Port of Call Profile: Old San Juan

Right in our own backyard, cruise ship visitors have access to Old San Juan, one of the first settled places in the New World, and an area that today still tempts travelers with sunny skies, historic landmarks, friendly people, and delicious food.

Where in the World?

Beautiful and charming, with an Old World European feel just 1,000 miles from Southern Florida are the islands of Puerto Rico. Old San Juan, first settled by the Spanish in the early 1500s, is actually located on a small island connected to the main island by bridges. This former Spanish possession is now a U.S. Territory and citizens are Americans (since 1917!). Puerto Rico has long played a critical role in military strategy because of its location, and Old San Juan is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Known for quaint shopping on cobblestone streets and classic architecture, Puerto Rico is still recovering from 2017’s Hurricane Maria; the islands are especially reliant on tourism, the backbone of the local economy.

What’s it Like There?

The tropical rainforest climate is usually warm and humid. The average temperatures are roughly 85F year round, and it’s rainy there from spring through fall.

What is There to Do?

Many travelers enjoy the beaches, naturally, and the water sports like swimming, snorkeling, diving, and boating, as well as hiking. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs where visitors can enjoy local dishes and live music.

Notable Excursions:

Old San Juan Walking Tour: See the best of local shops, restaurants, and architecture on this tour through the hills of the city. Similarly, a food tour of Old San Juan will deliver culinary delights throughout this part of Puerto Rico, with Spanish, Caribbean, and African flavors. Both kinds of tours are likely to introduce you to a history of the city and its people.

San Juan National Historic Site: This 17th-century fort at the top of a hill looks out over the water and visitors can easily imagine the turrets and towers full of armed guards. Now open for tours, it’s a wonderful place to learn more about the history of the area and get some amazing photos. Lots of walking here, though, so be prepared.

Catedral de San Juan: Built nearly 400 years ago, this church is steeped in the history of Puerto Rico and holds the body of Ponce de Leon in a crypt. Visitors can walk through and see the painted ceilings, statues, and religious articles.

Fortaleza Street: This is the place to go in Old San Juan for strolling along and enjoying the local sights, sounds, and smells. The street is lined with shops and restaurants offering the most authentic Puerto Rican experiences.

Hopefully, you’ll enjoy all that Old San Juan has to offer on your cruise ship excursions. Happy traveling!

Old San Juan coast

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