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Cruise Diary: A Day in San Juan

In San Juan, we took a relaxed approach to our morning – with no shore excursions booked, we were in no rush, with no deadlines to meet. We had a relaxed breakfast, then listened to travel guide Danielle give a talk about the port as we sailed into it. It was a treat that they opened access to the bow for guests to watch from that special vantage point. After a leisurely disembarkation, we explored the port. The CVS pharmacy only a block from where the ship docked was a boon to travelers (like us) who forgot just one or two tiny but important items (like sunscreen!). Once properly protected from the tropical sun, we started wandering through the town.

Sailing in to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Castillo San Cristobal.

Eurodam docked at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The blue cobblestones were beautiful – called adoquines, they were cast from furnace slag brought over on Spanish ships as ballast. As paving stones now they are striking, framed by all the different brightly colored, white-trimmed buildings up and down the streets. We hiked up the hill to Castillo San Cristóbal, where a soft rainbow was arching overhead. We continued on toward the other fort, Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, and watched children fly colorful kites in front of the citadel. Our meandering return path took us across courtyards and down alleys filled with bright flowers, snoozing cats and skittering lizards.

Blue cobblestones.

Cats in the alley.

We would have liked to wander through the town for hours, but we had dinner reservations at Canaletto onboard, so we made our way back to the ship to try out yet another new venue that we were eager to experience. Canaletto was lovely – good ambiance, excellent service, and very tasty food. And, at the end, a surprise – they delivered a huge plate of cotton candy to each table with the dessert course. I haven’t had cotton candy in years, and was tickled at the special treat. After finishing our desserts, we slipped back off the ship for a final stroll in the warm evening air of San Juan.

Dessert in the Canaletto.

Trio of Tiramisu.

Lauren Kaufman is Holland America Line’s public relations coordinator and she recently sailed on Eurodam in the Caribbean.

  • Faith

    wow very nice place… =)

  • Dee Ann Nevares

    We have sailed in and out of San Juan since the 1970’s and on our last trip in 2010, they were opening the CVS. It is a joy and near our favorite stop the Don Q store with free samples. They are both right on the street by the ships before the horse carriages.

  • Lauren

    Dee Ann – the CVS was a lifesaver! My sun-starved Seattle skin was getting scorched with that UV index. Picked up some 50 SPF (and some sunscreen chapstick too) and saved myself from turning into a real lobster. Tony and I must have missed the Don Q store, but we did see the horse carriages – I’m a real horse nut, so I zeroed right in on those. 😉 It’s such a pretty town. I’d love to go back some day, to see the many things I know I missed this time. 🙂

  • Connie

    We sailed to San Juan this past May 2011 from Baltimore. We scheduled a bus tour of old and new San Juan to find that everything was closed because it was Mother’s Day. The Bus Driver took us to the Old Fort and from there just drove around in traffic. He said nothing was open so no use going anywhere. We were on the Carnival Pride. The cruise ship should have been aware that the town closes on Holidays and not sold excursions. Waste of money.

  • Susan

    That’s what great about San Juan- the history and culture, and we got whatever you forgot at CVS and Walgreen’s without breaking the bank. When we stepped off the ship all those lovely bars showed up on my cell phone, so we could make the call home for no extra charge.

  • Crystal Prins

    Ahhh…..Very nice. Makes me long for a nice long vacation!

  • La Verne Lucero

    Scenery is spectacular! Photo-ops well done… Learned some ideas about staging picture-taking from your posting. Although, we cruised the inner passages of Alaska, I know now that cruising is a true vacation. Can’t wait to do another one! Thanks for sharing.

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