11 Colon (Cristobal) Luxury Cruise Reviews

As experienced cruisers we were looking for something a little different and more energetic so we tried Silver Cloud Expedition. What we got was the same old, same old only on a smaller ship. Embarkation was so-so as we were ... Read More
As experienced cruisers we were looking for something a little different and more energetic so we tried Silver Cloud Expedition. What we got was the same old, same old only on a smaller ship. Embarkation was so-so as we were uncomfortable leaving our bags in the middle of the platform unattended. After a beautiful transit through the Canal we anticipated a variety of interesting expeditions. The first day our rain forest tour at Parida Island was a 40 minute walk of which 20 minutes was spent waiting for members to catch up. The highlights were the two termite nests we saw. If we had seen any termites they would have been the only wildlife encountered. We did have to step over two muddy little streams. When we got back to the beach we found out that we had the best excursion as those who wanted to snorkel met their boat only to find out the boat had no snorkel gear. That expedition became a whale and dolphin watching ride without the whales and dolphins. Because of bad weather our next two stops were changed and we spent two days at Puntarenas. While they handled the change of schedule well there was no effort to replace the expeditions with something similar. For each of the two days we spent over four hours on buses. The first destination was a horse demonstration which was mediocre. The next was "a walk in the clouds" which was a rain forest at 5000 feet. Very interesting, lots of birds and flora. Because there was construction en route and our bus broke down on the way up we were late getting back to the ship and in danger of not making it on time. Swiss Travel, the tour operator called the police. They closed an oncoming lane for over a mile and allowed us to pass stalled traffic and make the ship on time. Everyone on the bus cheered madly. Sadly this was one of the highlights of the cruise. Very surprised that Silversea was unable (or unwilling) to come up with expedition type of options while at Puntarenas. After a nice day at sea our next stop at Isla de la Plata was a true expedition experience with zodiacs to shore and then an extensive walk on the island seeing thousands of birds including the lovable blue footed boobies. What was totally surprising was that both the Silversea expedition person and the local guide totally ignored the rules and regulations they had laid out which were similar to those in the Galapagos: don't leave the paths, no interacting with the fauna, keep a good distance between groups etc. One woman in our group approached boobies three different times with the birds responding aggressively twice and squirting excrement the third time with nothing said by the guide or expedition member. Our group of 8 spread out and ultimately we ended up with several other groups totaling about 40 people. Machala was our next destination with one of the tours through a petrified forest with over a 130 different types of birds per the brochure. Again two hours in a bus each way. In our two hour walk we saw one bird eating a snail and one squirrel so high in a tree that the only way to verify he was there was to greatly enhance the resolution of the picture I took. We fully understand that fauna come and go but to only see two living things? Seems like either Silversea didn't do their homework or the Machala tourism bureau wrote the trip description. Very unsatisfying waste of a day. Isla Lobos was another highlight of the trip as the expedition team spotted numerous whales and the Captain did a great job of positioning the ship and literally turning it in circles so that we could fully enjoy a spectacular display of humpbacks frolicking and two blue whales with their magnificent flukes. Salaverry Peru was our last stop with a short bus ride to the temples of the Moon and Sun. The latter wasn't open but the former was fascinating and an enjoyable half day but not what I'd consider an expedition experience. This turned out to be a classic cruise on a small ship. Service was uniformly excellent throughout. However, on Regent, Seabourn and Oceania their service has also been excellent so it was not a differentiator. The cabin was very cluttered and would have been far more usable if one of the chairs was removed. Everything was in very good shape and kept immaculate by our service team. The wifi was better than on any other cruise we've been on. As you can tell this cruise wasn't what we thought we were getting. The crew and senior officers were all outstanding. Silversea should not have marketed this as an expedition cruise even though Silver Cloud is an expedition ship. There was a Finnish travel agent on board with 14 of his clients who said this was the worst Silversea cruise (out of 10) that he had been on. Numerous other passengers who were more experienced than we concurred. Another passenger said Silversea is really good at the Arctic and Antarctic expeditions but hasn't figured the rest out. We'd consider sailing on Silversea again with the right itinerary but not on an expedition ship. It will be interesting to see how Silversea handles our complaint. The expedition team acknowledged the shortcomings as did the senior officers with both saying they reported this to Silversea corporate.. When we went on Seabourn sponsored tours that were awful they promptly refunded the costs. All-inclusive doesn't remove the obligation to provide the service advertised. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose Ponant for this trip because we were looking for a more intimate cruise experience. We have been on large cruise ships (3000+ passengers) and felt it was time for a more refined trip. One of the best things about being on a ... Read More
