2009 Spirit of the West Cruise Diary and Photos

Our cruise diary for 2009 is now complete

Below is some information on where the 2009 Spirit of the West Cruise and Conference went. We hope you enjoy the following diary of our trip as we headed to Mexico, Central America, the Panama Canal, and Jamaica. There was lots of sunshine, great company, and tons of fun!! See the map below (or scroll down).

We sailed on the Island Princess - here's what she looks like on the outside.

Island Princess

Below you'll find our basic itinerary and a map of where we traveled. Go to the Itinerary below (or scroll down).

Diary, Spirit of the West Cruise, 2009

We had a super time and below you'll get a small taste of where we went and what we saw. You can also see the diary on Billie and Hugh's web site at www.hugh-mclennan.com. The photos there will be different than the ones on this page.

The following photos will all enlarge if you click on them.

December 31st
Tonight will be our last sleep at home until about January 18th. We still have far too much to do before we go and not nearly enough time to do it in. !! Here's a few of Jill's photos for you: Bunch shovelling snow, The horses running in from the meadows for feed, Harry (our Ranch sitter) and Kathy during a fabulous meal at Leylands on Green Lake, Jill with the puppies' Christmas presents, and our bed before the suitcases got filled ... Happy New Year everyone, from K & M and our house full of guests!

January 2nd
We're in LA but some of the Spirit of the West group are in Mexico. They might be in Mexico but we had a short easy flight and we get to socialize with, and be entertained by, close to 1000 "Anime Los Angeles" Costumers in the LA Marriott. They are young people that travel from all over to attend and dress as their favorite animated character. Here are some photos of them (and us) and some of our group at dinner.

The pool from our room

The courtyard by the pool

A few of the many Costumers

A sign at the escalator

A poster showing an Anime Characature

A photo opp with ???

January 3rd
Early, early morning - Harry you thought you get up early! - 4am wake up, on the plane by 6:30. Landed in Acapulco just after noon. Horrendous traffic to get to the ship - it took two hours! Can't imagine Mexico City traffic. Boarded the ship at 4pm and sailed at 8pm.

The Island Princess taken from the plane as we approached Acapulco

Rita and Shorty on the plane as we land

No helmets, no shoes, no lanes, no RCMP

Just a little touch on the paper work we had to do (not sure who "we" is)

Shorty gets taken up a ramp in a wheel chair (while we had to wait in line)

In the enlarged photo you can see where our cabin is on the ship

January 3rd & 4th
Some photos as we leave Acapulco and settle into our stateroom and then go for a super dinner in the dining room. On the 4th Kathy did her presentation and we got to dress up for formal night and dinner

Sailing away from Acapulco

Pretty nice new digs - you'll see our balcony soon

Kathy does her presentation and it went over extremely well

Kathy and Andrew answering questions after the presentations

presentation over - it's now pool time!! Time to relax

K & I with Billie & Hugh and their house builder Bill & Erna

January 4th & 5th
You'll probably never see us looking like this. January 5th we docked in Puerto Quetzal and took a tour bus to Antiqua (1.5 hours one way). We then toured on our own (with Marilyn and Gary Pinder) for 5 hours - photos can't capture reality and we sure don't have room here for even a small percentage of them

Dressed up or what. Formal night on the ship

Entering Purerto Quetzal, Guatemala - our tug kept an eye on us but never pushed

On the tour we did to Antigua this was our welcome

The tour (on our own with another couple) started in a Jade Jewelry Factory

We've never seen so many guns - shot guns, pistolas, and machine guns

One of the streets of Antigua - we felt extremely safe and comfortable here.

January 5th
Antigua was full of ruins dating back to the 1500's. some are being restored and they are doing a super job ... but they will be completed ... Maniana

Here we're standing in front of La Merced Church and Convent

Inside the ruins of the convent

An amazing facade!! Newly restored

In the ruins of the convent ... pretty neat stuff

This is the paving crew in Antigua - every street is like this

The Policia. Only note their badges - Policia Turismo

January 5th & 6th
Kathy did an interview for Hugh - for one of the future shows. A pack train of firewood? (for cooking?) in rural Antigua. January 6th we arrived at Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua.

Kathy interviewing Ronnie - on the ground beef market of Antigua

We think they are hauling firewood to cook with. Most carried it on their backs

St Joseph's Cathedral ... restoration is happening - slowly - very slowly

January 6th - Sitting at the docks in Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua

Pool time!! Someone had to do it ... and hot it was!

At the booths in Puerto Corinto - this kid followed us everywhere.

