Caldera, Costa Rica to Ft. Lauderdale - Dec. 5 - 19, 2004
How beautiful the country of Costa Rica is with its green foliage and mountains.
To find that we had been given a balcony suite on the highest deck (Deck 6.)
To find that there were only 190 passengers on board.
There is just nothing major that I can write about for this cruise.
We were met at the San Jose airport by the Seaborn representatives and escorted to a waiting minibus for the ride through the mountains to the port of Caldera. It was an air conditioned small bus that on this trip only had four Seaborn passengers to transport. The country side was beautiful although the roads were rather primative and filled with many pot holes. On arrival at the ship the check-in procedure was done on board in the Lounge and the champaigne began to flow imediately on going aboard. This is being written on the ninth day of the cruise and the drinks have never stopped flowing. At any meal, at any bar, at anyplace on board one can order any drink desired; plus extra bottles of favorites for the suite as well as a constantly, fully stocked refrigerator with soft drinks and beer of your choosing. At meals the wines flow freely and are all of excellent quality. We have had French, Italian, Chile, Californian, and many other countrie's wines as well. We have yet to find any of the wines that did not appeal to us. Any cocktail desired is also promptly brought to your table if requested.
The entertainment has been on a smaller scale than on the large ships but they are well attended and very enjoyable and relaxing. There is never any feeling of crowding on this ship and we have always had no problem with finding seating in any of the lounges or shows in the evening. The dress on this ship is a bit more formal than we had expected. The dress of the evening is given each day and most all of the passengers are quite happy with the results. The only comment that can be said in this regard is that there has been few occasions to go to the Restaurant in casul clothing. The very first time aboard was one occasion so far to be in casual attire during the evening and probably the very last night as well might be the same. Tonight there is to be a declared casual night as it will be dining under the stars on the open deck for a barbeque dinner. So far we have had two formal nights and there will be another before the cruise is over. The rest of the time it has all been "Casual Elegant" which means jacket and trousers with dressy shirt for the gentlemen and similar evening attire for the ladies. The Veranda Restaurant is available for those who have a different definition of casual clothing or formal attire. As a rule, this is a cruise line for those who prefer to dress for the evening in their fine attire and most of the men are in tuxedos.
The food on this ship is among the best we have experienced aboard any other line. Most notable is the daily fare to be found on the buffet at the Veranda Restaurant. As for the food in the Restaurant, it is sometimes a bit too fancy for us but the chef will prepare anything one would like from the alternate menu or any other thought for any course of the meal. Like any good restaurant all food is prepared to your order. If you find anything wrong with any item is will be prepared all over for you from the beginning. One thing of special note is the bakery aboard this ship. Breads are baked twice daily and are the freshest and best I have found on any other ship. At every meal there are always four or five different types of bread to choose from and the assorted Danish pastries just melt in your mouth. As you can tell, we love our breads.
We have found no flaws with the service aboard this ship. The staff will do anything in their power to see that you are being well served. We have never experienced such devotion to service on any other ship on which we have sailed to date. This covers the suite stewardess' as well as the restaurant staffing. It is no wonder that there is such a repeat rate of cruisers favoring the Seabourn Yachts. Our suite is very well designed and we think it is the largest that we have occupied on any ship. With all of our belongings that we brought along we have not been able to fill all of the various storage places and drawer space provided.
Our cruise is truly an international one. With the money exchange rate in their favor, there are many Europeans aboard. We have 30 from Luxembourg and 29 from Germany. Other European countries are also represented. In fact, on this cruise I believe the U. S. natives are possibly outnumbered. Most of on the service personnel on board are bi-lingual and most of these passengers are as well. All passengers are very friendly and no language problems have presented themselves to us at all. In fact, some of our most stimulating conversations have been with those from other countries.
The ship personnel, as well as the guest lecturers, host large tables at each evening meal in the Restaurant. Each table holds about ten people and are a very nice touch for this ship. So far we have been invited to join hosts at their table on four different occasions. Seating is assigned by name plate and no one is seated with their mate. Instead, seats are assigned at the table alternately male and female which quickly begins to get one acquainted with other passengers aboard. A complete passenger listing is provided to each cabin which also aids in remembering newly made friends at these Restaurant meals.
Each Seabourn cruise offers one Exclusive Seabourn Experience. For this cruise it was to spend a major portion of the day at the Gamboa Rain Forest Resort in the Panama Canal Zone. This unique and luxuious resort was the former Officer's Club during the American administration of the Canal. It is located in a Rain Forest and a highlight of the visit was an aerial tram ride in gondolas to the height of a mountain top; gliding over the canopy of the trees of the forest. No animals were spotted by us except for one large iguana but the different foliage and flowers were described by the guides who traveled with the guests in each gondola. As guests we were permitted to use any of the resort's facilities and some took advantage of the beautiful pool. An elaborate luncheon was provided for us in the grand ballroom and native Panamanian dancers and musicians provided the entertainment. After their tradition dances many of the cruise guests were "drafted" to join in the dancing with both the men and ladies of the dance troupe. As the beer and wine was flowing, a good time was had by all.
We have come to the opinion that this cruise line is now offering the most value for the money of any cruise we have taken. When you factor in all that is offered and experienced on these ships, it is not difficult to see why Seabourn has won so many acculades and awards. We have met many on board who will not cruise with any other cruise line and we can now follow their reasoning. We look forward already to another Seabourn cruise; even before this one has reached its final docking in Ft. Lauderdale. In fact, we, like many others on this cruise have now place an Open Booking with Seabourn for a future cruise.
Postscript: All good things must end eventually. Tomorrow morning we must depart this wonderful ship as we arrive in Ft. Lauderdale. New friends met, nostalgic goodbyes, and a last grand banquet in the Restaurant - a fitting end to the best form of vacation ever.