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Our first cruise was to the Western Caribbean on one of the biggest cruise ships of Royal Caribbean Cruises (Voyager of The Seas). Being on this ship felt like being in a small island. To mention some of the facilities available on board : jogging / walking track, shopping promenade, large casino, 14 bars, theatres, cinemas & library etc.
My other concern of cruising was crowds. I thought it would be packed with people and there would be limited space for everyone to move around. I was surprised to see how spacious the ship was. There were 3293 guests from 52 different nations and 1190 crew members of 62 nationalities. Of course, everyone is occupied with various entertainment facilities available on different parts of the ship. The only time I saw many people in one place, except at the shows in the evenings, was when we queued to get on and off the ship.
“What is the most boring part of a cruise holiday?” I asked a friend who did a round the world cruise for 3 months once. He said that getting dressed with a tie and sitting for a meal with the same people every evening. Fortunately, we didn’t have to do that with Royal Caribbean. There were 8 different restaurants, where we could choose to eat without being formal, or you could go to the formal meal if you wished.
I loved the experience of our first cruise. My fear and suspicions were cleared. So far we have been on 6 Royal Caribbean Cruises and visited places like Haiti, Jamaica, Cozumel, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Bahamas, Aruba, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. I must say I found every place we visited most interesting and the cruising enjoyable.
Watching our cruise ship going through Panama Canal was really something. The locks have been operating 24 hours a day since 1914 and there are 9000 employees who work there. The canal is 48 miles long and it is a short cut for ships travelling between The Pacific Ocean and The Atlantic Ocean or vice versa. A ship sailing from New York to Francisco via the canal travels 6,000 miles. On the other hand, if it sailed the route around Cape Horn, it would travel 14,000 miles.
Costa Rica is one place I would love to go to every year and spend time in the rain forest. The country is so rich in natural beauty, birds, animals and plantations. 20% of Costa Rica is conservation area. As we were on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, we went on a boat tour of Tortuguero Canals, where we saw so many different types of birds, howler monkeys, iguanas, sloths, bats, alligators, turtles and more. Everywhere we turned our eyes, there was something to look at and admire.