This year's group photo
The 2014 Spirit of the West group photo!
click to enlarge

2014 Spirit of the West Cruise Diary and Photos

Here's our cruise diary for 2014 - enjoy!

Below is some information on where the 2014 Spirit of the West Cruise is going. We hope you enjoy the following diary as we head to the Panama Canal.

See the map below (or scroll down).
We will sail on the Island Princess - here's what she looks like.

Billie and Hugh in this year's tee-shirt
Billie and Hugh in this year's tee-shirt
click to enlarge

Island Princess Island Princess

Below you'll find our basic itinerary and a map of where we are traveling. Go to the Itinerary below (or scroll down).

If you are interested in joining us you can download the 2015 Spirit of the West Cruise Flyer here.

Diary, Spirit of the West Cruise, 2014

You can also see a diary on our support crew, Mark and Kathy McMillan's, web site at
The diary and photos on their web site will be different than the ones on this page.

The following photos will all enlarge if you click on them.

December 2013 and January 2014
At the time this page was updated we had 115 59 14 2 days to count down ...

Billie fooling around with some guy at the Cowboy Christmas Concert in Kamloops.

Hugh getting back at Billie for being with that big guy in the red and white suit.

Here comes the Christmas tree and it was about all Codi could do to pull it.

Now that the tree is home we'd better bring in the stragglers
so we can leave this snow.

Now that the straglers are home we have to get some shows built so we can go on a cruise!

January 31st
We're on our way! Although there were some problems, delays in flights, etc, and we were worried about a few being late, or maybe not making it, we think in the end that everyone made it.

Yesterday Karen, Jim, Kathy, and Mark, on the water front in Fort Lauderdale

The bridge opening for ships on the river (it opens every 15 minutes)

8 bed and 8 bath - for sale - $30 million or so ... taxes probably upwards of $5500 per month!

Most of the gang is here for the free cocktail hour at the Embassy Suites

Oh good ... Lorne and Reg made it (a couple of the late arrivals) ... note the sign above their heads!

January 31st
This afternoon we waved good bye to Fort Lauderdale and we're now sailing! The welcome reception was a great time and everyone met a lot of new friends and/or were re-aquainted with old friends (we have about 55 repeat cruisers in our group this year).

Dan and Laura bragging about their extra leg room on the bus to the cruise ship

We think that the US Coast Guard cleared the way especially for the Spirit of the West group

Enlarge this photo and check out the size of this guy's gun

As we set sail - Lorne (and 78 others) decided it was drink time

Barb Bamber and Mark having a bit of a camera war at the welcome reception

January 31st
Karen and Jim bought the drinks for the welcome reception party and everyone had a great time

Kathy showing Lynne & Joe Lyne the number of stars is the number of SOTW cruises

The group enjoying the company of fellow Spirit of the West cruisers

A group of repeats ... didn't take them long to get back into the groove

Lucie & Emile Lambert at dinner - we have a whole section reserved for us!

Barb & Bud McBride celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary at dinner

February 1st
The first of a few sea days, the first formal night, and the first jam sing-along.

Billie and Hugh taking a little time to enjoy the sunshine beside the pool

Karen and Jim answering questions in the Plaza, mid ship, deck 5

A daughter / father combo ... Lorne Reay and his daughter Colleen

L to R Hugh, Kathy, Billie, Mark, with Ray and Donna Frolek

Gordon and Irene Trost in their best cruise clothes

February 1st cont.
Formal night always makes for some good photos ...

Vicki and Gary Hetrick from Montney, BC (Fort St John)

Norman and Gayle Fiddler from Webb, SK

Bonnie & Larry Speers from Rochester, AB

Richard and Shirley Osinchuk from Clandonald, AB

Marj Proehl and Allan Woodrow from Red Deer, AB

February 1st cont.
The first sing-along

Karen and Jim pose for photo just before we head for the sing-along

On the way we met with Walter & Katharina Wolbert

Ed Peake, Hugh, and Reg Evans make up the S of the W Band

The band and the audience were up in the balcony above the pool

Richard Preston shares a poem (photo by Colleen Hovey)

February 2nd
In the Bayou Cafe there was a get together at 10am and the 2015 Spirit of the West Cruise destination was released. Join Billie and Hugh and you will visit New Zealand and Australia. January 19th to February 5th, 2015 ... PLUS a three day Barrier Reef extension is available!
Download the flyer here --> 2015 Cruise Flyer.

Hugh lets everyone know where the next year's cruise will go

The whole group was excited to hear the destination

The 2015 cruise destination will be released here in a day or two

Jack Daines tells us all a story and everyone got a good laugh

Walter Wolbert followed Jack with a story for another laugh

February 2nd & 3rd
Aruba! We docked at 7:30 am ... sounds early to go to the beach? wrong ...

