In several of the ports in Costa Rica, the landings involved both a tender and a Zodiac. For the first 5 days of the 7 night cruise of northern Costa Rica and Nicaragua, there were never any life jackets in the Zodiacs. I raised the issue with the crew after a particularly frightening transfer. It was mid day and the wind had become strong and the water very choppy. Our Zodiac had one female crew member and 12 passengers. The majority of the 112 passengers on our cruise were on the high side of age 60. The crew member had a life jacket, but there were no life jackets for the passengers. The Zodiac took us about 1/4 mile from shore to the tender. A passenger took the helm of the Zodiac, so that the crew member could help hold the Zodiac to the tender. The Zodiac and tender slowly spun around. The life jackets on the tender were not readily accessible. They were at the back of the tender inside plastic bundles inside plastic tarpaulin bags that were tied shut. The tender then took us to the Star Flyer. When I boarded the Star Flyer, I told the officer who checked us on board about my concern about lack of life jackets on the Zodiacs and their inaccessibility on the tenders. He told me to speak to the head of excursions, which I did. That evening when I was up on deck, the captain asked me if I was the one who had complained. I explained that I was. He was under the impression that the passengers wore life jackets during the transfer process. I informed him that this was not the case. The next morning (our last full day)there was a bundle of life jackets on the floor of the Zodiac, but when we went to return the life jackets had been removed. Subsequently, I had a discussion with the captain that if the passengers wore life jackets for the transfers and left them in the Zodiac, they would not be in the way. I was surprised that life jackets were not worn. For the river excursions we did in Costa Rica, we were required to put on life jackets. My impression was that life jackets were mandatory in Costa Rica.
The Star Flyer is an old ship and is showing her age. The temperature in the category 4 cabin we booked was in the mid 80's when we boarded. We stopped 2 crew members to ask how to turn on the air conditioning, before a fellow passenger told us how to do it. Finally, a crew member came to fix the air conditioning and decided there was a problem. We were given a fan and the next day accepted the offer to move to a cabin with working air conditioning.
Our first dinner on the ship was also very unsatisfactory. We were among the first to sit down for dinner and joined two other couples. One person from each couple ordered the "lamb knuckle" for a main course. About the time many other tables were getting dessert, the waiter approached one of the women at our table (who was not one of those who ordered the lamb knuckle) to explain that they had run out of lamb knuckle. One of the men immediately offered to have the chicken instead, but the waiter said that was unnecessary. We sat and sat and sat. When most of the dining room had emptied, I approached the captain to complain that we had not yet had our dinner. The waiter soon brought our entrees, but all three of us who had ordered the lamb knuckle found it to be so tough as to be inedible. When we gave up on our entrees, the waiter stood with his back to us polishing and stacking plates, before finally deciding to take our dessert order. It was a very disappointing start to the cruise.
The captain and head of the "hotel" services were responsive to complaints, and the head of excursions was very nice, but we were not alone in having hot cabins and maintenance issues.