I just posted on the Advice message board, but I think this would also qualify as a gripe in anybody's book, so:
Joan, an old friend of mine (with whom I had gone on a cruise, her first, on the late lamented Norway in Jan 2002) recently had a chance to return to the Carribbean. Her brother, an avid cruiser, had a late-March trip all booked on RCI's humongous Adventure of the Seas, rt from San Juan Puerto Rico, with his girlfriend. Then, at the last minute, his girlfriend had to bow out to start a new job. Everything already being paid for, he offered his sister Joan an invitation to share the cabin. (Having recently been unjustly fired from a job, she deserved a break!)
A year after our Norway trip, I too had taken a cruise rt out of San Juan, so Joan asked if I had any advice. I had LOVED Puerto Rico-- Old San Juan was magnificent, and the El Yunque rain forest, a veritable Garden of Eden, was less than an hour's drive out of town. Since her flight on the final day didn't leave until 5pm, I mentioned that on the last day of my cruise, I'd taken a great shore excursion up into the rain forest before being dropped off at the airport in plenty of time, where my luggage was waiting. It cost just 30 bucks-- only ten more than a straight pier-to-airport transfer! Or, failing that, I advised her to just go into beautiful Old San Juan and enjoy strolling the cobbled streets and admiring the well-preserved colorful colonial architecture.
Well, Joan had a wonderful time overall with her brother on that cruise, but that's not how she spent her final day after arriving back in San Juan. She was off the ship by 8am, at the airport by 9-- and essentially SPENT THE NEXT EIGHT HOURS STANDING ON LINES! Lines to check her bags, USDA inspection line, airport security line, and most of all, US Airways' check-in. The airline had ONE GUY behind the counter to deal with HUNDREDS of departing passengers! What a miserable way to end what should have been an ideal vacation-- and what an appalling impression Puerto Rico left on her as a result! She said she'd never have the slightest interest in coming back again.
The airport had been quite busy and crowded at the conclusion of my 2003 cruise-- not surprising, given that 6000-odd cruisers were making their way home at once-- but what Joan described to me was so insane, I could scarcely believe it. I advised her to write to both the airline and to Puerto Rico's tourism board or Chamber of Commerce, describe to them her experience, and that because of what she had to go through, she'd never be back. They need to know what happened, and what kind of effect that's liable to have on future tourism revenues they rely on.
So here's the question: was what she went through just some terrible one-day fluke? Or have other recent San-Juan-based cruise passengers experienced anything remotely this awful?
I HATE this airport. When we cruised in Feb of 2004 from there - it was over 3 hours of lines and not ONE chair to sit on until you got through the security check. I could hardly walk for a week afterwards (I have arthritis so standing for more than 3 hours just about did me in). I loved my cruise. I love the ports you can get to from San Juan BUT I will NOT cruise from there again until they do something about that hideous airport. Your friend has my sympathy.
That airport is kinda like a North American airport, but not really. It is more like a caribbean airport, but 10 times busier.
Personally when on vacation (instead of business), I would rather not have delays etc. but don't really get too bent out of shape over it. If I had to be somewhere to so something then I would hate to go through airport lags. On vacation, it doesn't really bother me, I usually enjoy myself from the time I leave home till the time I get home.
I would hate to be a business traveller out of that airport, but then you would think saavy travellers would have the sense to avoid weekends at SJU.
So maybe if you had to fly home from San Juan from a cruise, it might be a good idea to just stay overnight and fly out the next day? We've done this from other airports, and it's far less stressful. I think I'd try to get a flight around 10AM or so, that way the early morning business travelers would be out of the way too.
Agreed, but only if you are arranging you own flights, but take the lines flights and you will all be dumped in there at nearly the same time,,,then all the crap happens. But its now off the hands or responsibility of the line,,,as they are getting ready for the next lot of fun seekers.
Dump them in their thousands in a place not suitable to deal with it, we've had your money ,,,,,,bye bye now appears to be their attitude
We flew out of San Juan after our cruise in March. Same problem. I think that it is US Airs fault. My husband flies on American about once a month from San Juan. He never has that kind of problem that we encountered. Remember that more than one ship is disembarking at the same time and everyone goes to the airport to wait. If you purchased air through the cruise lines, they usualy use the cheapest airfare and it usually is US Air So, next time use AA .