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  #1 (permalink)  
Old September 29th, 2008, 10:46 AM
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Default Westerdam in Panama Canal

If you want to see the Westerdam pass through the Panama Canal here is the link to the canal's high resolution webcam. Westerdam should be passing through about 8-9am Eastern on Sunday October 12. Keep your eye on deck 6 (two decks above the lifeboats), starboard side. There will be a bald guy on his balcony waving.

http://webcams.pancanal.com/common/p...iraflores.html

and here is the page with the other canal webcams:
http://www.pancanal.com/eng/multimedia/index.html
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Old September 29th, 2008, 07:23 PM
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I used to love watching the ships go through the Canal as they would zoom the camera onto the back deck, balconies, and front of the ship where you could actually see people standing/waving. Unfortunately they don't seem to do that anymore. The camera never "zooms" so that you can actually see a clear shot of the paxs. Too bad, otherwise, we'd wave back at you.

ENJOY! It's a great trip. Oh, forgot to mention, better keep a hat on that bald head - the sun is brutal, even with sun tan lotion slathered on and I'd hate to see you suffering from sunburn!
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Old September 30th, 2008, 02:03 AM
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Hope you have a great cruise!!! and don't forget to wave!
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Old October 17th, 2008, 03:02 PM
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The cruise was great!!!

On the Panacanal webcams page select the high resolution camera. Once that loads click on the picture. A new window will open with the image even larger. In the lower right of the new window will be a tiny triangle. Click on it and you can zoom in/out and pan up/down within the high res image. You are not actually moving the camera but the image is quite high res so you can zoom in 200% and still get a good clean view.
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Old October 17th, 2008, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pilotdane
The cruise was great!!!

On the Panacanal webcams page select the high resolution camera. Once that loads click on the picture. A new window will open with the image even larger. In the lower right of the new window will be a tiny triangle. Click on it and you can zoom in/out and pan up/down within the high res image. You are not actually moving the camera but the image is quite high res so you can zoom in 200% and still get a good clean view.



welcome back!
So, you would recommend that cruise? We were the ones that were supposed to be on it and had to cancel at the last minute. I was curious to get your views. I got up at 5am here to see you go through the canal and got some pics! It was pretty cool!
How was the ship in comparison to other HAL ships?
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Old October 17th, 2008, 04:34 PM
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I loved the itinerary and I liked the ship much more than I thought I would (I like small ships, Westerdam is the largest I have cruised). I could go on for pages so if you have any specific questions feel free to ask.
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Old October 17th, 2008, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pilotdane
I loved the itinerary and I liked the ship much more than I thought I would (I like small ships, Westerdam is the largest I have cruised). I could go on for pages so if you have any specific questions feel free to ask.
I heard that the ship was a bit worn;and in need of refurbishing. If that's the case, I hope it's in good shape next spring when we come back the other way. Did you go on any excursions? If so, would you recommend any?
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Old October 18th, 2008, 12:04 PM
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I thought Westerdam was in quite good shape and nothing said tired or worn out. I was very pleased with it's condition and the crew moral was very high. A very good cruise experience.
---
We did half the touring on our own and took HAL tours in Costa Rica (mangrove boat tour), Guatemala (Antigua on your own) and Caragena (Cartagena walking tour). In Cabo, Acapulco, Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal we did our own thing.

Be very honest about yourself when you choose what you want to do! Make sure you know that you are going to 3rd world countries in the tropics. They have two seasons: hot & wet and hotter & wetter. You will get hot and sweaty and you will see poverty (not Africa poverty, but still disturbing to some Americans).

As for recommending any shore excursions it really depends on what you want to do and how active you are. For example the Cartagena walking tour is listed as strenuous with plenty of warning about walking up inclines and on cobblestone/brick streets. I would call it very slow, relaxed walking with a break every 5 minutes and the longest we ever went without a sit down break was 30 minutes. Still many people complained constantly that it was too strenuous and hot.

Are you active? (do you use the stairs on the ship or are you an elevator person)

How adventuresome are you? (do you like being in a group of other ship passengers with an English speaking guide, or are you comfortable to explore on your own in an area where the people look different than you)

Do you want to see the real place you are visiting or do you want something more staged and prepared for an American tourist? (do you like to try the local food or do you want a zip line or see a staged dancing act)
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Old October 18th, 2008, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pilotdane
I thought Westerdam was in quite good shape and nothing said tired or worn out. I was very pleased with it's condition and the crew moral was very high. A very good cruise experience.
---
We did half the touring on our own and took HAL tours in Costa Rica (mangrove boat tour), Guatemala (Antigua on your own) and Caragena (Cartagena walking tour). In Cabo, Acapulco, Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal we did our own thing.

Be very honest about yourself when you choose what you want to do! Make sure you know that you are going to 3rd world countries in the tropics. They have two seasons: hot & wet and hotter & wetter. You will get hot and sweaty and you will see poverty (not Africa poverty, but still disturbing to some Americans).

As for recommending any shore excursions it really depends on what you want to do and how active you are. For example the Cartagena walking tour is listed as strenuous with plenty of warning about walking up inclines and on cobblestone/brick streets. I would call it very slow, relaxed walking with a break every 5 minutes and the longest we ever went without a sit down break was 30 minutes. Still many people complained constantly that it was too strenuous and hot.

Are you active? (do you use the stairs on the ship or are you an elevator person)

How adventuresome are you? (do you like being in a group of other ship passengers with an English speaking guide, or are you comfortable to explore on your own in an area where the people look different than you)

Do you want to see the real place you are visiting or do you want something more staged and prepared for an American tourist? (do you like to try the local food or do you want a zip line or see a staged dancing act)
Thanks for the info on the shape of the ship!
I didn't think any HAL ship would be to worn. My DH did warn me that the person that said that was a real nit picker!

