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budaman

Costa Rica....Pura Vida? Pretty much!

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It was over before we knew it…isn’t that the way it always happens.

 

Pre Cruise

We stayed Saturday evening at Villa Caletas. This is a beautiful small hotel perched on a hilltop between Tarcoles & Jaco. We met up with friends and enjoyed a beautiful sunset that evening. Sunday, we had a leisurely day lounging around the pool and enjoying the amazing views. Before we knew it, it was time to head to Puerto Caldera and board the Star Flyer. I highly recommend Villa Caletas for anyone looking for a romantic, well run hotel pre or post cruise. Also, we used Odyssey Tours for all our transfers, and they provided first rate service for a reasonable price. So far, so good…..great hotel & no transportation issues!

 

The Voyage Begins

I want to begin by saying that this was one of the most pleasurable, fun & action filled trips we have taken. However, there were a couple of issues that I am going to get out of the way first. None of these were deal breakers, just my observations…..here goes.

 

Puerto Caldera…I wasn’t expecting much, so I was surprised it was worse than expected. It is, pure & simple a container port. It is dirty, noisy and smelly. If they return next year, they should really look at Puntarenas. At least there is a town & a cruise pier.

 

Itinerary….Isla de Coiba & Isla del Cano are on the itinerary. These have both been dropped from the schedule. I wish we would have been told prior to the cruise. We would not have hauled our scuba gear with us had we known. These are two of the premier dive spots in the area. Divers will be the only ones affected by this change, so it’s not that big of a deal to the big picture.

 

Sailing…or should I say lack of it.

 

Officers…I believe all were new and showed a serious lack of interaction with the passengers. I haven’t experienced this on either of our other cruises, so it was a little disappointing.

 

Ok, that’s all the bad stuff. Now on the Fantastic!

 

Embarkation was quick & easy. Star Flyer was anchored in the bay….tall & beautiful as ever. We were able to catch the second tender to the ship, where we were greeted by fresh warm towels & a cool drink. After looking around the ship & meeting a few of the passengers, we were off to our cabin. We had a Cat. 1 on the Main Deck, #506. Our home for the next week.

 

By the time we freshened up and got the cabin stowed away, it was time for dinner. The food all week was very good & the Maitre de, Herman, was a pleasure to be around. That will be all about the food…we all have our own opinions!

 

Off with the dinner clothes & back into shorts…it’s time for sail away! Always an exciting event.

 

Day 1: Sea Day

 

Didn’t make sunrise today, but did make the exercise class with Viktor. Makes me not worry about eating as much.

 

Breakfast, pool & lounge time, lunch, pool & lounge time, afternoon snacks,lounge time, dinner, pleasant evening on deck with friends. That pretty much sums up a Sea Day!We did see many dolphins throughout the day. Pods of 10 or more were common.

 

Day 2: Isla Gamez

 

Woke up to a beautiful sunrise and dozens of little islands almost close enough to touch.Arrived just after gymnastics & breakfast. Isla Gamez is a small island with a great beach located among many other small islands…very secluded & quiet. Perfect spot for all the water sports or just lounging on the beach. This was also a Beach bar-b-que day, so the smells from the food were intoxicating. Soon after lunch, we were back to the ship for an afternoon dive. Wish we had stayed at the beach with everyone else, because they had a great time. Diving….not so much! The day ended much too soon & it was back to the Flyer. After dinner & several bottles of wine for the 6 of us, Herman brought out my Birthday Cake & sang Happy Birthday. This was repeated 3 more times…..lots of birthdays on the 11th. After dinner it was off to the Tropical Bar for the Music Quiz and partying…and party we did. It was after midnight before we shut it down.

 

Day 3: Golfito

 

Golfito is now mainly a fishing port for all the sport fishing in the area. There are a couple of Marinas & a few shops selling artistic goods. We did frequent these after our excursion to finish up our day there. We joined the excursion to the Orchid garden & the Animal Rescue Center. A very pleasurable morning experiencing all kinds of flora & wildlife. Spent the rest of the day in Golfito walking around the town, having a few beers & buying some souveniers. Beautiful sunset as we sailed out of Golfito into Golfo Dulce Dinner & an early night tonight.

