Saturday, June 29, 2013

San Blas Islands, Panama

Our ride is here!

Due to space considerations, I opted for the one with the orange roof.

One of the 378 San Blas Islands.

If the ship were not stopping at the San Blas Islands, I would not have taken the cruise.
Plain and simple.
I have a strong attraction to the people who live here and the work they do.

All of the ladies do excellent work, but this one is special.
Her work is exquisite.

I spent a lot of time talking to these ladies.
This reminded me of some of the villages in Orissa Province (India), where an entire village works on one kind of industry.

As you can see, the ladies wear their handiwork as well.
The item below is one of those items which had been worn by one of the ladies.
I think that gives it extra charm.

The more colors used increases the value, due to the difficulty in making the item.

I enjoy working on applique as well.
(Two of my Baltimore Applique quilts.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

FLORIDA -- Fort Lauderdale

The ship sailed towards Florida.
All large ships are relegated to the shipping lanes quite a distance off-shore. It would be nice to take scenic photos of the beautiful coastline as one proceeds southward, but not even a telephoto lens is helpful.

The next big port was Fort Lauderdale. We had not planned to leave the ship in Fort Lauderdale, as we had been there before.

(file image)
A reminder of times past.
My husband had spent 20 years on submarines.

Approaching a major port.

Before the Captain had a chance to speak, we should have known that something was about to happen. (Notice the white house has shutters in place.)

.......and the yellow house.
...and the choppy waters in the causeway.

One of several beautiful waterfront homes.

The Captain announced that we would be spending very little time in Fort Lauderdale. He apologized that time on shore would be very limited, but he had to get the ship underway ASAP because of an incoming storm, the 19th of the season, named SANDY.

At that time the passengers were not aware of the potential seriousness of the storm.

We left expeditiously.

Goodbye, Fort Lauderdale.

(Yes.  We moved out of the storm's way. Below are some of the scenic homes along Boston waterfront after Sandy made her way to the Northeast. Are they not different from the earlier photos I took when we were leaving Boston?)

(file photo)

See additional Sandy storm images HERE.

Monday, June 24, 2013

South American Currency for Cruise Ship Passengers

Several years ago, I joined a ship in Valparaiso, Chile, and sailed to Buenos Aires, Argentina. In preparation for the journey, I visited my currency supplier and requested Chilean Pesos, Argentinean Pesos, and Uruguay Pesos, as well as Falkland Island Pounds. I was told that one of the currencies was available, but only in larger denominations. Another one could be ordered, but it was not certain when it would arrive. The other currencies were not available, and I should "visit the currency exchange at the airports" (which is kind of hard to do when you are on board a ship). I arrived in Santiago, Chile, a week before departure, so I was able to obtain the necessary Chilean Pesos.

What I discovered on this sailing:
When I tried to spend my Chilean Pesos, I was asked "Do you have US Dollars?  I prefer Dollars." When I handed them a $20 bill, I was asked, "Don't you have something smaller?"
When using local currency, you need to convert just what you will use, because the next country you will visit doesn't accept the previous country's currency.

There are a lot of cruise ships sailing in South American waters.
Most of the ships use US Dollars as the on board currency.
You can convert traveler's checks to US Dollars at the ship's Purser's Office.
There is a limited supply of small US Dollar bills at the Purser's.
Most of the ships do not deal in local currency.

Before this trip (encompassing many more South American countries), I went to my local bank and loaded up on a few $10 bills, more than a few $1 bills, and LOTS of $5 bills (all US currency). There are safes in each cabin, so I only took what I wanted to spend at port that day. My goal was to see if, indeed, one could travel from Boston to Buenos Aires and not have to worry about exchanging currencies, but use US Dollars the entire time.

The US Dollars were gladly accepted the entire trip.
Only ONCE were the dollars not accepted. On our last day in Buenos Aires, a very young taxi driver wasn't sure about the currency and told me he preferred Argentinian Pesos. Since he had delivered us to our hotel, I just went to the desk and exchanged the $9 I needed, and gave him his payment. (He was prepared to take a credit card for payment, by the way.)
97% of the time, I was given change in US Dollars.
Next time I do this, I MUST take a lot more $1 bills. They really come in handy.
I used a credit card for a large purchase in Lima, Peru. (My favorite camera died in Trujillo.) Other than that, I used my small bills.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Curious Currency Considerations -- SOUTH AMERICA

Each country in South America has it's own unique currency (with one exception).
I will be creating links, so that it will be easier to visualize. Please keep in mind that when I mention exchange rate, it is a one-time rate based upon the time I checked the rates. (They are in a constant state of fluctuation.) I am comparing the US Dollar to the local currency.

The first country we will be visiting by ship is PANAMA. 
Currency   BALBOA   USD1 = 0.98283 (approx)

Next is ECUADOR.  You will see references to the SUCRE, but this is an obsolete currency.
Currency   US DOLLAR    USD1 = 1

PERU     NUEVO SOL   USD1 = 2.68784

CHILE   PESO   USD1 = 513.498

ARGENTINA    PESO    USD1 = 5.34472

URUGUAY    PESO   USD1 = 20.1836

Many visitors on board cruise ships will elect to visit other countries on land tours afterwards. I will list other countries they might visit.

