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May 29, 2017
See Ya Later, Alligator…

By the end of our cruise, we finally had opportunities to play some board games!

The last full day of a cruise is always a sad one. It’s bad enough that your vacation is coming to an end, but you have to spend your last day packing. For us this was especially excruciating. We had purchased several bags of groceries and souvenirs, and we had to figure out how to fit everything into our already-full suitcases. Gail was able to get a piece of cardboard from Alvin, her “personal” purser. (Alvin’s desk is around the corner from our cabin. Throughout the cruise, he has been providing Gail with tape, paper clips and pencils.) She fashioned a cardboard box to bring home her ceramic mobile.

With our suitcases finally put out for the porters to collect, we spent our last evening on the aft deck of the Panorama Buffet with our friends Richard and Wendy. Gail and Richard compared stargazing apps on their phones and looked up at the night sky. Russell had five different desserts (Gail kept count).

One last look at the Pacific Princess before she goes into dry dock for refitting. This is the gorgeous library, the only one like it in the entire Princess fleet.

On Monday, May 29, we arrived at our final cruise destination of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We were up by 6:00 am to watch the sunrise. We left our cabin for the last time before 8:00. We sat in our usual place and said goodbye to everyone who stopped by. At 8:30, we walked off the ship.

But our adventure was not over yet. Since childhood, Gail has been fascinated by the Florida Everglades after watching the air boats on the old TV series “Gentle Ben.” Ten years ago, when we cruised the Panama Canal with our sons, she had booked a Florida air boat excursion. But our ship was delayed two hours and we had to cancel the excursion. Ever since then, the Everglades have been on Gail’s bucket list.

Russell reminded Gail that our flight home today would not depart until after 5:00 pm. Gail promptly booked our only Princess excursion for the entire cruise. We spent the morning at the Everglades Holiday Park, where we got a 30-minute air boat ride and a 30-minute “Gator Boys” show. Our time was short, but we got to see two alligators.

(Anthony, our tour bus guide, told us about the differences between alligators and crocodiles. Gators like fresh water, while crocs like salt water. Gators generally don’t eat people, while crocs do.)

Our air boat driver was “Captain Chaos,” originally from Michigan. Gail was thrilled that he knew someone from her hometown of Riverview!

An iguana sits up in a tree

Our first gator: “Jessie”

Our second gator: “Big G”

The “Gator Boys” show (Yes, the host is missing half of his right thumb)

We got to the airport shortly after noon, leaving us four hours before our Jet Blue flight would board. We bumped into Elliott, the “Cruise Tones” keyboard player from the ship, and had lunch with him. Unbelievably, Elliott ended up sitting next to us on the plane.

Our only casualty was a prized insulated water bottle that Gail accidentally left at the airport. (This is the same water bottle that got her in trouble on our flight out.) We landed in San Francisco by 9:00 pm local time (midnight body clock time), where our sons Cameron and Joss came to pick us up. They both looked terrific. By 10:30 pm, we were home.

Tomorrow we go back to work. Russell has an upcoming All-Employee Webcast to manage. Gail has three rental properties to find tenants for. It’s going to be a rough week. But we will try to hold onto the glow of this amazing adventure for as long as we can…

Our Panama Canal Cruise: 17 days and 4,824 total nautical miles


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