Spring Cruise on Holland America

3/25-4/01 Sunday – Cruise Medical Center and Visiting Key West (again) , Roatan in Honduras, Santo Tomas de Castilla in Guatemala, and Costa Maya in Mexico (again)


Our Royal Caribbean cruise ended in Tampa Sunday morning. Unfortunately early on I saw that I had blood in my urine. I was fairly certain it was a UTI, so I started drinking a lot of water to keep the bacteria at bay until I could see a doctor on our next cruise ship, Holland America.

Other than that concern our transfer of selves and luggage from Royal Caribbean (off the ship by 9:30am, among the last), to Holland America was fairly smooth. We were directed to the main road that ran parallel to the pier, where we could walk on the sidewalk to the pier where our next cruise ship was docked. As soon as we arrived at that terminal they welcomed us inside where we were checked in and given our sea pass cards. Then we got to wait until 12:30 before our group was called to get on the ship. Thankfully, there were bathrooms and a drinking fountain right there.

Once on our ship we learned that our cabin was ready for us. Wow. So we settled in somewhat then went on to the Lido (buffet) on the 8th deck for lunch. Back in our room, I told John I wasn’t feeling well and wanted to lie down. He went ahead to attend a “New to Holland America” class. I was feeling light headed so I called the medical center. They said there would be on Emergency charges until they opened at 5 pm. Great. Then I called a consulting nurse for our HMO health insurance. After explaining my symptoms, the water I’d drunk, and noting that my potassium and chloride had been edging to low in the last couple years she said I should see the doctor immediately.

I called the medical center, they brought a wheel chair and delivered me to their small bathroom where I was instructed to provide a urine sample. Then I was guided to their one bed. Without really understanding the impact of my deep breathing at this point, I was apparently hyperventilating. I just knew I was really light headed and needed air, so I was breathing heavily. I didn’t realize I was creating a big problem with all that excess oxygen, even when I noted that I was jerking my extremities. I could even see my fingers curling up. That scared me more which led to more heavy breathing.

The doctor and his assistant struggled to put an IV in one arm and draw blood from another, with my small veins and jerking. I managed to throw up in the midst of all this. They were giving me electrolytes, anti nausea medicine as well as Valium. As the Valium began taking effect I remember seeing John when I opened my eyes, then not seeing him the next time I opened them. I remember the doctor asking me to breathe slowly which I did but according to John, not for very long. Guess the Valium took control of my conscious breathing.

Note: before John had arrived at the medical center he’d looked for me at our cabin, then went to the life station muster (required of all passengers). When the crew member asked about my absence John (not knowing for sure) told him I was in the medical center. He called down and was told that I was there. Whew! Not kicked off the ship for insubordination. Unfortunately, the doctor was concerned that I may be having a stroke and would need to have me taken off the ship for help. Apparently they are not equipped for serious situations. Since the ship was soon to leave the Tampa port he was concerned. He called in the senior doctor who had me follow several directions like touch my nose with my right hand, then left hand. When he asked me to touch the heel of my right foot from the ankle of my left foot up to its knee I was very confused. His accent didn’t help. John said he wished he’d taken a video of the scene! The great news is that they determined no stroke, mostly the UTI and hyperventilation.

After 3 hours there they felt I could return to my cabin. I was pretty out of it by then, so happily followed John’s orders to take pain pills, change and slip into bed. He went to the buffet after letting our dining table group why we hadn’t come to eat with them. He also canceled the tour we’d signed up for in Key West.

Ah, by morning I was feeling much better.

Some thoughts on this cruise ship’s medical center: I was impressed by how efficient they were, doing a lot with little and quickly. There only seemed to be the doctor on call, his assistant, then later the senior doctor (female). They got the lab results quickly. I saw the doctor the on Friday for another urine test to verify that all the bacteria were gone. I think he wanted to be sure I was “good to go” before departing the ship. He was very helpful explaining everything. I was also impressed by the cost, considering all that they did, mostly under emergency charges for almost 3 hours, plus the extra visit. The total was about $900.

KEY WEST Since we’d been here just last week and had canceled our tour, we relaxed on the ship.


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Honduras beach from the ship. See the grounded boat?

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Mahogany Bay, Roatan, where we docked and started our tour of Honduras.

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Our Hiking/Archaeology tour was at “Mayan Eden”

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It began with introductions to a variety of adorable local animals. Most are there for rehab help. Some are not caged and happily return at the end of the day for the free food.

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Yellow Toucan

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We also saw replicas of Mayan ruins.

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White faced monkey. Earlier I’d been standing by a short wall when the guide yelled at me to get the bottle off that wall. As a monkey grabbed it, I managed to pull it away from him. I saved the day!

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Butterfly enclosure located outside. Camel Eye butterfly. All the butterflies and plants are local. Pretty cool.

