Regent Mariner Circumnavigation of South America January - March 2013
Jan 6thWe concluded our 18 day Holiday cruise on the Seabourn Quest and were met at the Port Everglades Cruise Terminal and transferred to the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. The transfers, hotel and a pre cruise dinner to meet the other 196 passengers were all included for of those of us on the full Regent "Grand Circle" itinerary.
As part of this cruise we were entitled to have our luggage transferred from home to the ship. Because we were leaving home early for the Seabourn cruise, Regent agreed to ship all of our luggage to the Westin Hotel where we stayed prior to the Seabourn cruise. We had taken several bags of clothing we would not require on the Seabourn trip to the Biltmore, and this was waiting for us when we reached the hotel.
The hotel has been well maintained over the years and was very comfortable.
Jan 7th We boarded the Regent Mariner late morning in time for a special lunch served to the "Grand Circle" guests. The cruise consists of four separate segments. With capacity for 700 passengers, the Mariner is considerably larger than any of the Seabourn ships we have traveled on, as well as the 500+ passenger Silversea Spirit we cruised on in the spring of 2012.
Our suite is a bit smaller than on the Seabourn and Silversea vessels, but very comfortable. We asked that an arm chair be removed from the cabin to provide us a bit more space around the sofa and desk area. After unpacking the staff picked up our empty suitcases for storage during the cruise. We were very favorably impressed by the quality and service of our lunch and dinner on the ship. We were exhausted and were soon sound asleep after dinner.
Jan 8th The day started out with calm seas but gradually started to build and the winds picked up. This was a day for completing our unpacking and familiarizing ourselves with the ship. We were worried about committing to 72 days with a cruise line we had not sailed on previously, but our initial impressions were very favorable and exceeded our expectations.
Jan 9th Rough seas more lectures were the order of the day. One of the lectures was on the history of the Panama Canal and the 2nd on the history of the Middle East, both of which were interesting and informative. We found the food on the Mariner to be good. The staff has a higher percentage of Filipinos and is more culturally diverse than on Seabourn and are more laid back than on Seabourn.
Jan 10th We were several hours late arriving in Curacao due to the rough seas which stretched across the Caribbean. The Regent was very stable and we did not suffer any signs of sea sickness, but heard that many of the other passengers were having problems. We participated on a 4 hour tour of the scenic highlights of Curacao. This was our first time on the Island and we enjoyed the tour. Our guide and driver were both very helpful and professional.
Jan 11th We were in Aruba several weeks earlier on the Seabourn Quest and had limited our activity to walking through the shopping area because we knew we would be back on the Mariner which included a tour of the Island. As in Curacao, our tour was of the scenic highlights of the Island which we enjoyed. On this tour our driver was also our guide and very informative and fun to be with. Unlike most Caribbean Island, both Curacao and Aruba are extremely clean and neat with homes well maintained and painted in colorful pastels. A fun day. One problem Aruba is experiencing is similar to that in the Everglades - boa constrictors - pets that are released into the wild when they become large. They have no natural predators and are proliferating. As our tour started out we saw two of the critters along the road side that had been run over by passing vehicles. They pose no real problem to humans, but that is not the case with pets and other animal and bird life.
Jan 12th & 13th We arrived in Cartagena in the early afternoon. This was our third visit to the city. We enjoyed a tour to a hill top monastery overlooking the city and then continued on a walking tour of the old part of the city. The following morning we took a tour of the harbor on an old sailing vessel. The Mariner departed at 1:00 PM for the Panama Canal.
Jan 14th This was our 4th transit of the Panama Canal. The first was a number of years ago with a Lindblad tour entering the canal from the Pacific side and the last two were with Seabourn on trips from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles via the canal over the Holidays. The weather was perfect and the trip went smoothly and we reached the Pacific a bit ahead of schedule.
Jan 16th After a day at sea we were in Manta, Ecuador on Wednesday morning. It becomes quickly evident that Manta is a major fishing area. More interesting to us is the proximity to Montechrisi which is where Panama Hats are manufactured by small family run businesses. Our tour concentrated on Montechristi and Eleanor purchased an orange hat!
Jan 17th Guayaquil is a major industrial area which has been vastly improved since we where here many years ago in conjunction with a trip to the Galapagos Islands. A major project was undertaken in 2000 to upgrade the waterfront. We drove through that area on a tour we took to a Historic Park on the outskirts of the city. The park included a boardwalk through tropical habitat where birds and mammals of Ecuador were kept. The tour included lunch at a restaurant in one of the new shopping malls in the city and a visit to an archaeological museum.
Jan 19th After a day at sea we arrived in Salaverry, Peru. The port is located in a sandy desert. It is a short drive to Salverry and a bit further to the city of Trujillo via the Pan American Highway and is where we went on a tour.
Jan 20th Our final port on this leg of the cruise was Lima where we docked for three nights. We participated in a tour of Lima and were really surprised at how clean the entire area is. We never saw one piece of trash along the roads or in the city. Petty crime no longer seems to be the problem it was when we were last in Lima in 2005. We had an excellent guide and enjoyed the tour even though it was a bit longer than we would have liked and we were exhausted by the time we returned to the ship. January 21st was a turn over day with about 400 passengers disembarking and a similar number of new passengers embarking. We thoroughly visited this area on two previous trips so we decided to stay on board on the 21st and 22nd. We were actually docked a bit outside of Lima amidst a fishing fleet which provided opportunities for lots of interesting photographs.