After scouring the internet for reviews of tours for an upcoming day trip via cruise ship, I found Port Limon. After several emails back and forth with Jorge, my husband and I settled on a tour with just us 2. Jorge was very easy to deal with and gave us lots of options, we followed his advice and planned the - Full day (6-7 hour) Ecological tour
1) Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure. Sky Gondola-Aerial tram- Puma Waterfall, Rainforest Trail, Snakes Exhibit, Butterfly World Frog Habitat, Biological and Research Station.
2) Tortuguero National park ride boat. We will be looking for the real wild life in a wonderful canal, where you be able to spot wild animals like are: Monkeys, Sloths, reptiles, several kind of birds and much more! All this in their own natural lush! One hour ride boat in the canal.
3) After Bonita beach where you will be able to enjoy our traditional local food.
4)At the end a small city tour ending at the best supermarket where you can get the best costa rican coffee and much more.
Our ship (Celebrity Reflection) arrived, and it took a bit longer to disembark due to weather/water conditions, but we were the first off the ship.
We read the directions on how to meet Jorge, but it was a bit of a walk, and you actually have to LEAVE the port to get to the main street (we were initially a bit confused on this, but you go through the gift shops, and out through this turnstile gate and there were tons of folks standing on the street)
We sent Jorge our photo, and he sent us one of him, so we kind of knew who to look for, but in the mass of people we didn't see him. He came right up to us and said hello. So the photo helped!
He had a nice Toyota Corolla waiting for us, and we were off to the rainforest.
Very pleasant man, super good English and easy to understand, he answered our questions along the way.
We got about 30 mins away from the ship, when Jorge got a phone call. This phone call was from a friend of his at the pier, letting him know our ship had pulled the gangway and wasn't sure what was happening. Jorge let us know this, and we decided to turn around not knowing exactly what that meant.
Each night, I take a photo on my phone of the port authority info, for worse case scenario if we get left behind. And I found that number, and Jorge let me use his phone and I called. The man that answered did not speak English, and I asked for someone that did, and they didn't have anyone there that did! Jorge said he'd be happy to speak to them, and we pulled over and he talked to them asking what was going on with our ship.. They explained they didn't know. So, we drove back. So thankful that Jorge had a friend that was watching out for this since we were on a private tour, that is always a worry. No need to worry with Port Limon tours, they are on it!
The entire drive back, we never passed a single bus. Jorge said, normally they'd have passed 20 buses, so we knew something was up.
We finally see our ship in sight, so we were relieved that it was still there! ALL the shore excursion buses were still there too, so we know something was going on. Jorge dropped us off right at our ship, and we went to ask someone what was going on.
We got 2 men who looked like they had higher ranks, and noticed they were just starting to let passengers off the ship. We explained the scenario and they said, the swells were high, and as a result, the gangway wasnt secure enough and a crew member was injured trying to get off the ship, so they pulled the gangway to make sure it was extremely secure before letting anyone else off the ship. They assured us that they were not leaving until the assigned 3:30 as they planned and that we could go ahead on our tour knowing we'd be ok. (I also explained we called the number given in our daily planner for the port authority and that they had no one there that could speak English, and they were surprised to hear that, but didn't really seem too concerned..I was however, very concerned, but thankful it wasn't a real emergency as that would have been useless for us!)
We told Jorge, and we talked about it, since so much time was lost with driving back and forth, the plan had to be modified. We ended up doing 90% of the original tour, but more laid back and easy than if we'd tried to cram it all in.
Personally, I LOVED the boat ride, we saw so much stuff! We saw the cutest sloth hanging in a tree, upside down and he flipped his head back and sort of smiled at us, getting THE BEST photos ever possible!
We also got to spend alot of time with Jorge, and he absolutely made this one of our favorite stops on this cruise. He brought us to his favorite local restaurant for a local dish where we bought his lunch. The food was fantastic!!! Reasonably priced and in a great location.
