Hey, we are booked on Carnival Destiny for Oct. 2-9 out of San Juan. First time out of San Juan. Anyone ever have any trouble or should we arrive a day early? Any info on Aruba, Dominica, St. Thomas would be appreciated as well. Thanks!
if you can fly into San Juan the day before, by all means do it. There are lots of things to do and see in San Juan and you will be rested and raring to go on your cruise. Also if you can fly out a day later on your return trip you would be much better. San Juan airport on cruise day is an absolute zooey mess.
Things to do and see in San Juan- take a walking tour of Old San Juan
take a tour of Fort El Morro - very interesting - the fort over looks the harbor - you can see all the comings and goings of the harbor - its windy here - very popular kite flying place.
take a tour up into the rain forest.
take a tour of the Barcardi factory
hit the beach
I agree with all that LisaK said. Have done San Juan cruises 3 times. First time, we flew in the day of the cruise and flew out the day it ended. The airport is extremely busy, especially on Sundays. Last 2 times we went a day ahead and stayed one day after. If it is possible for you to do this, it makes a big difference. For Destiny, the best hotel would probably be the Sheraton Old San Juan, it is right across from the pier where Destiny docks, so you can walk over to the ship. You can also walk all over Old San Juan from that hotel and even to the forts. Destiny has a great itinerary, you will enjoy it.
FYI the Bacardi tour is completely lame-O now days.
They dont even go through the factory anymore and its in a special built museum near that wacky canopy.
Back ten years ago it was really cool. You got to see the assembly line etc. I wont waste my money on it again. Its also a b&^$h to get to with traffic in SJ. We got jammed up on our tour and didnt get back in time to see El Morro. Read pissed.
Id stick to a walking tour of Old SJ then hit El Morro.
The airport is a train wreck. I suggect a cruise line arranged shuttle.
Was married on the Destiny. Brings back happy memories I would go a day a head just to be on the safe side. Expecially if you plan on going during winter months and you live where snow or freezing rain will happen. Glad we did because we left at 8 am and didn't get to San Juan until 11:30 pm due to bad weather. Also happened last year, big snow storm of the midwest hit and many people who didn' leave early missed their cruise. Once again glad we left early. Beside you can explore the area or just kick back and relax. Paying extra for the hotel is worth it to me. Go to Old San Juan or the Fort there. St Thomas, never saw since it was my wedding day and too busy to explore (will go back someday) Aruba was our favorite. (going back this year) Jeep rental and snorkeling a must. Have a great cruise.
How neat to read your post! We are sailing out of San Juan the same day on RCL Adventure of the Seas! Small world-but I know that with the thousands of other tourists we would probably never see each other. We were planning on getting settled on the ship on the 2nd and then walking around the old city. We sail at 10:30 pm then to Aruba. Happy sailing to you! It's getting closer and I'm more and more excited!
We sailed on Adventure of Sea 6/26. We flew in the day before and highly recommend doing it. We stayed at Wyndham Condado and you can see the ship from pool/beach area. Will need taxi to get to Pan American terminal. When we arrived at the ship the line was incredible - about 2pm - but moved extremely fast, within 15 minutes we were processed through to the ship. Make sure you complete your documentation on line.
Ship was suppose to leave at 10pm, however, we were already moving by 9:20 - lots of people did not realize we were even away from the dock. Ship is gorgeous and huge, 3500 people and you do not feel crowded. Make sure you go to ice skating show, you can get free tickets-only two shows during week.
Aruba was our first stop and we loved it. We had intended to go to Baby Beach but taxi ride was $35 and they would only take 5 people, we had 6. We decided to go to Palm Beach and it was the best decision to be made. There are facilities available, we had a 5&7 yo with us, chairs to rent ($5), shade and sun, gorgeous breeze. It is in "the high rise" area and right near Wyndham where we had lunch.
Curacao very colorful, took a trolley tour. The swinging bridge is nice to walk across.
St. Thomas - booked parasailing through ship, great time. did some shopping. There is a shuttle right from ship to shopping area, no need to walk.
St. Maarten - butterflies everywhere. we took water taxi ($5 round trip) and went swimming at beach-don't know the name. rockier bottom than Aruba, rented chairs.
Getting off the ship just as easy. We went back to hotel before leaving mid afternoon for airport, leave plenty of time to get through security.
Have a great cruise....hope I have helped some first time cruisers!
PR hotel-there is a Chilis and Subway down the street, Walgreens even further down. Food expensive at hotel. If you stay there, sign up for Wyndhambyrequest.com before you go if you don't make reservation through third party.
I'll be a newbie on Destiny 16 October from San Juan, returning 23 Oct. So my questions parallel yours.
