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Let's talk Costa Rica

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A new itineray and it's been kind of slow on the boards lately, so hopefully we can come up with some duscussions.

 

Anyone been to Costa Rica and have any suggestions? Anyone else booked and made any plans?

 

We're booked on the Jan. 9, 2011 Costa Rica/Panama itinerary for my 60th on the 11th.

 

We've got our air booked on Continental going in on the 8th. We're spending that night at Villa Caletas which is between Caldera & Jaco. We will spend the night of the 16th there also when we return. Have arranged all our transfers through Odyssey Tours. They have been very easy to work with and have been highly recommended on Trip Advisor. If you are starting your planning, one thing to keep in mind that it usually takes 24 -48 hours for anyone in Costa Rica to respond.

 

Mike

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Hi Mike,

We are going to think about that trip. Haven't been there. We will be on the Royal on the Lisbon to Barbados leg in Oct/Nov 2010. We like to head south in January --it gets cold in our part of Florida. We probably will not book it real far in advance---but I need to do some research to get a feel for it! I'll watch this thread. :cool:

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That would give you a month to get your sea legs back and the swaying to stop:D

 

There is really a lot of things to research for the trip...lots of options. One thing we discovered real quick....January is not a good time for cheap airfares. Maybe it will get better the closer it gets.There was one day a couple of weeks ago that the airfare dropped & we jumped on it.

 

Mike

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Hi Mike and Kim, I have booked with a buddy for the Dec 5 (2010) Star Flyer trip from Costa Rica to Nicaragua and back, figured we would be on their second trip north so hopefully they will know the best spots for snorkling, etc.

 

My friend Jenny (she is a sailing virgin as it were,,,) and I are both turning 60 in Nov and we found some good AA frequent flyer tickets so got them (they were going fast, we booked about 2 months ago before I started on the Transpacific crossing). We are going down on Nov 30th, think that is a Tuesday after Thanksgiving,, then no idea what we are doing until we get on the ship on what, Sat or Sunday? Then we have a few days at the end as well. Ed and Sue (on Transpacific thread - BajaEd) have just spent 10 days in Costa Rica, and have been before, so will definitely talk to Sue about thei most recent experience, she said they had stayed in suburb of Escazu (Iscazu??) which I saw in the guidebooks at a little nice colonial style hotel the last time, good for day trips, so we may do that. I know they were in beachside apt. this time, for at least a portion of their trip.

 

Mike, am interested in your transfers, as we don't want to rent a car,, so if you can share more about that please do! Thinking from San Jose area to Punta Arenas area or Puerto Caldera (there is an all inclusive Double Tree resort close to Puerto Caldera I think, sounded good for a day or two before the ship,, maybe using Hilton points,,,) but in general Sue indicated Punta Arenas is not a great scenic place to hang around. I need to look more at the ports of call on the ship itinerary (the link is there, I think, on their website, was looking at Venice to Rome last night, thinking hard about it for this July,,,).

 

Mike, if you and your partner ever want to meet up, my buddy Rhena sails frequently on the Star CLippers (short sails only) and Jenny will be coming in Nov, and me of course, would be fun to meet up over margs and compare stories,,, I live in central Austin, just north of UT, and work downtown, so could meet up somewhere handy for you all,,, we could start the Central Texas Star Clippers fan club!! Give me a day or two notice (and I am in Hong Kong Ap 15-23, surprise business trip,, good I have not put away the suitcases yet from the Transpacific crossing,, although the clothing selection will be a bit different,,,).

 

Lets keep sharing ideas,, I know friends of mine have done the zip lining, mud baths at volcano spa, white water rafting, etc.. and Sue mentioned coffee plantation and I think the butterfly farm,, reading lots,, and really looking for a nice Pacific beach to spend a few days laying around on before boarding ship,, (Jaco sounded good till I looked and many highrises,,),, so will look forward to more posts as people get more research done. Talk to you all later, Happy Easter,, Gail

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Just read some nasty reviews on the Double Tree at Puerto Caldera, but will keep on checking for hotels close to the ship dock,,, Gail

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Hi Gail!

