't need a tugboat one was at the ready to help us make the sharp turn to leave port.

 

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With that our day in Guatemala was complete.

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I forgot to mention the phone call the other day.   My cabin phone rang and a woman from guest services introduced herself.  

 

They had noticed I was booked on Empress out of Miami when this cruise ends.  They would be offering transportation from Vision in Ft. Lauderdale to Empress in Miami.  Details would be forthcoming as we get closer to Ft. Lauderdale.

 

This was unsolicited.  I didn't mention my plans to anyone. 

 

I was planning on using a rideshare figuring I could take my time debarking and making my way to Miami.  This is even better.  

 

#royalwow

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Following your trip with great interest as this cruise had never been on our bucket list. Thanks to your fantastic photo's and explanation could be a future trip! Thanks.

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45 minutes ago, twangster said:

I forgot to mention the phone call the other day.   My cabin phone rang and a woman from guest services introduced herself.  

 

They had noticed I was booked on Empress out of Miami when this cruise ends.  They would be offering transportation from Vision in Ft. Lauderdale to Empress in Miami.  Details would be forthcoming as we get closer to Ft. Lauderdale.

 

This was unsolicited.  I didn't mention my plans to anyone. 

 

I was planning on using a rideshare figuring I could take my time debarking and making my way to Miami.  This is even better.  

 

#royalwow

 

Fantastic! On Empress now and she's looking just as good as your previous reviews! We're swapping with you and taking Vision on almost same itinerary from San Pedro when she gets back in December. I even booked the QM2 this morning!

 

Any special Vision tips or bartenders to visit for D+ other than those mentioned previously? I'm expecting to be barred from the CL 😭 but looking forward to having the entire aft lounge for D/D+!

Edited by Crism

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