 

Day 4: Drake Bay

 

Woke up to what has to be the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. We were passing through the channel between Isla del Cano & the Oso Peninsula and it was very calm with a mist clinging to the land. The sky was filled with yellow, red & orange hues that was simply awesome. We arrived at Drake around noon. We had scheduled no excursions & it was a short day, departing around 5, so we just went to the small hotel that SC had arranged with for passengers to explore their grounds. It was beautiful there….reminded us of French Polynesia. We explored the property & did some shopping with local artists before heading back to the ship. This evening was Pirate Night.

 

Side note….when we first got to the dock in Caldera, I had asked Ximena what night Pirate Night would be & she told me they wouldn’t have one on the Southern Itinerary. There also wouldn’t be Crab Races…what no Crab Races….nope, no crabs large enough in the area. Well, we did have Pirate’s Night and no, no Crab Races, but we did have Froggie Races which were just as fun. Did I mention Ximena was awesome! Well, once again we were partying till after midnight….don’t know what got into me…guess turning 60 unleashed a new animal!

 

Day 5: Quepos

 

First real town we have visited, and the Three Musketeers(the girls in our group) did what all self respecting girls do….went shopping. The guys would meet up with them later, as our horseback ride wasn’t until 1PM. I don’t remember what we did up until that time, but I believe it involved rest & food.

 

Horseback riding was a blast. First time ever on a horse, and of course I paid for it later…my rear hurt for a couple of days. Really makes you appreciate those who spend all day on a horse. After the ride, we did a little more shopping, getting back to the ship for dinner. After dinner, they had a local band playing in the Tropical Bar. They were very good & I even got to Salsa with Ximena. Ended up on my rear while trying to do a double spin, but I don’t think I crushed too many of her toes. We closed the bar down again this night….gosh, what have I become.

 

Day 6: Isla Tortuga

Another small change to the itinerary. Instead of spending half the day at CuruReserve & half at Isla Tortuga, they now just anchor off Tortuga and take excursions over to Curu for those that wish to go there. More time at the beach for those that want that. Tortuga is a private island that charges for chairs, umbrellas, water sports…in a sense, everything. Because of this the ship cannot provide their equipment for use. Pay or no play in other words. We decided to just hang out at the pool & get some sun. It was very peacefull onboard that day….nice change of pace for us Did go out in the tender for the photo shoot of the Flyer with all her sails out later in the afternoon.

After dinner, it was time for the Talent Show. This is always a blast and tonight was no exception. The highlight was the guys doing a Spice Girls routine. Afterwards, you guessed it….party time. I danced more this week than I have in the last 10 years combined. Somewhere in there, we got our bags packed and out, as tomorrow we had to depart the Flyer.

 

Day 7: Puerto Caldera

Wow, it’s over already. We pulled up to the dock in Caldera around 7AM. We had our last breakfast aboard & Odyssey picked us up around 9. We had wanted to Zipline aboard, but it never worked out, so we arranged with Alvaro(Odyssey) to take us to one prior to going back to Villa Caletas. He took us to one that had a new type of zip called the Superman Flight. This was totally exhilarating. A great way to end the trip. We spent another fabulous evening at Villa Caletas before heading back to the States Monday morning.

 

Anyway, if you’re still with me, to sum it up, it was a fantastic trip. The ship was great, Ximena was great, Herman was great, Nelson(our steward) was great, our friends were great…everything! One more thing….weather. It was hot & humid. Never a need for anything with sleeves.

 

Now, what’s next…..maybe Greece. I always thought I looked good in a Toga.

Edited by budaman

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Thanks for the very informative trip report. Since we leave this

week for Costa Rica (the northern itinerary), it was especially

interesting. Sounds like a great trip, but Star Clippers trips are

ALWAYS great.

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What? You're from Buda and never ridden a horse??:eek:

 

Well my DH is from Austin and has never ridden a horse either.

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Yep....just an old city slicker. In fact, it kinda reminded me of the movie:D

 

Forgot to mention I have posted some of the pics from the cruise in our Gallery. Link in signature.

