Cruise through the Panama-Canal, Part 1

From Los Angeles to Puerto Quetzal

This will be a long cruise with the Celebrity Infinity, so I’m writing it in several blog posts. In total, six countries will be visited, the US, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia. Zum deutschen Blog.

Mexico, cruise
Celebrity Infinity at Cabo San Lucas

One last time I am traveling with customers of my Hamburg office, because meanwhile I live near Freiburg, in the Black Forest area since a couple of weeks. So I take a train and go up North to Hamburg, where I meet everyone at the Hamburg airport. We are on tour again with the Danish tour operator Seadane Travel.

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Los Angeles

We fly to Los Angeles, where we try to sleep off our jet lag in the elegant and traditional Millennium Biltmore Hotel.

Hotel in Los Angeles
Millenium Biltmore Hotels

We got to spend a whole day exploring the city. We choose a hop on-hop off bus. Not cheap at $ 49 per person, but we’re out in the sunshine the whole day. Over half an hour too late it stops in front of the hotel. First, we drive through the Financial District. Between the skyscrapers, I feel pretty small.

Sunset Strip
Hollywood is calling 😉

Then it goes to the Sunset Boulevard, where we get out and everyone searches for their very special star on the Walk of Fame, but unfortunately does not find it. There are really too many for that. But the huge Hollywood lettering is not to be overlooked.

eat out in Hollywood
restaurant in Hollywood

After a refreshment with a coffee, we enter the red line and on it goes through Hollywood, with all its film studios, show establishments, restaurants and music bars. Then the bus turns off to Beverly Hills.

Here live the “beautiful and rich” in their sheltered houses. Of course, I photographed the word “Beverly Hills”, but I’m not allowed to show it to you because it is protected and I would have to pay money for it. There are things existing…. Each residential street here is lined with a specific tree species and all are different. So that the residents are not confronted with the sight of garbage cans in front of their house, there are special narrow streets between the houses, which were created for this purpose. I repeat myself: There are things existing….

street art
art in front of a museum in Beverly Hills

At the Farmers Market we get out again and eat a snack in one of the many small snacks stalls. There are also very attractively presented fruits and of course many other things.

Farmer´s Market in Los Angeles

In the evening we try a beer in the Karl Strauss Brewery, and of course, a decent burger.

San Diego

Early in the morning, a bus brings us to San Diego, where our ship, the Celebrity Infinity, is already waiting for us. Since I made a cruise already on the vessel in January, I will spare you another report, you can read it here.

railway in the US
railroad going through San Diego

The check-in is done quickly and so we just leave our things there and walk a bit through the Italian Quarter of San Diego. Funny is that the train goes directly through the harbor and along the houses and the station is called “Santa Fe”. Does anyone know the reason? Then please leave a comment below!

city of San Diego
the waterfront of San Diego

To get to know the ship, the first day of this trip is a day at sea. We enjoy the warm and good weather and see now and again an employee, who we have already met during the January trip. It speaks for Celebrity that the employees like to come back.

Cabo San Lucas

Our first day onshore is in Mexico, on the Baja California Peninsula, which is over 1000 miles long. In Cabo San Lucas the ship is at anchor, so we take a tend boat to the port. Over 10 years ago, my husband Dirk and I have been here before, but apart from the beautiful rock formation at the harbor entrance, I can hardly recognize anything. The town itself has over 10,000 American and over 7,000 Canadian residents who escape the cold winters of North America and built their “summer or better winter residences.” There are countless amusements and beautiful beaches. The water has a beautiful turquoise color near the shore.

Mexican coast
a beach near Cabo San Lucas

Because the tropical storm “Sergio” is approaching, the captain speeded up so that we arrive two hours earlier and are gone before the arrival of the storm.

glass blowing
The Glass Factory in Cabo San Lucas

We drive to San Jose del Cabo, which we reach after about an 1 hour bus ride. There is a monastery, some art galleries and many shops here, well… The best thing about the tour is probably the ride itself, we drive past many villas, which offer the perfect sea view. George Cluny should probably have one here too. Unfortunately he is not here right now …

in San Jose del Cabo

Puerto Vallarta

sunrise at Puerto Vallarta

The next day is my birthday. The sun is laughing, that’s the way it should be! A sign with “It’s your Birthday Celebration” is already hanging on my cabin door, something that Dirk has certainly taken care of.

Happy Birthday to me 😉

I have given my customers “a day off” (or was that the other way around?), they walk a little along the long promenade, many restaurants and shops are already waiting for them.

A sailing yacht is waiting for us! With 16 other people we let the wind blow around our nose. The crew provides us with every imaginable cocktail, wine, snacks and good music. Gorgeous, such a birthday! The pelicans circle us and then we anchor near a beach.

If you want you can snorkel in the 28 degree warm sea, Dirk tries his luck at standup paddling and I laugh at his flops. I get a small engine in my hand, which lets me plow through the water at reasonable speed. Everything is beautifully documented by the on-board photographer, Emanuel Lopez (@ alexloz87 on Instagram).

Vallarta Adventures
photo credit to Emanuel Lopez – dirk tries standup paddling

Then we get a delicious cold meal and more drinks. Two sea turtles and a few dolphins can be seen. According to the on-board photographer, up to 900 whales frolic in front of this coast between November and March. The different species mate off the coast and get their young here. What a beautiful day! After dinner, the waiters sing a serenade and I share my birthday cake with my customers! After these two “strenuous” landings, two relaxing days at sea follow. On board there are many activities. Enough pool chairs for everyone are onboard, so that everyone can enjoy the warm air and the sun quietly or with a lot of music by the pool.

