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On February 5, 2010 we departed for Fort Lauderdale, Fl for a cruise aboard the Island Princess destined for the Panama Canal. 

On the way, we stopped at Cape Kennedy, Florida and toured NASA's launch facilities.

Where the space shuttle Endeavor was sitting on the launch pad.  Unfortunately, we were unable to get closer than three miles from the launch platform.  The Endeavor blasted off, early the next morning, headed for the International Space Station.

We departed Fort Lauderdale on February 8 aboard Princess Cruise Lines ship, Island Princess with a capacity of 1,950 passengers, headed towards Aruba; Cartagena, Columbia; Panama Canal; Cristobal, Panama; Limon, Costa Rica; St George, Grand Cayman Island and back to Fort Lauderdale.

The Island Princess, 964 ft in length, capacity: 1,970 passengers; crew: 900

Our first port of call was the island of Aruba. 

Surprisingly Aruba is a very arid island receiving only about 20" of rainfall per year, with beautiful beaches and emerald water.

Notice the emerald water. 
Our daughter Teri and granddaughters, Jesi and Jeni accompanied us.

Our next port of call was Cartagena Columbia...remember 'Romancing the Stone' starring Michael Douglas?

We were surprised to see how big and modern Cartagena is.

Next stop, the Panama Canal.  We arrived at Gatun Locks early in the morning.
The Caribbean entrance to the canal consists of three Locks leading to Gatun lake.
These locks lift the ship a total of 85' or about 28' in each lock.  On the
Pacific side, the three Mira Flores locks, lower the ship 85' to the Pacific.
It cost about $120,000 for our ship to pass through Gatun Locks into lake
Gatun, then return through the same locks back to the Caribbean.

Billie and the Granddaughters watching us pass through the locks.

You can view more details about the Canal on Wikipedia.

This is a picture along side the ship.  You can see how close the ship is to
the side of the canal.  About 2' of each side.  You can also see the 'mules'
(little locomotives) that attach to the ship, three on each side, that keep
the ship in the center of the canal and prevent it from hitting the sides.

We stopped in Cristobol, Panama where we saw a local group perform
as they sold their souvenirs.

In Limon, Costa Rica we walked over a mile along a narrow trail, across a 900'
suspension bridge, into the jungle to visit a native chocolate making demonstration.
When we arrived at the demonstration site, howler monkeys were yelling
at us from within the jungle.  They sounded like roaring tigers that were
only about 100 yards away, a little unnerving to say the least.

And finally we visited St George, on Grand Cayman Island.

Where we mailed post cards from Hell!

A jagged rock outcrop has been named 'Hell'.  You can see it behind us.

We then traveled along the coast of Cuba on our return to Fort Lauderdale.

In summary, we really enjoyed this trip, especially since we were able
to make memories with our daughter and granddaughters. 

If you ever think about making this trip, we highly recommend you travel
with Princess Cruise Lines, set back and enjoy the trip, especially in the wintertime.