Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Special Moments

On the Panama Canal.

This week, Tina Schell asks us to consider sharing “…Moments that you want to save forever in your heart of hearts.” She goes on to note examples such as the birth of a child, wedding vows, and less personal ones like that perfect sunrise. You can read her entire challenge post here. One of my dreams for many years included a cruise through the Panama Canal. Regular readers know I am a fan of cruising, and in the wake of the pandemic, I’ve had to cancel two cruises that would have brought me and my wife many special moments on our first trips on the European continent. For this challenge-response, I will share some of my special moments captured on that cruise through the Panama Canal.

Technically, the opening image isn’t mine. Oh, I took it with my camera, but in the interest of honesty, it is a photograph I took of a television screen mounted high on the ship somewhere near the bridge. It is the only forward view I have of the ship entering a lock.

On March 30, 2019, we left the port at Long Beach, California on our second journey through the canal. In 2013, we’d made our first trip. In 2019, after telling family about how much we enjoyed the cruise, we were invited along to accompany other family members on their first cruise through the canal. There were plenty of special family moments on that trip. The photo above features a special photo of the harbor on the day we left. The highly reflective tint on the bridge windows each reflected a different view of the harbor and ship. I happened to spot the opportunity while walking on one of the promenade decks.

While waiting for breakfast one morning, I happened to notice a decorative display above one of the restaurant’s coffee counters. Behind each glass were coffee beans in various patterns. What I noticed, however, was the reflection of the guests sitting by the windows, enjoying their coffee, companionship, and ocean views.

I have my own special moments alone in the mornings. Lynn likes to sleep in and I am an early riser. Early, before sunrise, I grab my first of many cups of coffee, an empty cup waiting for Lynn, as I contemplate the day’s activities.

On the ship and on our excursions, we saw many others living their own special moments. During the holy week before Easter, we were in Nicaragua on our way to visit an active volcano. At one point, we were stopped in traffic for over 30 minutes while we awaited a pilgrimage to pass us. An annual event for over 150 years, a group of faithful in Nicaragua travel many days by oxcart to Popoyuapa to celebrate on Easter Sunday. More about the pilgrimage and photos can be found here.

Along the bank of a narrow section of the canal, I spotted a worker on an earthmover. I captured the image seeing that the worker appeared to be getting ready to step off the equipment. I didn’t think any more about it until I started processing images.

I looked a little closer at the image while I was working on it and I could see what he was doing. Apparently spotting a cruise ship transiting the canal was enough of a special moment for him to take a cellphone photo.

This image represents a sad special moment. It was the last day of our Panama Canal cruise. We were already docked in Miami awaiting our departure from the ship. As usual, I was up early walking the promenade deck when the Celebrity Equinox passed by on its way into port to discharge its load of cruisers on their last day as well. While the ship doesn’t look especially close, it is large enough and close enough that I couldn’t get the entire ship into a single image as it passed by. I captured the front and back halves of the ship in single cellphone images and stitched them together in Adobe Lightroom. Be sure to click on this image to enlarge it for a better view.

 We are booked to resume cruising in January 2022, and hope by then the industry is operational again. Our next cruise will be more local, staying in the Caribbean out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, but when cruising opens again, we’ll reschedule our European cruise. Our first European cruise was to be our 50th Anniversary celebration, instead, we celebrated alone without our immediate family. We will have plenty of special moments to make up for those missed in the last year. Don’t misunderstand me that I’m complaining about a missed celebration. Many thousands have suffered far more than that through this pandemic. Lynn and I are fortunate to have weathered this storm so far. We are among the first to be vaccinated, and we feel a much greater sense of freedom than we did even earlier this year.

My final image is a sketch completed by my son, Josh. His hand-drawn sketches demonstrate a talent that he must have inherited from his mother. I have no such skills.

Josh and his wife live in North Carolina, so we haven’t visited them since prior to 2020. We look forward to maybe seeing him and his wife again later this year. That will truly be another special event, hopefully in October when we celebrate our 51st anniversary. Thanks to Tina for allowing me to share some of my special moments on a special cruise.

John Steiner



  1. Some very creative work on this one John – loved the coffee beans and you are so right, the Equinox deserves a click to see the image in a larger version. Personally I’m a bit nervous about cruising so I always enjoy your tales from the water. I hope for your sake and theirs that the cruise industry recovers soon – I think they may have had the hardest time during the pandemic. Like you, we are beginning to peek out of the covers since having had our vaccines. Our family arrives this weekend for the first time in over a year and we cannot wait to see them! I think we have all learned the hard way to have a much greater appreciation of what is most important to us.

    • Thank you, Tina. I know I’ve shared that coffee bean photo before, but it is one of my favorites, and it fit. >grin<
      I expect cruising to look a lot different going forward, but that remains to be seen.
      Glad to see people beginning to crawl out cautiously. I am concerned about those who have thrown that caution to the winds and went on spring break. Hopefully there won't be a major ramification for healthcare workers.

  2. Outstanding John. Clever on the photo of the tv screen. LOVE the long cruise ship shot, and your son is very talented! I can’t draw stick figures.

    • Thank you. I actually envy my son’s talent. I got a new computer that happened to be equipped with a pen. I tried it on the glass screen… Suffice it to say that the pen will never get used. 🙂

  3. Congrats on the 50, you two! And a talented son you have got – love that sketch. And the coffee beans…Hopefully there will be cruizing times ahead. That ship is amazing – well done stiching.

  4. 50 years, WOW. That would be a memorable moment. I bet within tht 50 years you two have a million memories and moments. Wonderful photo as always 😀

  5. You obviously enjoyed your trips and I hope you get to go on many more with your wife and family. And congratulations on your 50th anniversary, that’s something very special indeed. That coffee bean photo made me smile! Great capture.

  6. Beautiful photos of your cruise trip, John! The image of your last day of your cruise is stunning. I love the sketch completed by you son, very special. Your stories and photos give me a hope for our future trips. Hope it won’t be long. 🙂 Thank you!

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