Costa Rica Is Centerpiece for More Sailings

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SAN JOSE -- Cruise clients who enjoyed a taste of Costa Rica during a Mexican Riviera, transcanal or Caribbean sailing may be ready for a more in-depth experience of the country.

The Wind SongOne option is a cruise aboard a smaller vessel that focuses on Costa Rica, sometimes in conjunction with Panama. Increasingly popular, these products promise the best of two worlds -- the convenience and comfort of a shipboard vacation combined with the opportunity to explore Costa Rica's natural history attractions aided by expert guides.

Following is an update of cruises that feature Costa Rica:

  • Windstar Cruises. Perhaps the most significant addition to the lineup of cruises to Costa Rica occurred last winter when Windstar launched seven-day roundtrip sailings out of Puerto Caldera. The sailings were successful enough that in the 1999-2000 winter season, Windstar plans to position a second ship in Costa Rica, doubling its capacity there. Currently, the line's cruises are aboard its 148-passenger Wind Song, a masted schooner that boasts luxury accommodations, five-star service and high-quality cuisine. A Windstar naturalist gives on-board briefings and accompanies shore excursions. Windstar's Costa Rica cruises visit Drake Bay, Cano Island, Quepos, Playa Flamingo and Tortuga Island as well as Coiba Island in Panama. Shore excursions, for which there is an additional charge, include visits to Corcovado National Park, a Corobici River float trip and sea kayaking. Departures: weekly, December through March. Price: $3,695; 25% to 30% early-booking discounts available. Windstar Cruises Phone: (800) 628-3354
  • Temptress Adventures. Ever since they were launched by a Costa Rican entrepreneur in 1991, Temptress cruises have made natural history and soft adventure their specialty. Casual in tone, sailings aboard the 100-passenger Temptress Explorer are inclusive, with no extra charge for guided shore excursions or water sports, including snorkeling, kayaking, water skiing and banana boat rides. The only exception is scuba diving, which is extra. Seven-night sailings operate roundtrip out of Puntarenas. They also may be booked as four- or three-night cruises. Highlights on the seven-night itinerary include Curu Wildlife Refuge, Tortuga Island, Corcovado National Park, Cano Island, Golfito and Golfo Dulce, the Osa Peninsula's Corcovado Conservation Area, Drake Bay and Manuel Antonio National Park. Departures: Weekly from Oct. 31 to May 1. Price: From $830 for three-night sailings, $1,070 for four nights and $1,695 for seven nights. Temptress Adventures Phone: (800) 336-8423
  • Clipper Cruise Line. Clipper combines Costa Rica and Panama's Darien Jungle and a Panama Canal transit on an eight-night itinerary. Sailings are aboard the 120-passenger Yorktown Clipper. At the beginning or end of the cruise, travelers spend two nights in San Jose, where they tour the city, visit a coffee plantation and explore a rain forest. Cruise highlights in Costa Rica include the monkey rehabilitation program at Curu Wildlife Refuge and a full day of explorations at Marenco Biological Reserve. Departures: Two to four times monthly in December 1998 and in March, April and December 1999. Price: From $2,290 in 1998; similar rates are projected for 1999. Clipper Cruise Line Phone: (800) 325-0010
  • Special Expeditions. Natural history is the focus of Special Expeditions' one-week small-ship cruises combining the Pacific coasts of Costa Rica and Panama. On-board naturalists provide interpretation for shore destinations reached by Zodiac. Special Expeditions had not yet finalized plans for the coming season; however, a spokeswoman said the program will be similar to that offered in the winter of 1997-98, when the itinerary featured Manuel Antonio Natonal Park. Special Expeditions Phone: (800) 762-0003
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