Puntarenas/Costa Rica: Tips, Photo Secrets, etc.??

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#1
Columbus, Ohio
17,992 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Am looking to do a Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco cruise through the Panama Canal in late February-early March 2017. This includes a tendered stop in Puntarenas. It would be on Tuesday, March 7, 7 am to 7 pm. Triple 7's!! Lucky?? This would be our first time visiting Columbia, Panama Canal, Central America, etc.

Any special secrets, ideas, suggestions, experiences, etc., to share as to where is best to feed our interests in history, photography, nature, sampling the people and character of this area, etc.?? Just doing too much of the usual tourist stops/shopping is not our priority and/or interest. Nor, are we as much the "hang at the beach" folks.

Given our limited time here, doing a private tour might not be as much of priority or that available. Or, should that be very important to do in order to see more, lessening the crowds, waiting for folks to unload and load on the bus, etc. Looking forward to the smart sharing of any good, unique ideas. And, love to read any and all key photo tips for this highly-regarded area.

There are several good ship excursion options that we are considering. Here are some of my specific questions:

1. How good and interesting is the Rainforest Aerial Tram with their open-air gondola through the top of the canopy?
2. How good and interesting is doing a river boat on Tarcoles River as a "jungle journey" through the Guacalillo Estuary? Will you see that many crocodiles close and good on this river cruise?
3. Do either or both of these trips allow seeing that many interesting birds?
4. Is Pura Vida Gardens that good and interesting?
5. Is the Doka Estate coffee plantation and tour of the botanical gardens at La Garita that good and interesting?
6. Added recent reactions about Puntarenas's economy, since the port was moved and roads opened to other beaches?
7. Is their capital of San José that good and interesting as a must-see? Worth it to take that time and effort to get there versus the nature options?
8. From which of these locations would I get the best, most unique pictures, etc.?

Am surprised that I cannot seem to find a specific Cruise Critic board for Nicaragua. Am I, a fairly experienced CC board veteran, missing something or looking in the wrong places? Hear that maybe Nicaragua is the Costa Rica of the future?

THANKS for the help! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


From our Jan. 25-Feb. 20, 2015, Amazon River-Caribbean combo sailing over 26 days that started in Barbados, here is the link below to that live/blog. Lots of great visuals from this amazing Brazil river and these various Caribbean Islands (Dutch ABC's, St. Barts, Dominica, Grenada, etc.) that we experienced. Check it out at:
http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/s....php?t=2157696
Now at 43,548 views for these postings.
#2
Middle of the Sahara Desert
11,214 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Punteranas normally isn't a tender port .They have a long pier that can handle two at the same time. I would post this question on the Roll Call for your cruise. There you get more info.
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#3
Columbus, Ohio
17,992 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by Kamloops50
Punteranas normally isn't a tender port .They have a long pier that can handle two at the same time. I would post this question on the Roll Call for your cruise. There you get more info.
Appreciate your quick response. Sorry, I goofed. This Costa Rica port is not a tender situation. We need tenders for stops at San Juan del Sur/Nicaragua and Cabo San Lucas. Got my ports mixed up. Yes, this location is a docking.

Will be doing a posting at the Roll Call. Have looked at it, but have not yet done a post there.

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Enjoyed a 14-day, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Sydney to Auckland adventure, getting a big sampling for the wonders of "down under” before and after this cruise. Go to:
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139
for more info and many pictures of these amazing sights in this great part of the world. Now at 157,013 views for this posting.
#4
Middle of the Sahara Desert
11,214 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
We have stopped there a number of times . We now normally enjoy the ship itself in most ports . With my bad knees and DW's health we find the tours longer than for 4 hours aren't doable , especially if they don't say that the bus is air conditioned.
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#5
Columbus, Ohio
17,992 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by Kamloops50
We have stopped there a number of times . We now normally enjoy the ship itself in most ports. With my bad knees and DW's health we find the tours longer than for 4 hours aren't doable, especially if they don't say that the bus is air conditioned.
Sorry to hear on the knee and other health challenges with your wife. Great point about making sure that any buses here to be used are air conditioned. Understand at this time of the year that things do get very, very warm. Right?

