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budaman

Let's talk Costa Rica

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Forgot to add, when I researched the train it looked like it was no longer in service. If it IS back in service now, I think the docs said they wanted you onboard by 10PM, so I bet we sail at midnight. Train could be fun if it is available!

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We will be doing a back to back Starting Dec 5 and ending on Dec 19.

 

What is the expected high/low temperature range for the shore trips?

 

How much is the departure tax. I know I do NOT want to use a credit card (It's a Cash Advance).

 

Is there someplace at the San Jose AirPort to get a light lunch and beverages?

 

Any shore trips not to miss or some TO MISS?

 

Thanks,

MSEm

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You back yet Sassy?

 

Gail & a bunch of others are fixin to go......:D

 

And here I sit for another 40 days:(

 

Anyone notice they deleted the Costa Rica shore excursions from the SC website...wonder if they are making adjustments.

 

Mike

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You back yet Sassy?

Got back late Monday night. First stop was to the Urgent Care because I came down with a bad case of "Itis" on Wednesday (of the trip :mad:). Didn't totally ruin the trip for me, but didn't make it the best either. :(

 

I think there are still a few bugs to work out on the Costa Rica itineraries as it is brand new for everyone. Some of the excursions were cancelled as well as one of the port days (Friday). The swells were pretty big and it would have been too dangerous for tenders/zodiacs so the Captain decided to pull up anchor and head on over to Isla Tortuga (Saturday).

 

Anyway, I just want everyone to be prepared for WET LANDINGS at the stops. The ship does not dock anywhere, at least on the CR/Nic itinerary. You will tender or use zodiacs, and sometimes will be hopping out into the water at the beach. Just FYI everyone! :)

 

I think the highlight of the trip for us was going to Nicaragua. We skipped the shorex with the boat and hired a couple of local guys to drive us around in their little van. They were awesome! If anyone is interested, I will dig out their email address. We had 6 people in one van for $300/entire day. They drove us over to Granada and gave us a personal tour and we all ate the local food at the town square. They even kept us safe from The Banditos :eek: and I'm not kidding!!! Great guys, Francisco and Marvin.

 

I really enjoyed ziplining and the little surf town at Playa del Coco. We even saw those monkeys that Costa Rica is famous for ;)

 

We had lots of passengers on our week that were doing the B2B from the week before. They had complained that it rained the entire time in the previous week, and that there had been no diving. We had SUPER weather on our week and there was diving available with the [All-Swedish] sports team!! I would advise you to just be aware of the possibility for rain.

 

Speaking of sports teams...I finally climbed the mast! In fact, I was the first up to the top :p and I also went out on the net a few times up front. These were things I didn't do the last time so I am thankful that I got to experience them.

 

If you have questions....ask away! I will try to answer to the best of my ability.

 

Karen

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Thanks Karen!

 

One reason we booked for Jan.(besides being a birthday cruise) was Nov. & Dec. are the ends of the rainy season.....they have been experiencing heavier than normal rain this year though. Been watching Survivor Nicaraugua & it seems like it has been pouring most of the time.

 

Wonder if the same bunch of guys on the Sports team were in Tahiti....I remember one was Tommy. I'll have to pull out the daily briefs & check names. Hopefully scuba will be possible in January.

 

Is "itis" the same as "REVENGE" in Mexico? That can sure mess up a trip....pun intended!

 

Did they have a Pirate's Night aboard? Aaaargh!

 

Great that you climbed the mast & went out on the net.....that is one of the highlights of the trip.

 

I had heard that Playa del Coco was a neat little town. We had actually planned on going up & checking some property there, but ended up buying a little place in Cozumel...closed on it last week.

 

Glad you had a good time overall.....I'm sure I'll think of some more questions soon.

 

Mike

Edited by budaman

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The sports team consisted of Frederick, Viktor, and Christopher. All Swedish, but different from the Swedes on our Tahiti cruise.

 

Thankfully I didn't experience any "Montezuma's Revenge" ;) My Itis consists of sinusitis, bronchitis, and laryngitis.

 

They did have Pirate's Night, but that was the night I skipped dinner in the dining room. The ship's nurse brought me dinner to the room, which was very thoughtful.

 

I uploaded my pictures into the Photobucket:

 

http://s315.photobucket.com/albums/ll447/sassychassis73/STAR%20FLYER%202010/

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I'll have to check out the pics when I get home...websensed for photobucket at work:(

 

You did have a lot of "itis" Hope your feeling better.