We chose Ponant for this trip because we were looking for a more intimate cruise experience. We have been on large cruise ships (3000+ passengers) and felt it was time for a more refined trip. One of the best things about being on a smaller ship is that the embarkation and disemarkation process. All of the crew members were courteous and professional. Also, there was rarely ever a line. Once we landed at our port or destination, getting off the ship to begin enjoying the tours was a breeze. I must admit that we were a little skeptical about having the shore excursions included in the cost of the cruise. We wondered what the quality of the excursions would be. But, we were not disappointed. Every excursion we joined was very informative and enjoyable. In addition, our days on the uninhabited Caribbean Islands were the best! Being able to take the zodiac boats in for a morning of snorkeling along the coral reefs of the atolls was a once in a lifetime experience. Our cabin was lovely, and very well appointed. Having a balcony where we could enjoy the views and fresh sea air was a great feature. Of course, everything we needed was provided by the stewards, it was as though there were fairies on the ship tending to our every need. Every meal we enjoyed on the ship was perfect. The variety of food, and accommodations for special dietary needs was attended to very well. We were able to enjoy dinner at the captain's table as well. It was nice to see the captain at every dinner, and feel that he was approachable and willing to mingle with the guests. The entertainment and activities on the boat during days at sea and each evening were very enjoyable. We enjoyed everything from educational lectures about our ports of call to spectacular shows each evening from with the on board performers as well as specialty shows from some of our ports. There was never a lack of good entertainment. Overall, it was a wonderful adventure we would recommend to everyone looking for a luxury vacation experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Chose this because we wanted a 7-day canal transit on a small ship. First time on Windstar. Overall very good -- excellent service, food was quite satisfactory, ship was in good but not outstanding condition. The cabin space was ... Read More
Chose this because we wanted a 7-day canal transit on a small ship. First time on Windstar. Overall very good -- excellent service, food was quite satisfactory, ship was in good but not outstanding condition. The cabin space was excellent -- was skeptical of the french balcony, but liked it a great deal. Since you have a whole suite, no need for a separate balcony, and opening the sliders brought the outdoors inside. The canal transit was excellent, super informative, just what we wanted. The excursions at the Panama and Costa Rica stops were good. Time on board was generally very relaxing and pampered (see smoking exception below!). We are not foodies, but we found the food very good in selection and quality -- and again the service overall was really excellent, from top to bottom. As noted above, the ship's smoking policy was ridiculous. We enjoyed hanging out at the outdoor bar, called the Star Bar, and there is a designated smoking area right next to the bar (like maybe 10 feet away). Come on, this is the year 2018! We had perhaps 6 or 7 smokers (out of about 170 passengers), why should they smog up the place for the all the others? Of course the breeze was always blowing straight from them towards the rest of us. Worse, two people were cigar smokers, and they also puffed away. Windstar should move the smoking area away from the bar! There is plenty of space on the top deck (where the Star Bar is), and the smoking area should be moved AWAY. Before booking another Windstar I would need to investigate the details of the individual ship's policy -- I would be very cautious about booking another cruise on this ship if the policy is not changed. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We've cruised with Silversea about a dozen times. Unfortunately, this one is at the bottom of the ranking list. We convinced another couple to join us. For three days after reporting it, they endured a fire alarm that went off ... Read More
