7 Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera) Senior Cruise Reviews

We went on this cruise to check out Crystal's luxury ocean cruise line. We picked this one because it has a paddle tennis court on it which we could use for pickleball. We brought four pickleball padles and by the end of the cruise we ... Read More
We went on this cruise to check out Crystal's luxury ocean cruise line. We picked this one because it has a paddle tennis court on it which we could use for pickleball. We brought four pickleball padles and by the end of the cruise we had about 14 players all rotating in at 9 o'clock a.m. every day. It made the trip. We liked the cruise experience so much that we're planning on doing another one on Serenity that has two paddle tennis courts September 28th in case anyway wants to join us for some pickleball. We have been on Oceania, Regent, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian so have experienced many different classes of ships and classes of service. We had pretty much given up the ocean cruising because we didn't like the masses of people on board and nickle and diming experience. Then we tried luxury cruising. Compared to the Regent, my only complaint is that there could be some more music on the pool deck. I think we only had music one day and then also there is no sports bar, so if you want to watch a sporting event you have to go to your Room. I also like the fact that you don't need to pay for excursions on crystal...(regent includes excursions in their fares). Also I have to say Crystal does a better job protecting their pickleball courts from the wind. They had wind screens all around the court and about a 12' plexiglass on one side so it's pretty protected from the wind that makes it more playable when your cruising. We really enjoyed the cruise and the ship. They also did fabulous decorating for Christmas. We didn't really care to get off in any the ports since we've been there so many times, just enjoyed the ship. Even went to few of the movies in the Hollywood theater. We had excellent service all around and big shout out to our Butler Victor who went above and beyond, anticipating our every need. We did tip him extra as he was unbelievable. We had absolutely wonderful 6 star service throughout the cruise from dining, housekeeping, to cocktails at the pool, every crew member was great. We did see one variety show and the dancers and singers were very good. Lastly, an interesting note is they still allow guests to come on board so we had 4 friends visit for dinner at our overnight port in San Diego. I have tons of pictures and video of this ship let me know if you need something in particular... like menus. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We were looking to go through the Panama Canal on a small ship and not have to visit various Caribbean islands that we have already seen. We had not visited Costa Rica or Panama so the itinerary on this ship fit our requirement. ... Read More
We were looking to go through the Panama Canal on a small ship and not have to visit various Caribbean islands that we have already seen. We had not visited Costa Rica or Panama so the itinerary on this ship fit our requirement. Embarkation was terrible and almost had us worrying what we got ourselves into. We took an independent tour from a hotel we booked on our own, which was cheaper than their transfer. We got to the port and they did not tell you that for security purposes your taxi cannot take you directly to the ship. You transfer into another van, which our tour guide seemed to know. Inside the port we were dropped off at a building stating we had to go through immigration. A porter took our bags inside the building and no one was there except a person at a table offering us cookies and lemonade. We asked what do we do and he ran out of the building to find someone. We are now standing waiting with a porter who does not speak English. The person comes back and says someone will be with us shortly. We waited 10 minutes and my husband goes out to find someone. A bus just arrived to the ship so they were busy but not having someone to great you and tell you what to do was crazy. My husband comes back with someone who provides us luggage tags (they do not provide a package in advance) and says to board they ship. We board after the bus load of people and it is a bit chaotic. You go through a metal screener, someone does a peripheral look through your carry on bags. You are asked to take your traditional picture and given some forms and go into a lounge with a number to be called. Once our number was called they state we don’t have all the forms. They ran to get us others and we had more to fill out. So confusing. Finally everything was filled in and we gave them the forms and you need to surrender your passports as they clear customs for you from Costa Rica to Panama. Once you get your key, you are escorted to your cabin and they show you around. Not the best way to start a cruise but it got better from there. There were about 190 guests with 150 crew so there were very attentive. Staff was very friendly as you met the same servers at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was a pleasure to eat breakfast and lunch without waiting on long buffet lines and trying to find a seat that is an issue on some of the larger ship. Dinner is open seating and you have a choice to eat with other people or on your own each night. Dress is very casual