This trip was planned a year in advance. We wanted to spend a few days in New York City (NYC), Manhattan in particular and then we needed a way to get home. We found Carnival Cruises has a number of trips that leave out of the NYC cruise ship dock so we said, why not? Carnival has hit some hard times and it makes it attractive for travelers as they lower the rates to attract them. The particular trip selected was a relocation voyage positioning the Carnival Miracle to the west coast for the summer with trips to the Mexican Riviera, Alaska and Hawaii. It passed through the Panama Canal which we've never experienced before. The following is a review of that trip.
Because of the many incompatibilities with different browsers,
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have a plug-in that plays .WAV files which run in the background
We allowed ourselves three days in Manhattan. Our base was Times Square at the Holiday Inn Express on 39th Street. The biggest shock people have visiting NYC is the cost of everything. The best I could come up with for an acceptable hotel was $215/night which included a nice breakfast. This was within walking distance of famous Times Square and a subway station. Probably the most I've ever paid for a hotel on a pleasure trip. Marsha had never been to NYC before so it was new to her. The last time I'd been there was 11 years ago on a business trip. Needless to say we only saw a fraction of the things we wanted to do. A week would have been a better choice if you can afford it? Weather during our visit was poor with 30 degree days and wind. New Yorkers don't seem to mind but us northwesterners were not use to the cold and most of our clothes were intended for the tropics. We had the sense to bring one set of warm clothes as we knew NYC can be unpredictable. Two things stand out, it is a very noisy city and "J" walking is common with associated accidents. We both agree, a great place to visit, but we would never want to live there.
We took an all day Gray Line tour, walked around Times Square, rode the subway to the Museum of Natural History and added Central Park. We at least passed all the major attractions Manhatten has to offer. Marsha was planning on going to a broadway show but when she found out how much they wanted for "Lion King"; just under $200, she decided she didn't need to go that bad. It cost me a trip to the world's biggest Macy's store in return. She can see "Lion King" in Seattle for far less.
| Looking North from "Top of the Rock". Open area:
|| South from "Top of the Rock". Empire State building
|| Stormy day, World Trade Center #1 under construction
| Evening lights of Times Square
|| Taxi's on 5th avenue
|| Twin Towers about 6 months before 9-11. Previous
The map shows our
planned sea route. The day before embarkation we learned of
an illness outbreak on Grand Turk Island which was on our
itinerary. The ships company decided to avoid the stop as it
would put passengers and crew at risk. They decided we would
pass the island and head directly for Cartagena for our first
Cartagena is the fifth largest city in Columbia. Its position on the Caribbean Sea is important being the busiest port in Columbia. It was really put on the map around 1533 when the Spanish started settling the area. Gold and silver was the attraction and it brought many others including French, British and a few Americans. In time, those infamous "Pirates of the Caribbean" took notice. At one time it was known as the "pirate capital of the world". In the 1600's the Spanish decided to build a wall around the city, 11 km in total length, and it still exists today.
It was an important trading port that included metals from Peru and slaves. The city has a new and old section as found in many latin American cities. "New Town" real estate prices rival NYC. Columbia is rapidly improving its image and becoming an important power in South America. The main business is petroleum based manufactured products and export of flowers but its growing in other fields as well. 70% of imported cut flowers in the U.S. come from Columbia. It still has a large illegal export, Cocaine, but numbers are very unreliable. More on Columbia and drugs
A popular vacation spot for people of South America, rarely does it have hurricanes like other locations in the Caribbean. It often has cooling winds so it doesn't always have stifling heat common in the tropics.
Further information on Cartagena
|Skyline of newtown Cartagena||Modern home in a nice neighborhood
|Me, better get on that diet! Background: fortress around city||Open pistol carry, he owned the jewelry store||Local University|
Considered the highlight of out trip was the passage of our ship
through the Panama Canal. This is an all day affair as the
ship is raised by three locks then it travels across Gatun Lake,
which is about 85 feet higher than the ocean. It then passes
a total of three more locks to reach the Pacific. The last
three are broken by Miraflores Lake. See attached map below:
The canal is celebrating its 100 year anniversary. The story of
building this system is quite interesting but it has been
determined to be inadequate for modern ships. A new set of
locks are under construction that will allow bigger ships to
pass. Oil tankers have not been able to use it because of
their beam exceeding the width of the current locks. That
should all change in a few years but construction has been