If your ship departs from San Juan, plan on staying on the island of Puerto Rico for a few nights before or after your cruise. Puerto Rico is an excellent destination for those seeking culture, eco-adventures, shopping, history, and maybe a little nightlife as well. Hike in a tropical rainforest, kayak along one of the world's few bioluminescent bays, visit the largest Spanish fort in the New World, try a lemon ice on Luquillo Beach, sample the restaurants and shops of Old San Juan, or tour a coffee plantation. In Puerto Rico, the beach can be just the beginning of your cruise vacation experience.
Cruise passengers looking for a beachfront resort conveniently located near the airport will find that the San Juan Marriott & Stellaris Casino meets their needs. From the sandy beach and two-tiered pool to the tennis courts and a seasonal kids program, this resort will keep families entertained. Restaurants feature kids menus and the resort's spacious rooms allow families to spread out. In addition, the many attractions of Old San Juan are located close by the resort's location in Condado Beach. Two additional close-in options for pre- and post-cruise stays are the beachfront La Concha Beach Resort and the more moderately priced Doubletree by Hilton.
Cruisers seeking a close-in luxurious setting for their pre- or post-cruise stay may find the El San Juan Hotel & Casino to be the perfect destination. The property has a new South Beach vibe, and the beach and pools are particularly lovely. The El San Juan’s lobby bar and disco are the place to be for those who love nightlife. Other top high-end hotel options include the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Isla Verde and the El Convento Hotel, a former 17th century Carmelite convent now renovated to be the poshest hotel in Old San Juan.
Luxury-oriented vacationers who don't mind a drive should head for the expansive El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa. Situated in the northeastern section of Puerto Rico on a bluff overlooking the sea, the El Conquistador is visually stunning. This is a very large property, with guest rooms and villas situated in distinctive enclaves around the resort. Families will enjoy Palomino Island, the resort's 100-acre private island, featuring picture-perfect white sand beaches, horseback riding and a wide variety of watersports. Golf enthusiasts can play on the resort's championship course while guests who want to be pampered can head to the resort's Golden Door Spa, where an extensive array of treatments awaits to soothe the senses. The resort's seaside Coqui Water Park makes waves with its 8,500 square foot infinity pool, thrilling water slides, rope swing, an 8,000 foot lazy river and more.
The Wyndham Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa is another good pre- or post-cruise option for vacationers looking for an amenity-laden resort. This property is located about 40 minutes from the San Juan airport and offers championship golf, a children's program, beautiful swimming pools with a waterslide, a golden sand beach, and a casino. Kids will love the daily iguana feeding program here. El Yunque, a must-see 28,000 acre tropical rainforest with beautiful waterfalls and lush vegetation, is also located nearby.
A myriad of adventures are available for vacationers on the island of Puerto Rico. Two favorite excursions are kayaking along the unique Bioluminescent Bay near Fajardo and taking a hike along the trails in El Yunque, Puerto Rico's lush tropical rainforest. Nature lovers will enjoy Coca Falls with its natural pool and view wild orchids, waterfalls, giant ferns, and perhaps even parrots. Other tours include the Rio Camuy Cave Park, horseback riding, catamaran cruises, snorkeling, and sightseeing visits to El Morro and Fort San Cristobal, the largest Spanish fort in the New World.
If you have a car, consider taking a 90-minute drive to Ponce on Puerto Rico’s southern coast. Puerto Rico’s second largest city is well known for its beautiful architecture and its art museums. There are some nice shops located here as well.