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11 Star Clippers Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

there was no communication between crew and passengers and because of this rumors were flying every day. We were told nothing and crew was mean. We did not stop at any ports because of bad weather but we should have been compensated in ... Read More
there was no communication between crew and passengers and because of this rumors were flying every day. We were told nothing and crew was mean. We did not stop at any ports because of bad weather but we should have been compensated in some way. We got free drinks one evening. The captain did not answer any questions. There was absolutely nothing to do onboard for those 5 days at sea. It seems they could have had some games or dances or something to take up some of the time. The cruise director was very mean answering questions. Leaving the ship in the Caymans was a true lesson in hurry up and wait. We came into port around 9 and was not permitted off until 3PM. Even then passports and customs forms were not filled out properly and many passengers had to return to ship for different forms. It was terrible. We should have received something from the cruise line Star Clipper. This was a terrible cruise and I will never go on this cruise line again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Having never cruised previously the idea of going on a tall ship was attractive because of the limited number of passengers and multiple ports of interest. My observations were as follows: 1. Sign in Barbados was not well run. As we ... Read More
Having never cruised previously the idea of going on a tall ship was attractive because of the limited number of passengers and multiple ports of interest. My observations were as follows: 1. Sign in Barbados was not well run. As we were initially attempting to board the ship we were told that we could not board until we had to present an identification card. We had not been given this at the sign in for some reason and no one really knew why. 2. Staff was arrogant and not particularly helpful. The activity director was an Italian whose English was not very well understood and between attempting to speak in both German and English alternately the meaning of what she was attempting to relate was completely lost. She certainly knew very little about each port of call and we could have learned much more by reading a note in trip adviser. She was not helpful at all and I would say a complete waste. 3. The crew was mainly eastern European (Ukrainian) and were not at all friendly. The captain had the most personality and at least gave folks a smile in the morning. The other grew members were sour at best. 4. The dining room waiters and cabin attendants were excellent. The dining room was quite loud and difficult to hold a conversation. 5. The food was plentiful. I would rate the quality as fair. Somewhat repetitive breakfast and lunch selections. Scrambled Eggs for example were under cooked and therefore folks would like up for up to 20 minutes each morning for omelets that a staff member would cook to requests. Staff would not always get your orders correct for dinners because they were obviously overworked as they took orders, bused tables, served, cleaned up, etc.. They tried their best and always with a smile. 6. Accommodations were fine. The ship was tidy although no enough canvas covers to protect passengers from the sun. 7. Evening programs or lectures were adequate if you could understand the descriptions. 8 Prior to leaving 2 ports in Venezuela were cancelled because of the political unrest and therefore we had 4 days at sea. Way too many days at sea. The crew was not helpful nor pleasant at all in describing what one might see regarding sea life, navigation, winds, or sailing. The captain gave a very information talk about the ship itself which was quite helpful. 9. The most concerning aspect of the trip was the last day during disembarking. The seas were not calm and the captain anchored off the port in Panama City. Each passenger leaving the ship had to go down the gang plank as the tenders were crashing into the ship. It was a very dangerous situation with some passengers coming close to having limbs crushed between the ship and the tenders. It was not an acceptable situation at all. I know for a fact that one of the passengers actually phoned the captain to tell him to move the ship as someone was going to get seriously injured. All in all, I doubt if I would recommend this trip. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
Be in no doubt this is a beautiful ship. This was our third voyage with them this year. We did one last year and we have another to come in 2016. On the other hand we may not book any more. Only vague thought seems to have been given ... Read More
