Tag Archives: activities

Cruise Critique

I will start off by saying that my family and I had a great time on the cruise aboard the Splendour of the Seas.  There was lots of laughter, great conversation, fun in exploring the ship activities and of course the port stops were fantastic to visit!  However, and I think I speak for my family as well, we will never sail with Royal Caribbean again.

I will start with the positive: the staff were for the most part very nice and accommodating.  The activities on board (Bingo!, Name that Movie Trivia, nightly movies on the main deck, mini-golf, etc) were lots of fun.  In fact my sister and I each won a round of Bingo! (her $25, me $300, a bottle of champagne, an umbrella and a scrapbook package… I got the X, yay!).  Our woman who cared for our stateroom was very nice and often left towels in the shape of very cute animals in our room to come back to at the end of the day.  I loved the little daily itinerary they left each night in our rooms so we could see all the activities and plan accordingly.  I loved that they had a salt water pool instead of using chlorine.

But, here’s the thing… When people pay good money to go on a trip that is supposed to be something of a luxury, it is expected that the staff are nice and accommodating and it’s expected that there will be fun activities on board so people can fill their time up on sail days with something other than staring at the water.  It’s expected that the port stops would be interesting places to see/go.  Otherwise why would people go on cruises to begin with?  So really the only positive items about the cruise were things that one would EXPECT to be positive.

Now for the negative:  1) Booking with them was one of the most painful and stressful experiences we’ve dealt with in planning a trip.  We booked online and everyday it was a new story as to what was owed.  First everything was paid off, then we owed 5 times more than what the cruise was supposed to be, then it was back to almost being paid off, then we still owed more…  Literally everyday there was some issue or another in our booking and I can’t tell you how many phone calls (upwards of 20 at least!!)  were made back and forth to customer service (who were at least patient and nice on the phone) trying to sort everything out.

2) Steak night: my sister decided one night to order a steak… She ordered the temperature medium.  What she got was a very tough piece of medium well steak.  She didn’t want to send it back or make any fuss, but at my parents insistence (they wanting to make sure she actually enjoyed the steak) she told the waiter it was too cooked for her liking.  He immediately sent off for a new one.  Great!  Well done!

No pun intended there, but that’s pretty much what she got for the second try: a medium well to well done steak.  The waiter stood by as she cut into it (as he should) to make sure the cook was correct.  It wasn’t so off it went again.  This time however the manager came over to chat with my sister to fully understand what she was looking for.  She again stated ‘medium’ then described how the cook should look (warm pink center).

Off went the manager and server and a few minutes later out came a VERY WELL DONE steak…. Ummm…… ??????  Seriously????  At this point is was just too comical!!  Ironically it was the most tender piece received so far despite being well done, and my sister was at that point beyond trying to make them get anything right.  She was content just eating the veggies and nibbling on some of the bits of meat.  But no, the server and manager weren’t happy that she wasn’t happy, so they whisked away the plate again and brought back… Lucky steak #4????  No…. a RARE, almost so rare you could still hear it mooing steak… Again, we (my family) were actually quite humored by the whole fiasco and were in good spirits about the comedy of errors unfolding around us…

What wasn’t comical however was the second manager who came by to inform us that next time, if we wanted a piece of meat to be tender when cooked at a medium temperature, we should order the filet mignon for an extra $17…. THAT was condescending and highly rude.  Duh!  Of course the better the cut the more tender the meat!  But that wasn’t the point.  The point was there was a huge miscommunication going on with how to cook THAT particular cut of meat to the correct temperature.  And by the way, we weren’t the only ones having issues with the steak as we overheard several more tables around us raising the exact same issue.

3) On the topic of food, in general it was lackluster whether at the buffets or at the restaurant.

4) Last little bit, I had the worst drink I’ve ever tasted… I ordered a mojito.  Seriously mojitos are made by muddling mint, lime and sugar (simple syrup will do too) then adding in rum, shake shake shake, top off with soda water.  Done.  This bartender put in (I was watching) mint, simple syrup, sugar (yes, regular sugar WITH the simple syrup already put in), she muddled for about 15 minutes.  Then added rum, mojito mix out of some cardboard container, added ice, shook for another 20 minutes then topped off with Sprite… Oh and THEN she added a lime on top…  I could feel a sugar induced coma coming just looking at it!  I hate to be rude though so I took a straw sip (not sipping from the straw but capping the straw and dipping it in for a taste).  I have a very big sweet tooth, but seriously, there was no way to drink that drink!!  It was so sugary and gross.  Nowhere near refreshing as a mojito should be.  I had to refuse it and later had to make sure it wasn’t charged to my account, which it was so I had to have it taken off.