We've cruised with Silversea about a dozen times. Unfortunately, this one is at the bottom of the ranking list. We convinced another couple to join us. For three days after reporting it, they endured a fire alarm that went off several times a day and water leaking through a ceiling light fixture. I finally intervened and helped get them moved to another suite. I made it very clear Silversea had embarrassed me as well as themselves. They don't seem to care. To be fair, some compensation was made but too little, too late. That same friend was taken to task (discreetly) for wearing bermuda shorts at an on-deck venue after sunset. This, despite a group of four sitting at the bar similarly dressed (to whom nothing was said) and the specific admonition in the daily "Chronicle" that shorts were not permitted within indoor venues. I doubt my friends will sail with Silversea again. During the trip, we were informed they had "run out" of buffalo mozzarella cheese, Perrier, Pelligrino, Sapphire Gin, Tiki wine, all French rose wine and Amarula. On a six star ship?? Menu was fairly repetitious and two dinners arrived cold. Individual staff were attentive and friendly. Our cabin steward and butler were excellent but overall, where the answer to any request used to be "right away" this time there were excuses why it could not be done. In general, service was at least one tick off. And, once again, obtaining service on the pool deck was an exercise in frustration. The ship well kept but old and tired. Time to let it go. We will avoid sailing on the Wind. We are going to give Silversea about one more shot then move on. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
This is my second review of the "Star Pride" --- my first was the maiden voyage in 2014, immediately after the ship was acquired from Seabourn. I noticed several changes, almost all of which were positive. This 7-night cruise ... Read More
This is my second review of the "Star Pride" --- my first was the maiden voyage in 2014, immediately after the ship was acquired from Seabourn. I noticed several changes, almost all of which were positive. This 7-night cruise sailed on February 25, 2017 from Colon, with stops in several small ports in Costa Rica. Some recent passengers have complained that the ports are relatively unknown, but I really liked seeing the smaller venues that feature local culture and wildlife. Like us (13 previous cruises), over half of the passengers were Windstar alumni cruisers. Also in attendance were the new Windstar President John Delaney, and several members of his executive team. I had the opportunity to spend some “quality time” with John, and found him to be attentive, engaging, and passionate about small ship cruising, with many ideas for improving the Windstar brand. Prior to our embarkation, we flew into Panama City and stayed at the Bristol Hotel, located in the middle of the banking/financial district. Panama City is located on the Pacific coast, so we took an hour-long bus ride over to Colon’ on the Atlantic coast before boarding the ship. This might seem a bit odd, until you see that Panama City is a modern metropolis dominated by skyscraper hotels and high-rise office buildings, while Colon’ is mostly industrial, with little to offer tourists. SHIP INFORMATION: The Star Pride one of three (3) motor yachts purchased in late 2013 from Seabourn Cruise Lines. Most of my previous cruises have been on board the Wind Surf, which has smaller cabins, but much larger public spaces. I confess that I am very partial to the Wind Surf, but I am warming up to the Star class vessels --- they each have their charms. The ship has many features familiar to Windstar regulars: intimate "private yacht" ambiance, country club casual dress policy, attentive wait staff who learn guests' names seemingly overnight, and the open bridge policy. Cabins are all suites, with a minimum 50% larger footprint, larger marble bath, and a walk-in closet. The ship also features an aft sports platform for water activities, a small casino, and spa. Originally, the ship had two whirlpools (hot tubs) side by side on deck 7, plus an adjacent small pool, all covered by an awning. Recently Windstar removed the pool, and replaced one of the whirlpools with a slightly larger “jet” pool. When the jet is on you can actually swim against the current, and when it’s off, 6-8 people can fit in comfort. The Veranda restaurant has both indoor and open-air seating, and transforms into the Candles alternative dinner restaurant at night. The AmphorA restaurant is on the lower deck, and is handsomely decorated, spacious and comfortable, but also can be quite noisy at dinner time. Best to ask for a window table, rather than one in the middle of the room. The Lounge features a stage for entertainers and speakers, with theater type seating. Oddly enough, there is no bar in the Lounge, and so it is mostly used as a theater. The Compass Rose is located one deck higher, adjacent to the Casino, and has a very nice bar area and large dance floor. Unfortunately, it is completely indoors --- I really missed the aft ocean view from the Compass Rose on the Wind Surf. The Yacht Club is located on the top deck in front of the Star Bar. It is a handsome room with great views and comfortable seating, and a large TV for viewing photos from the ship’s photographer. Coffee, tea and pastries are offered in the morning, with light sandwiches and snacks available later in the day. EMBARKATION: With such a small number of passengers, getting on board is a brief and painless process. Passengers must fill out a few forms, surrender their passports, receive a photo ID card, and are then shown to their cabins. ACTIVITIES: All the Windstar yachts have a minimal approach to onboard