2008 Eastbound Panama Canal Cruise
My wife Sally and I went on our first cruise in Dec 2008. We had never done one and we didn't know if we would enjoy it or not. We decided, that just in case it was our first and last, that we would do a cruise that attracted both of us.

Sally is interested in Mexico and has been taking Spanish lessons. In 2006, she spent a couple of weeks in Mexico in an immersion Spanish class. I always wanted to see the Panama Canal having read about it since I was a little kid (that is, while it was being built...). And as an extra special bonus, we were stopping in Aruba where diVecchia cousins from Italy live. Here is the route we took:

This cruise turned out to be a great mix of both of our interests. In addition, it started in San Diego and ended up in Florida so we could add on a trip to visit my father in Aliquippa. We thought about stopping at DisneyWorld but didn't.
This report is made from a log that Sally kept on the cruise and material that we added afterwards. You can follow us step by step or you can jump to any part that you want to read.

Here is a photo of the Rotterdam that I found on the Internet. Our room was on the second deck from the top midships. In this photo, that deck looks black but that is just the reflections off the windows. The Rotterdam is one of about 6 identical ships operated by Holland America Lines.

The Rotterdam - Built in Italy in 1997.
This is the 6th ship to carry the name Rotterdam.

Departing San Diego on Dec 7 and at sea on Dec 8
Cabo San Lucas on Dec 9
Puerto Vallarta on Dec 10
Manzanillo on Dec 11
At sea on Dec 12 and Huatulco on Dec 13
Puerto Chiapas on Dec 14
At sea on Dec 15 and Puntarenas on Dec 16
Golfo Dulce on Dec 17
Panama Canal on Dec 18
At sea on Dec 19 and Aruba on Dec 20
At sea on Dec 21, Dec 22 and arrival at Fort Lauderdale, FL on Dec 23

Cruise Lines' Dirty Secret

One thing that is not so good about cruises is the amount of resources that go into supporting the passengers. On our ship, there were about 1200 passengers and over 600 crew. The amount of food wasted is tremendous. At a presentation by the crew, someone asked what was done with the uneaten food. They said it was ground up and they fed the fishes, dumping it into the sea.

We talked with some of lower level crewmembers. On this ship, the bridge crew was almost all Dutch, the bar crew was almost all Filipino and the porters/cabin attendents/galley crew was almost all Indonesian. The bridge crew worked 4 months on/2 months off. The rest of the crew worked 10 months on/ 2 months off. They work every day, usually 12 hours a day.

Here is more:  http://www.cruisejunkie.com/ot.html

It was interesting in that before the cruise, I really didn't have a concept of what it was like to be onboard a cruise. So now, at least, I can picture what goes on and the day-to-day life. Its no Love Boat for the crew.

This site prepared and maintained by Mark DiVecchio

email :  markd@silogic.com

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