 

We've been all over the map on the hotel. Star Clipper right now is only offering a pre cruise 2day at either the Intercontinental Real or a cute eco lodge in Monteverde. We're only doing one day pre & one day post, so that wouldn't work and I really didn't like either of the choices anyway. Then we started looking at the Doubletree....waited a little too long and the rate went from $199 to $289, but booked anyway. So then we decided we would do our post night there and spend our pre night at a more local style hotel. Looked at Costa del Sol, which is right in Caldera, Hotel Tioga and Hotel las Brisas which are both in the town of Puntarenas. We were ready to make reservations at las Brisas(we were fond of that name because we stayed at las Brisas in Acupulco for our honeymoon) when we heard back from Villa Caletas that they do allow single night stays. It's a little more than the Doubletree, but the more we looked at the pics & reviews of the hotel, the more we couldn't say no.....damn the money, full speed ahead. In fact we confirmed with them just before I started typing this. And about the Doubletree, the reviews are all over the place. Really good, really bad & everywhere in between!

 

On the Transfers, we are using Odyssey Tours. They will pick us up at the airport and take us to the hotel.Then pick us up there & take us to the port. Of course, it will be reversed on the return. If you are only going from the airport to Caldera, it's $100/couple. Same on the return. Actually, it would be the same if we had three couples because you have a private shuttle...maybe we will meet up with some others so we can split the costs. Odyssey has been very easy to work with. With the new tollway(CR is getting just like Austin) it cuts travel time between San Jose & the coast considerably. Actually, if you have the time and are traveling light, there is one other option that I think would be a blast..we're taking our scuba gear so we aren't traveling too light:) They have a train(think the one that goes to Burnet) that goes from San Jose to Caldera and takes you through some beautiful countryside. It is also dirt cheap. Takes about 4hrs.

 

From what I understand, the ship is going to offer Ziplining and Whitewater rafting as excursions. You're going at the perfect time for the WW....the rivers should be flowing then....they start dropping off in January to class II/III as opposed to classIV rapids.....course we're probably better suited to the easier ones anyway! The Zipline in the area that seems to get the best reviews is at the Adventure Park/Hotel Vista Golfo(another hotel we considered) which is about 10 miles from the Doubletree towards Monteverde. The waterfall course is 25 lines and pretty dramatic.

 

Would love to meet up sometime. Connie has a salon downtown & I'm only about 15 minutes away, so maybe we could meet up at El Arroyo or someplace similar when you get back from Hong Kong.

 

Mike

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Wow,

Y'all have posted a lot of info in the past few posts. We are watching. Maybe we can cruise TX this fall and meet upwith you! :o

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Come on down.... But, you'll need a land yacht to cruise Texas! One thing that has been little depressing is how the available cruises out of Houston/Galveston have dwindled. It would be great if Star Clipper started their Yucatan itinerary again.....base it in Cozumel or Belize City.

 

We can only dream;)

 

Mike

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Mike - thanks for all the info on hotels and transport,, when are you all flying down (might be we stay in San Jose area long enough to share transport with you,, time will tell)?? This gives me lots of options to look up,, I would love to use some Hilton points on their CR properties, but not if a mold heap,,which some of the Doubletree reports sounded like!! And the return we may be able to share transport as well, I forget if we fly out Tues or Wed, but figured we would haed back to San Jose area after a day of laying around...following disembarking,, so you are confirmed at Doubletree for the first night off the ship?? That hotel was dirt cheap when I first started looking at it, and I agree, rates jumped (ratings did not tho...). Usually what the ship offers are way too high dollar (much higher price than if you booked the same hotel yourself!!), don't understand that, but oh well.

 

Lets do meet up, I work right downtown, next to city hall,, so after 23rd of April, lets make a plan. Kim, just let us know when you all sail into Austin,, ha!! talk to you all later, Happy Easter, hope the bunny is good to you!! Gail

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Duh, you all are not on the same cruise that I am,, so of COURSE we cannot share transport,, ha,, I am losing it,, oh well,, but still very good info,, if we find someone else on our cruise we can share with them maybe!! Must be a 6 week of vacation, only 1.5 weeks back using the brain, deep fog I am in!!! later, Gail

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Still have the reservation at Doubletree, was waiting to get confirmation from Villa Caletas...which we did yesterday. Just need to cancel now. We will spend both the pre & post night at Caletas. The pre hotel wasn't too bad....just under $600/PP for two nights, transfers and a day tour. Seems like it was a San Jose tour for the Real and a coffee plantation on the lodge in Monteverde. We're still saving around $300 and I think a nicer hotel.

 

Mike

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We did a B/B out of Athens on the Star Clipper in May 2009. We really enjoyed the vessel.

We are booked for a B/B for Dec 5 & Dec 12 for the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. I have been looking at the Delta Air out of Atlanta. We may have to arrive the night before. We are also thinking about the eco-lodge pre-cruise.

Has anyone priced the transfer from the vessel back to San Jaun, CR?

