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O2B@Cagain

Booked Panama Canal last minute!

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After watching the price drop, then stabilize, I got on the phone yesterday and booked a December trip! The airfare through Windstar was cheaper than what I could find, so I'm happy. Since my main object was to transit the canal, I really haven't a clue about what to do in Costa Rica. Not one for getting on a bus for an hour or more for a short sightseeing trip. Does anyone have a recommendation for either of of the stops? Would rather see birds and things than sit on a beach, LOL. I believe the picnic is at Isla Parida, so that's good.

 

Yes, I've read "The Path Between the Seas" 😊

 

Thanks everyone.

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We are taking the Panama/Costa rica trip on the Star Pride  last part of November. We are only booking 1 Windstar tour. The rest we are doing with independent  folks . Not sure when your trip is but We will write a review when we get back. Have Fun   🙂

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You may want to look at the "Jaguar Rescue Center".  Per its website, "The Jaguar Rescue Centre is an animal rescue centre located near Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in the Limón Province of Costa Rica. The centre is dedicated to the rehabilitation of mistreated, injured, orphaned, and/or confiscated animals."  We have not been there since February, 2017, but it was a very interesting morning tour.

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32 minutes ago, Hanoverian said:

You may want to look at the "Jaguar Rescue Center".  P er its website, "The Jaguar Rescue Centre is an animal rescue centre located near Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in the Limón Province of Costa Rica. The centre is dedicated to the rehabilitation of mistreated, injured, orphaned, and/or confiscated animals."  We have not been there since February, 2017, but it was a very interesting morning tour.

I believe his stops will be on the Pacific side.  The Jaguar Rescue Center is on the Caribbean coast.  In December you can expect to see whales in the Golfo Dulce if he's stopping in Puerto Jiminez or Golfito.  Whale tours again if he stops at Drake Bay, Manuel Antonio Park if he stops in Quepos is great to see wildlife (15-20 minutes from Quepos).

 

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Agree with Manuel Antonio Park...easy transfer from Quepos.  We arranged a private guide (two of us, one guide, about 3.5-4 hours).  The hike is doable on your own (easy path to follow), but a guide helped us see things we never would have seen on our own.  And we saw several groups (including the likely WS group) with 20 people crowding around a scope trying to see a bird high up in the trees.  Well worth the trip.  (From Star Breeze, December 2018)

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The two stops are: Quepos (Manuel Antonio National Park) and Golfo Dulce (Puerto Jimenez). I would not worry about private tours in the Caribbean, mostly because I understand the language and culture, but I don't have the same confidence in Central America. Where do you find your independent tours?

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The best stop for spotting wildlife was Manuel Antonio Park. I did the Windstar tour. We split into two groups of around a dozen each with a guide. The guides were great at spotting wildlife.

 

From Peurto Jimenez, you can go to Matapalo for a hike with a lot of bird spotting. We even saw a pair of Macaws mating.

 

Isla Parida is the beach BBQ day. There is a short hike available there where you may spot some birds, but it's mostly a beach day. 

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They do have some really tempting last minute deals right now. We did Panama and Costa Rica last year and are already booked for 14 days in January, but I'm tempted by one of the November San Juan itineraries. 

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4 hours ago, O2B@Cagain said:

The two stops are: Quepos (Manuel Antonio National Park) and Golfo Dulce (Puerto Jimenez). I would not worry about private tours in the Caribbean, mostly because I understand the language and culture, but I don't have the same confidence in Central America. Where do you find your independent tours?

 

In Quepos, we did a private tour with Iguana Tours [www.iguanatours.com] for $95 per person.  They were very accommodating:  picked us up at the ship, took us to the Catholic church for Sunday Mass, then took us to the park for a nature hike.  The guide at the park thought we wanted a tourist stroll, but we were adamant that we wanted to do the strenuous Cathedral Point trail.  [We are in our 70s, so he probably thought we couldn't make it.  Hah!]  The next stop was the Marlin Restaurant for a snack of fresh fruit and a Sour Sap smoothie [apparently mandatory, since all tours seem to stop there... but it was included] then back to the ship in plenty of time.  Highly recommended.