Everything sounds great for excursions too! I'm really looking forward to April.
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Old October 18th, 2008, 02:48 PM
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Are you taking the Panama Canal cruise in April? If so, let me know what things you like to do and I can give you some info about the shore excursions. Many sold out early so do not wait till the last minute if you want to do HAL tours.
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Old October 18th, 2008, 03:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pilotdane
Are you taking the Panama Canal cruise in April? If so, let me know what things you like to do and I can give you some info about the shore excursions. Many sold out early so do not wait till the last minute if you want to do HAL tours.
Thank you.
That Mangrove boat tour sounds interesting!

It looks like the trip in April has two or three different stops before we go through the Panama Canal which makes less sea days.
Did you buy any Columbian Coffee? when we were going to be on the ship with you, we were planning on a coffee plantation.
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Old October 18th, 2008, 08:03 PM
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The mangrove boat tour was great. The tour was offered morning or afternoon. When we went the weather tended to be better in the morning with the rains in the afternoon. It is about a 90+ minute bus (nice full size bus with bathroom) ride to the mangrove. At the mangrove they have a nice pavilion with real restrooms. You then board a covered boat for a two hour ride. They point out and describe all the wildlife (crockodiles, macaw, egrets...). You can go to the bow of the boat to take better pictures if you want. At the end of the boat ride they have fresh fruit snacks, soda, water & beer and a small shopping tent for local gift items (trinkets & beads). With the morning tour you get back to the pier with several hours to walk around town.

The mangrove boat tour is the second half of the train & boat tour (which quickly sold out). The train is diesel powered (not a cool steam engine). Our tablemates took this tour and hated the train ride which had uncomfortable hard wooden seats and they were the last excursion to board the boat (we sailed the minute they stepped onboard).
---
We bought coffee in Guatemala and Columbia and I wish we had picked up some in Costa Rica. Columbian was $5 for a half kilo bag in the tourist areas though some charged as high as $7 or $8 so shop around. Guatemala had a greater range of coffees available and was more expensive $7 to $10 per 500g in the tourist shops and come in nice colorfull cloth bags (great for gifts).
---
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Old October 19th, 2008, 06:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pilotdane
The mangrove boat tour was great. The tour was offered morning or afternoon. When we went the weather tended to be better in the morning with the rains in the afternoon. It is about a 90+ minute bus (nice full size bus with bathroom) ride to the mangrove. At the mangrove they have a nice pavilion with real restrooms. You then board a covered boat for a two hour ride. They point out and describe all the wildlife (crockodiles, macaw, egrets...). You can go to the bow of the boat to take better pictures if you want. At the end of the boat ride they have fresh fruit snacks, soda, water & beer and a small shopping tent for local gift items (trinkets & beads). With the morning tour you get back to the pier with several hours to walk around town.

The mangrove boat tour is the second half of the train & boat tour (which quickly sold out). The train is diesel powered (not a cool steam engine). Our tablemates took this tour and hated the train ride which had uncomfortable hard wooden seats and they were the last excursion to board the boat (we sailed the minute they stepped onboard).
---
We bought coffee in Guatemala and Columbia and I wish we had picked up some in Costa Rica. Columbian was $5 for a half kilo bag in the tourist areas though some charged as high as $7 or $8 so shop around. Guatemala had a greater range of coffees available and was more expensive $7 to $10 per 500g in the tourist shops and come in nice colorfull cloth bags (great for gifts).

---
Thanks so much for the information. I just wish I didn't have to wait so long to go.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 02:47 PM
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Default HAL Westerdam, Panama Canal 4/19/09 or BUST

Is anyone on this Cruise?
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 03:14 PM
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mpdpsca: You have posted in an older "dead" thread and most people will never see it. Try posting in the proper meet on board thread and you will get some replies.
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Old May 4th, 2009, 11:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pilotdane
We did half the touring on our own and took HAL tours in Costa Rica (mangrove boat tour), Guatemala (Antigua on your own) and Caragena (Cartagena walking tour). In Cabo, Acapulco, Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal we did our own thing.

Be very honest about yourself when you choose what you want to do! Make sure you know that you are going to 3rd world countries in the tropics. They have two seasons: hot & wet and hotter & wetter. You will get hot and sweaty and you will see poverty (not Africa poverty, but still disturbing to some Americans).


May I know what are the fun things to do in Huatulco? I love shopping. Are there any flea markets in Huatulco where I can buy cheap souvenir items? Thanks.
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Old May 5th, 2009, 08:04 AM
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The cruise line did not have any excursions in Huatulco that seemed interesting so we chartered a boat for the day. The boat came with a driver, a guide/translator and snacks & drinks (including beer).

The guide met us on the dock and drove us to the boat. The van and the boat were both reasonably new, well maintained and very safe and the boat driver & guider were both very professional. We cruised along all the bays & beaches of Huatulco. We saw a fair bit of wildlife (including many sea turtles) and got some history about the area and bit of the locals spin on that region of Mexico.

It was a nice way to spend the day. If I pointed in a direction the boat went that way. I said I wanted to do some snorkeling and the guide asked what I wanted to see and we went there. Basically the boat and guide are yours. You do whatever you want to. When we had had enough the boat dropped us off on the dock near the ship.

---
There is a new shopping area right at the base of the dock to do the usual tourist shopping. A nice way to kill a little time before boarding the ship.
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