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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

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.

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

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

Our ship Regatta sailed into the port of Cartagena on Saturday morning.

What a view of the new city area!  The skyline is impressive, so many tall buildings.  Our dock in Cartagena was on the pier by the trans-shipping terminal. The cranes were busy loading and off-loading huge containers. 

It is amazing to see the cranes all working at one time.

We will get off our ship today for a walking tour in the historical walled part of old Cartagena. Our guide meets us ship side with our own bus, number 17. Very cool and comfortable in that bus.  We all have whisper sets to listen to our guide as we walk.

See the photos below of the change from the new to the old as we begin our tour.

Our first stop the huge fort on the coast outside the walled historical part of the city. From there we drove through the walls of the original city into to what is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. 

The old walled city is filled with small winding streets lined with historic buildings featuring the ‘balconies of Cartagena. See the photos below all showing shots of the old walled city. A selection of balconies, old squares and the church.

What a beautiful city!

We visited the Gold Museum, the Navel Museum and a rather scary museum that depicted torture devices used during the Inquisition. It made a bear shudder with fear. 

The big jewelery store had a museum in the back dedicated to showing how emeralds are mined. It was so interesting to see those green chunks imbedded in veins of calcite.  Mom liked the jewels, but she let Ed off the hook! She bought a hat instead. We had Pepsi at the Hard Rock Cafe and watched old session videos of Phil Collins. I am a big Phil fan! Tomorrow our adventure continues as we pass through the Panama Canal. Bye for now TTB

Days at Sea

We began our day at sea very early at 3:00AM. The ship’s satellite has the BBC News and what wonderful coverage of the Royal Wedding!  Good luck to William and Kate! Mom and I watched while Ed slept. A British Bear can get very emotional over hymns like Jerusalem, it is my favorite!

Breakfast needless to say was an early one today. My new friend Ottoniel from Guatemala helps me with my breakfast each day.   

There is nothing like a good breakfast on a teak deck overlooking the sea! The strawberries and raspberries are yummy and they make my eggs just the way I like them. There is a most wonderful machine that make delicious cappuccino, latte and espresso. Much needed if you begin your day at 3:00AM.

Today is all about a snooze in the sun. It is a beautiful day at sea, the day before we reach the port of Cartagena Colombia. Today we rest and tomorrow we take an excursion to walk in the historical part of Cartagena.

This is where I like to be on the sun deck. Good view of the pool and jacuzzi.  The pool is nice and warm and these teak deck chairs have fluffy white towel covers and soft cushions. They are so comfy that Mom slept most of the afternoon.

In celebration of the Royal Wedding, we all had a very British afternoon tea. Every day I cam come to the Horizon Lounge and eat up cucumber sandwiches, salmon on brown bread, scones with jam and clotted cream and the MOST AMAZING cake with almonds and lots of gooey honey on top. Honey is a bear’s most favorite snack. I have a big piece today. My friend Zoran from Croatia cut me a huge piece of that yummy cake.

Just look at all those goodies on the tea cart.  This is heaven!

Anyone for s spot of tea?

I’ll be ‘Mum’ and pour… Bye for now, TTB

Hello There from TTB! This is my home for the next 2 weeks. The Regatta docked early in the ‘Conch Republic’, Key West. What a beautiful day. Below is the view from my verandah.  The day is perfect for a walk on Duval Street, just enough time for a little shopping before we re-board by 1230PM.

Duval street was quiet when we started our walk, but when we turned around to head back to port, the streets (and bars) were filled with people. So many tee shirts, Ed had great fun reading them out loud. Being a right proper bear I cannot print what was on most of those shirts!

We made it back on board on time and had a big lunch. The sail away on deck featured a New Orleans style brass quintet, we all clapped long and loud as they played ‘When the Saints Go Marching In! See our ship before we pull away.

Tonight is a special dinner in the Polo Grill. This is Ed’s favorite restaurant. The menu looks wonderful. Darren our Maitre De has saved them a perfect table at the very end of the dining room overlooking our wake as we sail into the night.  Darren is a Brit like me…he is from London, such a nice chap!

The Polo Grill has photos of all sorts of famous movie starts covering the walls. This is my favorite table with photos of the stunning Audrey Hepburn. 

Another great day and again I am so tired. While Ed and Rosemary dined at the Polo Grill, I took the liberty of a snooze in the cabin.

This bed is AMAZING and they tuck me in with chocolate every night! I may never get off the Regatta. Bye for now TTB