Be in no doubt this is a beautiful ship. This was our third voyage with them this year. We did one last year and we have another to come in 2016. On the other hand we may not book any more. Only vague thought seems to have been given to the ports of call on this trip. The Panama Canal was interesting but it went down hill from there. Two Colombian Islands one of which was little more than a shopping centre with a scruffy beach, the cruise director Steffi, announced, with a straight face, that there was a better beach an $80 taxi ride away. You couldn't make it up. Providencia was very pretty but we exhausted it after two hours and most people were back on board very quickly. Grand Cayman , on a Sunday, in the rain (not their fault !!) with NO shops open. I would sooner drink battery acid than do that again. We finished in Cuba. Which is always worth seeing and the Island of Cayo Largo is gorgeous Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
In several of the ports in Costa Rica, the landings involved both a tender and a Zodiac. For the first 5 days of the 7 night cruise of northern Costa Rica and Nicaragua, there were never any life jackets in the Zodiacs. I raised the ... Read More
In several of the ports in Costa Rica, the landings involved both a tender and a Zodiac. For the first 5 days of the 7 night cruise of northern Costa Rica and Nicaragua, there were never any life jackets in the Zodiacs. I raised the issue with the crew after a particularly frightening transfer. It was mid day and the wind had become strong and the water very choppy. Our Zodiac had one female crew member and 12 passengers. The majority of the 112 passengers on our cruise were on the high side of age 60. The crew member had a life jacket, but there were no life jackets for the passengers. The Zodiac took us about 1/4 mile from shore to the tender. A passenger took the helm of the Zodiac, so that the crew member could help hold the Zodiac to the tender. The Zodiac and tender slowly spun around. The life jackets on the tender were not readily accessible. They were at the back of the tender inside plastic bundles inside plastic tarpaulin bags that were tied shut. The tender then took us to the Star Flyer. When I boarded the Star Flyer, I told the officer who checked us on board about my concern about lack of life jackets on the Zodiacs and their inaccessibility on the tenders. He told me to speak to the head of excursions, which I did. That evening when I was up on deck, the captain asked me if I was the one who had complained. I explained that I was. He was under the impression that the passengers wore life jackets during the transfer process. I informed him that this was not the case. The next morning (our last full day)there was a bundle of life jackets on the floor of the Zodiac, but when we went to return the life jackets had been removed. Subsequently, I had a discussion with the captain that if the passengers wore life jackets for the transfers and left them in the Zodiac, they would not be in the way. I was surprised that life jackets were not worn. For the river excursions we did in Costa Rica, we were required to put on life jackets. My impression was that life jackets were mandatory in Costa Rica. The Star Flyer is an old ship and is showing her age. The temperature in the category 4 cabin we booked was in the mid 80's when we boarded. We stopped 2 crew members to ask how to turn on the air conditioning, before a fellow passenger told us how to do it. Finally, a crew member came to fix the air conditioning and decided there was a problem. We were given a fan and the next day accepted the offer to move to a cabin with working air conditioning. Our first dinner on the ship was also very unsatisfactory. We were among the first to sit down for dinner and joined two other couples. One person from each couple ordered the "lamb knuckle" for a main course. About the time many other tables were getting dessert, the waiter approached one of the women at our table (who was not one of those who ordered the lamb knuckle) to explain that they had run out of lamb knuckle. One of the men immediately offered to have the chicken instead, but the waiter said that was unnecessary. We sat and sat and sat. When most of the dining room had emptied, I approached the captain to complain that we had not yet had our dinner. The waiter soon brought our entrees, but all three of us who had ordered the lamb knuckle found it to be so tough as to be inedible. When we gave up on our entrees, the waiter stood with his back to us polishing and stacking plates, before finally deciding to take our dessert order. It was a very disappointing start to the cruise. The captain and head of the "hotel" services were responsive to complaints, and the head of excursions was very nice, but we were not alone in having hot cabins and maintenance issues. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Cruises were certainly not on our agenda, ever, or so we thought. Spending our holiday with potentially hundreds of strangers in close proximity on a floating holiday camp did not enthuse us, no matter how exotic the destinations might ... Read More
