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new_cruiser

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About new_cruiser

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Sacramento, California
  • Interests
    Small ship cruising and small group tours.
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Windstar

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  1. new_cruiser

    Costa Rica and Panama Canal - advice please

    Thanks for the recommendation. Vincent was great. We did an evening walking tour with him in Panama City. He met us at the hotel and took us on the bus to the start of the pedestrian street Avenida Central where we walked to Casco Viejo. The next day he picked us up from our hotel and drove us to Portobello to see the customs house (the Caribbean end of the route that the Spanish used for moving gold from the Pacific to the Caribbean through Panama), fortifications and church. There was some time left before we needed to be on the ship we took the car ferry to see the land side of the Gatun dam than back on the car ferry to Colon 2000 to board the ship. There was a lot of road work going on in Colon near the dock so it was a bit difficult finding the way to the ship but he handled that fine.
  2. The sports platform is operational. It was open one day on our 2 Jan 2019 cruise.
  3. new_cruiser

    Costa Rica and Panama Canal - motion sickness

    We got back home last night. Most of the time, the motion on the ship was mild. There were a few short periods when there was enough roll going on to make it difficult to walk a totally straight line, but the nature of the motion didn't make me feel internally uncomfortable and I didn't take any of the Bonine or ginger pills that I'd brought along just in case. All the ports other than the embarkation and debarkation were tendered. Most of the tendered ports were wet landings. Balboa and Quepos were tenders to a dock (i.e. dry landings). Bahai Drake was zodiacs to a dock so a dry landing much of the time, but we were warned that at low tide it can be a wet landing as it can be too shallow for the zodiac to get to the dock (it was dry at the times I used the dock). There was enough motion in two of the ports that one had to time stepping from the ship on to the tender as the tender bounced up and down. The marina was open in Puerto Jimenez so it is working. They had said it might open in Bahai Herradura, but it didn't. That was one of the days where there was a lot of chop boarding the tenders so it may have been too rough for the marina. I had Keen water sandals for the wet landings. I think I'd get aqua socks / dive booties for future wet landings. The problem with the sandals was that sometimes a lot of sand or pebbles would get into the sandal between my feet and the sole. The pebbles made walking uncomfortable and the sand had to be cleaned away before switching to socks and hiking shoes. For sandy or tiny pebble landings, I might as well been barefoot. The people with the dive booties didn't have that problem.
  4. new_cruiser

    Single use plastic on Windstar

    It seems possible that there is a difference between the water bottles in the suites and the pitchers in the dining rooms. It could be a difference in washability or because the pitchers are handled only by staff. Since they changed the glass bottles to plastic when we started the the Alaska segment of the Pacific crossing plus Alaska cruise Star Collector, I believe them when they said that they did it because of the US requirements (at least as they understood them).
  5. new_cruiser

    Government Shutdown?

    We returned to the US through IAH today. We are Global Entry and that went quickly as usual. Today was the first time I've had to answer 'yes' to one of the customs questions (we toured a chocolate farm and a coffee farm in Costa Rica). When I gave the agent my form from the kiosk he asked about the item and I said I'd visited the farms. He said okay, accepted the form and sent me on my way. TSA went, if anything, faster than usual. After customs, there was a path for those connecting with carry-on luggage only. We didn't need to show ID and boarding pass (that's new). There was a dog checking as we passed through the line (presumably sniffing for explosives since this was after clearing customs). The screening was like TSA-pre for everyone (shoes & light jackets kept on, only metal out of pockets, through the metal detector) except they said to take laptops & tablets out of our bags. There was a significant line but the kept it moving at a fast clip. I wonder if the changes were to run with lower staffing.
  6. new_cruiser

    Single use plastic on Windstar

    On Star Legend last May, we had refillable glass bottles in the stateroom for the crossing from Japan to Alaska, but for the Alaska cruise, they took them out and had plastic water bottles instead. They said that in the US, they had to do that due to US regulations. Perhaps Star Pride in December was somewhere with a similar issue? They always offer plastic water bottles for excursions, but you don't have to take one. I use a hydration bladder in my pack. For the Panama & Costa Rica cruise on Wind Star that I just finished, I'd put in a couple of scoops of ice from the server at the new Yacht Club coffee area in the lounge. Nice cool water to drink & it made the pack cooler to wear in the heat. Multiple people in my cruise we're concerned about the straws too.
  7. I wasn't on your cruise. My comment was about the current cruise which started Jan 2. The port they are dropping is Pearl Islands, not Isla Parida.
  8. I'm on the current cruise. They told us at the start that they are taking Pearl Islands for all the cruises because the anchorage is too exposed resulting in water that's too rough to run excursions. We are spending an extra day at Balboa instead. They added excursions for Friday evening and a couple of repeats of excursions for Saturday. But the didn't get enough sign-ups by the end of our boarding day so they cancelled the one we wanted on Friday evening and the one that we wanted to switch to Saturday. There were only a few hours for people to find out about the schedule change and new excursions. I don't feel that they handled the timing well. They did have free drinks at the Star Bar part of the evening & a couple bof free wines at dinner.
  9. new_cruiser

    no survey from Windstar after Star Pride cruise

    If you don't get an invite let them know at the registration desk and they'll give you one.
  10. new_cruiser

    Costa Rica and Panama Canal - motion sickness

    I'll let you know how our trip goes. We board Wind Star tommorow!!! We did Spanish Serenade spring 2017. In our case, we had pretty smooth sailing from Lisbon to Gibraltar. We had more motion from Malaga to Porta de Mallorca - not terrible but a lot of chop. There was too much wind for us to get into Al Meria so the captain kept the ship at Malaga an extra day. So I guess you never know.
  11. new_cruiser

    Government Shutdown?

    We went through Sacramento airport today (on our way to Panama City for our first Panama Canal & Costa Rica cruise 😁). The check in desk area was extremely crowded ( we weren't able to get our boarding passes on line), so it was a busy time & didn't bode well for the security line. However, when we got upstairs, the lines were short and moving well. Staffing seemed to be at normal level. Our interactions we're brief as we were TSA pre-check, but I saw an agent helping someone traveling with two little kids to get their stuff from over to one of the benches. Didn't seem to be any attitude issues.
  12. new_cruiser

    Totems in Ketchikan

    The taxi that dropped us off at Totem Bight gave us a card so we could call to have them come back if needed and that's what we ended up doing. When we were there, we didn't see any taxis hanging out to pick up fares. I'd recommend that you either arrange with the driver to return for you at a specific time or have a number to call. We had decent cell service there. We had walked around town and visited the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center before going out to Totem Bight. At that point, we hadn't seen any taxis queued for fares near the port so we asked about taxis at the Discovery Center desk and they gave us a number to call. A taxi picked us up within a few minutes (my husband had just enough time to go across the street and by a mocha to feed his addiction before it arrived). If you want to be more prepared than us, you might get a couple of taxi company numbers beforehand.
  13. new_cruiser

    Totems in Ketchikan

    Is the funicular back in operation? It was out of service when we visited August 2017 and May 2018. At that point, I asked what was up at a nearby store and was told that there was a problem getting the parts needed to repair it so there was no estimate on when, or even if, it would be back in service.
  14. new_cruiser

    Totems in Ketchikan

    We took a taxi to Totem Bight. You can take the public bus, but it takes longer (due to stops) and we wanted to maximize what we saw.
  15. new_cruiser

    Costa Rica and Panama Canal - advice please

    Sb44, who was the private guide that you used for the transfer from Panama City to Colon? I'm trying to figure that one out now.
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