This is our second time through the Panama Canal, 10 years after our first HAL cruise from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale
  • Day20

    The travel day

    March 13, 2020 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    Friday morning, our last day here. Amid concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus, we packed our bags and had our last breakfast at Sbux. On our way back to the hotel after the pouring rain, we happened upon a tiny window service only doughnut shop called Devil’s Dozen. Treats to rival Oh Donuts. One caramel topped donut was $3 but was so delicious and browned butter caramelly that we had to share one. Took an Uber to the airport and met a lovely young man from Dubai. He is a dentist and owns four Uber vehicles. He wants to immigrate to Canada so I gave him my business card. He was amazing and the trip was only $15 Cdn for all of us. Lunch at the airport and our flight left on time. Good to be on the way back to Canada. Unfortunately just as we left I got a text from Stef advising that Mom had as a stroke and that she was in the hospital. I thank God that she is getting the care she needs.

    Our flight from Calgary to Winnipeg was delayed so our luggage was delayed coming off the carousel so by the time we got home by cab and into bed it was 3 am. And now to begin the 14-day quarantine.
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  • Day19

    San Diego day 2

    March 12, 2020 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

    Breakfast at Sbux around 8:30, then bought Hop On Hop Off tickets online. $48 pp. toured the Star is India, a submarine and a couple of steam ships in the pouring rain. The trolley took us to Coronado over a 2.6 mile bridge where we walked to the Beach and shared a corned beef sandwich at McP’s Irish pub for lunch. Beautiful resort area.

    Continued on The trolley to Balboa Park where weave a Japanese Garden, the Timkin Centre for Art where we saw a Rembrandt. Caught the second last trolley back to Little Italy. Met Jody and her parents from Burlington (from our cruise) on the trolley.

    Went back out after a small rest to find an Italian restaurant for dinner. Asked a young couple what they would recommend and they said Mona Lisa, the place we had had lunch 10 years ago. So we went there for the Mona Lisa special. Gave the last two pieces of each of our pizzas to a couple of homeless guys. It was nice to see their eyes light up. Walked about a mile along India in search of gelato and found a cool place called Salt and Straw but the line was really long. Found another place and enjoyed our dessert.$4.50 per single scoop. Almost 7 miles today despite all the ten we spent on the trolley. In bed by 9. Long travel day tomorrow.
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  • Day18

    San Diego

    March 11, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Spent the day walking from our hotel in Little Italy along the waterfront, up through the Gaslamp District and back again.

    Lunch at Kansas City BBQ where a couple of scenes from Top Gun were filmed.

    Checked in and had a brief nap. Went out to Bolt Brewers, a sports bar for supper and to watch the Jets game. Good that we did. They won and now the NHL has cancelled the rest of the regular season due to the corona virus. Played trivia during the game and did terribly.

    Sleeping by 10 though the streets are noisy through single-panes windows and the air conditioning wasn’t set cool enough.
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  • Day17

    Last day befor San Diego

    March 10, 2020, North Pacific Ocean ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    Last day on board the elegant Rotterdam. After breakfast Carolynne and I sat in the outdoor hot tubs until it thundered and began to rain. Packed the majority of my things after a nice, warm shower.

    Decided to have lunch in the dining room as we hadn’t done that before. Menu the same as in the Lido but more relaxed and no temptation to go for seconds.

    Took advantage of a two-hour window to have a nice long nap. Raining anyway so perfect opportunity to do so. First rain we have had this trip. It had sprinkled a bit in Costa Rica but this was a serious rain.

    Attended afternoon tea where we met a woman from Washington State and another from Victoria, BC. Had a nice chat with them.

    Final dinner in the dining room where we found out that our waiter Rai was leaving the ship at San Diego to return home for a family problem. We hope things will work out for his family. Left his thank you tip at the purser’s desk for them to forward to him. Gave Andi and our wine steward Noel their tips and after the final variety show were able to connect with our room stewards as well.

