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Karen13

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  1. Hi, we docked at the Cristobal terminal on our recent Panama Canal cruise on the Star Breeze. I emailed Windstar and they emailed me straight back to confirm this, as it was not on our cruise documentation. this info was on another thread recently about what to do in Balboa - Posted January 28 There is a lot to do in Balboa. We didn't get to do everything I wanted to. We were anchored and tendered to Marina Flamenco (near the end of the Amador causeway). https://www.google.com/maps/place/Marina+Flamenco/@8.9229608,-79.5468257,14z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x8facaf06e12d6f73:0x3d149e4af039a38a!8m2!3d8.9115931!4d-79.5226214 Something I really wanted to do but couldn't work in was a day tour to an Embara village. The following one gets really good reviews. It is a long tour day so it would be good to do it either before the cruise or on the first day in Balboa. http://www.emberavillagetours.com/ If you are really into learning as much as possible about the canal, you can visit the visitor centers at Mira Flores (old locks, has a museum about the canal) and Agua Clara (new locks). We did an evening walking tour (mostly Casco Viejo). For embarkation day, we arranged for the same guide to take us on a morning tour of Portobello (the Caribbean end of the Spanish overland route for transferring gold from the Pacific to the Caribbean) including the Customs House museum and the forts. Since we had some extra time, he also took us on the ferry across the canal to visit the land side of the Gatun dam before dropping us off to board the ship. The guide, Vincent Scott, was excellent (phone is +50766547771 email vscott03@gmail.com). I went to the Biomuseo - it is on the causeway, not far from the ship. It tells about how the isthmus formed and explains the biodiversity there. Very nice - about 2 hours to view it. Casco Viejo is a really nice area to spend some time. There is also a canal museum there. I did the monkey tour on the second day in port. It left at 9 AM - I think an earlier departure might have been better - we saw some monkeys, birds and a distant view of a sloth high in a tree. The guides said that the monkeys are more interested in the tour boats earlier. We stayed in Casco Viejo (the old town) for a few days at the end of the cruise and I would highly recommend a visit there. There is also a Canal Museum there which it is worth visiting. Much less crowded than the one at Miraflores.
  2. Hi Mocamps, It wasn't really a snorkelling cruise. Just a few opportunities to swim, but not the Red Sea or even the Caribbean type. I think the platform was out out at least once, maybe more. They brought the water toys into the beach for the beach bbq. There was a water trampoline that seemed to be great fun! The deck bbq was on the Thursday while we were in Balboa.
  3. We have just returned from this cruise on the Star Breeze and really enjoyed it. We have also cruised twice on the Windstar and it is a great ship, you will love it. We have had deck 1and deck 2 when we were upgraded, but there is really not much difference. You need to work out if the drinks package is worth it for you, depending on how much you like to drink. We like the convenience of not worrying about a bar bill at the end of the cruise. The beach barbecue was fun and the deck barbecue was exceptional as usual. The staff are wonderful and cannot do enough for you on any of the ships we have been on. I would second the Manuel Antonio Nature Walk. Our guide was exceptional, and we also saw 3 species of monkeys, sloths, iguanas, raccoons, and tiny deer. We would have missed most of these without the eagle eyes of our guide. We also did the dolphin watch cruise which was a fun sail, and we saw lots of dolphins up close. We did the Monkey watch tour from Balboa, which was interesting as you go out onto Gatun Lake in a fairly small covered speedboat. A very different perspective from a large cruise ship! It was weird when a large ship came into sight and were were in our tiny boat! Some people took a taxi into Panama City which is very close, but complained the traffic was bad. Our itinerary was the reverse of yours, and we had three nights pre-cruise in San Jose and three in Panama City. We stayed in Casco Viejo (the old town) in Panama which is a fascinating world heritage site, and worth a longer stay. Uber’s were easy and cheap there to get around. We pre-booked our transfer from Colon to Panama City with Amber Moon Taxis who communicated with us very well, and their driver was on time at the cruiseport and very friendly. Any more questions please ask and I will do my best to answer them.
