4 Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera) Expedition Cruise Reviews

After 6 National Geographic/Lindblad trips, we made a change and went with Zegrahm Expeditions. What a huge difference after only one trip, we will never go back. We are heading to the Pantanal in Brazil with them in just a few weeks for ... Read More
After 6 National Geographic/Lindblad trips, we made a change and went with Zegrahm Expeditions. What a huge difference after only one trip, we will never go back. We are heading to the Pantanal in Brazil with them in just a few weeks for our second trip. Far better organization on the ship and the food was better. Even lobster, shrimp and tuna - you won't see any of that on a Lindblad ship. Organized expeditions searching for wildlife, much more adventurous Zodiac trips, diving, snorkeling and they paid extra for us to have a daytime crossing of the Panama canal. We even got to keep our snorkeling equipment. This trip was hard to beat and a huge improvement over National Geographic trips. Financially, the trip cost was a lot less, beer and wine with lunch & dinner was included. We did 7 dives which were all included, all gratuities were also included, and I got to fish off the back of the boat. You get $80.00 each to buy some free clothes (Columbia) before your trip and $50.00 to buy maps and books of the places you will see during your trip. Most expedition ships take you to the same places, you will not miss a thing. We even went into the Darien Gap area near Columbia where the native Indians still live a subsistence lifestyle. You also receive a very professionally done DVD of your trip for free vs. $75 with National Geographic. The National Geographic "Costa Rica" trip goes to 2 countries. The Zegrahm Expedition trip went to Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Honduras and Belize. We did dives in all of them for free vs. $100.00 per dive with National Geographic. The Zegrahm trip was much less expensive than the National Geographic trip considering the initial trip cost plus expenses averaged out per day. The National Geographic trip for the same number of days would have been over $14,000 more than what we paid on Zegrahm. The Zegrahm trip was fun, exciting and very adventurous. We had 75 people on board, but we never felt crowded and there were 3 - 4 different options to pick everyday for adventures. We had full days of seeing and doing things from the minute we arrived. They seemed to know what it takes to keep people from getting down and complaining. It was one of the happiest groups of people we have ever traveled with. We loved it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
When you travel on the Tere Moana you come to feel like you are traveling with family. Everyone from the Captain to the waitpeople to the housekeeping group to those whom you never see work together as an incredible team with the sole ... Read More
When you travel on the Tere Moana you come to feel like you are traveling with family. Everyone from the Captain to the waitpeople to the housekeeping group to those whom you never see work together as an incredible team with the sole purpose of ensuring all guests are made to feel at home and comfortable. We especially saw this when we had some difficult landings. We did not experience the air conditioning issues that other reviewers have mentioned. And we were in hot and humid locations for the entire trip (Costa Rica/Panama). Cabins on the 300 and 400 decks are the same. We found there was no need to pay the higher price of the 400 level. The cabin rooms are more than amble (only wish we had a balcony). In fact, we did not use all of the space allocated to clothes (a full length hanging closet plus shelve space). Very comfortable beds and duvet comforters. Hot water in the showers, always -- even immediately after everyone coming back on board after a day at the beach. The ship baker is to be commended. A range of breads made fresh for lunch and dinner with inventive butter pairings. Yum. More than once, we had barbecue lunch on the beach. That means that everything -- grills, tables, chairs, food and drink -- needs to be taken off the ship, set-up and arranged on the beach. And taken down afterward. All of this work was done seamlessly (and with a smile). We even had ice cream cones brought to us while wading in the warm waters! With only 88 guests, you come to know all of your fellow travelers by the end of the trip. But you can also find quiet spots to read without interruption (at the front of the ship under umbrellas, by the pool, in the lounge or library). Wifi is spotty but that is the nature of the oceans and not the ship. Spoiler alert: This is not a 'luxury' ship. If you're looking for this kind of experience, you'll need to find another ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
When booking our first ever cruise, I was nervous about what I had read on the boards regarding kids on Star Clipper. So I thought I would share our experience which can be summoned up in a single word- Great!!!!!I have 9 year old son and ... Read More
