Just returned from our Vantage booked Star Flyer cruise of Costa Rica and Panama.
I will not repeat what Budaman wrote, since his review was pretty accurate as to what we experienced. Our cabins were the same and I agree Nelson and Herman were outstanding as was Ximena. However, there are a few things I wish I had been aware of before I booked this trip and since I think they are important, that's what I'll report on here:
1. Star Flyer carries about 170 passengers and has two swimming pools. 12 chaise lounges under tarps is not enough shade on the sun deck. The weather in Costa Rica was bright sunshine, hot and humid every day and unless you were comfortable lying in the sun for hours at a time, there was very little shade.
2. Ship only docked in one port(Golfito) all others required tender. Now, if you have ANY problems going up or down a ladder, please reconsider this ship. Since it's a sailing vessel you leave and reboard the ship via gangway, which is about 1 1/2 stories long, very steep and both steps and handrails move. This coupled with the relative movement between the tender and the bottom of the gangway caused one person in our group to fall after which others were afraid to leave the ship at all. There were also several "wet" landings, which means that after the tender gets where it's going you jump off the rear of the tender into the water which can be anywhere from ankle to waist deep! Several people fell into the water and I got my hand caught between the ladder and the tender when reboarding at Isla Gamez. The crew was very helpful but it was still very difficult.
3. Shore excursions: What a surprise to find out that only a handful of people would actually be able to get a shore excursion! Virtually all of the excursions offered closed after 20-40 people signed up and others were on a waiting list. There were people in our group unable to get ANY excursions because by the time they got through the line all the good ones were filled. IMHO this is totally unacceptable. Excursion to wildlife rescue center and orchid garden very over-priced....we were supposed to spend two hours at refuge and only spent one and the gardens were lovely but not worth 80E per person!Other than that one, the excursions to the mangrove forest of Drake Bay and Manuel Antonio NP, which were by the same company, were outstanding. The BBQ on Isla Gamez was wonderful but Isla Tortuga is a rip-off! They actually charged you to walk through their garden grounds!
4. Food: Herman was a delight and the food was really good with a nice selection of fish, meat or vegetarian at every dinner. Only complaint is that they need more waiters and they need to do something to lower the noise level, which is deafening, especially if you wear a hearing aid.
5. Air Conditioning: Sorry guys, but the advertised "individually controlled climate control in every cabin" isn't quite accurate. There is a/c duct in the ceiling over the beds with minimal amount of air coming through and you could NOT control the temperature. If you are in the cabin at night with the lights on, it quickly becomes a sauna! A/C doesn't mean turn off the lights and stay out of the cabin till it cools off! :) Also, in the dining room the a/c was totally inadequate once the room filled with people, which was every night! Only rooms that were consistently comfortable were the library and the piano bar.