The most popular departure port for cruise ships within the Caribbean is San Juan in Puerto Rico. We decided to make our way an early morning in San Juan to take in the sights before departing on our cruise. San Juan, known as “La Ciudad amurallada” (the city walled), was established in 1521 and is the first city to be under the US flag. In the 16th century, the Spanish utilized it as an entry point for their expeditions into the New World. Fortifications built in The Old San Juan section of the city could withstand many attacks by the English and Dutch in the 16th century. Old San Juan is currently an attractive seven square block residential and commercial neighbourhood with cobblestone streets.
The terminal for cruise ships is situate on the south-facing side of Old San Juan, so instead of finding a hotel within the beach resort region located in San Juan. We decided to reserve a hotel in the old area near the terminal and the nearby attractions. It cost us a $17 US taxi journey from San Juan’s airport towards Old San Juan was about 30 minutes. While riding, I was awed by how well-develope was compare the city to other cities I’ve seen throughout the Caribbean. The high-rise beach hotels on the northern part of San Juan were visible from the highway. Our night’s stay in the Hotel Milano, right on Calle Fortaleza, one of the leading commercial streets within Old San Juan.
The Hotel was clean and comfortable, but not extravagant, which was fine since the cost was very reasonable. The quality of the Hotel was likely similar to the Travelodge and Days Inn. It was a pleasant surprise to receive the complimentary continental breakfast at The Hotel’s restaurant on the roof. It was a beautiful perspective of the city from the high point. Know everything about Qatar Airways Cancellation Policy before booking a flight to Bermuda Triangle.
We enjoyed the evening and day walking the numerous cobblestone alleys and streets in the vicinity. More than 400 renovated colonial homes dating to between the 17th and 16th centuries in this area. There were multiple parks and plazas. One of the best services within Old San Juan is a free shuttle bus that runs two different routes in the neighbourhood.
The bus station was half a block from our Hotel, which was extremely useful. The shuttle buses that ran on both routes provided us with the best view of Old San Juan. We stopped at various places of interest, like the enormous El Morro fort. After visiting each of the sites, we needed to wait for the next bus to continue our journey. After dark, we get lost as we walk because some of the streets appear identical. However, with the help of our map, we returned to the road that was where we found the Hotel Milano was. We decide to go to one of the restaurants nearby to enjoy traditional Puerto Rican cuisine and were not satisfy. My daughter especially loved the two varieties of plantains that we had ordered.
As we were getting ready to leave the terminal for cruise ships. We took only five minutes to the airport from where we stayed. Our brief stay at Old San Juan was beneficial and easy. Visiting within Old San Juan is highly recommend to those on a Caribbean cruise using San Juan as the departure destination. My only regret in San Juan was that I had hoped to do some Scuba diving in the area; however, from the information I have read, the waters around San Juan are pretty dark, and there is not much marine life to observe. It could be the outcome due to San Juan being such a popular port. The most reputable scuba diving locations locate about two hours from San Juan. In a future journey back to Puerto Rico, I will consider a trip to the eastern part of Puerto Rico.