Panama Canal Cruise 2013:
Day 4 - Colombia


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Panama Canal Cruise 2013: [Day 1 - Ft. Lauderdale] [Day 2 - At Sea] [Day 3 - At Sea] [Day 4 - Colombia] [Day 5 - Panama] [Day 6 - Canal] [Day 7 - At Sea] [Day 8 - Costa Rica] [Day 9 - At Sea] [Day 10 - Guatemala] [Day 11 - At Sea] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Mexico] [Day 14 - Mexico] [Day 15 - At Sea] [Day 16 - San Diego]

Monday, January 21, 2013: The pilot boat pulled up as we neared the Boca Grande entrance to Cartagena Bay in Colombia, our 69th country.

We passed Fort San Jose on the way in.
After a delayed arrival and long lines to disembark the ship, we waited for our Rosario Islands tour to begin on the dock. This pirate ship passed by with a full deck of tourists bound for exotic locales unknown.
On the short shuttle ride to our boat, we passed some of the many Maersk containers in the area.
We boarded our boat, donned our life jackets, and prepared for an hour-long ride out to the Rosario Islands.
Of course, we got a photo of our ship, the lovely Celebrity Century, as we set out.
To find out suite, follow the bottom left of the X straight down to the top deck of balconies.
We sped through Cartagena Bay.
We passed Fort San Fernando on our right (shown here), and Fort San Jose was on our left.
After a good long time in the open sea, we approached some small islands and knew we were getting close to our first destination, ...
... Isla San Martin, home of the Oceanario.
Our guide, Jose, escorted us through the facility, translating as needed.
First stop was the restrooms just beyond these mounted fish.
Then, we entered the aquarium, ...
... which started with a turtle display.
In a variety of large, penned in areas, fish were grouped according to type and size. Here's a cute little guy, ...
... and here's a particularly sparkly fish standing out amongst his greyer brethren.
These nurse sharks were about 8 feet long, ...
... and performed in a shark show, thrashing their tails on demand and going silent on demand. Our guide had told us that we'd see something we'd never seen before, and we thought, "Oh, sure, try us." And he was right -- we had never, ever seen a trained shark show before. We have now and it was very fun.
This guy wanted to steal some fish so badly that he plopped down on one of the sharks. Brave or stupid? You decide.
His friends wisely watched the show from the safety of the roof.
We were delighted to see our old friends, the magnificent frigatebirds, circling overhead.
Here's one of these beauties closer, ...
... and very close. Hmmm, come to think of it, they look a little more magnificent when they're flying.
The fish or sharks or whatever in this enclosure swam in a circle.
There were different sharks in this enclosure, and because they were more lethal, ...
... they were fed by tossing fish into the water. The funny white birds went diving for the fish every time too.
Next, we moved to the dolphin enclosure for the dolphin show.
Our guide translated as the dolphin trainer narrated.
The dolphins put on a great show for the crowd, ...
... and they were adorable too.
This pelican kept to himself on a walkway that the tourists couldn't reach.
Tom couldn't possibly look any more like a gringo tourist, could he? This photo was taken to show the relative size of the gigantic fish in the enclosure below him, ...
... identified on the sign as Mero Guasa, Epinephelus itajara.
As we left the ocean area, we passed another display containing larger turtles, ...
... including this large gentleman who kindly popped his head out of the water just in time for this shot.
There was a small series of indoor aquariums like this one.
There was an outdoor pen for this scary guy. Our guide said that he was a baby crocodile, but he looked plenty big to us.
A shallow pond contained these starfish, ...
... and these crabs.
Our next stop was Isla del Sol, which consisted of homes and small resorts.
We stopped at one that was our home base for the next couple of hours.
We were offered some very strong Colombian coffee and some sliced pineapple. Coffee lovers would have loved the coffee. We are not coffee lovers.
The optional snorkeling that the shore excursion description mentioned turned out to be $25/person, even if you brought your own equipment like we did. We were disappointed that it was so expensive after paying so much for the excursion itself, but we had taken the tour specifically to snorkel and there was no reef at all near the resort, so we felt like we had no choice.
We boated three minutes out to the edge of the tiny bay of the resort and jumped in the water. Four of us were experienced snorkelers, and the fifth participant was a first-timer, so our guide had to help her the entire time. On the plus side, it made it very easy to spot and follow our guide.
The reef was nice.
Here's a fish.
Here are some fish.
Here's a giant school of fish.
Here's Tom ...
... and Debbie.
Here's another large school of fish.
Let's follow them, ...
... and try to get a good shot of their black-and-blue coloring.
Score!
The coral they posed in front of was very cool looking.
Fish.
Fish.
Fish.
Fish.
At this point, we got to deeper water and a drop off, and our guide signaled that it was time to get out of the water.
Total promised snorkeling time: 50 - 55 minutes. Total snorkeling time: 22 minutes. Future tour goers, beware of this rip off.
We had some downtime back at the tiny resort as we waited for lunch to be served. Here is the small swimming area that we didn't use, ...
... and here is the small sunning area that we didn't use.
Lunch was a buffet consisting of pan-fried fish, coconut rice, fried plantains, a potato-like vegetable fried in strips, fish soup, and tossed salad.
It was all delicious and we washed it down with Coca-Cola Light, a soft drink called Quatro, and a $4 bottle of Club Colombia beer. Dessert was a delicious bar made from coconut, sugar, and cinnamon.
When this guy got tired of us taking his picture, he flew away ...
... and joined his friend further out. So we went out on the dock to get this picture of the two of them.
On the dock, we encountered this poor guy, who either was or almost was someone's lunch.
Soon it was time to go, ...
... and we got into the boat. Oooh, look at all of the tiny fishies in the water!
Look at the pretty barrette too! Debbie's favorite barrette dropped into the water as we were getting onboard. The water was at least four feet deep here and we were completely dry, so all she could do was photograph it and wish it well.
Buh-bye, Isla del Sol!
Heading back, the water was much rougher, and the waves came up higher than the sides of the boat. It was a remarkably dry trip, though, as long as the people in front of us didn't dip their hands in the water.
We returned to find Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, or as Tom dubbed it, Delusions of Grandeur. He's not very nice.
It was nice and sunny when we departed at 3:00 PM. Of course, we got a nice Maersk photo.
The old town of Cartagena was visible in the distance with the liberal use of our zoom lens.
Orchy posed for his Colombia photo on the ship, since we didn't want to bring him on our shore excursion with us.
In the middle of Cartagena Bay, a statue of the Virgin Mary stands watch over the sailors.
We bade farewell to the highrises of Cartagena, ...

... and got one last shot of Fort San Fernando.

Day 5 >


Panama Canal Cruise 2013: [Day 1 - Ft. Lauderdale] [Day 2 - At Sea] [Day 3 - At Sea] [Day 4 - Colombia] [Day 5 - Panama] [Day 6 - Canal] [Day 7 - At Sea] [Day 8 - Costa Rica] [Day 9 - At Sea] [Day 10 - Guatemala] [Day 11 - At Sea] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Mexico] [Day 14 - Mexico] [Day 15 - At Sea] [Day 16 - San Diego]

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