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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore in the Caribbean
Sights to see & things to do

Puerto Rico

No other Caribbean port can top San Juan for historic sights and imposing fortresses. In its early colonial days, Spanish Puerto Rico defended its strategic position not only from the navies of Great Britain, Holland, and France, but from hundreds of pirates who preyed on weak Caribbean islanders. 

Most cruise ships dock in the heart of Old San Juan. Coming ashore, passengers who pick up maps and information from the tourist kiosks can easily set off on foot for a walking tour and end up right across the street to relax and gamble in the Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel & Casino. 

A second pier where cruise ships sometimes dock is located just across from Old San Juan, near the Isla Grande Airport. Too far to walk to the Old city, passengers find taxis available and some cruise lines provide a shuttle service for their guests.


Striking out on your own in Old San Juan, you’ll find a number of sights easily reachable from the pier either on foot or by trolley. For the less adventurous, taxis are available. Driving a rental car can be a hassle in the narrow congested streets and parking is almost non-existent. 

Stroll through the picturesque streets in the western seven square blocks of the city and you’ll find many of San Juan’s primary historic attractions. Streets are well marked and laid out in a grid for the most part—stop to consult your map and you’re likely to be offered assistance in finding your way around by a local resident. Some of the highlights of a walking tour are the City Walls, San Juan Gate, La Forteleza and Mansion Ejecutiva, “El Morro” fortress, La Casa Blanca, El Convento, Catedral de San Juan, Fort San Cristóbal, and a number of plazas containing important statuary and surrounded by imposing buildings that now house museums and government offices.

Two of the most popular organized shore excursions are those to El Yunque rain forest and the Bacardi Rum Factory (where the tour ends with the sampling of rum drinks).


Citizens of the United States don’t pay duty on items purchased in Puerto Rico that are brought back to the U.S. and prices are often lower than St. Thomas. The major shopping areas are found in Old San Juan on the streets of Calle San Francisco and Calle del Cristo. Some of the best buys are local handicrafts, needlework, ceramics, and straw items. The premier outlet for these is Puerto Rican Arts & Crafts on Calle Forteleza. In addition, you’ll find famous-name outlets offering their goods at substantial savings.


All island beaches are open to the public but there may be a charge for use of the facilities. Condado and Isla Verde beaches are some of the most popular and it’s no surprise that you’ll find some of Puerto Rico’s finest resorts nearby.

Fodor's Caribbean Ports of Call 2013
is all you need to plan your days ashore, PLUS a cruise primer section and cruise line profiles by Cruise Diva, Linda Coffman

Back to Caribbean Ports of Call

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