Cruises were certainly not on our agenda, ever, or so we thought. Spending our holiday with potentially hundreds of strangers in close proximity on a floating holiday camp did not enthuse us, no matter how exotic the destinations might be. However the ad for this cruise on one of the Clipper ships, the Star Flyer, along the coast of Costa Rica and up to Nicaragua with a choice of daily excursions on land had us interested. We used to be keen catamaran sailors and this cruise looked as if we could experience the thrill of sailing again but without the hard work. After some research we booked and then got a bit apprehensive: would we be able to do the excursions which depended on the weather and conditions in the ports of call, what would life be like on board? We needn't have worried. The trip proved to be one of the best holidays we ever had. From our embarkation in Puerto Caldera on the Star Flyer with the other passengers, most of whom we got to know during the 3-day excursion inland after arriving in Costa Rica to the dis-embarcation 7 days later we enjoyed our stay aboard. And yes, we were able to do all the excursions on land we had hoped to do when we planed the trip. Sailing along the still unspoiled pacific coast of Costa Rica was a fantastic experience: sitting on the sundeck of Star Flyer we watched rain forest covered volcanic peaks give way to dreamy bays not yet overrun by tourism. We never as far as I know met another ship on our way north to Nicaragua which added to the sense of adventure. Hoisting the sails usually early evening was accompanied by music followed often also by a spectacular sunset. One passenger told my that the experience still 'gets to him' after several cruises with the ship. And it was moving, we all agreed. Many of the passengers had sailed on these Clipper ships before and 'knew the ropes'. This proved to be useful for novices during the sometimes choppy and wet transfers from ship to shore on the tenders. Though most passengers came to enjoy the fun of racing towards the shore and having to wade the last meters in knee-high wonderfully warm water. It made you feel like the first explorers on these remote shores. As to exploring the shores there was a well varied programme on offer each day as well as on board activities. From early morning keep-fit to snorkeling and diving lessons before venturing into the deep, excursions inland that included line zipping in the rain forest or visiting some historic place like Granada in Nicaragua, climbing up to the crater's edge of a volcano, trekking through dry forest, or lazing on an almost empty beach there was something for everyone. Life on board too was great and not only the menu choices. There were lectures about the amazing bio-diversity of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, a highly interesting account by the captain of his voyage from Sweden to Shanghai on a rebuilt historical sailing ship, and fun social evenings culminating on our last evening in a hilarious talent show staged by crew members. And speaking of the crew all, from the always calm but efficient maitre'd to the kitchen staff, the eager sports- and social programme team to the friendly cabin stewards, all worked tirelessly to ensure that the passengers had a good time. If you are adventurous but like to have some comfort too a cruise on one of the Star Clippers could be for you. We certainly plan to go on another trip with one of these iconic sailing ships before long.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Sunday 20th 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 ... Read More
Sunday 20th 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. Conclusion 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. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Sunday 20th 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 ... Read More
Sunday 20th 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. Conclusion 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. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
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
Star Clipper--Barbados to Panama Canal, 15 January 2011—14 Days Overall, we had a very good trip. However, we were a little disappointed with the "on board" experience compared to our 5 previous Star Clipper voyages. I ... Read More
Star Clipper--Barbados to Panama Canal, 15 January 2011—14 Days Overall, we had a very good trip. However, we were a little disappointed with the "on board" experience compared to our 5 previous Star Clipper voyages. I identified the major issues below, and just took the smaller issues with a grain of salt. It is all part of the adventure. We made some great friends and laughed ourselves silly. I hope this info helps you with your planning! Barbados Stayed at Butterfly Beach Hotel—Good value, on the water, had A/C, great rum punch with Bitters and nutmeg. Walking distance to food store—our room had a kitchenette. Used the local buses and small white vans-- very easy--$1 US each way. On Friday, went to Oistins for the fish fry. It was crowded and loud (as expected). Flying fish are very tasty. The locals take pride in the preparation—they are not fishy tasting or boney. Star Clipper (SC) SC had just arrived at noon for a 1600 boarding. They had just been in dry dock in Martinique