BRAZIL   REAL   USD1 = 2.13596

COLUMBIA   PESO   USD1 = 1,882

PARAGUAY    GUARANI   USD1 = 4,334.69


USD1 = .64643  (which, incidentally, is equal to the exchange rate of the British Pound Sterling) Many cruise ships include the Falklands Islands in their itinerary, depending on weather conditions.


These are the most visited countries in South America. 
To compare the rates of exchange with your country's currency, click HERE.

Next:  How did I solve the problem of these multiple currencies?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Curious Currency Considerations-- EUROPE (the south)

When sailing from Miami to Europe, let's assume one first lands at LISBON (Portugal), then continues on to CADIZ (Spain), then BARCELONA (Spain), possibly somewhere in France, finally arriving in Civitavecchia (Italy).

The currency for each of those countries is the EURO. So, to prepare for such a trip, I would ask my local AAA shop to order me some EUROS (with as many small bills as possible).  A day or two later, the Euros would arrive, and I would be thrilled with the number of small bills I had requested.

Next: BUT, things get complicated when you cruise to South America. OR, do they?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Answer to question posed on Freemantle/Perth posting (August 26, 2012)

On my posting of  FREEMANTLE / PERTH  I had a question about a tower in one of my photos.
PERTH DAILY PHOTO has just given me the answer!
Thank you so much!
It is THE BELL TOWER with a great deal of history -- and music.
For an interesting tribute via You Tube, click on the link below.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Leaving Boston Harbor

Boston Harbor is quite large.
There are several islands within the harbor.
These islands are accessible by way of a Boston Harbor ferry system. One can spend the day exploring the islands.

(Photo -- Wikipedia)

A visiting warship, docked at Fort Warren.

One of the most popular islands in the Boston Harbor is GEORGES Island location of Ft. Warren. In the past, there have been Civil War weekend reenactments at Fort Warren. (Getting all the soldiers and supplies--especially cannons, to the island was a logistical nightmare, but it was event enjoyed by all.)

From the air (Wikipedia photo)
(I missed this helicopter ride, too!)

Boston area shoreline community.
Doesn't it look tranquil in the nice autumn weather?

There are always pleasure boats enjoying the departure of large ships.

Doesn't the water look clean?
One sees a lot of sailboats and kayaks on a good day.

Monday, June 17, 2013

My email said, "There's a nice cruise leaving from Boston you might be interested in".

I apologize for not using my own photos here, but
1) I didn't have time to take a helicopter ride to snap this great photo,
and I wanted you to know how beautiful Boston is.

(Black Falcon Cruise Ship Terminal is out of the photo on the left.)

(Photo by

2) The limo driver didn't take us by this scenic view of the terminal.

(Photo by
3) If you're standing right next to the ship, it is hard to get it all in a nice photo like this.
Holland America, NOORDAM.

(Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Farewell to Australia

These are final scenes of SYDNEY.

Traveling to Australia can be a challenge (unless you live in that part of the world). One week after I had a serious upper arm/shoulder surgery, we left on a 30 hour journey to Australia. We spent two nights at the Sheraton on the Park in Sydney before joining Princess ship Dawn Princess for a one month sailing counter clockwise around Australia (with a scenic side trip to Bali). The ship was carrying a large contingent of Aussies, most of whom had boarded in Melbourne. We had an opportunity to immediately immerse ourselves in the local culture. We did not venture into the OUTBACK, and a lot of our new Aussie friends told us this was an area that they typically avoided. This vast area of central Australia can be cruel and forbidding. We often hear horror stories of venomous snakes and spiders, box jelly fish, angry Magpies, and the like (thanks to National Geographic documentaries).

Our first admonition after we were aboard was to respect the intensity of the Australian sun. During the entire trip, there were constant reminders to protect oneself against the unusually strong rays of the sun. So many of our fellow travelers bore the results of a life of unprotected time spent in the sun. All skin types seemed to be affected. There were some who did seem to be mimicking the leather like skin qualities of the local crocodiles. I saw the results of the damage to those new to Australia who did not heed the sun warnings, and I must say that the color and patterns of the burnt skin  were unlike any I had seen before, and the coloring did not seem to fade for an extended period of time.  My point in saying this is -- please protect yourself from the sun anywhere in Australia!  One has to search diligently to find any information on this topic. Tourism literature seems to avoid the subject.

Interesting note:  An Australian ship's pilot was assigned to us from Sydney to the northern eastern topmost point of Australia, to guide us through the reef area without incurring any damage (particularly to the reef). I was surprised at the extensive nature of the reef.

Should I return to Australia, I would immerse myself in rail travel. There are several important rail itineraries, and I would like to experience them all!

Sailing vessels hold an interest for us.
In November we will be sailing across the Atlantic in a 5-masted schooner.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Wings Wildlife Center, Tasmania

This is the very last posting of a visit to an Australian wildlife rescue center.
I promise.
Thanks for putting up with my love of animals.

Young kangaroo mother with baby in her pouch.

A caretaker removed the young kangaroo so we could observe him
outside the pouch,
He was very unstable and felt very uncomfortable outside the pouch.

A symbol of Australia, the KOALA.

Tasmanian Devils 

My absolute favorite, the WOMBAT.
I apologize for the fuzzy image. (No pun intended.)
We were allowed to pet him, which made my day.
Coarse fur.
Durable armor on his derriere protects him from fast-moving predators.

The WOMBAT who came home with me.