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Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Wednesday, January 25, 2017   Related topics:

This morning, Quest is docked in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The last time we were here (2014), we only walked from the ship to the beach at the end of the pier, did some souvenir shopping, and headed back to the ship.

Azamara Quest docked in Puntarenas

Today, we have decided to do something a little more adventurous. We pre-booked a "7-in-1" tour with Arenas Travel through their website a few weeks earlier. We disembarked Quest at 8:00 am and our local guide for the day, Geovanna, was waiting for us at the bottom of the gangway with a sign bearing my name.

Geovanna, local guide with Arenas Travel

After introducing herself, and welcoming us to Puntarenas, Geovanna led us down the long pier to where a new Toyota van was waiting for us. We were introduced to Alex, our driver for the day, and off we went. Our first stop was Esparza, purported to be the oldest town in Costa Rica, where we toured a unique Catholic church. Next, we drove to the Tarcoles River where we boarded a small open tour boat to hunt for crocodiles. We saw tons of interesting birds, iguana, lizards and yes, crocodiles. Not only did we see a croc, but Rickee actually got to touch one! And, this was no baby croc, this was "Tornado", one of the two largest crocs in the area at around 15 feet long!

Tornado hanging out next to our boat

The crocodile river tour took a little over an hour, after which Alex and Geovanna drove us to an incredible hotel on top of a mountain for lunch. Villa Caletas has to be one of the most magical places we have ever visited.

The view from the restaurant at Villa Caletas

The property is perched overlooking the ocean and the mountains. It was breathtaking. We were seated at a table for two and served a beautiful meal. We were offered our choice of chicken or fish, and we both chose chicken. It was a meal and a place we will not soon forget. And, should we have the opportunity to return to Costa Rica, a stay at Villa Caletas will be on our itinerary. After lunch, we drove to a local market where we had the opportunity to shop for souvenirs. It was one of the largest and nicest souvenir shops we have ever visited. Afterwards, we drove a few minutes to a  fruit stand where we enjoyed a sample of locally grown fruits. When we mentioned how much we loved the mango, the proprietor brought us a plate of sliced mango to take with us!

Plate of delicious, fresh mango

Our next stop: monkeys! Just a few more miles down the highway, we pull off on an unmarked gravel road (you would have to know where this place is) to what could best be described as a clearing in the forest with a small structure/building. As soon as we come to a stop, Geovanna and Alex start blowing loud whistles. We have no idea what is going on. We don't see a monkey anywhere, other than a stuffed toy monkey hanging from a tree in the yard. Geovanna keeps yelling in Spanish what translates to "Monkey come, Monkeys come" and blowing the whistle. Suddenly, there is a rustling in the surrounding trees and dozens of Capuchin monkeys are running all over the place, hanging from branches, chasing each other, and eventually, one climbs onto Rickee!

Mr. Monkey tries to steal Rickee's sunglasses

The little monkeys are very curious and friendly and a blast to watch. This was the highlight of the tour for us. We will be posting a full review of Arenas Travel's 7-in-1 tour on soon, so keep an eye out for it. We will also have a short video of our day's activities. For more information, visit their website at

After a brief tour of the downtown Puntarenas area, Geovanna and Alex returned us to Azamara Quest right at 4pm, as promised. We had plenty of time to get ready for our 6pm reservation at Prime C steakhouse. Prime C is one of the two specialty restaurants on board Azamara Quest ($30pp). While the decor at Prime C may be a little dated (can you say 1980s steakhouse?), the menu is modern and offers a lot of variety. I ordered the chicken lollipop starter, and it has been improved over what we had a few years ago on Journey.

Chicken lollipops with three dipping sauces

There are two different types of lollipops, each with a different batter. The three dipping sauces were all delicious, but the Thai sweet chili is my personal favorite. Rickee had the cheese and onion soup, reminiscent of a French Onion soup. For my main, I had the NY Strip and Rickee had the 5oz. Filet. Both steaks were cooked perfectly to order. My creamed spinach side was also perfectly seasoned and delicious. We declined offers for a souffle and opted for the signature cinnamon-sugar donuts. The little donut holes are served warm and fresh with caramel, chocolate and vanilla dipping sauces. These are to DIE FOR.

Cinnamon sugar donuts with dipping sauces

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Prime C and look forward to dining there again on our next Azamara cruise.

Tomorrow, we disembark Azamara Quest in Caldera, Costa Rica

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