for 10 days. She has a rebuilt engine and new hull paint. Not sure what else they did. Ship was in "Good" condition. The 4 hour turn was a little tight for them, as they were still cleaning up when we boarded at 1645. There had been a change out of some crew, and also there were some "brand new" crew. The Royal was also in port for its standard 7 day sailing. This itinerary does not sail very often—when I booked in May 2010 (8 months prior) there were only about 5 or 6 cabins left. We ended up with an interior room, #404-cat 5. It is a little smaller than cat 2 & 3. The location was very quiet. I didn't mind it, but my DH did not care for it—he called it the "Rabbit Hole". It is very dark at night, and in the morning you have to depend on your watch as there is no morning light. That being said, we spent most of our time on deck anyway. Some people were wait-listed for this cruise, and some of them made it after some cancellations. Only 2 cabins were empty on the cruise and some cabins that held 3 people (like ours with a fold up bunk) had just 2 people. There were 157 passengers on board, one half were Americans, next came the UK, followed by Germans. The passengers represented 9 nationalities--80% were returning passengers! The Royal left at 2200; we departed next and trailed her for awhile. Captain's Best Grenadines Anchored Chatham Bay, Union Island, 1200-1600 The Royal anchored here just before we arrived. She left right before we did—good picture ops. Water toy day. Snorkeling at the rocks on the left side (looking from the boat) of the bay was good. Nice beach to walk all the way down. Beers at Bollhead's (left side of beach) $3 US—bring small bills, esp. $1. We met Bollhead several years back. Smart guy, fun to talk to—lived in the US for quite awhile. Grenada Docked, St Georges, 0900-1700 The Royal arrived after us and anchored out. Because we were at the dock the sports team could not take out the toys or even take scuba divers out—"it would take business away from the locals". Nice terminal, free Wi-Fi in secured area. Duty free and a lot of shopping in terminal; supermarkets nearby if you need supplies. We had already toured the island during previous trips—waterfalls, gardens, nutmeg/spice farms, hiking, etc. A newbie might consider the tours. We took a water taxi to Grand Anse Beach ($8 pp return) which you can see from the dock. Very nice clean beach @ 2 miles long. There is a nice bar/ restaurant with clean restrooms at a small hotel at the right end of the beach. The inner harbor is also a nice walk. A few people did the "challenging" hike. Some fell on the trail, and most were muddy when they returned. They had a good time. Isla Margarita, Venezuela Anchored 1000-1700 Port area remote, @ 45 minute taxi ride to largest town—Porlamar. I don't know if anyone went to that town. We got off the ship, looked at the local vendor stalls, looked at the beach, and went back to the ship. An Aida cruise ship was there, and this is also a favorite of Venezuelan day trippers. Some shipmates said the tiny/crowded beach was full of rubbish and broken glass. Two tours offered—not too thrilling according to the takers. Island very third world and dirty, with partially built abandoned buildings. Very arid. Most shipmates did not like this port. There might have been a political reason why the ship visited this port---in order to visit anywhere else in Venezuela. The immigration team came by boat with @ 10 people! Blanquilla, Venezuela -------This was substituted for Los Roques by the Venezuelans, not the Star Clippers. Anchored 0800-1400 Another immigration team by boat—with a dog! Beach/water toy stop. Flat, scrubby island. Nice beach, no buildings in sight. Cruisers anchored. Weather was rainy and windy with whitecaps upon arrival. Went toward beach via tender, transferred to zodiac for final wet landing. Worked OK, except some people had a hard time getting back into the zodiac. It eventually got sunny, but the wind was off and on. Many people just chilled out on the ship. Only 3 divers went out with the dive team—not the best conditions. Snorkeling "fair to good" depending on sea state. Bonaire Docked at Kralendijk, 1400-2000 Wonderful clean, clear water everywhere—even under our boat at the dock (could see the bottom). You could swim and dive just N of Karel's pier—a 5 minute walk along the nice waterfront promenade. It is located by the boats on moorings. A lot of parrot fish and other types can be viewed from the promenade—a very nice walk. We walked around to the marina. A few waterfront bars. The Caribbean Princess was also in port (3000+ people) and had hired most of the water taxis to take passengers snorkeling to Klein Bonaire (a small island just across the harbor). Some people on the SC hired a taxi ($12 return per couple) to go to a nice beach south of town near the airport. They said the visibility was great. The town had some standard shopping—not much else. It was a nice stop. This island is known for its pristine waters and great snorkeling and diving. Curacao Docked at Willemstad, 1000-2330 Fun arrival, passed through the Queen