When booking our first ever cruise, I was nervous about what I had read on the boards regarding kids on Star Clipper. So I thought I would share our experience which can be summoned up in a single word- Great!!!!!I have 9 year old son and a daughter who actually turned 12 on our trip. My husband is a Scientist who despises crowds, shopping casinos, & cheesy Broadway reviews. When my daughter asked us if we could go on a cruise for our annual family vacation I was in a bit of pickle given that her Dad's idea of a vacation is not a big traditional cruise ship. He loves nature, adventure, history and science. After months of research we had zeroed in on Star Clipper. We signed up for the 6 night repositioning cruise from Costa Rica to Panama and booked the 2 day pre-land package in Monteverde cloud forest. The land package was fabulous. From the moment we landed we where taken care of. Our transfer driver showed us all sorts of things on the way to Monteverde, including stopping for lunch, monkeys and other wildlife. The visit to Selvatura park was lots of fun and we where able to add in Zip-lining which was heart stopping action adventure. The hummingbirds where amazing and the coatis just wandered all around the hummingbird garden. My family was entranced. The Hotel Fonda Vela had a lovey hot tub and pools with a gorgeous view. A real highlight for my daughter was eating a big bowl of Ice cream made locally at the Monteverde dairy, which the hotel brought to her in the hot tub. Pura Vida!!!! On the last Morning the Hotel helped me book a tour at Monteverde National Park and we where lucky enough to see a female Quetzal and a toucanette plus Coatis, agoutis and trogans. The guide was great! After a terrific lunch we headed to Puerte Caldera.We got to Puerte Caldera about an hour before the boat sailed which was a bit boring as the terminal is minimal but the line did have some apple juice and a nice plate of fruit for us. We killed the time watching the Star Flyer being moved further down the dock to make way for huge container ship so even that was interesting. Embarkation was easy and we where greeted with a nice fruit drink and music.Since there was 4 of us we booked 2 cabins a cat 6 and a cat 4 that where across the hall from each other. The cat 6 is tiny and no frills We joked with the kids it was a combination vacation and "scared straight"., but the kids did like the bunk beds. The cabin across the way was just fine with a port hole, DVD player and between the two we never felt cramped.When we first got on board my daughter said to me mom I think people are staring at us we are the ONLY family. Looking around I think we where attracting some looks. As it turns out we weren't the only family as a set of grandparents where traveling with their 14 year old grandson. The next day at the Captain's welcome speech he made a point to note how happy Star Flyer was to have a family aboard and to publicly welcome us. It was a nice feeling.At dinner Godwin and Herman went out of their way to make sure my super picky 9 year old eater knew that he could always have pasta or steak and french fries. The bar tender also made a point to tell the kids he could make them special fun fruit cocktails just for them.Pretty soon my kids where entranced with ship and the grand adventure. Our first stop was Quepos. We wanted to do the horseback riding but not enough people signed up. Ximena managed to switch us to white water rafting. Our guide was great. Just as we arrived the heavens opened up and drenched us. My son who had a cough was soon shivering. Our guide noticed his discomfort and quickly made him a plastic raincoat from a plastic bag which was very kind. The weather soon cleared and our guide was terrific. Helped us spot all sorts of wildlife and picked a perfect line through every rapid. After white water rafting back on board the kids hit the pools and tried out the bow net both of which where big hits! My son especially enjoyed diving down into the bottom of the pool and waving through the windows down there at the tropical bar.The next few days passed by a in a whirl. Tour of Corvacado National Park, Climbing the crows nest, even my 9 year old, plus raising the sails and swimming. The only tour that was a disappointment was the wildlife rescue center and orchid garden. Definitely not worth 80 E. Our best day was at Isla de Coiba in Panama. The most gorgeous beach I have ever seen. My 12 year old enjoyed the beach while my husband, son and I snorkeled. The snorkeling was fabulous. The highlight for my son was finding a harmless white tipped reef shark while snorkeling. He was so excited it was amazing to watch. The sports team nick named him shark boy after that. Our last stop at Isla Iguana was canceled because the seas where too rough to safely get us off the boat and instead we had a day at sea. While disappointed I appreciated the crews concern