 

For Golfo Dulce our ship docked at Golfito, but I think your situation should be similar as Puerto Jimenez is right across the bay and most excursions are by boat.  We had put together a roll call group tour with Changing Tide Tours [www.changingtidetours.com] with a custom itinerary ($70 pp plus $10 admission to the botanical garden).   First, the captain deviated to sail out of the gulf into the midst of hundreds of Spotted Dolphin [what a treat, especially to see some of the young ones leap into the air!]  He then took us along Piedras Blancas National Park to see Pelicans roosting in trees, Osprey and a couple of Scarlet Macaws flying overhead on our way to Casa Orchidéas botanical garden [wet landing - surprise! but not a problem].  On the way back there was an opportunity for snorkeling.  Also highly recommended.

 

This was on Azamara in January 2018.  For more information and lots of pictures, see my blog:

https://jazzbeauxcostaricacruise2018.wordpress.com

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In Quepos, we used Manuel’s Tours http://www.manuelstours.com/. The cost was $79/pp and Manuel himself was our guide (he has a crew). He met us at the pier and we were off. The tour lasted about 4.5 hours, included the ride to/from the park, admission in and a stop for the obligatory smoothie at a local restaurant near the park at the end. 
 

I found him via TripAdvisor and he had great reviews.   
 

Enjoy the trip!

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Thanks for the help everyone!

 

Another question...Do you dock anywhere or anchor at all stops? I'm wondering if you can get off the ship and wander a town at all. I guess it would be between the Quepos and Golfo Dulce stops.

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One more question from the PITA...😂

 

What about Fuerte Amador? I'd be more interested in Panama Canal history than birds at this point. LOL

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We're going on Jan 4th.  Here's where I'm at in the planning:

 

Panama City/Colon:  No ideas.  We arrive at 2pm the day before and sail the following day at 5pm.  Any ideas on what to do in Panama City?  Is there a guide or tour that can pick us up and show us stuff along the way to Colon?  Or do we just explore Panama City and take a taxi to Colon?

 

Balboa/Fuerte Amador: No ideas yet.  Looks like most of the cruises' excursions are related to foodie stuff.... could be cool, any private tours here worth noting?  We're in port for a day and a half

 

Isla Parida: This is the beach BBQ day.  Having never done this before, should we book something else or is there enough stuff to do with the BBQ?  Or is it just lunch on the beach and we need to plan something?

 

Puerto Jimenez (Golfo Dulce): From what I read Corcovado Park is supposed to be amazing for wildlife.  I've reached out to Jaguar Tours http://www.jaguarcorcovadotourscr.com/ to see if there's anything we can do as a day trip.  I also read about Dolphin Devine and Changing Tide Tours which could be cool.  Any input here would be great.

 

Quepos: I think we are going with Iguana Tours and doing Manuel Antonio, horseback riding to the waterfall, and maybe the mangroves if there's enough time.

 

Puerto Caldera: We would like to see the coffee plantation on the way back to the airport.  They suggest your flight leave no earlier than 3pm.... ours it at 2:35pm.  They recommend 3 hours at the airport..... anyone know if this is necessary?

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Back from a wonderful, relaxing trip. Signed up for one more voyage on the Pride before the stretch.😉

 

Because this trip to me was all about the Panama Canal passage, I have two short comments:

1. I was amazed at the rudeness of other passengers during the narration. We were crowded on the bow at the Yacht Club because they closed off the bow on 7 and 5. The loudspeakers weren't the best, but people were loudly talking, preventing those who actually wanted to hear from doing so.

2. The narrator commented that there is a webcam at the Miraflores Visitor Center and noted that his contacts inside said the Pride was visible so  "Wave!" If I had known, I would have given friends a heads up. We don't buy the internet package nor use our phones during these trips (except as cameras) so it would have been a fun thing to know.

 

I thought the Pride was great, maybe showing her age, but aren't we all?

 

One more thing, there were two medical emergencies during our 7 days. The captain and crew were remarkable in their handling these events. Considering the demographic aboard, it doesn't seem to be an unusual number. I think many people were thankful we were able to do a bucket list item because, well, you just never know...