Emma swinging bridge—docked in the middle of town. You can walk to everything in town. Very colorful—don't forget your camera. Floating market, narrow alleyways, old buildings, lots of shopping opportunities. Waterfront cafes, friendly locals. Punda side was more interesting. We stayed in town all day, some took the tours. Most people thought this was the best stop. Grand Princess (3000+) in town-they left @ 1700. Town pretty much shuts down at 1800 except for bars and restaurants (even on Friday). Aruba Docked at Oranjestad, 1000-2000 Main area seemed like a tacky little Las Vegas. A lot of jewelry and watch shops. Walked around the marina and checked out the big yachts. Island Princess in town, but it left @ noon. Internet/Wi-Fi was $5 an hour in main terminal building. Bus station a 5 minute walk from ship. #10 line to low and hi-rise beaches--$1.30 one way, or $2 return pp. Driver has US dollars and gives change. Nice A/C bus. About a 12-15 minute ride—runs @ every 20 minutes. These beaches are for walking and swimming—nothing to see underwater. You can take a good long walk on the sand or the paved walkway. Hi-rise area (Eagle and Palm Beaches) has lots of bars and restaurants (Hard Rock, Fridays, Tony Romas, Burger King, etc). Some people took a taxi to Arashi Beach (past Palm Beach) for excellent snorkeling. Only 2 people signed up to dive, the sports team wanted a minimum of 5, so that was cancelled. Tour was supposedly "so-so". It is a very small arid island. Recommend walking the main town, then head out to Eagle and Palm Beaches. At Sea 2 days Lots of activities—mast climbing on day one (second time so far), but cancelled the next day due to large swells and 33 knot winds. Great sailing! A pod of dolphins played with the bow for @ 15 minutes the first afternoon. The second afternoon, there were thousands of flying fish off the bow. Even though they were asked not to, quite a few people "reserved" their lounge chairs by leaving books and towels on them all day—even when they were gone for hours at a time (this happened everyday). Some passengers got pretty upset with this and there were some heated exchanges. Cartagena, Columbia Docked, 0830-2345 The modern cruise terminal is about 10 minutes from Old Town (Centro) by taxi. The terminal is in an industrial area—you will need transportation. Most passengers took the 3 ½ hour ships tour of the Old City—33 Euros. That tour was well received by most, especially since the city is very hot and the buses had A/C. We took a taxi to town. Unfortunately when we walked out of the terminal, we were harassed by way too many taxi drivers/ tour guides that had a "special deal" for us. The going standard is $10 US for a cab to or from Centro. Current rate $1 US= $1860 pesos (they use the dollar sign too). Some drivers were quoting as high as $20 per person one way. There is actually a taxi rate sign in front of the larger terminal building, but we came through the smaller building and the drivers steered us away from that sign so we never saw it until we returned. The Old City is very interesting to stroll through. Great photo opportunities. You can walk part of the wall. It does get hot and crowded by mid-morning. The cruise terminal has a very nice Wi-Fi area. $1 US for 15 minutes, $5 for 2 hours. The ship took on a full container of food during the afternoon. It was loaded through the service elevator in the Tropical Bar floor—check it out if you can. At 2215, the ship had a "Local Folklore" program. It was "OK" according to some passengers that attended. At Sea 1 day A following sea—a lot of rolling. Mast climbing cancelled. Sails were lowered and we slowed down during meals. Standard day at sea. San Blas Islands Anchored, 0900-1800 Hot, humid, and hazy. Quite a few cruisers anchored off the islands. The local "chief" came aboard to negotiate with the ship's Captain and officers about what we could do. Negotiations took about 80 minutes. Tenders started taking people to the village on Crab Island (Sugtupu or Suitupo) first. It is very poor and sanitation is nonexistent. The Kuna's are friendly and not too pushy. The cloth molas were lovely. Some mola favorites of the shoppers were: purses, bags, potholders, eyeglass cases, and molas to frame or use on pillow covers. There was a mola table set up in the tropical bar until about 1700. The beach was another tender ride to Needle Island (Abjuja?). This was a beautiful, clean little island full of coconut trees and sandy beaches. The sports team set up all the water toys there. Panama Canal Transit We were originally supposed to arrive at Cristobal for the "authority arrangements" by 0600, and then expected to go through the Panama Canal in the evening. We lucked out. Due to mast clearance and the tides, we had to be through the canal by 1700 in order to get under the Bridge of the Americas. We got "bumped up" on the list and were headed to the first set of locks by 0600. Star Clippers brought on a Panama Canal expert, so we had live commentary throughout the journey—very informative. It took about ten hours. We cleared the canal, and had to kill about half