Sailing out of San Juan

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62 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
My husband and I will be joining another couple on the Serenade of the Seas, sailing out of San Juan on March 3, 2012. We have only ever sailed out of various ports in Florida. Does anyone have any tips on leaving from San Juan?

Also, I have seen it mentioned in a couple different places online that people have been able to bring in their own bottled water, and in some cases, wine onto the ship in their luggage (maybe in their carry-on?). Is this something unique to the San Juan port? I have seen people "busted" on this when leaving out of Miami. Just curious...
Sugar Land, Texas (Houston suburb)
236 Posts
Joined May 2008
The biggest tip I can offer is to get a taxi instead of using RCI's transportation. It was much cheaper to use taxi service and there were lots of taxi's available.

I brought a case of bottled water onboard - just slapped a luggage tag on it. I didn't try to bring wine.

Have fun! We are sailing on her in January!
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Minneapolis, MN
492 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
We carried on a 6 pack of Mountain Dew for my wife and just after you go through security there is a "shop" where you can buy cases of water, soda etc to bring on board. Did not see anyone getting busted with booze but we also did not try to bring any aboard.
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New Jersey
1,793 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
When we have traveled out of San Juan we always left a day or 2 early and stayed in one of the Hotels. Kinda of a pre vacation and no problems with time.
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West Webster, NY
4,832 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Get there a day early and find some time to tour Old San Juan. There are many nice hotels in Old San Juan. A great way to tour Old San Juan is on a Segway. We used Segway Tours of Puerto Rico and had a great time. Taxis are all fixed rate. A taxi from the airport to either Old San Juan or the cruise port is $24 plus $1 per bag.
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Near Baltimore, MD
1,752 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
We love San Juan! Have visited more than a dozen times each one we checked out a different part of the island. We go a few days early just so we can enjoy a bit of PR, so much to see and do...and the food if great! I like to stay in Old Town (personal fav) so I can look out over the harbor.
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Addicted to cruising and hope I never kick the habit!!!!
9,414 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
We have cruised out of San Juan many times - 4 times on Serenade. Here are my suggestions:

1. San Juan is a great city. If you can, fly in at least one day early so you can explore Old San Juan or maybe rent a car and go to the rain forest. 2 forts - El Moro and San Cristabel are within walking distance of downtown OSJ or a very short trolley/cab ride to either. We like Plaza de Armus right on the square in OSJ. Just request a downstairs room as the air upstairs is not very good.

1a. Have the cab driver take you to Pueblo's to buy soda/water or whatever else you may need. It is right on the main highway from the airport going into town. They have a lot of stuff and you can find pretty much anything you need right there.

2. Take a cab from the airport, do not do the ship's transfers. Cab rates in San Juan are fixed and very reasonable.

3. We always take soda and water with us, both in carryons and checked. Last time we filled a small cooler with soda and water and checked it that way.

4. Yes, we have taken alcohol - be creative. Bottles will usually get caught, so think of other alternatives. Put it in your checked luggage, not your carry on luggage

5. You will go through a scanner at checkin and then another scanner when you board the ship. We had soda in our carryons and had no issues with either scanner to get through

6. If your airline offers the valet service, and if Royal is doing it again, take advantage of it for your trip home. It is $20 pp but so worth it!! You don't have to mess with the airport if you do this, everything is done right at the cruise terminal.

7. Serenade is a gorgeous ship, one of our favorites. Service is exceptional on this ship. If you are doing MTD and it is just the 2 of you, you do not need to make reservations unless you are more comfortable doing so. We never make reservations, went at various times for the B2B and had the same wait staff the entire 2 weeks we were there. They were fantastic and so friendly.

8. If "speedy" is your bar server in the diningroom, he is wonderful!!! We fell in love with him. He was doing MTD at that point, so don't know if he will be there or not.

9. Above all - enjoy. It is by far our favorite port to sail from since the itinerary is so port intensive.
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North Carolina
12,937 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
Leaving from San Juan is THE best! And the Serenade is also THE best!

All good advice so far. Definitely get there at least one day prior. If you want to do something in SJ, I would suggest two days prior. Definitely use taxis, not RCI transportion. We've bought water after getting to SJ and put it in our checked bags and had no problem.

We've stayed in various hotels over the years. I would recommend the Intercontinental, The Hilton Caribe, or The Marriott Stellaris.

Wish I could go with you!
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Lafayette, IN
10,319 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Make sure you leave extra time if you are flying out day-of your cruise's return. The airport is a bit hectic (IMO) and you also have to clear an agricultural scan before you can check your bags ... this can take extra time.
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North Carolina
12,937 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
Originally posted by silentbob007
Make sure you leave extra time if you are flying out day-of your cruise's return. The airport is a bit hectic (IMO) and you also have to clear an agricultural scan before you can check your bags ... this can take extra time.
We have started staying an extra day after the cruise and it is just so relaxing. There is not near the congestion at the airport on Monday as there is on Sunday. We check in to a hotel and enjoy an extra day of relaxation.
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Elmhurst, IL, USA
1,610 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
We love sailing out of San Juan (our preference on any Caribbean cruise). We would highly recommend staying the night in San Juan both pre-cruise and post cruise in order to avoid the crowds at the airport.

While we have stayed at different hotels, our favorite place to stay is the San Juan Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino. We love the location right on the beach, near shopping and restaurants. The pool is on the smaller side, but you have a beautiful beach right out front.

A restaurant we would recommend in San Juan is Marmalade (Old San Juan). It is on the pricey side, and a cab ride from the hotel, but the food was fantastic.
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5,543 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Le Consulate in the Condado not 5 star but not a dump. One block away from drugstores/the main drag with good places to eat/bus stop to OSJ .75 each way. It is very resonable. If flying out the day you debark get an excursion that also drops you off at the airport. Another way to get rid of your luggage and miss the masses at the airport. Oh and have a GREAT TIME!!!!

82,447 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
Sailing into and out of San Juan is truly beautiful. We love watching as we come into San Juan and never tire of it.

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62 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Thank you all so much for your suggestions!

We are planning to fly in the day before. We booked a room at the Hotel Casablanca, which looks like a unique place to stay. We have been to San Juan as a stop on a couple of different cruises so have had the opportunity to explore the city a bit, but we are excited to do more of that on our own.
7,280 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Walgreens sells everything in San Juan including wine. You can pick up last minute liquids there rather than flying them in from home.

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Ontario, Canada
5,181 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
SJ is a great sail in or sail out. Be on deck.
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