Saturday, March 5, 2016

11 Nights Ultimate Caribbean Cruise Cruise Itinerary

 We were at the 11 Nights Ultimate Caribbean Cruise  with Celebrity Equinox from Fort Lauderdale February 22 to March 4 2016. 

Cruise Itinerary: Cozumel, Mexico; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Colon, Panama; Cartagena, Colombia; George Town, Grand Cayman; and back to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The cruise ship will stay overnight in Cartagena.
I have posted a review form each day at this blog including pictures, video's and daily planner from the cruise. 
Link to my review at Cruise Critic.

Here is a short video from the Cruise Itinerary:

Friday, March 4, 2016

Highlights from our Cruise - a short Video

Below a video with some of the highlights from our cruise.

Captain: Costas Nestoroudis
Cruise Director: Alejandro Tortorelli

Wi-Fi during the cruise

The bandwidth for the Wi-Fi onboard Celebrity Equinox was not sufficient for voice or Facetime/Skype. It was acceptable for text and email.  The good news is that the Wi-Fi connection inside the cabin worked fine. 
In order to stay connected with family back in Denmark we did find cafe's when ashore where we for a purchase of coffee could get free Wi-Fi . Mostly acceptable for Facetime.

Cozumel, Mexico: Cafe Punta del Cielo just outside the terminal that had a hour free internet with $5 purchase of coffee/drinks.
Puorto Limon, Costa Rica: Just outside the terminal next to Parque Vargas we found Cruccero Coffee Shop with a good wi-fi for Facetime/Skype. Free wi-fi when buying drink/coffee.
Colon, Panama: At harbour/cruise terminal several Cafe's with free wi-fi when purchase coffee or dring. Fair connectivity.
Cartagena, Colombia: In the Souvenir shop at the cruise terminal with wi-fi area. $3 for an hour - fair to bad connectivity. Must find the right spot within the wi-fi area.
George Town, Grand Cayman: Southwest Collection Cafe located at first floor in Harbour Place in South Church Street. Free wi-fi when purchasing coffee - good connectivity.

Celebrity Equinox -Tour of the Ship Video

Celebrity Equinox is a Solstice-class cruise ship built by Meyer Werft in Papenburg in Germany. Maiden voyage was July 31, 2009. 
Celebrity Equinox is the second of the five Solstice-class vessels, owned and operated by Celebrity Cruises. She is a sister ship of Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Silhouette and the Celebrity Reflection.
Equinox has done Mediterranean sailing from Civitavecchia (Rome) and Barcelone and Caribbean sailing from Fort Lauderdale.
Onboard amenities include a large Equinox Theater. Multiple restaurant dining options including a dedicated restaurant for AquaClass guests called Blu, The Patio on the Lawn where you can relax and have a picnic or play croquet, numerous bars and clubs, the Solstice Deck, the top deck of the ship, a youth facility called the Fun Factory, Online@Celebrity which is the internet cafe. 
The ship also features many other common and unique features. Some innovations that have been revealed include glass-blowing classes/demonstrations as well as The Lawn Club, a live grass lawn between the ship's funnels on the upper deck.

Short tour of the Ship video:
General characteristics

Tonnage:  121,878 GT

Length:  317.2 m (1,041 ft)

Beam:  36.9 m (121 ft)

Draft:  8.3 m (27 ft)

Depth:  11.3 m (37 ft)

Decks:  16 decks

Installed power:  4 × Wärtsilä 16V46

Propulsion:  Diesel-electric with two ABB Azipods

Speed:  24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph)

Capacity:  2,850 passengers

Crew:  approx. 1,250

Equinox leaving Port Everglades
Me at the aft deck - Sunset bar
Eqinox at sea

Fort Lauderdale - self-disembarkation and travel home

My experience with self-disembarkation for a 10 am flight out of FLL the same day.
Expected arrival time into port Everglades at 7 am, but ship was docked already at 6 am.
We were up at 6 am to pack the last things in the suitcases and at 7 am, we went down to deck 5,  in line to be among the first to go ashore  we thought - already a huge queue for self-disembarkation! 
Already at  7:15 the queue did start to move and 7:45 am we were off the ship in line for immigration. 
Pretty fast and just before 8 am we entered a taxi (no waiting line) for the 15 minutes ride to airport Friday morning. With United Airlines premier access and 'TSA Pre' check-in security took less that 20 minutes.
Well in time for our 10 am departure from FLL - ready for ther 20 hours journey to Denmark. 

We ate breakfast in the United lounge.
At 10 was UA1985 ready for departure from Newark - a flight of 3 hours.
We had to wait four hours before SK 910 at 17:30 departed from Copenhagen. We had good seats in the first row in economy class with extra legroom. However, it was not much sleep. Arrival in Copenhagen 06:40 after a little more than 7 hours..