We felt 100% personal attention, he listened to everything we wanted and made it happen. Some things even on the fly. He has a very relaxed way about him that makes him easy to talk to (which we knew already via emailing before the cruise) and it was evident his love for his country.
This tour was reasonably priced, especially for just the 2 of us. No big bus tours for us!
Jorge even spotted along a highway of sorts, a family of monkeys, so we stopped and got out to watch them for a while. Then, noticed a big ole sloth was there too.
He knew all the best spots.
If you are learly, like most are, of a private non ship tour, this experience made us feel so secure. Knowing there are people keeping an eye out just in case something was to happen with the ship, and alerting us when there was something going on, to us, was priceless.
We had piece of mind the whole day. We knew we were in good hands 🙂
We now are happy to pass on this info to you all so you can rest assured if you're doing a day excursion via cruise ship, this is the way to go!
Tell him Tammy sent you..
Enjoy Costa Rica, PURA VIDA
These are comments made by some of our satisfied clients
The best day-tour on our recent cruise was certainly the one we had with Jorge in Costa Rica!
He was very helpful when designing the tour with us and prompt with emails. When we had to condense the itinerary because the cruise stop was shortened a bit, Jorge was great at adapting it for us.
After we docked in Port Limon, we found him once we got all the way outside the main terminal, per the directions he emailed to us previously. Our group of 14 boarded the mini bus along with a driver, Jorge, and botanist guide Javier. We had plenty of room. The drive through the countryside was beautiful, and our guides gave interesting commentary and answered questions along the way. It was very enjoyable and not the routine canned commentary that you often get on tours.
We enjoyed a shopping experience at Luluberlu Art Gallery in Puerto Viejo- a terrific place to browse and buy souvenirs that are unique. We then made our way to Cocoa Trails for a cacao processing tour. The site guide demonstrated the growing and cooking process and we sampled some chocolate at the end- it was very good and unlike most chocolate you buy at home. Our visit included a walk through the rain forest, and this was just as interesting- especially with Javier's commentary.
On the return trip to Port Limon we stopped for lunch at a local soda that Jorge arranged, and we all enjoyed authentic Costa Rican fare at a reasonable price. When we returned to town, we had a sightseeing drive and stopped at a grocery store to buy a few things at better prices than in the cruise terminal. Everyone had a great day; Jorge organized it well and we returned to the port on time without ever feeling rushed. We look forward to returning one day and taking another tour with Jorge!
My friend and I met Señor Jorge Ramirez Morales just outside the Puerto Limon gates. We easily arranged our excursion via email a couple weeks earlier with him directly. Communication was Excellent!
The first thing we learned about in Costa Rica upon arrival was "Pura Vida." You will enjoy the explanation and cultural experience ahead! Senor Morales' personalized tour was phenonmenally better than taking a large bus tour full of people which has only a few designated sites. In this excursion, one enjoys the exquisite Costa Rican rain forest (or as I call it "the garden of Costa Rica"), the kind people of this country, the country's wildlife, plus the sites our guide identified. Senor Morales shares his wealth of cultural, historical, and functional knowledge of Costa Rica during the 5+ hours you are with him. He shares while he drives or stops allowing me to take the 1001st photo. In each instance, Senor Morales was gracious and pointed out areas of interest! Our guide enjoyed sharing his homeland, educating us, and appreciating OUR interest in his country. We learned about the products in and out of the Costa Rican port and land/property owners impacting their country then and now. I loved learning about the natural vegetation and wildlife native to Costa Rica as we viewed many of them! There were so many beautiful sites. They included viewing so many of the following in Costa Rica: from cashew, mango, & cacoa trees, to the banana plantation, to coffee plants, to this paradise of over 840 species of birds, to the two & three toed sloths, to the four species of monkeys, to 109 species of palm trees, to the 1400 species of orchids, to the beautiful views from the beach and the highest point overlooking Puerto Limon!!!!