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On 11/16/2019 at 9:53 AM, beej210 said:

We're going on Jan 4th.  Here's where I'm at in the planning:

 

Panama City/Colon:  No ideas.  We arrive at 2pm the day before and sail the following day at 5pm.  Any ideas on what to do in Panama City?  Is there a guide or tour that can pick us up and show us stuff along the way to Colon?  Or do we just explore Panama City and take a taxi to Colon?

 

Balboa/Fuerte Amador: No ideas yet.  Looks like most of the cruises' excursions are related to foodie stuff.... could be cool, any private tours here worth noting?  We're in port for a day and a half

 

Isla Parida: This is the beach BBQ day.  Having never done this before, should we book something else or is there enough stuff to do with the BBQ?  Or is it just lunch on the beach and we need to plan something?

 

Puerto Jimenez (Golfo Dulce): From what I read Corcovado Park is supposed to be amazing for wildlife.  I've reached out to Jaguar Tours http://www.jaguarcorcovadotourscr.com/ to see if there's anything we can do as a day trip.  I also read about Dolphin Devine and Changing Tide Tours which could be cool.  Any input here would be great.

 

Quepos: I think we are going with Iguana Tours and doing Manuel Antonio, horseback riding to the waterfall, and maybe the mangroves if there's enough time.

 

Puerto Caldera: We would like to see the coffee plantation on the way back to the airport.  They suggest your flight leave no earlier than 3pm.... ours it at 2:35pm.  They recommend 3 hours at the airport..... anyone know if this is necessary?

 

Hello Beej!

We have JUST booked (like, on Dec 24th... bought air tix and all on the same day) - surely last or 2nd last to join this Jan 4th sailing and I see your Roll Call.

As you can imagine, I'm now frantically researching excursions!

I think we might be looking into different activities than what you've had in mind, but I wonder if we could have any overlap.  I'll reply to you in the Roll Call board.  I have no idea how to "join" a Roll Call so i don't know if my reply to your Roll Call thread has registered at all.  :-?

 

Very curious to see if you get any replies on this thread as well - all excellent questions!!!

 

Baldtomato

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If you search on Panama on this board, you will find other threads that would answer some of your questions such as one including this post by me

 

""Based on a recommendation by sb44, we contacted  Vincent Scott (phone is +50766547771 email vscott03@gmail.com) about transportation from Panama City to Colon. He picked us up from our hotel and drove us to Portobello to see the customs house (the Caribbean end of the route that the Spanish used for moving gold from the Pacific to the Caribbean through Panama), fortifications and church. There was some time left before we needed to be on the ship we took the car ferry to see the land side of the Gatun dam than back on the car ferry to Colon 2000 to board the ship.  The price for the two of us was only slightly more than the Windstar transfer so we felt it was good value.

 

We also did an evening walking tour of Casco Viejo with him the evening before. 

 

Vincent was excellent. 

 

He also does other tours so if there is something that interests you particularly such as visiting the canal visitor center, you could ask about that. For Sb44, he picked them up in Colon and did a tour of Panama City before dropping them at their hotel."

 

Balboa / Fuerte Amador, is basically the same as Panama City.  The ship tenders to near the end of the break water that protects the canal. In addition to touring around Panama City, you could take a tour to the Canal visitor centers (there is one overlooking one of the new locks with a viewing area and a restaurant and one overlooking the old locks with a canal museum. There is also a canal museum in Caco Viejo. If you look on the Panama Port of Call board here, there are other ideas such as a tour to visit an Embara (indigenous people) village. 

 

Isla Parida, is a pretty small island. Most people just used it as a beach day. There isn't a lot there beside beach other than a hike that you can take on your own or with a Windstar excursion to see some of the flora and fauna. They bring the water toys from the ship to the beach.

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thank you!  Booking just 7 days before we fly, I'm pretty overwhelmed with the searches I have to do - and yes I did do a "panama" search, in addition to Puerto Caldera, and even just the Wind Star reviews here on CC (as we were picking Colon-P.Caldera on W.S. vs the reverse itinerary departing same day on one of their bigger Star yachts, no sails) - amazingly, BOTH were on deep discounts last minute as they were both available for us, 10 days before sailing!  We settled on the Colon to Costa Rica version and I hope we made the right decision....