January 7th
An awesome day - the private tour we've all been waiting for. A coffee plantation including the "wet mill" which is not normally open to the public - it pays to go with a cruise director and or the Spirit of the West.

The pier that we tied up to at Puntarenas, Costa Rica

The beach - photo taken from the dock as we walked ashore

This is a typical view of the hillsides - coffee growers are everywhere

A detour as a crew put in new storm drains (the buses had to back up the hill)

Coffee pickers as we enter the Doka Coffee Plantation

Coffee beans drying at the "wet mill" (not usually open to the public)

January 7th - 9th
The second part of the coffee planation is open to the public and we had a great tour and got served lunch there. The second benefit of the day and another reason that it pays to go with a cruise director and or the Spirit of the West was the third tour - to Nosavar - a ranch raising Brahma and Charolais cross cattle. On the 8th we were at sea and had a morning conference session and an all afternoon pool session. January 9th we entered the Panama Canal for a full transit.

Stacks of totes of coffee beans ready to go

Shorty and Dimps, with 120 others, get served a Costa Rican style lunch.

We picked some beans, peeled them, and then posed by the coffee plants

A rider brings the Brahma bulls up for us to see at Nosavar

Judy, we thought about bringing this girl home for you

A beautiful sunrise as we entered Minaflores Locks

January 8th
While on board the ship we were getting our email fairly regularly and on the evening off January the 8th we read one from home- and laughed ... quite a bit. Our top hand and ranch sitter had sent us a note - in the form of a poem - and it's pretty good. We sure enjoyed it anyway, and thought we'd share it with you. Click here to open the poem in a new window or Click here to open it as a PDF

January 9th
Up at 4:00 am to see where we were - back to bed till 5:00 and then up and waiting for daylight to get photos. The pilot boarded the Island Princess at 4:15 am. At about 7:00 am we passed under the Bridge of Americas and entered Minaflores Locks. We were through the Gatun Locks (the last set) by 4:00 pm.

One ot the eight locomotives that guided us through the locks with cables

Sitting with our morning coffee on our own deck

In the second section of Minaflores Locks - looking off the stern

A small piece of the canal side jungle (we actually saw a couple of crocs)

Here we are entering Gatun Lake - three locks to go

A bit of pool time between locks - Kathy swims against a current machine

January 9th (continued)

Shorty pushing Rita around in his wheel chair (for excercise)

The double gates in Gatun Locks close behind us

Two freighters entering the locks behind us (note water levels)

Looking at the docks in Colon from our ship

In the middle of the S of the W group photo (Dimps & Billie to the left)

Us with Billie and Hugh right after the group photo

January 10th & 11th
We swam in the pool the day the sea was rocking (Jan 10) us around and it was fun - the water went from about 2 1/2 feet lower than normal to 2 1/2 feet above the pool deck. More sun, more great food, more great company! January 11th we stopped at Ocho Rios where we went horseback riding in the Caribbean Sea and then swam and sunned on the beach - beautiful beaches.

One day of quite a high sea had the pool water rocking - fun!

One example of the many deserts - awesome!!

With Billie and Hugh after our 2nd, and last, formal night dinner

Mark with our Jamaican tour guide to the horseback riding

We might do trail rides but we don't have a sea to swim in

Green Lake was fun but the Carabbean was a lot warmer!

January 11th (Jamaica continued)

Kathy with the head wrangler, Sherdan ... he was great

Sherdan also had a Sarah - galloped by us to open every gate

We split into two groups - this is the other group coming back

The beach at Ocho Rios where we swam - clean and white!

The Island Princess - Kathy checking for anything that might move

Everyone in our group was commenting on Kathy's sun tan

January 12th
Started the day, after breakfast, visiting with Billie and Hugh as Hugh did an interview with Dimps and Shorty for a future show. From there it was lunch and pool - and sun! That was followed by the Spirit of the West "Farewell Party" then a special treat ... the day before yesterday we wrote a letter (ya, with a pen and paper) to the Chief Engineer requesting a private tour of the engine control room (they don't allow people in the engine room because of liability - stairs etc.) saying why we would like to see it ... because of my background as a mechanic we were allowed. It was neet - very interesting. Then we headed for the dining room and our last meal on board.

