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Old San Juan Cruise Destinations – Here is a Great Travel Tip to Enhance Cruises in the Caribbean

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Old San Juan Cruise Destinations – Here is a Great Travel Tip to Enhance Cruises in the Caribbean

Your cruise ship visit into Old San Juan, Puerto Rico will be extra special if you follow this simple tip. When arriving, make your entry into the five hundred-year-old fortified city by entering through the original San Juan Gate. This is considered by experienced travelers and locals as the most scenic route into the old city.

As a cruise ship passenger, you have the opportunity to step back in time and view the five century old city the way explores and travelers did hundreds of years ago. Then, a good sailing vessel and the deep natural bay was the only way to enter this island. The sites to view outside of the city gates create the reality in the traveler’s mind of how important this remote Spanish outpost was.

The instructions are simple. When disembarking from your boat, walk towards the left or west along the waterfront (water will be on your left hand side). If you do not have a map of the city, you will be able to get one on the way at the Tourism information booth in front of Pier 1 (Plaza de Hostos). The path along the sidewalk will end at the U.S. Customs building. Take a turn to the right. You will cross a street with a statue of a man in the middle. Continue across the street, look up, and you will see a sentry post high up on the ancient wall, head in the direction towards this sentry post. Below the century post continue (west) along a clear straight promenade that runs along the base of the city wall; this promenade is called “Paseo la Princesa” (a city parking lot will be on your left hand side). About half way down this promenade you will come to a building which was a 19th century prison. It has been restored and currently is the offices for Puerto Rico’s Tourism Company; it also houses an art gallery with an impressive Puerto Rican local art exhibit. Continuing on you will come to a beautiful fountain and the bay will be in full view again. You will continue to walk along the wall as the path narrows a bit and turns slightly to the right. A few minutes more and you will be at the original historic entrance or La Puerta de San Juan (The San Juan Gate). Total walking time will be a little over ten minutes.

The entrance guides you into the city up the Caleta San Juan Street. This is a lush, tree-lined, residential street. As you walk to the top of the corner, one of the most impressive sites in the city comes into view; an icon for the Spanish Catholic religion, The San Juan Cathedral. The Catholic religion was instrumentally important throughout Spain’s Colonization era. A Spanish tall ship could take as many as two months to travel from the mainland to San Juan. The church was the first visit for the mariners when arriving. They prayed and gave thanks for a safe passage. This was also done when departing back to Spain.

At the top of Caleta San Juan the street intersects with Cristo Street. This particular street corner is historically important to Old San Juan. The building “El Cabildo” on the corner was built in 1521 (the same year the fortified walls began to be constructed). It was the first chapel, jail, and city hall. The city grew from this intersection.

You are now on Cristo Street, a good place to plan your visit of the city in the manner you prefer. The great El Morro Fort is just up the hill, and towards the opposite direction, you are only a few steps from the best shops, outlets, and restaurants.

I hope you consider this tip when visiting Old San Juan while on your Caribbean cruise. It will make you realize its historic importance and beauty and why this important landmark is considered “The Jewel of the Caribbean”.

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