I'd not had any background and I am mostly going along because of a wedding I really don't want to miss on one of the island stops. So, I began to consult cruise message boards like this one. I tripped over a review sent in during 2002, spring time, Destiny, southern Caribbean and it was depressing to read. http://www.cruisereviews.com/carnival/Destiny42.html
In Brian's daily descriptions you will see how Destiny's mechanical functions cheated everybody out of the Aruba stop they had planned for, looked forward to. Nevertheless, based on all the happy posters on these boards, I think missing a port is rare.
There is a book, "Death by Chocolate:" that I haven't read authored by Bob Klein. A Google browse also would bring up his researched article about those who are staffing the ships to bring us our good vacation experience. That article is an eye-opener. If you read that article, I'll bet you will be tempted to tip high.
I cannot tell you much about the other ports since i have never really cruised before, however, i can definite tell you about Dominica, since i have been leaving here for the last two years.
Dominica in itself is a very beautiful country... lush and green. There is not much to do when it comes to shopping, though there are vendors all around the capital and the visiting sites with different souvenirs and other hand-crafted items for sale. However, if you are a nature lover, then Dominica is the place to be. There are a great many palces to visit on the island of Dominca. These include the following:
Roseau - Dominica
Trafalgar Falls (twin falls):
more commonly known as the mother and father falls. A 20 min drive takes one from the capital city of roseau into the interior of the island. from there a short walk to the viewing platform where this beautiful cascading waterfall can be seen. Under the supervision of a guide, one can proceed to have a bath in the pool at the base of the falls.
Emerald Pool (Fountain of Youth)
This grotto is a short walk into the centre of the island. Bring your swimming gear, but please be advised that the pool is very cold.
Fresh Water Lake
Carib territory (Carib Indians)
The last of the carib indians can be found on this island.
Rain forest Aerial tram
Boiling lake... A very difficult hike
Mourne Bruce (On the Mourne) - there you will have a beautiful view of the capital city roseau with the Destiny in the background. There you can also take lots of memorable photos.
.... And many more.
I hope i was able to offer you some help on Dominica. I can also be of help to you on booking your tours well in advance on this island and even get you discounted tours if you are in a group(i want people to enjoy the island as much as i do) since on the days that the cruise ships are in port, the tours a booked very rapidly.
We did the Destiny twice June 2001 and July 2005. Definitely don't stress yourself and arrive early. My parents had a returning flight at 1:34 back and Carnival cut off "early disembarking at 1:30 airline flights" at noon we begged staff to get us through lines. My family were not due to leave until a much calmer Monday than parents had. So try at least to leave a day early, and book at least a Late flight if on Sunday.
Also see my post on San Juan airport USDA info.
I'd be happy to communicate by email with longer answers for you.
A few details not mentioned in posts so far:
We arrived at terminal at 11am-lines starting to form.
What we did: Pulled luggage into terminal--dropped large bags with porter -tipped $1 roughly per bag or $5 rounded up. We had splurged on Cat 11 due to family special occasions,So had Skippers club,Prioroty procesing and finally on ship by 1:20pm with a backpack pull along for each family member. (I heard this time was later than usual)If I were to do it without Skippers club--4pm no lines by then.
At this point instructed to go to Lido deck and catch some lunch, at 2:00 could go to cabins with carryons. (OK we cheated and stored in our cabin closet then left room for lunch).
Now having sailed out of San Juan before we knew a few tips:
Once you have sign and sail card you can exit ship and return by flashing card and go right on board again. Bring photo ID also. We did this to go back into old San Juan with an empty back pack and purchased a case of coke & diet coke, flat of water. There is a small store near ship, however trolly or 10 min walk will take you to a Walgreens (just ask for directions). They had no trouble with us bringing items on ship in backpack.
Return disembark- pulled luggage to a VERY Zoo like Sheraton by pier of Destiny. Couldn't get a room until 3 or so and it was 1pm. The bellman had piles of luggage all over lobby and said to leave them he'd get them later. The manager hovering in chaos informed us upstairs there was a room to sit in, watch a tv and order a drink if we wished. I was worried about bags I informed manager I had electronics in pull alongs and didn't want to babysit them--he so graciously stored them in the safety deposit area that only a manager or security could unlock. We then went to Hard Rock cafe 5 min walk and ate a leisurely lunch (So weird to have to pay for a meal after a cruise) by 3pm when we returned room was ready. We knew they only had double beds so requested a king, and they no charge brought a nice roll away for our son. The pool is small, and a whirlpool on roof. Nice view of port from there too. Worst part...closure to our trip when we watched Destiny sail away that night after disembarking.
The other idea is catching a cab to a hotel close to airport also.
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!