 

Guess I'll have to pull out the pirate costume...at least it packs light!

 

I did notice that Axel is the Hotel Mgr. aboard. He has been on all three of our cruises now.

 

How was the cruise director?

 

I was hoping they would make some adjustments to the excursions before we go...there really wasn't much on our itinerary that looked like a must do. We'll see.

 

Look forward to seeing the pics tonight!

 

Mike

Edited by budaman

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Cruise director is Ximena from Mexico. She did the 3 languages, English, German and French. Seemed like a really nice young girl. Fantastic "Macarena" skills ;)

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Interesting...I believe she was to board the Royal Clipper soon after our Grenadines cruise last November. I remember the crew was really looking forward to a new, young female cruise director from Mexico. Maybe she gets along with Axel really well and goes where he goes.

 

Sure did take lots of pics! Great to see the dolphins...any whales?

 

Mike

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Interesting...I believe she was to board the Royal Clipper soon after our Grenadines cruise last November. I remember the crew was really looking forward to a new, young female cruise director from Mexico. Maybe she gets along with Axel really well and goes where he goes.

 

Sure did take lots of pics! Great to see the dolphins...any whales?

 

Mike

We did see some whales...but they were kind of far off...too far for pictures anyway!

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Got our Docs last night...guess this means we are really going.

 

Whooppiiiiiie!

 

Mike

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In case anyone is interested, I was able to get estimated port times for the CR/Panama itinerary.

 

Mike

 

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica

ETA 08.00 ETD 22.00

at sea

Isla Coiba, Panama

ETA 09.00 ETD 18.00

Golfito, Costa Rica

ETA 09.00 ETD 18.00

Isla El Caño, Costa Rica

ETA 08.00 ETD 13.00

Drake Bay, Costa Rica

ETA 15.00 o.n

Drake Bay, Costa Rica

ETD 06.00

Quepos, Costa Rica

ETA 13.00 ETD 22.00

Nat. reserve Curu, Costa Rica

ETA 08.00 ETD 12.00

Islas Tortugas, Costa Rica

ETA 14.00 o.n.

Islas Tortugas, Costa Rica

ETD 05.30

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica

ETA 08.00 ETD 22.00

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You back yet. Gail?

 

Figured your 3 days were up:D

 

Actually, you're probably flying back today.

 

Let us know how it was!

 

Mike

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Just came back from Costa Rica, full report here. Interesting trip. The ship was in good condition, lots of bartenders and cabin, restaurant crew that I knew from both the Flyer and the Clipper, as they had just moved a bunch of folks from the Clipper over to the Flyer. Herman was our restaurant manager, and our Hotel manager was Axel (new to me, but he left the day we left and Rolando was coming on board). Cabins and restaurant, bars all good. One day the bathroom got all stinky with sewer gas and they fixed that quickly, and one day the water turned nasty brown and was shut off for awhile, but they fixed that quickly too. Nice new shower stands by the swimming pools are a nice addition. Sails were in good shape, we sailed A LOT,, great winds, up to 30 + knots a lot of the time.

 

Captain was Mariusz, very nice guy, but his mates were basically not talking very much, same with ABS team, all from India and only Louis from the last few times on the Flyer. Seemed to be no offerings of sextant reading, passengers taking the wheel, etc. but the NET was ALWAYS OPEN!!! Mostly we sailed at night though, except the first day was all sailing, a great day that was!!

 

The cruise director was Ximena, from Mexico. This was week 3 of the Costa Rica weeks, and we went the northern route, which they had done once before, but they were very poorly organized for anything other than the excursions (which were almost all very long, like 8-10 hours (6 hours in a bus for 2 hours of tour), and very expensive, 60 or 80 Euros or so on many of them. I think folks really enjoyed some of them, the trip to Granada in Nicaragua, and the river float trips seemed to be well received. Ximena went over the excursions, but she spent more time telling us what they were NOT like, and what we would NOT like, or could NOT do, so it was an odd and confusing presentation, to me at least. It had rained a lot the first 2 weeks, so the people from the previous week had 4 days of solid rain, they were a bit cabin bound and happy to see the sun we had. We had good weather and great sailing, big winds, and no rain. I figure the offerings will be clearer once they do them a few more times and hopefully the sports team situation will improve with time also.

