One of the interesting things about visiting foreign countries — and there’s no better way to see many of them than from a cruise ship — is the number of photo ops. Signs quickly became a subject we kept an eye open for, and below are some we found “interesting” for a variety of reasons…
Tag-Archive for » Costa Rica «
One of the nice things about cruising is that when you stop in a country for the first time, it gives you a sense of whether you might like to go back. A taster, as it were.
It happened to us with Costa Rica.
While cruising on the Norwegian Sun, we first visited Costa Rica when the ship made a port stop at Puntarenas, on the Gulf of Nicola and about 60 miles due west of San Jose (the capital). While our visit was typically short — cruise stops seldom exceed eight hours — we made a mental note that this was a country we’d like to see again.
Last week, we did….but we’d be lying if we didn’t admit a little coaxing from a cute 4-year-old granddaughter had something to do with it, too.
We went to a part of the country (Playa Potrero, whose residents include our two new best friends, Walter and Graven), to a place unlikely to ever see a cruise ship, unless it’s with high-powered binoculars as one passes in the waters of the Pacific. It’s beach country, in the north-west area known as Guanacaste. If you’ve never heard of Playa Tamarindo and Playa Coco and Playa Grande, get ready to…judging by the number of expats who have already discovered it.
While Costa Rica typically has — like most tropical countries — a rainy season, this part of the country does not. Well, okay, it gets less rain. In the winter (December to May), it gets almost no rain. In fact, the green landscape turns brown and locals call it a desert, and not because of its sandy beaches.
It’s a long drive from San Jose or Puntarenas. Mind you, sometimes it’s a long drive from village to village in this welcoming tourist destination. You get there by flying to Liberia (not that one!) and driving for roughly an hour. A growing number of airlines now include Liberia on flight schedules.
However, with our passion for boating, we needed more than beaches.
That’s where Walter and Graven come into the picture. They were co-captains of our “ship” — probably an 18-foot skiff that took us (our family of five) snorkeling. Since we’d never gone snorkeling from a cruise ship, it was a welcome alternative as experiences go, but not nearly as welcoming as Walter (the pineapple man), Graven (sharing a thumbs-up) and assorted full-time residents who reap the benefits of the tourist industry.
Without the Norwegian Sun, we may never have met.
In the news…
• Tiffany’s boutique opens in Central Park on Oasis of the Seas
• Crystal Symphony makes maiden call at Santo Domingo
• TV’s Jeff Corwin on Panama Canal cruise with Windstar
Today at portsandbows.com: Arles, Avignon get A’s in France
Everybody loves a deal. That used to mean taking advantage of last-minute sales that were sometimes the product of too much product. Too many televisions…too many optical mice…too many empty rooms. Take your pick.
On cruise ships, empty rooms generate no income. Then, along came Royal Caribbean, earlier this year deciding not to bow to the lure of slashing prices to fill some beds.
End of last-minute deals?
Maybe. Maybe not. This week, Windstar Cruises has last-minute bargains in the name of Veterans Day, which is Wednesday. The sale continues until Thursday and it applies on cruises in Europe, Costa Rica, the Panama Canal and the Caribbean.
How good a deal is 81 per cent off?
Whatever Windstar’s motivation, there are some real bargains, with an additional $100 off for vets and active-duty military personnel. Sail (and it is sailing as these are yachts) around Tahiti, or Costa Rica, or the Caribbean for seven days for $1,299. That’s less than $200 per day with a premium cruise line.
The European cruises are less attractive but, by Windstar prices, good deals. A week in the Greek Isles and Turkey goes for $2,599, a cruise with a sticker price of $7,399.
Granted, the deals are on select cruises. Granted, you do have to fly to the embarkation and disembarkation ports. Granted, you may have to book tomorrow, pack Wednesday and leave Thursday. But for a chance to sail on a ship most of us can only admire from the shore…
Isn’t that what last-minute deals are?
In the news…
• Emiel de Vries named Captain of Holland America's new Konigsdam
• No decision yet about sending SS United States to ship scrapyard
• Privately owned islands in Papua New Guinea to open for cruising in 2016
Today at portsandbows.com: First look at Anthem of the Seas
When you travel on cruise ships, you often encounter signs that have strange, double or hidden meanings. Or maybe they’re just clever, prompting the shutterbugs to snap a few photos. And that’s what we’ve done, for your enjoyment (and ours) this week…
This was in Lima, Peru and we didn’t need a Spanish-English dictionary to get the picture, but maybe we should’ve because it probably doesn’t mean what you’re thinking.
Truly the only time any of us want to visit Hell, which is in the Grand Cayman Islands, and — yes — it’s re-assuring we’ll be able to send postcards back home.
At a snack bar in Aruba, near the “Natural Bridge” the primary tourist attraction until it collapsed 10 years ago — and now home to a sign that speaks for itself.
A sign from the wilds of Costa Rica and our first thought was of a feeding frenzy so we didn’t know if it was wise to proceed — except for the women, of course.
In case you’re wondering what the dietary desires are for the locals in Valencia, Spain, these eels are always on the menu and in the butcher’s (?) shops.
In the news…
• Fourth of July sales for many cruise lines a reason to pause the celebrations
• Incentives for booking early on Oceania include new ship Sirena in 2016
• Work stoppage at Fincantieri's Shipyard where Carnival Vista is being built
Today at portsandbows.com: Cruising through glaciers to Vancouver
Have you ever noticed that the best TV commercials, even the ones on Super Bowl Sunday, often feature animals? For whatever reason, any kind of wildlife captures our imaginations, or at least our camera lens, and that’s why among the thousands of pictures we’ve taken while on cruises, so many of them are of a creature who won’t pose, doesn’t consent to having its photo taken and can’t charge photographers for royalties…
Help us here, people…if we ever knew what kind of bird this was in Costa Rica, we’ve forgotten.
Cruising Alaska this summer? Watch for an Iditarod dog: They’re noisy, scrawny and friendly.
Pride of America passengers may see one of these monk seal, protected on the beach at Lihue, Kauai.
This Coxen Hole cat in Roatan, Honduras, gave us this steely glare throughout lunch, then cleaned our plates.
Pier 39 in San Francisco always comes with more sea lions than you can imagine, barking and posing, of course.
Today at portsandbows.com: Norwegian backtracks on food to rooms