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1 Variety Cruises Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera) Cruise Reviews

We were lucky; we got a substantial discount, including all shore excursions free, our boat was only half capacity, and the folks we did sail with were some of the most congenial we've ever met. If not for all this, I fear we may ... Read More
We were lucky; we got a substantial discount, including all shore excursions free, our boat was only half capacity, and the folks we did sail with were some of the most congenial we've ever met. If not for all this, I fear we may have been disappointed. The Voyager is a very attractive boat, the crew uniformly friendly, helpful, and cheerful. (I suspect that was mainly due to we being such an easy crowd to deal with). Our cabin, 214, was small as expected, but there were plenty of places to stow our gear and we never felt jammed in. The bathroom was surprisingly large. Our two portholes were too high up to look out without a stretch, but we spent as little time in our cabin as necessary anyway. Do be aware that all forward cabins get the noise from the bow thrusters and anchor chains, which can be quite loud. I can only recall one time they were used during sleeping hours, though, and my partner slept right through the noise. The food was good to very good, but never what I would call gourmet. Service in the dining room was excellent. All alcohol is extra, but prices were not unreasonable. The theme of this trip is the natural life of Costa Rica, but, as the excursion descriptions note, sightings cannot be guaranteed. Our first stop, Curu Reserve, had a very intimate feel. Our guide had grown up there and his affection for the place was evident. It was a very easy landing and walk that gave us close up views of many iguanas and monkeys. This was probably the best of the wildlife walks. After our morning visit, there was a short trip to another island for the first of two beach barbecues, easily the best meals of the week, then plenty of time for swimming. The next stop, Manuel Antonio Park is described as a guided walk on small trails through dense rain forest. Actually, you are walking along a very crowded road, the only way through the park as far as I know, and crowding around the guide's telescope hoping for a sight of something. Entry to the park is supposedly controlled; we were kept waiting at the gate for about 45 minutes, then the waiting crowd, probably about 200 strong, was let in all at once. The description also says the tour ends with time at the beach. The beach is indeed beautiful, but those choosing to stay and swim must make their own way back to the ship. The time and distance involved make that impractical. The next stop, Quepos, is made mainly for those wanting to try zip lining. The town itself has little to offer, and the beach is not recommended. We did try the zip lining, had a great time, but don't feel the need to try it again. The Osa Peninsula walk was disappointing - the wildlife just wasn't cooperatin - and the walk was a bit trickier than described; indeed, in wet weather, it must be almost impassible. The description mentions a visit to a turtle hatchery, but it didn't happen and was never mentioned. Casa Orquedas is a private tropical plant preserve, and is indeed a little Garden of Eden. The landing was tricky, on a beach of slippery stones, but the walk very easy. We had the chance to smell and taste many tropical plants and fruits. This was the best excursion for plant life. The next day may have been the best. The morning was spent on Granita del Oro, a speck of sand and palm trees that offered perfect snorkeling conditions, even for us beginners. We really felt like castaways. In the afternoon we sailed a short distance to Coiba for another great beach barbecue. Two nature walks were offered, neither of which anyone felt was worth the effort. There was plenty of beach time here, as well. The last excursion was to the town of La Palma, a small town of mostly African descendants that is trying to build a tourist trade. I did not go on this trip; those who did had mixed opinions. Some felt awkward, others that it was important and worthwhile. Finally, we reached Panama City. We started with a trip to the wonderful Miraflores Locks overlook and canal museum. We then drove to the Old Quarter, which will probably be a great place to visit in another five years or so. Right now, most of it seems to be a construction zone. Our stop here seemed a bit of a waste. The Canal transit is done at night (the cruise line has little say in this) and was quite a thrill. We officially disembarked at Shelter Bay, an attractive little marina, but a few folks got off at Colon when we made a refueling stop. Allow at least two hours for transfer from Shelter Bay to Panama City. All in all, we enjoyed ourselves very much, but I think that if we had paid full fare and for each excursion, we would have felt letdown. I do feel some of the excursions were a bit overhyped. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
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