    Went up to the Crow’s Nest for a final happy hour. Have never been so tired on a vacation. Surprised I could stay up long enough to do so. To bed shorty after 10.
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  • Day16

    Second last day at sea

    March 9, 2020, North Pacific Ocean ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    After what felt like a short night due to the clocks being set ahead last night, we visited Explorations Cafe for a good cup of coffee. Had to wait until 6:30 for it to open. We are along the Baja Peninsula today. Vic saw some whales this morning after we attended the Captain’s Q and A. Very interesting.

    Took the Galley Tour for something to do.

    Lunch was surprising, large quantities of cold shrimp and king crab, also mussels and clams. What a treat!

    We were invited to a complementary wine tasting this afternoon. Seven stations with 12 wines and snacks to cleanse the palate. Carolynne won the raffle and chose an Argentinian Malbec. It will go well with the filet mignon and lobster tail for dinner tonight. Met Jody from Burlington who pulled the winning ticket. She is Inhouse counsel for an insurance company. Had a nice chat.

    Surf and Turf for dinner was nice and the show with Savannah Jack was fun. Again, early to bed. Must be getting old.
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  • Day15

    Puerto Vallarta

    March 8, 2020 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Arrived here with an all clear an hour early at 9 am. Met Carl Wiebe at Sbux at the new mall. Vic says the mall is not new and was here already 10 years ago. He is right. Took a cab to the Malecon and walked to the Ocean Bar. Margaritas for $2. Can’t beat that!Read more

  • Day14

    More Puerto Vallarta

    March 7, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    What a lovely day! 28C. It was really nice of Carl to spend his day with us. We could have managed on our own but it’s so much nicer to spend the day with someone who lives here three months every year. He knew which streets to go down and which restaurants to go to. We tried some New Mexican food and tried some interesting tequila. Bought some vanilla to bring home and after putting in more than 16,000 steps, we decided against going to his condo and returned to the ship around 5. After showers we went for dinner and an early bedtime.Read more

  • Day14

    Manzanillo, Mexico

    March 7, 2020 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    So we arrived at noon at this port because their health officials wanted to inspect the ship’s records. We were required to drop anchor well away from the pier for them to do so. They boarded the ship, examined the records and two people of interest and declared we were good to go. Then the pilot made his way to the ship and bright is alongside the pier. We were then told that Customs officials still needed to board the ship. We have finally been cleared to disembark 70 minutes after our scheduled time. I guess some palm grease was in order.

    So hot here again.
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  • Day13

    At sea

    March 6, 2020, North Pacific Ocean ⋅ 🌬 29 °C

    We experienced quite a windy, rocky night, beginning at 2:30 am, with the worst at 5:30 am, described as hurricane force winds by our Captain, gusts up to 100 mph. Many outside cabins with patio doors were flooded. Our window was wind and water tight. By 9 am it had calmed considerably and the skies are blue and slightly less windy. By 11 it was 30C and gentle breezes. Our next port was changed to Manzanillo from Huatulco because of the high winds. Should be interesting to see a new port.

    Last night’s cellar master dinner was lovely. Our cellar master is the only female cellar master on HAL. Tihana is from Croatia and has a 20-year career aboard ships. This afternoon’s wine tasting should prove interesting. She was quite excited to tell us about it when we met in the corridor.

    By noon the seas were like glass and the winds were calm.

    The premiere wine tasting event was interesting, even the choice of glass or crystal makes a difference in the flavour of the wine. If you don’t believe me, try it at home.

    The plate of cheeses and seafood and chocolate was used as pairings with the various wines. The fat in the smoked salmon and the cheese smoothes out the acid in the wine with which it is paired. Who says vacation can’t be educational?
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  • Day12


    March 5, 2020 in Guatemala ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Our excursion through Shore Excursion Group met at 7:15 am. Our guide Adolfo and driver Jorge were excellent. Many improvements to the port since 2010, more restaurants and vendors. The road part way to Antigua has been twinned since 2013. There are bananas, sugar cane which is being harvested now so there are many tandem trucks on the road and four active volcanoes, one of which is smoking.

    There are 22 Mayan languages now though there use to be 356.

    Avocados cost 1 Quetzal which is about 25 cents.

    The smoke from burning sugar cane obscured the very of the volcanoes for the first hour of our ride but it seems to be clearing.

    Toured the basilica and smaller church on foot. Lunch at a restaurant housed in the ancient cathedral
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