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30
Oct 2014

30 October 2014; Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

Coming to Costa Rica, you have two options for docking. Going to Puerto Caldera or to Puntarenas which is about 2 miles to the west of P.C.  Until about 10 years ago Puerto Caldera was the only port. Built as a cargo port, it started to attract more and more passenger ships.  That we docked there did not matter for those on tour, as you could hop straight away on the Highway to San Jose, the country’s capital. But if you stayed on board, then it became a problem, as apart from an impromptu flea market, there was and is nothing there. You would have to take the taxi to Puntarenas the nearest town. Thus the authorities decided to build a very long pier, reaching into deep water; they dredged around a bit and created a cruise terminal right in the middle of the town. A very nice and wide pier with a little shuttle train taking people to and from the gate, if you did not want to walk. However this pier has two issues. While the dock of Puerto Caldera is protected by a breakwater against the incoming swell, the pier at Puntarenas is completely open. If there is a high ocean swell, then the ship will move on that swell alongside the dock. Sometimes the swell is so high the ship cannot give out a gangway, or accept a shore gangway.  Secondly  because of its location, it has a heavy current in the area and that makes it quite difficult for ships to dock and undock. Hence you have to adjust your arrival and departure times to nearly the slack tide times when the current is near zero. Thus both ports have its advantages and disadvantages. The authorities now have a nice pier and want the cruise ships to use it. The captains want to have a steady ship alongside and arrive and depart on the regular schedule and thus they want Puerto Caldera as a Plan B and sometimes as a plan A.  I had to make that decision a few times in the past and I […]

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