activities, and the Star Pride was no exception. There are no Zumba classes, glass blowing exhibitions, or bridge tournaments such as might be found on larger vessels. Bravo! One traditional Wind Surf activity that was not offered was the afternoon tea time in the Compass Rose --- just doesn't have the same appeal indoors. The two biggest events of the week are the Beach Party (on a private island) and the Deck Barbecue, featuring line dancing afterwards. Most dancing I saw all week! The Crew Show is also a favorite, as well as the Yacht Club reception for past Windstar guests. INTERNET ACCESS: Always a sore point, especially at sea. Windstar charges $60 for 200MB of bandwidth, as opposed to a fixed number of minutes. This is a wise pricing model, in my view. Otherwise, everyone would be clogging up the works sending selfies home to their friends. Having said that, I used up my 200 MB in just two days. In hindsight, I should have scanned my email Inbox and only viewed important messages (no attachments), sent as few emails as possible, spent no time deleting messages. SERVICE: As always, the personalized service was terrific. Wait staff addressed passengers by name, and were genuinely enthusiastic about posing for pictures. Bartenders quickly learned everyone’s favorite wines or drinks. I have learned that it is almost always best to buy wine by the bottle instead of by the glass, as the wait staff are happy to store it for later use. PORT & SHORE EXCURSIONS: We took a great Dolphin Watch excursion, which was truly spectacular. After a 30 minute ride in a medium sized boat with an upper viewing deck, we saw dozens of dolphins up close and personal for over an hour. When the boat was moving slowly, the dolphins were right alongside us, and when we speeded up, they would ride the wake and leap completely out of the water time and time again. Afterwards we stopped to view a bird sanctuary, and saw frigate birds stealing fish from each other, as well as egrets, herons, green turtles and other wildlife. It was like being in a National Geographic nature show! All of the ports were quite small, which I liked. No jewelry stores, trinket shops, or tourist traps! OUR CABIN #133: Great location almost amidships, directly adjacent to the Atrium, so just one deck and a few steps from Reception. Our cabin was on the lowest of the three passenger decks, and the least expensive. We had a nice large window, but no balcony. The cabin was spacious, and seemed even larger because of the very low bed. However, the low bed also made it impossible to use for luggage storage (other than a carry-on). Although the cabins are at least 100 sq. feet larger than on the Wind Surf, the bed still sits very closely to the desk, making it a squeeze to get by. A nice feature is a curtain that can be drawn between the bed and the sitting area --- very convenient if I wanted to read after my wife went to bed. DINING: All the food was great, with very few misses. I had Eggs Benedict every morning, along with a fruit smoothy, fresh-squeezed OJ, and some smoked salmon. For lunch, it took much will power to not over indulge myself on the bread pudding with vanilla sauce. One item that we missed from previous Windstar cruises was the daily chilled soup --- much appreciated in tropical climes. Dinners were consistently delicious. One secret I have learned over the years is that if you don’t like the daily dessert offerings, you can always get Crème Brulee from Candles. Indoor seating at the Veranda restaurant was a little limited, so we always ate outdoors. Since our first cruise on the Star Pride, Windstar has added a second covered seating area (where the pool used to be) to handle a larger crowd. ENTERTAINMENT: On previous Windstar cruises, the entertainment always included a 4-5 piece combo such as “Top Society”, plus a second duo, usually a vocalist and guitarist or keyboard player. Thankfully, on this cruise there was no large combo. Instead, there were two duos – D’Harmony and Mardi Gras. D’Harmony (guitarist Eric and vocalist Monique) were our favorites, by far. DISEMBARKATION: Very straightforward. We arranged a transfer from the ship to the Marriott Hotel in San Jose, from which a driver took us to a post-cruise hotel destination. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was our first time on a cruise. We had never really considered taking one before but in looking for our "winter" break we thought that a trip through the Canal and up along the Costa Rican coast sounded like a fun ... Read More
