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Faye Paul

Age: 67


Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Statendam

Sailing Date: 2013-04-25

Itinerary: Panama Canal

The Canal is the real point of this 2 week itinerary. It is one day but well worth the wait to see one of the wonders of the world. Ship had been updated so was looking very nice. It is a smaller and older ship but if you do not like crowded conditions, this was fine. There was only one time we had a problem finding a table on the Lido deck and that was when all the tours returned at lunch time in Cartagena. I think almost everyone had been off the ship and so wanted lunch at the same time.

The food was exceptional in all regards.

Had an interior room which was fine but relatives had a partial view room and it was larger--resulting in an extra closet for hangups. On a two week cruise with 4 formal nights that would be helpful but no real problem as there was still lots of storage. We just layered some hangars and folded some things in drawers or on the shelves. Note: the window view rooms have a tub--a very high sided tub so my relatives had a time getting in and out of it. The interior rooms have a very modern updated shower--much better for us.

The exercise options were only early am--would have liked some options later in the morning. Water aerobics was always full--needed more sessions of that. They had random games which were actually fun and different every day. We got a full tour of the kitchen--they actually added one on during the cruise because we and others missed the one offered the first day. If you want a tour of the kitchen, check your pre departure schedule. It was very interesting. Movies were first rate--new releases. Captain's presentation on the history of HAL was very interesting with lots of pics and a history of cruising in general. They gave two pre-canal presentations on the canal history and operation which were excellent and a pre stop overview of ports.

We did the Puerto Vallarta tour and visit to the Ranchito where tequila is made, folkloric dancing and lunch. it was excellent. Well worth the reasonable price. We also did a scenic tour of Huatulco--also good value. You could also just take a taxi to the nearby town of La Crucesita which has an old Town Square--really lovely. Good shopping. The other stops in Chiapas and Quetzal were really nothing unless you wanted to spend alot of time and money traveling to the interior of Mexico/Guatemala so they became ship days in addition to the sea days. The best port beyond the canal itself was Cartagena, Colombia after the canal trip. We took the horse drawn carriage and it was great way to see the walled city. Otherwise you have to walk and since it is so hot, the open carriage was great. It did not really cost much more than the vans that take you to the walled city for a walking tour.

None of the stops in the good locations: Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, Cartagena were long enough to explore much. The other stops were only to allow passengers to travel inland. I heard passengers commenting that going to and from Quetzal to Antigua was on really winding roads and one bus broke down so they lost the time they would have had in Antigua.

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