Tag Archives: Nassau


By Corey Sandler

Welcome aboard. I am happy to share some of my photographs taken aboard Viking Sky on our journey from Miami to the Panama Canal and back. 

Viking Sky at anchor off Key West, Florida

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

MONDAY, JANUARY 8, 2018: Key West, Florida

A bird’s eye view of a Viking Sky tender
An ancient lock on a shipwrecker’s warehouse in Key West
Instituto San Carlos, the headquarters of the post-Independence, pre-Castro Cuban community in Key West
The files of the former Consulate of the Republic of Cuba in Key West

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2018: Belize City, Belize

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved.

Altun Ha, first built about 900 B.C.E.
Altun Ha, near Belize City
The ruins of the ceremonial site were only rediscovered in the 1960s
Altun Ha near Belize City. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of cities and ceremonial sites of the Mayans and other ancient peoples in Central America and most are still covered by earth and hidden within forest. Archaeologists say they are probably safer that way, since there is not enough money to protect and preserve them all once they are uncovered.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2018: Carambola Gardens at Coxen Hole on Roatan Island, Honduras

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved.

Emerging from the shadows of the forest
A tiny hummingbird flits into view

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

SATURDAY, JANUARY 13, 2018: Along the Tortuguero near Puerto Limón, Costa Rica

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved.

A two-toed sloth, just hanging around
A common basilisk hidden in the green forest. The creature is better known as the Jesus Christ Lizard because of its ability to run across water when necessary
Shadows in the water
A blue heron observed us from the shore

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 15, 2018: Colón to Panama City on the Panama Canal Railway

We arrived early this morning at Colón, Panama on the Atlantic Ocean and spent the afternoon in Panama City on the Pacific. Although I have made the transit of the isthmus more times than I can remember, this was the first time I did so by rail.

The Panama Canal Railway was begun in 1850 and completed in 1855 as the first mass transit across the isthmus of Panama, replacing the very difficult trails through the jungle. And then the railway became an essential part of the construction of the Panama Canal itself, when work was begun first by the French in 1881 and then redone and completed by the Americans in 1914

The American effort required the rebuilding and relocating of some of the track because the American design was based on damming the Chagres River and creating a manmade lake as the means of transit between the seas. The track today includes some of its 1850 route and some of the 1914 relocated path which parallels the Panama  Canal.

Today the railway serves mostly as a “dry canal”, carrying freight from the Atlantic to the Pacific in containers mounted on flatbed train cars, but it also runs a few passenger trips for tourists each day.

A modern diesel-electric locomotive powers the Panama Canal Railway today on a 48-mile crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific
Containers and flatbed railcars, part of the “dry canal”
The railway track parallels the canal, here crossing on a trestle over the Chagres River which is the source of the water for Gatun Lake and the engine for the operation of the locks
At Gamboa, near the midway point of the canal, stands “Titan”, one of the largest floating cranes in the world. It was built in Nazi Germany in 1941 to service U-boats in Kiel. After the war it was seized by the U.S. as war reparations and brought across the Atlantic and through the Panama Canal to Long Beach, California where it served for nearly 50 years at the shipyard there. (Its local nickname was “Herman the German.”) In 1996 it was moved once again, this time to Gamboa where it is used in the maintenance of the locks of the original canal
An old piece of railroad equipment on a siding near the train terminus at Balboa on the Pacific side
Modern Panama City as seen through a thicket of pleasure boats at the Pacific end of the canal

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 2018: Partial Transit of the Panama Canal

We arrived early this morning at the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal and then rose up three locks to Gatun Lake, which today was at its maximum level of 86.7 feet above sea level.

Once we reached the lake, we made a U-turn and then made our way back down to the Atlantic Ocean. In modern cruising language, this is known as a “partial transit”, which sounds like an oxymoron to me.

I have been through the Panama Canal more times than I can remember, and it is always a thrill. I spent the day up on the navigational bridge offering commentary about our partial transit. Call it an up and down excursion…

The view from the navigational bridge as Viking Sky climbed the stairs at Gatun
One of the electric locomotives, or “mules” of the Panama Canal. The mules (the name is derived from the original means of moving barges along the Erie Canal in upstate New York) do not pull the ship; instead their function is to keep a ship centered in the lock chamber
In the early morning, we passed below the nearly completed bridge at the Atlantic end of the canal

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2018: Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena in Colombia is one of the best preserved old Spanish colonial cities in the new world.

We had a lovely day in Cartagena, although we were not alone: four cruise ships in port, thousands of tourists in the streets, and painful traffic jams.

The best time to visit: after hours, when the vendors and the selfie-sticks have gone home.

The old city of Cartagena
The dome of San Pedro Claver Church in Cartagena. Claver was known as the “slave of the slaves”, begging in the streets to help the poor Africans brought by the tens of thousands to Colombia
A golden display of indigenous art
A work by Colombian artist Fernando Botero, champion of a style known as “Boterismo.” He obviously thinks large.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 20, 2018: Nassau, Bahamas

So, we weren’t supposed to be here in Nassau, Bahamas this morning. But a combination of bad weather and other factors in the Western Caribbean caused us to cancel calls scheduled for Montego Bay, Jamaica and then George Town on Grand Cayman Island.

