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Carnival gone from San Juan. Royal Caribbean makes their move.


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10 hours ago, Tapi said:

If you only have 7 days of vacation, it makes a difference. From Miami to where the Lesser Antilles begin is a good 1,000 miles. From San Juan, It’s less than 60 miles. It’s just impossible to do a 7 night itinerary from Florida that goes as deep into the Caribbean or that visits as many ports. Yes, you can do a longer itinerary from Miami which will involve extra sea days to reach the same destinations, but not everybody has the time or the desire for that. 

Itineraries from San Juan are for cruisers who place more importance on the destinations than on the ship. It’s also for people who rightfully consider San Juan a destination worthy of a few days of exploration before or after a cruise, rather than the insultingly short 6 to 7 hours they normally get on a cruise from Florida. 


 

 

I have never really understood the cruise line logic with SJ as a homeport, whether seasonal or full-time.  I do agree that their  is a demand for the 7 day market.  Fascination would just not cut it for us as an alternative.  I am sure Carnival has plans for San Juan, would love to see a Conquest class ship there.

Edited by jimbo5544
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36 minutes ago, jimbo5544 said:

I have never really understood the cruise line logic with SJ as a homeport, whether seasonal or full-time.  I do agree that their  is a demand for the 7 day market.  Fascination would just not cut it for us as an alternative.  I am sure Carnival has plans for San Juan, would love to see a Conquest class ship there.

Jimbo:

 

I grew up in Puerto Rico. My first cruises were out of San Juan. That’s all I ever knew until I moved to the US mainland to attend college. 
 

In the 80’s a typical weekend in San Juan looked like Miami, sometimes with 6 or 7 ships. 2 from Cunard, 2 from NCL, One from Carnival, one from Royal, and one from Costa. We also had Chandris. Living there, flying somewhere to catch a cruise seemed so foreign to me. My first experience with Carnival, Royal and Costa were on cruises out of San Juan. I even did a 10 night cruise on The Victoria (Chandris) to the Panama Canal from San Juan with off the beaten path stops like the San Andres Island. The ship was old and had propulsion issues which made us miss a port and arrive back in San Juan 12 hours later than scheduled.

 

A lot has changed since then, and I’m still trying to figure out what happened in San Juan to change it from a thriving port of embarkation, to a barely seasonal one. Less interest in the Southern Caribbean? More interest in larger, modern ships out of Florida? Cost considerations to cruise out of San Juan? The economy? Politics? Who knows. 
 

if I had things my way, each one of the major cruise lines would have a year round ship. For Carnival, at least a Conquest class ship. But I am realistic and I know that the numbers aren’t quite there to make this a reality. 

Edited by Tapi
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11 hours ago, Tapi said:

If you only have 7 days of vacation, it makes a difference. From Miami to where the Lesser Antilles begin is a good 1,000 miles. From San Juan, It’s less than 60 miles. It’s just impossible to do a 7 night itinerary from Florida that goes as deep into the Caribbean or that visits as many ports. Yes, you can do a longer itinerary from Miami which will involve extra sea days to reach the same destinations, but not everybody has the time or the desire for that. 

Itineraries from San Juan are for cruisers who place more importance on the destinations than on the ship. It’s also for people who rightfully consider San Juan a destination worthy of a few days of exploration before or after a cruise, rather than the insultingly short 6 to 7 hours they normally get on a cruise from Florida. 


 

 

As someone who usually cruises out of san juan, I agree completely with this assessment. Plus there are some beautiful places to stay pre or post cruise. Doesn't have to be San Juan. We have been to Culebra 3x, Vieques1x, Antigua post cruise for 4 days and hopefully St. Croix this upcoming February if all goes well. Yes airfare is more but the cruise prices usually make up for airfare. 

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No doubt I love cruising out of San Juan. Staying in Old San Juan is just awesome IMO. It's probably my favorite place to cruise from. The atmosphere and the FOOD is just great. I've cruised out of there four times; 1X Carnival, 1X Royal, and 2X on Celebrity.  I now know where to go in Old SJ. So many great restaurants and bars.  So much history and ambiance.  A Conquest-class ship is perfect for there. I did the Valor. Great cruise and I enjoyed the ship too. Carnival always cruised out of the Old San Juan terminal...a lot better than the Pan American terminal across the bay.  

 

Cruises have almost ALWAYS been less expensive out of San Juan than those leaving from the mainland. This always helped offset the increased airfare to GET there. Getting to San Juan is always easy...it was always the return flight the day I returned from the cruise that was the issue.  

 

Those Royal cruse fares are gonna come down....hang tight. 😉 

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5 hours ago, jimbo5544 said:

I have never really understood the cruise line logic with SJ as a homeport, whether seasonal or full-time.  I do agree that their  is a demand for the 7 day market.  Fascination would just not cut it for us as an alternative.  I am sure Carnival has plans for San Juan, would love to see a Conquest class ship there.

