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March 13, 2013
On Sunday, we boarded the Star Princess in Valparaiso, Chile, to begin our 2 ½ week journey home. It was only when we arrived on the ship and began to unpack our rolling duffels that it hit us that our expedition was actually coming to an end. After all the packing and unpacking in 113 different hotel rooms, not including the huts, camps, planes, trains, ferries and buses where we also spent nights, this would be the final time we would unpack our bags before packing them one last time we arrive in California.
Being on a ship again reminded us of our other sea experiences. It was the first day of the journey, January 28th of last year, when we left from San Diego, California, on the Pacific Princess, to cross the Pacific Ocean to Sydney, Australia. We all know that the Pacific Ocean is the largest in the world, but crossing it over 29 days really gave us a feel of just how BIG it is. We had two stretches of five sea days between ports during that time, when we saw no other ships, birds or land. In total, we traveled over 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) during that sailing!
Our second cruise traveled exactly 7,000 miles (11,290 kilometers) on the Ocean Princess from Sydney to Singapore. We went up the east coast of Australia and were able to go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, long a dream of ours. Seeing the colorful fish and coral underwater was an unforgettable experience. On this cruise we received our first glimpses of Asia as we stopped at the island of Bali in Indonesia and in Thailand.
It was almost eight months later, after traveling through Asia, Europe and Africa, that we embarked on our next ocean voyage. This time we were back on the Pacific Princess to cross the Atlantic Ocean as we traveled from Rome, Italy, to Manaus, Brazil, sailing another 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) over 32 days. This cruise was memorable because we spent both Christmas and New Years aboard.
Crossing the Atlantic Ocean in mid-December was an interesting experience. Ironically, the crossing was not that rough, even though we were on a small ship with only 600 passengers. We did have one period in the Mediterranean Sea, before getting to the open Atlantic Ocean, which was the roughest to date of any of our sea days. The ship pitched up and down like an elevator moving between floors. No one slept that night on the ship due to the conditions!
We spent the first few days of this latest ocean journey finding our way around the ship. All our previous cruises were on the smaller 600 passenger ships, and the Star Princess, which holds about 2,600 passengers, seems like a small city to us. After traveling about 6,200 miles on this ocean segment, it is hard to believe that we will have spent 97 days at sea, covering a total of 33,330 ocean miles around the globe.
We have been preparing for the lecture that we will give to the other passengers aboard, just like we have done on all the prior cruises. While updating our materials we have been going through the pictures and videos that are in the presentation. Both of us have gotten teary eyed several times while reviewing all the amazing things we have seen and done while on this journey.
Even though we are on our way home, we still have some things planned along the way. In a few days we will arrive in the Central American countries of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. In Costa Rica, we have a river rafting trip planned and hope to see some animals along the way. While in Nicaragua, we will hike on a volcano and visit Lake Nicaragua and the colonial city of Granada.
As we sail the Pacific Ocean toward California, I am sure we will continue to reflect on our journey.