  4. Thanks so much Ski Mom 2 for the recommendation for Las Clementinas! We really loved the lovely huge apartment and the location, right in the heart of the Old Town. We felt really safe walking around, even at night, and enjoyed seeing how the area is still being rejuvenated. There is such a contrast between the quite clinical new part of town and the vibrant old town. Many lovely restaurants and rooftop bars. Panama City was a very interesting place to visit. Easy access by Uber to Miraflores locks. Uber was easy and cheap to travel around and to the airport.
  5. Sorry Griller, I meant waxed paper straws! And I remember glass milk bottles at school too. I don’t need straws either, although I appreciate some people may want them. I have decided to tell the bar staff on board I do not want a plastic straw in future.
  6. We are currently on the Costa Rica and Panama Canal Cruise, which is wonderful so far. However as a passenger from the UK I am surprised that in Costa Rica generally, and on the Star Breeze, the use of plastic straws and single use plastic water bottles are still widespread, given the emphasis on conservation and ecologically sustainable practices. Windstar have pioneered the use of glass water containers in the cabins. Perhaps they could consider using reusable water bottels when on shore excursions? Plastic straws are being outlawed in the UK in favour of waxed plastic ones which are biodegradable.
  7. Masterty, if you like a drink and get the drinks package, our experience is that the bar waiters will soon find you and ensure you are well served after the first day! We would often sit down for lunch for example, and find our favourite beer suddenly appearing without even asking. I think you’ll be fine wherever you are on the ship. if you are sitting in an out of the way spot on deck, just go to the nearest bar and let them know where you are, and they will keep you refreshed, in our experience.
  8. We booked the 7 day cruise in April on the Star Breeze on a ‘one week sale’ plus our alumni 5% discount for $1718 each plus taxes etc. We have just been upgraded from a cabin on the lowest deck to a (french) balcony cabingmon deck six. It is our fourth Windstar cruise and first ever substantial upgrade to very happy. The current price is $1699 so has not reduced very much since then. We have just been offered an ‘all inclusive package’ of prepaid gratuities, Internet, laundry and premium drinks package (which we would usually get) at a discount too, which seems good value if you usually get all these things. we have also sailed on the Windstar twice, and Star Legend, and loved both. Will try and post a review after we return.
  9. Can anyone help me with this please? I need to know whether Star Breeze docks at Cristobal or Colon 2000 apparently for the taxi company we have booked a transfer with. We are sailing in January 2019. Thanks for any help.
  10. We have done three Windstar cruises and have booked a fourth. Would highly recommend the laundry package, particularly if you have any pre-cruise days. Very quick and personal service from your room steward. We also,got the laundry package on a cruise with Holland America but all our clothes came back with annoying laundry stickers on them and some clothes a bit damaged. Not the same level of service.
  11. Thanks for all the extra advice! Yes our transit is definitely daylight. We have booked Las Clementinas in Panama, as we would like to experience local life, and it looks lovely. Thanks for the recommendation. We will look at some of the excursions recommended.
  12. I don’t understand the reference to not getting the 5% alumni discount. We are due to take our fourth Windstar cruise and have always been given this, even when booking heavily discounted fares. We have also been given the 5% early booking discount, when you book a cruise shortly after returning from one, and the OBC for recommending a friend. This was even though our friends were only due to pay their final payment (when the OBC becomes payable) DURING our cruise. Again, if the price dropped before our final payment, when we asked, our price was reduced. We have never had a problem with Windstar not honouring what it promised. We have cruised on many other lines, shore excursions are always more expensive when booked with them. In Alaska with Holland America we paid £300 for two of us on some excursions. The fact they are exclusive to Windstar guests is a fair point.
  13. we have just booked our fourth Windstar cruise on the Star Breeze from Puerto Caldera to Colon, with a few days in San Jose and Panama either side. Can anyone help with the following: Hotel recommendations for either city? Things to do while there? Should we book hotels through Windstar or independently? Ditto transfers? What excursions do people recommend at each port? I think the beach barbecue is on Isla Parida. Which night is the deck barbecue? Many thanks for any advice!
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