cruise full of beauty

Ruth Motau

Ruth Motau

A cruise through the Panama Canal on the Coral Princess was an interesting experience, but not quite as exciting as my first cruise on the Royal Caribbean.

Going on a cruise is always an adventure, but the long flight getting there is a pain.

We flew to New York via Dakar and that was 16 hours. Then it was another four hours from New York to Miami.

From Miami we took a shuttle to Fort Lauderdale, where we spent a night at the Comfort Inn.

The following day we boarded our ship to set off for the long-awaited "10 days Panama Canal Cruise". The ship was very clean and well looked after, with about 2000 guests and 900 staff on board.

We travelled as a group because the price is better and the cabin had enough space for the three of us, with four beds in the room. Our first two days were spent on the open sea and then we sailed to Aruba, Cartagena, Panama Canal, Colon, Puerto Limon and Ocho Rios.

Aruba is a Dutch colony and the most popular island destination with its beautiful beaches and great shopping. All we did there was shop for linen.

Cartagena in Colombia is hot, colourful and traditional.

Emeralds are cheap and you are warned to go to reputable dealers. You are also warned not to take anything from strangers because it is known as the drug capital.

There is a historic old city and a modern city, divided by 17th century walls. Cartagena became the infamous port for slaves and thousands were sent all over South America from there.

The next destination was the Panama Canal, an 82km canal that took eight years to dig. We got up early and were on deck by 6am. We watched with amazement our ship raised and manoeuvred in the canal as it went through the locks. Our Princess had little room and bumped the sides of the locks several times - the scrapes were painted over at our next port of call.

Then we headed for stunning Jamaica, with its natural beauty, historic sites and a lot of activities. We docked at Ocho Rios, the largest cruise ship destination on the island. It's on the north coast, between Montego Bay and Port Antonio.

Our group chose a tour that included the Marcus Garvey statue, the Fort, and then the Dunn's River Falls before we went to lie around on the beach with some cocktails.

Visiting Jamaica with my little daughter was a lovely experience. Jamaica is so relaxed and the people are so friendly I'd like to go again and spend more time there.