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Butterfly drinking nectar from its favored flower.

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Water figure replica. The owners regularly send water out its mouth down that path and the butterflies gather eagerly for the fresh water.

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Red Passion Flower

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Mayan Solar Calendar. It consists of 18 months (20 days per month) and a 19th month of 5 days. Its calculated out 5,000 years to 12/21/12. Our guide said that time ending was due to astronomical features of the calendar, not that it would indicate the end of the world.

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Replica that shows the man as the head of the household, he’s above the woman. Our guide is on the left.

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Moon (or Woman’s) Calendar

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Termite nest up in the crook of this tree. Note the dark line flowing from that nest. The termites keep it repaired because it is a tunnel that protects them from rain and predators.

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Our guide scraped some of the tunnel and those termites swarmed to repair it there.

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Hammock bridge. Lots of fun because it really swings when more than one person is on it, so we had to wait until the small group (2 or 3) ahead of us was well ahead.

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This young red parrot bit our guide when he brought his arm for the bird to hop on. He explained that the bird did not want to leave me. I was touched.

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Parrots on a break.

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Spider Monkey

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Island Deer (similar in size to Florida’s Key Deer)

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Lion Monkey

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Island Rabbit (it looks more like a small javelina than the rabbits we’re used to!)

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John and I at a view point. Our cruise ship is in the background. The gentleman who offered to take our photo wanted us to kiss. We did, but we were pretty fast.


During our 1 ½ hour air conditioned bus ride to the ruins we learned not only more Mayan history, but a lot about Guatemala. What I remember is that Guatemala was in a civil war from 1960 to 1996-36 years. It was largely over the army killing the Mayan people, indigenous to the area. After that the new government started taxing the all the Guatemalan people and offering public (free) school and public (free) health care. There are also private schools and hospitals. I was impressed by the sites of large tracts of green land that were fenced off. Some had Brahman cattle (they only raise cattle for the meat, not milk) and some sugar cane. Their places appeared neat. He said the people were unhappy with the politicians so they voted in a comedian who is their current president. He said they’ve been happy with what he’s accomplished lately.

Guatemala shares a border with Honduras but a one mile width of that area is called “no man’s land” , because it’s rich in jade and both countries want ownership of it. Unfortunately, even with threats that anyone seen on that land would be shot, many people who smoke marijuana live in that area. It’s a headache for both countries. According to our guide their country is willing to give up the land to Honduras so they can get rid of those “freeloaders” and the headaches they present.

He also explained how the new Lidor technology enables those who look through it to see through the jungle and dirt to more archaeological sites, without having to dig. They’re pretty excited about that.

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Tour of Quirigua Archaeological National Park

We toured a museum about Jade, then went through a jade store before we walked on to the National Park.

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A jadeite replica of the largest Jade artifact found in the Maya area.

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A replica of a Jade mosaic portrait mask. I think it’s cool looking.

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An image of Mayan royalty when they are getting married. She pierces her tongue, drawing a string through it as he has to pierce his penis, to show their commitment to one another.

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The wooden implement on the magazine is a took the Mayans used to drill teeth (for cavities and to place Jade – only for royalty). They used agate crumbs glued to the end of the stick – one of their rulers discovered this was the only thing that could cut Jade.

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Jade Colors

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Cacao pods

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Stella (Large rock carving). These were created by skilled carvers hired by a royalty, to denote the power of that royalty.

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Close up at bottom of above Stella. The face at the bottom is their sun god.

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Another close up showing a monkey on the left. Can you find anything strange with its hands, feet? Note the figure to the monkey’s right? There was a story here but I can’t for the life of me remember it! The red feather is from our guide’s pointer.

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This was a really hot, humid day but I still couldn’t resist climbing up this acropolis. Then we agreed we were exhausted and just wanted to return to the ship. We still had 50 minutes before our bus would leave.

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Cool sites on our way back: a large air plant

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Long Vines

As we were sitting at our meeting point we heard an engine. On investigating it we discovered it was our bus and we could get inside and enjoy the air conditioning!

As we were sitting at our meeting point we heard an engine. On investigating it we discovered it was our bus and we could get inside and enjoy the air conditioning!

We truly enjoyed our experience on Holland America. We met 2 couples that were just loads of fun, enlarging our bucket list even more. I loved the classes (computer and at their test kitchen) as well as all their quiet, intimate spaces. We found their theater productions were more intimate than those on Royal Caribbean and Carnival, really touching our souls. John enjoyed Holland America but missed the better quality of their meals and larger quantity of food choices, especially outside of meal times.


About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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1 Response to Spring Cruise on Holland America

  1. Judy says:

    Glad that you’re okay. Quite a medical experience. Followed by a wonderful tropical experience

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