Posted by: Gary Guertin | January 19, 2017

8. World Cruise – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico–Jan. 16, 2017



Hi all, (written Jan. 17, 2017)

Here’s the opening of my post on Puerto Vallarta back in 2010. “This Mexican resort town was a quiet hideaway for the rich and famous until 1963 when John Huston made the film “Night of the Iguana” starring Richard Burton, Deborah Kerr, and Ava Gardner.  If you were expecting Elizabeth Taylor in the film you were wrong, but she was here during the entire filming with her suitor, Richard Burton.  She bought a 9 bedroom, 11bathroom villa, which, even though she has long since sold, remains a tourist attraction.  Her affair with Burton was the start of the areas boom and became a haven for Hollywood stars.  It is still one of the most popular resorts on the Mexican Riviera, with more than 2 million tourists visiting each year.”

As usual let’s first look at the port from the ship. As I have said before, if you want to see these photos clearly just click on them once or twice and they should open to full size. Hitting escape or a return arrow should take you back to the post.  A panoramic view:

DSC01099 Stitch

Since we were here last they seem to have put in a lot of parks and a new marine terminal:



A view of the tower apartment buildings with the mountains in the background:


Again, since this was a repeat port for us, so we headed out to find a good place to get on the internet and drink some good Mexican beer.  First the ships port sign:


As we stepped off the ship we had a nice lady take this photo of us in front of the Puerto Vallarta terminal:


As soon as we cleared the terminal you see where Susy headed:


After crossing a large boulevard behind the terminal we encountered not only a huge Walmarks, but a Galleria with a Starbucks, so we were set for the day.  Looking back at the ship from the steps of the Galleria:


And a look down one of the streets:


Puerto Vallarta is really one of Mexico’s finest resort port/cities, and if you ever wanted to take a quiet, relaxed vacation, this would be a place to do it.

We’re now off to San Diego arriving Thursday, Jan. 19th, and then we head West out into the Pacific.  Until San Diego,

I Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S. Jan. 19, 2017 San Diego.  We sail tonight for Hawaii, five days at sea, so no posts for about a week or so.   Again, Love You All

Posted by: Gary Guertin | January 19, 2017

7. World Cruise – Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala – Jan. 13, 2017

Hi All, (Written Jan. 14, 2017)

Our last stop before Mexico is Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, a lovely small port, but gateway to the famous city of “La Antigua”.  The city is located up in the mountains between three volcanoes.   Established in1552 and the Capital of Guatemala for 200 years until it was destroyed by a series of earthquakes in 1773.  The city is beautiful, full of churches, monasteries, and a magnificent Cathedral. Now that I have teased your interest I have to tell you that if you want to see photos  of La Antigua, you have to scroll down to our Panama Canal cruise, Nov. 12, 2010 to Dec. 10, 2010.  It will take you a while to get to that cruise, I made four posts 13 thru 16 on the “Panama Canal Cruise”, but believe me if you have the time it’s worth it. That was our 19th cruise and this is our 27th, so you know about how far you have to scroll down.

Today we’re just going to look at this port and do our usual internet business.  This is known as the gateway to the Mayan World, because of its jumping off point to La Antigua and many Mayan ruins.

From the ship we can get an overview of the port:


And a close up of its port sign:


Before we leave the ship, another view of the port:


As we leave the ship, the port sign:


Susy is ready to take us on a walk through the port:


Oh, by the way, I was there to:


As we clear the terminal we find one large path after the other lined with booths, in other words, one big market laid out like a park:





A local painters art:


Susy on the internet:


And Misu in front of one of the fountains:


And to end the day we turn back to the Amsterdam and the it’s good to be welcomed home:


Two quiet days at sea and then our first Mexican port; Puerto Vallarta, another repeat port for us.

I Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu & Opa)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | January 16, 2017

6. World Cruise – Corinto, Nicaragua–Jan. 12, 2017



Hi All (written Jan. 13, 2017)

Our second stop in Central America is Corinto, Nicaragua.  Again, as with Puntarenas, this is a small port, even though it is the Nicaraguan’s largest. 

From the ship we look out at the mountains, volcanoes, and tropical forest:


A look at the small port:


The port sign:


Coming off the gang blank, the local singers, dancers, and musicians put on an enjoyable folklore show:



As you pass out the port gates you enter the little port town, which as you will see is like a park with many tent market stalls and streets running off in every direction:


It seems as if every country has its version of a taxi.  Here’s Nicaragua’s:


As you can see it’s a bicycle like vehicle, with a rider/driver behind and two side seats in front for passengers.

I finally found a port sign in the port:


We immediately found the central market:


As usual we stopped at the first internet place we could find and Susy made all her new found “WhatsApp” phone calls:


One last look as the local taxi:


Now back on the ship, I want you to see what one of our neighbors puts on his cabin door, changing the watercolor picture and sign about every other day:


If you can’t read the sign just click once or twice on the photo and it will enlarge to full screen size.  When your ready to go back to the blog just close the blown photo.

Finally to close this post Susy asked me to show you her recent dinner photo (we take them every night to determine how we look as we go through the cruise).  She wants you to see how she is recovering from the surgery (and for me, how good she looks):


Next, Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Hi All, (written Jan. 11, 2017)

This Post will be short because we’re visiting a small port in a small country.  Costa Rica is one of the smallest countries in Central America, yet has some of the most amazing rain forests and national parks in the world.  Also, what is probably more important is that it is a peaceful, democratic country which disbanded its army in the 1940’s.

Caldera is one of the countries main ports, so let’s take a quick visit.  From the ship we can view almost all the port in one photo (actually two merged):

DSC00926 Stitch

Looking out in the distance we can see the beautiful color of the pacific and the mountains/rainforests in the distance:


As we go ashore we pass our port sign:


Here’s a close up of one of the beaches:


Susy and I spent most of our time in a local café with great internet.  We both got a lot done:


The Costa Rica flag:


Of course, prior to returning to the ship Susy had to visit the local market which ran the length of the beach right on the sand (Panama hats everywhere):


That’s it for Puntarenas, next Corinto, Nicaragua. Jan. 12, 2017.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | January 13, 2017

4. World Cruise–The Panama Canal–Jan. 9, 2017

Hi All (written Jan. 10,2017),

For those of you who have followed us for years, this is the third time we have passed through the Canal so most of this will be repetitive, but for all you newcomers I hope you find it interesting.

First a few facts about the Canal.  It was started in 1904 and opened Aug. 15, 1914.  It is 48 miles long and consists of 3 , 2 channel locks (called the Gatun Locks which raises/lowers the ships from the Caribbean Sea to the Gatun Lake and Culebra Cut. This takes them across the Canal and then to 3 more 2 channel locks (the Pedro Miguel lock and 2 Miraflores locks) which raises/lowers them into the Pacific Ocean.  It handled annually about 1000 ships in the beginning but due to expansion the figure rose to 15,000 in 2010.  As of June 26, 2016 a new third cannel set of locks has been opened beside the original 2 channels which will double the capacity of the Canal and allow for passage of the super size tankers. The Canal allows a ship sailing from New York to San Francisco to travel 5,900 miles versus traveling 14,000 miles if it had to sail around Cape Horn.

