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txtree Sep 9th, 2005 05:09 PM

costa rica trip - is costa rica expeditions worth the premium?
hi all, we are planning a trip to costa rica for march, with friends from the other side of the US. We all have young kids and we have been in talks with CRE to plan our itinerary. CRE has been helpful but the trip they have proposed is expensive and I'm wondering (as is my husband) if it's worth doing some comparison shopping. Any thoughts? We don't mind paying a premium (we are busy with two jobs, two kids, etc.), but we don't want to feel like we're paying too too much. I guess the main problem is that they give you a lump-sum price for the whole trip (hotels, guide, transfers, etc.) so it's hard to tell exactly what the premium is.

Anyone else use CRE? Anyone else use a different travel company?

shillmac Sep 9th, 2005 06:31 PM

Sorry that we don't have personal experience with CRE, but we don't use tour groups. BUT I have researched CRE as we have considered going this route a time or two. There are no doubt several groups operating who could provide you with an excellent experience, but there is no question CRE is top of the line. I don't think they are by any means a rip off--they offer a very high quality travel product. If you have the bucks, I wouldn't think twice about using CRE. They are extremely well established and own some very nice properties. Their reputation is unsurpassed.

tully Sep 9th, 2005 08:34 PM

I haven't used them personally, so can't say if their wervices are worth it. They usually get high marks from people that have used them.

That said, I was really disappointed with their pricing. I asked them for a 2 night quote to Morgan's Rock in Nic. recently and they came back with a price of $1,037. Pricing it myself with the same options (2 nights hotel, transfers, airfare) came to $830. Since Morgan's can arrange transfers & airfare for you anyway, I didn't understand the $207 mark-up. Which is why I usually end up just booking things myself.

shillmac Sep 10th, 2005 08:27 AM

I agree with Tully that the price quoted for Morgan's Rock seems excessive. We always book everything ourselves for this reason, so I guess you just pay for the convenience and less hassle?

Tully, are you going to Morgan's Rock? That is on our list of "must dos" as well! In May?

dfarmer Sep 10th, 2005 09:12 AM

No experience with CRE, however they do consistently get high marks.

For convenience and less hassle I would certainly consider a travel specialist. Your planning is compounded by the number of people in your group and the fact that you live across the country from one another. A travel professional will coordinate all of your in country travel to meet the needs of your particular group. Again never used CRE, however when considering other travel professionals, I have found that their rates are normally the same as the website rates posted on the hotel, etc sites. March is pretty busy therefore I would not expect to get a lesser price than posted rates.

I am pretty compulsive when making travel plans, down to spreadsheets comparing cost.

Two of our four trips to CR were planned by us, but booked with a professional. The companies that we have used were located in CR. And Pat Hewitt of Costa Rica Travel Exchange, located in the US. (side note: Pat has evacuated out of New Orleans, but is still doing business, he also has a whole team of professionals in CR)

Please excuse the detour! Tully! Morgan's Rock sounds and looks incredible! My wish list keeps growing and growing! Looking forward to hear of your trip.

tully Sep 10th, 2005 02:07 PM

Hi guys ( Gals I mean :) ) Unfortunately I think Morgan's will have to remain on my 'to do' list another year. I'm committed (in my mind) to doing BdC again and finally getting Arenal next trip (plus a mystery destination TBD!) and it just doesn't work out well. Think I'd rather do it when I have more time to spend in Nic. anyway.

So, that was off-topic, but maybe just an example to others, i.e. you can't do it all in one trip. You have to keep going back for more! :)

txtree Sep 11th, 2005 07:41 PM

Thanks for the feedback. I might talk to one more specialist, but I agree that, in my case, it's probably worth the extra money. I've never used anyone to book a trip before (I personally love the investigation and discovery), but doing this trip with a posse of young kids makes me want to take the easy (if expensive) way out!

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