Our first port of call: San Juan, Puerto Rico.
View over San Juan
Which San Juan shore excursions do you recommend? That was one of my questions on Twitter. El Yunkue National Park was a tip from @TravelDesigned and it looked really interesting! Unfortunately because we only got to San Juan port at 4 pm, this excursion wasn`t offered 🙁 So I decided to go for a city tour of Old and New San Juan.
Old & New San Juan City Tour
This was the description on the offered shore excursion by RCCL:
Experience both modern and colonial San Juan. You will visit Fort San Cristobal, see historic landmarks such as the San Juan Church, the Governor`s Mansion, the Cristo Chapel, El Convento Hotel, visit the Condado section of New San Juan.
Duration: 2 hours
The tour guide explained to us that there is actually not a lot to see at New San Juan, it`s like any other big city he said. But that Old San Juan was beautiful to see. Our first stop was this beautiful fortress: Castillo de San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Fort). We could enter this fortress, as the entrance was included in the excursion.
The Castillo de San Cristóbal is a Spanish fort built by the Spaniards to protect against land based attacks on the city of San Juan. It is part of San Juan National Historic Site.
The tree flags you see are the Burgundy Cross, the flag of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the flag of the United States. The Burgundy Cross was the Spanish military flag that flew during most of the Spanish colonial period.
You can easily walk around and spend some time to explore the fortress.
View over El Morro Castle
After our stop at the fortress the tour took us around New San Juan, in the meantime the guide told us about the people of Puerto Rico: how they live, how the food gets imported, …
The trip continued with a tour through the streets of Old San Juan and ended at downtown San Juan for some shopping. Because we shipped at 4 pm, evening fell, and I do want to advise you to stay in group or in the shopping streets because of pickpockets.
If you`re looking for something specific or need a map, I got one from the Port & Shopping guide aboard the ship. So you can orient where you are.
A tip from our driver/tour guide was that there is a free trolley to take you around Old San Juan.
Conclusion: For me personally, if I had known about the free trolley, I probably would have taken that one to explore San Juan. The fortress you can walk to. I did expect a bit more of this tour, because we just drove by most sights and only made a stop at the fortress. However if you prefer everything organized this is a way to see the city.
You can read more reviews.
Here`s a snapshot of the ship when we returned from our trip.
Tip: The Sheraton Old San Juan hotel is located directly at the pier, if you choose to take a cruise leaving from San Juan, Puerto Rico. This hotel was across from where our ship was docked.
Next port of call: Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas (USVI)