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Home > Member Reviews > happyvalley's Port Reviews of Ocho Rios, Punta Arenas, San Juan, Acapulco

happyvalley's Port Reviews of Ocho Rios, Punta Arenas, San Juan, Acapulco
Coral Princess cruise in February 2010
Member Name: happyvalley
Cruise Date: February 2010
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Member Review: happyvalley's Coral Princess Review
Ocho Rios
Port Rating: 1.0 out of 5+
Having been to this city and another city in Jamaica before, we opted just to walk to the three main shopping areas. Of course we were repeatedly asked if we wanted a taxi or the services of a guide, or lead somewhere. The Jamaicans need to learn to take no for an answer or risk losing all tourism. Why Princess continues to go to this island is a mystery to us and other cruisers we’ve talked to, though it might be it just fills the schedule. A new port, Falmouth, just opened on Jamaica; we’d be much more willing to stop there than Ocho Rios.

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Punta Arenas
Port Rating: Not Rated
Here we took Princess’s shore excursion to the 6,000-foot Poas volcano and town of Sarchi. There's little to see in Punta Arenas, so you either need to take a tour or stay on the ship. Our guide on the bus was Daniel, who was very good - informative and humorous without being overbearing. The bus driver spotted a three-toed sloth hanging from the wires by the road, so stopped so we could take photos. Everywhere there were coffee fields, even on the steep sides of hills and between houses. When we got to the volcano’s visitor center, it was raining and about 60F. Most people bought plastic ponchos, as we weren’t warned about the climate. I brought an umbrella, but was still cold. The fauna was spectacular, with huge gunnera leaves along the trail. At the viewpoint, we could see nothing but clouds, so that was disappointing. Daniel said we had a 50-50 chance of seeing the crater. If we had known that we would have taken a different tour. Coming down we stopped for lunch, a nice buffet that included strawberry drink, salad, plantain, beans, rice, bread, and dessert. There were a few stores where we bought some souvenirs. We then traveled to Sarchi, where we first went to a building that housed a lot of crafts and souvenirs. After this quick stop we then went to the largest ox cart in the world, in front of the cathedral. Then it was back to the ship, returning at 4:20 p.m., giving us just 10 minutes to stop at the few booths and stores at the end of the pier in town.

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San Juan
Port Rating: Not Rated
San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua was our only tender stop, where we had to take the ship’s boats in to the dock. We took Princess’s shore excursion to the 2,000-foot Masaya volcano and Granada. Our guide on the bus was Elvis, who said he was a former history and geography teacher. He was OK, but we didn’t care for his humor or scattered commentary. Masaya was spectacular, as the day was clear. We first stopped to view Lake Nicaragua and the Conception volcano/island. It looked more like an ocean, with white caps and waves rolling to the shore. The crater at Masaya is huge, with smoke coming up from the bottom. The next stop was lunch at El Filete steakhouse, though the buffet had fish too, thankfully for us, as well as beans, rice, and roll again. Watermelon was available as dessert, with soft drinks in cans. The local Victoria beer was $2 extra. From there we went to a town with a crafts market for some shopping and then to Granada, where we got out to walk through an old hotel and square, then watched some dancers and musicians by the cathedral. We then traveled to a museum to see Mayan statutes and murals. Women and children here were begging for money, even as we were entering the bus to leave. Saw lots of banana, rice, and sugar cane fields as well as cattle and oxen.

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Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
This port was actually Hualtuco, Mexico, as CC doesn't have it listed in the dropdown menu. ?We arrived at the pier to find several soldiers with rifles at hand and two naval boats. At this stop we went off on our own, taking a taxi ($6) to Maguay Beach to the north. Much cheaper than a $40+ shore excusion. The ride from town took only about 10 minutes. The beach is on a curved bay that hosts about 10 restaurants. We sat at one under an umbrella for 2 ½ hours and had a drink and guacamole and chips. AT one point the Tequila catamaran with Princess passengers on a shore excursion came in. Some swam to the beach while others came in on the motorboat. They went to their own area of the beach, much to the chagrin of the other restaurant owners who were counting on some revenue that day. We returned by the same taxi a little past our prearranged return time to the city, where we shopped a bit before returning to the ship. This is a small city, though there are some jewelry stores and craft booths around. One day it will become much more developed, unfortunately.

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