Thursday, October 01, 2009

Celebrity Equinox reservations and shore excursions - update

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 - we arrive Ft Lauderdale via Houston on Southwest at about noon. We've booked the Embassy Suites Fort Lauderdale 17th Street through Celebrity for $233.09. 2 double beds, non-smoking. We'll be taking a shuttle to the port for the cruise.

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.

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. Looks like we're going to just "wing it" in this port - probably walk around a bit and see if we can do some snorkeling because Seth really wants to snorkel with the kids,

Sunday, December 27th, 2009 - At sea.

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

Lee recommended a traditional restaurant for lunch rather than the "pricier" restaurant if we want to taste local foods. 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 (0900-1800). We're booked for an ATV jungle and Cave Tubing tour with

ATV Jungle Tour

Our Exclusive ATV Jungle Tour is the perfect tour for those who love an adventure or a challenge. Anyone can do it, from the experienced ATV rider to the novice ATV rider. Children too young to ride on their own may ride with an adult. Adults too timid to ride on their own may ride with a partner. The trail is perfectly safe and the terrain is mostly flat. Our jungle trail is 5 miles of twists and turns through the Belize rain forest and offers loads of fun for everyone. Our ATV Jungle Tour property is located just five minutes (3 miles) before the Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve where you can also enjoy our very popular Belize Cave Tubing Tour.

Cave Tubing

Our Belize Cave Tubing tour is the most popular shore excursion in Belize. We offer you an unforgettable tour where you almost become one with nature while at the same time experiencing the mistry of the ancient Maya Underworld where the Mayas once performed many sacred rituals such as bloodletting and sacrifice to the gods.

Guided by our experienced Belizean tour guides, you will venture into the depths of the magical Belizean rainforest, tube down the refreshing Caves Branch River and through spectacular cave systems, which the Maya believed were the dwelling place of many Mayan gods known as the Lords of Death. This is an exciting adventure you'll never want to end and one you will never forget.

We'll be leaving for the 10:15 am tour and returning to the ship about 3:30-4 pm. The itinerary is:

1 hour drive to the site
1 hour coming back
45 mins to 1 hour ATV
1.5 hours at the cave tubing site
30 mins for changing rooms and refreshments.

The price for the ATV+cave tubing combo is $75us per person. Payment will be at the end of the tour.

January 2nd, 2010 - Cozumel, Mexico (0900-1800). This is the last port for me to research. Seth really wants to take the kids to the ruins.

January 3rd, 2010 - At sea.

January 4th, 2010 - Ft Lauderdale, arriving at 7 am. We catch a Southwest flight home at 12:10 pm arriving at about 4:30 pm.