Costa Rica Cruise

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Jun 3rd, 2003, 06:17 PM
  #1
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Costa Rica Cruise

Wondering if anyone has taken Cruise West's Pacific Explorer "Between two Seas" San Jose to Panama Canal cruise? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks, Bruce
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Jun 10th, 2003, 06:55 PM
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Bruce,
I haven't done this cruise, but I am scheduled to sail on the Pacific Explorer on July 12 (just Costa Rica - does not include the canal transit). I will post my comments shortly after I return on July 18.
Terri
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Jul 14th, 2003, 03:08 PM
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Terri,

Thanks for your report offer. I'm anxious to hear all about your trip.
Happy sailing,
Bruce
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Jul 22nd, 2003, 08:50 PM
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Bruce,

We just returned this past Friday from our cruise on the Cruise West Pacific Explorer in Costa Rica. Below is an excerpt of my posting under the Latin America forum regarding the cruise:

"Message: After Xandari, we turned in our car and were shuttled to the Courtyard by Marriott hotel near Escazu. This 1-night stay was included as part of our cruise package. The Courtyard caters primarily to business travelers, and I will never stay there again. The hotel is your typical American-style hotel, which was to be expected. What I didn't expect was the incredibly rude and unfriendly service we received from the reception staff. This treatment was so unlike treatment I had received at other hotels in Costa Rica, it was unbelievable. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice to say that I hope the Marriott will invest in some serious customer service training.

From the Courtyard, we boarded a bus to the Los Suenos Resort on Herradura Bay, where we boarded our home for the next 6 nights. While she may not be fancy like the larger cruise ships, the Pacific Explorer is clean, comfortable and well-equipped. The crew is entirely Costa Rican (with the exception of 3 Panamanians) and English speaking. We were joined by 3 incredible naturalists during our voyage: Giovanni Bello (former director of the Monteverde and Los Angeles Cloud Forests), Stephen Weston (Emmy-winning shark researcher who has provided material for the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet) and Sio Guie (a very accomplished 26-year old Ecologist). They guided us on walks, helped us with shore excursions, educated us about their respective areas of expertise and treated us like family. The breadth of their knowledge and experience was so impressive, and their passion for their subject areas was contagious.

Over the next 6 days, we traveled to Curu Wildlife Refuge, Isla Tortuga, Corcovado Conservation Area, Golfo Dulce (including Casa de Orquideas), Isla del Cano, Drake's Bay and Manuel Antonio. We swam off the stearn of the ship, snorkeled at Isla del Cano (amazing!), sea kayaked at Isla Tortuga, and spotted dolphins and humpback whales on our way to Golfo Dulce. The cruise is totally relaxed and super casual (formal wear is forbidden) and the food was delicious! This was billed as a family cruise, and kids of all ages were on board. Some of the kids bonded so closely after only a week, that tears fell on the day we had to disembark. Some of them were mine."

Needless to say, I will be booking the Panama Canal cruise with Cruise West, hopefully for the Winter of 2004.

Terri

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Jul 23rd, 2003, 02:19 PM
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I must express my experience on this cruise three years ago. Possibly my complaints and those of the other passengers were heeded and the gross difficiencies corrected, but the cruise was by far the worst I have taken. Numerous postings in fodors and cruisecritic were written.
Incidentally, PR people based in Costa Rica poo-poo all negative postings.
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Jul 23rd, 2003, 09:55 PM
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Terri,

What a great Trip Report! We can't wait to go! Any special tips for "cruising"?

