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San Juan 1600 hours arrival?


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Hi, we saw an advertisement today for a Norwegian Getaway cruise in January 2023 (done loads of cruises but not on Norwegian, hence my first posting on this site). The trip starts with 3 days in New York then a 12 night Caribbean cruise with an enticing itinerary.

When we saw it the itinerary seemed perfect as it goes to San Juan which we love but have not visited since the 1990's - a lot of Caribbean cruises from the UK, including fly cruises, do not go to San Juan or St Thomas due to the time spent at immigration in USA ports. Sadly when I looked at the full itinerary on NCL's website it showed two days at sea after leaving NY, then arriving at San Juan at 1600 hours. That is a huge disappointment as even with a 2230 hours departure it simply does not leave enough time to visit old haunts and the main sites.

My question (which is not meant to be a stupid one!) is this: Based on previous experiences does anyone think they would endeavor to arrive any earlier or, as I guess is the case,  is1600 hours likely to mean exactly that. 

By the time those of the 4,000 passengers wanting to disembark had done so, I just can not see it being worth it to us making that a deal breaker as a day in San Juan would have been the highlight of the cruise.

I guess we will have to keep looking!

Any comments would  be welcome.

With thanks and kind regards. Peter

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We had a scheduled late arrival at the Port in San Juan. Getting off the ship was easy, but of course you are competing with thousands of others all at the same time. Unfortunately, because it was winter, it was dark and rainy. We just used it as a stop to get a few things at the pharmacy. A big waste of a port stop.

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3 hours ago, PrincessPete said:

Hi, we saw an advertisement today for a Norwegian Getaway cruise in January 2023 (done loads of cruises but not on Norwegian, hence my first posting on this site). The trip starts with 3 days in New York then a 12 night Caribbean cruise with an enticing itinerary.

When we saw it the itinerary seemed perfect as it goes to San Juan which we love but have not visited since the 1990's - a lot of Caribbean cruises from the UK, including fly cruises, do not go to San Juan or St Thomas due to the time spent at immigration in USA ports. Sadly when I looked at the full itinerary on NCL's website it showed two days at sea after leaving NY, then arriving at San Juan at 1600 hours. That is a huge disappointment as even with a 2230 hours departure it simply does not leave enough time to visit old haunts and the main sites.

My question (which is not meant to be a stupid one!) is this: Based on previous experiences does anyone think they would endeavor to arrive any earlier or, as I guess is the case,  is1600 hours likely to mean exactly that. 

By the time those of the 4,000 passengers wanting to disembark had done so, I just can not see it being worth it to us making that a deal breaker as a day in San Juan would have been the highlight of the cruise.

I guess we will have to keep looking!

Any comments would  be welcome.

With thanks and kind regards. Peter

We have been on a similar itinerary out of Miami they arrived on time at 1600. We actually liked not being out in the heat of the mid-day. We did a walking tour of the old city which included a stop for a make-your-own Mojito, salad, appetizer, Mofongo, and dessert. The night lights of San Juan were spectacular. 
 

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Posted (edited)

We have been on a couple of cruises from New York with the first stop being San Juan, and both times the arrival was mid-afternoon, exactly as scheduled.    I don't think there is any way for the cruise line to try to arrive earlier.  I am sure they would if they could, but the distance from NYC seems to make the late arrival inevitable.    

 

We had been to San Juan several times on other cruises (from Florida) when the arrival was a more typical morning time.  So, the first time we had the late arrival, we were OK just walking around the Old Town and returning to the ship after a couple hours.   It didn't mean anything to us that the departure was late at night, as we had no desire to walk around after dark and no interest in nightlife.   You might want to Google sunset time in San Juan at the time of your cruise, so you have an idea of how much daylight you will have.   It won't be much!

 

The 2nd time we had a late arrival, we intended to do the same thing - no big plans, just walk around a bit.   But for some reason - size of the ship, maybe? - the mobs in the stairwells to disembark were so huge that we gave up after nearly an hour feeling like the crowd wasn't moving at all.  We decided to enjoy the ship's facilities that day and never disembarked.