Really the real theme going on behind all the negatives was the lack of…  I’m not sure, knowledge, communication or experience with the staff???  I don’t know for sure but it was frustrating.  Again, the staff were very nice and they tried (except for the condescending manager) but there was some serious link missing there .  And again, the cruise was fun and relaxing and great to get away with my family, but if we ever happen to do another family trip via a cruise, it won’t be with Royal Caribbean.

On to Thailand

Back to Europe

 

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Sea Kayaking

By far the time spent in Puerto Jimenez was the most jam-packed with activities each day!  Perhaps it was simply because of the company I was surrounded with and because of my resounding stubbornness to make sure I didn’t miss a single activity… Either way, looking back on my time spent there, it really was quite amazing how many different things I was engaged in.

On this final day in Puerto Jimenez, the blistered and bitten Belgian guy did as he said he would: he sat all day on the steps of The Corner hostel and read a book.  Myself, Jul and the other Belgian however decided to go sea kayaking!  Now I had never been sea kayaking before, just kayaking in the calm waters of a lake back in North Carolina.  But as the waters of the gulf were not at all choppy, the experience was quite the same as it was in the lake: calm and easily navigable!

After negotiating with a local for a good price on kayak rentals, the three of us headed out to sea!  We navigated along the coast of Puerto Jimenez heading south right to the mouth of the river that Jul and I had swam across just days before.  Along the way, a sea turtle was spotted hanging about on the surface of the water just before diving below the surface never to be spotted again.  We paddled our way through the river for several hours, often having to duck and squeeze our way under branches and fallen trees that were in our way.  Not really knowing where we were going, we simply followed the leader until the river literally narrowed and eventually came to a dead-end where it was no longer possible to pass!  There were tiny little waterfalls coming from the land that dumped into the river but otherwise we found ourselves in a little alcove surrounded only by land!  “Macgyver”, who true to form was always up to something adventurous got out of his kayak to see if there was anywhere on land to go.  Perhaps for the better there wasn’t any path or place to easily walk around without creating one ourselves with the use of a machete (which he forgot to bring on this one occasion).

So without anywhere else to go, we turned around and headed back to Puerto Jimenez.  Again, it probably was all for the better because once again the tide had risen (you would have thought we would have learned our lesson from the day before, but NO!!) making the trip back even more treacherous!!  The tight squeezes we had to make on the way up the river were even tighter on the way back, but luckily in some cases a little easier as branches we once had to go under were now completely submerged!

As we navigated our way back, we all stated chatting about the good times we had experienced in Puerto Jimenez and eventually started chatting about our favorite person there: Berta.  “F” always called Berta “Mama” even though she wasn’t of any relation to him, and with this idea in mind, “Macgyver” decided we should make up a song and dedicate it to Berta as a final farewell to her.  Completely surrounded by nothing but jungle and the creatures that resided there, the three of us started singing at the top of our lungs “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen because of the lyrics dedicated to “mama”, of course changing the lines to suit and fit a song to be dedicated to Berta!  It was quite humorous to say the least, and had others been in the vicinity they definitely would have thought we were all completely nuts!!  We did actually come up with several original lines to the tune of Queen’s song that we memorized and planned to perform to her later knowing full well that she wouldn’t have been able to understand them anyway (since they were all in English)!!

The sun was once again starting to set and the currents in the river as we approached the ocean were tough to push through.  But eventually as the first stars started to become visible, we made it back out into the gulf and as storm clouds closed in on us from all directions with lightning and spurts of thunder, yet surprisingly still calm waters, we made it back to the rental facility and dropped off the kayaks.

We were several hours past the time we said we would return the kayaks, as it was pitch black when we did finally get there, and the ticos were outside eagerly waiting for us.  I sometimes wonder if they would have sent a search party had we not returned that night, or if they would have figured either #1 that we simply stole the kayaks or #2 that we were just crazy gringos and if we got lost/injured/died it would have been our own idiotic fault!  Luckily none of those scenarios occurred however!!

That night was the final one for all 4 of us (Jul, the two Belgians and myself).  The next day we were all heading out on the early boat back to Golfito and heading in our separate ways.  We celebrated our last night with beers and good conversation but sadly had all neglected to remember to sing our “original” song to Berta:(.  Such is life as the adventure continues…

On to On the Road Again

On to Puerto Viejo (A Sunny Town)

Back to Costa Rica