Hugh interviewing Dimps and Shorty for a show

Last day of sun & swimming - relaxing on the pool deck

Kathy with Francisco the cheif engineer

The control panel for the ships engines

The head engineer running the computer system for the engines

Us in front of the main control panel

January 13th & 14th
Our last morning started early as we had to be finished breakfast and out of our room by 8:00am. We flew out of Fort Lauderdale in the afternoon and had to run in Montreal to get our bags, clear customs, get checked in and catch a connecting flight to Vancouver. We arrived shortly after midnight - a long day to say the least. The next morning (the 14th) we headed for the Island where we enjoyed a lot of very quick visits before heading home on the 17th. Thanks again to Judy and Harry for doing a wonderful job of ranch sitting - the animals never missed us a bit.

We were one of five cruise ships, that we could see, at Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale - our last stop before returning home

One of the police trikes in the Fort Lauderdale Airport

Breakfast with Rita, Dimps, and Shorty in Vancouver

Our new cruise ship, the BC Ferries - just a little different

Wendy passing us in Active Pass as we head home ...

Our Itinerary!         Top of Page

Day before

  • January 1st - Happy New Year! We drive to Vancouver (hopefully not hung-over) and spend the night there.

Day 1

  • January 2nd - fly from Vancouver to LA. Overnight in the Airport Marriott Hotel.

Day 2

  • January 3rd - fly to Acapulco, Mexico. Arrive around noon. Board the Island Princess starting early afternoon and have a buffet lunch. "Sail Away" Cocktail Reception 4:30 to 5:30 with the Hosts, Billie and Hugh, in the Wheel House Lounge. Sail at 8:00 pm.

Day 3

  • January 4th - At Sea. 9:00 am official welcome by Billie and Hugh and part one of a slide show of fellow passengers. The first conference sessions; Andrew Raphael speaking on "Cruising For Insights: What the Heck is Going On!?", coffee break, and Kathy McMillan speaking on "Cattle Industry Standards - New Initiatives - What's in it For Me?". 9:00 to 10:00 pm concert and sing-a-long poolside. under the stars (weather permitting).

Day 4

  • January 5th - Arrive at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala 9:00 am. Depart at 6:00pm.

Day 5

  • January 6th - Arrive at Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua 6:30 am. Depart at 4:00pm. 9:00 to 10:00 pm concert and sing-a-long poolside. under the stars (weather permitting).

Day 6

  • January 7th - Arrive at Puntarenas, Costa Rica 8:00 am. This is the day of our private tour. We meet at 8:15 am and get a private bus to Doka where we will get a tour of an operating coffee plantation and lunch. We leave about 1:30 and head to Nosavar where we will visit a large cattle farm that raises Brahmin cattle (a cow calf operation with 20 bulls). Depart at 8:00pm.

Day 7

  • January 8th - At sea. 9:00 am Part 2 of the slide show of fellow passengers and then the 2nd conference session. Presentations by Andrew - "Cruising For Insights: The Future Ain't What It Used To Be". Larry Morrill on "Morand Industries Cattle Handling Equipment", and Jim Bell on "Where in the World Can I Go Next?". 2:20 to 3:30 sing-a-long / jam session / meet the hosts in the Wheel House Lounge.

Day 8

  • January 9th - Arrive at Panama Canal, Panama 7:00 am. Today is the day we pass through the Panama Canal! We depart the Canal at about 4:30 pm. This is the day that we will all get together, late afternoon, for a group photo - all of us wearing our Spirit of the West T-shirts. Arrive at Colon, Panama about 5:00 pm and depart at 8:00 pm.

Day 9

  • January 10th - At sea. A pool day on the ship with a sing-a-long / jam session / meet the hosts in the Wheel House Lounge between 2:30 and 3:30.

Day 10

  • January 11th - Arrive at Ocho Rios, Jamaica 8:00 am. Depart 4:00 pm.

Day 11

  • January 12th - At sea. Another pool day on the ship. 4:00 to 5:00 pm there will be a Farewell Reception in the Explorers Lounge. This is when the 2010 Spirit of the West Cruise destination & ship will be announced.

Day 12

  • January 13th - Arrive Ft Lauderdale, Florida 7:00 am.
    Fly back to Vancouver via Montreal 3:00pm. Overnight in Vancouver.

Day 13

  • January 14th - if Harry and Judy aren't sick of ranch sitting by now then we're going to hit Vancouver Island, or at least Victoria, for a few days. Our expected return date is January 17th or 18th.

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Here's a route map showing all seven countries with our stops marked.
The number on the map refers to the day in the itinerary. Click to enlarge.

Route Map
click to enlarge


Panama Canal Map
click to enlarge

Need some time away from home in January?
The 2010 Spirit of the West Cruise information has been posted
on the "Cruise" page of Hugh's web site at: www.hugh-mclennan.com or
call 1-866-530-0131 for more information or to book your spot.

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