 

Mike

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Thanks for your review and the pictures. We leave this Friday for Costa Rica although we don't sail until Feb. 6. We love the country and will spend most of the time in the small town of Santa Elena near Monteverde. This will be our 1st Star Clippers cruise. Have always talked about it and decided this was the time. We are looking forward to just kicking back and enjoying! :)

 

One thing you didn't mention was how many people were on your cruise?

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140 + crew. Mostly European on our trip.

 

It would have been nice to have a few more days in the country. There are just so many things to do, that we didn't have time for.

 

Mike

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I did leave a few things out of my report....I have a tendacy to ramble sometimes & it slipped.

 

I did not give credit to the Sports Team. They worked their tails off all week. Viktor was leaving at the end of our cruise, and Karolina came aboard for her first SC cruise. Both of them & Simon did a great job. Frederick was kept busy most of the week by Discover Scuba students.

 

Two new members that were a welcome addition were Yago, the Spanish Marine Biologist and Randall, the Costa Rican native Naturalist...no he didn't go around nude all week...not that kind of Naturalist:D

 

Something to keep an eye on.....there should be a video on the Star Clippers Blog later this week of the guys Spice Girls routine they did during the Talent Show....you should find it entertaining.

 

Mike

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Thanks! And, are you on one of the Keys or Cozumel. Those are the only two I can think of that you can drive to.

 

We just bought a place in Cozumel. Not that I would want to drive there!

 

Mike

Edited by budaman

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It was great reading your review and seeing your pictures. Now we are getting very excited to go on our trip. We have been on the Royal Clipper four times, but never the Star Flyer. We are doing a back to back on it starting the 13th of February. Will do the pre-cruise two nights in Monteverde Cloud Forest.

Your trip will be our second week. Did anyone mention that snorkling was good your week, if so where? Did the swim team take people to places to snorkle? They did that on the Clipper.

In some of our info it showed we would be in Drake Bay on afternoon and the next morning. Did it work that way for you or were you in Quepos for the entire day?

Thanks for any info you can share.

Ginny and John in Cincinnati

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Hi Ginny &/or John!

 

Some said it was good, some not so good. Mostly good around Tortuga, but I really didn't pay too much attention to the snorkeling. A few places they thought they would snorkle or kayak were cancelled due to a fear of crocodiles interfering.

 

Drake is one of the itinerary changes. Only there from noon to 5PM, with the last tender at 4:30. We arrived in Quepos around 9AM & didn't depart until very late..maybe midnight. I believe last tender was 9ish.

 

A back to back would be great!

 

Mike

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I just remembered another thing I left out......

 

Kat...the Thai massage therapist. She is awesome. So good, we each had 2 and for 48 euros, a bargain.

 

Mike

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Thanks! And, are you on one of the Keys or Cozumel. Those are the only two I can think of that you can drive to.

 

We just bought a place in Cozumel. Not that I would want to drive there!

 

Mike

 

 

We're in Key West.

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It was great reading your review and seeing your pictures. Now we are getting very excited to go on our trip. We have been on the Royal Clipper four times, but never the Star Flyer. We are doing a back to back on it starting the 13th of February. Will do the pre-cruise two nights in Monteverde Cloud Forest.

Your trip will be our second week. Did anyone mention that snorkling was good your week, if so where? Did the swim team take people to places to snorkle? They did that on the Clipper.

In some of our info it showed we would be in Drake Bay on afternoon and the next morning. Did it work that way for you or were you in Quepos for the entire day?

Thanks for any info you can share.

Ginny and John in Cincinnati

 

Ginny and John we are going 3/19 and we have also booked the 2 day pre package;) at Monteverde. We would love to ear any thoughts or advice on that?