 

I did not take any excursions and thought the sports team would be running snorkling excursions, but that was not the case. Sports team was Frederick (diving,, that seemed pretty good, but I don't dive, did hear water was COLD and you had to go down some feet for clarity), and Victor and his sidekick Simon, who was new, but they did not offer much to customers other than their good looks and some zodiac driving. They told me in 15 days they would know where the good snorkling was, which did not help me. They had few onboard offerings, except morning exercise daily. One day they took out the laser sailboat and also did water skiing I think, out of 7 days. High winds prevented activities one day, and other days the excuse was the Zodiacs were in use for transporting folks for the tour groups, so generally we did not experience the beach type activities that we normally are used to.

 

The ship also had Yacko, new Marine Biologist from Barcelona, cute and trying to get knowledgeable to the surroundings, very good humor and he tried to accommodate requests. He was brand new the first day we were there. He took 2 snorkle groups out towards the end of the week, and also did diving, but the waters were not clear, they were very silty and dark, so snorkling was not good. This may be better in the southern route, and/or once water clears from rainy season.

 

We only went to one white sandy beach (Isla de Tortuga) and at noon it was overrun with big day trip boats, (so go early) but it was pretty (it cost $7.00 US to sit in a lounge chair on the beach, and $1.00 to go to the bathroom!!) The ship had no facilities for us on the beach, no beach picnic, no floaty pads, ever! Earlier in the week we went to beaches where the Captain said he would not fill the pool, as the water might be too polluted (San Juan

del Sur, Nicaragua). Also at Playas del Cocos the water was like brown mud, and they filled the pool but the water was stinky and brown, so again, no pool and no good beaches there. This may improve with end of rainy season.

 

Another stop for Santa Rosa park, had absolutely nothing, they told us we could walk 10 min to a beach, I think it was more like 50 minutes from some people who went, but I walked over 15 min and no beach, and was alone on a deserted road with men in trucks driving by, so I did not feel comfortable there and went back to the ship. Some women were selling little shell animals and dolls from a card table, good to support the local economy!

 

On the first 2 stops you could go into the little towns but they were small and not much to do, tourist shopping, etc. One guy got his wallet picked in Playas del Cocos I think, and another got bit by a dog,,, but the little towns were much like Mexican beach towns 30-40 years ago).

 

 

The first sailing day was great, and the Isla de Tortugas day was good too. We also liked Carillo and Samora, two towns close to each other that they ran a bus between, nice beach in each case. The ship never put us on a nice beach with the exception of Isla de Tortuga, in all other cases the beach was funky or they put us off somewhere that we had to hike or ride to a beach, I don't know why. Someone mentioned the Costa Rican govt was very greedy, that or sea/beach conditions or lack of knowledge probably added to the situation.

 

KAT from Thailand was massage therapist on the ship, she was great, I had 2 massages from her.

 

Our passengers were almost all US and Canadians, I think we had 4 Germans, 2 French, and 2 or 4 Norwegians. We shut down the bar at 11:00PM, hardly anyone partied, even during Pirate night! Things were often not well announced or happening at the time stated, so general lack of

participation. I felt sorry for the bartenders (Danny, Joey and Darwin and Jerry) due to lack of business - we TRIED to keep up the bar!! Our musician was from Bulgaria I think and did a lot of country songs, Jerry, he was nice, just really into country! We only had 78 passengers I think, and 78 crew, so the ship was over half empty. We did get some dancing going a few nights, and had a talent show (fewer acts than normal).

 

We stayed at a beautiful resort, Villas Caletas, before the sail, north of Jaco, on the Pacific side (they too had a rough beach a mile away, no swimming, but they had a beautiful edgeless pool, it was French and very very nice). We had rooms in the original section, very lovely with great balconies looking out over the bay. Prices were high but service wonderful, views outstanding, saw toucans while having coffee on my balcony, shooting stars at night, free yoga daily, very nice location on top of high hill overlooking giant bay.

 

We stayed at the Intercontinental in Escazu at the end of the trip, very nice suburban hotel, nice pool but too cold to swim, we got upgraded to tower room and had access to the club where we had breakfast and free drinks, snacks at dinnertime. That was a nice addition. I wanted to wear jeans and fleece jacket in San Jose, but all I had was white linen clothes, definitely was freezing there! Great spa tho, in both Villas Calletas and Intercontinental.

 

Evenings were chilly on the ship as well, I was using my pareo as a shawl to stay warm! I guess Dec is a windy month and maybe cooler than normal. All in all a very good time, and I think the ship sports and activity issues will improve with time. That’s the report, all that is fit to print!