and no formal nights - thank goodness! They have a specialty restaurant, Candles, where they dress up the veranda cafe used for breakfast and lunch. It is very pretty and the menu is excellent. You get to eat their once for no extra fee and if you get lucky, like we did, we ate their twice. The downside is it is a small ship with a small hot tub and circulating pool to get wet. They could not get the hot tub to the right temperature, on certain days it was too hot to go in. There is also a lack of outdoor seating in the shade. The upper deck has lots of lounge chairs but they will not open the umbrellas when the ship is moving as they will fly away. The Yacht club is very nice on the upper floor with large windows and you can find a quiet space to read or play board games that they provide. The Yacht club serves light food all day until 5 or 6 PM but after that time, you only have the main dining room or room service. I was looking for ice cream when we came back from a shore excursion but the only place to get ice cream is room service. Really? Room service is free as is all soft drinks and types of coffee and teas. There is limited evening entertainment, a piano player who was pretty poor and a duet who were talented. Select evenings they had music and movie trivia as well as Liar’s Club which were fun. Other nights they only had music. This is not a cruise for you if you want shows or late night entertainment. The ship has a very small fitness area - three treadmills, two bikes and a few weight machines. The ceiling was so low you could not stretch your arms straight up. Person giving some of the evening fitness classes seemed more interested in talking with friends than giving the class. I stopped into the spa for a manicure and they had limited nail polish colors and no drying machine. Sitting still for over an hour did not work to keep the manicure without crinkles. Bring your own nail polish remover and polish. Ship needs some TLC as it showed signs of rust and wear and tear. Rooms were very nice overall, see my cabin review. The Destination Manager, Steve, was very good and he gave a short port talk every day to give you an overview of what to expect the next day He was available throughout the day to answer questions and was very helpful. He also told you whether you were doing a wet landing or dry. They go to small ports so they use a zodiac to transport guests. It takes 18 people and 2 crew and they get the tours off first so you may have to wait if your doing something independently. The staff are great guiding you on and off and you need to bring shoes, water socks or sandles that will get wet. You usually get off in ankle or higher water on the beach on wet landings. There were people who had canes or some walking challenges who were able to make the transition but it is not comfortable especially if there is rolling waves which we had on two days. Staff do whatever they need to help. The ship opens a bay in the back which becomes a swimming platform and they place out floating mats to lay on, a trampoline with a slide, noodles as well as kayaks, paddle boards and you can sign up for water skiing and tubing - an adult playground. It is only open when the water is calm from about 10 to 2 or 3. The ship does a barbecue lunch on a beach on an island which is a national park so it has limited people visiting. You can only get there by boat. They set up lounge chairs with umbrellas or half tents, tables and chairs in a shaded area for eating, a full bar, barbecue with tons of food, a tent from the spa to sign up for massages as well as all the “toys” from the swimming platform. Great day and very well done. They also have an evening barbecue and they pulled out all the stops. They transform the open decks with tables and chairs with tablecloths and soft lighting. Food choices were everything from cold shrimp and crab legs to grilled lobster, steak, chicken, grouper, paella, salads, cheese board, desserts, etc. After they cleared the deck, they had line dancing with guests and staff, it was lots of fun. Excursions were hit or miss and I thought some were overpriced and others they did not tell you the proper travel time so you spent 3 hours on a bus for a 8 hour tour. We found some tours repetitive since the descriptions they provide are incomplete. They go to different islands, it was hard to find independent tours. The one at sea day, they had various activities, including a wine tasting, culinary demonstration and a galley tour escorted by the executive chef, various movies and documentaries and other activities. Again it is a small ship so you are not going to find sports or pool activities. I thought the sommelier, Nitish (sp?), who led the wine tasting did an excellent job, giving you information on the area where the wine was made and types of grapes. He is well informed. This was a red wine tasting so we asked if we could have a white wine tasting. He organized one after dinner one evening but because the ship was hitting some rough waters, it had to be canceled. Staff tried very hard to accommodate requests. Disembarkation went very smoothly and we booked a post cruise tour of Old and New Panama, which was good. It dropped you off at the airport but a number of us were staying overnight at the Riande Aeroport Hotel and the driver dropped us off on the way back - again very accomodating. This may not be a cruise for everyone but I very much appreciated their efforts. They have a slogan of 180 degrees from ordinary, they certainly achieved a good part of it but still have work to do. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We chose this cruise because we wanted to sail through the Panama Canal, do a little snorkeling, and get away from crowds. Our prior experience with large cruise lines, left us feeling uncomfortable with cruising. We ran across ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to sail through the Panama Canal, do a little snorkeling, and get away from crowds. Our prior experience with large cruise lines, left us feeling uncomfortable with cruising. We ran across Windstar's much smaller ship, and decided that it might be just right for us. Because we weren't interested in shows, socializing too much, visiting crowded ports with T shirt shops, and waiting in long lines, Windstar was perfect. The Star Breeze surprised us by offering beautiful Oceanview suites as their smallest cabins. We also took advantage of the free 24 hour room service. The food was plentiful, and delicious. Our crew was always eager to please. We arrived at each port on schedule. For a tropical cruise on Windstar, I would recommend packing clothing that dries quickly (fishing shirts, etc.), 1 or 2 country club outfits for dinner, and 3 pairs of shoes (water, hiking, and resort casual for dinner.) Aside from that, get the laundry service. We regretted our decision to overpack and not order laundry service. Highlights included: Manuel Antonio National Park with Odyssey Tours, Beach BBQ and snorkelinig on Isle Parida (don't give up, the fish are by the rocks), lobster one night, and actually going all the way through the Panama Canal, and relaxing in the yacht club at the front of the ship. We are already talking about a future Windstar Trip. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We choose this cruise primarily because of the transit of the Panama Canal. However, the overall theme of 'adventure' was an important aspect. The ship seemed perfectly suited to the type of cruise, but was somewhat basic. ... Read More
We choose this cruise primarily because of the transit of the Panama Canal. However, the overall theme of 'adventure' was an important aspect. The ship seemed perfectly suited to the type of cruise, but was somewhat basic. Having been on a Mekong small ship Cruise last year we had probably been spoiled!! Cabin was small with wash basin within main cabin area, but just about adequate. Robust shower, good. We thought the food was adequate but simply did not live up to the overblown rhetoric of the chef, nor the rounds of applause from the overwhelmingly North American passengers!! Service was good, wait staff cheerful and willing, unfailingly courteous. Shore excursions all nicely tailored to the physical abilities of the largely retired passengers. We were let down by our transfer from Colon back to Panama City and the UnCruise folks very kindly gave us a ride in their coach. Much appreciated. Overnight transit of the Panama Canal genuinely awesome and gliding over Gatun Lake under the stars just magical. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
I was disappointed because I expected a better standard of cabin, food and entertainment. The cabin was shabby. The bed linen had seen better days and the valance was coming away from the mattress . There were stains on the carpet. The ... Read More
I was disappointed because I expected a better standard of cabin, food and entertainment. The cabin was shabby. The bed linen had seen better days and the valance was coming away from the mattress . There were stains on the carpet. The drawers were not easy to use and the furniture was scuffed. The food was mediocre - very dry chicken on two occasions . Fine dining however was very good. Entertainment. the singers and dancers were excellent and enthusiastic but were limited by the space they had. The band was very good and mainly used for backing music.They should have been used more for dancing. On the one night they did play on deck the event was well attended. Activities were sparse. Lectures on places to visit were good and the commentary going through the canal gave a lot of background information. The captain and crew were excellent and I cannot fault them in any way. THE SHIP NEEDS REFURBISHMENT AND ENTERTAINMENT AND FOOD STANDARDS IMPROVED. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We had previously cruised on Azamara (3 Journey, 1 Quest) when they were seeking their niche. Now, several years later, the cruises are shorter now and much more expensive. However the cruise was worth every penny. The crew was ... Read More
We had previously cruised on Azamara (3 Journey, 1 Quest) when they were seeking their niche. Now, several years later, the cruises are shorter now and much more expensive. However the cruise was worth every penny. The crew was outstanding, the food superb, and the overall management by Hotel Director Heike left nothing to be desired. Every effort was made to satisfy the passengers. We are long term Celebrity cruisers (about 20) and enjoyed this departure from the norm immensely. We look forward to another opportunity to travel on Azamara again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
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 ... Read More
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. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011

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