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Old 09-01-2011, 05:52 AM   #1
tsgirl
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Which Costa Rica Trip to take?

Now that the new itineraries are out, my family is trying to decide between the 2 Costa Rica trips. Are these the same two trips as before? They both seem to offer the same amount of meals, and 2 out of 3 of the hotels are the same. The signature one is offered a lot less often and doesn't offer a date that works for us. Currently, it is only a few hundred more dollars more than the other one. The "standard" one is being offered Xmas week of 2012, which would be perfect for us. By that time, I will have 2 college age daughters and one still in High School, making Xmas week one of the only available ones for family travel. Is this a good time to go to Costa Rica? I wonder if there is still the difference in group size that there used to be between the 2 trips. Last year, the "signature" trip maxed out at 30 and the "standard" at 40. Any advice would be much appreciated.
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Old 09-01-2011, 07:04 AM   #2
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I took the trip they are now calling "Western" (the one that was the signature trip last year) in 2008, when there was only one Costa Rica trip. They have eliminated one activity and one included meal and changed 2 of the hotels this year. I loved the Hotel Kyoro at Arenal, but they aren't using that any longer. The difference between the two itineraries seems to be the beach. I can't really give you any advice since I haven't done the Eastern trip, but I can tell you that the Manual Antonio part of the Western trip was my least favorite part. I think I would prefer Tortuguero. I don't see any mention of an internal flight on the Eastern trip, so I imagine the locations are such that you can just travel by bus. Flying in the dinky airplane to the west coast was not terrible, but it sure wasn't my favorite part of the trip. The things that are common to both trips - ziplining, rafting, hot springs, pineapple plantation, - we're all really fun activities. Good luck making a decision.

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Old 09-01-2011, 08:10 AM   #3
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We took the ABD trip that included Manuel Antonio in 2007 and we added 2 days in Torteguero on our own with Costa Rica Expeditions afterwards. In our opinion, Torteguero was an absolute highlight, and Manual Antonio was a bit of a disapoinment...but our family may be different from yours so let me explain:

MA was a very well travelled National Park; it never felt wild and pristine, the animals were so habituated to peope that the monkeys were super easy to see, but a little aggressive. MA had more of a touristy feel and my family LOVES to see animals in the wilderness. The beaches were beautiful and you'll get a couple of part days on the coast, surfing and body surfing opportunities, which is a priority for some families. Also during our trip, we did not stay on the beach, but high up on the hill with a view of the sea, so you couldn't walk down to the beach on your own.

Torteguero felt much more wild...like a real life jungle cruise. We did not stay at the Disney accomodations but I imagine it would be similar ( tho ours were not w/ AC, I'll bet ABD's hotel will have it)to what we experienced. We stayed right along the canal and it felt like you were on a boat (with out the motion!), you could dine on a porch right over the water! The whole community is on a series of canals and you'll go off in boats on the canals (the National Park there is only accessible by boat on the canals) It's steamy, rainy jungle and it's teaming with wildlife. Some families might be miserable in that kind of envornment, if they don't have interest in wildlife. There is no swimming on the coast (too rough) or the canals (huge crocs!!), tho some hotels have a pool. My family puts it up there with our African Safari (though the animals are harder to spot in a jungle!)

I wish you luck with your trip...only you know what will meet the need of your family! Happy to answer any other ??ss for you!
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Old 09-01-2011, 08:36 AM   #4
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Thanks for the info FamilygoBoston and Bobo912. I think my family would really enjoy the "wildness" of the Torteguero visit. That was the trip that fit into our schedule anyway. It is so far away, but I'm going to book today. They claim the prices won't go any lower, and I am so limited in the dates that work for us. It's so nice to have all of you out there as an immediate resource in aiding with this decision!
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Old 09-02-2011, 07:12 AM   #5
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I've also heard prices are unlikely to go down. If there is trouble filling a trip they are likely to offer incentives; such as kids free in the same room(this would not be helpful with a group of teens and young adults really!) or a free 3 night Bahama cruise ( which you would be unlikely to take due to it being offered when your girls could never travel!). You sound like us- older teens with little date flexibility; I'd book now too!
We did just that Monday and already the price is 200 higher for Galapagos and 3 weeks are waitlisted.
Your girls wil love Cista Rica- it's a great trip !
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Old 09-02-2011, 07:28 AM   #6
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For 2011, the incentive was a Visa gift card - $500 for international trips and $300 for US trips. For historicall reference, for Costa Rica east there were 2 dates in March, 2 dates in June, 2 dates in July and 1 in August eligible for the gift card. For the signature trip there was 1 date in March, 1 in April and 1 in June. Certainly no guarantee that there will be any incentives offered this year. If your dates aren't flexible, it's probably risky to wait.

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Old 09-02-2011, 08:22 AM   #7
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I booked Christmas Week 2012! Wow....a long time away, but we're all really excited. Thanks for all the advice.
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Old 09-02-2011, 06:47 PM   #8
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I'll bet your girls will have a great time!! Something to look forward to during all those exams!
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