En­joy cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Mike Hunter [email protected]­plan­ners.com

When most trav­el­ers think of go­ing on a cruise, they usu­ally think of de­part­ing from a US main­land port.

Here in Ge­or­gia we most of­ten think about New Or­leans, Mo­bile, Charleston, and the five Florida ports. How­ever, par­tic­u­larly if you are des­ti­na­tion fo­cused, like my­self, you might want to con­sider go­ing out of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The big­gest plus for go­ing out of San Juan is that you min­i­mize “sea days” since you be­gin your cruise al­ready in the Caribbean. This will leave more time for more des­ti­na­tions.

On our last 7-night cruise out of San Juan we also vis­ited St. Thomas, Bar­ba­dos, St. Lu­cia, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. I think the big­gest draw­back is that it re­quires the added cost of a flight. (You can of­ten find roundtrip flights out of At­lanta for as low as $300)

Car­ni­val, Celebrity, Nor­we­gian, and Royal Caribbean all have sail­ings de­part­ing from San Juan with the low­est prices typ­i­cally found in Septem­ber/Oc­to­ber and March/April de­pend­ing on the cruise line and itin­er­ary.

For a full 7-night cruise, you can get an In­te­rior or Ocean­view state­room for just a bit over $500 per per­son in­clud­ing cruise fare, taxes, and port fees. You can also get a bal­cony state­room for as lit­tle as $750 per per­son. Even when you add air­fare, that is not too bad at all!

While I rec­om­mend fly­ing in at least a day in ad­vance, if you choose to fly in the day of your cruise start, note that most cruise lines do pro­vide free trans­porta­tion from the air­port to the ship pier.

7-night cruises out of San Juan also open up the po­ten­tial of vis­it­ing the South­ern Caribbean ports of Aruba, The Nether­lands An­tilles, and Bon­aire, all of which would be tough to do de­part­ing from a main­land US port.

Be­sides a great place to be­gin a cruise, I rec­om­mend com­ing in at least a cou­ple days early to take ad­van­tage of what Puerto Rico has to of­fer. It is es­pe­cially con­ve­nient for U.S. cit­i­zens, be­cause they do not need a pass­port to go to Puerto Rico and the cur­rency there is the U.S. dol­lar.

San Juan, in par­tic­u­lar, of­fers stun­ning beaches, a trea­sure trove of Span­ish colo­nial ar­chi­tec­ture, his­tory and old-world charm, shop­ping, great food, and lots to do. The old city of San Juan is a re­ally cool place just to walk around and ob­serve the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. How­ever, do take care in walk­ing due to old un­even cob­ble­stone and ce­ment ne­ces­si­tat­ing an alert step.

Typ­i­cal ex­cur­sions may take you on a tour of the city, a rum dis­tillery or the rain for­est, or you can choose more vig­or­ous ac­tiv­i­ties, such as golf, rock climb­ing, hik­ing, kayak­ing or a trek through the moun­tains on horse­back. You can also tour the for­est canopy via a zi­pline or take an ex­cur­sion to the west shore.

Note: Puerto Rico sus­tained se­vere dam­age dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Maria in Septem­ber 2017. Re­cov­ery ef­forts have made great strides.

Cruise op­er­a­tions re­sumed in Oc­to­ber 2017, and air travel was also rapidly re­stored: Luis Munoz Marin In­ter­na­tional is func­tion­ing at its pre-hur­ri­cane level. More than 85 per­cent of ho­tels are now open and most tourist at­trac­tions are also now open.

If you would like help plan­ning and pre­par­ing your next va­ca­tion, con­tact Mike Hunter at 678-901-0993.

/ Con­trib­uted

Puerto Rico of­fers tourists a va­ri­ety of his­toric sights to visit and short­ened cruise times.

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