Author: A. Cerna (---.dsl.chcgil.sbcglobal.net)
Date: 03-22-12 07:17
My girlfriend and I booked a room in Culebra for an overnight Friday stay in mid February. We read this forum and other forums and knew of the problems with the ferry. A hotel in San Juan advised us to be at the ferry ticket office at 7am in order to catch the 9am ferry. We did so, by the time we got to the ticket depot, there was a line of about 30 people. No worries right? Wrong.
People in front of us were buying tickets for others who were not in line, others jumped in line at the last minute with friends to buy tickets. We calmly waited until it was our turn at the ticket counter. There were a couple of kids in front of us, two of their friends joined them to buy tickets, others from outside the line waived fingers, buy me 4 tickets to friends who were in line, etc..
We finally got to the front of the line. The person at the ticket counter suddenly took a look at the line behind us, picked up her radio and told us to wait. The ticket counter agent did not speak english well, barely any at all. After a few minutes she advised us that all tickets were sold, but we could wait to see if any seats were available as people loaded on to the ferry. The one and only ferry that was running was the cargo ferry with limited seating.
A uniformed official for the ferry made an announcement in english and spanish that tickets were sold out. An argument followed because "local residents" were still allowed to buy tickets while we had to stand and wait. The ferry official told a person that residents have a priority and that tourists (who also had reservations on Culebra) had many other options besides Culebra to visit in Puerto Rico.
So we wait until 9am only to hear that there was not even 1 ticket available.
Ok, so we'll take a plane right? Wrong!
After speaking to others in line we 1) buy a ticket for the 3pm Ferry just in case and 2) make a mad dash to the airport, a la "Amazing Race". We took a wrong turn and got to the airport later than a few others that were in line with us a the ferry. Others at the airport told us to get on the passenger list. We get to the front of the line and (once again) the Air Flamenco person advised us that all tickets were sold out for the day. You can't make reservations to fly on Air Flamenco we were told. Our only choice was to wait for the 3pm Ferry.
After sitting in the Ferry terminal for a couple of hours people start lining up at the ferry gate, then two lines form, then no lines form, just a mass of people. The same ferry official advised everyone that residents form a line to the left, tourists to the right. Which gate opens? The gate to the left for "residents" of course! We cram through the line to get in the gate, people were climbing over benches to get thru. Others tried cuttting in line saying that they were residents.
The 3pm ferry ride was fine, there were some seats available. So we left SJ at 6am and got to Culebra after 6PM, losing half our vacation time there. And we try to rent a car, no luck their either, all were booked, none available...
In 12 hours we could have flown from Chicago to Argentina...