Update from Arica Chile

There hasn’t been a lot to write about the last few days. Basically with Peru shut down to tourism, we’ve been sailing over 1,000 miles south and did a stop at Arica, Chile for Covid testing before we could proceed to the next several port stops. We’re starting to suspect the medical teams are having a contest to see who can get the swab in the deepest for our PCR tests. That said, we’ve had a few people in and out of quarantined from testing positive but no one has really been sick. The ships protocol is 10 days isolation and a negative test to rejoin the festivities.

So all that said, we were not allowed off the ship in Arica as it was for testing only. It’s also a very small town surrounded by a desert. It was kind of a fun looking harbor with colorful boats, jellyfish and sea lions to watch during the day. There were several sea lions and I would watch these little black birds start swooping down towards the water and a sea lion would pop up and throw a fish in the air which the birds all went after. It was comical to watch and I spent quite a while watching them.

We are now on our way to our first of five stops in Chile starting tomorrow at Antofaqasta where I’ll be doing a city highlights tour. It looks like we’ll once again be restricted to staying on the buses which is sad, but at least we get to see some of the major sites.

We may not be stopping every where, but they are making sure we’re eating well. A little dessert after dinner.

Equator Crossing and Guayaquil Ecuador

It’s been a relatively quiet few days. We crossed the equator on Monday with a little pomp and circumstance from a visit by King Neptune and his court. The sea legend is you must ask King Neptune to cross the equator when crossing your first time, or it was just another reason to have a party. Some people are “chosen” from the passengers who have offended the king somehow and must make amends which ranged from a bucket of cold water to kissing a fish, complete with face mask.

On Tuesday, we arrive in Guayaquil Ecuador. The plan was to do a tour of the city, some of the markets and a Panama hat company. Turns out Panama hats are not from Panama but from Ecuador. There were made famous by Teddy Roosevelt at the opening of the Panama canal and became the “panama hat”. Unfortunately, when we arrived and were met by the immigration officials, we were informed that Ecuador had gone to a level red with Covid, so we could do our bus tour but we could not get off the bus. So very few pictures and no new hat (probably saved me some money for another hat I didn’t wear) As we were leaving the port in several buses, we were met by the local and federal police and provided an escort through the city. We were one of the first cruise ships to arrive since things were shut down in 2020 so the city also had a photographer along to take pictures of the buses and us in them to show tourism was returning. That led to a debate on the ship of were the police there really to escort us or to make sure we didn’t get off the bus.

So now a few sea days on our way to Chile where we will have five port stops as we make our way to Antarctica. Also for those of you in the northern climates, it has cooled off a little and was only 72 degrees this morning when I went for my walk.

The King arrives

Some pictures from Guayaquil

Costa Rica Jan 14/15

Costa Rica was not on our original itinerary and was added after several other ports were closed. Silversea is great at having alternatives because you always have to be prepared for things like this, weather and rough seas at open ports. That said, our two stops were Puntarenas and then Puerto Quepos on the Pacific side. At least for the next few stops, we’re only allowed ashore on ship excursions which they are providing at no charge. The down side is it stops a lot of the wandering around the cities and getting a real feel for the life.

Before I get in to the shore excursions, I’m getting ready to watch the Chiefs game and will be “tailgating” in my room tonight with Foie Gras Terrine, Beef Wellington and cheeses of the world for dessert.

The Puntarenas outing was for a river cruise to see crocodiles, birds and mangrove swaps. We saw lots of each and it was an interesting trip. Apparently, the larger crocodiles are somewhat predictable about where you’ll see them because they are very territorial. The smaller ones are seen almost anywhere.

In Puerto Quepos I went on a tour of the Costa Rica National Forest and the beach at the end of it. The forest is best known for sloths, lizards, monkeys and birds. Our guide was incredible spotting the more elusive animals when they were hidden in the top of an 80 foot tree or a 4 inch lizard on a tree trunk 20 feet off the trail. This was a tropical rain forest, so vegetation was extremely dense. Although we saw many animals, getting a clear picture was extremely difficult with the dense vegetation and lighting. While we were at the beach they ordered everyone out of the water because the tsunami was arriving. The tide started rising and the waves got a little bigger but you could see the water changing. It wasn’t anything big but they already had signs up about rip tides and I’m sure this wasn’t helping.

We set sail for our next port in Ecuador last night about 7:00pm and should arrive on Tuesday morning. Tomorrow afternoon we will cross the equator at about 4:00pm central time. Based on our experience from the 2020 World Cruise it will involve a big ceremony hosted by King Neptune and show by the pool deck. Pictures to follow.

