Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from Dreamer-6-19. Show Dreamer-6-19's posts

    Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

    FI got a new job which we are very excited about...but this means we can no longer go on our 1 month Thailand honeymoon.  As a last minute switch..we decided on a 7 night Royal Caribbean Cruise which goes to Aruba, Dominica, Curacao and St. Thomas.  The cruise ports in San Juan, Puerto Rico so we decided to spend a week there before the cruise.  (We CANT complain because we are still getting 2 weeks!)

    Has anyone been to Puerto Rico and have any must-do's, must-see's to recommend?

    We will only have 1 day on each of the other islands, so we are trying to choose our excursions wisely.  Any recommendations are greatly appreciated! 
     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from jasmine09. Show jasmine09's posts

    Re: Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

    We spent a week in PR in December and it was amazing.  We stayed in the Isla Verde neighborhood in San Juan, which I would highly recommend, as far as locations go, if you haven't picked a hotel yet.  The beach there is amazing--soft sand, warm water, just the right amount of gentle surf for swimming.

    Definitely do a day trip to the rainforest and hike around there.  It is very cool.  If you are wiling to brave the cold water, you can take a swim in the waterfall.

    A big highlight for us was kayak trip we took through the mangrove forest with this tour group:
    We had actually initially signed up for their snorkel tour, but the weather didn't cooperate with the snorkel plan (waves were rough in the area near the reefs), so we did the mangrove tour instead.  It was really neat, and the guide was excellent.  Very knowledgeable and friendly.

    And, of course, Old San Juan is lovely for strolling and touring.

     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from jasmine09. Show jasmine09's posts

    Re: Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

    p.s. with more time, (we had 4 nights only) we would have tried:
    - to make it Vieques, 
    -maybe do an intro to scuba diving lesson & dive, 
    -have booked a sail on this boat: http://www.egbc.net/
    -kayak tour of the bio luminescent bay

    ...also, leave some time for driving around the island and seeing the smaller towns and villages.  You see some interesting things once you get out of the suburban jungle of San Juan.  

    And check for deals at the upscale hotels.  We booked the Ritz Carlton for about $125/night, and it was amazing.  We also saw great deals on the El Conquistador, which got slightly mixed reviews, but it might be another good option (esp if you want the experience of a huge resort--the Ritz is wonderful but a bit compact--Conquistador is sprawling).  I had friends who stayed at the El San Juan recently, and had a good experience, but they said they'd have preferred the Ritz if the price had been better for their dates.  (Based on their experience at the El San Juan and visiting/walking through the Ritz.)  For our dates, the Ritz was actually cheaper than the El San Juan and the Intercontinental.

    I wouldn't want to spend the whole trip in Old San Juan (no beach there), but if you are really into cities and night life, you might consider spending a night or two there.  We were satisfied to spend one daytime and one evening strolling the old city, and were glad we stayed in a more resort-y area.

     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from Dreamer-6-19. Show Dreamer-6-19's posts

    Re: Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

    Thanks so much Jasmine!  I'm glad to hear you had such a great time in PR!!

    Unfortunately there were not any rates anywhere around $125!!! Where did you find that rate? 
    We booked at the Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino for about $240 a night (including tax and resort fees) and that was with a friends and family rate!  I can cancel within 24 hours, so I can keep a look out on rates and always change closer to our arrival in PR. 

    I definitely want to go to the rainforest, go on a kayak tour of the bio luminescent bay and visit Vieques.  We were originally planning on getting scuba certified while down there, but I think we will just do a few dives so we can spend more time doing other activities and can finish the course when we return to MA.  I bought a book on PR so I have some more research to do!  Thanks for the tips!! 
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from jasmine09. Show jasmine09's posts

    Re: Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

    Hey Dreamer--Hotel rates may really depend on your dates.  We went the first week of December, and apparently no one else on the planet takes a vacation then (awkwardly sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas break).  But we have absolutely no choice over my husband's vacation weeks, so that's how we ended up with that.  Anyway, the rate advertised on the Ritz Carlton website for our dates was $200/night.  They had a 4th night free promotion, which brought the average rate down to $150/night.  Then we booked through cheapcaribbean.com and got another $100 off the package.  Averaging over our stay, this brought the rate down to $125/night (exclusive of tax and fees).  

    It looks like the Ritz is still running the 4th night free promotion, starting at $229/night though:
    ...see the bottom right "special offers" box.  Check the rate for your dates though.  I would highly recommend the hotel if you can get a good rate.  I have friends who vacation there every year.  If not, I'm sure the Marriott is lovely too!  Marriotts are reliably nice in my experience.  :)

    For the biobay tour and scuba diving, definitely check out the Pure Adventure tour group I recommended.  We had a really positive experience with them.  The guides was VERY knowledgeable about the wildlife and ecosystem, and very friendly and positive in general.  The birdwatching mangrove forest tour we did was a huge highlight of the trip for us, and we had never bird watched before (i.e. we are not crazy bird people, though we do love animals).  

