Headed on a bucket list adventure:  A Panama Canal Cruise starting in Lima, Peru

Photo Jean Janssen. From the Pacific side, the first lock entered when passing through the Panama Canal is a Miraflores. Complete transit from one ocean to the other in lanes 1 or 2 includes a series of 6 locks and two lakes.

In the last 10 months, I will have made it to two of the top designations on my travel bucket list-Machu Picchu and the Panama Canal.  Talk about coming back from COVID with a bang!  Ironically, both trips started with a direct flight from Houston to Lima.  We were last in Peru at the start of their winter; it is summer now.  However, the real difference is in the political situation and its impact on travelers.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. We will see lots of archeological sites on this cruise, including the Chimus a pre-Inca civilization in Peru with their largest settlement at Chan-Chan.

When the Peruvian President Castillo attempted a self-coup, he was ousted and jailed.  The popular Pedro Castillo was considered a man of the people, coming from humble beginnings. “Elected president in 2021, he was a powerful symbol for disenfranchised Peruvians: a man from the poor Andean region of Cajamarca and a political outsider in the sequestered world of Lima’s political elite.”—vox.com.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. At the studio of a famous local artist in Guayaquil, Ecuador

The result was general unrest and the destruction of roadways with protesters burning buildings and closing down highways, airports, and mines.  The new government cracked down.  The country’s number one tourist attraction Machu Picchu is closed, at a time when countries are trying to lure back visitors after COVID shutdowns.  Looks like Boris and I got in under the wire with our trip earlier in 2022.  We have been monitoring conditions to ensure our safety and also watch for any changes the cruise line might make to our itinerary.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. In the archeological museum in Manta, Ecuador.

The direct flight from Lima to Houston gets in very late, so we are just going to overnight at the same airport hotel we stayed at when we flew out of Lima after our Amazon River Cruise and Inca heritage exploration trip. [add links].  The Wyndham Costal del Sol is directly across from international baggage claim.  Just walk across the street and perhaps through the throngs of people waiting to greet someone.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. In the rainforest of Costa Rica

Our flight time was moved up an hour due to a runway closure, but other than that it was a smooth flight.  Luggage collection went great-everything made it.  Hooray for direct flights!  There were lots of people checking into the Wyndham, but once in the room we let everyone know we had made it safely.  It was after midnight and we were not hungry, but room service at the hotel is pretty good if you need it.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Lima’s industrial port is in Callao, Peru. This was the view from our balcony.

Transfers through the ship weren’t the best option since we weren’t arriving the day of embarkation (and they cost $60 each).  I found sedan service for $79 to the port and a recommended taxi service for only $18.  We had the ride scheduled independently, but when Boris went down in the morning he found out that Azamara Cruises was running a free shuttle service from the hotel.  It also had the advantage of taking us directly to the ship rather being dropped at the terminal building.  This is a working industrial port, so getting all the way to the ship on the bus was a real advantage.  We cancelled our other ride and took the bus.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. In the last two months I have done two inaugural year sailings. One on The Disney Wish and this one on The Azamara Onward.

In spite of a later scheduled check-in time, we were able to board right away.  The rooms were going to be ready in an hour so we went up to the Windows Café (buffet) to get something to eat.  Our server Antonio was someone we had met on a previous Azamara cruise.  After lunch the rooms were ready so we took our carry-ons down.  I set of the CPAP machine and met our room attendant Jane who provided me with distilled water.  Our first three bags came very quickly.  When we didn’t see the fourth one after a while, Jane followed up.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Folkloric dancing in Panama City.

As it turned out, my large bag had been confiscated for a suspicious article that was not allowed on board.  Jane walked me down to level three.  There were several guests there with their room attendants, security personnel, and a ship’s officer.  They were re-X-raying bags, removing items, and giving receipts for the confiscated items.  Most guests were understanding; one was yelling up a storm.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Boris doesn’t really nest in the cabin; he invades.

When my bag went through, the security officer asked if I had a hair dryer in my bag.  I did.  It is the round brush type in a little case.  I usually just use the one on the ship, but this is such a long cruise, I wanted to bring my own.  My bag was cleared.  The female staff captain said to all assembled that a personal hairdryer was an important thing to have.   She is the second in command of the ship.  Jane was in awe; I just liked having the high-level support.  Once we had all the bags, I did my nesting and unpacked.  I got a lot done and will finish the rest after dinner.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Constructing the handmade “Panama Hat” in Montecristi, Ecuador.

Boris is big on getting down to dinner early, so we got a lovely two top table by the back window.  Of course, our view was the industrial port.  Until we get to the Atlantic, all the ports will be industrial rather than passenger cruise ports.  The one in Panama City is going to be a passenger terminal, but it isn’t completed yet so it is still a construction site. We ended up staying on the ship for all day in Lima.  Some of the tours had been cancelled and those offered were things we had done on our last trip.  Some people had come into Lima early and said they were fine as long as they toured in the morning and were back in their hotels by 2 pm when the protesting started.  Since we had visited before, we decided to play it safe, not mess with the hassle of getting out of the industrial port, and stay on board.   We booked an excursion for tomorrow.  Since power in Peru is centralized in Lima, we feel more confident about touring at our second Peruvian stop.  We will be visiting Chan Chan a major archeological site for a civilization that predated the Incas.  Until tomorrow…Natasha.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Leaving Callao, Peru, Lima’s port.city.

About travelbynatasha

I am a retired attorney who loves to travel. Several years ago I began working on a Century Club membership achieved by traveling to 100 "foreign" countries. Today, at 49 years of age the count is at 82. Many were visited on land based trips. Some were cruise ports. Some were dive sites. Most have been fascinating.
This entry was posted in cruises, international and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s