Along the way on a 7-day Panama Canal & Costa Rica sailing with Windstar Cruises, we learned a great many things. The first time sailing with the luxury line, first time through the Panama Canal and first time on a motor-powered ocean ship so very small, this had some built in topics of discussion. Here is a short list of ten unordinary things learned on my Windstar cruise.
- It’s In A Similar Time Zone– For me, Panama embarkation happened in the same time zone as our home in Orlando. Still, international travel it is; complete with taxi-clogged streets and a lesson in geography.
- Panama Is Not As Far West As One Might Imagine- Chatting with another travel writer on this trip, we were both surprised that Panama was not further west. Like under California west. We decided that maps are probably better now than when we were in 4th grade.
- Not Everyone Has Been Here, Done This- I thought for sure I would be the only one who had not been through the Panama Canal before. Absolutely wrong. A show of hands at an early event in the sailing revealed most Windstar guests had not done a full transit. And it’s not because they don’t remember.
- Windstar Guests Are Hip And Groovy- It’s a luxury line so yes, some passengers are old as dirt. But really lovely dirt that has grown lots of cool stuff before it went through the ashes to ashes, dust to dust thing. A relaxed atmosphere here makes getting down to the business of sharing amazing stories a faster process too. On this sailing, I met the guy who created Ronald McDonald. Could life be better than that?
- 3-V Filled Passengers- One more descriptive phrase, Windstar passengers are full of the three V’s- Vim, Vigor and Vitality for those who are not schooled in such matters. (also an ancient brand of cola)
- River Locks And The Panama Canal Are Not Really Very Similar At All- Yes, they both raise or lower ships but Panama Canal ships are huge. One passed us carrying 6578 BMW’s. No, really.
- Partial Transits Are For Pussies- I can’t believe I actually wrote then left that thought for you to read but it’s true. The whole “go into the lake, turn around and come back” thing partial transits do is at best a ‘pretty good taste’ of the experience. If you can swing ten days for one of those, 14 for the real deal is probably not out of the question. Or, there is one other option
- Cool Kids Sail Panama With Windstar- If the idea of investing 10 to 14+ days for a Coast to Coast Panama Canal experience does not appeal to you, how about seven? The Windstar itinerary starts in Panama City, covers a full transit of the canal like a blanket then moves along to Jurassic Park.
- Costa Rica really does look like Jurassic Park, The First One Anyway– There are parts of Costa Rica where you totally expect to see giant flying birds coming right at the ship. On the ground, a rustling sound in the jungle is surely a T-rex OR some such terrible dinosaur who is distracting our attention while two others swoop in and attack from the sides. Actually, we did not see dinosaurs, but we did see 23 different bird species
- Costa Rica Has One Heck Of A Lot Of Birds- On a really informative Costa Rica Mangrove and Wetlands Tour, I saw more birds that I could count. Luckily, our guide counted, wrote them down and gave us a list after the tour. Had you told me at any point in my life that I would enjoy a bird watching tour, I would have replie
d‘Yes, about as much as a Fall Foliage cruise’ which I once thought would be about as interesting as watching paint dry. I was wrong about that one also.
I’ll get more into the details of Windstar that will help with the decision to give them a try. Coming up; a complete profile of 212-passenger Star Pride as well as the rest of the Windstar fleet. I won’t need to sail them all; it’s hard not to get the drift of where they are headed with this cruise line. Stay tuned for that. The story details a secret weapon Windstar has that other cruise lines will never figure out until it is too late. After I reveal it, they won’t pay attention to that either, much like they did not pay attention to the Viking ocean product which is currently munching on their lunch.
For now, a tiny bit of homework before your next travel experience: be able to show someone where you are going on a map. Practice this alone first then move along to the dog. The idea is to make others believe that you actually paid attention to basic geography in 4th grade rather than doodling castles you might visit some day. Even if you did doodle castles, did eventually visit them and will do so again next week…which is another story to be told starting Sunday, from Frankfurt. Come along, this just gets more fun all the time.
…and another thing!
Eventually There Will Be Intense Social Sharing
What can I say? Tiny ship = tiny Internet capability.
Personally? I think they should just turn it off.
Yes, I said that.
Right now, there’s a little stuff on Instagram and Facebook, the rest just weren’t worth my time which is actually one of the highest compliments I can pay Windstar. Previously, I might have stopped breathing without snappy Internet or a way to find it ashore. Guess what? Primitive Costa Rican destinations are not totally connected. Who knew? Proabably the smarty pants eggheads who knew where the Panama Canal was/is.
- Instagram– Capturing experience-defining moments as they happen didn’t exactly happen but will, albeit after the fact so more like Latergram.
- Twitter – A wide variety of detail throughout the experience proved to be a lofty goal.
- Facebook– Captioned photos each day. An easy way to follow along on our voyage and this happened most often.
- Facebook Photo Albums- Posted as we travel, Facebook Photo Albums for each event and place along the way happened. The overall Windstar Cruises Experience? That’s next.
- Google+ – Easy-to-find links to all our posts actually were quite popular.
- Flickr Photostream– Unfiltered photos as they are captured along the way, limited by jungle-quality bandwidth.
- Flickr Photo Albums– Unfiltered photos as they are captured, organized by destination and/or events. There are fewer photos of my thumb this time.