San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old World charm, Spanish forts
Blessed with some of the oldest buildings in the Western Hemisphere, San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital, is romantically charming with its bright pastel Spanish colonial facades, wrought-iron balconies abloom with flowers, narrow cobblestone streets and beloved park squares. Arriving on an MSC Caribbean and Antilles cruise into port, explore Old San Juan (Viejo San Juan), a UNESCO World Heritage district, widely renowned for the fortresses of Castillo San Felipe del Morro and the Castillo San Cristóbal.
The old town occupies the headland of a 2.5-mile-long island (connected by bridge to the mainland) that shelters San Juan Bay, for centuries a key port in the New World. It was originally known as Puerto Rico, or “rich port,” because its position made for such a fine stop for shipping.
Several MSC excursions offer walking tours that let you soak up amazing views of San Juan, while making cultural discoveries of a lifetime. Wander through the old town along the Paseo de la Princesa, San Juan’s oldest tree-lined avenue; head up its southern city wall, La Muralla, which until the late 19th century encircled all of Old San Juan with sandstone; and tour the 16th-century fortress of El Morro, with its six different lines of defense.
Take a coffee-tasting walking tour to explore Puerto Rico’s rich coffee culture, and learn how the island’s rich volcanic soil and climate have contributed to the rise of coffee as one of its main crops. Taste a delicious cup of freshly brewed Puerto Rican café con leche, learn about the island's historical ties with the caffein-rich beverage, and explore how coffee and the church are connected on this MSC excursion through the streets of Old San Juan.
Or savor San Juan’s culinary delights, in an MSC excursion that will have you tasting local cuisine and drinks at five destinations along the route of the fortified colonial city. From Puerto Rican fritters at historic El Convento Hotel, to chocolate tasting at a fourth-generation chocolatier, you won’t miss this tour, which ends at La Casita de Rones for a rum lesson and a piña colada, the national drink of Puerto Rico.
With more than 80% of the world's rum coming from Puerto Rico, delve deeper into the spirit on an MSC excursion to Casa Barcardí in the town of Cataño. Discover the story behind Bacardí’s legendary cocktails, sniff the products on display and learn about the rum-making process including wood barreling, ageing and finishing. For the grand finale, enjoy a fascinating mixology show.
Nature lovers will not want to miss a visit to El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. territory and one of Puerto Rico's finest spots of natural beauty. Marvel at its small horsetail waterfalls, giant ferns and tropical hardwoods.
For an enchanting experience, kayak into the enchanting bioluminescent bay at Laguna Grande of Fajardo on another MSC excursion. Under the blanket of the night sky and the lighthouse of Fajardo, paddle through the water and watch it glow with the bioluminescence of millions and millions of tiny organisms.
cruises to san juan