Panama Canal Cruise: Days 1-3: Arrival & At Sea

Sunday, December 27, 2009

We last left you heading from a wonderful family Thanksgiving in Atlanta to the Escapees campground in Bushnell, FL - Sumter Oaks RV Park. We spent one night in Lake City at the Oaks 'n Pines RV Park. This was the third or fourth time we had stopped there...just off of I-10, slightly east of I-75. It's a Passport America park (50% off) and had nice long pull-through sites. Perfect for us on a one night stop.

We arrived in Bushnell, paid for 15 days which gave us another 5 for free. We quickly set up for the night leaving the motorcycles loaded. We were heading out early the next morning, heading to Ft. Lauderdale where we would board our ship for the 10 day cruise to the Panama Canal. Packing was the first order of the day, then off for a good night's sleep in preparation for an early wake-up.

The drive to Ft. Lauderdale was a breeze, taking the turnpike most of the way. We grabbed a quick lunch at one of the service plazas, happy to note that the standard sub-par fare had been replaced with "Earl of Sandwich" shops. We first discovered them when we visited the Disney Marketplace last September.

Because of the size of the Freightliner we had been concerned about the parking situation. Covered parking doesn't work for us due to the height restrictions. Some online searching had found Park 'n Fly which offered both covered and open parking with free shuttle service to the port as well as the airport. Perfect! We paid in advance and found it easily. They had to park us in the employee parking but since that was right beside the attendant booths we thought that was great. Before we had the suitcases unloaded they had pulled up a shuttle bus in front of us and quickly got us boarded and unloaded at the Island Princess. [Here you can view the web cam that we watched daily on our onboard television.]

First we went checked our bags, went through the various security checks, then we got our cruise cards. As we boarded the ship these were linked to a photo of us that would be used to check in & out for shore excursions at the various stops. We quickly found our room and were pleasantly pleased at the location and size.

I hadn't cruised for over 20 years and it was on a much smaller and older ship. This time we had opted for a balcony room and immediately decided that we would never go back to regular stateroom.

We had time to wander the ship a bit before we had to do the Muster Stations emergency briefing. We quickly found the pool area as well as the buffet and several fast food serving spots. After the emergency briefing we returned to our room and found three of our four bags had arrived. The missing one was the garment bag with all our dinner clothes....LOL! We checked with the staff and were told it might be 8pm before the final bags were delivered.

We headed off to the Lido Deck for the sail away party. Lots of fun going on there. We were introduced to the cruise entertainment staff and then danced as we sailed off into the sunset.

All the photos we took during the first couple of days at sea are at SmugMug.

We spent the first two days at sea just relaxing...we quickly discovered the indoor pool was our spot. A little quieter and a great reading spot. We managed to get lounge chairs right beside the bar...the other end had the ice cream bar, our afternoon treat...followed by freshly baked cookies & milk delivered. YUM!

There were only two formal nights...managed to snap a photo of Stu before the first one. He looked nice but have to admit we much preferred the more casual nights.....LOL!

Thoroughly relaxed we prepared ourselves for the first port - Aruba. We had chosed the semi-sub excursion. More to come....

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna & Stu


  1. Whoohooo! what a great cruise you are having! Lucky you!

  2. I'm with you on the choice of room. We were upgraded (complimentary) to a veranda suite on our Panama Canal cruise because of our frequent cruises, and it was wonderful!

  3. Enjoy your visit in Panama! I lived there for two years -- many many years ago. But I loved it there.

  4. I'm with you... balcony staterooms are the only way to go! Great place for reading and, since I puff on a pipe, smoking. And it is quiet and peaceful.

    Have been on two Royal Caribbean cruises (they both were great) and one Carnaval one out of Tampa that was the pits. (Didn't like the boat; the crew was unfriendly and the food was poor by cruise standards)

  5. Looks like you had a great time and your choice of suites looks like it turned out well.

    Nice photos!


Love to hear from you - drop a few words and we'll reply!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Sharing is Caring...