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Archive for May, 2011

Today we anchor early in Los Cabos with its large marina and beautiful bay where the Sea of Cortes meets the Pacific Ocean. Our sail in is amazing with a full view from our veranda of El Arco, the natural rock formation, at Land’s End. Imagine our surprise when we open our drapes to find the most photographed sight in Cabo right in front of us, in the early morning mist. 

We took lots of photos and wonderful Paulo brought us our breakfast. As we had our coffee and Danish, we suddenly could see well over 100 small dolphins diving in and out of the waves.

Just after the dolphins, we were treated to a view of the ‘shotgun start’ of the days fishing vessels from the marina, all racing out to be the first to get the best fishing spot. I have never seen so many small boats racing along at one time. It reminded me of home and the famous races on the Isle of Wight! 

We tender into the Cabo Marina. We were accompanied on our tender by Christian Krempl who is the General Manager on board Regatta. His team cares for all the dining areas on Regatta as well as the accommodations on board. The staff on the Regatta is incredibly friendly and professional, anticipating need versus reacting to a situation. He must have the world’s longest ‘To Do List ! I call this snap “‘The Thinker’. 

Cabo has a marina and town area perfect for a stroll with lots of shops and little cafes. Ed gets up to mischief in the shopping area, he so loves to read the tee shirts in the shop windows. He also likes the signs! Hand crafted items in the windows are the cause for many stops on our stroll.

We relax and have drinks at the marina and spend time watching the boats and all the people. There are 3 cruise ships at anchor in the harbor this morning so Cabo is a busy place. The marina is beautiful with many yachts, sail boats and fishing vessels. There is even a huge yacht with a helicopter on board.

Back to Regatta for lunch and some sun bathing on our veranda. You can see the hotels in line on the beach in Cabo San Lucas. The air is cooler than Acapulco and there is much less humidity. As we sail away, the air turns cold after we pass El Arco and make our way into the ocean for our sail on to San Francisco. We will have cold temperatures in the low 60’s now for the rest of our journey.  

A special event this afternoon. There is a get together for British Guests. How nice of Regatta to host a party and include the British Bear.

Bye for now, TTB

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Since I was a very young bear I have wanted to see the famous cliff divers of Acapulco. Today we have an excursion to see them and to drive along the very scenic coast line for views of Acapulco Bay.

The cliff divers dive from the high rocks in the area La Quebrada. The cliffs tower about the sea. The diving area is part of the Miraflores Hotel and we are treated to drinks on their high terrace overlooking the dive site. The main show is at 1:00PM with additional shows at night, we have a private show on our excursion.

The divers climb the steep cliff side barefoot. The climb to one of three natural dive platforms carved into the rock. There are two shrines, alcoves of bright blue where the divers pray before they poise to jump from the cliff. See the two divers launched in tandem!

At the highest point, the diver must be able to launch himself a minimum of 6 feet out from the top to ensure he does not make contact with the rock face of the cliff. From the top dive perch, the diver cannot see the water below, just the face of the rock cliff. The dive from the tallest point is the show finale. The divers all wait in the seat at the bottom of the cliffs for the last diver to join them.

After the show we met the divers and they posed for us!

Off on our drive along Acapulco Bay away from the old city where the dives take place, along the busy coast, through the area of Las Brisas and finally all the way to Diamonte where the Fairmont Pierre Marques sits on a beautiful golf course. Many old films were made in the jungle area along the inlets. Do you remember the Creature of the Black Lagoon? We stopped alongside the very lagoon where the film was made!

We stop on the road on the way back to port to get a full view of Acapulco Bay from a terrace in the area of Las Brisas. What a wonderful day!  Bye for now, TTB

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We arrive early to the port of Huatulco. Today is a special tour on a catamaran to see all the Bays that run along the coast. Our guide is with us on board to tell us the history of the developing coastal areas. It is a beautiful day to sail the coast!

As we sail along the coast we see the areas that have been developed to date.  Resorts and beautiful homes are created in these small bays. Each developed area must have it’s own marina plus piped water and sewage systems. The development will continue over years to come. Right now, the coast is pristine with few resorts. 

There are 4 resorts that are clustered together on a longer stretch in one of the bays. The Quinta Real with its Moorish towers, the low rise Barceló Resort, Dreams and the clusters of white units that are the Camino Real. All share a long and wide stretch of beach.

