In Jan of '03, at the conclusion of a week's cruise rt from San Juan on Celebrity's Constellation, I took a ship's shore excursion to the nearby El Yunque rain forest national park prior to my 4pm flight. (It ran 30 bucks, just 10 more than a straight-to-the-airport transfer-- pretty much of a no-brainer deal!) This tour of a real-life Garden of Eden was the perfect ending to a great cruise. When we arrived at the San Juan airport, our bags were waiting for us. With at least 6000 cruise ship passengers headed home on the same afternoon, (3 Panamax-sized ships' worth) the airport was a bit of a zoo, including the added line-up for the Agriculture Dept luggage inspection, but I had no trouble making my flight.
Okay, now fast forward to March '05: A friend of mine was unexpectedly invited along on a Royal Caribbean cruise by her brother, a frequent cruiser, after his girlfriend had to back out due to a workplace emergency. This was a rt out of San Juan as well. She had a great time aboard, but things came to a crashing halt upon their return. Having been warned in advance that the San Juan airport could get pretty crazy on Sundays because of the cruise ship factor in addition to the usual end-of-weekend crowd, she and her brother decided to pass up any post-cruise excursions to the rain forest or Old San Juan or anyplace else, and just head right to the airport, even though their flight home wasn't until 5pm. They were at the airport by about 9am-- and proceeded to spend THE NEXT EIGHT HOURS STANDING IN LINES! This was principally due to the fact that US Airways had alloted all of one guy to process thousands of departing passengers, but the security and Agriculture Dept screenings were similarly understaffed. What a wretched end to an otherwise lovely vacation! Even having arrived EIGHT HOURS PRIOR to their scheduled departure, it was all they could do to make their flight on time! I posted a comment on the message board about this when she told me about it, under the heading "San Juan Insanity".
And now, the latest outrage: over dinner with my friend about a month ago, she mentioned that her brother the avid cruiser had just gotten back from another voyage rt out of San Juan-- and that on this occaision, he'd been stuck in the San Juan airport for TWENTY HOURS!!!
And so, I once again pose the questions of my previous posting on this topic: What in the name of God is going on down there? Have other recent San Juan cruisers been confronted with this nightmare? Are the tourism authorities of Puerto Rico too brain-dead to realize the kind of horrible impression this must be leaving on visitors who would otherwise have departed with happy memories and smiles on their faces? What or who is responsible for these unbelievable daylong Sunday clusterf**ks? And are there any plans in the works to do something that might remedy the situation one of these years?
the government is going to have to something about this situation. It has always been bad but it is only going to get worse with more and larger ships. We always plan to spend at least a day on the end if we are flying home from San Juan.
We just came back from a B2B on the Golden Princess in December, and had no troubles whatsoever at the airport. Got off the ship at about 10:00, at the airport at 10:30 for a 1:30 flight. This was on American and we stood in the checkin line about 20 minutes, and that is without any FF status.
Also, if you are getting off a cruise you do not need to do the agriculture inspection as your luggage has already gone through this when it was brought off the ship. We were told this by the agents at the airport.
From all the comments we were prepared for this nightmare experience and we didn't see it at all.
My parents had more trouble getting off the ship in time, in July 05, Carnival called colors from bottom up, and cut off for early flights was 1:30pm==their flight 1:35. No exceptions we were told for early leaving "where would the next cut off be?" After going row by row and it being noon we made a final plea to expedite them out of the lounge. By some miracle they made their flight.
We had planned on Monday leaving to avoid this confusion and no trouble on a Monday morning at all. Even time to eat at airport McDonalds.
As far as bag inspection, we were told to have a sticker on bag before they would accept at airline counter. Other wise how do they know you just came from a cruise??
Adventure of the Seas RC April 2008
Carnival Liberty April 2007
Carnival Miracle April 2005
Carnival Destiny June 2001, July 2005
NCL Southward June 1985 Honeymoon!