Star Flyer Cruise Review by fezcat2028
- Sail Date: November 2011
- Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Having spent three and a half days in Panama City, we were collected from the Hotel Deville, the sun had decided to shine today and the sky was bright blue with no hint of rain. We had seen the Flyer in the distance anchored off the Isla Flamneco as we strolled along the Avienda Balboa in the morning and having cooled off over lunch waited for our pick up.
We were picked up at 3pm and after a 20 minute drive arrived at the embarkation point. We were early which allowed us to quickly sign the relevant disclaimers and await the tender. The Flyer floated gently in the bay looking splendid in the afternoon sun. Having seen our luggage disappear on the first tender we awaited our turn, we chatted to some other traveller's two English couples as we waited, more transfers arrived and the languages spoken started to change.
Being typically English we awaited our turn in an orderly fashion, however quickly discovering that this wasn't the thing to do all haste was made to ensure we were on the next tender. A helping hand by the crew to board and we set off towards the Flyer. As we draw closer to our home for the next seven nights the anticipation grew. Even in calm seas the tender takes on a distinctive rolling effect as we drew closer to the rather steep steps and the climb up to the deck.
Another helping hand and we climbed aboard, to be greeted by Captain Peter and other crew members, a welcoming fruit cocktail and wet towel were quickly offered. We queued to have our photo taken and our pass cards issued, collect our room keys and then off to the cabin. Our cabin a category 4 number 124 was in the depths, small but with a port hole this was ours for the next 7 nights.
Having read lots of previous reviews I quickly identified that speed would be of the essence if we wanted to book the trips we had decided to go on in the pamphlet provided with our documents. Back in the tropical bar the trips folder was found and we awaited our turn wrestling it back from some newly arrived Americans who tried to hijack it and booked all the trips we had wanted to go on.
As embarkation continued the cruise Director Philip gave a brief welcome talk around 6pm then off to our first dinner at around 7.45pm a choice of meals was available along with an extensive wine list, we went for the house wine at 15 Euros. Dinner was well presented and the service was excellent, as we did not know anybody we were seated by the maitre de and were then joined by Randy and Nancy a very nice couple from Iowa
The time to set sail arrived, lots of crew movement and some sails raised as we started to move off to Van Gelisis 1492 soundtrack, those who watched drifting off after some time, we were on our way.
Day 1 Isla Iguana Panama
After a bad night sleep, (it is rather noisy down in the depths) I awoke for the sun rise a few hardy passengers about but not many. Takes a while to find your sea legs and that's when the sea is as calm as the proverbial mill pond! A brief breakfast was had and up on deck for the battle of the sun beds. Cover on the Flyer is scarce so you do need to be up early to ensure you can escape the very strong sun. We arrived at the Isla Iguana around lunchtime and got on the first tender ashore, a wet landing though so be prepared as there are quite a few of these. The afternoon being spent sunbathing and snorkelling, can't beat it really.
After another lovely evening meal we adjourned to the tropical bar for the fashion show, the sports team and other crew members entertaining us with the Star Clippers fashion available from the shop finishing off with an almost strictly come dancing routine to "sex bomb" and audience participation in YMCA
Day 2 Isle De Gamay Panama
The sports team were hosting the mast climb in the morning, it looked easy from the sun bed and not that high; however it's a totally different story when you're up there. Unfortunately due to wind and sea conditions we arrived late at the Isle De Gamay so we stayed on board as there was only just over 2 hours to go ashore
Another very nice meal in very pleasant company 12 English people on board out of 147 passengers and 6 of us Brits got together.
This evening's entertainment was a pop quiz won by the Austrian team, who we later found out to be made up of 22 travel agents invited by Star Clippers to sample the week, it's alright for some!
Day 3 Golfito Bay Costa Rica
Arrived early morning to another blue sky day, today is our first excursion, zip lining in the rain forest canopy. The sun is very strong today so will have to be careful. A tender trip to the dock but at least it's not a wet landing! Four wheel drive taxis take 24 of us into the rain forest and we get kitted up for our escapade. Really good excursion unfortunately the heavens opened half way round and we were rushed round as it gets dangerous in the wet. Please note, make sure you put your camera in a bag; zip lining in a tropical storm with a camera round your neck can only lead to disaster and an expensive repair bill.
This evening's entertainment was frog racing, the crab racing had been banned due to issues keeping the crabs in a humane manner and frogs mustn't come under that rule! Our team came second and guess who came first, yes those damned Austrians! Even after our better halves tried to sabotage their frog, great fun was had by all.
Day 4 Drakes Bay Costa Rica
Early start for our second excursion, horse riding along the beach, my payback for making my other half zip line! To be fair was very enjoyable and I can't see what all the fuss is about, this horse riding lark was easy. It was a bit disappointing that we couldn't go up along the ridge overlooking the bay as recent rain had made the paths to dangerous for the horses.
Returned back to a very nice thanks giving buffet for lunch. Once back the weather changed grey thick cloud came in and it rained and rained a shame as we weren't able to do the tender photo shoot with the Star Flyer in full sail.
This evening was the talent show, another excellent effort by the crew and sports team although one of the Austrians did go for a solo song based on New York New York but with the words changed to Star Flyer.. I will pass no further comment.
Day 5 Quepas
A lunchtime arrival in Quepas a quick trip into the town before the last of the excursions the mangrove swamp. Another dry landing and a quick walk round what seems to be a typical Central American town.
The mangrove swamp was good but you can only see so many mangroves, back to the Flyer for Hors derves and then dinner. The entertainment a local band from Quepas, the tropical bar did empty very quickly and as usual followed by Joseph and his organ and disco. We set sail at midnight under a star laden sky to our last proper destination.
Day 6 Isla Tortega Costa Rica
After another early morning arrival, weather perfect, sun, a little cloud and a lovely beach to chill out on. We were away on the first tender and another wet landing, as it's been said in previous reviews you do pay for everything, but all you need is a beach towel, sun cream and a good book to spend the day chilling out.
Our final evening meal, the assembled passengers clapping as the waiters and chefs are introduced to us, then back to the bar for a final session with Joseph and his organ, a shame as we felt the last night needed to be celebrated with a bit more style.
Day 7 Disembarkation
I agree with previous reviews a disappointing end as we anchor in a container port, it's all over and are goodbyes and address swapping are completed a final tender ride to the quay and then it's off for a final couple of days relaxing.
The Star Flyer completely exceeded our expectations, we have never been on a cruise before and after this will never want to go on a big ship cruise, it's so informal friendly and laid back.
We found the evening food to be excellent quality, plenty of choice, the wine was good value and the bar drinks were reasonably priced and made you want to stay for a drink, the service was excellent. Special award to Igor who remembered all of our room numbers for drinks after the first day, or was it because we spent the most time in the bar that helped!
An even more special mention to the sports team Simon, Alvin, Freddie, Jose and cruise Director Phillp who the ladies in our group swooned over the whole time for their excellent efforts keeping us entertained.
The downsides, not many, our cabin was noisy but you quickly get over it, the breakfasts, buffet style could have been a bit warmer, the trips are pretty expensive but are good, perhaps more time under sail but sea winds and currents seem to prevent this.
Things to note, get to the trips book early to sign up to the ones you want, places are limited but you just need to plan for that, smoking is not an issue one side of the bar is reserved for smokers, if you don't like it stay on the other side!
Our newly found friends are all saying they'll do another cruise, I have to say we agree, it's just a matter of deciding where next.