 

Looking forward to the trip.

We will soon leave for our Danube River cruise from Budapest with the add-on Istanbul.

 

I will be checking for any updates on the Star Clipper transfers for December.

 

MSEm2

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Most of the transport companies we've checked with are between $100/120 for the trip from Caldera to the airport or San Jose. One thing to keep in mind if you are staying in San Jose....the airport isn't actually in San Jose. It's about 25-30 miles to the Southwest, so you'll need to figure that transfer cost also. These are the prices we have gotten from Odyssey:

Airport to Caldera: $100

Airport to Puntarenas or Doubletree; $115

Puntarenas/Doubletree to Caldera: $15

Airport to Jaco:$120

Jaco to Caldera: $90

The prices would be the same going the opposite directions. Keep in mind that you are securing private transport, so these prices are good for 2-6 people...not per person.

 

One other thing, this is a link to some interesting info for planning we found while researching the Hotel Costa del Sol. We ended up not using their services, but I still kind of like this hotel. Felt it would have given a real down to earth Costa Rica experience.....I think we just weren't ready to totally commit to that yet:) It is right next to the port though.

http://www.1-costaricalink.com/hotels_puntarenas_costa_rica/hotel_costa_del_sol_costa_rica.htm

 

Mike

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Mike, thanks for all the good info. I want to investigate that train ride too, I like trains!!

 

MSEm2 - sounds like we are on the same trip, at least the Dec 5 leg,, so will stay in touch,, lots of planning to do, I imagine since we are flying in Nov 30 we will spend at least 2 mights down in the Puerto Caldera area,, well, at least 1,,, but keep in touch,, will write more as we make decisions, Gail

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Just found an interesting thread over on Trip Advisor....I had posted this link in an earlier response, and apparently they are NOT a firm to be dealing with. Good for research, but don't book anything through them. They also operate under Discovery Travel World.

 

http://www.1-costaricalink.com/hotel...costa_rica.htm

 

Mike

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Hey Mike! My hubby & I were just discussing going back on SC and we are contemplating the CR/Nic itinerary for Thanksgiving week this year. :D It seems like forever since I have been on a cruise! :eek:

 

Karen

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Tempus Fugit!

 

Hard to believe it has been 7 months since the Grenadines and almost 2 years since Tahiti...year & a half for you. It was hard deciding which itinerary to do for CR, but it really boiled down to wanting to be aboard on my birthday. Plus, the diving is supposed to be awesome at Cano & Coiba. Maybe this trip we'll finally get to see some whales too.

 

Mike

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Is that the Panama or Nicaragua leg?

 

Now the fun begins....all the transportation & lodging plans:)

 

Keep us posted on your progress.

 

Mike

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Hey Mike, sorry have been silent, too much work, not enough fun! Was wondering if you want to arrange a happy hour in the next couple of weeks, I think that Wed or Thurs would probably work well for us here, maybe not this week but the following week? I work right downtown by City Hall, as does Jenny (or at home, depending on the day) and Rhena up at 183 and I35, you said your partner has a salon downtown? Was thinking maybe something close to central but let me know what you think,, lots of the odwntown places have 1/2 price happy hour appetizers and drink specials,, and let me know if that week works for you (Rhena in Europe so will confirm with her after this Sat or Sun,,,), looking forward to meeting you all, thinking maybe 6PM or so?? I admit, have progressed no further on Costa Rica research,,, Gail

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My better half will be off to Grand Cayman next week for her annual 'Girls' trip. 8 girls with nothing but time on their hands...should be fun for them. Cozumel in August is my consolation prize. Maybe the following week we can put something together.

 

I'm planned out....did finally get around to canceling the Doubletree reservation, so Villa caletas it is.. My Star Clipper brochure is about worn out and all I can think about is whitewater, ziplines & the salty breeze in my face.....just wish it was January....I'm tired of summer here already!

 

Mike

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Hey Mike, no problem waiting a week or 2 or 3! I will talk with Rhena and Jenny and see if the following week (week of 21st?) works for them,, and let me know likewise, talk to you soon (and I know, you can only plan so much,, ), Gail

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Sounds good! I've finally came up with something that has taken my mind off the trip a bit.....Formula 1 coming to Austin. Been to two F1 races & was thinking of booking the Flyer for the Monaco Grand prix cruise this year, but it didn't work out. About that, I was looking at the brochures for that cruise & it was a 4 day out of Canne on the 22nd, with Monaco on the 23rd, but noticed the race was on the 16th....wonder if they changed that after the brochures were printed. I imagine there would have been some angry people if they showed up a week late:eek:

 

Mike

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Hi Mike, at least 2 of us Austinites are good for Wed or Thurs next week, 23rd or 24th, 6:45-7:00PM somewhere around downtown. Checking with our third for her preferred, I think she can do either as well. Name a place, we can do El Arroyo if that is good (we figure ability to park being a key issue anywhere, so name a spot you like). talk to you soon, Gail

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I'll check with Connie, but sounds good to me. Her shop is within a block of El Arroyo, so it would be convenient. By then she should be recovered from her trip.

