If you’re going on a cruise, there’s a very good chance that you will be stopping in San Juan, Puerto Rico at some point. This city is an exceptionally popular port of call due to its central location between the East and West Caribbean; the fact that it boasts an amazing culture and has a ton of intriguing attractions certainly doesn’t tarnish its popularity, either. From Old San Juan to its “nuevo” section, this city is brimming with exciting sightseeing possibilities and is sure to enrich any cruise itinerary.
Sightseeing & Things To Do
Since your ship will more than likely be docked directly in the center of Old San Juan, you must make a point of getting off and exploring this richly historic area on foot. Whether you then decide to stroll up and down Calle Cristo in search of stellar deals, lay out in the sun on Isla Verde’s serene beaches or check out some of the well preserved buildings, you’ll have a truly memorable time while in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In terms of attractions, San Juan’s are comprised almost equally of compelling historical and cultural sites, and fun-loving, vacation friendly places. If your ship is stopping at this port of call, consider including visits to a few of the following:
El Castillo San Felipe del Morro
A great way to get a feel for the history and culture of San Juan – and of Puerto Rico in general – is by stopping by El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, which is usually referred to simply as “El Morro” by locals. You can get your dose of history by visiting and touring this 16th century citadel.
No visit to San Juan would be complete without at least stopping by one of the local beaches. It should be noted that no beaches are available directly in San Juan; however, a bevy of wonderful beaches are quite nearby. Isla Verde and Luqillo Beach are two of the best bets for those visiting for the day.
El Catedral de San Juan Bautista
The fact that famed explorer Juan Ponce de León is buried here makes El Catedral de San Juan Bautista worthy of a visit any time you’re in San Juan. The original building was constructed during the 1520s, was promptly destroyed by a hurricane and was rebuilt during the 1540s.
The Bacardi Rum Factory
Without a doubt, the Bacardi Rum Factory is one of the most popular tourist draws in the city of San Juan. Considering that it is located right next to the cruise ship terminal, it makes sense. The tours are informative, and the grounds here are absolutely beautiful. Sampling the product, of course, is another huge highlight of the tour, and there is an open air pavilion for doing so.
Whether you go out intending to spend a little money – or just want to partake in a bit of fun window shopping – Calle Cristo in Old San Juan is the perfect place to do so. There is a bounty of delightful shops along its length, and you can find everything from mass produced merchandise to handcrafted pieces from local artisans here. It’s easy to while away at least a few hours along the Calle Cristo.
Best Souvenir To Bring Back To the Cruise Ship
Bottles of Bacardi Rum are popular souvenirs to bring back from San Juan. However, you should also consider picking up a piece of sea-glass jewelry; these pieces are simply stunning, and they can be found in abundance at the many artisan stands around the old and new parts of the city.
Eating – Sample the Local Cuisine
While there is a seemingly limitless number of restaurants, cafes and food stands to choose from all over San Juan – and you’ll probably eat lunch or dinner at one of them – be sure to save some room for dessert. That way, you can enjoy a Mallorca, which is a local delicacy that is a donut-shaped pastry dusted with powdered sugar. Traditionally, they are served toasted with ham and various kinds of cheese inside. Whether you have yours traditional-style or plain, you are sure to find Mallorcas to be absolutely delicious.
When, Where, and How
When To Go
Puerto Rico enjoys fabulous weather all year round. Some people prefer to avoid hurricane season – which runs from about June to November – but hurricanes very rarely even get close to Puerto Rico, and San Juan is usually exempt from any serious weather trouble.
Where You’re Docked
The vast majority of the cruise ships that come to San Juan dock at the cruise terminal that is located right across from the Sheraton Old San Juan. This is tremendously convenient, because it is smack dab in the heart of the old section of the city and allows visitors to quickly get out and jump into the action.
Which Cruise Ships Go Here?
Many of the most popular cruise lines have itineraries that include stops at San Juan. A few of the major cruise lines that stop in San Juan include Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruises and Celebrity Cruises. However, there are a huge array of other choices in terms of ships, dates, days in port and at sea when it comes to San Juan.