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DIY to Casa Bacardi

Alberta Quilter

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It sounds easy to do but I'm wondering about the logistics.  Our port time is 11 am to 11 pm.  I'm travelling with an 84 year old who can walk on level surfaces (cobblestones are okay; just no slopes/stairs).


From the Bacardi website:

The ferry is available from Pier 2 in Old San Juan. It departs every thirty minutes and is fifty cents each way. When you arrive at the Cataño pier, you will find taxis on the right at the bus station. Casa BACARDÍ is a short two miles taxi ride away.


I have been unable to confirm our docking location but believe it to be in old San Juan; we're cruising on Holland America.  It looks like a fairly short walk between Pier 4 and 2; is it level walking?


It sounds like it's easy to get taxis at the Catano pier but is it just as easy to get a return taxi from Casa Bacardi back to the Catano pier?


I need to make the booking for the tour but need to understand the timing better before doing so.  Should we get off right after docking to catch the next ferry?  Or should we wait until the crowds disembark the ship first and go a little later?  How long is the ferry ride?  Bacardi recommends arriving half an hour prior to the tour time.  How reliable is the ferry service to and fro Catano?  Do the ferries depart at certain times, like on the hour and the half hour?  I thought i read in another thread that it can be late.  If I need to pad our timing a wee bit, that's okay, I just need to know to do it.


If we are able to get off the ship at 11:15, walk over to Pier 2, catch the ferry by noon, should I plan for a 1(ish) pm tour?  Aside from the tour time, how long should we plan on being there?  An hour plus tour time?  How long to get back to the ship via taxi, ferry & walking?  


Finally, which tour would you recommend and why?  The Historical tour (45 minutes) or the Rum Tasting Tour (75 minutes)?  It sounds like some are underwhelmed by the Historical tour but I'm a little concerned about getting tipsy at the rum tasting!  Six rums?!  I don't know how large the samples are but even at half an ounce each, that's a lot of rum and I, let alone the 84 year old, can't handle that much rum.  But it sounds like it's the better of the two tours.  


Thanks for your help!


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  • 1 month later...

Cannot speak to the ferry rides but I was in San Juan last year for a wedding and did the historical tour. I thought it was interesting and with each ticket you do get a drink in the staging area. You will also get a tasting glass at the end. Think smaller than a shot. The tasting rum tour has the high end sipping rums which we were not interested in.

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We just did this a week ago.


Ferry Cost  $1 roundtrip for those under 65, 50 cents 65-74 and free 75 and older if I recall correctly.  There is a sign posted at the ticket counter.


ferry On time:   ???   I don't know but it was for us.   If you take the 1pm, no problem hitting the 2pm tour, but I would buy your tickets online ahead of time if you want to guarantee your time.  The earliest tour for us after we arrived was full so we had to wait another 45 minutes for the next available.   We just did the historical tour which took about an hour.     You don't tour the factory, just a visitor center to learn about the history of Bacardi and get one drink included with your tour.  We bought a 2nd drink.  The historic tour is $15, regular drinks $8, and premium $12.  They do make great drinks at the visitor center.   The tasting tours were much more expensive and longer.  I think the tasting tours were $50 and 65.  The do have senior discounts if you want to save a couple bucks.  We didn't have time to do the tasting tour so we just did the historical tour.    If you are worried about too much to drink, you don't have to finish your drinks or spit it out.


Taxi:  There is a group taxi that will be waiting for you when you get off the ferry.  Same on return.  $3 each way.  Takes about 10 minutes to get to Bacardi.


I think we spent about 3 hours from the time the ferry left OSJ until we returned back to Old San Juan which included about a 45 minutes extra wait for the next available tour, so if you book online, you can save some waiting time.


Edited by Clubber
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Well, I apparently over thought this!  Really, this was extremely easy to do on one's own.


I had prebooked a historical tour for 1:45 pm.  We docked on time and the ship was cleared at 11 am.  We left the ship at about noon.  We were docked at Pier 4 and it took us about ten to fifteen minutes to walk to Pier 2 (one of us is a slow walker). We just made the ferry that left before 12:30.  The fare is $0.50/person but there are reduced or free fares for seniors depending on age.  The ferry ride took only about ten minutes (including the time to tie up to the dock).  It was a very short ride.  As we exited the ferry terminal, there were white taxi vans waiting to take people to Casa Bacardi.  For groups of 1 to 4 people, the taxi fare was $12. With five people or more, the fare was $3/person.


The taxi ride was fairly short and dropped us off a short distance away from the Welcome Centre.  There we checked in. It was now about 12:50 pm.  We were allowed to join the 1:15 tour since we were early and there was room available.  We each received a pager to notify us when to meet for the tour and were given a token to get our free cocktail.  We got our cocktail and had enough time to consume it before the tour started but some brought their drink on the tour.


We boarded a tram that drove us in a circle on the property and the guide pointed out some of the buildings and equipment used in process.  A very short ride!  The remainder of the tour took place in Visitor Centre where we watched a short film on the history, and then walked through staged displays of the distillation process and smelled the bases of the different rums they make.  The final stop was at a "bar" in which the guide explained the different rums, three for cocktails and three sipping rums.  As all tours tend to do, this one ended in the gift shop.  The entire tour took 45 minutes from start to finish.


Afterward shopping a bit, we headed back to the taxi stand in the parking lot to wait for a taxi.  I think we waited only about ten minutes for one to arrive.  As there were only the two of us at the time, the driver suggested waiting for others to make the fare more economical.  Five minutes later, two more people came along so it cost us each $3.  He drove us back to the ferry terminal, and we got our ferry tickets.  (BTW seniors who travel at a reduced or free rate still need a ticket.)  We had to wait for the next ferry but it was not a long wait.  


Upon our return in OSJ, we strolled along the waterfront, checking out the artisan stalls, making our way back to Pier 4. I believe we got back to the ship about 3 pm.


The tour was good but not great.  Given that the cost was $15 and included a beverage priced at $8 if one was to purchase a drink there, the tour was really only $7.  I think as long as one has reasonable expectations, one will be satisfied with the value of the tour.  I would come back to Casa Bacardi but would do another tour next time.  


For the two of us, our total cost, not including our shopping, was US$43.50 ($30 tour, $12 taxi and $1.50 ferry (I paid for the senior on the way over but not on the way back)).  The cost of the ship tour was US$74.95/person (which also included a self guided visit of San Cristobal Fortress).


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Has anyone ever taken an uber from the ferry terminal to Casa Bacardi?  I have knee issues and getting/crawling into a van (taxi) can be problematic.  Does anyone remember how much it was (I know uber prices can vary a lot) and did you have any issues?  Thank you for any help.

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On 3/3/2020 at 2:17 PM, Florida_gal_50 said:

Has anyone ever taken an uber from the ferry terminal to Casa Bacardi?  I have knee issues and getting/crawling into a van (taxi) can be problematic.  Does anyone remember how much it was (I know uber prices can vary a lot) and did you have any issues?  Thank you for any help.


I haven't yet, but you can do an estimate on Uber's website. I would do that around the time you think you're going and on the same day of the week to get a good idea.

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1 hour ago, mchelle77 said:


I haven't yet, but you can do an estimate on Uber's website. I would do that around the time you think you're going and on the same day of the week to get a good idea.

Thank you for taking the time to respond.  I appreciate it.

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