 

Best Cassie

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Mike: Can't thank you enough for the report as we leave 2/20 for our Star Flyer cruise. In fact we're in cabin 507! I really appreciated the description of the excursions since we just got a list of them and are trying to decide before we get on board (where everything sounds great) what we're really interested in. A couple of questions: did you bring mosquito repellent, and if so, what type spray, wipes, cream. Also, someone mentioned to me that we should take some kind of anti-malarial drugs but I haven't seen anyone mention that on any of the boards. Sounds like you had a great time....now I'm going to check out your pictures. Thanks again for the info. Btw, I've been to Greece and all the islands, so if you want any info from me about Greece and Turkey, don't hesitate to contact me.:D

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Loved the pictures! It looks like it was quite a bit more dressy than I was expecting....true or just your personal choice? We have similar photographic styles....sunset and clouds were spectacular. Did you do any of the mangrove boat ride optionals or the National Park walking tours? And I notice you went zip lining....not sure it's being offered on our trip (we're with Vantage) but if it is, how was it? Did you feel safe? Was it scary? I've read about some people "braking too fast and getting hit from behind" and "braking too slow and slamming shins against the platforms! Appreciate your answers....if it makes it easier, you can direct e-mail me at chydro564@yahoo.com. Thanks, Judy

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We didn't use any repellants & didn't see or hear of anyone even remotely concerned about malaria. We did get a few sand flea bites at one of the beaches, but not sure which one. Didn't really start itching until we got back.

 

We didn't take the tour at Corcovado, but one of the couples we were with did & didn't really enjoy it. It was supposed to be a 3 hr hike, but really turned into less than an hour walking....most of the time the guide was pointing out birds. Not just unusual birds, but every bird. And of course everyone was supposed to look through the telescope. They were hoping to see more of a variety of wildlife, which didn't happen.

 

We didn't do the zipline through the ship, but they did offer it in Golfito and added one in Quepos, but that one was cancelled because not enough signed up. We had wanted to do the zip at Vista Golfo, but to do it right, it would have taken all day and we wanted to enjoy some time at the hotel, so we compromised & did a 2hr zip & an afternoon of relaxing at the hotel.

 

We had zipped previously in St.Lucia, so we knew what to expect. The outfit we used had good safety equipment...double lines, good safety instructions and most of the runs had automatic brakes. This would be a good 1st experience zipline....not too demanding, but exciting enough to have fun.

I have added a couple of videos to the Gallery from when I did the Superman run on the zipline.

 

And sunrise is the best time aboard the ship...not many people up & about. Usually only one or two others. So, it's just you, your coffee & nature!

 

Mike

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Thanks for the info. We are in Panama City, just got off the Star yesterday--the 2 week Barbados to Panama run. Have some of the same inputs as you, some disappointing. Will post a review when we return this week.

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Kim.

 

Have fun in Panama...look forward to your comments when you return.

 

Mike

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Mike: thanks for the input. Will seriously reconsider walking tour at Corcocavado in favor of the boat ride through the mangrove...We also stop at Antonio NP and they have a walk, which I think we'll take. I will be up most mornings at sunrise, sitting with my coffee and enjoying the solitude. I love sunrises and sunsets and can't wait to see how CR compares to Key West and Sacket's Harbor! Will also stop worrying about insects and just bring a little benedryl spray for the sand fleas.:D

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It was great reading your review and seeing your pictures. Now we are getting very excited to go on our trip. We have been on the Royal Clipper four times, but never the Star Flyer. We are doing a back to back on it starting the 13th of February. Will do the pre-cruise two nights in Monteverde Cloud Forest.

Your trip will be our second week. Did anyone mention that snorkling was good your week, if so where? Did the swim team take people to places to snorkle? They did that on the Clipper.

In some of our info it showed we would be in Drake Bay on afternoon and the next morning. Did it work that way for you or were you in Quepos for the entire day?

Thanks for any info you can share.

Ginny and John in Cincinnati

 

 

We did the northern itinerary and snorkeling at Tortuga is NOT good. There are lots of local party boats who apparently bring bread to feed the fish. The water around the rock (you'll see it when you get there) is murky. Both my husband and I were stung by jellyfish on our second-to-last day. When I got home, I had an intensely painful reaction that took prescription prednisone over a week to clear up. The beach at Tortuga is also littered with broken coral, so you can't get from the wet landing to the sandy beach if you are barefoot. Hopefully, the sports team has found a better snorkeling location since our December trip. They are all new to the area, and Simon and Yago are new to the ship. Both delightful young men!

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