We sailed from San Juan once while on the Victory. We had a very nice cruise to some great ports and spent a few days prior in Old San Juan. Since then, we have been to San Juan many times (usually stay in Condado at the La Concha Renaissance) but never again for a cruise. 

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5 hours ago, jimbo5544 said:

I have never really understood the cruise line logic with SJ as a homeport, whether seaonal or full-time.  I do agree that their  is a demand for the 7 day market.  Fascination would just not cut it for us as an alternative.  I am sure Carnival has plans for San Juan, would love to see a Conquest class ship there.

my take on San Juan as a departure port, at least in the winter months when we sail out of there at least twice a year.  You know it's warm / hot from the minute you land, not like Miami that can be cool even in winter.  Southern Caribbean ports like ABC islands can't be reached on a port of departure Miami in less than 10 days.  So an excellent 7 day cruise with great itinerary.  Have sailed on RCI Freedom numerous time and had same port of calls as Carnival ships from SJU, and the amenities are no comparison.  Not to disparage Carnival as i sail them also, but the need a better ship from this port.

 

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6 minutes ago, cruisegus said:

my take on San Juan as a departure port, at least in the winter months when we sail out of there at least twice a year.  You know it's warm / hot from the minute you land, not like Miami that can be cool even in winter.  Southern Caribbean ports like ABC islands can't be reached on a port of departure Miami in less than 10 days.  So an excellent 7 day cruise with great itinerary.  Have sailed on RCI Freedom numerous time and had same port of calls as Carnival ships from SJU, and the amenities are no comparison.  Not to disparage Carnival as i sail them also, but the need a better ship from this port.

 

Many cruise lines offer an 8 night itinerary to the ABC islands from Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

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3 minutes ago, Illbcruzn4life said:

 

to all 3 on an 8 nighter from Florida?

Yes.

 

You seem surprised but this is actually common on Royal for 8 and 9 night itineraries. It’s also found on some premium cruise lines and occasionally mixed with other ports.

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5 minutes ago, xDisconnections said:

Yes.

 

You seem surprised but this is actually common on Royal for 8 and 9 night itineraries. It’s also found on some premium cruise lines and occasionally mixed with other ports.

 

I am or should I say I WAS quite surprised. I've never seen one but after looking a little bit you are indeed correct. Kudos to you.🙂

 

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7 hours ago, cruisegus said:

my take on San Juan as a departure port, at least in the winter months when we sail out of there at least twice a year.  You know it's warm / hot from the minute you land, not like Miami that can be cool even in winter.  Southern Caribbean ports like ABC islands can't be reached on a port of departure Miami in less than 10 days.  So an excellent 7 day cruise with great itinerary.  Have sailed on RCI Freedom numerous time and had same port of calls as Carnival ships from SJU, and the amenities are no comparison.  Not to disparage Carnival as i sail them also, but the need a better ship from this port.

 

A couple of years ago did that very itinerary.... 9-day out of Miami aboard Navigator to Labadee, Haiti and the ABC islands. Celebrity also is offering that itinerary currently.

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13 hours ago, jimbo5544 said:

I have never really understood the cruise line logic with SJ as a homeport, whether seasonal or full-time.  I do agree that their  is a demand for the 7 day market.  Fascination would just not cut it for us as an alternative.  I am sure Carnival has plans for San Juan, would love to see a Conquest class ship there.

The Valor and Liberty have been home ported there and did not sell well. I think they should try the Sunrise or Radiance.

Edited by Jamman54
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7 hours ago, cruisegus said:

my take on San Juan as a departure port, at least in the winter months when we sail out of there at least twice a year.  You know it's warm / hot from the minute you land, not like Miami that can be cool even in winter.  Southern Caribbean ports like ABC islands can't be reached on a port of departure Miami in less than 10 days.  So an excellent 7 day cruise with great itinerary.  Have sailed on RCI Freedom numerous time and had same port of calls as Carnival ships from SJU, and the amenities are no comparison.  Not to disparage Carnival as i sail them also, but the need a better ship from this port.

 

I agree on all points

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10 minutes ago, Jamman54 said:

The Valor and Liberty have been home ported there and did not sell well. I think they should try the Sunrise or Radiance.

I agree Jeff, makes sense,  Perfect size ship and amenities 

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On 9/18/2020 at 4:45 PM, Tapi said:


 

So it seems like Royal Caribbean is taking full advantage of Carnival’s decision to scrap the Fascination and leave San Juan vacant. I know that a lot of people will be glad to have a summer option to sail the Southern Caribbean again. 
 

Thoughts?  

Only if it stops at St. Lucia, my favorite!

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11 hours ago, BlerkOne said:

Driving to San Juan is not an option for most people.

Exactly.  In a scaled back market, the bulk of Carnival's customers may not be open to fly to a "foreign" country to depart for a Caribbean cruise. Their European customers are different. 

