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Sunday January 12, 2014: At Sea on the Coral Princess
I was glad to have a day to recuperate after all the swimming and walking in Aruba--the stiffness slowly abated and the two small bands of sunburn on the upper BACK of my arms (exposed while snorkeling face down in the water for hours!), turned brown.
We attended Dave's shore excursion lecture at 9:00 a.m. concerning Panama, Limon (Costa Rica), the Grand Cayman Islands, and Fort Lauderdale, and were surprised to learn that the Panama tour we had booked led us only to a fake Indian village where the villagers all came in to act their roles during the day and then went to their real homes at night. As Riley used to say, "What a revolting development that was!" Curiously, the tour that sound the least interesting, which involved just a visit to an Indian village, was actually the most authentic tour as it did in fact take visitors to a real, honest-to-god Indian village to meet the folks, have lunch with them, and so forth. So after the talk we ran down to the Shore Excursion desk to shift our tickets over to see the authentic Indian village.
We also found that in Costa Rica the sloth preserve did not really give us a good overview of the rain forest, whereas a different tour concentrating on the rain forest had a aerial tram ride with a naturalist and involved a much more thorough experience of the rain forest. So we shifted our tickets over to that rain forest tour. We appreciated Dave's honesty in evaluating the tours, because his live presentation offered critical facts that certainly changed our minds, at the very least! We were also glad that Princess had a "no hassle" policy about changing our shore excursions--on past cruises we have been essentially "locked in" to a shore excursion once we purchased it, except in the case another passenger would come along and sign up to take our places. The "locked in" system was much more frustrating as you often had to make reservations rather far in advance to get some tours, but then you would be find out more information whilst aboard the ship that would change your preferences.
Right after Dave's excursion talk we listened to the geologist professor talk about the Panama canal, and that was also a lot of fun. Having the ships float up and down in the locks seems like almost magic as they are so big and heavy, but we had seen it all before on Ausflug 36, so we felt free to take the day to do something different and see the native Indian folks in the Panamanian jungle.
New, much larger locks are being constructed near the older, narrower ones, but the geologist raised the important point of the requirement of enough fresh water from Gatun Lake to flow down the lock system and carry the ships up and down. The new larger locks will require much more fresh water to do that work and he was not sure there was enough. There is a proposal to "recycle" the water from the locks up into Lake Gatun, but that risks the danger of making the lake saline. That in turn raises the risk of the Atlantic marine flora and fauna spreading across Lake Gatun and down the other side into the Pacific (and vice-versa, of course). The introduction of new species on both sides of the locks could have undesirable ecological consequences, so I really hope they are careful!
We attended the dance class in the afternoon, and this time we learned East Coast Swing, which I would also call Jive. That review was fun and some of the dance steps seemed to be coming back to me a bit--hard when you only practice once a year but nice to know I'm learning something!
That evening, the Coral Princess singers and dancers presented "Motor City", a 60s-oriented set of song and dance routines, so we took our earplugs along and enjoyed the show. I am amazed no one else seemed to find the sound levels too high, but we thought the level was just bearable whilst wearing earplugs, and much too loud without them.
Another cruise ship passing by as we sat on our balcony.
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