an hour for the tide to finish going out. We made it under the bridge by 1700 (boy, was that tight!) and anchored off Isla Flamenco by 1800. There is no pier here and cruise ships have to tender people in. Although it was not scheduled to arrive until 0800 the next morning, the ship was cleared through customs and immigration, and provided tender service until midnight. There are quite a few restaurants in the area and on the Causeway. Regular disembarkation started the next morning around 0800. Suitcases went out first in the wee hours of the morning. Panama City Stayed at a nice 4 room B&B, Dos Palmitos, on Ancon Hill. Very international flair—guests and owner. You could walk or take a $2 taxi ride to Old Town, which was a fun place to go. Had a wonderful lunch there at Cafe Rene'. For $8.50 you get an appetizer, salad, entrEe, rice, and dessert. It was great and so light tasting. Another day, we walked to the summit of Ancon Hill. Lots of fauna and wildlife; and views of the canal, Old Town, and Panama City proper. It was a $30 taxi ride to the airport—about 25 minutes at 0600. Allow two hours for international check-in/security. You cannot take drinks or water bottles on the planes even if you bought them in the terminal after going through security. There is another security check where they go through your carry-ons right at the gate. Misc Sailed quite a bit on this cruise. House wine---glass 3.5E, bottle 14.5E Draft beer---glass 2.8E Spirits---3.5E+ Cocktails---5.3E+ Ships laundry—cost in Euros: Dress-4.5, blouse-3, pants-3.5, shorts-1.5, sports shirt-2, regular shirt-3, t-shirt-1.5 with 24 hour turn time. This sailing lacked good port info (do your homework ahead of time). Also, we have been used to daily updates made by the Captain (via intercom) on sea status, depth, weather, and ships progress—it did not happen on this voyage. The ships temperature was warmer than normal. People complained about the heat, especially in the dining room at dinner time, and in their cabins. The heat was almost unbearable during the Captain's Dinner. Smoking (cigarette and cigar) was an issue. People left scheduled programs due to the smoke. The Captain smoked in most public places--including the bridge. There appeared to be a lot of crew change-outs and brand new crew on board, so it took quite awhile for the teamwork to develop. Due to all the new technology, internet cafes with computers seem to be a dying breed. Mostly found Wi-Fi places. Bring your own notebook or I-Pad or whatever. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
It was over before we knew it...isn't that the way it always happens. Pre Cruise We stayed Saturday evening at Villa Caletas. This is a beautiful small hotel perched on a hilltop between Tarcoles & Jaco. We met up with ... Read More
It was over before we knew it...isn't that the way it always happens. Pre Cruise We stayed Saturday evening at Villa Caletas. This is a beautiful small hotel perched on a hilltop between Tarcoles & Jaco. We met up with friends and enjoyed a beautiful sunset that evening. Sunday, we had a leisurely day lounging around the pool and enjoying the amazing views. Before we knew it, it was time to head to Puerto Caldera and board the Star Flyer. I highly recommend Villa Caletas for anyone looking for a romantic, well run hotel pre or post cruise. Also, we used Odyssey Tours for all our transfers, and they provided first rate service for a reasonable price. So far, so good.....great hotel & no transportation issues! The Voyage Begins I want to begin by saying that this was one of the most pleasurable, fun & action filled trips we have taken. However, there were a couple of issues that I am going to get out of the way first. None of these were deal breakers, just my observations.....here goes. Puerto Caldera...I wasn't expecting much, so I was surprised it was worse than expected. It is, pure & simple a container port. It is dirty, noisy and smelly. If they return next year, they should really look at Puntarenas. At least there is a town & a cruise pier. Itinerary....Isla de Coiba & Isla del Cano are on the itinerary. These have both been dropped from the schedule. I wish we would have been told prior to the cruise. We would not have hauled our scuba gear with us had we known. These are two of the premier dive spots in the area. Divers will be the only ones affected by this change, so it's not that big of a deal to the big picture. Sailing...or should I say lack of it. Officers...I believe all were new and showed a serious lack of interaction with the passengers. I haven't experienced this on either of our other Star Clipper cruises, so it was a little disappointing. Ok, that's all the bad stuff. Now on the Fantastic! Embarkation was quick & easy. Star Flyer was anchored in the bay....tall & beautiful as ever. We were able to catch the second tender to the ship, where we were greeted by fresh warm towels & a cool drink. After looking around the ship & meeting a few of the passengers, we were off to our cabin. We had a Cat. 1 on the Main Deck, #506. Our home for the next week. By the time we freshened