Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, was our first port of the Grand World Voyage. Puerto Limon is on the east coast of Costa Rica and is not a very touristy town. There is a small tourist market set up near the pier, but most of the stores in the small town seem to cater to locals as opposed to tourists or cruise ship passengers.
We arrived at 7am and were cleared almost immediately. There wasn’t any immigration procedure we had to follow, nor was there any agriculture or other inspectors present on pier. If they were there, we didn’t notice.
Before each port they provide a small folding card, copy on the blog, under daily activities that gives the name of the port agent & phone number, current exchange rate and some helpful phrases. I always like having the name and number of the port agent in case you are delayed or need to get in touch with the ship while in port. If you are delayed and call, they may or may not wait, but your chances are better if they know your situation e.g. are you are in a taxi 5 minutes away or still in San Jose.
The ships photographer was taking photos on the pier using a life ring as a prop. We love taking these pictures, but I think they would do more business if they had better props, like a giant banana or something. Many passengers shun these pictures like the plague and maybe it wouldn’t matter, props or not. Fine with us as there is never any line and pictures help us recall pleasant memories when we view them years later.
Blue skies and puffy clouds accompanied the pleasant temperature as we walked the length of the pier to catch our tour bus for the HAL organized White Water Rafting tour. I normally don’t take ship tours as their markup usually exceeds their enhanced value. In this case, the difference between this tour and the ones I investigated prior to departure was only about $10. There were not many, if any, vendors on the pier selling private tours. They may have been there, or maybe they were sitting outside the security area, but there presence was not obvious.
There was about 16 people on the tour, the bus was the right size and not too crowded. Better yet, the bus had free wifi. No one announced the free wifi, so always ask, or look for the wifi symbol.
The 1 hour drive went pretty quick as we were able to catch up on email. Along the way, we passed banana and coca bean plantations as we drove thru a very rural area most of the time. You wouldn’t take this drive for the scenery, but it was OK. Along the way our guide provided some interesting commentary and passed around big pod that contained coca beans.
About 15 minutes from where we would enter the water, we stopped to change our clothes and put ALL of our belongings inside our bags we would leave on the bus. The HAL shore excursion booklet did not explain that you should bring a swimsuit, a towel and water shoes or shoes you wouldn’t mind getting wet. We brought a swimsuit, but not the right shoes or towel.
The white water rafting was very nice and exciting enough. Probably two notches above a Disneyland ride, but it was fun and all the excitement most of us needed. We floated about 13 KM down the river and traversed numerous rapids. There were 8 people and the guide in each raft. Each of us was equipped with a hard hat, life jacket and paddle. You will definitely get wet. A camera in a plastic bag would come in handy as there were numerous spots you could have pulled it out to take some pictures as long as you could stow it for when you were bouncing thru the rapids. We were on the water about 90 minutes.
We saw some monkeys, a sloth and some pretty birds are both shorelines as we passed by. Our guide had an eagle eye and spotted a slot in a passing tree. We paddled to shore and secured the raft while he climbed a tree with a passengers camera to take a picture of the sloth up close. He went up 20 feet and got some amazing pictures.
After we got out of the water and back in the bus, we realized we needed a towel, not so much to dry off but to sit on, so water wouldn’t soak into the bus seats. But is wasn’t too bad and we managed without a towel.
Back at the changing station we enjoyed some complimentary light snacks, before heading back to town.
We arrived back in town at 2:30, with an all aboard at 3:30, so we spent an hour wandering around the town and in 1 hour we probably saw most of it. Other folks mentioned there was a pretty church worth visiting, but we missed it.
We bought a few post cards and a key chain. We collect key chains from all our travels and use them as Christmas Ornaments instead of more traditional ornaments. They bring back good memories and our guests always find it interesting to browse our Traveling Christmas Tree.
As we walked down the pier we passed a very energetic duo playing the Xylophone. For a small tip, they let me join in and release my inner Finkel (who oh by the way will be playing again tonight). I pounded the bars alongside them, trying, unsuccessfully to get a good jam going, but I failed miserably and definitely need a lot of practice.
The sail-away was lively with discounted frozen drinks and wandering waiters with trays of appetizers. What was missing was a live band and singer. They certainly have enough of them on the ship, and why they can’t produce them for the sail away is a mystery. Not a huge deal, but live music is always better than taped.
Back on the ship we received our invitation to the Captains Dinner in the Pinnacle Grill for February 29th. The invitation stated this was a one-time deal and could not be rescheduled, but I suspect that they would probably make some exceptions depending on the circumstances. Fortunately that date works for us and will not occur on one of the times we will be off the ship. A copy of the invitation will be on the blog under Daily Activities.
Dinner was a joy as always and the service continues to be exceptional. Late seating is probably ½ to ¾ full which helps keep things moving.
The Finkel brothers did an encore show tonight. Outstanding. Typical attendance (light) for a late show, but enthusiastic. The Father was in the back and did not perform.
Big day tomorrow as we transit the canal and then anchor outside Panama City for the night.
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