View Cruise Destinations in a larger map

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Repositioning Cruise - Mexico and Guatamala

Welcome back. In today's post I'll show you around most of the ports of call we visited only once on our repositioning cruise. Starting off in Mexico!

Above: Famous land's end rock outcrops at Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico was the first port we visited after San Diego. Commonly called Cabo, the city is at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula and is a popular tourist destination.

Above: The Disney Wonder anchored alongside us (I want to work on that cruise line next!)

Our next stop was the interesting port of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico which had a lot of building sites along the beaches! After this port however, we stopped at the beautiful Huatulco, a Mexican resort city located on the Pacific Ocean coast.

Above: The Bay just outside the city, which the Zuiderdam docked in.

We then came to our final Mexican stop of Puerto Chiapas, Mexico. Here I went on a crew tour to visit some Mayan Carvings and a local town.

Above: We visited several sites with these stone carvings which relate to different Deities.

Above: Dragonfly by the Mayan Carvings

Above: A Coco Plant

Above: Many of the entertainment department came on the tour.

Above: At the town stop, our drummer Johnny joined in with the local performance!

After Mexico, our next stop was Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. I had been told that the one place I had to visit whilst here was Antigua, a city in the central highlands famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque architecture and ruins of colonial churches. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Above: We visited a Macadamia Nut farm before arriving in Antigua.

Surrounded by volcanoes, Antigua is a fascinating city. During our visit we saw a Jade Museum, the Santo Domingo Monastery and a number of other ruins.

Above: The Santo Domingo Monastery

Above: Inside the Santo Domingo Monastery

Above: Crypt at the Monastery. Can you see the skeletons on the near left?

Above: The Monastery is very popular with weddings. People come here from across the globe to marry.

Above: Bells in the Monastery

We also passed by the facade of the former El Carmen church. Ruins such as these are common throughout Antigua:

Above: El Carmen Church

I'll leave it here today, as the Panama Canal is a post all by itself! Thanks for reading - back soon!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

San Diego

Welcome back! In today's blog I'll show you a little of San Diego, the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest city in California. We stopped here only once, during our repositioning cruise from Alaska down to the Panama Canal.

Above: The San Diego harbour

The city is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, immediately adjacent to the Mexican border. The birthplace of California, San Diego is known for its mild year-round climate, its natural deep-water harbour, and its long association with the U.S. Navy. The population was 1,301,617 at the 2010 census.

Above: Helicopters parked up at a military base

Above: Fighter Jets

Above: Panorama of San Diego as the Zuiderdam departs

During our short time in San Diego I visited the world famous San Diego Zoo. The Zoo in Balboa Park, is one of the most progressive zoos in the world, with over 4,000 animals of more than 800 species. It is also one of the few zoos in the world that houses the giant panda.

Above: Red Panda

Above: Black Panda

San Diego is privately operated by the non-profit Zoological Society of San Diego on 100 acres of parkland leased from the City of San Diego, and ownership of all animals, equipment and other assets rests with the City of San Diego.





The Zoo does a lot of good work with conservation and education but I still felt a little sad walking round some of the exhibits. It also feels a bit like cheating taking pictures but I couldn't resist.

Above: A lonely Gorilla

Balboa Park is a large area full of gardens and stunning architecture as you can see in the two photos.



I hope you enjoyed this brief tour round some of San Diego. Next up I'll be showing you some more ports of call from our repositioning cruise. Stay tuned!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Skagway and Ketchikan

Welcome back! In today's post I'll be showing you the remaining two ports in Alaska - Skagway and Ketchikan. I'm playing catch-up with this blog at the moment as we are now in the Caribbean, so there'll be more posts coming soon.

Above: Part of the main street in Skagway

Skagway is a small town on the Alaska Panhandle. As of the 2000 census, the population of the city was 862 but the population doubles in the summer tourist season in order to deal with more than 900,000 visitors.