This was our first time on a cruise. We had never really considered taking one before but in looking for our "winter" break we thought that a trip through the Canal and up along the Costa Rican coast sounded like a fun adventure. We didn't have particularly high expectations (nor particularly low) but were somewhat ambivalent but figured - you have to try everything once. Well we were really incredibly surprised at how wonderful the experience was. Just about everything was beyond our expectations. The cruise is amazing - a special shout out to Noel, Kennedy and Apple who really made our trip wonderful and easy. The women who worked in the spa were also amazing. The food and service really were the highlights. We enjoyed the excursions and highly recommend the Sierpe river outing. Probably the biggest let down was that the water sports wasn't available the last two afternoons of the cruise. At a minimum a bit more communication on this front for planning purposes would have been helpful The only other "complaint" we have is that it is difficult to dry out swimming suits and the like - it would be good if the ship could provide some of the "spin" ringers for clothing/suits that you sometimes find at gyms. One comment of note, while we are in our mid 50s/early 60s we were on the young side for this cruise. I think the bulk of the passengers were mid 60s to 80s - this wasn't an issue for us but something to keep in mind. Finally, it may be worth splurging for the balcony - we didn't but I think being able to open the windows would have been nice. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We booked an 8 day cruise on the Tere Moana, Mar. 11-19, beginning in Colon, Panama and ending in St. Maarten. On the first day we were notified that we would not be sailing until the next day to allow the swells to diminish from Colon ... Read More
We booked an 8 day cruise on the Tere Moana, Mar. 11-19, beginning in Colon, Panama and ending in St. Maarten. On the first day we were notified that we would not be sailing until the next day to allow the swells to diminish from Colon to Cartagena. We were also told we wouldn't be stopping in Les Saintes due to losing a day of travel. The swells didn't get smaller, so we sailed anyway. After docking in Cartegena in the p.m. and leaving again at noon the next day we sailed onto Aruba where we were supposed to be for a full day. That was adjusted to just 3 hrs. which didn't allow for any beach time, but we did pick up Mr. Bailey/wife, CEO and also the president of the line, which appeared to be the main reason for stopping there since we had no time to go to the beaches. Originally Les Saintes was cancelled, but now was on the agenda once again and St. Barts was cancelled instead, once again due to swells. That seemed to be the standard reason whenever they changed the schedule. The swells were always present on the entire voyage, but that didn't seem to make a difference on going to Les Saintes.On Les Saintes we headed off to the beach with our snorkel gear hoping to spend the day there. There were no bathrooms on this beach (which the ship recommended). The sand was brown and grainy (not the white sand we had come to expect in the Caribbean on other islands). There was a dead fish floating in the edge of the water along with trash (paper plates, cups, etc.) and crisp sea weed that had been there for days. Needless to say no one went into the water except to relieve themselves (i.e. no bathrooms). Later in the a.m. a couple guys from the crew brought down a cooler with water, beer, wine and a couple plastic chairs, umbrellas and noodles for swimming. There were portable gas barbeques on the ship which stayed covered and on the ship, never to be used the entire cruise. We had lunch in town at a French cafe since the beach was not useable. We booked this trip because of our experience on the Paul Gauguin ship in the Tahitian Islands where we had a wonderful beach barbeque with lobster, fresh fish, etc. We never wanted for anything on that cruise. We never saw fresh fish or fresh lobster on this ship. When my wife ordered dinner one eve, the menu listed lobster stuffed with shrimp and crab. Well, she's allergic to shrimp so asked the server if she might have a plain lobster. He said, "No, it comes frozen stuffed with shrimp and crab." So then at the bottom of the menu it said you can always order fresh fish, which she asked about. The only "fresh" fish they offered was farm raised salmon - I'd like to know where the farm is that raised salmon in the Caribbean. It arrived at the table mush and inedible - we think they must have microwaved it as it definitely had not been grilled. I think, as did some of the other passengers, they were just cleaning out the pantry before turning the ship over ot the new owners. The cruise director, Rico, could not speak a lot of English and even more importantly, couldn't read it off the screen when he was supposed to tell what sights to see on the islands. It was so painful to watch that another passenger took pity on him and grabbed the microphone and read what was listed on the screen for him! As a side note, this ship had already been sold, with only 2 more cruises to sail before turning it over to the new owners. We felt they gave the job to this guy because the previous director had quit for another job when he found out the boat had sold. At the bar by the pool, many people were delivering their own drinks - only 1 bartender and he would sometimes disappear downstairs for a period of time, leaving the bar unattended. We paid over $3,000 each for this - it was worse than a 3-day cruise to Ensenada! We felt we had been scammed - and they will not admit it, only replying to our letter saying there were no other complaints. We heard plenty of complaints on the ship, along with comments such as "we will not even think of sailing on a Paul Gauguin ship ever again." In fact, I would estimate 25%, at least, of the passengers were sailing on discounted fares as payment from a previous voyage in the Tahitian Islands where they had to spend