USS HENRY B.
Panama Canal Reunion Cruise 2014
This 11 day cruise was with Princess Cruise Lines sailing on the Coral Princess from and back to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. We had a group of 30 with one couple from the USS McCormick (DDG-8) and another couple from the USS Leary (DD 879) joining us.
Everyone arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, FL on April 16th; most stayed at the Marriott Courtyard, our host hotel which offered a courtesy shuttle to the cruise terminal on Thursday, April 17th. Envelopes were passed out to each couple that included their badges, a brief history and maps of each port-of-call.
The embarkation went very smoothly and we were onboard in record time. Once onboard, everyone was eager to find their cabin and luggage or to go exploring the ship. Dan & I went to each attendee’s cabin and taped a Welcome Aboard sign on their door.
Friday and Saturday were days at sea. These days are spent visiting with shipmates as we wandered around the Coral Princess.
Sunday was our first port-of-call in Aruba. We were in port from 8 am to 7 pm.
Most excursions involved going to beaches to relax or snorkel. Aruba’s water was such a gorgeous shade of turquoise blue and quite warm. Postcard perfect!
Monday was another day at sea and our first formal dinner.
Tuesday we were in Cartagena, Colombia from 7 am to 2 pm. Seeing the old walled city which dates back to the 17th century was amazing with its colorful restored Spanish colonial buildings. Our first stop was the Castillo de San Felipe, a fortress sitting on top of a hill guarding the harbor. From there we stopped at Las Bovedas which was originally jail cells but today each cell is a shop selling coffee, hats, and other handicrafts. Next was a walking tour (about an hour) stopping at the Palacio de la Inquisicion and San Pedro Claver Sanctuary. The day was overcast which helped keep the humidity low.
Wednesday we entered the canal from the east and went thru the Gatun Locks. this took several hours and was fascinating when you think about how the canals were constructed 100 years ago. Once we were in Lake Gatun, the people going on excursions boarded the tenders which took them to the waiting buses on shore. While we were on excursions, the ship turned around in the lake and headed back thru the locks to Colon, Panama. Our excursion took us to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort for a boat ride around some islands searching for monkeys, sloths, and other native animals. We did have several Cappuchin monkeys scamper on the bimini cover begging for treats. On the trip back to the ship we passed the prison where Noriega is being held. We were back in Colon, Panama early afternoon and the ship departed at 3:30 pm.
Thursday we were in Limon, Costa Rica from 7 am to 6 pm. Our excursion took us to a banana plantation, then to the Tortuguero Canals to view more native animals, and finally on a short train ride where we saw a sloth.
Friday another day at sea.
Saturday in Grand Cayman 7 am to 5 pm. This island is similar to Aruba with quaint shops and beautiful turquoise water. Most excursions involved beaches and water.
Sunday a day at sea.
Monday back in Ft. Lauderdale. arriving at 7 am. Our disembarkation was swift and very easy. Our shuttle met us outside the terminal and we were on our way to the airport by 9 am.
Before we left the parking lot we could see the USS New York (ship made from 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center) docked on the next pier. Her moto is “Never Forget”. It had arrived that morning as it was Fleet Week in Ft. Lauderdale. What a great ending to a spectacular reunion.
PANAMA CANAL CRUISE
Emily Vansant Dinner on board ship Alan and Son Daniel Buzzurro
The Coral Princess