Perfect place for a relaxing vacation with warm water and lots of space for long walks.  

We complete our sail on this side of the coast and then turn to go back to see the other end of the coast with its own National park area. The hill sides are dry and brown now, this is a dry rainforest. The rainy season will begin in June and once the rain starts to fall, the entire coast line will be green and lush. We sail into the designated National park area to stop at Tangolunda Beach. This is a stretch of beach with only small restaurants, no hotels. Our catamaran anchors just off the beach and we are able to swim off the back of the boat.  The water is perfect, and we all float lazily for about 40 minutes.

Our tour returns back to the port area which is filled with small shops and beach restaurants.  There is a lovely small chapel in the center. See how beautiful and calming it it. The chapel is open to the air.  The tiny restaurants line the small beach so you can enjoy lunch and a stay on the beach. 

We return to the Regatta and spend the afternoon on our verandah…..

Bye for now, TTB

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A very special treat in the Port of Chiapas was our tour of the Regattas’ Bridge. A small group met at reception and were escorted the bridge on deck 8. The Bridge was much larger than I expected, and so tidy. Everything was in its proper place. Nikola Sprem, Second Officer kindly posed with me. I was allowed to take snaps but not allowed to push any buttons!

Denislav Kosev Tonchev, Second Officer explained the layout of the ship in terms of water tight doors, alarm systems and security. These large panels on the wall have lights for these key areas of the vessel. He showed us all the instruments and explained their function.

And this is Vitaliy Silvachynsky, Master of M/S Regatta. He spoke to us about our cruise and answered lots of our questions. We have travelled over some VERY deep areas of water since leaving Miami. On either side of this huge window are observation decks for the Master and his crew to watch our maneuvers into and away from ports.  In each port, a local pilot comes aboard to stand watch on the Bridge while the Master steers us. The M/S Regatta is in very capable hands.

Just look at the view from the Bridge!  I can see everything from here. 

Bye from the Bridge…TTB

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Puerto Chiapas

Hello from Tucker. Just look at our sunrise view of Puert0 Chiapas, Mexico. This shot of our entry to the port almost looks like a Maine coastline.  We are not taking an excursion today but will visit the tourist center at the port. The tourist center is housed in a HUGE pyramid shape building with a woven grass roof.  As we look down from our balcony we see the children playing for us.  It is a school holiday for the children as they celebrate Cinco de Maya!

What a beautiful snap of the Regatta, steps away from the visitor center. Mom managed to catch the Regatta with a Rainbow, how clever.

This is a new port operation for Chiapas and this passenger terminal and facilities were completed in 2005.  The local people are so very proud of this center. The port also just started to handle containers.  The locally grown coffee is delicious and now with the port managing containers and shipping, the coffee can be shipped to a much wider audience, the first coffee transfer by ship was last month. I bought a big, big bag of coffee for my office and the most delicious chocolate mixed with cinnamon and sugar. They grow the beans right here for the very tasty chocolate.

These are the lovely girls who sold the coffee to my Mom. Their mother was teaching them how to work in their stand selling coffee, chocolate and other treats. They are enjoying the Cinco de Maya holiday! 

Beautiful handicrafts in the visitor center, there must have been at least 20 separate little shops and all the goods were local to the area surrounding Chiapas. The area is very influenced by its close neighbor Guatemala…you can see this in the beautiful hand embroidery.

Folkloric dancing and music were performed the entire time I was in the center.  It was wonderful.  The was also an internet and phone center, Mom called my grandmother Jane to wish her a happy 75th birthday!  Back to the shop for a very special treat. I have an invitation to the Bridge from the Captain himself. More on my Bridge tour later. Bye for now TTB.

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After a lovely long day at sea, we dock in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The Regatta is here for a full day, we don’t set sail till 8:00PM. We are taking a full day excursion today to Poas Volcano and the town of Sarchi. It is a long drive to the volcano because we are docked along the Pacific Coast and the volcano is located in central Costa Rica.

