Seabourn Odyssey Fort Lauderdale to LA December 20, 2011 to January 5, 2012
Dec 16th - 20th We had a pleasant 4 days in Fort Lauderdale prior to boarding the Odyssey. We stayed at a very nice small hotel about a block from the beach. The Alhambra Beach Resort gets top rating on Tripadvisor. It is not luxurious, but very clean and comfortable and the staff couldn't be more friendly and helpful.
I made two trips to wildlife preserves in the area and added a number of photos to my gallery of Florida Birds.
Dec 20th Boarding the Odyssey was a rather drawn out affair thanks to US Customs and Coast Guard, Because this was her first port in the US after arriving from Europe the entire ship crew had to participate in an inefficient immigration procedure standing in line for several hours which meant that readying the ship for arriving passengers was delayed, Additionally the Coast Guard insisted all of the systems on the ship be powered down which caused the Internet and cell phone service to be inoperable for the first part of the cruise.
The seas were a bit rougher in the Caribbean and Atlantic than they were last year. We did not have any problems with sea sickness, but a number of passengers were not as fortunate. Our first port was Cartagena, Columbia. We toured the city last year and decided to just stay on board for the day. We had wonderful weather on Christmas Day as we passed through the Panama Canal, and the weather was peaceful and sunny with smooth seas when we reached the Pacific that evening.
The ship was decorated beautifully for the Holidays with several trees, and arrangements of gingerbread houses and poinsettias throughout the vessel. It goes without saying that the ship's crew were warm, friendly and efficient.
Dec 27th This was our first day setting foot on solid ground since boarding the Odyssey one week earlier. We repeated a tour we had done a year earlier from Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica to a coastal mangrove where we toured the area in a boat and saw lots of different birds and enormous crocodiles along the shoreline. I was able to get a good photograph of an American Pygmy Kingfisher, a new species for me - so as far as I was concerned the tour was a success, Eleanor enjoyed the day very much.
Dec 29th Our port was Puerto Quetzal, Guatamala. The original itinerary called for us to be in Acapulco on New Year's Eve which we were looking forward to, however Seabourn apparently decided that would not be a good idea given all the violence in that part of Mexico and instead added a stop at Puerto Quetzal. The port itself was not at all attractive. There was a small handicraft market at the port which we walked through. We decided not to take any of the tours which involved either a lengthy bus ride or flights to ruins in the interior. We enjoyed our day on the ship which we had pretty much to ourselves.
Dec 30th You are probably surmising that we have gotten pretty laid back about sight seeing and skipped the tours at Puerto Chiapas, Mexico and once again stayed on board for most of the day. The weather has been delightful. We were in Puerto Chiapas last year and enjoyed walking around the city, but we are slipping into a "been there, did that" frame of mind and really enjoy just reading and relaxing on board the ship. Our room is extremely comfortable with a nice balcony.
Dec 31st The last day of 2011 was at sea with a sunny sky and calm sailing. We were invited to sit at a table hosted by the ship's chief engineer with another couple who are from Milwaukee. After dinner we enjoyed a Holiday show in the Odyssey's Grand Salon which ended at 11:00 PM. We rushed back to our room to watch the ball drop in Times Square (we were one hour behind New York time). We skipped the "Rock the Boat" celebration held outside under the stars to bring in 2012.
Jan 1st New Year's day was once again sunny and calm. It was another sea day. For the most part we just enjoyed the warm weather and read our books and magazines, but did attend an interesting lecture on the life of Houdini given by an English Magician that is one of the entertainers on the ship, The entertainer for the evening show was an extremely talented violinist from Los Angeles.
Jan 2nd to 5th Our only other port on the final portion of the cruise to Los Angeles was an afternoon in Cabo san Lucas. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed walking through some of the shops. We had a full day here last year so decided to skip the tour along the coast. They also offered snorkeling and whale watching for those looking for a bit more action.
The seas were calm along the Mexican and Southern California coast. We did experience a couple of days of cooler foggy weather which we have found is typical of this area. It was clear and beautiful when we reached LA.
As has become typical it seems like the US immigration personnel go out of there way to make life difficult for tourists. We were forced to get off the ship in LA even though about 25 of us were continuing on the cruise. We consider ourselves to be relatively savy travelers, but were at a loss as to what was expected of us. After several hours we finally made it back on to the ship.
When the ship reached LA it was boarded by hoards of US Health Inspectors who repeated the whole procedure the ship had gone through in Fort Lauderdale two weeks earlier. I guess it provides lots of jobs, but it seems such a waste of money.
We will now be at sea for the next week and reach the South Pacific Island of Nuku Hiva on the 12th.