 

Other notes: US Dollars accepted virtually everywhere, 26.00 exit tax at airport can be paid in either currency, or on CC I think, and the liquor store in the airport, where you EXIT, is excellent, price wise. The duty free leaving Costa Rica, is not so good, price or quantity wise. The change office at airport was open when we came in at 8PM or so. Also, note that traffic into but mostly out of San Jose is horrible, it took us a good hour from downtown back to the Doubletree Cariari the first day we were there, Escazu was not so bad, but downtown SJ is crowded, polluted and good for a day or two. Gold museum under the Teatro Nacional (which has a nice coffee/lunch café) is wonderful and Jade Museum in the INS building is very good as well.

 

Seems the ship did have internet most places but I was not trying, so not sure if everywhere, and at least in one case a couple was calling home from the back deck, so guess service was available at times. Drinks in bars off ship were very reasonably priced, I hear. Ship drinks usual prices but the tours sure seemed higher than usual. Massage still a great bargain at like 46 Euro per hour, can’t be beat! Let me know if questions, Gail

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The review was wonderful and very interesting.

I did not read complaints but observations.

My big concern is that the water at each port of call was less than inviting. I expected to hear the water was warm, clear and great for water sports. State of the ship sounds great and very much like I expereinced on previous Clipper cruises. But the ports , beaches and poor water conditions make me wonder if I would enjoy my trip. I may have to rethink the itinerary and perhaps consider the Caribbean??????

I appreciate the review very much.

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Welcome back Gail!

 

Sounds like a mixed bag, but overall a good time. I expected the Northern route to be not as good for water activities....one of the reasons we booked South. The first few weeks is always a transition period for the cruise. It was like that last year on the Royal....a lot of confusion on activities & excursions. They have 3 weeks to get it together.....we need to have an ideal cruise as it will probably be our last for a while. Bought a condo in Cozumel last month, so we will be spending a lot of time & money there.

 

Glad to here VC was nice.

 

How was the food onboard?

 

Mike

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Were there any comments from the crew on the southern itinerary? I just went back and found that I booked the Costa Rica Panama route which is the southern route...so perhaps warmer water.

As I am sailing Jan8 2012...by then the port calls should be well rehearsed...so no worries there.

Oh, and as Budaman asked...how was the food...adequate, filling or just the basics?

A bottle of wine with dinner can always dress up the most basics of food...along with stellar dinner mates.

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Danny was (I believe) acting as our head bartender, assisted by Joey (sailed many an ocean with both of them) and Darwin and Jerry. Bar, as always, was always open except due to clients late at night,, and great. Have Joey make you a negroni,, very refreshing!

 

Food was per normal,, the lack of snorkling and swimming allowed the cream desserts to take their toll on me, but hey, what the heck! My only observation on the food was the smoked salmon only appeared like first day and last day on the cruise,,, they had smoked trout instead (personal preference). All in all, very good, we had good fish many nights, and my only less than wonderful meal was the lamb one night, but hey, beats what I have been eating since I got back!

 

We drank a lot of the dry Italian Rose at dinner, and it was like 18 E per bottle I think, very good and very reasonable.

 

Sounds like from the southern review that confusion still reigns supreme on the sports offerings and landings,, I likewise always think the ship personnel should have this figured out ahead of time, and not discover on my dime, and I did talk to the chief mate and he told me that the home office sorted out the stops, etc. The overall hotel manager for all ships was onboard our sail, and I never saw him speaking to one passenger, think he might have heard an earful if he had, but maybe that was not his mission.

 

Anyway, as stated, wind and sailing were great! And I came home wonderfully relaxed, managed 6 massages in just under 3 weeks, which suited me just fine!! Gail

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A massage would be really nice right now! Ahhhhhh..........

 

Guess we'll just plan on eat,drink & be merry & a few pirate hijinks.....and let everything else fall however it may. I'll just be glad to get outta here for a while.

 

Mike

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Happy New Year Mike!!!

 

I just sent you an email, so you may want to check your spam if it doesn't appear in your inbox.... Subject: Costa Rica

 

Peggy

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Got it & back at ya!

 

Getting close & we're actually packed.

 

Here's to good weather & sailing!!!!!!

