Celebrating 100 years

Celebrating 100 years
By Sunny Lockwood

While many dream of traveling around the globe to see such wonders as the Pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China, there is an equally spectacular site in the western hemisphere. And it is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.

What is it? The Panama Canal

This 50-mile waterway, connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, changed our world. When it officially opened in 1914, it cut nearly 8,000 miles off the shipping routes from New York to San Francisco,

Considered the eighth wonder of the world, today the Panama Canal accommodates more than 14,000 ships a year carrying cargo ranging from automobiles to grain, on their passage between the oceans.

More than 10 percent of all U.S. shipping goes through the canal.

Cruising the Panama Canal

But for travelers who want to not only view interesting places but actually experience them, cruising through the Panama Canal is unforgettable. Cruise lines offer an array of such trips from a variety of starting ports.

Depending on a traveler’s pocketbook and calendar, transits can be partial (where the ship enters the canal, goes to Gatun Lake, then turns around and goes back out the same locks used to enter the canal) or full (entering the canal from one ocean and exiting at the far end into the other ocean).

When my husband and I cruised on Holland America’s ms Zuiderdam in 2012, it took more than eight hours to make the entire transit.

Our 82,000-ton ship barely fit in the locks, and being smoothly lifted and lowered 85-feet as the locks filled or emptied, was like riding a magic carpet.

There are three sets of locks at each end of the canal. Two lanes allow two ships to move through the locks at the same time. Each ship climbs up three locks at the start of the canal, and then down three at the end.

Lock chambers are 1,000-feet long and 110-feet wide.

One of the magical aspects of our transit through the locks, then through the nine-mile cut through the Continental Divide (think Rocky Mountains), then through the huge man-made Gatun Lake, and out the locks at the Canal’s far end, was that we and our ship did the transit exactly like that first ship had when the canal opened on August 15, 1914.

No computers at all. Everything is run by gravity and electricity. Gravity fills and empties the locks, lifting ships 85 feet above sea level at the beginning of the Canal, and then lowering them again at the end. And the electricity that opens and closes lock doors, and runs everything else at the canal is created by the canal’s dams. It’s all very self-sufficient.

Our trip was a spectacular and historic experience.

This centennial year would be the perfect time to visit this engineering wonder of the world. And cruising along its watery pathway is both inspiring and sobering (when you consider that more than 26,000 lives were lost in the building of this most famous short cut).

My only suggestion to make the trip more meaningful, would be to do some historical research into the building of the Canal. As you learn about the dream and how hard it was to make it all come true, you’ll appreciate the amazing journey across the Isthmus of Panama.

About the Author

Sunny Lockwood and her husband, Al, have traveled by foot, car, rail, air and cruise ship. Wherever they go, they capture unforgettable moments – Al with his camera and Sunny with her reporter’s notebook. Their work for newspapers and magazines has won national, regional and local awards. Cruising Panama’s Canal, savoring 5,000 nautical miles and 500,000 decadent calories is their first travel memoir. It’s available at amazon.com.

Connect with them on Facebook: Cruising Panama’s Canal

View from the Crow’s Nest, which is above the bow of ms Zuiderdam. We are coming out of the Culebra Cut and into Gatun Lake. Gatun Lake covers about 180 square miles and makes up the center of the Canal.

Originally posted 2014-07-06 18:15:33.

Surprising Greenville SC to Awesome Asheville NC

Surprising Greenville SC to Awesome Asheville NC

We took a great trip to Greenville in the Upcountry of South Carolina and then took a mini road trip up to Asheville NC with a couple of stops along the way. Next time you are looking for a 5 or 6 day getaway, this could be a great trip for you.

Driving up I-85 from our home in Atlanta, a brief stop at Chateau Elan, a winery – resort would be a good stop. It is right off Exit 126 in Braselton.

Hampton Inn Greenville

The drive up to Greenville is a pleasant drive of only a little over 2 hours. We stayed at the Hampton Inn Downtown at River Place  which has a great location on the Reedy River and next to Main Street and Falls Park on the Reedy. We parked our car and didn’t touch it until our departure. Continue reading “Surprising Greenville SC to Awesome Asheville NC”

Originally posted 2018-10-13 21:34:47.

Booking Strategies To Get The Best Cruise Price

I asked Vince at CruiseShipCenters why should I book a cruise early, like a year in advance.  Here is his excellent reply which I gained his approval to share with you.

Why Should I Book A Cruise Early?

Hi Robert,

I was thinking about our conversation from yesterday, and wanted to share a few more thoughts. This email may get long, but I hope you’ll find it interesting and useful. Continue reading “Booking Strategies To Get The Best Cruise Price”

Originally posted 2018-09-10 09:26:31.

Cruising Observations for Boomers

Mary Ann and I just got back from a 11 day Western Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Equinox, which is about our 24th cruise. Here are some observations from our trip.

We observed and have heard from 3 other frequent cruisers that the cruise lines are now targeting younger people in the 45 to mid 50s age range.  Well after cruising some time with the older people, now we are right in the mainstream being an older boomer of age 67. So the cruise lines want to pass over my age group to target younger people? Doesn’t make sense.  As an example, Equinox presented their Modern Luxury theme with a new stage production which has men wearing only girdles and all cast members looking androgynous. Yuk!

