Transit Panama Canal (no stop)
Now, if I were doing the Itinerary, and looking for the best experience for the guests it would have been something like this:
Transit Panama Canal
Amador [Panama City], Panama and the opportunity for guests to actually see something of Panama
Puntarenas, Costa Rica, and the opportunity for our guests, mostly Australians and New Zealanders to see some of the amazing sites in Costa Rica
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala with the wonderful opportunity to visit Antiga, the wonderful old city in the mountains which is a UNESCO World Heritage site
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico which is a better sampling of Mexico IMHO than either Acapulco or Manzanillo
San Diego, California where the ship pulls right into downtown and, unlike Los Angeles and San Pedro, there really is something for guests to see and do. Of course San Diego would have been a lot further for the “field trip” from Santa Clarita [Princess home office] . . .
Obviously, Princess didn’t check with me first. But we did all right with Acapulco and Manzanillo, and for me personally, Los Angeles was a fantastic chance to visit my friends the Dean Brothers and meet their families. [Sounds like a music group, or a gang, or a car parts store, but it’s none of the forgoing.]
We sailed in when it was dark and with the lights on the hillsides and the moon . . . it really was spectacular. No question about it, Acapulco is one of the world’s beautiful harbors. Since Nikki absconded with my suitcase when she left in New York [needed to pack home her loot and rug from Istanbul], I had to find a suitcase. Wal Mart in Acapulco is pretty much like Wal Mart anywhere. Riding there on a local, local bus for 50 cents US was a memorable experience, but also a fun way to see lots of local areas.
The church in Acapulco has an interesting history. Sitting right on Zocalo, the old city square, is a church . . . originally built as a set for a movie, and later turned into a real, if a bit Byzantine, church!
There were no big shootouts between the cops and drug organizations as happened in Acapulco last year [a major gun battle between 18 gunmen and soldiers in the Old Acapulco area right where we dock, lasting hours and killing 16 of the gunmen and two soldiers] and in May of this year [at least 15 died in a shootout between drug dealers and police killing six cops and the brother of the former mayor]. Just the kind of place you want to visit.
We had a great folkloric show before we sailed and the afternoon sail out was beautiful.
My favorite thing in Acapulco? The VW Bug taxi cabs!
Manzanillo was no more exciting, or boring, than usual. So guests got a taste of Mexico and seemed to enjoy it . . . but it could have been better, and they could have experienced a whole lot more in about the same time frame.
And at least Corona is cheap in Manzanillo.