Colleen and Kathy at the ship's wine tasting

Happy hour clockwise - Billie, Donna, Colleen, Jim, Christine, and Hugh

Billie and Hugh with Donna and Ray Frolek arriving in Aruba

Donna and Ray with the ship's pirates (for a ship photo)

Billie having a little wind trouble ...

February 3rd
Aruba! The beach was awesome!

OK Spirit of the West to the back of the bus ...

Jim, Karen, & Colleen visiting with John and Irene on the way

Jim & Karen heading to the water ... I think to a drum beat

It was so crowded we had trouble finding room for our towels :-)

Karen said "so now you know how to take Billie for breakfast Hugh"

February 3rd
Aruba! The beach was awesome!

Mark, Karen, Jim, Colleen, & Kathy - photo by Billie

The shopping strip as we returned to the ship

Colleen, Hugh, Billie, & Mark - photo by Kathy

John & Irene Romaniuk on their deck as we approached the ship

The beautiful colours of the sea as we pull away from Aruba

February 3rd
After dinner we were all entertained by the Spirit of the West Band in the Explorer Lounge where the sound was terrific ... somewhere around 80 people, maybe more showed up.

Reg Evans gives Colleen a CD and signs it for her.

Betty and Don Peterson take in the music and poetry

Ed Peake, Hugh, & Reg Evans - the Spirit of the West band

Mark at the sound board - a great system & a familiar system

Leota & John Heavan enjoying the tunes

February 3rd & 4th
More of the sing-along and the next day in Cartegena.

Nice dance floor and everyone was making use of it

Billie sang a song - we thought she should have sung more

Lots of folks in our group visited town doing different tours

Some took dugout canoes in to the Mangroves from this dock

Four people plus the guide in each canoe (a little tippy)

February 4th & 5th
Cartagena, the old city. Gatun Locks in the Panama Canal.

A great way to see the Mangrove tunnels was in a dugout canoe

The old city was a great tour - these statues came to life!

A tribute to the independence of Columbia from the Spanish

Cartagena as we pull away heading for the Panama Canal

In the Canal - the first set of locks were Gatun Locks

February 4th & 5th
Panama Canal, a full day transit from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Absolutely amazing - the history & how the locks work

Two tugs guide a freighter into the lock behind us

Karen & Jim took a lunch break on the top floor above the pool

The Centennial Bridge with Gordon Trost's head in the foreground

The construction of the new canal ... way behind schedule

February 5th
Panama Canal, end of the day, another awesome dinner, and some great visiting.

dragging the guy ropes in a rowboat... (they aren't suicidal :-).

Gordon Trost and Mark having a camera war in the Canal.

Jim and Fontella Reinbold from Provost, AB

Irene & John get a visit from David & Ellen Brown

Billie stole Mark's hat from under his chair at dinner

February 6th
Panama Canal, end of the day, another awesome dinner, and some great visiting.

a girls meeting in the hall - Marie, Barb, Lucie, Kathy, & Karen

Panama Bay with Panama City in the background

We passed this "cattle liner" in our bus while on tour :-)

Gatun Lake, with all it's islands, seemed to go forever

Ray checking out the GE electric old train

February 6th
Panama Canal, end of the day, another awesome dinner, and some great visiting.

trains holding this freighter that is carrying about 4500 containers

We knew Larry had hearing trouble, but a microphone?

Ray, Donna, Barb, Larry, & Kathy with the Canal guide

The Island Princess - our home away from home

Vicki & Larry Hetrick on their balcony as we returned to the ship.

February 7th
A sea day, some wine tasting, and another great sing-along on formal night

Marj, Colleen, and Kathy at the second wine tasting

Roxsane and Laura joined in the wine tasting today

Sing-along in the beautiful and big Universal Theatre

Everyone enjoying the entertainment - the theatres are getting bigger!

Jim and Karen with a lime drop martini from Mark and Kathy

February 7th
The sing-along was followed by dinner and it was a formal night

Pretty good crowd on the dance floor - and they had fun!

Donna and Ray ... hmmm, Ray Frolek in a tux - wow!