OK, follow me through one of the locks: the Pedro Miguel Lock, to experience a piece of the day (it takes a ship about 8 to 10 hours to pass through the Canal). Come with me up to the front of the ship to view our passage:


Before reaching the Miguel Lock we pass along the Gatun Lake and Culebra Cut with scenes like this:


As we sail through the Lake and Cut we pass all types of cargo ships like this huge container ship:


Now we begin to approach the Pedro Miguel Lock with its two channels (we will pass through the one on our right):


The lock where our ship is going looks awful small from this distance and with the front and rear gates closed, but just wait until we pull up beside it and begin to enter.  We will be pulled through by the canal electric trains, one holding the front of the ship and one holding the rear of the ship, from both sides of the lock:


and watch the rear gates up front start to open:


As we are pulled into the lock and stopped inside, the rear gates start to close:



The water flows out and we are lowered to the level of the next lock:


If you think this ship just fits in this lock, take a look at the two sides of the ship:



Once the water reaches the lower level (in this case of going down to the Pacific, the opposite if we were going up from the Caribbean) the front gates open and we sail out:


The locks close, the water flows in to the lake level and they’re ready for the next ship:


And we sail off to the next Locks and the Pacific Ocean:


That’s it for the Panama Canal.  We have a day at sea and then we stop at our first Pacific port; Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera), Costa Rica (Jan 11, 2017).  The day after that we stop at Corinto, Nicaragua (Jan. 12, 2017) and the day after that we stop at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala (Jan. 13, 2017).  Three ports in a row, so I will try to post at least one or two during that time, but will probably have to wait until Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Jan. 16,2017 to get caught up.

Love you all,

Gary (Gagu)

P.S. Just a suggestion for you new readers. The email you get only has the contents of the Post I am making.  It’s best if you click or double click on the title of the post, which will take you to my site ( where you can see any changes I have made and see previous posts you might have missed. Hope you enjoy!!  I have read all your comments, and thank you very much for your words.

Posted by: Gary Guertin | January 11, 2017

3. World Cruise – Santa Marta, Colombia – Jan. 7, 2017

Hi All, (written Jan. 7, 2017)

Sorry to take so much time to get off that post of our sailing, but unfortunately it looks as if this is the way the whole cruise is going to be.  The internet on the ship is almost useless, it’s so slow, so it looks as if the only time I’ll be able to post is when we are in port. I’m going to start dating the day I write the post, so please do not pay any attention to the day you receive it.  One thing is, they will always go out in sequence.

I have to open this post with a Jan. 6, 2017, photo of our first Gala night:


Not too bad for our first dress up?

Let’s look at our first port, Santa Marta, Colombia.  Santa Marta was founded July 29, 1525 by Rodrigo de Bastidas.  It is the oldest Spanish settlement in Colombia and sources have it ranked as the oldest or second oldest settlement in South America.  It gets it’s history, however, as being tied to Simon de Bolivar, “the Liberator” who led Colombia and several other Latin American countries to independence from Spain.  Bolivar died at the San Pedro villa just outside of town and today is a National Monument to him.

Santa Marta is a small, thriving port, gateway to some of Colombia’s most stunning beaches, and becoming a top weekend getaway.  Not far out of town is Tayrona National Park, with long sandy beaches, great diving and snorkeling and tropical wildlife.

Enough of talk, let’s look at the port from our viewpoint.  First from the ship a few views of the port:

DSC00721 Stitch

A closer look at the port front:


This is one of the far off beaches up close:


Another close up of people in front of the port beach:


I bet you missed seeing my port signs.  Relax, I won’t forget them:


As we walked along the port you see sidewalk cafes on the left and on the right between the street and the beach (including some actually on the beach) were marketing tents with booth after booth of jewelry, hand made crafts, prints, etc., etc..  Here’s a series of those photos:




That’s Susy way back there shopping, but to verify we were there here she is going into the market:


As we head back to the ship, we look out from the port at the bay, and the Amsterdam, ready to take us on to the Panama Canal:


We enter the Canal on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017 at 5:AM and exit into the Pacific about 7 PM the same day.  After the Canal we sail into our next port, Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera), Costa Rica on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.  Between or after I’ll write my next post (sending?).

