Costa Rica....Pura Vida? Pretty much!: Star Flyer Cruise Review by budaman
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Costa Rica....Pura Vida? Pretty much!
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera)
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 More 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 Star Clipper 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. We had the Fashion Show this evening.
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 the 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. That 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 Curu Reserve & 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.
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. Less
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