Thanks, Bruce

p.s. It's my understanding that the Pacific Explorer has been managed by Cruise West only since 2001. Before that it was the Temptress Explorer. I would guess that any trips taken before Cruise West was involved would be totally different. So that may be some of the problem that Lee had.
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Jul 27th, 2003, 10:19 AM
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Our ship was the Temptress and it was managed by Cruise West, or should I say "mismanaged". The entire group of passengers was irate at the poor state of the ship, the incompetent crew and uninteresting ports of call. Hope this has been corrected with the new ship and numerous complaints, but beware.
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Jul 27th, 2003, 03:18 PM
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My family went on this cruise when the ship was the Temptress Explorer in march on 2001. We loved it--Stephen was one of the natualists, the other was a guy named David. Both were very knowledgeable. We took great hikes every day--they usually had 2 options, one easy and one more challenging but not hard by any means.
I think people who are disappointed with this cruise are expecting something more like a traditional huge ship. This boat holds maybe 100 max. There were about 30 passengers when we were on it, a mix of retired professionals and families. Everyone was interested in nature, etc. Unless you watch the Discovery channel or National Geographic Explorer on a regular basis, this is probably not the cruise for you. All excursions are included (no extra charges), you get to shore in Zodiac craft. The rooms are small but well maintained. They clean your shoes for you every night (believe me, you will need it). The food was not gourmet, but was fine. The crew is all Costa Rican and Panamanian and incredibly interested in helping you and making sure you have a good time.
My birthday was in the middle of the cruise and the chef made a wonderful cake, and they had a little surprise party that night. All the Costa Rican men kissed me! It ranks as one of our favorite vacations ever.
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Jul 27th, 2003, 04:50 PM
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Bruce,

I wholeheartedly agree with Rachel - this was also one of the best vacations I've ever had. Prior to the cruise, I had done exhaustive research on Fodors, Cruisecritic and others and had read only wonderful reviews of the cruise (both before and after Cruise West took over the management of the ship). It's also my understanding from Cruise West itself that it took over management of the ship in 2001. I'm truly mystified by Lee's experience and claims of bad reviews. Although the Explorer appears to be an older ship, I thought it was very well maintained. In addition, the crew was wonderful and extremely helpful. My only complaint, as I said above, is with the Courtyard by Marriott. I'm not saying

I would also agree that this is a cruise for nature lovers. If you are used to the luxury of large cruise ships and expect to be entertained and fed 24 hours a day, you will not like this cruise. If, on the other hand, you want to visit remote dry and tropical rain forests, view incredibly beautiful flora and fauna, and actually learn something about this incredible country and it's ecosystems, than you won't be disappointed.
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Nov 29th, 2003, 02:37 PM
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OH MY GOSH!!! IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!!
Just returned from the 9nt "Between the Two Seas" cruise. We're still coming down from the thrill! Great shore excursions, super personal attention from staff, super snorkeling, bird watching, sloth sightings etc. The Naturalists on board! I can go on and on but just wanted to get this posted so everyone knows what a fantastic time they can have on this Panama canal cruise of Cruise West's.

Do you want some discouraging words? They are not offering all the additional shore excursions (horseback riding) because of the providers. BUT, we were so occupied with the included excursions that we didn't have time anyway! I didn't even have time to book with the massage therepist on board!! BOO HOO.
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Dec 2nd, 2003, 11:10 AM
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I'm glad to hear it is still as wonderful as when we went. Someday, I want to do their Panama Canal cruise.
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Dec 24th, 2003, 08:33 AM
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I'm so thrilled that you enjoyed the cruise!! My mom and I will be traveling again on the Pacific Explorer this coming July - this time with my dad and my 19-year old son. I too would love to do the Panama Canal cruise someday.
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Dec 25th, 2003, 07:55 AM
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Terri,

Have you booked for July yet? We went on the "Stowaway" program and with our Quyana Club discount saved 30%. Just a thought that it might be helpful. They still notify you in time to get good airline rates. We'll be doing the Brittish Columbia cruise this year.

Bruce
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Dec 26th, 2003, 06:04 AM
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I did the Temptress Explorer back in March of 2001 and loved it. Even though American Airlines messed up and I didn't receive my luggage until the cruise was almost over, I had a great time. Of course, it is not Silversea, but the ship, crew and itinerary were excellent.

I did a complete review of her (with numerous pictures) that you will find at http://www.cruisereviews.com/misc/Temptress.htm

Have a great cruise!

Tom Ogg
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