Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wind Star Review 3 - Ports

Goodness, catching up on work is a blog-time zapper! I finally have a few moments to tell you more about Costa Rica. First, however, Ben and I returned to a special offer our agency is offering through February 18 only. Book any cruise on any ship sailing by 12/31/2011, with a minimum cabin cost of $1000 (total – not per person) and receive onboard credit! You must be a subscriber to our eSavers newsletter, however. If you are interested and have a cruise in mind, please visit our website, scroll all the way down to the subscription block, enter your email address and zip code, and you’re in! Then call or email us with the cruise of your choice. Onboard credit amounts are determined by the cost of your cabin and range from $25 to $150 per cabin. The offer ends at midnight on February 18, so you’d really need to act fast. Sweet.
During our Wind Star cruise, we visited the port of San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua and the Costa Rican ports of Playas del Coco, Quepos, Bahia Drake, Curu, and Tortuga Island. Only two “ports” were tender landings. The others were “wet landings” via zodiacs. We tendered into San Juan, home to the second tallest Jesus statue in the world, behind Christ the Redeemer in Rio. Quite a sight to behold. Excursions were offered to the Mighty Masaya Volcano, to Morgan’s Rock Hacienda and Eco-Lodge, and to the colonial city of Granada on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. Ben and I chose, however,
to simply wander the town and walk up to the Pelican Eyes Resort for views of the bay and enjoy some Costa Rican style tortilla chips and salsa. Our next stop at Playas del Coco was our first wet landing, carrying extra shoes with us as needed. We were headed to the zipline adventure at Congo Trail. What fun! We’d done the zipline thing in the Dominican Republic, but this company seemed more organized and there were also more stations to “zip” from—11 in all. You Tarzan; me Jane! Other passengers opted for the Palo Verde National Park Cruise or sightseeing and spending time at the Pacifico Beach Club.

Next up was Quepos, the largest “town” in our itinerary. Once a bustling banana exporting port, it has re-focused itself in recent years as an ecotourism and a sport fishing destination. The Manuel Antonio National Park is considered the most beautiful of all of this country’s many national parks. We chose the nature walk tour through this park, led by Andy, a knowledgeable, passionate naturalist carrying a high-powered telescope to enhance our wildlife viewing experiences. And wildlife we saw! Macaws, sloths, monkeys, colorful birds, an anteater, Jesus Christ lizards (they run so fast they appear to be walking on water), termite colonies, and huge ants marching in single file across our pathway with oversized food and “supplies” on their backs. Some fellow passengers chose the Savegre River raft adventure which received great reviews, too.

I had always wanted to go horseback riding on an excursion, so we finally signed up for the excursion at Bahia Drake, our next stop, that included a boat ride to Josechito Beach, with our guides negotiating the waves and rocks to ensure a safe landing, followed by a lovely ride on our horses along the beach and through the countryside. My horse even cooperated with a canter now and then. Ready to do that again! Also offered at Bahia were another hiking adventure in Corcovado National Park and a whale-watching experience that produced a pod of a special type of orcas not usually seen in those waters as well as humpbacks.

On our last full day of the cruise, we did a quick stop in Curu, Costa Rica, where some of us took advantage of one final nature walk through the Curu National Wildlife Refuge, which lies off the Nicoya Peninsula. Again, an excellent naturalist led us in search of white-faced and howler monkeys (check), raccoons (not our day), and iguanas, macaws, other birds, and a crocodile (check all!). Even though numerous snakes make their home in Costa Rica, we never saw one. The ship then sailed to our final stop, Tortuga Island, where we enjoyed a beach barbeque and time to swim, relax, and enjoy views of the Wind Star under full sail as our captain offered a final photo op day for his beautiful ship.   I’ll offer some closing comments in my final post on the Wind Star.

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