Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Getting Away

This week, guest bloggers Bert and Rusha Sams challenge us to “get away” in our photos. They write in their challenge post, “Maybe you, too, are yearning to get away after being quarantined during the pandemic. If the packed hotels and restaurants we’ve seen of late are any indication, we’re all “itching” to get away, even if it’s just to rejoin the people we love and the places once familiar to us.” You can read the entire challenge post here.

My first thoughts led me to think about all of the wonderful places we’ve visited over the years, but for my challenge-response, I have decided to focus on the journey rather than the destination. We love to get away whether it’s by car, airplane, train, or cruise ship. Our favorite getaway is the latter. Over the years, we’ve visited far away islands and another continent by cruise ship. The photo above features an image from the cruise ship dock at Puntarenas, Costa Rica. On the left is the Norwegian Pearl, on the right, the Norwegian Sun. Both ships were cruising from Miami to Los Angeles via the Panama Canal. Though we stopped at several ports in Central America and even one port in South America, the highlight of this journey was the trip through the canal.

Canal 2019-20

We enjoyed that cruise through the canal so much, that we did it again in 2019 on the Norwegian Star. Here’s a view of the NCL Star entering one of the locks. If you click on the link, in the background you can get a view of the Bridge of the Americas. We know that cruising will be different in this age of Covid, but watching the restart for other cruise lines going well, so far, we’ve decided that it is time to celebrate our 50th Anniversary a year late since our 50th celebration was canceled in October, 2020. We are booked on the Norwegian Bliss for a cruise from Los Angeles down the coast of Mexico to Puerto Vallarta and return.


I know cruise ships got a bad rap from the early days of the coronavirus, but everyone knows much more about how Covid spreads and how it may be mitigated. Cruise lines have updated their ventilation systems and improved onboard medical facilities as well as providing testing and coordinating covid requirements with each port of call.

Proper hand sanitation around food has been a staple of the cruise industry for much longer than any other venue. At the entrance to each restaurant, a hand sanitizer is present, and as you can see by this photo from 2013, during mealtimes, on Norwegian Cruise Lines, a person is always stationed at the main entrance with a spray bottle, and maybe a song, but always with a cheerful “Washie-washie”. In the image above, my wife, Lynn, and our friendly “washie-washie” guy posed for a photo.

Norwegian Pearl Neighborhood-5

Our anniversary cruise along the Mexican Riviera (the west coast of Mexico), includes four stops, all locations where we have visited before. While I am sure we’ll find something new to see on shore, I know we will enjoy our sea days. The views aboard ship are just as interesting. Like the Panama Canal journey, one of the main attractions of an Alaskan cruise is Glacier Bay, National Park. It is another place we can only visit by boat or ship, and there is no place to dock and explore on land. The image above features the coastline of Alaska along the inline passage from Seattle to Juneau.

Atrium Cafe-1

On our upcoming journey, we will be on the Norwegian Bliss, the company’s second-largest ship with a capacity of over 4,000 passengers. Due to Covid mitigation protocol, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is limiting capacity on this sailing, I believe, by 50 percent. Other cruise lines are also reducing passenger count by large percentages and requiring a high percentage of passengers to be vaccinated. In NCL’s case, they are only planning on 100% vaccinated passengers and crew. They are in the process of suing the state of Florida for interfering with their business plan by Florida’s state mandate that cruise passengers not be required to provide vaccination status.

I am not going to wade into the political ramifications other than to say that my wife and I do not plan to sail out of Florida until they allow vaccination disclosure so that we can sail on ships where we know everyone has been vetted for vaccination status. The image above features the Atrium Cafe from the level above the ship’s atrium deck. In this case, it’s the Norwegian Star from our second Panama Canal cruise in 2019.

On Deck - NCL Star-1

Lynn and I are both excited to return to cruising, and those hours spent just walking the deck or standing at the rail just watching the ocean as we go. In January, 2022, we have already booked two back-to-back cruises out of San Juan Puerto Rico. We will be on the Epic, though slightly smaller than the Bliss, it’s passenger capacity is still over 4,000. We are hopeful that, by then, the vaccination status issues will be behind us. I know cruising will be different in a post-covid world, but so will most travel venues for some time to come.

Thanks again to Bert and Rusha Sams for providing me an opportunity to share our favorite get-away. For a better view of all of these images, click on any image to be redirected to my Flickr site where the images are posted in a format better suited to pixel-peeping and to see metadata and more details of the images specifically.

John Steiner


  1. Yes, I think we all need to get used to the idea that ‘getting away’ will be a bit different in the post Covid world, at least for some years. Good for you taking the plunge and booking your anniversary cruise – I’m sure it will be wonderful even if things seem slightly strange at first.

    These huge cruise ships don’t really appeal to me however – not because of Covid fears, I have never really fancied them. We did go on the Marco Polo to Antarctica. Its capacity of 800 was reduced to 400 so that everyone could have a decent amount of time on shore at each stop. That was OK although I would have preferred a smaller ship had our budget allowed. But my favourite ‘cruise’ was our visit to the Galapagos on the little Angelito – 8 cabins, 16 berths. That’s how I like to be at sea, on a boat rather than a ship!

    Having said all that I would love to do an Alaskan and an Arctic cruise, but in both cases will opt for a much smaller ship than these 😀

    • I would enjoy small ship sailing as well. I hope to do a European River cruise in the near future.
      I do like the space and variety of activities on those large ships.

      • We took my mother in law on a Rhine cruise for her 80th birthday. She loved it (she’d always wanted to see the Rhine castles) and I enjoyed it too, but if I were to do a river cruise again it would probably be further afield – the Mekong, the Nile, the Yangtze perhaps.

  2. I love your beautiful photos on the cruise. Thank you for sharing the cruise update, John!
    We enjoyed our cruise trips around Hawaii islands, and Scottland/Irland from Amsterdam. Except, my husband’s backpack got stolen on the train from Belgium to Amsterdam. It was when the train went through the tunnel, the train went completely dark. Fortunately, the had his passport, M/C, and some money in his belt bag around his chest; I had my backpack by my seat and I had my camera in it. I hope to cruise to Alaska next year! 🙂

  3. Nice to read that you have plans to cruise, while remaining very cautious. It’s refreshing to change skylines and see new things. Good sailing.

  4. Terrific images John, you always find the best, most interesting perspectives. Glad to see you’re about to cruise again, know how much you enjoy it. Agree wholeheartedly they should be able to require proof of vaccination!

    • Thank you. I appreciate the compliment, and I am so looking forward to our upcoming cruises. Keeping fingers crossed that we don’t have more “surprises” or setbacks.

  5. Sorry I missed this post John. I’ve been sick and not very diligent. Beautiful images and memories of cruising. We’re scheduled for one in September 2022. I’m hoping COVID will be totally gone.

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