Look forward to getting any and all added insights, suggestions and tips.

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


For details and visuals, etc., from our July 1-16, 2010, Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now at 203,683 views.
http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/s....php?t=1227923
#6
Columbus, Ohio
17,992 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
From the New York Times Travel Section this week, they have this headline: "20 places to travel in your 20s" with these opening/set-up highlights: "There’s no better way to change your perception of the world — and maybe yourself — than travel. You’ll experience different cultures, meet new friends and make lifelong memories. But traveling poses challenges: financial constraints, limited time off. So think of this selection as a checklist and starter kit to world travel."

One top suggestion was for: "Costa Rica. A few reasons to visit: Rain forests teeming with wildlife, two coasts peppered with reasonably priced eco-resorts and creative ways to get around (horseback riding and rafting, for example)." Looking forward to getting a small sampling of this highly-praised country.

It's been a long time since I have been in my 20's, but I started out in December 1970 doing a month-long Eurorail adventure with a college roommate for doing a large number of Europe countries that helped launch my interests for exploring and learning at an early age.

Full story at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/21/tr...-20s.html?_r=0

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Enjoyed a 14-day, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Sydney to Auckland adventure, getting a big sampling for the wonders of "down under” before and after this cruise. Go to:
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139
for more info and many pictures of these amazing sights in this great part of the world. Now at 158,385 views for this posting.
#7
Bremerton, WA
462 Posts
Joined Nov 2013
Originally posted by TLCOhio
Am looking to do a Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco cruise through the Panama Canal in late February-early March 2017. This includes a tendered stop in Puntarenas. It would be on Tuesday, March 7, 7 am to 7 pm. Triple 7's!! Lucky?? This would be our first time visiting Columbia, Panama Canal, Central America, etc.

Any special secrets, ideas, suggestions, experiences, etc., to share as to where is best to feed our interests in history, photography, nature, sampling the people and character of this area, etc.?? Just doing too much of the usual tourist stops/shopping is not our priority and/or interest. Nor, are we as much the "hang at the beach" folks.

Given our limited time here, doing a private tour might not be as much of priority or that available. Or, should that be very important to do in order to see more, lessening the crowds, waiting for folks to unload and load on the bus, etc. Looking forward to the smart sharing of any good, unique ideas. And, love to read any and all key photo tips for this highly-regarded area.

There are several good ship excursion options that we are considering. Here are some of my specific questions:

1. How good and interesting is the Rainforest Aerial Tram with their open-air gondola through the top of the canopy?
2. How good and interesting is doing a river boat on Tarcoles River as a "jungle journey" through the Guacalillo Estuary? Will you see that many crocodiles close and good on this river cruise?
3. Do either or both of these trips allow seeing that many interesting birds?
4. Is Pura Vida Gardens that good and interesting?
5. Is the Doka Estate coffee plantation and tour of the botanical gardens at La Garita that good and interesting?
6. Added recent reactions about Puntarenas's economy, since the port was moved and roads opened to other beaches?
7. Is their capital of San José that good and interesting as a must-see? Worth it to take that time and effort to get there versus the nature options?
8. From which of these locations would I get the best, most unique pictures, etc.?

Am surprised that I cannot seem to find a specific Cruise Critic board for Nicaragua. Am I, a fairly experienced CC board veteran, missing something or looking in the wrong places? Hear that maybe Nicaragua is the Costa Rica of the future?

THANKS for the help! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


From our Jan. 25-Feb. 20, 2015, Amazon River-Caribbean combo sailing over 26 days that started in Barbados, here is the link below to that live/blog. Lots of great visuals from this amazing Brazil river and these various Caribbean Islands (Dutch ABC's, St. Barts, Dominica, Grenada, etc.) that we experienced. Check it out at:
http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/s....php?t=2157696
Now at 43,548 views for these postings.

