We are going Feb 4th and also have questions forthose just returning. Can anyone tell us if the Sun offered last day shore excursions? Our plane does not leave until 5:30 pm. Any tips for what to do in Cartaghena? Was the ship full? Was there a long wait for personal choice seating? Any tips would be appreciated.
Your travel agent should have delivered an information package to you about a week or two after you submitted your final payment. There's a booklet called "Adventures Ashore" in the information package that has full details for all shore excursions on your cruise.
Princess has offered local excursions en route to the airport for passengers debarking in Fort Lauderdale in the past, but they might have fallen victim to complications related to the new airline security procedures mandated after the "9/11" attacks. Basically, the passengers taking tours in the port of debarkation had to check their luggage with their airline at the pier -- which the new security regulations forbid. In any case, the descriptions of the excursoins in Fort Lauderdale, if there are any, will be in the "Adventures Ashore" booklet.
I can't say that I have taken your exact cruise, but I have been to all of your destinations on past cruises. If you're like me, though, the best part of your itinerary is five days underway....
Unless there are new tours, you'll have a choice of three variations of one basic tour that features La Popa monastery (where you'll have a spectacular view of the harbor and the ship) and the attractions of the city (including the maritime museum and the Iglesia San Pedro Claver), and two shopping areas (one in the old city and the other a small mall by our standards). The first variation of the tour actually goes into the fort (definitely worth seeing while you are going there), the second variation drives by the fort, and third variation skips the fort completely in favor of more time for shopping. Your choice.
If I remember correctly, there might be a fourth tour that's basically transportation to one of the shopping areas. Emeralds and coffee are the major products.
The tour was interesting for a first visit, but this is not a port of call to which I'm in any rush to return.
The real attraction here is central Costa Rica, as most of the country's attractions are in the central valley and thus an hour or more each way from the port. I actually called at Puntarenas (on the Pacific Coast) instead and found the two ports offer many of the same tours! The tours are quire interesting, but expect long bus rides over winding two-lane roads to reach their destinations.
Costa Rica produces many varieties of coffee. The dark roast is very rich, and difficult to obtain in the United States. The shopping areas also offer local crafts, many of which are unique.
This island offers many unique attractions, and you can't see everything in a day.
>> The tour to Stingray City is very popular and always draws positive comments.
>> If you want to see as much as possible, the "Sea and See" tour is an excellent choice. The "Sea and See" tour combines a harbor cruise in a "semisubmersible craft" (actually a boat with a watertight compartment below the waterline where you look out through windows in the hull) to see the wrecks of the SS Callie and the SS Balboa, coral reefs, and much marine life with a land tour to the famous rock formation called Hell (which looks volcanic, but really is limestone that algae have eroded to raxor sharpness and blackened) and the world's only sea turtle farm (yes, they really do raise the creatures for food!) with a photo stop at Seven Mile Beach (which, in spite of its name, really is only 5 1/2 miles long).
>> You also can go to Seven Mile Beach on your own; it's easily accessible by taxi. This spectacular world-class beach has clear Caribbean waters, glistening white sand, and lots of resort hotels and other facilities. There are beach facilities where you can rent lockers, beach chairs, and umbrellas, and plenty of places to get beverages and lunch. It's readily accessible by taxi, and taxis back to the pier also are readily available.
Finally, Grand Cayman has some of the best shopping in the Caribbean right across the street from the tender pier. The prices are not cheap but generally reasonable and the merchandise is top quality. Be sure to stop by the <a href="http://www.rumcakes.com") rum cake stand in the shopping area for some tasty souvenirs, too (the coconut rum cake is my favorite!).
At Cozumel, you have two basic options -- take a tour to a destination on mainland (such as the Mayan ruins at Tulum or the eco-archeological park at Ex Caret) or stay on the island. The destinations on the mainland are worthwhile, but the tour is a full day because you have to take a ferry from San Miguel de Cozumel to Playa del Carmen to get a bus from Playa del Carmen to the destination -- and, of course, reverse this at the end of the tour. OTOH, these tours are worthwhile because Tulum and Ex Caret are unique attractoins. If you opt for either of these tours, though, be sure to bring a liter of water for each person in your party (available on the ship -- the liter is the large bottle) and to drink from it frequently throughout the tour to prevent dehydration. At Tulum, for example, daytime temperatures typically run into the upper 90's even in the middle of (their) winter.
If you opt to stay on the island of Cozumel, the tour that combines the Mexican cultural show in San Miguel de Cozumel with the Mayan ruins at San Gervasio is an excellent choice. The show is one of the best Mexican cultural shows that I have seen. The Mayan ruins at San Gervasio are not as extensive as those at Tulum, but they are much more significant because the island of Cozumel is a holy place in the Mayan religion.
Finally, you should be aware that the "Round Trip Panama Canal" itinerary does not transit the entire length of the canal. Rather, it passes through the westernmost set of locks to Gatun Lake, cruises on the lake for a while, and transits back through the westernmost set of locks again to return to the Caribbean. You won't pass through Galliard Cut or either of the two sets of locks on the eastern side of the continental divide, and you won't pass under the magnificent Bridge of the Americas at the eastern (Pacific) end of the canal.
MV Sun Princess is a magnificent ship, and one of my four personal favorites (the other three are her sisters). Have a wonderful cruise!
Went on R/T Panama from Ft Lauderdale this past New Years. The Sun had wonderful food and a great team of really talented entertainers especially the young dance team. Our caribe balconey cabin was somewhat smaller than on the Grand ( maybe just different) but the shows and the food didn't seem as elegant as the Sun. Our port excursions were as followed, Cosmel + sail and snorkle, really enjoyable and well organized. Grand Cayman, got there after noon and cloudy soo the the best advise we got was to go to the dive shop (blue bldg with an apple/dive symble on it)you can see from where you are anchored, walk through and snorkle out the back...no excursion needed. We are Floridians and the guys catch rays all the time not a novelty to swim with them.Costa Rico, eco-river tour this is not the rain forest you've pictured: except for a sloth and a monkey it looked like florida to us, kinda exciting to come to the mouth of the carribean sea while still in the boat, and the drive through the banana plantation was very informative. Columbia was different, lots of peddlers and armed Military, do not venture off unless on a tour found a 18k gold 1/3k emerald ring for $150. priced the same on the ship for $550.Panama Canal was cool going through the locks but...we got put back in line and never did dock soo nobody got to go ashore and the Sun staff had no back -up plan for the extra Sea day soo everyone just kinda complained about being bored or took long naps (New Years Day).The Sun is really proud of their chef (as well they should be) don't miss the Galley tour.
Enjoy every minute!
we're sailing on 3/16 & was happy to read your review. we're in a balcony on baja deck & hoping for an upgrade. how were your accomodations & any info. is appreciated. was already told to bring an extension cord for the blow dryer.