 

Mike

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Mike, the Austin team is good for either Wed or Thurs night at 6:45-7 at el Arroyo,, so pick the night and let me know, I will spread the word,, guess someone will have to wear their sailing tshirts to recognize each other,, or just that longing to be on the sea look!! Looking forward to meeting you all, Gail

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If you will allow me to jump in here, I have been to Costa Rica twice on the Wind Star, including last January...and I want to let you all know if you are just thinking about it: GO! The SC cruise seems like it will be similar to what WS has been doing, and in Costa Rica, you just can't go wrong. This is a beautiful, friendly country with so much to see and do, right up close with nature.

 

If you are looking for a cruise that includes shopping, big towns, restaurants and casinos, you most likely will not find it ON this cruise....but you CAN get that if you allow time before and/or after your cruise. You also will get a better chance to enjoy the really friendly CR people!

 

We used two tour operators to get us around: Odyssey to get from ship to port after our trip and Coach Costa Rica at the beginning of our stay. We were in CR for a full day prior to our trip (it was supposed to be 2 days, but that's another story) and we had set up with CCR to take us touring, and it was fantastic!! Ask for Roiner (roy-ner) as your driver. We visited a working coffee plantation, butterfly farm, had a traditional CR lunch, etc. And lots of fun touring and information! Then he took us straight TO the ship. CCR has an agreement with the docks to allow them to do this. If you use another tour operation, check to see if they have the ok to drive right up to the ship. If not, you will have a very long walk, dragging your luggage in yourself. Our entire day with CCR cost $125 for the two of us, lunch extra, but including drop off at the ship. We deemed it well worth it. We made our arrangements with Patricia at CCR, and told her Roiner had been recommended.

 

One thing we have found, let people know they were recommended by others on Cruise Critic. It never hurts, and it sure can help.

 

We didn't make arrangements for pick-up after our cruise, because we figured we would have new friends by then and we all could share a trip to airport. That's what we did, and we ended up on Odyssey. Cost was $40 a couple for 2 couples.

 

If you are going to CR in January....weather can be a problem. I noted above that we planned to be in CR for 2 days/2 nights prior to sailing. But weather was so bad trying to land late at night that AA sent the plane to Nicaragua and put everyone up in two gorgeous hotels. We finally got to CR about noon the next day. AA not only took care of hotels and meals, but also gave us 5000 miles extra each!

 

Weather in CR was fantastic, but once onboard, the winds picked up again, and our ship never got to Nicaragua. Captain deemed it unsafe and turned Wind Star around and headed south, and he found another place to visit in CR. So we were the only ones on our cruise who actually got to Nicaragua!

 

We stayed in a hotel in San Juan, with a really hokey name but traditional beautifully tropical and within two historic buildings that have been connected. Are you ready for it?? Hotel Dunn Inn. Has a great restaurant that is so tropical, good food, fun people. But before you consider it, ask them if the work on a casino next door is done. When we were there, we had to ask for a room change because ours was right next to all the jackhammering. Hotel folks were very accommodating. They also didn't charge us for the night we didn't get to stay there (our night in Nicaragua). And they have airport shuttles and Internet connection (but slow).

 

Hopefully, Star Clipper will offer lots of fun shore excursions: zipping through the trees with the monkeys chattering at you, mangrove riverboat trip, horseback riding on the beach, river rafting...all great fun. But be aware, no dive trips, and snorkeling is ok but not great because the waters in the Pacific in that area are usually too churned up.

 

We have cruised all over the Caribbean, plus Panama and Costa Rica, and I can truly say that CR is my favorite. And doing it via a tall-ship, well it just can't be beat!

 

Have fun, you guys!!

Sailor JM in San Diego

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Thanks for the info SJM! Surprised to hear about the weather issues in January...figured that would be one of the safer times. Also, did you sail out of Puntarenas or Caldera? gail is doing the CR/Nicaragua leg & we are doing the CR/Panama leg, so between the two of us, we'll cover it all:D

 

Gail....that sea look is the same as a two margarita look there, so we may be in trouble. I figure I'll have my Tommy Bahama shirt on that is Sunset Orange with Nautical Flags on the back...should be easy to spot. Connie will probably be in fashionable black...the color of choice for stylists:p Wed will probably be the night...still need to get confirmation.