 

Mike

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star_flyer_sunset_1_small.jpg

 

My partner and I were on the northern (Nicaragua) itinerary with Gail and stayed aboard for the southern (Panama) itinerary. (You should have continued on with us, Gail. The party crowd showed up, dancing til the wee hours every night. We missed you. I agree with you on the wine. Being on board for two weeks, we tried all of Danny's reds. Very drinkable and reasonably priced. One small correction - the Spanish Marine Biologist is named Yago.)

 

The northern and southern experiences are surprisingly different. Much hotter and much more humid in the south. In the north, I never felt like I was in the jungle, but in the south I always did. It only rained once, a great tropical downpour which lasted an hour while we were ashore in Golfito. Luckily, the rain started after the zipline tour. (The Golfito canopy tour is the one excursion I recommend without reservation, but be aware that the lines are high, long and fast.) I found the water in the south perfect (certainly compared to northern California), but I wasn't snorkeling, just swimming and kayaking. A high point of the southern itinerary was a barbecue on a lovely, tiny island which we had to ourselves except for a few Costa Ricans from small private boats.

 

For my partner and me, it's about the sailing. Shore excursions and food are secondary. The winds were reliable on both itineraries and we had little need for the engine. When the crew raised the square sails for the photo tender, the Star Flyer picked up such speed that the tender couldn't keep up with her, and the captain had to drop the square sails.

 

Along with two other couples whom we met on the Cruise Critic Roll Call, we hired Odyssey Tours for transportation from San Jose to Puerto Caldera and back. In both directions, we had a leisurely drive with time for sightseeing and dining. If you need transportation to Caldera or a guide before or after the cruise, I highly recommend the brothers Alvaro and Diego at Odyssey. You can Google the Odyssey Tours website or check the reviews on TripAdvisor.

 

Cheers...Alvis

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Thanks for the positive report Alvis!

 

Two more working days & we're off.

 

One question.....what was it like on deck in the evenings. The temp reports for the region are highly suspect & all over the map.

 

Glad to here Alvaro & Diego took good care of you. We also have them scheduled for all our transfers.

 

Ok...maybe a couple of more questions:D

 

How long did it take you to clear the airport when you landed?

 

And, did you notice any liquor stores in the area & were they checking bags when you boarded the ship. They never have any tequila aboard.

 

Thanks!

 

Mike

Edited by budaman

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Wow, long time coming--you are almost there! Take good notes, I see this cruise in the next year (I hope)!

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It seemed like it was so far away.....booked last February when I first heard about the reposition to Costa Rica. And now we're scurrying around tying up loose ends. But, we're all packed and I have a massage scheduled for Friday night, so all is well!

 

Mike

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Regarding the weather, I was on deck after midnight many a windy night and the temperature was always balmy. I don't recall wearing a jacket at any time in Costa Rica, not even at Poas volcano.

 

We landed in San Jose the early evening, took about one minute to clear customs and five more minutes to get our luggage from the carousel. Small airport, and our American Airlines flight seemed to be the only flight at the moment. If you're taking a taxi, go to the indoor taxi window, don't dive right into the driver scrum oudoors. If Odyssey is meeting you, they should be right there. The taxis have meters, and the fare is reasonable.

 

There was at least one bottle of tequila in the Tropical Bar. After climbing the mast the second week, several of us celebrated with tequila shots. No Star Flyer personnel checked our carry-on, and the luggage that the crew wrangled was locked. (The Flyer was anchored our first time in Caldera and docked our second time.)

 

If you want to buy tequila, I'm sure Alvaro or Diego can make a provisioning stop. All merchants seem to accept both colones and USD and give a fair exchange rate of 500 colones for one USD.

 

Odyssey drove six of us from San Jose to Caldera with no fixed itinerary. Our goal was to arrive at Caldera around dark and see as much as possible along the way. The trip was a great success, and we were the last six passengers to arrive, about two hours before the crew hoisted anchor.

 

Pura vida...Alvis

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Hey Al!

 

May I consider myself to count among the party crowd on the trip south? The dancing was great!

 

So pleased to have cruised with you! And the tequila shot after mast climbing is one of my favorite memories. Teaching the Irishman how to do a proper shot was fun, yes?

 

I will second your hearty endorsement of the zip lining and Odyssey tours. I used Odyssey for land tour on Saturday to Poas, etc. and down to Puerta Calderas on Sunday. They were great.

 

Pura Vida!

Bev

 

P.S. I 'stole' your excellent shot of the ship at sunset for my wallpaper. You can reach me via email directly at bevschrage@gmail.com

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