January 16-17 – at sea. On the 17th we had our first Ensemble cocktail party. It was a great time to greet our guests and start new friendships.
January 18 – Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic. We wandered around the pretty old colonial town with its lovely churches. We visited the Tomb of Unknown Soldier before heading back to the ship.
January 19 – at sea. This evening we had a dinner in Silk Road, with all of the full world cruisers from the Ensemble Travel group. It was an elegant evening with fabulous food and wine.
Jan 21 – at sea.
January 22 – Santa Marta, Columbia. Santa Marta is South America’s oldest surviving city and a gateway to travel throughout the continent.
January 23 – Cartagena, Columbia. We have been here many times. It is one of the best-preserved old colonial towns in the Caribbean or South America. We wandered around and enjoyed the photo ops.
January 24 – Panama Canal. This wasn’t the first time we transitted the Canal but it is always delightful and never ceases to amaze us. For several days prior to this, Jay Wolf spoke about the extreme difficulties during its construction and the terrible loss of lives due to malaria. After the failure of the French to complete the project, the Americans, under the leadership of Teddy Roosevelt, were able to do so. We saw new construction as well, as they are building two additional channels.
January 25 – at sea. The evening entertainment by one of the best shows we had even seen on a cruise ship. A terrific singer impersonated Edith Piaf for an hour of chanteuses, backed up by a full orchestra. It was outstanding.
January 26 – Manta, Ecuador. This is the fifth most populous in the country and has existed since Pre-Columbian times. Its main economic activity is tuna fishing.
January 27 – Guayaquil, Ecuador. We had our first private Ensemble Experience (excursion) visiting a cocoa plantation and hacienda. It turned out to be a 45-minute ride to Cerecita and the Hacienda el Castillo where we took a short walk (more like a hike) to see the various crops including cocoa and beans. This was followed by a terrific lunch accompanied by a show of local singing and dancing.
January 28 – at sea.
January 29 – Salaverry Peru. We enjoyed avery interesting day. Instead of a Crystal excursion, Irene and I joined several other guests to see the Indian ruins, still under excavation.
January 30 – Lima, Peru. There was a long drive from the pier to the old town of Lima, so we decided to stay local. We had been to Lima several years ago and toured it extensively.