 

Mike

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That was a freak weather situation, we have been told. Last January, you may recall, is when that horrific frozen storm came out of Canada and slashed south through the US and caused lots of problems....especially in Florida.

 

Costa Rica is south of New Orleans, and well, the wild wind that was part of that storm just kept on heading south (wind, but not the cold). CR actually had to close the airport for awhile....right after our pilot aborted our landing when plane was pitching side to side. That was one scary almost-landing. Then came the night our ship tried to reach port in Nicaragua. It was about 1:30am when the wind blasted thru again. Captain's wind gauge (I'm sure there is a nautical term for it!) showed the winds at hurricane force! 109mph when he decided to turn the ship around. They took a photo of the gauge and printed it for us all the next day. Captain and crew did a great job! Lost some awnings and deck chairs, but that was all. Amazingly, my husband and I slept right through it...and rest of the trip was fantastic.

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Mike, yep, see you at El Arroyo Wed 6:45-7:00, I am tall and sort of blond and the Rhena and Jenny are shorter with dark and gray hair respectively,,,, see ya down there.

 

SailorJM, thanks for the info,, every little bit helps! Gail

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We are looking at the CR cruise on Feb. 6. Is anyone else? We plan to spend the week prior to the cruise in the Monteverde area (been there twice before and love it!). After the cruise we'll spend a few days in the San Jose area. We are hoping to be able to share transfer from the port back to SJ with some fellow cruisers.

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I am considering the Costa Rica cruise Jan 2012....never too early to plan.

Having been on all three Star Clipper ships I know how great they are.

I did do a week hotel stay in Costa Rica a while back......and must tell you....zip line, zip line, zip line!!!!!!!

Hope you all post comments on your trip ....especially the transfer issues to Puerto Caldera......

Have overdosed on big ships...time to return to something, small, fun and more physical activities.

Thanks

Tom

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Thanks SailorJM for the tip about Coach Costa Rica. It will be my first time in Costa Rica & I'm looking forward to it. We're flying in late Friday for a Sunday sailing-- using points for the San Jose Marriott. Anyone have suggestions for how to spend that short amount of time?

 

We'll take your recommendation for the Coach Costa Rica to transfer from San Jose to the ship. Again, what would be a few interesting spots to stop at along the way?

 

I'd hope to stay for another week post cruise in Monteverde, but the lodging options are all booked. Another time perhaps.

 

Anyone else on this sailing?

Bev

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I did talk to Rachel at Miami office, and she said they are offering transfers to and from Intercontinental in San Jose for 50 bucks each way,, we may do that on the return,, take the train on the way down since we have plenty of time (Dec 5 sail) as we fly in on Nov 30th,,, still have not nailed down the hotels ,,, but getting closer. Gail

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Jim and I are booked on the Dec 5 and Dec 12 sailing.

We did a B/B out of Athens in May 2009. This will be our second trip to Costa Rica. First was in Dec 2001. We did a 2 night pre tour before a Canal transit.

Still need to get our air in/out of Atlanta.

 

MSEm

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We have gone ahead and booked Villa Caletas for 3 nights prior to Dec 5 Star Flyer sail out of Puerta Caldera. If anyone else is staying there pre-cruise and wants to share transport from hotel to Caldera on Sunday, let me know! I will look for the Rollcall post you put out, NoeHill,, (and MSEm), will have to meet up once we get on board, always nice to know of folks going on!

 

On disembarking, we will probably take the ship transport to San Jose Intercontinental, where we will stay for 3 days before heading back to Austin. Again, if anyone wants to share transport, I think we can get a van for 100. US for the entire van rather than 50. each on the ship transport. Talk to you all on the other post but will ck back here as well.

 

Now I want to book something for spring,,, Gail

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Copy Cat:D VC really does look great doesn't it. It seemed like the trip was so far away not too long ago & now we're down to just over 4 months. I had to look up when I needed to send payment to VC....couldn't remember if it was 30 days or 90.

 

We ended up getting some friends of our's from Maine to join us...should be fun to share the memories.

 

Mike

Edited by budaman

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Mike,

 

Just booked the Jan 9th sailing with my husband, so now I am working on airfare and pre/post trip reservations. Do you plan to create a Roll Call for this sailing?

 

Peggy

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