My home for the next few months from Puerto Quepos


Due to some technical difficulties with internet, I wasn’t able to get photos uploaded until today, so here we go.

Monday, we arrived in Cartagena and I did a tour of the city. We started at the largest fort the Spanish built in the Americas, then went on a walking tour of the old city. The old city has over 10 miles of walls surrounding it and is filled with narrow streets, houses decorated with all types of flowers but especially bougainvillea. Coutagena was also a major shipping port starting in the 1500’s where Spain would ship their gold home, hence the big forts around the city. It was also the home to a number of churches and the infamous Spanish Inquisition.

The door knockers are interesting as they are made of bronze and identify the occupation of the home owner. Above is the lion for military and the fish, of course fisherman.

Silversea hosts several special events for world cruisers and the first one was a party and dinner in the old town. They converted a park area to seating and before dinner drinks and had a show of traditional dancing and music. As that was ending, Carnival started. Cartagena is the second largest Carnival in South America.

People in costumes on stilts and musicians filled the area of our reception then led us on a “parade” down the street to out dinner venue. We were the entertainment that night for any visiting the old town as they lined our reception area then the sidewalks as we paraded down the streets. I have a video but have not been able to get it uploaded.

Panama Canal Transit

We left Cartagena noon Tuesday and sailed overnight to the Panama Canal. We arrived a little after 6:30am and then waited a while to get in our position. You are basically lined up and then start the progression through the first 3 locks each raising the ship about 30 feet. After you leave the locks you then follow the procession through Gatun Lake, which is fairly narrow and filled with ships going each direction until you get to the locks on the Pacific side and are lowered back down to sea level. The trip takes 8-10 hours depending on the speed and conditions. As there is no passing, if things slow down, you all slow down. We made pretty good time getting through in a little over 8 hours.

The “mule” that attaches cables to the ship and keeps us centered in the locks. There are 4-8 mules for each ship depending on the size of the ship.
Transiting Gatun Lake. The ship on the left is following us and the ship on the right just passed us headed to the Atlantic

Tomorrow we will arrive in Puntarenas Costa Rica at 7:00 am. Activity for the day will be an eco-river cruise to see birds, animals and crocodiles.

On the way to Cartagena

We left Fort Lauderdale at 11:00 pm Thursday night with the next 3 days at sea. Sea days are great as there’s not a lot to do except enjoy the view, the sun and of course the food. We will arrive Cartagena at 8:00 am tomorrow morning and I’ll spend the day on a tour of the city and area followed by one of the ships special event dinners in Cartagena.

Leaving Ft Lauderdale Thursday night
Cooking my dinner on the “hot rock” by the pool
Another day at sea, about 80 degrees
After dinner dessert
My home for the next few months

So the next stops will be Cartagena Monday and Tuesday, Panama Canal Transit on Wednesday. You can monitor the locks in the canal and see our ship at https://multimedia.panama-canal.com/ the Gatun Lock is the first one we’ll go through on our way. I’ll post an approximate time once they tell us.

So for now, I’ll be off exploring and taking pictures and plan to do the next updates Tuesday afternoon/evening.

I got here!

Doesn’t sound like much, but after yesterday, it’s a really big thing. I was supposed to leave on a 6:00am flight for Miami and then to the ship. Well, with all the cancellations, that flight was cancelled which I found out at about 3:00am and then spent 2 hours on the phone confirming my rebooked flights. That flight was now leaving Knoxville at 3:40pm arriving MIA at 9:40pm. So far so good. Both I and my travel agent called Silversea to notify them of the change and make sure someone would be there to pick me up and get me on the ship that late, which was confirmed to both of us.

Well, you might guess where this is going. No one to meet me, so I finally took a taxi to Port Everglades where we finally found the ship. Progress. The taxi dropped me at the guard post by the ship and I talked with the guard who then got some other people involved. At this point, they got the attention of someone on the ship and once they realized a passenger was trying to get aboard, in true Silversea fashion, they made me as comfortable as possible. Which meant sitting in a chair on the pier off the gangplank at 10:30 pm while they did some processing and testing. Finally got on the ship and made it to the room about 11:30.

Once on the ship and today has been the fantastic experience I had expected and do not expect any other issues going forward. I met friends from the last cruise today, had lunch with some, visited with crew members I had met, so all is good.

We will not leave port until 11:00 pm tonight due to the number of people who’s flights were cancelled so not much in the way of pictures today unless you want to see some cars and parking lots:)

We have a few sea days coming up and the next stop will be Cartagena, where I hope to have some great shore excursions and photos.