Sunday, July 26, 2009

Celebrity Equinox reservations and shore excursions - so far

Our cruise on the Celebrity Equinox will be departing from Fort Lauderdale. Due to very recent travel experiences, Seth and I decided that we would be arriving Ft Lauderdale the day before our cruise is to leave. It just seems as though this past year we've run into far more problems with cancelled flights than we have ever experienced in our relatively extensive history of travelling. So here are the plans we have so far:

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 - we arrive Ft Lauderdale via Houston on Southwest at about noon. We currently have an inquiry in with my TA about pre-cruise packages available through Celebrity. We'd like to stay at a hotel on the beach so the kids can "play" but I think it's going to be pretty cool with average temps that time of year in the 60's. We've never done a pre-cruise package before through the cruiseline but I like the idea of having all of our transportation taken care of between airport, hotel and hotel, cruise terminal.

Thursday, December 24th, 2009 - we board the Celebrity Equinox and set sail at 5 pm. We will be Concierge Class this time on resort deck #2147 with "traditional" dining at 8:30 pm.

Friday, December 25th, 2009 - At Sea on Christmas Day. Surely they'll have some special events this day. I'm particularly looking forward to having a "lite" Christmas this year with minimal gifting and decorations. I will, of course, be bringing some holiday lights and such with us to decorate our cabin with.

Saturday, December 26th, 2009 - Georgetown, Grand Cayman (0800-1700) . Celebrity's shore excursions are not yet available. Seth and I have been to this port before. We'll probably book something with Celebrity for this port.

Sunday, December 27th, 2009 - At sea. We're considering joining Wade and Charlie for dinner at the Asian specialty restaurant this evening.

Monday, December 28th, 2009 - Cartagena, Colombia (0700-1600). We've booked with Lee Miles aka "Mr Emerald" for a 5 hour tour with this itinerary:

8:00 to 8:15 Drive to San Felipe Fortress 0:15 H:Min
8:15 to 8:55 Visit San Felipe Fortress (*) 0:40 H:Min
8:55 to 9:10 Drive to Plaza Bolivar 0:15 H:Min
9:10 to 9:45 Precolumbian Gold Museum; walking Old City 0:35 H:Min
9:45 to 10:15 Visit Palace of the Inquisition (*) 0:30 H:Min

10:15 to 10:25 Walk to San Pedro Claver 0:10 H:Min
10:25 to 10:50 Visit San Pedro Claver Church&Monastery (*) 0:25 H:Min
10:50 to 11:05 Drive to New City and Pierino Gallo Center 0:15 H:Min
11:05 to 11:40 Shopping at Pierino Gallo Center 0:35 H:Min
11:40 to 11:50 Drive to La Olla Cartagenera 0:10 H:Min
11:50 to 13:00 Lunch at La Olla Cartagenera 1:10 H:Min
13:00 to 13:20 Drive to ship 0:20 H:Min

We're going to change our lunch plans and have Lee book us at a more "upscale" restaurant because we're all foodies. Cost for this tour will be $70 pp for 6 passengers, $56 pp if there are 8 in the van. Lunch and tips will be extra.

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 - Cristobal Pier, Panama (0900-1900) - we've booked with My Friend Mario (Viajes Almiza).

Code: CL007
Chagres River + Waterfall + Embera Indian Village + Canal: Gatun Locks
Category: Natural adventure and Cultural experience
Departure time: 9:40am approx. (SHIP TIME)
Return: 5pm approx. (SHIP TIME)

"First, it will take us 20 minutes to go to the Canal, here you will enter the Gatun locks observation deck, the Panama Canal is recognized as one of the most significant engineering feats in the world, you will now see why it deserves this reputation. At the verbal presentation you will learn about the incredible engineering it took to build them, and there operational significance for international commerce during the last 90 years. You will see the awesome sight of 10,000+ ton vessels carrying there cargo to ports of call around the world. Second, we will take a 40 minutes traditional indian canoe ride through the Changres River to arrive at the village. During this time, you will feel as if you were transported to the year 1492. Here the indians will welcome you warmly, and speak to you about there fascinating culture and way of life that has remained literaly unchanged for centuries. Later you will have the opportunity to see an authentic indian dance that represents these peoples great respect and love for the animals and environment of their world. You will also learn other incredible facets of there way of life. Forth, we will journey by canoe for 30 minutes to a trail that takes us 20 minutes later to a majestic waterfall, where you can swim in a beautiful natural spring pool, and take in the awesome natural beauty of this unique region. Then, we will return to the village for lunch and you will have the opportunity to buy some traditionaly carved artcrafts, and later, we will travel back to the indian pier. Finally, you will return to your cruise to continue with your travel, and share with others your incredible cultural experience!"