extra time in Papeete, thus missing one of the other islands, due to an engine problem on the ship. This sounds like a maintenance issue (or lack of). The people on our ship were told this was the only cruise left they could sign up for with space available! The cabin was very nice - lots of storage. The stewardess kept the room clean, towels stocked as well as the refrigerator stocked. We feel this small boat should never have been sailing in open water - even half the crew was ill. A couple nights we were hitting the waves so hard it sounded like someone was hitting the bottom of the boat under our bed with a sledgehammer. We didn't book the ship's shore excursions, but had a private shore excursion in Cartagena which had to be rearranged because of arriving late and leaving earlier than anticipated, so we had a 2 1/2 hr. private tour instead of the 4 hr. tour we had planned and paid for. The service people were very friendly and helpful, considering most of them were probably losing their jobs in a few weeks due to the sale. Regarding entertainment - Due to the small size of the ship, the only entertainment was Alex, the keyboardist and also one night many crew members who had definite talent gave impressive performances. Obviously, the Paul Gauguin company does not care much about their reputation or they would have done a decent job on the Tere Moana, even though they had sold it. They have only 1 other ship, the Paul Gauguin, although Mr. Bailey, CEO, informed the passengers that they also own Air Tahiti Nui Airlines, and some of the Intercontinental Hotels in the Tahitian Islands and have just purchased Marlon Brando's private island, should we wish to book a stay with them! He never once mentioned the problems on this boat or apologized for anything - just seemed interested in selling. Obviously, he didn't care about the paying passengers on board that were sorely disappointed as well as disgusted by the attitude of the higher-ups. We certainly do not ever plan to patronize any of the above companies they own. As a final note (insult) to the passengers, it was announced that there were no taxis on St. Maarten, but Paul Gauguin would provide transport to the airport for $35. per person! We weren't surprised, as we had been taken advantage of since we boarded the ship. We knew better than to believe that, so picked up our luggage, walked to the end of the pier where we were immediately asked if we'd like a taxi. We accepted a taxi for just the 2 of us, for a total of $25.00. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
For my wife and I, our first Windstar cruise and I would definitely consider Windstar again in the right circumstances. The great-staff in all areas of the ship,attentive,friendly and very helpful- the cabins very spacious and ... Read More
For my wife and I, our first Windstar cruise and I would definitely consider Windstar again in the right circumstances. The great-staff in all areas of the ship,attentive,friendly and very helpful- the cabins very spacious and comfortable-easy check in and departure- other guests friendly ,easy to make friends,- we found the food excellent at all meal occasions with good menu options[to many for my willpower] not so great[for us] some of the excursions-expensive - tram tour, didn't see wildlife,couldn't understand guide at the park, great view of the canal just disappointing,- mangrove tour again didn't really see enough expected wildlife, dangerous exit from tour boat,tour staff seemed unprepared, late getting back and 6 of us stranded on dock waiting for 45 minutes for zodiac to return- then there are the zodiacs,fun for some but at times, on the two days with high sea swells, a real challenge transferring to ship,particularly anyone with mobility issues. We did enjoy the chocolate farm tour. It was hot 35 to 40C every day{ it is the tropics] ,to hot to stay in sun and not much to do on the ship if you don't excursion. other observations-limited ship entertainment but what there was we enjoyed-2 sets of 2 musicians on board and we thought they were great and lots of fun but no one on our cruise seemed to stay up after 9:30 at night,a pity. The panama canal was a night trip and we saw one lock as the daylight ended. First day of cruise we went to Portabella , was not on the itinerary and there are no maps on board or tv info to show in detail the ship's position or route. our advice -research the excursions to see what suits you. We heard mixed reviews on excursions from others,some had great experiences and the area is beautiful. There may be some learning going on for Windstar with this being the first year for this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
By now, it is no longer news that the beautiful Star Pride hit a reef off the Isla de Coiba, Panama, on Tuesday, December 22 at about 6:15 a.m. I was aboard with my husband and two adult daughters when the ship hit the reef. There was a ... Read More