The Costa Rican people, with their range of economic background, were very generous! On several occasions, the property owners invited us onto their land to show us their gardens or into their homes to view their orchids, aerial plants, and to talk. In fact, there was a modest countryside home on the road to the banana and cacao tree plantations that was adorned with a plethora of amazing flowers and shrubs of so many types and varieties bursting with an array of colors! I really enjoyed viewing the trees that ultimately give us chocolate, my favorite food! We stopped at a fruit stand owned by a family along the side of one of the roads. We tasted delicious coconut, melons, sugar cane, & mangos. SO very sweet and juicy and fresh! Mr. Morales educated us by pairing these delicacies with the plants/trees that grow naturally around the stand. In addition, I saw cashew and coffee trees. The nuts/beans were not ripe, so he showed us how each item appeared in its ripened state.
Our native Costa Rican guide (Jorge) was magnificent in spotting so many varieties of horticulture, various monkey tribes in the trees (including baby monkeys), mating sloths, birds that included a group of the beautiful Montezuma's chestnut-headed oropendola. The latter birds build specialized nests to attract a mate. This was seen as Senor Morales provided a history lesson and cultural changes in Costa Rica over time. Senor Morales described and we saw the effects of the Nicaraguan War had upon refugee families who had settled in the Costa Rican country side. Within an hour we had viewed the most gorgeous view of the city and the port from above while in a well established, more socioadvantaged neighborhood with modest sized beautiful, elegant, & colorfully tiled homes next to each other along a small street up a small mountain. All apart of the beauty of this country includes that one moment in Costa Rica it is raining with only a light, refreshing mist and the next moment it stops.
As promised at the end of the tour, Senor Morales took us to the best place to purchase coffee in town! He was genuinely kind to make a brief pit stop at the only open pharmacy on Sunday for my friend since he had not been feeling well since lugging our luggage to the airport. Our guide kindly conveyed to the pharmacist as to his symptoms. Senor Morales brought us safely back to our cruise ship port. After parting hugs and many thanks, we left Senor Morales.
In fact, my friend and I were very grateful to return to Senor Morales and his amazing personalized tour where we saw much wildlife in "Pura Vida" & learned a great deal!
The kindness and personalized tour of Senor Morlales made this the best experiences this cruise along with visiting the Panama Canal for the first time! Paul & I thank Señor Ramirez Morales and highly recommend letting him give you a memorable tour of the city in and around Puerto Limon!
"Isn't it a joy when everything you ask for becomes reality? That's what we experienced with our tour last week with Jorge Ramirez Morales and his driver Vic on a tour of Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.
We didn't care for the itineraries of the Princess Cruises tours, so we wanted something more custom. Jorge delivered. We wanted to see the Jaguar Rescue Center (1.3 hrs away) and also the canals, beaches and city - a lot in a day - but Vic delivered. And the views were so beautiful, we never minded the drive. Vic's English was terrific... no problems communicating.
They picked us up right at the port (just follow their email instructions) with their modern air-conditioned car (something I insisted upon, because it is HOT) - and off we went for stop 1... the Jaguar Rescue Center. What an amazing place. No jaguars (and that's a good thing) but plenty of sloths, monkeys, reptiles and other animals that are rehabbing there by dedicated volunteers, like our guide - Matt, who was so passionate about the creatures. We learned so much in the 2 hour walking tour.
Then the drive to the canal for a private boat ride. Along the way, Vic stopped to see an organic banana plantation and show us how bananas are grown - the male and female parts of the plant - so cool. Then a refreshing canal ride where we saw howler monkeys and other wildlife.
Then off to a lovely beach where we ate lunch with Vic talking about our cultures and enjoying a great meal and the seaside view.
Then Vic took us to the top of the city - a high point where we could see our ship and the beauty of his native city. What a vista! Then we wove the car back through the bustling city to the port, where there were great vendors in stalls for shopping for souvenirs, coffee, artwork... whatever. You can easily negotiate there.
One tip... bring your own toilet tissue. The restaurant was equipped... but other public bathrooms had none. Bring your own!
Otherwise, A++++++ on the tour. Now we understand what Jorge meant when he described his country as Pura Vida... because it is! Our favorite port for its natural beauty and wonderful people!"