My family of 4 will be flying to San Juan Puerta Rico for our 7 day Southern Caribbean cruise on the Destiny in Sept. I am kind of nervous about flying out of the country and leaving from that port. We plan on flying in the day before the cruise leaves and need a recomendation for a nice, safe hotel that is reasonably priced and preferrably close to the ship. Any advice will be appreciated.
If you want to be close to the pier, I'd recommend the Wyndham in Old San Juan, its directly across the street from the pier and right in Old San Juan, so you can walk around the town a little the day before, possibly visit the old fort El Morro. Found that most of the hotels in San Juan are pricey, but start looking now for any deals you may find, good luck and enjoy!
I like the Hampton Inn. It is closer to the airport then the pier but it is nice and reasonably priced. They have a great continental breakfast and are very willing to accomidate cruisers (they have a locked luggage room for that time gap between check-out of the hotel and check-in on the ship).
Puerto Rico is part of the United States, it is a territory of the US, so you are not really flying out the country. Most airlines don't consider it an international flight.
I have always been impressed by the security at that airport. Long before 9/11 they had many of the safety precautions in place that we are just getting now stateside. Like no one but ticketed passengers in past the security check point and no one but ticketed passengers in the baggage claim area (except licensed reps from the cab company). They also check your claim ticket against your luggage very carefully on the way out of the airport.
There is no need to have additional fear of traveling just because it is Puerto Rico. There airport is great. As mentioned, your baggage tags will be checked upon departing the terminal. Boston doesn't even do that!
Log onto PRtourism.com. You can obtain a list (about 20 pages long) of hotel, B&B's called parado's, and resorts in PR. Besides the higher priced Wyndham Old San Juan, you may check out The El Convento Hotel or Hotel Milano. They are both in the heart of the Old town and easily accessible to a fine walking tour. There are more choices of chain hotel on the Condado or Isle Verde, but they are a $10 taxi fare from Old San Juan, the Port or the airport. The Embassy Suites or ESJ towers, which is a timeshare property, may be more economical for your family because of space. Embassy of course offers a free breakfast too, so that will save you some money. Both properties are close to the beach. Before you book, be sure to contact the hotel faciltiy directly and ask for their best or Manager's special rate. If you have any chain coupons from a credit card, this is the time to use them. I know ESJ quoted me $160 for a one-bedroom apartment in November for one night. September is hurrican season, so prices should be lower.
We stayed at the Days Inn in Condado and also the Comfort Inn. Prices were $98 per night in high season (January) and although the rooms are basic, they are clean. A taxi to the pier from Condado will cost you about $15. These hotels are located within walking distance of several good restaurants and a major hotel with casino next to a public beach.
Check out the Milano. It and the Wyndam are the only two Hotels closest to the piers. The Wyndam is very pricey. The milano is reasonable. Close to downtown activities and has a great view of the piers. Even though its only a block away from where your ship will dock, plan on taking a cab anyway. Also free tour buses leave from the curb outside the hotel. There is a web site for the Milano WWW.MILANOHOTEL.com
Have a great time!