Audrey and Jack Daines after another great dinner

Colleen with Jack Daines - her "date for the evening"

Jim and Karen socializing with the Maitre'd after dinner

February 7th
End of the evening and some photos with Billie and Hugh

Sharon and Richard McNiven from Vulcan, AB

Billie and Hugh ... a photo by themselves :-)

Lynn and Bill Craig from Delburne, AB

Lorne and Colleen with Billie and Hugh

The Spirit of the West support crew, Kathy and Mark, with Billie and Hugh

February 8th
A day with the whole group in Costa Rica at the Hacienda Nosavar Ranch

Two buses were sitting near the dock waiting for us (about 78 of us)

The bus driver saw these monkeys and stopped for us to get photos

Crocodiles in the foreground and ranch cattle in the background

The Tarcoles River has the most crocodiles in Costa Rica

Pat and Aldolph Koosey in the front seat with Karen and Jim

February 8th
Same day - Costa Rica

V for Vargas over a Turkish chair on the left hip

Rodrigo Vargas (owner) snaps a photo of Jack Daines "selling" his cattle

This fence was "planted" about 7 years ago - they root bind

About half of the group in these 2 wagons (2 more were in front)

They fed the whole group of us - here's Billie & Hugh at the buffet

February 8th & 9th
More of Hacienda Nosavar Ranch. On the 9th we were at sea where Jim gave a presentation on where next year's cruise will be going.

They even had dancers at lunch - here John Romaniuk joins in

Back on the ship Billie & Hugh found this on their bed (from the room steward)

Diane Peake got the special Happy Birthday treatment at dinner

Jim explains details of the 2015 cruise and 18 people signed up.

Listen for this interview with Walter Wolbert in the future!

February 9th & 10th
The evening of the 9th finished off with an awesome "multi past years Spirit of the West cruisers dinner" hosted by Jim and Karen in the Bayou Cafe. The morning of the 10th saw us in Puerto Chiapas, Mexico.

Jim and Karen with the steak selection behind and wine in front.

Everyone that had been on 5 or more Spirit of the West Cruises.

Puerto Chiapas was a nice clean pier with a nice market & entertainment

Colleen and Lorne getting their photo with the "American Mexican".

The sewing, embroidery, etc, was really nice in the pier market.

February 10th
One of the tours in Puerto Chiapas was to Tuxtla Chico (the chocolate city), a near by town close to the Guatemalan border, where we visited a local market, had a chocolate making demonstration, and were entertained by music and dancers.

A Brahma herd we passed on one of the bus tours

There were lots of police around and everyone felt very safe.

The streets were very narrow & the bus drivers deserve a big applause!

Colleen & Kathy in the centre of one group learning some local history

The outdoor stage with a band and dancers entertaining us

February 10th
We also saw a lot of the old buildings around the town before we headed off to visit the Izapa Ruins.

A crowded but nice local market with tons of products.

One of the cute little Mexican kids that was at the market

The produce and fruit look yummy - the chickens & fish ... ???

A 400 year old church that we went into on the tour

The Izapa Mayan ruins date back to 300 BC ... pretty amazing!

February 10th
More of the Izapa Mesoamerican Ruins.

Colleen carefully making her way down a rock staircase.

The owners house behind - the ruins are all on private property

Colleen hiding from the sun as it was one of our hottest days

Because we were close to the border everyone was stopped and checked

Back at the ship we were greeted by Ed Peake from his cabin.

February 10th & 11th
On the morning of the 11th we all met with our tee-shirts on for a group photo in the ship's atrium and then we all went for a galley tour.

Betty and Gerry Braun from Kelowna waving as we return to the ship

Vivia Oliver and her grandaughter Lori Holmgren from Caroline, AB

Stuart from the photo department trying to herd 81 of us into place

Then we got all 81 of us through the ship's galley - impressive!

The pastry chef stopped long enough to give us a smile.

February 10th & 11th
The galley tour was great and lots of us took in the $10 ship shopping spree after.

Now that's a mix-master and that's a soup pot.

Doesn't everyone have a double escalator in their kitchen?

Billie, Barb McBride and Hugh checking out the deals.

After all that shopping the swimming pool was the place to go

Jim and Karen visiting with Gordon Trost in the pool.

February 12th & 13th
Hugh had a day of interviews for the Spirit of the West Radio Show then formal night and a chat with the Captain. On the 13th we had another sing-along and the Captain joined us and thanked our group for sailing with him!

Billie and Hugh in the hall chatting with the Captain after dinner.

Lorne, Colleen, Kathy, Captain Fabio Amitrano, Hugh, and Billie.

Brittnay setting up a photo shoot with Jim, Karen, Colleen, Lorne, Kathy, & Mark

Billie and Hugh's cabin stewart left them with a dog and an elephant

Irene Trost & Irene Romaniuk help the band with "Good Night Irene".