 

I think we might end up going with the ship's official shorex for the Emberas Village excusion from Balboa, and then the chocolate tour from Jimenez. Golfo Dulce: Chocolate Farm - A Sweet Experience  $139

 

TBH I'm certainly quite reluctant to pay $600+ per day for both days to do both with W.S (family of 4), but I can't find any private operators that mentions this same chocolate tour from Golfo Dulce, and the myriad of private operators that advertises an "authentic" day visiting Emberas is dizzying - would I have to worry about quality?  is there only one and only Emberas village that everyone basically ends up going to?  or multiple ones that different companies set up as tourist traps????

 

 

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20 minutes ago, baldtomato said:

thank you!  Booking just 7 days before we fly, I'm pretty overwhelmed with the searches I have to do - and yes I did do a "panama" search, in addition to Puerto Caldera, and even just the Wind Star reviews here on CC (as we were picking Colon-P.Caldera on W.S. vs the reverse itinerary departing same day on one of their bigger Star yachts, no sails) - amazingly, BOTH were on deep discounts last minute as they were both available for us, 10 days before sailing!  We settled on the Colon to Costa Rica version and I hope we made the right decision....

 

I think we might end up going with the ship's official shorex for the Emberas Village excusion from Balboa, and then the chocolate tour from Jimenez. Golfo Dulce: Chocolate Farm - A Sweet Experience  $139

 

TBH I'm certainly quite reluctant to pay $600+ per day for both days to do both with W.S (family of 4), but I can't find any private operators that mentions this same chocolate tour from Golfo Dulce, and the myriad of private operators that advertises an "authentic" day visiting Emberas is dizzying - would I have to worry about quality?  is there only one and only Emberas village that everyone basically ends up going to?  or multiple ones that different companies set up as tourist traps????

 

 

Embaras Village Tours, http://www.emberavillagetours.com/, is the one that comes up a lot with positive reviews on the Panama board. We weren't able to fit it in so I don't have personal experience with it. At the time we went, Windstar didn't have an Embaras village excursion. One of the reasons we didn't do was that it wasn't available on the full day we had in Panama City before we started the cruise and it is that timing was tight with the ship departure time for doing it from Fuerte Amador. It is a long excursion due to travel time to the village so it would be a good one to do a Windstar tour. 

 

We did the chocolate tour with Windstar from Golfo Dulce and enjoyed it. The price was easier to swallow since it was just the two of us and we had a good amount of OBC from our travel agent. 

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Baldtomato we just did this cruise and here was our thoghts....

The crew was very good as was service. Our first stop after doing the panama canal was Balboa panama. We did not do any Windstar tours and booked everything ourselves ahead of time. In Balboa we went to the Embarrass village for cheaper than what Windstar excursion was via" Monkey adventures". Next day we  took a taxi to the Older section called  Casco Viejo and then went to the Bio museum which was fairly close to the dock.

 

 Then we went to Isla Parida which has a nice beach for swimming and they had the Beach Barbeque there which was nice, They had  kayaks, paddle Boards and snorkel gear available to use. I heard the snorkeling was not particularly good there but the water was warm and had a sandy beach.

 

Then we went to Puerto Jimenez and took a tour with " ficus tours" which is a guide who took just me and my wife  bird watching. He was very good and we saw many species of birds and a sloth or two.

 

Then off to Bahia drake where we went to a place called NAGULA JUNGLE LODGE. We hiked for about a 1/2 mile to a very nice waterfall and swam for about an hour in crystal clear water and then went back to the lodge for an local lunch plate.

 

 

 

Our next stop was Quepos and we had yet another tour with a company called" Epic Adventures" into Their national park. This guide was excellent and we saw sloths,lots of monkeys,birds anteater and a  crocodile and many other things

 

Then we went to Bahia Herradura and took a nice tour called the best of Jaco.. it lasted about 5 hours and we saw a lot of the area ,had a very good lunch and the guide was very good explaining the area as we drove in a well kept van.

 

If you have more specific question I would be happy to help if I can. Enjoy your cruise. Have fun ... 🙂

 

Cruisingbilly

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