Puerto Quetzal

active vulcano
Vulcano Fuego, still erupting about twice per hour

The third landing is in Guatemala, in Puerto Quetzal, a port of loading. There is nothing interesting here, so we take a bus tour in the historic La Antigua. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located about 1500 m above sea level, between three volcanoes, two of which are still active. 500 years ago, it was even Guatemala’s capital until it was destroyed by an earthquake.

On the way there we pass the place, which the volcano Fuego with an eruption completely destroyed at the beginning of June 2018, thus about 4 months ago. About 2500 people are said to have been killed there. That is very depressing to see.

vulcano Guatemala
the village that the vulcano Fuego destroyed in June 2018

In La Antigua it is pleasantly warm. Jade Maya is the meeting place for everyone and we now have 5 hours to explore the little city. A small map is helpful and so I guide my clients through the uneven cobblestone pavement of La Antigua. Of course, we also try the excellent Guatemalan coffee and the wonderfully colorful towels and bags are admired.

Guatemala, UNESCO
town gate of La Antigua

At the market of La Antigua we see fruits and vegetables that none of us knows. The inhabitants are incredibly friendly and often greet us.

vegetables of Guatemala
market in La Antigua

The hours go by quickly and no sooner are we back on the bus, it rains so hard, that almost nothing more of the environment and La Antigua can be seen.Did Dirk get wet? He chose a volcano hike. A climb to the active volcano Pacaya. Quite exhausting, as he tells afterwards, as it goes over the loose lava quite steeply. If it is too much, people could rent a horse. But all were rewarded with the sight of flowing lava and smoldering vents. On the way back then came the big rain, the water ran in and out of the shoes, to the skin all were wet. But no one regrets the trip anyway.

active vulcano Guatemala
view from vulcano Pacaya

This is the first part of the journey. I´ll continue in my next blog post with Costa Rica and Panama. Anyone who wants to read more about Panama can do it here, because I’ve already written about that.

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sailboat, San Diego
Marine Museum in San Diego

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Recent Comments


  1. Anonymous
    May 19

    Hello Paul, the lava flow was hard to recognize during the daylight, since it is mainly covered by a thin layer of colder rock. Even the continuous flow was impressive enough to see. Visibility increased when clouds where coming up and start dimming the bright daylight.

  2. Großartig, mich packt gerade das Fernweh. Dabei hatte ich mir doch eigentlich vorgenommen, meinen persönlichen CO2 Fußabdruck deutlich zu reduzieren. Was natürlich auch die Einschränkung im Reisen mit sich bringt.
    Doch besonders der Museums Hafen spricht mich an 🙂

    Liebe Grüße, Katja die

    • Gabriela
      April 4

      Hallo Katja,
      für jeden verantwortungsvollen Reisenden ist das ein Dilemma. Aber wenn man bedenkt, wie viele Menschen vom Tourismus abhängig sind, dann wäre es such schlimm, wenn niemand mehr käme.
      Liebe Grüße

  3. Sigi
    April 3

    Hallo Gabriela,

    vielen Dank für deinen netten Bericht.

    Wem da nicht die Reiselust packt, dem ist wohl auch nicht zu helfen. 🙂
    Ich musste direkt lachen, denn in letzter Zeit kommen mir ständig Bilder aus Antigua unter. Die Stadt scheint mich regelrecht zu verfolgen – im positiven Sinne natürlich.

    In Californien war ich bereits, allerdings haben wir’s leider nie nach San Diego geschafft – was ich im Nachhinein ein wenig bereue.

    Liebe Grüße,

    • Gabriela
      April 4

      Liebe Sigrid,
      mir geht es momentan so mit Peru. Jeder will dort hin, über lese ich etwas darüber. Aber was solls, Antigua ist wirklich hübsch, da kann man auch mal mehr drüber lesen
      Liebe Grüße

  4. April 1

    Hi Gabriela,
    what a wonderful cruise! I’ve never been to Los Angeles, Cabo San Lucas, or Puerto Quetzal but we went through the Panama Canal 10 years ago (from the Caribbean side) and it’s just one of those “once in a lifetime” experiences. Amazing!
    Puerto Quetzal seems to be very interesting, I like Guatemala. Vulconos are dangerous…
    Regards, Barbara

    • Gabriela
      April 2

      Hi Barbara, you are so right! It’s amazing how they built this canal. Thanks for your comment.
      Bye, Gabriela

  5. Paul Svedersky
    December 3

    Great travel notes, Gabriela. I was curious about Pacaya Volcano. I went on a group hike up there about 15 years ago and watched explosions above the crater. It was very exciting as darkness fell and the crater glowed red. I’m wondering from Dirk if the crater is still very active and spewing out rocks into the air. Also, I think the “Santa Fe” name on the San Diego train station is in reference to the Santa Fe Railroad company that helped build it. It’s just the name of the station, not the destination.

    • Gabriela
      December 3

      Hi Paul, Dirk says, the lava was still flowing, but there is no spewing of rocks. Unfortunately the vulcano next to it, the Fuego starts to erupt again. That´s the one that buried a whole village a couple of months ago. Thanks for the explanation of the Santa Fe station. That makes sense! Greetings from Germany!

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