We booked this tour as a more private tour than the 20+ busload of passengers originally described (23 passenger minibus). The minimum for our van is 4 passengers. We have 6 of us booked so far for $95 pp - $10 more pp than the larger group which will be well worth it, ime.

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 - Puerto Limon, Costa Rica (0700-1900). We booked our tour with Charlie Soto of Okey Dokey tours. The A-2 tour is described as:

"Canopy Tour - 7 hours
Brisas De La Jungla Zipline 13 platforms (extra charge)
Tortugero Canal Tour - See exotic birds and animals of the Costa Rican jungle, Banana Plantation - Fasinating tour of plantation and processing plant,Bonita Beach & Restaurant (Lunch) Limon's most beautiful beach and good food, Viewpoint of Limon and countryside and Supermarket visit for wonderful Costa Rican Coffee, Vanilla, and much more at great prices."

Charlie describes this tour as: "7 hrs touring w me for only $99 each adult and $89 each children include:1st country side,there we can hold a baby sloth, 2nd Bananas plantation , to see the process, 3rd the wonderful tortuguero canal , ( Jungle river cruise) 4th Jungle Breeze canopy & rain forest to do the zip line 10 plattforms, 5th Bonita beach , 6th view point for pictures, city for coffee, vanilla souvenirs etc, full air conditioned van,i provide you some diet & reg soda, water, costarican beers, fresh fruits and costarican lunch at the rain forest,( wood cooking ), no extra charge, you can pay me cash at the end of the tour, wear : t shirt, short pants, hat, sneakers or tennis shoes".

Again, we asked Charlie for a more private tour and he will do this tour for $99 pp with a minimum of 6 passengers.

Thursday, December 31st, 2009 - At Sea. We booked dinner this evening at Murano with Wade and Charlie - the Equinox's fine dining restaurant. Unfortunately, though, none of the 3 specialty restaurants on board allow children under the age of 12. Even Wade calling the cruiseline did not change their minds - the rule is strictly enforced, for whatever reason. We're paying the extra $30 pp for this special treat and the kids will be "on their own" for dinner (which I assume will be room service and movie on the tv, lol).

January 1st, 2010 - Belize City, Belize. We haven't booked anything for this port yet.

January 2nd, 2010 - Cozumel, Mexico. Seth and I have been to this port before. We'll probably look first to see what Celebrity is offering for tours.

January 3rd, 2010 - At sea.

January 4th, 2010 - Ft Lauderdale, arriving at 7 am. We catch a flight home arriving at about 4:30.

Celebrity Equinox 11-night Ultimate Caribbean Holiday Cruise

It's getting closer to our big family vacation this year - an 11-night Ultimate Caribbean cruise on Celebrity's brand new Equinox over Christmas and New Years' this winter. We booked this cruise last November after being invited by our Atlanta friends, Wade and Charlie, who we cruised with over Seth's birthday last August in the Mediterranean. We had such a fabulously great time we wanted to do it again but couldn't leave the kids behind this time so we're taking them with us!

The Equinox is the newest Solstice class ship for Celebrity - newly minted in August of this year. The ship is absolutely gorgeous: recent pictures ship details

The 11-night Ultimate Caribbean itinerary:

Thu, Dec 24 Fort Lauderdale, Florida depart 5 pm

Fri, Dec 25 At Sea

Sat, Dec 26 George Town, Grand Cayman Tendered

Arrive 8:00 AM Depart 5:00 PM

Sun, Dec 27 At Sea

Mon, Dec 28 Cartagena, Colombia Docked
Arrive 7:00 AM Depart 4:00 PM

Tue, Dec 29 Cristobal Pier, Panama Docked
Arrive 9:00 AM Depart 7:00 PM

Wed, Dec 30 Puerto Limon, Costa Rica Docked
Arrive 7:00 AM Depart 7:00 PM

Thu, Dec 31 At Sea

Fri, Jan 01 Belize City, Belize Tendered
Arrive 9:00 AM Depart 6:00 PM

Sat, Jan 02 Cozumel, Mexico Docked
Arrive 9:00 AM Depart 6:00 PM

Sun, Jan 03 At Sea

Mon, Jan 04 Fort Lauderdale, Florida Arrive 7:00 AM

...and so the planning begins....