Cruising through the Canal and the Caribbean
(February 6 to February 20, 2004)
Live webcam Photo from our trip
We had so much fun during our previous Canal transit that we decided to do it again -- this time from the Pacific to the Atlantic. We decided to try a new cruise line, Oceania, and their mid-sized ship, the Regatta (previously owned by the defunct Renaissance cruise line).
The following is the day-by-day itinerary of the trip: pictures are available at the italicized areas.
- February 5: Flew in the evening from Newark, NJ, to St. Jose, Costa Rica. Stayed at the San Jose Marriott..
- February 6: Sleep late after a much-delayed flight, then take the motor coach to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, and see our home for the next two weeks: the Regatta.
- February 7: At sea, cruising south in the Pacific Ocean. Our stateroom had a view looking forward.
- February 8: The big day! Transited the Panama Canal. (Took lots of pictures.)
- February 9: At sea. We were supposed to visit the San Blas Islands, but very rough weather forbade our stopping there.
- February 10: At sea. More rough weather.
- February 11: Finally, our first chance to step ashore. Took a walkabout and lots of shopping at Oranjestad, Aruba
- February 12: At sea.
- February 13: Castries, Santa Lucia. Lots of poverty. We looked around at the market, then in the afternoon took a bus tour of the island.
- February 14: St. Johns, Antigua. We took a taxi over to Jolly Harbour, and looked around the town we'd visited the year before (see last year's pictures).
- February 15: Gustavia, St. Barts. Our boat visited on Sunday, and many of the shops were closed. And those that were open didn't seem very interested in selling to cruiseship passengers — we arrived at noon at one apparently open shop, but the shopkeeper shut the door in our face because she wanted to go to lunch!
- February 16: Basseterre, St. Kitts, where we took the train to see the island. (Took lots of pictures!). We undocked from St. Kitts in midday, and relocated to the tiny sister island of Nevis for the afternoon. (Wonder why we didn't stay at St. Kitts, where we were tied up at the dock, rather than wasting several hours relocating to a harbor where we had to take the tenders to shore?)
- February 17: Roadtown, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. We've visited here twice before. This time, it was very disappointing to have to use tenders to go ashore here. The pier only had room for two cruise ships, and indeed there were two others in port when we arrived.
- February 18: At sea. Assembled some photos of the Regatta for your viewing pleasure.
- February 19: At sea. Packed and goofed off.
- February 20: Fly home from Miami to Newark. Collapse.
Would we sail on Regatta again?
- Smaller ship — able to get into smaller ports
- Staff was wonderful
- Everything was new and neat and clean
- Lots of live music (string quartet several times daily; pianos — both live and player; band; Jamie Michael Stewart: an excellent singer!)
- Experienced cruisers
- No children
- Open seating at meals
- Choice of restaurants (and no extra charges for the more exclusive ones)
- Recent movies on stateroom TVs
- Satellite TV (limited access, but CNN, CNBC, TNT, and a few more)
Cons:Conclusion: Perhaps, if there were an itinerary we really wanted to do, but there are lots of rough edges that need to be smoothed out.
- Smaller ship — rough ride in even moderate seas, and noisy and very rough in bad weather
- Inadequate precruise information package
- Inadequate website
- Poor choice of shore excursions
- No frig in room
- No tub in room
- No DVD player or rental
- No free daily newssheet
- Extraordinarily expensive Internet access (much cheaper at Internet cafes at the ports-of-call — when you could find them.)
- Unannounced perks: for example, we didn't find out till after the bad weather that there were seasick pills available at the reception area
- And the number one Con on the cruise: Bingo as the entertainment (?) on the last night on the ship!
Other websites of possible interest:
- Oceania Cruises
- A Review of the Regatta
- Another review of the Regatta, in 3 parts: --1-- --2-- --3--
- The St. Kitts Scenic Railway
- Two Panama Canal Webcams
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. . . as of February 20, 2004