Until then,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | January 7, 2017

2. World Cruise – Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. Departure, Jan. 4, 2017

Hi All,

We’re sailing.  The departure went off without a hitch.  We left Toscana West with 9 large suitcases and 6 pieces of hand luggage (not bad for almost 4 months of sailing ahead)  As you can see from this first photo it took a Limousine to hold it all, but here we are arriving at Port Everglades about 3 PM:


Or room is confortable, but Susy says no photos of the room until we’re completely settled in.

So, we’ll move on to the next exciting activity, the Emergency Fire Drill.  As most of you know this is the activity Susy hates, and usually tries to hide in the cabin so she doesn’t have to put on a life saver vest and stand on deck for a half hour while everyone checks in and they explain what to do in an emergency and how to put on the vest you already have on.  Well time and technology has caught up with her.  First, we no longer have to wear our vests to the drill, but what really got her was they now take attendance by swiping you ship’s room/boarding key as you see in this first photo:


Which means they got her:


On the way back to the room I have to show you a Holland American (I believe) exclusive, the day of the week on the elevator floor to keep us awake and oriented every day:


Oh, that’s Susy enjoying the elevator rug:


She doesn’t look to bad for having surgery just 8 days ago.

The ship didn’t sail until 10:00 PM so instead of going to our regular assigned dinner table in the main dining room, we decided to celebrate (by this time we were completely unpacked) by going to our favorite private restaurant, the Pinnacle.  We were shocked and very happy to meet our wine steward from our last cruise, Oliver.  He took this photo:


We finally ended the day out on the rear outer deck of the ship, watching Ft. Lauderdale disappear in the distance, and beginning one of my (and Susy’s) greatest life experiences, sailing around the world:


That’s it for now.  Our next and first port of call is Santa Marta, Columbia, on Jan. 7th, so don’t expect another post for several days.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | December 6, 2016

1. World Cruise–Jan. 4 to Apr. 26, 2017

Hi All,

I’m back and with the most happiness I have ever had in starting a cruise blog.  A few weeks ago Susy broke the news that since I would be 80 years old in 2017 she had booked us on Holland American’s yearly “round the world cruise”.  This is a dream come true for me as I have been wanting to go on this cruise for years and Susy (rightly so) had said not while our grandchildren are growing up.  Well now she believes they’ve reached an age (and we have reached an age) were it’s Ok to go.  By the way, even she can’t wait to have the rest, fun, and “quietness” of a long cruise.

Let’s look at the cruise:

Map of World Cruise - 1

36 Ports, 10 overnights, here is the itinerary:

Itinerary - World Cruise -002

Itinerary - World Cruise -003

Itinerary - World Cruise -004

As you can tell from the new “Header” above, the         MS Amsterdam is our ship (the same ship used each year for the World Cruise).  We have been on the Amsterdam several times and it is a wonderful ship, just the right size (I believe around 1500 passengers).  We also been to many of the ports (this is our 27th cruise), but there are some new ports that we have wanted to see for years (i.e. Beijing and the “Great China  Wall”).

Well, that’s it for this first post.  If anyone has any suggestions or helpful comments for taking a 111 day cruise please let us know through the comment area at the bottom of this post.  Yesterday was only 30 days to sailing, so Susy and I have a lot to accomplish before leaving.

I’ll try to answer any comments and let you know just before sailing what it’s like getting ready for an almost 4 month cruise.  Until then;

I Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu & Opa)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | September 2, 2015

16. Viking Cruise – Jul. 29th – Aug. 19, 2015 – MS Prinsendam

Hi All,

It’s time to close out another cruise.  As you see above, my Blog will return to it’s “can’t wait till the next cruise” state, dreaming of calm ocean sailing.  To finish I want to highlight our ship, the MS Prinsendam:

 PRDM View 8x10 3

This ship is one of the smallest of the Holland America fleet, holding only 765 passengers and 474 crew members.  It is 673 feet long and 106 feet wide.  What is interesting is it uses 92,400 gallons of portable water per day, but has the capacity to make 145,000 gallons per day.  The other interesting fact is that it uses 16,000 of fuel per day, but has a fuel tank which holds 394,000 gallons.  The ship is 38,000 tons and has a maximum speed of 21 knots (1 knot = 1.15 miles = 1.85 kilometers).

