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Old February 26th, 2009, 02:00 AM
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Default Day 8 on Silver Shadow

Day 8 – Silver Shadow – Puntarenas, Costa Rica
This scene was accidentally set because we weren’t sailing from Puntarenas until 10:30 P.M. The ship sat docked, and as we had returned from tours, etc., we began our normal evening ritual with a drink at The Bar, and then off to dinner just prior to 8 P.M., at The Restaurant on Deck 4. The dock happened to be at our eye level from our seats in the dining room.

I was enjoying yet another fabulous meal, with wonderful company, when I looked up from the plate I had been voraciously attacking, and saw an automobile directly outside the window we were seated next to (sorry to say, that as it was dinner, I didn’t have my camera at hand).

I have nothing at all negative to say about seeing the car sitting there. It was just one of those totally unexpected odd scenes that don’t compute in your mind when you see it. The “what’s wrong with this picture” moment supplied me a good chuckle. I hope you can visualize it and enjoy a laugh yourselves.

And now, to the beginning of the day…

Costa Rica is a beautiful country, with lots of variety of things to do. The problem is access to them from the ports. Because of the nature of the road system, it can take literally hours to go short distances.

We’ve been fortunate and visited by ship on several occasions. I have wonderful memories of our last visit when we went white-water rafting; one of the most fun activities we’ve done anywhere.

On previous visits we’ve toured the banana plantations, toured the marvelous National Theater in San Jose, and have seen the wildlife from the tour boats in the rivers and canals. Each one has taken more time to get to than the time we got to spend doing them. I thought I’d try something different on this trip, so I booked to spend the day golfing.

As mentioned yesterday, the Silverlinks golf program is available on specific sailings on the Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper. In fact it’s a concession operated by Elite Golf, who do many of the golf programs on most of the other cruise lines as well.

I’m assuming that’s the reason it’s not included in the tours listed for booking online prior to the cruise. On the Silversea web site, as well as on other cruise lines, you have to really hunt it down, to find any details even of the availability of it, and when and if you do find it, you can’t book it online; you have to call or e-mail Elite Golf.

Frankly I think the system is a disservice to those who may want to golf. People are unaware that the option exists, so end up pre-booking other tours, or making other private arrangements instead. It is easy enough to cancel ship’s excursions you’ve pre-booked once onboard, however, a last minute change in plans can sometimes throw off the plans you may have made with others.

There are several reasons the golf tours should be included in the list of available cruise line shore excursions:
- Knowing there’s a golf excursion available enables advance planning for it, which could mean bringing some equipment along, whether it might be golf shoes, balls, gloves etc, if you choose. All of the equipment is available for rent, at an extra charge, so that may be one of the reasons the cruise lines and/or Elite Golf choose not to publicize the golf programs.
- The golf professional onboard operates the program separately from the shore excursion. This led to a problem with today’s experience. The pier in Puntarenas is long. All of the ship’s excursions had the transportation waiting off the gangway, except for the golf. Those of us golfing, had to meet off the gangway, and carry our rental equipment, including golf clubs, the length of the pier, to our waiting vehicle. It was not allowed to come to the ship, as other tour buses were.
It wasn’t a huge problem for me, but there were other more elderly people than me, who had to struggle to get to the waiting transportation, carrying their golf clubs and equipment.

If this were a ship’s excursion, rather than a concessionaire, they would have at least had crew members to handle getting the equipment to the end of the pier, rather than have passengers having to deal with it themselves. Try as he might to help, the golf professional running the “tour” would have taken a great deal of time to run that length of the pier back and forth to get everyone’s gear to the mini-bus we used today.

Granted the obstacle we faced today is not a problem in many ports, but I’ve dealt with similar issues before when dealing with Elite Golf before; such as tender ports. The golf tours are not inexpensive, and even more important on a luxury line like Silversea, the service provided, or rather not provided, doesn’t work. There is a disconnect (as in the Steiner’s Spa issue I mentioned in an earlier report) between the service experienced than what is experienced when dealing directly with ship’s operations.

In my opinion the cruise lines should demand the contractors supply the same level of service as the ship run operations.

Once we got to the actual golf experience, it was excellent! Today we played at the La Iguana Golf Course, at the Marriott Costa Rica Resort. We enjoyed an excellent day of golf (not my game, the experience), on a beautiful golf course, which runs along the edge of the rain forest, with several holes running along the ocean coast line. At this particular facility we were able to stop at the clubhouse for a very nice lunch after playing 9 holes, and then continue on after lunch to play the last 9 holes.
The first 9 holes of the course are very nice, but the spectacular scenery and course design shine through on the back-nine, in my opinion. When you play golf as badly as I do the scenery and the experience becomes very important.
I’ll try and post the pictures of the golf course tomorrow.

Tonight, at 6:45 P.M. there was a Costa Rican Folkloric Show in the showroom. The presentation was very charming because it was done my local children. The kids seemed thrilled to be doing it onboard the ship, and the audience was very appreciative of their efforts.

After the show, and after a stop at The Bar, where we met up some with new old friends, we went off to dinner. Putting aside the story I opened today’s report with, the meal and service were first rate. I even sampled some Kendall Jackson white wine with dinner tonight. Of course with my vast knowledge of “the vine”, I wouldn’t know the difference between a Kendall Jackson and a Michael Jackson.

We sat and chatted with our tablemates until after 10 P.M, and though there was late night dancing, and a special edition of Night Trivia, after a long day in the hot sun, we returned to our suite.

Returning to the suite, and preparing to sit down to write today’s report, I checked my e-mail first. I received an e-mail from my long-time best friend that his father had suffered a stroke, and would be going in for surgery tomorrow.

Those who followed my Virtual Cruise Report in November from NCL’s Jewel will likely recall that on that cruise my father became seriously ill; passing away the evening before we were disembarking the ship.

Tonight’s e-mail brought back those horrible empty feelings I felt that night I got the call to the ship. I wept again for the man who meant so much to me, and pray that my best friend at home doesn’t have to feel what I felt.
More importantly, I mention this tonight because as I said then, when my father insisted I stay on the ship to complete the voyage, you do have to live life now! No one ever knows what tomorrow may bring. You have to enjoy all that life offers, and relish the experiences, and the joys of making new friends, and touching old friends. And do it all with a sense of humor, and a big smile on your face, knowing you’re blessed to have the opportunity. I know I am!
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Kuki
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