By now, it is no longer news that the beautiful Star Pride hit a reef off the Isla de Coiba, Panama, on Tuesday, December 22 at about 6:15 a.m. I was aboard with my husband and two adult daughters when the ship hit the reef. There was a jolt and a tremor that ran through the ship, accompanied by the screech of metal. There was no communication from the bridge to the passengers. Given the emphasis on safety for which Windstar is known, we passengers were lulled into a false sense of security. Our itinerary was to spend the day on the island, enjoying swimming, beach sports, and a barbecue. We left the ship at 9:00 a.m., wearing just our swimsuits and cover-ups, and leaving wallets, valuables and medications behind. Again, there had been no communication from the bridge to give us any sense of the seriousness of our situation. At 11:00, our tour leader Gonzalo informed us that the ship was damaged and that divers were being flown in by helicopter to assess the extent of the damage. We were told we could not return to the ship and that all electricity and water had been turned off as a precaution. Meanwhile, the ship developed a visible list to one side. Anxiety began to build among the passengers, which turned to frustration and concern as the afternoon progressed. Despite the growing unease, most passengers remained remarkably patient and understanding. Meanwhile, we were treated well. Our chef and his crew provided a delicious barbecue (grilled fish, chicken, burgers, seafood mac’ and cheese, salad and delicious tropical fruits), working over very hot grills with outdoor temperatures in the mid-90’s. The housekeeping staff delivered medications from our cabins. However, the limited restroom facilities were overwhelmed by this time, filthy, and without water. It was several more hours before we heard from the bridge, while the ship developed a more pronounced list, and tension continued to build. Finally, in the late afternoon, Gonzalo read a communique from the captain, advising us that the cruise was cancelled because the ship was no longer seaworthy. There were several holes in the hull, one described as “big as a watermelon,” which could not be repaired. We were told that our sister ship, Star Breeze, had diverted course to pick us up later that evening. We were informed that Windstar would refund the cost of the cruise and give a credit towards a future cruise. At this point, questions erupted from the passengers, who quite naturally were concerned about the loss of their possessions, valuables, and travel documents. Gonzalo and his colleague Fanny advised that the housekeeping staff would be going from room to room collecting clothing and valuables, to be returned to us. I want to commend Rich, the bar manager, for stepping in at this point with a calm and good-natured approach to this tense situation, culminating in his opening the bar with the humorous admonition, “But don’t drink me premium stuff!” Staff members Gonzalo, Fanny, Rich and Kristi all deserve commendation for the excellent way in which they handled the situation and diffused a potentially volatile situation. The first ship to reach us was the French yacht, Tere Moana, which arrived at about 11:00 and took the first fifty passengers. The Star Breeze arrived about an hour later and took the remaining passengers. We were transferred by Zodiac pontoon and welcomed aboard at about 12:30 a.m. with a hot buffet dinner. Our hastily packed luggage arrived at about 3:00 a.m., though many people (including us) reported items missing. To our immense surprise and gratitude, we were assigned to suites, four persons each. (I had expected to sleep in one of the lounges.) The Star Breeze then diverted course to take us to Golfito, Costa Rica. We arrived at approximately 2:00 p.m. the next day. We were taken by 6-hour bus ride to the lavish Intercontinental Hotel in San Jose. A buffet dinner was waiting for us at the hotel upon our arrival, and we enjoyed a buffet breakfast in the morning. Windstar offered three free nights at the hotel, but my family left the next morning, psychologically ready to put this experience behind us. My husband and I have used Windstar for enjoyable cruises to Greece, Turkey, and the Iberian Peninsula, and we have never had reason to complain about the safety and service aboard these beautiful yachts with their friendly and competent crews. However, I do believe the company failed us, in not providing immediate communication from the bridge about our situation. It was clear we hit something at 6:15 a.m. I believe the captain or first officer should have gone on the loudspeaker to suggest that, as a simple precaution, passengers pack a small bag with their valuables, travel documents, medications and a change of clothing, until the situation could be fully assessed. Most passengers were experienced world travelers, unlikely to panic at what would have been regarded as a reasonable precautionary measure. Would we consider another Windstar cruise? Perhaps. This will depend on how company management handles its response to the situation. At this point, it appears the company is making good faith efforts to compensate us and to restore our confidence. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We spent the night in the Marriott Panama City but booked ourselves instead of through Windstar and saved over $100 each doing it independently. Very nice hotel in a great location with pool and helpful staff. First impressions of the ... Read More