Hello Terry. We recently returned from our Panama Canal cruise which included a stop in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We loved Costa Rica! And the Pura Vida Botanical Gardens was our shore excursion which I highly recommend. It is a beautiful place at 2,000 feet elevation with magnificent views, flora and fauna. We even saw toucans in the wild there.

We also did stop at the Tarcoles River Bridge to view the crocodiles and another stop near a beach to view scarlet macaws.

My full review of our cruise is here, but you can certainly just scroll down to the Puntarenas section if you wish. I posted several pictures from the gardens, including the toucans, among other things.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2420223

Enjoy your Panama Canal cruise! It was a bucket list cruise for us and we enjoyed the entire trip immensly!
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Seeing the world, one port at a time.

Cruise History:
NCL Spirit - Mediterranean - May 2017
NCL Sun - Panama Canal (full transit) - October 2016
NCL Pearl - Alaska - May 2014
NCL Star - Western Caribbean - March 2013
RCI Splendour of the Seas - Mediterranean - June 2007
HAL Oosterdam - Alaska - September 2005


#8
Middle of the Sahara Desert
11,214 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Which are you that tenders at Punteranas Costa Rica ? We've done HAL and Princess an neither one tendered . We always docked . They have a dock that can handle two HAL size ships at the same time.
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#9
Bremerton, WA
462 Posts
Joined Nov 2013
Originally posted by Kamloops50
Which are you that tenders at Punteranas Costa Rica ? We've done HAL and Princess an neither one tendered . We always docked . They have a dock that can handle two HAL size ships at the same time.
We were on Norwegian and they docked. I don't think Puntarenas is a tender port. We were the only ship there that day but there was room for 1 more at the dock.
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Seeing the world, one port at a time.

Cruise History:
NCL Spirit - Mediterranean - May 2017
NCL Sun - Panama Canal (full transit) - October 2016
NCL Pearl - Alaska - May 2014
NCL Star - Western Caribbean - March 2013
RCI Splendour of the Seas - Mediterranean - June 2007
HAL Oosterdam - Alaska - September 2005


#10
Columbus, Ohio
17,992 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by SeahawkSiren
We were on Norwegian and they docked. I don't think Puntarenas is a tender port. We were the only ship there that day but there was room for 1 more at the dock.
Originally posted by SeahawkSiren
Yes, and it sounds like most cruise ships will continue to use the old locks. We couldn't really get any good looks at the new locks since they were blocked by trees and vegetation. But it sounds like periodically cruise ships will use the new locks. But mostly the new locks will be for the post-panamax ships that cannot fit into the old locks and the new locks are really going to be used more for commercial/shipping vessels rather than recreational vessels. I think Princess and Disney cruise lines have plans for cruises through the new locks next year.
Yes, our Princess ship will be docked. Found our Seahawk poster's postings, pictures and appreciate so much the many fine pictures and details from your great reporting. This includes these key comments on the Panama Canal and how things will work with the new versus old canal.

Any added tips, suggestions, secrets from you or others?

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


From our Jan. 25-Feb. 20, 2015, Amazon River-Caribbean combo sailing over 26 days that started in Barbados, here is the link below to that live/blog. Lots of great visuals from this amazing Brazil river and these various Caribbean Islands (Dutch ABC's, St. Barts, Dominica, Grenada, etc.) that we experienced. Check it out at:
http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/s....php?t=2157696
Now at 45,400 views for these postings.
#11
Garland, TX
1,065 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
we are doing this same cruise but in Feb. 2018. Following
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Rick and Teresa

Majesty of the Seas Feb. 2002,/Rhapsody of the Seas-Sept.2004,/Elation- June 2005/Conquest- Sept. 2010 /Conquest- Halloween 2011/Magic - 12/9/2012/Magic - 1/26/14/, Emerald Princess - 2/15/2015, 3x Magic - 12/6/2015, Island Princess - 8/10/2016-(Land portion 8/2/16) Coral Princess - 2/19/18 (15 day Panama Canal)
#12
Columbus, Ohio
17,992 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by Bimmie Girl
we are doing this same cruise but in Feb. 2018. Following
Appreciate your follow-up and interest. Will aim to do a live/blog with lots of large visuals on this upcoming Panama Canal sailing. It will be posted on the Princess Cruise Critic board. Hopefully you can follow along, post any questions, comments starting in late February 2017. Now only two and a half months till we start this "adventure"!!