Cruise ships do change. Equinox used to be our favorite ship. That is why this was our third cruise on the Equinox. But things have changed. No activity staff at the upper lawn areas or throughout the ship like previous cruises. Cruise staff changes, entertainment changes, ports change, so don’t expect just because you liked the cruise last time you will like the same ship next time.

On many cruises, the best part is meeting the people. We met many people we related to on this cruise and it was nice talking with them. Unless the cruise is really port intensive, you will have time to socialize and meeting people is super easy.

Too much of a good thing is bad.  When you first get on a cruise ship, you will love to eat and maybe drink too much. By about day 4, things start to catch up with you and you will have to pace yourself or else a good time turns bad.

Celebrity Equinox

Taking too many cruises back to back will burn you out on cruises. I think that is where I am now. Taking a 14 day cruise in Sept, then this 11 day cruise in December, I just decided to cancel my California Coast cruise in March because that is just too much cruising.  I will wait until the urge comes back, which won’t be long.

See why baby boomers like cruising. It is the best of boomer travel ideas.

 

Originally posted 2015-12-13 11:10:47.

Retirement Travel: Road Trip

Looking for travel ideas when you retire? Here are some enjoyable road trips for you to consider.

Many Glacier Lodge, Montana

When dreaming about retirement one of the fun things to do is to think about the traveling you will do, once you don’t have to go to work every day.

When you are in retirement, one of the fun things to do is to think of all the neat things you have done over your lifetime.

For today’s post,  I am combining those two ideas and posting about some of the enjoyable road trips that I have done.  This has been fun to remember and maybe will give you an idea for a road trip of your own.  Some here are some memorable scenic road trips I have experienced.

Road Trips

1. Blue Ridge Parkway is absolutely gorgeous!   Described as  America’s favorite drive. I started near Cherokee NC took the parkway all the way up to Blowing Rock.  Also have been on the Blue Ridge Parkway in a drive through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  The Summer or early Fall is a great time for this trip.

2. Montana Practically the whole state is scenic but we took I-15 to Butte, then I-90 to Missoula then to the scenic drive on Hwy 83 to Kalispell and Whitefish.  Along the way we passed through the Valley of 1,00o haystacks.   From there a ride through Glacier National Park on the Going to the Sun road staying in the wonderful park lodges ending up at the famous Many Glacier Lodge.

3. Nova Scotia Flew to Boston and got a comfortable rental car for the drive up to Portland Maine and took the ferry over to Yarmouth Nova Scotia.  With the help of the Canadian Embassy we have planned out 5 overnight stays on the drive along the northern coast, stopping on our trip at the Bay of Fundy to eat scallops and to visit the scenic Peggy’s Cove, ending up at Halifax.

4. Charlottesville VA area.  Make Charlottesville your base and take in the area with day trips to homes of three presidents, Jefferson, Monroe and Madison.  Not to be missed is a day trip through the Shenandoah National Park.  Allow 3 or 4  nights in Charlottesville but you could continue the trip down to Williamsburg and Jamestown for a longer trip.

Retirement Travel

So these are four of my best road trips.  For your retirement travel planning, maybe this will give you an idea for a trip of your own.  Enjoy!

For more good travel ideas, visit our Boomer Travel page.
For more Retirement Travel ideas.

Originally posted 2012-05-13 12:31:41.

Boomer Travel: Aruba is the Place to Be

Find out why Aruba is being visited by Boomers and what makes in an ideal Boomer vacation destination

I just returned from a seven night stay at the Aruba Radisson resort and thought I was at a Boomer convention.  There were all ages of Boomers and some younger Seniors too enjoying the island lifestyle, if only for a short time.  There were tie die T-shirt classes at the pool, bingo, sunset cruises, but the main draw is the excellent beaches.

The weather is ideal beach weather with highs in the 80’s and lows in the 70’s.  You really can stay on the beach or lounge at the pool all day long.  You know our bodies are not what they used to be, but it doesn’t matter when most of the people at the beach look just like you do.  No one is going to stare at your pot belly and you won’t feel out of place.  We are just there to enjoy ourselves.  Now that I am retired I  have tried to grow my hair longer and I noticed that must be a trend as evidenced by the Boomer crowd in Aruba this week. A few little ponies but most just sporting longer hair.  Anyway why not, we have conformed long enough and it’s our time again.

Another thing bringing Boomers to Aruba is their excellent restaurants, many within walking distance from the hi-rise hotels along Palm and Eagle beaches.  They are expensive but are uncommonly good for the Caribbean Islands I have visited.  After dinner, there are casinos in many hotels and even some Las Vegas type shows for your entertainment.  Most of the hi-rise hotels have a bar with live entertainment every night.  Not even to mention the two and one half hour long cocktail hour starting at 4 pm where you can try the Pina Colada or some exotic drink of the day.

Everything happens on island time which is just fine with us Boomers after we get used to it.  The favorite saying on the “happy island” is relax, you’re on vacation. It can be a little disturbing when you order food or a drink and it takes forever to get to you, but that is the exception.  What is not the exception is getting your bill at the end and getting it paid.  That can take some time so you might as well not let it bother you.

We talked with one dear lady in her 70’s who moved to Aruba from Boston over 25 years ago and has made it her home quiet well.  She filled me in that there are no retirement communities on the island and not that many people retire there either.  Aruba is just a fine place for a Boomer to travel to and enjoy for a week or a season. TripAdvisor.com is a great place to research Aruba or any other travel destination for that matter.

For more on Boomer Vacations

Originally posted 2010-12-20 16:08:59.