for our safety.The kids also had a blast with the evening entertainment. My daughter loved making us pirate costumes out of our daily bulletins (hats) tying our red t-shirts on our heads, dressing yus in strips, and making herself an eye patch from mom's band aids. The frog races where also a highlight for them followed by dancing. The night of the crew talent show my guys where too exhausted to stay up so it was just us girls. We laughed our selves silly a the funny corny show and we topped the evening off with the Macarana. Another funny thing happened as folks began to realize our kids weren't going to be badly behaved or rude they became so friendly it was great. People we didn't even know cheered us as we climbed the crows nest. People called us aside to show us pictures of the kids at pirate night, frog races etc that they had taken. The atmosphere was just wonderful. Apart from that first day we never felt anything but warmth and acceptance.All too soon it was over and we sadly disembarked but then spent another great week touring the Panama Canal zone. As we booked the Star Clipper, what our cruise agent was most worried about was "will the kids be board?" The truth of the matter was they where actually exhausted by the end of every day because there was a lot of fun things to do. However, I do have to caveat a few things. Our kids are used to vacations in the US National parks where there is no TV and a fun time is a ranger lead campfire. We also came prepared, our own DVDs and a Nintendo DS for each kids with plenty of games. Also I wouldn't want to be chasing after a toddler as the tours require a degree of mobility and a kid screaming in the dinning room would not be good, but for a family with tweens (7-13). It was great.If your family loves adventure its a blast! My daughter is already scheming to do one of their Mediterranean cruises. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Trip of a Lifetime II - Prince Albert II The Prince Albert II is a luxurious expedition ship with 5 star cuisine and outstanding attention to detail and service. It offers the ambiance and beautiful lines of a large private yacht, not a ... Read More
Trip of a Lifetime II - Prince Albert II The Prince Albert II is a luxurious expedition ship with 5 star cuisine and outstanding attention to detail and service. It offers the ambiance and beautiful lines of a large private yacht, not a cruise ship. It is intimate enough so that at the end of your voyage you feel like family with the incredible staff and crew. The cabins are roomy and tastefully decorated. The cabin staff were very patient and helpful even with muddy gear from jungle hikes. To our surprise, the room service when we decided to "dine in" one night was a 5 course meal from the evening dinner menu at the suggestion of our wonderful butler. The entertainment at the piano bar was great, and if you are lucky enough to have a BBQ on the stern with the in house band "Da Mixed Nuts" you are in for a real treat. Now to our voyage : Our second wildlife expedition voyage with Prince Albert II was to Central America in October 2009. This was not a repositioning cruise by any means, while the ship was heading from the Artic to Antarctica (the Antarctic Peninsula was our first expedition). This was an exciting voyage to famous and remote areas from Costa Rica to Ecuador. We enjoyed hiking in rainforests and tropical islands, snorkeling with sharks at Cocos, an upriver trip to visit the Embera people in the Darien Jungle of Panama, an unforgettable crossing of the Equator courtesy of King Neptune and crew, hearing the haunting songs of the humpback whales while snorkeling at Isla Gorgona, and walking among hundreds of courting Blue Footed Boobies on Isla de la Plata. The staff's dedication and persistence allowed the passengers to be aboard the first cruise ship to stop at Cocos and Isla Gorgona. The outstanding expedition staff included a marine biologist, geologist, anthropologist, and naturalist/orinthologist who all provided entertaining educational talks. It was a little like grad school only with champagne and no exams. The expedition staff, as well as the outstanding crew have excellent and consistently high safety standards. We always felt very safe and in good hands. We never felt rushed getting in and out of the zodiacs or while hiking since this is a small ship at remote locations and there was not another tour group right behind us limiting our enjoyment or ability to take some great pictures. The staff was always very helpful in making accommodations for passengers of all ages and physical fitness, and are also very flexible and able to quickly improvise or go to "Plan B" depending on weather and safety considerations. We are already planning and looking forward to another expedition of a lifetime aboard the Prince Albert II - we can't imagine ever going on another ship. Michael & Nora Lewis Read Less
Sail Date October 2009

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