Our guide Erick and our driver Jaime start us off on our journey. Our motor coach is large and it even has a toilet!  Lots of comfortable seats and wonderfully cool inside.  Swiss Travel is the Costa Rican tourist company who are running our excursion today, a very professional company. Erik started with a lesson about the geography of Costa Rica including information about industry, climate and topography for each area.  I think I could get college credit for the intricate history of this country (can bears go to college).We started at sea level and passed Caldera and then travelled by road through the winding hill sides towards the central area.  Beautiful views as we climb higher and higher. The Poas Volcano is located in the Cloud Forest. We pass through areas with terraces of coffee plants climbing the hills and then area where strawberries are grown under greenhouse tenting. 

Jaime stopped our bus and came back from a road side stand with the juiciest berries…scrumptious!  We pass a man using one of the famous painted ox carts to do his work. Just before we reach Poas Volcano, we stop for a small herd of ponies on the road.  Poas Volcano is huge.  When the clouds clear it is possible to see just how steep the sides are.  We are at a high elevation, over 7000 feet and it is COLD.  When the clouds pass over there is a lot of fine mist. I forgot my brolly so I am standing under what the Costa Ricans call ‘poor man’s umbrella’. This is a plant with the most enormous leaves, big enough for real people never mind a bear!

After the volcano, we head back down the mountain for a lunch stop. We dine at a typical Costa Rican restaurant and have beans, rice, chicken, plantains and of course STRAWBERRY desert. I like the local beer, but I may need a nap on the way to Sarchi.

Sarchi is famous for the manufacture of  ox carts hand painted by local artists. This factory has been here since 1923. They let me paint the biggest ox cart. It was so much fun. After Sarchi we made our way back to the Regatta via the Pan American Highway/ Erick explained all about the highway; many areas along the road were being repaired from past mud slides. Lots of trucks. Jaime stopped several time to pick a local fruit or plant and then Erick would explain how the plant was used day to day.  The Guanacaste dried leaf, with beans locked inside, sounded like a rattle and looked like an ear!A huge surprise awaited us on the pier in Puntarenas …all the staff of the Regatta stood in line to welcome us home. There was a huge ‘welcome home’ banner  Dixie Land band, cold towels, a cold drink and cheers and applause. Well, I have never been so surprised.  The guests on the Sea Princess berthed next door were hanging off their balconies trying to figure out just who we all were to warrant such a splendid welcome celebration.

See them all in a line!  

So tired from my long day, but the first stop was the bar where Roneil welcomed us yet again and poured our favorite libations. GREAT  DAY. Bye for now, TTB

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Hello from Tucker T Bear. Today is our Panama Canal Transit. We are up early for this event. Special commentary will be provided by a canal expert throughout the day. She will board our ship just before we enter Gatun Locks and will sail with us through the entire canal transit to Miraflores Locks. We pass through a total of 3 locks. The Staff aboard Regatta think of everything. When they boarded the canal expert they also loaded special items made by the Indians in the rain forests of Gamboa. They are for sale during our transit. Mom found these prezzies for me…..

The Regatta’s Horizon lounge is filled to capacity early this morning. This lounge is on deck 10 at the very front of the Regatta with floor to ceiling windows and a full front view of our progress through the canal.  Luckily I am a very small bear!

Another view from our perch.  Such large container ships sharing the canal with cruise ships, pleasure craft, bulk carriers and even ships with drive on drive off for cars…up to 8000 cars at once! We all go up and down in this system of locks. You should see the huge water tight doors that open and shut in each lock chamber.

At the Gatun Locks the Regatta is raised above sea level to the level of Gatun Lake so we may pass through the Continental Divide at what is called the Culebra Cut. This part of the canal is very narrow. We next transit the Pedro Miguel Locks and are lowered to the level of Miraflores Lake. The Miraflores Locks, our final transit, lower us yet again to sea level to enter the Pacific Ocean.  A huge bulk carrier called the M/S Jill Jacob was right beside us through the Pedro Miguel Locks and the Miraflores Locks. The ship was painted a bright Orange s you can see. That typically means the cargo is flammable petroleum. I was a bit nervous but waved to the crew on board.  We waved from our veranda….we were so close as you can see from the photos.

This is our last view of the Miraflores Locks as the Regatta lowers to meet the Pacific Ocean. Beautiful views of Panama City as we enter the Pacific; a perfect end to a beautiful day. We had a special sail away party on our veranda with our new friends Barbara and John from Toronto. Our Butler Paulo brought us lovely things to snack on with our wine. Paulo is my BFF.

Bye for now, time to eat canapes and drink my wine….TTB

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