 

If you have a strong desire to see a lot of San Juan during daytime hours, I suggest avoiding an itinerary with the mid-to-late afternoon arrival.   Good luck in your search for something more to your liking. 

Edited by Joanne G.
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Another thought if you really want to visit San Juan is NCL does use it as a home port for the Epic for part of the year. Generally has nice Southern Caribbean itineraries between 7 and 12 days. There are also cruises that go from NY and end at San Juan (and the other way around) as part of the repositioning between Europe and San Juan that the Epic does every year. 

 

 

 

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Like you, I wanted a couple of days in New York and a couple of days in Puerto Rico. I booked a back to back flying in to PR on March 18 2022 , getting on the Epic for a 7 day on the 20th and returning to PR  followed immediately by a 6 day relocation ( and stops in different ports than previous cruise ) to New York getting off on April 2nd, and spending a couple of days there before flying home. I am sure that the itinerary in 2023 could be used in the same way.

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26 minutes ago, gmbhardy said:

Just a heads up. If you decide to stay on the ship when it’s docked, all your drinks are subject to local taxes.

 

Likewise, if you decide to leave the ship, any drinks you purchase are also subject to local taxes.

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I second the suggestion to port in and out of San Juan.  We flew in on Saturday (early afternoon) and had the rest of that day and all the next day until 3:00pm boarding on Sunday to explore, and we really only saw Old San Juan.  Will be going back next January and exploring other areas of San Juan and nearby areas for at least a day before embarkation.

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3 hours ago, Joanne G. said:

I don't think there is any way for the cruise line to try to arrive earlier.

 

Ships don't schedule to run at max fuel guzzling speed - there is reserve left. In one case, a ship I was on made an announcement that they would arrive a couple hours earlier due to their time slot at the dock being only available earlier. Some higher priority ship had claimed the later slot. For me it was extremely rare luck because I then could attend an early event that was the highlight of the trip.

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8 hours ago, PrincessPete said:

Hi, we saw an advertisement today for a Norwegian Getaway cruise in January 2023 (done loads of cruises but not on Norwegian, hence my first posting on this site). The trip starts with 3 days in New York then a 12 night Caribbean cruise with an enticing itinerary.

When we saw it the itinerary seemed perfect as it goes to San Juan which we love but have not visited since the 1990's - a lot of Caribbean cruises from the UK, including fly cruises, do not go to San Juan or St Thomas due to the time spent at immigration in USA ports. Sadly when I looked at the full itinerary on NCL's website it showed two days at sea after leaving NY, then arriving at San Juan at 1600 hours. That is a huge disappointment as even with a 2230 hours departure it simply does not leave enough time to visit old haunts and the main sites.

My question (which is not meant to be a stupid one!) is this: Based on previous experiences does anyone think they would endeavor to arrive any earlier or, as I guess is the case,  is1600 hours likely to mean exactly that. 

By the time those of the 4,000 passengers wanting to disembark had done so, I just can not see it being worth it to us making that a deal breaker as a day in San Juan would have been the highlight of the cruise.

I guess we will have to keep looking!

Any comments would  be welcome.

With thanks and kind regards. Peter

Hi Peter

 

Note that you are from the U.K.   Not sure if it is of interest to you but both the T.A Southampton to New York  and the follow on cruise New York to San Juan  from 4th to 23rd December 2022 on the NCL Epic are both fantastic prices at the moment.  The last day of the BTB the Epic arrives in San Juan at 7 a.m. 

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Had the late arrival once there, had dinner at the place that claims to have invented the Pina Colada, ever the local Cops were drinking them...

 

Dinner was good. 
 

https://barrachina-restaurant-old-san-juan.business.site/

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Agree with PTCDAWG - Barrachina Restaurant was a very nice dining experience.  We walked from the ship - six to eight city blocks from the pier.

 

Our visit was also the first port on a 12-day Caribbean cruise from New York.  We also docked at 4 PM

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