     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from jasmine09. Show jasmine09's posts

    Re: Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

    p.s. even if you are not staying at the Ritz, I would highly recommend a reservation at the Italian restaurant they have called Il Mulino.  It's pricey for dinner, but the food is AMAZING, and it is just a lovely restaurant for a formal dining experience.  Quite romantic.  We did most of our meals more casually, but this was worth the splurge.

     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from lucy7368. Show lucy7368's posts

    Re: Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

    I've never been to Puerto Rico, but as far as cruising goes, consider bringing a small suitcase or duffle bag with bottled water and other stuff.

    All the food is included, but no beverages (maybe coffee?  We drank mimosas with breakfast, so I'm not sure) - and there's no tap water out at sea.  We basically spent the entire cruise drinking very little (other than recreational drinking), because, at $4/bottle for two people, it adds up fast.
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from tibird. Show tibird's posts

    Re: Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

    I've never been to Puerto Rico, but I wanted to chime in about the cruise.   I think it may depend on your ship - I was on Carnival & we could get iced tea, lemonade & water from the Lido deck 24/7.  Granted, an empty bottle for refilling would have been a good idea :)  We were also allowed 1 bottle of wine/champagne per person, so we took full advantage.
    A great site to check for cruise ideas is Cruise critic.  It's a forum-type board just liek this & I found it so hlepful  There is a Role call board for each trip, so you can "meet" people who will be on your boat.  YOu can also look up destinations and see what people have to say about excursions.  I found it really helpful!
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from framerican51008. Show framerican51008's posts

    Re: Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

    Sorry to hear you had to cancel your trip to Thailand.  Just wanted to say that your new trip sounds awesome too!!  Enjoy!
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from Peonie. Show Peonie's posts

    Re: Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

    Dreamer, so sorry you had to cancel your trip to Thailand. But I just wanted to chime in and say that my parents LOVE Puerto Rico and go there every year, and they always stay at the Marriott, and just rave about it, so you picked and awesome hotel! I have also heard that the food is amazing there. Oh, and don't forget to go on the Bacardi tour!
    Have fun! :)

    http://www.puertoricodaytrips.com/bacardi-rum-factory/
     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from Mollyegg. Show Mollyegg's posts

    Re: Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

    I'm a travel agent and  Isend people to PR all the time. Some of the biggest must sees are El Yunque Rainforest, and the forts in Old San Juan. If you get the chance to hit up Vieques, go for it. It's beautiful but more difficult to get to. Have a wonderful trip!

     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from Dreamer-6-19. Show Dreamer-6-19's posts

    Re: Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

    Thanks Jasmine, I will keep a look out for the hotel rates as it gets closer and will also check out Pure Adventure!

    Lucy, great tip on the water and drinks! I've been on two cruises before but they were years ago so I completely forgot there is no tap water!
     
    T-bird - thanks for the website!!  I was browsing the other night and it is SOOO helpful!!  I found lots of great tips about the specific ship, restaurants and excursions!  I will be spending a lot more time browsing before we leave!  : )

    Thanks Fra - I was very upset after cancelling Thailand after all the planning, but the cruise and PR will be wonderful and we will still try to make it to Thailand next year. 

    Peonie, we are definitely going on the Bacardi tour!  FI and I are both Bacardi drinkers. The Bacardi tour is one of the excursions after the cruise and they bring us to the airport afterwards so it works out perfect! I also have an old college friend who is from PR and he said the Marriott is one of the best hotels in the area so I am glad to hear that your parents love it! 

    Thanks Molly, we are definitely planning on going to the El Yunque Rainforest, Old San Juan and Vieques.  I'm getting so excited!!  : )


     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from Dreamer-6-19. Show Dreamer-6-19's posts

    Re: Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

    I booked the Marriott last Tuesday, just looked online and the prices went down 80 a night!!  I re-booked, cancelled the original reservation and saved $500!!  Wooo!! I love saving money!! 

    I will definitely keep an eye out on changing rates!! 
     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from SilverFestiva. Show SilverFestiva's posts

    Re: Puerto Rico & Southern Caribbean Cruise

    We went to San Juan as part of our cruise honeymoon, and LOVED it. We walked all over Old San Juan, did a lot of shopping, and went to Isla Verde for the beach and hours on end of Bacardi & Diets. There's a bar right there next to the Howard  Johnson hotel - I forget the name of it - but they had REALLY good buffalo wings.

    Also, interestingly, we had the best Mexican food ever in Old San Juan...it was at a very unassuming little Mexican/Puerto Rican restaurant, I don't even know if it had a name. It was right on the main street, the refried beans were like nothing I've ever tasted.

    Have fun! :-)
     

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