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Day 11 - At Sea

We did sail the 664 nautical mile (207 Miles/1.230 km) from Grand Cayman to Fort Lauderdale.
We were sailing along Cuba's north coast with a view to the coast. It's been a little cooler. We had breakfast on our balcony while Cuba slipped past the horizon.
We read / knitted at the balcony in the morning. In the afternoon there was a the-event for guests who have been sailing with Celebrity many times.
After dinner it was time to pack suitcases. Usually we make them out the front door before 11PM, but since we had an early flight out of Fort Lauderdale on Friday morning we chose self disembarkation and carry the bags ashore ourself.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Celebrity Today Newsletters from the cruise

I have posted a copy's of the Celebrity Today Newsletter from the Celebrity Equinox 11 Nights Ultimate Caribbean Cruise, from Fort Lauderdale February 22 to March 4, 2016:
Day 1 Fort Lauderdale, embarkation

Day 2 At Sea
Day 3 Cozumel Mexico
Day 4 At Sea
Day 5 Puorto Limon, Costa Rica
Day 6 Colon, Panama
Day 7 Cartagena, Colombia
Day 8 Cartagena, Colombia
Day 9 At Sea
Day 10 George Town, Grand Cayman
Day 11 At Sea
Day 12 Fort Lauderdale - disembarkation

Celebrity Equinox, Cabin 1162 - Category C1 (Video)

Category C1 - Concierge Class Stateroom. 

The Cabin has a good size and equipped with two twin beds that can be converted to a queen-sized bed, and acceptable closet space. We did easily got space for our clothing, and suitcases went easily under the bed. Bathroom is well designed with shower als also of a good size. There is a comfortable sitting area with desk, drawer space, vanity, and sofa. 

The cabin is equipped with thermostat controlled air-conditioning, 32 inch interactive LCD television, telephone, hair dryer, mini bar, and safe.
There is good access to the wireless internet, however the internet is slow and not suitable for voice or FaceTime/Skype.
The cabin has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors to a quite large balcony with two  lounge chairs and table. We used the balcony a lot, but some times with direct sun it got too hot.


Day 10 - George Town, Grand Cayman

We arrived in George Town on Grand Cayman at 7 am. There are no major port in the city, so the ships anchored in the bay next to George Town (pictured top).
Today there was a total of 5 ships. After lunch we had with tender (a boat sailing between the port and the ship in the picture to the left) into town. Some cruise ships are using their life boat tenders. Celebrity did use bigger local tender boats with a capacity of 350 passengers. They do have much higher capacity and the tender process was very smooth with limited wait time.

Not much more than waterfront and so many people from 5 ships. We found Southwest Collection Cafe had an excellent internet. So we made the contact with the outside world, while we gotk a cafe latte. We walked around the town and then to the shops - mainly jewelry and watches, and visited the fish market where the day's catch of primarily redsnapper had just landed (pictures below).
Back on the ship we had lunch and sat in the afternoon on the balcony, reading and knitting.

Video: Tendering in George Town, Grand Cayman.

Southwest Collection Cafe
Excellent restaurant with good wi-fi located at first floor in Harbour Place in South Church Street.South West Collective cafe/bar is the perfect island hub to meet and mingle, and to wash down one of their delicious bar bites . Also homemade sangria or a house-made cocktail on tap! 
We got a cafe latte and a small bite when using the internet. 
Excellent quality for FaceTime/Skype.

George Town,  Grand Cayman
George Town, at the southwest "knuckle" of Grand Cayman, is the capital of the Cayman Islands and its largest city. Grand Cayman's Seven Mile beach, on the west coast north of George Town, is one of the finest beaches in the world.
There is a small walkable area of shops around the George Town harbor. Seven Mile beach is not within walking distance of the harbor cruise docks.

Below the photos of Grand Cayman - remember to click on the picture to enlarge

Tender from Ship to the town
Inside Tender
Traffic in the bay
Fish market

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Day 9 - At sea

We are heading north - 640 nautical miles (1.190 km) from Cartagena to Grand Cayman.
After breakfast in the Oceanview Cafe we went for a walk round the ship and enjoyed the sun.
The coffee on our balcony, where we read and knitted (pictured).
After lunch we photographed (some pictures below) - so it was again Coffee time on the balcony.
At the back of the ship is a glass workshop - here we went up and saw that they made glass art before we found two lounge chairs on the upper sun deck where the sun was no longer as strong and also there was a nice breeze.
Before dinner we sat at the Sunset Bar aft and enjoyed the view of the sea
It was 'formal evening' - as in the bath and with the long dress and tux before it was time for dinner.