February 13th 14th
Last night we asked the captain to join us at our sing-along and he did. He also spoke to the group which was really appreciated by everyone attending. He's from Italy but now resides part time in Alberta so fits right in with us! On the 14th we all joined in on the Farewell Reception / aka "Please don't make me go home!" in the Wheelhouse Bar.

Hugh introducing Captain Fabio Amitrano to the group.

The captain not only joined us but also spoke to our group.

Our last sing-along till we head for New Zealand & Australia.

Hugh holds, Billie draws, & Jim gives the lucky winner the prize!

Laura Krebs & Lori Holmgren both won Saddle Up subscriptions

February 14th
The 14th was the Farewell Reception and our last meal aboard the Island Princess :-(   Here's the list of the lucky people that won in the end cruise draw.
$100.00 ship board credits - Fontella Reinbold, Paula Bill, and Dan Bamber
Saddle Up Subscriptions - Laura Krebs, Ellen Bozarth-Brown, Lori Holmgren, and Richard Osinchuk
The Princess Cookbook winner was Bill (Lynn) Craig
The Kamloops Cowboy Festival passes - John Heaven and Bud McBride

Bill (Lynn) Craig won the Princees Cruise "Courses" Cookbook

Jack Daines announcing to his wife that he had booked for the 2015 cruise!

Audrey Daines - one very happy lady, and one very surprized lady. See below ...

Kim and Barb Bamber clowning around with the waiter in the Wheel House Bar.

Princess is great at celebrating special occassions like this one with a happy Mary Wold.

Jack Daines at the Farewell Reception surprized everyone, especially his wife Audrey, by announcing that he had booked the 2015 Spirit of the West New Zealand and Australia Cruise. Everyone thought that he wouldn't enjoy cruising - in fact they didn't think he would be on this cruise!

Jack summed it up really well, in fact he left Hugh kind of speechless for closing remarks, when he said that the best part of cruising was cruising with the great group of people that join in on the Spirit of the West Cruise!

Our Itinerary!         Top of Page

1 prior

  • January 30th - Leave home and fly to Fort Lauderdale. Stay in the Embassy Suites Hotel with the rest of the Spirit of the West group!

Day 1

  • January 31st - Spend the morning in Ft Lauderdale and board the Island Princess early afternoon.
    We set sail at 4:00 pm, followed by the Spirit of the West Welcome Reception - details to follow.

Day 2

  • February 1st At Sea. 9:00pm to 10:00pm concert and sing-a-long under the stars by the Lotus Pool.

Day 3

  • February 2nd At Sea. 10:00am to 11:00am drop by and say Hi to the hosts, Billie and Hugh, in the Bayou Cafe.

Day 4

  • February 3rd Aruba. Arrive at 7:00 am and depart at 12:30 pm. 9:00pm to 10:00pm concert and sing-a-long by the Lotus Pool.

Day 5

  • February 4th Cartagena, Columbia - Arrive at 9:00 am and depart at 3:00 pm.

Day 6

  • February 5th Panama Canal, Panama - Arrive at 5:00 am and depart at 4:30 pm.

Day 7

  • February 6th Fuerte Amador / Panama City - Arrive at 8:00 am and depart at 6:00 pm.

Day 8

  • February 7th At Sea. 9:00pm to 10:00pm concert and sing-a-long under the stars by the Lotus Pool.

Day 9

  • February 8th Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Arrive at 7:00 am and depart at 7:00 pm.
    Group tour to Hacienda Nosavar Ranch, a Brahma Ranch including a BBQ lunch, a buggy ride, and a horseback ride!

Day 10

  • February 9th At Sea

Day 11

  • February 10th Puerto Chipas, Mexico - Arrive at 7:00 am and depart at 5:00 pm.

Day 12

  • February 11th At Sea. 9:00pm to 10:00pm concert and sing-along by the Lotus Pool.

Day 13

  • February 12th At Sea

Day 14

  • February 13th At Sea. 9:00pm to 10:00pm concert and sing-a-long by the Lotus Pool.

Day 15

  • February 14th At Sea. 2:00pm to 3:00pm Farewell Reception / aka "Please don't make me go home!" in the Wheelhouse Bar.

Day 16

  • February 15th Los Angeles - Arrive at 7:00 am ... fly home.

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Here's a route map showing all seven ports where we will be.
The numbers on the big map refer to the day in the itinerary. Click to enlarge.

10 days in the Caribbean!
Route Map for the 2014 Panama Canal Cruise
click to enlarge

2014 Spirit of the West Tee-shirt
The 2014 Spirit of the West T-shirt for Hawaii!
click to enlarge

You can also see a diary on our support crew, Mark and Kathy McMillan's, web site
at The diary and photos on their web site will be different than the ones on this page.

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