I hope this hasn't been discussed already, but I'm booked on a San Juan cruise (on Princess), leaving Sunday night (11 pm accoding to the documents) and looking to get to San Juan the day of the cruise. How long does it generally take to get from the airport to the pier, and how much wiggle room should I leave? Also what time will they allow boarding to start? I have several choices to arrive in San Juan, from 2 pm until 7:30 pm.
We were on an NCL in January using their air program. Took us about an hour and a half to two hours from landing to arrival at pier at about 2-3 in the afternoon. A lot of that was spent waiting for luggage, then waiting in NCL line to get on bus to ship. Had to shepherd luggage along. Actual ride to the pier was maybe 25-30 minutes. We were able to get right on the ship which left at 10. A lot of people got on, put stuff in their cabins and then left to explore San Juan. I think you had to be back on board at 9:30.
You should be able to board anytime after noon, so plan accordingly. Once onboard you can get lunch and explore the ship. I'd advise to pack some resort type clothes and bathing suits if you want to get out there and enjoy the pool deck.
Last cruise out of San Juan, we took a taxi to the pier, saved a lot of time and it was much easier and faster than the cruiseline transfers, so keep that in mind too. The actual travel time will depend on traffic, but figure at least half an hour. In the past we've found Princess to be a fairly painless embarkment so that shouldn't take too much time, just be sure to have all your papers filled out and ready to go, have fun!
San Juan is a great place to just wander around, I would book the earlier flight, get yourself boarded, check out your cabin ( if its ready, stow your carry-on stuff) grab a bite to eat and head out to explore. Wandering around Old San Juan is great. As the others have said it takes about 30 minutes by cab from the airport. The airport can get a bit zooey with all the arrivals for cruise ships so earlier is best.
Thanks for all the suggestions, folks. It certainly makes things easier getting advice from people who have "been there, done that". I am also wondering with a return docking time of 6 am on the following Sunday (according to the documents), what time would be best to schedule the return flights? I would imagine that a 11:30 or noon flight will allow enough time, given the 2 hour time estimate between ship and pier. I have yet to debark from a cruise, but I can't imagine that it takes more than 4 hours, does it?
Also, are these late departure/early arrival times normal for San Juan, or is this a Princess-only phenomenon?
Our NCL cruise left at 10 pm, but I don't think we arrived much before 8 am. When we were there in January, the airport in San Juan was undergoing renovations, and the lines at check-in and security were somewhat long. We had to clear customs when we docked in St. Thomas so didn't have to contend with that in San Juan, I don't know about your cruise. We had a late flight so took an NCL tour of the El Junque rainforest so were first off the ship. Don't know how long it took others.