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


For details and visuals, etc., from our July 1-16, 2010, Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now at 206,378 views.
http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/s....php?t=1227923
#13
San Jose, Costa Rica
599 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
There are two ports in Puntarenas: Puntarenas (downtown pier), and Caldera (industrial port), they are 13 miles apart. Ships that arrive at Puntarenas dowtown dock at the pier. Those to Caldera can either dock or tender, depending on ship's size (post-PANAMAX usually tender) and port capacity (cargo ships have priority there).

Puntarenas has few (or no) attractions, my suggestion is to take a tour. I highly recommend the one day tour to Tortuga Island with Calypso Cruises.

Their own pier is about seven blocks away from Puntarena's dowtoww cruise pier, so you can walk or take a quick cab ride (less than $2 each way). If you arrive at Caldera, expect a $20 ride each way. Or you can make arrangements and their charter bus from San Jose can pick you up at Caldera port at no additional cost.
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Harmony of the Seas - Western Mediterranean - Jun '16
Celebrity Reflection - Eastern Mediterranean - Sep '15
Allure of the Seas - Western Caribbean - Mar '14
Allure of the Seas - Eastern Caribbean - Feb '13
#14
Columbus, Ohio
17,992 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by Pipo
There are two ports in Puntarenas: Puntarenas (downtown pier), and Caldera (industrial port), they are 13 miles apart. Ships that arrive at Puntarenas dowtown dock at the pier. Those to Caldera can either dock or tender, depending on ship's size (post-PANAMAX usually tender) and port capacity (cargo ships have priority there). Puntarenas has few (or no) attractions, my suggestion is to take a tour. I highly recommend the one day tour to Tortuga Island with Calypso Cruises. Their own pier is about seven blocks away from Puntarena's dowtoww cruise pier, so you can walk or take a quick cab ride (less than $2 each way). If you arrive at Caldera, expect a $20 ride each way. Or you can make arrangements and their charter bus from San Jose can pick you up at Caldera port at no additional cost.
Great to have this additional information. Keep these helpful and interesting items coming and flowing. Wonderful sharing. Don't be shy. Below is a visual for a few books that I got recently from our local library and have been checking. Lots of nice pictures, details, options, etc. Aren't all three of these cover visuals just totally wonderful?? Lots lovely in Costa Rica. Much research to do!! Personally, it's nice to have today's books with more and better charts, graphics, visuals images, maps, building cut-aways, etc.

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


AFRICA?!!?: Lots of interesting and dramatic pictures can be seen from my latest live/blog at:
http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/s....php?t=2310337
Now at 28,983 views for this reporting and visual sharing that includes Cape Town, all along the South Africa coast, Mozambique, Victoria Falls/Zambia and Botswana's famed Okavango Delta area.


#15
Columbus, Ohio
17,992 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Below is a connection for the live/blog from our March experiences in doing this fun "adventure". Check it out and see lots pictures and details for what we did in Costa Rica. Really it enjoyed there. These reports includes for our first stops in Colombia, Central America and Mexico, plus added time in the great San Francisco. Very special and interesting in seeing the Panama Canal and learning about its creation/construction.

Getting ready in six days to be departing for Lisbon and our first visit to Portugal. Then, we will be seeing NW Spain, Bordeaux and Brittany also for the first times in these charming regions. Will do a live/blog for these "adventures". Join in and feel free to ask any questions as we sail. It will be on the Silversea Cruise Critic board.

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

Panama Canal? Just completed Feb. 28-Mar. 15, 2017, Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco adventure through the Panama Canal with our first stops in Colombia, Central America and Mexico, plus added time in the great Golden Gate City. Lots of fun pictures!! Those pictures start on the second page, post #26. See more at:
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2465580