Just returned yesterday from this cruise. The only shore tour we took was the Mayan ruins and river cruise in Belize. I enjoyed it a great deal. We saw two howler monkeys, crocodile, storks, heron and several very large igaunas. We didn't take any shore excursions in the other two ports. In Costa Rica we rented a taxi and went to Playa Bonita Beach. The water was very rough and murky, couldn't snorkel. The beach was crowded and dirty also. In Panama we were advised to not leave the port area, so we stayed there and did a little shopping, it rained heavily most of the day, so we were glad we didn't waste our money on an excursion. We did talk to some people who took the excursion to the Canal and absolutely loved it. We had a great time on the ship, but the ports were not really ready for a ship full of people. Have a great time!
Just so happens that the shore excursion manager onboard the Spirit is one of my best friends! Tracey is an exceptional lady that knows her stuff and was purposely placed on that ship to iron out the problems they had been having with the tour operators. I highly suggest that you go to her tour lecture, she has begun a new program that is very easy to understand and view, and this will give you all the information that you need to select the best tours. As these are new ports for the most part and not that well developed, ship tours are recommended. Mrs Robo and I are attempting to get on this ship for the week of the 14th of Jan and intend on taking as many tours as we can fit in and do a complete review of them. Of course a complete review of the ship and many photos will also be available. Little late for your cruise but hopefully it will help others and I certainly hope you write a review and post it as well. Seriously, talk to Tracey and tell he you visit CM and talked to me. I know she will bend over backwards to help you in any way she can.
Just off this itinerary from 12/13. Don't wait to book. Limited spaces available on most excursions and staff does not/can not/ will not radio ahead to try for more. This is definatly adveture/eco travel. Belize and Panama have recently built new terminals and Belize has organized the driver guides so cost is similar to ship. We did Rio Wallace/Atu Ha Myan combo $65 pp and thought it good. Others did more adventure stuff and heard good eports on snorkeling and caving. Costa Rica has not made any visible changes in port tourist facilities & amenities since we were ther in 1990. Bunxh od new hotels but not catering to cruise tours. Did whitewater rafting in 1990 and the current feedback ws still good to great. Aerial tram got best maks but only 50 places available. Book on embarcation even before lunch to get.Did panama w/ car and driver. Best place to do if you, like me, are language handicapped. Had no problems. Heard good reports on canal and gran tour (not cheap 125-155 pp)
Hope this helps. e-mail me if you wish. I'll not be on boards much since end of month/quarter/year at work beginning 24th with many staff off over the holidays.
We will also be sailing the week of Jan 14th........Is it possible to ask your friend about the Panama Canal Grand Tour? I have not seen any reviews regarding this excursion and will like to know if is worth it.
Tracey has been working hard to improve all the tours offered and she has done some changes for the Panama Canal tour as well to improve it. Quite honestly, she has been revising these tours and fine turning them so intensly, we are only e-mailing once or twice a week right now. I know she has said she is putting in 18-20hr days since joining this ship. Apparently it is working as I have seen some reports that the tours are getting favorable to very favorable reviews now. If we are able to get onboard I know that we will also be doing that tour as I want to review all the ports and tours for the benefit of our Cruisemate visitors as well as the ship itself. I do honestly think that it is well worth the price of a ships tour to see one of the worlds wonders of engineering.
Wayne - we had a great time...the ship is really beautiful. The atrium is gorgeous...especially decorated for the holidays. The LaPlaya grill is great...no-one could ever complain about lack of food on this ship. We had a balcony cabin in the back of the ship...would never do that again, terrible noise and a lot of rocking, especially on the day when we had 40mph winds and 10 foot seas, that was awful. A few complaints...not enough bar waiters on the pool deck...our dining room waiter was very slow...we were consistently the last table out of the dining room every night, (10:30 or so when we were seated at 88:15). Mid-way thru the cruise are waiter was gone, (we had n ot complained), not quite sure where he went. We took the shark/sting ray snorkel tour...wouold definitely recommend it. It was a highlight of the cruise. In Costa Rica we took the 1 hour City tour...showed the highlights of the city and left you off in town for some shopping...there is a free shuttle that brings you back/forth from the ship. Was disappointed with the entertainment in the Phaorah's Palace, although Karakoo was a lot of fun. Definitely, Definitely book a night in the Noveau Supper Club, well well worth the $25...get your reservation the first day on board it sells out immediately. The food and service was fabulous,(shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, lobster tail, porterhouse steak, filet mignon, lamb chops). It was one of the better meals we've had, (we were a group of 14 and everyone loved it). Had a massage and a facial, very good job, you feel great when you leave the spa. Let me know if you have any questions......
My sons are 17 and 20 and in Canada the 20 year old was of legal drinking age but it appears that carnival does not allow that. What was you impressiong on the ship. Were there many people in their late teens and was the water slide open