Panama Canal - Spring 2015 travel blog


The disembarkation procedure in San Diego was like none we have experienced before and made us a bit apprehensive. Usually we are thrown off the ship ASAP so that staff can begin to prepare for the next batch of cruisers. Bags are grouped by the numbered tags we are given to put on them and then you stand in line with them to go through immigration and customs. This time we were told it would be unlikely that anyone would get off the ship before 9am and maybe not even then, because immigration staff would come onboard and have face to face meetings with all non Americans. We would not be allowed to disembark until this was done. There were over 500 of them and this process was scheduled to begin at 6:15am. Past experience tells us that there are always some non English speakers that never show up for these meetings, either because they don't want to get up for a 6:15am encounter or because they don't understand what they should be doing. Predictably at 8:30 the announcements began in three different language badgering the laggards to meet with officials. Finally we were down to two - a German sounding name and a Spanish sounding name.

But when we finally did get off, things moved like lightening. No one ever did ask to see our passports and a short cab ride brought us to the airport. Southwest has a large presence in San Diego and the layout was confusing. We inadvertently went through the security screening for gates 1 & 2 and we had to out again and start over for our gate. We were shocked at how different the screening procedures were in the two spots at the SAME airport. The first one was traditional - take out the lap top and iPad, bag of liquids, take off shoes, etc. The second said keep everything in your bag, keep on your shoes, keep stuff in your pockets and keep on movin'. It was all quite puzzling.

We flew through some heavy turbulence and when we saw the weather map at home, we could see why. A huge, unavoidable line of showers was marching across the country. At the airport good friends Charlie & Polly were waiting to pick us up and we caught up on developments over dinner. A great ending to a great trip.

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