We sailed two days eastward along the south side of Cuba and then turned north toward Nassau for a final port of call.

Nassau is an interesting place, mostly because of its history as a British colony somewhat similar to Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos. It was a place of plantations (and therefore slaves), and its success drew in pirates and privateers and attacks by the Spanish who contested some of the same waters.

Today, the English are still here with a Royal Governor and the police force look more like British Bobbies than the ones in London. The Spanish and the pirates are gone, and in their place hordes of tourists. Many of them arrive by cruise ship at the huge port which can accommodate five and sometimes more large ships.

One of our favorite places to visit is Christ Church Cathedral, an Anglican/Episcopal church at the corner of King and George streets. The structure is handsome, with the current building dating from 1841 on a base that dates back to the mid-1600s.

But it is the collection of plaques and other remembrances that line the walls of the church that fascinate. Any one of them could generate a novel, or at least a lecture for me.

Small, medium, and large at the dock in Nassau. Viking Sky sits between the luxurious private yacht Turquoise and the huge and loud Disney Dream

A Viking long boat on the Viking Sky’s funnel catches the morning sun

Christ Church Cathedral in Nassau

A bit of old Nassau, hidden in plain sight

Echoes of Colonial Britain at the Governor General’s house on the hill

Safe travels to all.

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

14-15 APRIL 2015
 Nassau, The Bahamas: A Bit of Everything

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

The Bahamas is an independent nation whose name may have come from a Spanish phrase.

The name of its capital, Nassau, derives from a German city.

They drive on the left side of the road, and speak the Queen’s English—more or less—because it was an English colony for 255 years.

Their closest major neighbor is the United States, as near as 55 miles away from the westernmost of the Bahamas islands, and their currency—the Bahamian Dollar—is directly tied to the value of the American buck.

Oh, and it is also the site of the lost city of Atlantis—at least that is what the owners of the large hotel, water park, and casino on Paradise Island across the harbor from where we will dock—want you to believe.

We arrived in early evening on 14 April and will overnight here, departing on Wednesday evening.

To our guests who are leaving us tomorrow in Fort Lauderdale, I wish you safe travels and look forward to sailing with you again somewhere in this wonderful world.


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For more about Nassau, see my blog entry from earlier this year when we visited aboard Silver Cloud.  http://blog.sandlerbooks.com/?p=2779

All photos copyright 2015 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.


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Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)


17 January 2015
 Nassau, Bahamas: Uncovering the Past

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We sailed out of tony Fort Lauderdale on Friday evening, saluting—and being saluted—by many of the residents of condominiums who have their own version of a waterfront veranda. Almost every day during the winter season, half a dozen or so ships sail by in the channel.

This morning we arrived in Nassau, Bahamas.

There were five major ships in port, along with the elegant (comparatively tiny) Silver Cloud. By my math, about 17,500 guests and crew arriving by 9 am, departing before dinner.

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Ships (not ours) double and triple-parked in the harbor at Nassau.

As destination consultant, I always tell guests in this part of the world that it is one of my goals to help they understand that the Caribbean is much more than Diamonds International and t-shirts that change colors in the sun. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but many of the islands have been so heavily plastered over with tourist lures and generic shops that it is easy to forget these are places of considerable history.

To understand Caribbean islands you need to get beyond the tourist district. Visit the remnants of Colonial power, the old churches and cemeteries, and in some places the small vestiges of the indigenous peoples: the Taino, the Arawaks, the Caribs among them.

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A remembrance of Queen Victoria in Nassau.

On our visit today we left the ship early and headed for Christ Church Cathedral.

This is the Mother Church of Anglican churches in the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

In 1670, King Charles II granted the colony of The Bahamas to the proprietors of Carolina and directed they build a house of worship.

They did, and it stood until 1684 until it was destroyed by the Spaniards. The present building, which incorporates some of the old fixtures, was built in the late 18th and early 19th century.

It is a simple, attractive wooden structure, home to the Anglican Episcopal community—a remembrance of British times at the corner of King and George streets.

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Christ Church Cathedral in Nassau.

Our focus was on the memorial plaques that line its walls; each one tells a story, and together they explain the culture that lies beneath today’s tourist makeover.

Among many evocative memorial plaques was one remembering crew from HMS Peterel who died of Yellow Fever in Nassau in 1862. I’m going to take an educated guess here and say the following is quite possible: the British ship may have been directly or indirectly involved in blockade running, trading with the Confederate States during the U.S. Civil War.

Yellow Fever and Malaria outbreaks were common in tropical and subtropical ports, and both The Bahamas and Bermuda were used as transfer and supply points for the blockade runners.

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All photos copyright 2015 Corey Sandler. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.