Considering a cruise of the Eastern or Southern Caribbean? Consider starting from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Celebrity Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland American Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and more sail from the Port of San Juan. Because San Juan is closer to the islands of the Caribbean than ports in the southern U.S., you should be able to spend a greater portion of your cruise enjoying destinations such as the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao), the Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos islands.
The cruise ship docks are within walking distance to the heart of Old San Juan, which dates back to the 16th century. The walled old city is beautifully preserved, with cobblestone streets, historic forts, and distinctive galleries and shops. Ponce de Leon, the first governor of the island, is buried in the Cathedral of San Juan.
There’s much more to see and do outside the walls of the old city – so much that you may wish to arrive a few days before your ship departs or stay a few days after it returns. While there is plenty of Americana (think chain restaurants) in and around San Juan, the culture also reflects the traditions of the indigenous Taino people, along with European and African influences. A good place to start is either the Museo de Arte or the Museo de Arte Conptemporaneo, which exhibit works by the artists of Puerto Rico.
If you’re more inclined toward fresh air pursuits, visit El Yunque, the only rainforest designated as a U.S. National Forest. There are marked walking trails, lined with ferns and flowers, some of which lead to lovely waterfalls.
If you’re feeling lucky, many of the large hotels in town have glittering casinos. Or, visit the home of one of Puerto Rico’s signature products – The Bacardi Rum Factory. A ferry will take you across the bay to Catano, where you’ll find the distillery set in gorgeously landscaped grounds. You can take a tour or simply enjoy some Bacardi-inspired drinks in an open-air pavilion.
San Juan also offers golf, beaches, terrific dining and plenty of other diversions for visitors. To select a cruise that will allow you to spend some time in San Juan, talk with your personal cruise expert.