Shops at deck 4

Sushi at aft deck in Oceanview cafe
Equinox theatre

Monday, February 29, 2016

Day 8 - Cartagena , Colombia

We woke up to a very, very hot day in Cartagena. Already at 8 am we had to avoid the sun.
The temperature in the shade was 32-35 degrees c.
Breakfast we ate in the shade on the aft deck. We got the day to go with a little trip to the shopping area at the terminal,
How we tried us with an internet home but it was pretty bad.
Otherwise we set out to read in the shade on the sun deck and went around the ship.

We also vent down to the Suvenier shop at the cruise terminal where there was a wi-fi area, however the network was quite slow and we barley managed to get a desent connection home.
In the late afternoon we sat on our balcony, got a cup of coffee and followed the exit from Cartagena, where there are very narrow circumstances when a big ship to turn.
Now we have set a course due north towards Grand Cayman.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Day 7 - Cartagena , Colombia

The temperature has been rising steadily from 22/24 deg.C in Fort lauderdale to 32/34 deg.C here in Cartagena today.
The city lies in a bay and it was a nice entrance to the city with a coastal fort and the new district Bocagrande with skyscrapers. Slightly reminiscent of Miami. See video from entrance in post below.

The cruise terminal is located in an industrial harbor (not so interesting) by Manga district, about 2 km from the old town.
It was too hot to sit on our balcony this morning because the sun was directly in. After breakfast we set therefore in the shade on the upper deck and read. Here was a nice breeze.

After lunch we took a taxi to the old city. We were dropped off at the city's landmark - clock tower at the entrance to the old city (see pictures below). Streets and houses are very picturesque and there are some marvelous churches. Everything strangely quite well preserved. The city has retained much of its Spanish origin and is not to compare with neither Colon and Puerto Limon.
See the video fro out walk through the old city in post below.

We sat at a cafe on the Plaza de Santo Domingo and got a local beer (actually ordered cola!) Before late afternoon took a taxi back to the ship.
We sat and read / knitted little on our balcony before we went down to eat dinner in the restaurant and walked around the ship before bedtime.
The temperature has been rising steadily from 22/24 deg.C in Fort lauderdale to 32/34 deg.C here in Cartagena today.
The city lies in a bay and it was a nice entrance to the city with a coastal fort and the new district Bocagrande with skyscrapers. Slightly reminiscent of Miami. The cruise terminal is located in an industrial harbor (not so interesting) by Manga district, about 2 km from the old town.

Cartagena , Colombia
 Cartagena is a city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region and capital of the Bolívar Department. It is the fifth-largest city in Colombia and the second largest in the region, after Barranquilla. The Cartagena urban area is also the fifth-largest urban area in the country. Economic activities include maritime and petrochemicals industry, as well as tourism.

The city was founded on June 1, 1533, and named after Cartagena, Spain, itself after the original Carthage in Tunisia. However, settlement in this region around Cartagena Bay by various indigenous people dates back to 4000 BC. During the colonial period Cartagena served a key role in administration and expansion of the Spanish empire. It was a center of political and economic activity due to the presence of royalty and wealthy viceroys. In 1984 Cartagena's colonial walled city and fortress were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 The Downtown area of Cartagena has varied architecture, mainly a colonial style, but republican and Italian style buildings, such as the Cathedral's bell tower, can be seen.

The official entrance to downtown Puerta del Reloj (Clock Gate), which comes out onto Plaza de los Coches (Square of the Carriages). A few steps farther is the Plaza de la Aduana (Customs Square), next to the mayor's office. Nearby is San Pedro Claver Square and the church also named for Saint Peter Claver, where the body of the Jesuit saint ('Saint of the African slaves') is kept in a casket, as well as the Museum of Modern Art.


Two video's from cartagena

Entrance to the city:
A walk through the old Town:

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Day 6 - Colón, Panama

Panama -  We had signed up a trip through the Panama Canal, but when it was changed significantly and we would not get to the places we wanted to see, we canceled the trip. After breakfast on the aft deck (Ocean View Cafe) we spent some time on the sun deck. Then we went for a walk out to look at the city. A far from interesting port city.
We walked towards the center and on a corner stood two 'bicycle police' - Jessie asked if it was safe to go in the area, but their English was very inadequate. They showed us the way towards the center and followed us on their bikes and made sure that we got the right path back to the ship.
At the harbor we found a cafe (several Cafe's with wi-fi) with internet so we could get in touch with the outside world a better connection than the ship can do.
Back on the ship at lunchtime. In the afternoon reading / knitting we on the balcony where there was shade, but far from cool.