up and got the cabin stowed away, it was time for dinner. The food all week was very good & the Maitre de, Herman, was a pleasure to be around. That will be all about the food...we all have our own opinions! Off with the dinner clothes & back into shorts...it's time for sail away! Always an exciting event. Day 1: Sea Day Didn't make sunrise today, but did make the exercise class with Viktor. Makes me not worry about eating as much. Breakfast, pool & lounge time, lunch, pool & lounge time, afternoon snacks,lounge time, dinner, pleasant evening on deck with friends. That pretty much sums up a Sea Day! We did see many dolphins throughout the day. Pods of 10 or more were common. We had the Fashion Show this evening. Day 2: Isla Gamez Woke up to a beautiful sunrise and dozens of little islands almost close enough to touch.Arrived just after gymnastics & breakfast. Isla Gamez is a small island with a great beach located among many other small islands...very secluded & quiet. Perfect spot for all the water sports or just lounging on the beach. This was also a Beach bar-b-que day, so the smells from the food were intoxicating. Soon after lunch, we were back to the ship for an afternoon dive. Wish we had stayed at the beach with everyone else, because they had a great time. Diving....not so much! The day ended much too soon & it was back to the Flyer. After dinner & several bottles of wine for the 6 of us, Herman brought out my Birthday Cake & sang Happy Birthday. This was repeated 3 more times.....lots of birthdays on the 11th. After dinner it was off to the Tropical Bar for the Music Quiz and partying...and party we did. It was after midnight before we shut it down. Day 3: Golfito Golfito is now mainly a fishing port for all the sport fishing in the area. There are a couple of Marinas & a few shops selling artistic goods. We did frequent these after our excursion to finish up our day there. We joined the excursion to the Orchid garden & the Animal Rescue Center. A very pleasurable morning experiencing all kinds of flora & wildlife. Spent the rest of the day in Golfito walking around the town, having a few beers & buying some souveniers. Beautiful sunset as we sailed out of Golfito into the Golfo Dulce. Dinner & an early night tonight. Day 4: Drake Bay Woke up to what has to be the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. We were passing through the channel between Isla del Cano & the Oso Peninsula and it was very calm with a mist clinging to the land. The sky was filled with yellow, red & orange hues that was simply awesome. We arrived at Drake around noon. We had scheduled no excursions & it was a short day, departing around 5, so we just went to the small hotel that SC had arranged with for passengers to explore their grounds. It was beautiful there....reminded us of French Polynesia. We explored the property & did some shopping with local artists before heading back to the ship. That evening was Pirate Night. Side note....when we first got to the dock in Caldera, I had asked Ximena what night Pirate Night would be & she told me they wouldn't have one on the Southern Itinerary. There also wouldn't be Crab Races...what, no Crab Races....nope, no crabs large enough in the area. Well, we did have Pirate's Night and no, no Crab Races, but we did have Froggie Races which were just as fun. Did I mention Ximena was awesome! Well, once again we were partying till after midnight....don't know what got into me...guess turning 60 unleashed a new animal! Day 5: Quepos First real town we have visited, and the Three Musketeers(the girls in our group) did what all self respecting girls do....went shopping. The guys would meet up with them later as our horseback ride wasn't until 1PM. I don't remember what we did up until that time, but I believe it involved rest & food. Horseback riding was a blast. First time ever on a horse, and of course I paid for it later...my rear hurt for a couple of days. Really makes you appreciate those who spend all day on a horse. After the ride, we did a little more shopping, getting back to the ship for dinner. After dinner, they had a local band playing in the Tropical Bar. They were very good & I even got to Salsa with Ximena. Ended up on my rear while trying to do a double spin, but I don't think I crushed too many of her toes. We closed the bar down again this night....gosh, what have I become. Day 6: Isla Tortuga Another small change to the itinerary. Instead of spending half the day at Curu Reserve & half at Isla Tortuga, they now just anchor off Tortuga and take excursions over to Curu for those that wish to go there. More time at the beach for those that want that. Tortuga is a private island that charges for chairs, umbrellas, water sports...in a sense, everything. Because of this the ship cannot provide their equipment for use. Pay or no play in other words. We decided to just hang out at the pool & get some sun. It was very peacefull onboard that day....nice change of pace for us. Did go out in the tender for the photo shoot of the Flyer with all her sails out later in the afternoon. After dinner, it was time for