If you remember from past cruises, every day when you enter the elevator you always know what day it is:


Out side the sport deck has the main the pool which, as you see, was not enclosed, so it didn’t get a lot of use:


And the rear deck pool which got a little more use because of the distance from the pool to hot tub to shower:


Inside their was an excellent decor from the staircases:



To the corridors:


Table decorations each night in the dining room:


Our cafeteria “the Lido”:


And lastly our favorite “private” restaurant on board the “Pinnacle”:


The Prinsendam lived up to it’s reputation as a small, friendly ship, perfect for getting in and out of the small ports, fjords, etc., that we faced on this cruise. For Susy and I it wasn’t  a cruise we would do again, but it was a great experience to view that part of our world and see how people live in the dark from Oct. thru March.  It was a good cruise, but was dampened, as most of you have heard, by Susy’s back problems and my bad cold upon our return.

It will be some time before we head out again, but as soon as the two of us are patched up and look back on these wonderful cruises, we’ll probably give in and go.  I’ll let you know, so until then;

I Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu & Opa)

P.S. Thanks again for your many comments, they make my writing of these posts worthwhile and remember if you have any suggestions for improving them (the posts) please chime in.

Posted by: Gary Guertin | August 27, 2015

15. Viking Cruise – Aug. 17, 2015 – Edinburgh Castle & Tattoo

Hi All,

At our last post we reached the castle gate, so let’s go in and look around this 12th century castle that sits on volcanic Castle Rock.  Here’s another welcome sign:


To get to the actual castle you must cross a huge esplanade (parade grounds) which is where the Tattoo (which I’ll cover later) will be held:


This is one of the most famous castles in the world, one that movie makers, Disney, etc. have copied as the typical “Medieval Castle of Europe”.  Look closely at the front entrance:

Tattoo 003

Notice the “Moat” (A deep water channel around the castle to prevent approach by the enemy from land) and the old ramp across the moat into the entrance which in the old times could be drawn up when the enemy approached.

Once your inside the castle you begin to climb up a winding road to all the interior buildings:


From the ramparts of this castle the views are outstanding (here’s a few):




Now let’s look outside and inside some of the buildings in the castle:





Having finished our tour of the castle, which was closed at 6:00 PM, Susy and I next prepared for the evenings activities.  Just outside the parade grounds were various Pubs/Restaurants where we would have a five coarse dinner as a part of our entrance fees to the Tattoo:


As we near the start of a great show, Susy and I wish all our new friends at the dinner the best, with the best single malt scotch whiskey I have ever tasted:



This spectacular show is just that “a show” Officially called ‘The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo”, it is self described by its promoters as a “thrilling demonstration of military musical precision and theatricality.  The Tattoo was first and always held on the Castle Esplanade in 1950.  The show is performed every year about this time and is next scheduled 5-27 Aug. 2016.  There never has been a cancelation.

Now, I can tell you having seen the show, it was spectacular, but Susy talked me into a new philosophy.  She argued that I normally spend all my time filming these shows and not enjoying them, when we can buy a professional version of the whole thing and I can spend my time enjoying it. So that’s what I did/will do.  The professional DVD will be out in October and I’m inviting you all over to watch it when I get it.  In the meantime I’ll try to give you a brief look at the evenings show.  First the night’s program:

Tattoo 002

Tattoo 001

The show was 90 minutes non-stop, so here, the head Piper is getting a shot of Scotch before he gets things going: (lol, but true):



The opening bagpipes:


Scottish Dancers:


The United States Air Force Color Guard made me proud of my service (photo from program):

Tattoo 004

China was there with many units:


and you can not believe how the castle was used for background for the acts:


That’s it for Edinburgh.  One last post left, a review of the ship and the cruise overall. 

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu & Opa)

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