Above: Skagway from the ship

The port of Skagway is popular with cruise ships, and even at the end of the season when I visited, there were four ships in port. One of the most popular attractions is the White Pass and Yukon Route narrow gauge railroad, part of the area's mining past, which is now in operation purely for the tourist trade.

Above: White Pass and Yukon Railway

Whilst in Skagway I took the 'White Pass and Bike' tour which saw me first board the narrow-gauge railroad for a scenic ride through the coastal mountains to Fraser Station in British Columbia. There we met the guides who set us up with bikes to cycle down from the summit to the sea. It was a fun way to see the beautiful border region of Alaska and Canada even if the weather wasn't great!

Above: The view across the valley - can you see the White Pass Train?

Above: Biking down the mountain

Ketchikan - named after Ketchikan Creek, which flows through the town - was the third port we visited in Alaska. It is the fifth most populous city in Alaska and with an economy based upon tourism and fishing, the city is known as the 'Salmon Capital of the World'.

Above: A panoramic shot of Ketchikan from the Zuiderdam

Above: The Zuiderdam docked in Ketchikan

The town has a lot of character, especially around the more historical districts such as Creek Street - the town's old red light district.

Above: Creek Street

Ketchikan also has the world's largest collection of standing totem poles, found at three major locations: the City of Saxman, Totem Bight State Park, and the Totem Heritage Centre. I visited the Heritage Centre to see some of the poles for myself.

Above: Totem Poles!

I had the opportunity to go zip-lining as a crew escort with passengers (always funny to see how terrified some of them are). The experience was similar to the zip-lining I had done in Roatan and Belize but I still find Go Ape in the UK more fun as there, you are responsible for clipping yourself in!

Above: Ziplining in Ketchikan

Above: The zip line course also had a suspension bridge and a mountain slide!

Thanks for reading and I'll be back with some great posts from our repositioning cruise soon: San Diego, Mexico and of course, the Panama Canal!

Monday, 3 October 2011


Welcome back! At the moment, we're sailing down to the Caribbean but I still have a few blogs from Alaska and Canada to show you. Today it's time for Vancouver - the Zuiderdam's home port during the Alaskan run.

Above: Vancouver panorama taken from the departing Zuiderdam - click for bigger version.

Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third-largest metropolitan area in the country.

Above: Imposing modern skyscrapers interact with Art Deco architecture such as the Marine Building (built in 1929) pictured on the left of this picture.

The Port of Vancouver, is now the busiest and largest in Canada, as well as the fourth largest port (by tonnage) in North America. Vancouver is well known as an urban centre surrounded by nature, making tourism its second-largest industry (forestry is its largest).

Above: Autumnal colours in Vancouver

Major film production studios in Vancouver and Burnaby have turned Metro Vancouver into the third-largest film production centre in North America after Los Angeles and New York City, earning its film industry the nickname 'Hollywood North'. Whilst I was walking round the downtown area, I witnessed a film crew shooting cars driving up and down streets which had been cordoned off - quite exciting!

Above: The Zuiderdam docked at Vancouver

Vancouver has ranked highly in worldwide "livable city" rankings for more than a decade and it has hosted many international conferences and events, including the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Above: Downtown Vancouver behind the Harbour

The mild climate of the city and close proximity to ocean, mountains, rivers and lakes make the area a popular destination for outdoor recreation. Vancouver has over 3,200 acres of parks, of which, Stanley Park, at 1,000 acres, is the largest. It is a beautiful park with a huge variety of plants and animals (more about that later!)

Above: Stanley Park with Lions Gate Bridge in the background

Above: A lake in Stanley Park

Whilst walking round Stanley Park I happened upon a group of racoons. Whilst I'm sure these are common sights in North America, I had never seen a wild racoon before!

Above: Racoon!

I'll be wrapping up the Alaskan part of our cruise in the next couple of blogs (Skagway and Ketchikan) before taking you down to the Panama Canal via San Diego! Thanks for reading.