Tuesday, January 3, 2017

[Day 09] River Rafting in Puntarenas, Costa Rica

We arrived Christmas morning in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Puntarenas is on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, very far south. We'd visited Costa Rica before on our Panama Canal partial transit cruise at Limon on the Caribbean coast.

Pacific Princess

If you read my Panama Canal partial transit trip report (2012), you might remember that we had an excursion-gone-wrong in Costa Rica. Since we didn't have the best luck with a DIY shore excursion last time, we decided to not take any chances and book through Princess.



We really wanted to do the Rivers of Joy Hot Springs & Spa excursion, but it wasn't offered for our sailing... maybe because we were there on Christmas Day. We ended up settling for the "Corobici River-Raft Float, Scenic Drive & Lunch" (PA4-735) - This active excursion is suitable only for passengers in good physical condition. The minimum age required to participate is 8 years old. All passengers must complete a liability waiver and release; safety vests must be worn during the raft trip. Bring a change of clothes, an additional pair of shoes, and a towel, you will get wet. Wildlife sightings, while common, are not guaranteed.

They were not messing around with this liability waiver...

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

After a long bus ride, they brought us here, RCR Rafting, to sign the waivers and change if necessary. But they loaded us back onto the bus to take us up the river to raft.

Costa Rica

So they had three rafts for eight and one raft for six. And the guide was not strategic in his method of grouping people. The first thing he should've done was ask if he had any odd-number parties, because that really determines how the rafts can be split up. If he had a family of five and one of three, then obviously he had a raft for eight.... two families of three, then he should put those together in the raft for two. But he asked for a family of four (which my dad quickly raised his hand to volunteer because he was so annoyed on waiting for all of the slow people yesterday) and then a family of two, and we were appointed the raft for six. And then he assumed that everyone else could group themselves into groups of eight. Rookie mistake!

So we get there and they vest us up. They had a funny time with me because one guy kept adjusting the straps of the adult-size life jacket, trying to tighten it up, and then another guide pushed him aside, took the jacket off, and strapped me into a child's vest. So by the time I was fitted, my party was well ahead of me waiting to board that raft of six.

It was a huge cluster...show. The party of six was down at the front ready to load, but it turned out that they actually needed to load the rafts for eight first, so we were all in the way and had to do some rearranging on a a very narrow and slippery path. Also, as had happened the day before, several people either didn't read the advisory or overestimated their physical condition because it was a struggle to get a few of the guests safely down the hill and into the raft.

So they filled two rafts with eight, then were ready to fill our raft with six... when they realized that they only had five more people who were supposed to go in the raft of eight. The guy didn't even count how many people he had to begin with! So switcheroo, and they put the party of five in the smaller raft and our party of six in the larger one. It all worked out, but it was really annoying for me to watch.

I actually don't have any photos from the rafting. They warned us so heavily about things getting wet that I was sure we were in for a soaking, and I didn't want to risk my DSLR, or even my Nikon 1. So I brought Rachel's AW100... but I forgot to take the memory card out of it, and the battery died on me because I didn't remember to charge it the night before. And I have a feeling that none of the "wildlife" photos really turned out well, anyway. I had some cool ones of the rafts, but that's about it. One day I'll check that memory card and see what I'm missing out on.

It was HOT, and we were in the sun the entire time. Also, the river moved along very slowly and smoothly. We encountered one rapid. Our guide sat in the back of the boat to help us steer and direct us on which side of the boat to paddle, but the couple that partied up with us was really bad at stroking on beat (which drove my mom INSANE) or stroking at all. And I was getting mad that my mom kept her persistent rhythm while this lady flailed her pattern at an irregular rate because I also need to keep the rhythm, so I just stopped paddling altogether. I think my mom single-handedly rowed that raft for the most part.

We saw a few small crocodiles, some monkeys, iguanas, and birds. It was slow, hot, and long. Pretty boring for the most part actually, and I couldn't wait to get out of the sun.

Then the raft of five approached us, and two of our water volleyball buddies were in the raft. I don't remember who struck first... I think it was their guide... but our rafts got into a huge splashing war. It was refreshing. Our guide, especially, got really into it and was soaking the crap out of the other boat. That was the best part of the entire tour.

Back at the rafting center and oh, look... now the clouds come out!

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Lunch wasn't bad, but it wasn't nearly as good as in Nicaragua.

This glass is full of lemonade, not beer. The beer is still in the bottle...

Costa Rica

Cloud coverage didn't last long!

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

This tour was not enjoyable to me. I would not do it again, and I wouldn't recommend it to others. It just wasn't nearly as thrilling as I would have enjoyed, and the lack of organization annoyed me. I'm learning that you just can't really see much of Costa Rica by cruise ship - not the good parts, anyway.

After a long bus ride back, we returned to Pacific Princess.

Puntarenas

Puntarenas

Puntarenas

Puntarenas

Puntarenas

Puntarenas

Puntarenas

Puntarenas

Puntarenas

Go Tigers!

Christmas dinner was formal night aboard Pacific Princess.

Christmas

Christmas

For an appetizer, Chicken Broth -

Double Strength Chicken Broth

Pasta dish, Crespelle alla Valdostana -

Crespelle alla Valdostana

I'll show you a photo of the main courses to prove that they did have more Christmas-y options, like the Hickory-Smoked Ham.

Menu

But you should know me by now....

The Medallions of Beef Tenderloin -

Medallions of Beef Tenderloin with Madeira Demi-Glaze

And for dessert, lots of festive options -

Dessert Menu

But I couldn't resist the Gingerbread Souffle.

Gingerbread Souffle

Gingerbread Souffle

And we got Christmas cookies!

Christmas Cookies

On Christmas Night, the Pacific Princess singers and dancers, as well as guest entertainers, put on the "It only happens once a year" Holiday Show.

This is not a production choreographed by Princess, but put together by the singers and dancers themselves. It was very enjoyable because it showcased the individual talents of the dancers, including pointe solo by Katie and tap solo by Dylan.

Christmas

Christmas

Christmas

Christmas

Also, cruise director Sammi read a hilarious rendition of A Night Before Christmas, cruise-ship style.

Christmas

I really appreciated this performance. It was really nice because we had gotten to know the dancers from their activities jobs around the ship, so it was special to be able to see their creativity and individual skills. Definitely the most Christmas-spirited show I've seen (of all seven of my Christmas cruises!).