The Caribbean cruise season is about to commence with many cruise lines making a port of call at San Juan. On average, nearly two million passengers arrive at this port every year. The San Juan Harbour is the fourth busiest in the Western Hemisphere with many ships stopping here on their Caribbean cruise itineraries whilst others actually start and finish at the port.
The allure of San Juan is quite multi-faceted with the contrast from the modern portion of the resort area to the antiquity of the old town.
The capital of Puerto Rico has no problem accommodating this many passengers as there are two modern terminals with a total docking capacity for nine cruise ships on any given day.
The two ports (Old San Juan Pier and Pan American Pier) are strategically located in the harbour.
OLD SAN JUAN PIER
If arriving at this pier, you are placed in the heart of Old San Juan. From here you can visit most of the main points of interest of this colonial city that was Columbus’s second discovery. For passengers with limited mobility it is possible to take advantage of exploring the city with the use of a free trolley.
PAN AMERICAN PIER
The Pan American Pier is located one mile away from Old San Juan. It is managed by Royal Caribbean and is a much needed and more recent pier. These docks were built to serve larger Mega-Ships. To reach the city centre, the ship may provide a shuttle service. However, if it doesn’t you’ll need a taxi which you can find by heading to the “Ground Transportation” booth when leaving the pier.
Many of the attractions of Old San Juan can easily be seen and appreciated on foot. If you wish to save your energy, one of the best ways of getting around in the old town and historic areas is by trolley which will even take you to El Morro for free.
You could also rent an electric bicycle and explore on your own which gives you an opportunity to expand to other areas near to San Juan.
All cruise lines offer excursions for many of the island’s attractions. Check at the ships excursion desk or book online before you travel.
WHAT TO SEE
San Juan has been a top winter beach destination since the 1960’s. The long stretch of Atlantic coast to where it meets the Caribbean is home to a staggering variety of beaches. Noticing its potential, in the late 70s ships such as Costa Carla C, Cunard’s Countess and several Princess ships made stops in San Juan.
Feel the distinction of the city’s Spanish influence with its Colonial architecture harmoniously blending in with a touch of Havana Latino flavour. Steeped in history, San Juan has two notable forts, El Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal. Actively used (most recently in World War II), El Morro has been named a World Heritage Site. It is the largest fortification in the Caribbean.
The “Plaza del Mercado” allows visitors to catch a glimpse of real life in Puerto Rico.
Housed in the old Spanish barracks, The Museum of the Americas introduces visitors to Caribbean civilisation and history including the arrivals of slaves in the new world.
Many visitors confirm you won’t be disappointed with the beaches in Puerto Rico. Many of the fine sandy beaches have loungers and umbrellas for rent and a vast array of water sports. The nearest beaches to the cruise ports are in Condado area and Isla Verde.
Listed as the only rainforest in the U.S. Forest Service, El Yunque National Park (aka Caribbean National Forest) envelops the island of Puerto Rico and its rainforest covering over 25,000 impressive acres of wildlife and lush tropical vegetation. Bike tours with a guide are a popular choice to cover much of the park.
Outdoor enthusiasts should also visit the Rio Camuy Caves and its 10 miles of caverns.
For the active and adventurous types, go zip lining or mountain climbing on an eco-tour or play golf on one of the beautiful golf courses that have been used for the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open.
If you want to find out about special offers that include San Juan please request more details here.
Written by Veronica Shine