Colón, Panama
Colón is a Panamanian city and sea port beside the Caribbean Sea, lying near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal. It is the capital of Panama's Colón Province and has traditionally been known as Panama's second city. Originally, it was located entirely on Manzanillo Island, surrounded by Limon Bay, Manzanillo Bay and the Folks River, but, since the disestablishment of the Panama Canal Zone, the city's limits have been redefined to include Fort Gulick, a former U.S. Army base, as well the former Canal Zone towns of Cristobal, Margarita and Coco Solo.

Panama Canal

The Panamá Canal is a 48-mile (77 km) ship canal in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean (via the Caribbean Sea) to the Pacific Ocean. The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. There are locks at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artificial lake created to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal, 26 metres (85 ft) above sea level. The current locks are 33.5 metres (110 ft) wide. 
A third, wider lane of locks is currently under construction and is due to open during 2016.
The layout of the canal as seen by a ship passing from the Atlantic to the Pacific is as follows:

From the formal marking line of the Atlantic Entrance (A), one enters Limón Bay (1), a large natural harbour. The entrance runs 8.7 km (5.4 mi). It provides a deepwater port (Cristóbal), with facilities like multimodal cargo exchange (to and from train) and the Colón Free Trade Zone (a free port).

A 2.0 mi (3.2 km) channel forms the approach to the locks from the Atlantic side.

The Gatun locks (2), a three-stage flight of locks 1.9 km (1.2 mi) long, lifts ships to the Gatun Lake level, some 26.5 m (87 ft) above sea level.
Gatun Lake (3), an artificial lake formed by the building of the Gatun Dam, carries vessels 24.2 km (15 mi) across the isthmus. It is the summit canal stretch, fed by the Gatun river and emptied by basic lock operations.
From the lake, the Chagres River (4), a natural waterway enhanced by the damming of Gatun Lake, runs about 8.5 km (5.3 mi). Here the upper Chagres river feeds the high level canal stretch.
The Culebra Cut slices 12.6 km (7.8 mi) through the mountain ridge, crosses the continental divide and passes under the Centennial Bridge for the Pan-American Highway via Panama City (5).
The single-stage Pedro Miguel lock (6), which is 1.4 km (0.87 mi) long, is the first part of the descent with a lift of 9.5 m (31 ft).
The artificial Miraflores Lake, 1.7 km (1.1 mi) long, and 16.5 m (54 ft) above sea level.
The two-stage Miraflores locks (7), is 1.7 km (1.1 mi) long, with a total descent of 16.5 m (54 ft) at mid-tide.
From the Miraflores locks one reaches Balboa harbour, again with multimodal exchange provision (here the railway meets the shipping route again). Nearby is Panama City.
From this harbour an entrance/exit channel leads to the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Panama (B), 13.2 km (8.2 mi) from the Miraflores locks, passing under the Bridge of the Americas  for the Arraiján–Panama City (8).

The total length of the canal is 77.1 km (48 mi).

Friday, February 26, 2016

Day 5 - Puerto Limón, Costa Rica

This morning we arrived at Puerto Limon in Costa Rica.
After breakfast we went on a tour by bus, train and boat.
First we visited a Del Monde banana plantation - interesting to watch bananas from plants to packing.(see video above)
Banana bunches are wrapped in  blue 
plastic when hung on the plant to protect against contamination and insects.

Then we drove with a narrow-gauge railway through the rainforest and along the coast - the track was originally built to carry cacao from the highlands to the port.(Also video above)
After the train we sailed on the canals in the rainforest. On the trip we saw sloths, birds (pictures below) and monkeys.
Back in Puerto Limon we took a walk up the city - including to find a net cafe.

Just outside the terminal next to Parque Vargas we found Cruccero Coffee Shop with a good wi-fi for Facetime/Skype.
We ate the evening in the main restaurant and got a glass of wine before bed time.

Puerto Limón, Costa Rica
Puerto Limón, commonly known as Limón  is the capital city and main hub of Limón province, as well as of the cantón (county) of Limón in Costa Rica. It is the second-largest city in Costa Rica after the capital, Part of the community traces its roots to Italian, Jamaican and Chinese laborers who worked on a late nineteenth-century railroad project that connected San José to Puerto Limón. Until 1948, the Costa Rican government did not recognize Afro-Caribbean people as citizens and restricted their movement outside Limón province. As a result of this "travel ban", this Afro-Caribbean population became firmly established in the region, which influenced the decision to not move even after it was legally permitted. The Afro-Caribbean community speaks Spanish and Limonese Creole, a creole of English.
Banana Plantation (Del Monte)
'Banana Train'
two toes sloth

Narrow Gauge Railway 
Tourist train
blue heron

To view the complete review click on 'Older Posts' below!