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2bamboo

Tell me about the Costa Rica Cruise

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We have sailed the Caribbean twice on Star Clipper and loved it. We have been to Costa Rica by land, staying on the Osa Penninsula, super isolated and fabulous! I am considering booking a Costa Rica sailing but would love to hear from others regarding their experience. Which direction, going north or south? How were the ports? Was it smooth sailing or rough? Any stories , information or advice are greatly appreciated.

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I'm surprised no one has responded to your post. I've not sailed Costa Rica on a Star Clipper, but I've sailed it twice on a Wind Star ship. But I've sailed on Star Clipper in the Caribbean, before they started the CR sailings.

 

I imagine that the Costa Rica sailings are similar to Wind Star's. First and foremost, ours were wonderful sailings along the Pacific coast of a beautiful, happy, welcoming country. This is not a trip for those who are looking to spend hours shopping or want to try out restaurants, resorts, etc......unless you plan for that pre or post cruising. This is a trip more for relaxation and getting close to nature.

 

Wind Star offers a number of excursions, and I'm sure Star Clipper does too, and probably many of the same/similar. The more popular ones included horseback riding on the beach (I didn't do it, but those who did, loved it!); a lazy boat ride thru the mangroves where, if you're lucky, the little white-faced monkeys will clamor onto the top of your boat looking for handouts and you'll probably see the many many tiny tiger-faced crabs climbing the mangrove roots; and ziplining thru the dry forest while getting chastised by the monkeys in nearby trees! Many other options I can't recall.

 

Nicaragua was supposed to be a stop, but that didn't happen on either of our sailings. The first time was due to an outbreak of Denguai Fever in that country. The second time, a surprise assault of hurricane force winds prompted the captain to turn the ship around and return to Costa Rica. As a result, we missed out on a dry forest excursions there that I've only seen raves about.

 

We visited many beautiful beaches, but because of the churn of the Pacific's waves, this isn't a good trip for snorkeling or diving.

 

Maybe this helps.....hopefully, someone who's done it on a Star Clipper will post!!

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Thank you JM.....that's why I posted, there is not much chatter regarding this route. Great information. An important thing to remember on all Star Clipper and Wind Star sailings is the almost sure fire aspect that they will change things up on a whim when needed. After 4 days of heavy winds on a Caribbean sailing the Captain announced that he was going to stay anchored behind an island for the evening so that the passengers could enjoy a more stable dinner experience. I am curious regarding the different routes going north or south and the part that you already mentioned with the wild Pacific Ocean compared to the usually calmer Caribbean or Mediterranean. Hopefully more posters will join in.

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Our route was south to north, and then south again. I wouldn't say that on our trips that the Pacific was wild or rocky except for that one night when we were sailing towards Nicaragua and the hurricane force winds came up: would you believe 95mph? Captain took a photo of his instruments/gauges and showed that to us the next day. Ship lost some awnings and deck chairs, and that's when he decided he better turn around. He did a fantastic job, and my husband and I slept thru it. But we were mid-ships. Others were awakened and rocked about. That was in Jan 2010, when that really bad and fierce storm came out of Canada and swept south and east through the US and even froze iguanas off the trees in Florida. Costa Rica was in the path, and those winds picked up really high that one night. Otherwise, I'd say that both our sailings along the Pacific coast were just super and not rocky at all. But there are waves, yes, and they churn up the waters so that seeing much while snorkeling is very iffy. We would, and probably will, sail this route again.

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Another thought: if you don't get anyone replying who's done this on a Star Clipper, check the Wind Star board for Costa Rica info, re ports. Or go to the board lower on the forums that offers info on the various ports. It's been awhile and several sailings since that I just don't recall much about individual ports.

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We took the southern route in January 2011, down to Panama and then back up the coast. It was our third trip with Star Clippers and probably the one we least enjoyed - largely because our second, to the Andaman Islands, would be nigh impossible to better. We also took land excursions before and after the CR sailing which we organised ourselves (with help from others on this board though, using the excellent Odyssey tours) which were absolutely fantastic.

As others have said, the Pacific waters are not clear enough for great snorkelling which is one of my greatest pleasures on these cruises (we have just booked next year for Cuba, so am hoping that this will be good), and the beaches were not as good as those in Thailand or the Caribbean. However, there are wonderful inlets and bays and the scenery sailing back up to Caldera was excellent. The stop in Panama, Isla Gamez, was also good, though it was a shame to have the beach BBQ on day one, when you have yet to really got to know any of your cruise mates. There was also very little shade on the beach (beautifully pristine) and CR is hot, hot, hot with burning sun (this was also a problem on deck as there is simply not enough cover provided there too).

CR is a really fabulous destination, well geared to tourism (maybe too well oiled in that respect),but the fauna and flora are outstanding, and we saw wonderful birdlife. Our best tours were during the land excursions pre and postcruise (do stay at Villa Caletas it is breathtakingly beautiful and is used by SC, as well as having a remote, rocky and isolated private beach perfect for bird watching), and trips to some of the many national parks and zip-lining are a must.

For us the enjoyment of SC is not to take tours but to relax in little known inlets and coves where one can swim and snorkel away from the crowds. This was not really an option on this itinerary. The beach in Panama was lovely but elsewhere we were not offered the option to just relax on the beach. At the Osa peninsula we could not land due to tides (there was an incident with the first zodiac going out and being attacked by crocodiles!), so spent a day cooped up on board as we hadn't arranged an excursion and couldn't land anywhere! The final destination Isla Tortuga was gorgeous - when we first arrived, but as the day wore on it was besieged by day trippers.

The crew as ever were fantastic and we had the pleasure of sailing under Captain Klaus (complete with bagpipes).

There were two other mild complaints - one using Caldera for embarkation/disembarkation: this is a large ugly container port. It is not a great way to start off being held in a hangar! There is nothing else there.

Unfortunately, about 40% of passengers were a large American group who had booked via a US TA and insisted on wearing their name tags for the entire cruise. I think that large groups really impact on what should be an intimate and casual atmosphere and change the ambience of the experience entirely. This group had their own lectures and orientation sessions and it really felt like 'them' and 'us'.

Besides these caveats we did have a great time and met some lovely people, and as I mentioned above have just booked our next SC adventure.

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Sorry that should have been January 2012!

 

Also Quepos was a great stop - a small town to wander through then a private tour courtesy of Odyssey to the Miguel Antonio NP which was very crowded but did have a wonderful beach and we grotto see lots of monkeys!

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a large tour group on a small ship is a bummer....unless you're part of the group and you've got the entire ship. Otherwise....bummer, yeah. Glad you could make some lemonade outta the lemons, tho.

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Thanks for all the great information apul. Many valid things to consider. Our last sailing included 40 college students on a Geology class "field trip". After a sloppy start they settled down and were very polite and discrete however it did cut back on the potential to meet interesting people. I must admit that "floating" off the beach shore and working on the jealousy tan are high on my To Do list so I will be giving the Costa Rica trip some more thought. Keep it coming!!

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