 

 

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On 9/18/2020 at 3:45 PM, Tapi said:

So it seems like Royal Caribbean is taking full advantage of Carnival’s decision to scrap the Fascination and leave San Juan vacant. I know that a lot of people will be glad to have a summer option to sail the Southern Caribbean again. 
 

 

We avoid cruising during overpriced and overloaded with kids summer season. There has to be some extra special reason to do so.

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I have to defend preferring san juan as opposed to leaving from Florida. Last January, I sailed an 11 day itinerary that not only visited all 3 ABCs for 10 hours each day but also went to Barbados, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Grenada and St. Vincent. I was on the Celebrity Summit. Thats 8 ports in 11 days. That could not be done from Miami.  We were in every port at least 8.5 hours and the ABC were 10. If you are only on the ship to visit beautiful countries and not to sit in the solarium, ride a flowrider, I really suggest leaving on one of these southern Caribbean port intensive small ships. Its so much warmer leaving in January from San Juan than Ft. Lauderdale or port canaveral. Everyone has their preferences so I do understand that. I know if you live in Florida, it makes sense to leave from there. However, there's so many places to stay at pre or post cruise, it just is so much better than Florida. My daughter lives in Boca and I have family in Tampa so Im a little familiar.

Edited by jean87510
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San Juan cruising right now is interesting since island is still recovering from many issues. 

If an opening became available, why wouldn't RCI move in a ship.

Also, yes flights are an add on, but sailing southern Caribbean allows for more ports.

Also, ships will offer last minute offers to the locals.

Lastly, RCI takes better care of Vision class than CCL did of Fantasy class.

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3 hours ago, BlerkOne said:

 

We avoid cruising during overpriced and overloaded with kids summer season. There has to be some extra special reason to do so.

Even though I have kids, I also avoid the summer as much as possible. Like you said, overpriced and way too hot for pretty much everything except Alaska cruises. I prefer to sail during the fall or during the kids mid-winter break in February. Great weather and usually considerably cheaper prices.
 

I’ll do a summer cruise if I have no choice (for example, if it’s an itinerary that only operates during that time, or if that’s what scheduling permits). 
That’s how I ended doing Cuba in July. It was a family cruise where we had to coordinate the schedules of 14 family members. Great cruise, but it was SO HOT, we were melting. 🔥 🔥 

Edited by Tapi
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4 hours ago, BlerkOne said:

 

We avoid cruising during overpriced and overloaded with kids summer season. There has to be some extra special reason to do so.

When your DW is a teacher, that becomes the only available time to go.

 

Though we once had a river cruise booked that fit perfectly into her school's vacation, but then the river cruise line let it be chartered.😢

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23 hours ago, Tapi said:

I’m still trying to figure out what happened in San Juan to change it from a thriving port of embarkation, to a barely seasonal one.

 

I think there are some politics involved.  The recent decision to privatize the port bringing in a 3rd party means higher port fees with a middleman and another mouth to feed.  The cruise lines tried to get a seat at the table but it was awarded to a 3rd party without what some consider to be proper process.

 

Shortly after that was announced Royal cut some port of call visits for a number of ships although I think the Freedom of the Seas move to Bayonne was planned all along.  I saw it as a way to protest what was done with the privatization.  I think some other lines also reduced some visits.  The 3rd party had built a business model based on X visits so with 0.6X visits I'm sure it wrecked their business projections.  The ultimate "I'm taking my ball and going somewhere else to play".

 

Perhaps with Carnival's departure Royal was able to leverage that for better fees or to keep them closer to current levels.  "Sure, we'll put a ship there, but if only if you freeze port fees" sort of thing. 

 

All just speculation on my part.

 

The port intensive itinerary does lend itself to Vision class.  For years people have accepted Vision class in Greece or the Med on the basis that the cruise it not about the ship, it's for the ports.  Not unlike Cuba where folks jumped on the older and smallest ships for the destination.  

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26 minutes ago, ontheweb said:

When your DW is a teacher, that becomes the only available time to go.

I feel your pain. My wife became a teacher about two years ago (after spending most of her career in pharmaceutical sales). So now we cruise exclusively when school is not in session. 
 

But don’t give up. We’ve still managed to avoid sailing during the summer by booking cruises at other times of the year when her school has scheduled breaks (which thankfully match our kid’s school breaks). She gets a week off in February for mid-winter break (perfect time for affordable prices and great weather in the Caribbean), as well as a week off in April for Spring Break, and Thanksgiving week. 
 

For 2019 and 2020, we cruised in February (this year they even offered a kids sail free promo!). In 2018 we sailed the Mediterranean over Thanksgiving break. Not only did we avoid the summer sweltering heat and crowds, but by sailing off season, this cruise was cheaper than sailing the Caribbean during the summer. 

Edited by Tapi
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