the Talent Show. This is always a blast and tonight was no exception. The highlight was the guys doing a Spice Girls routine. Afterwards, you guessed it....party time. I danced more this week than I have in the last 10 years combined. Somewhere in there, we got our bags packed and out, as tomorrow we had to depart the Flyer. Day 7: Puerto Caldera Wow, it's over already. We pulled up to the dock in Caldera around 7AM. We had our last breakfast aboard & Odyssey picked us up around 9. We had wanted to Zipline aboard, but it never worked out, so we arranged with Alvaro(Odyssey) to take us to one prior to going back to Villa Caletas. He took us to one that had a new type of zip called the Superman Flight. This was totally exhilarating. A great way to end the trip. Anyway, if you're still with me, to sum it up, it was a fantastic trip. The ship was great, Ximena was great, Herman was great, Nelson(our steward) was great, our friends were great...everything! One more thing....weather. It was hot & humid. Never a need for anything with sleeves. Now, what's next.....maybe Greece. I always thought I looked good in a Toga. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We decided on this cruise because of several factors - mainly for the islands they would be visiting and the Panama Canal passage. And, we like Star Clippers cruises, as you always meet other great people who love to cruise and have a ... Read More
We decided on this cruise because of several factors - mainly for the islands they would be visiting and the Panama Canal passage. And, we like Star Clippers cruises, as you always meet other great people who love to cruise and have a great time. This was an opportunity to be on the ship for two full weeks, as the one week cruises go way too fast. Our cabin was fine, typical of most of the cabins, although being near the back of the ship we had the constant noise of the engines - something you do get used to. Meals were fine, but as always, breakfast seems to be the weakest meal with the buffet, although the omelets are cooked to order and good. The dinners to us are special times, to enjoy an hour or so of conversation and good food and wine, and make lifelong friends. We often met in the piano lounge and enjoyed a glass of wine and the music before dinner, and this became a popular spot for many. Casual, but no jeans or shorts for dinner, which seemed to suit everyone. And, limited after dinner activities, but they were usually fun and seemed to please everyone. Hurricane Tomas tried to put a damper on things, but we were only slightly impacted by the large swells in the ocean. The crew and cruise director were great as always, and good to see familiar faces from past cruises. Only limited water sports activities, as the majority of this crew had not visited any of the islands in the itenerary, and was not aware of good snorkeling or diving locations for the snorkelers/divers. And, limited excursions also, but there was always plenty to do where we docked (with the exception of Aruba that was mainly closed since it was on a Sunday). The three days at sea the same week were fairly boring, and you had to get your deck chair early as people would hog them and not show up. We really enjoyed Cartagena, San Blas Islands, the Panama Canal passage, and most of the islands, and highly recommend the itenerary (except for the 3 days at sea). Main complaint was around the smokers on the ship, as they seemed to not care about what anyone thought about non-smokers, and pushed the limits on where they smoked. There was one morning I got up early and enjoyed the beautiful morning and the clear air and coming into port, and then there was smoke in the air, which pretty much ruined the moment. And, there were people that smoked cigars and had no respect for those that it affected. I believe it would be nice if Star Clippers could have non-smoking cruises every month, or at least have a better policy, but as long as there are smokers, this could be difficult. In fact, this along with the current economy, may be why the percentage of Americans on these may be dwindling over the years. This cruise was about 65-75% Europeans, 15% Americans and 10-20% others, when 10 years ago it was about 50% Americans. As mentioned above, this seemed more like a reposition cruise, than a regular cruise, since the main objective was to get the ship to Panama for their Costa Rica/Panama/Nicaragua cruises that go through March 2011. We seemed to arrive late and leave way early from islands that were only 35 miles apart, and the fact that there was limited knowledge on excursions and water sports. But, as always, we thoroughly enjoyed the total cruise experience and the great people we met from all over the world. Where else can you go on a cruise with only 150 great passengers, see some of the best spots in the world, and really sail on a great ship. Would we recommend to others, and will we go again? - you bet!! But, it would be so much better if there were a few improvements. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
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