We spent the night in the Marriott Panama City but booked ourselves instead of through Windstar and saved over $100 each doing it independently. Very nice hotel in a great location with pool and helpful staff. First impressions of the Windspirit was ‘great’ which was unfortunately rather muted after the 1.5 hour coach ride to Colon from Panama City having to listen to the tour guide drone on for most of the journey. Disembarking the coach and finding our way to the Windspirit was also very shambolic with no direction, signage nor Windstar representative but we all found our way in the end to the refreshing air conditioning of the ships main reception. Registration in the lounge was a little amateur but we got through it and were then directed to our cabin. Warmth and hospitality of the ship staff are one of the biggest plus points of the voyage with staff soon learning your name. Our cabin on deck one amidships was very comfortable but showing a little wear despite the recent refurbishment that took place. Our cabin steward was very helpful, friendly and made our stay very enjoyable. Depending on what muster point you are allocated for your lifeboat there is a clear difference in the quality of staff and the amount of information you receive from them. One hopes there will never be an incident. Without going into too much detail the other passengers on the ship were very friendly and nice people and we made friends with several. The entertainment was everything you would expect, and we wanted, from a small ship i.e. just a piano player which was very good. We didn’t take up the drink package as not value for money! We do like two or three cocktails/wine in the evening but it just did not work out financially as a good deal. We did, however, take up the laundry package which was great and well worth it. The food was lovely! We really enjoyed Candles on the pool deck although you do need to pre-book. The main restaurant AmphorA was very nice too with great service. My partner and I both need to go on a diet after all the great food which was always available. Windstar promote their ships as ‘private yachts’ and that is how it really felt. You wouldn’t have noticed 148 passengers on board. We went through the Panama Canal which was scenic but once you’ve done one lock that’s about it, but it depends on your individual interests. Christmas day was spent on Isla de Coiba in the Pacific. What a paradise and fantastic day on the beach, bbq and first real day on a beach in the sun. I would recommend you do detailed research on the ports prior to the trip and plan your own outings. Most companies will pick you up at the dock as part of the package if you wanted to do some zip line for example and they most definitely will be cheaper than booking through the ship. There may have been faults with either the ship, trips out, staff etc but we would most heartily recommend Windstar and are already looking at sailing with them again. This is the next best thing to having your own yacht so enjoy!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
The Silver Explorer is a nice ship with an excellent crew. The food was as good as on other Silversea ships which means it was very good. The service was outstanding. This was the least expensive cabin category and the cabin was more than ... Read More
The Silver Explorer is a nice ship with an excellent crew. The food was as good as on other Silversea ships which means it was very good. The service was outstanding. This was the least expensive cabin category and the cabin was more than adequate. However, it was extremely noisy because of the anchor which took a very long time to raise and because of the extreme noise when engines were reversed. You should avoid the area of the ship that is forward and on a lower deck unless you are prepared to tolerate the noise. That was the only thing wrong with our cabin. Otherwise it was a very good value, very comfortable and the service was outstanding.   We took this cruise mostly because it was transiting the Panama Canal but also to try the Explorer. There are some things you should know. First, this is the rainy season in that part of Central America. That means there is a LOT of rain, sometimes torrential. This made the excursion to the Mogue River and the Embera village much less enjoyable than it would have been. In fact, it was kind of an ordeal. Nevertheless, the expedition leaders made the best of it. They were very helpful. Most trips to shore from this ship are by Zodiac, often with wet landings. You will need shoes that you will be able to continue wearing after they get wet, something like water shoes or well constructed sandals. There were many passengers on this ship who had previously sailed on the Explorer. Most had been to Antarctica and we're anxious for you to know they had been to Antarctica. In any case, these passengers were fiercely loyal to the Explorer. Most passengers were friendly, interesting and enjoyable. However, this is an expensive cruise line so you will be sailing with some wealthy people. Most are nice and unaffected by their wealth but there are a few who are angry ultra conservative types who think they are better than the little people. On a small ship, it can be hard to avoid these snobs. All in all, I liked the Explorer and loved the service but I like the other Silversea ships better. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013

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