Embarkation on your Royal Caribbean cruise in San Juan, Puerto Rico


Royal Caribbean offers cruises that begin in San Juan, Puerto Rico that offer some great Southern Caribbean itineraries to try.  If you're considering going on one of these cruises, here's what you need to know about embarkation day in San Juan.

It's not where you think it is

If you've ever taken a cruise that stops in San Juan for the day, you've likely been to the San Juan Cruise Port, but that's just for cruise ships that are in the city for the day.

Royal Caribbean cruises that originate in San Juan will dock at the Pan American Pier, which is across the channel from the San Juan Cruise Port.  It's adjacent to the Isla Grande Airport and is about a 5 minute taxi drive from Old San Juan.

As you're driving in, you should be able to see the ship docked since there isn't much around there.  As of the writing of this blog post, Jewel of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas are offering cruises out of San Juan.

Getting checked in

Once you arrive at the pier, the check-in process is similar to other ports but we've also noticed a few differences too.

There will be porters at the pier to help take your luggage and load it onto the ship.  In addition, there is a special line to enter the building for Platinum and above Crown and Anchor Society members.  Everyone else will wait in a separate line.

Waiting to check in for our Jewel of the Seas cruise #cruise #JewelOfTheSeas #cruiseship #travel

A photo posted by Royal Caribbean Blog.com (@royalcaribbeanblog) on

We've gotten to the pier as early as 10:30am and we've generally heard passengers are let into the embarkation building around 11am.  One potential issue is the check-in building is not very large and the staff will only allow batches of passengers in at a time, so you may get stuck outside waiting to get in.  Given this is Puerto Rico, the temperature and humidity outside can be quite high.

Since most Royal Caribbean ships do not leave port until later in the evening (usually around 8pm), so getting to the port early in the morning is not as critical but lines outside the building are possible.  The good news is, often the lines outside are infrequent.


Once inside the building, you will find lines for Crown and Anchor Society members and lines for everyone else.  

You will be subjected to a security check that consists of an x-ray machine and metal detector.  Once through there, you will enter your line and get checked in.

We should also note there is a duty-free liquor store inside the check-in area, which is a great place to pick up a few bottles of wine to bring onboard your cruise. Remember, Royal Caribbean allows up to two bottles of wine per stateroom to bring onboard.

After check-in, it's just a short walk onto your Royal Caribbean cruise!

Boarding #jeweloftheseas!

A photo posted by Royal Caribbean Blog.com (@royalcaribbeanblog) on

Have you embarked in San Juan?

Did you have a chance to take a Royal Caribbean cruise out of San Juan?  Share your tips and suggestions for embarkation day in San Juan in our comments below!

Royal Caribbean's advice to Greece: invest in ports to win cruise war


Royal Caribbean Vice President Commercial & New Business Development, John Tercek, spoke at a recent tourism conference in Greece where he advocated the country invest in its ports to win over more cruise business.

The growing demand for cruise ships forces companies to order bigger ships so if Greece wants to get its share of the cruise business, it must modernize its ports and expand other ports in the coming years.

In Tercek's speech, he indicated the Greek cruise destinations that can best attract the interest of cruise companies are Piraeus, Santorini, Heraklion, Chania, Corfu and Katakolon, but others, such as Rhodes and Mykonos need more modern infrastructure to support the growing demaind.

Global competition for cruise ships is on the rise and Tercek noted that Australia's cruise tourism has increased by 77% over the last 10 years and that demand is still increasing.  Greece will close 2014 with about 2.5 million cruise visitors but that is still less than Italy and Spain.  Tercek believes the big disadvantage for Greece is most cruises do not home port from there. Last year only 212,000 passengers departed from Greek ports whereas 2 million left from Italy.

Royal Caribbean to invest in Taiwan port of Penghu


Local media in Taiwan are reporting that Royal Caribbean plans to propose a development plan for the port of Penghu Jinlongtou, which could be a new homeport in Asia for the cruise line.

SinoShip News reports Taiwan minister of Transportation and Communications, Yeh Kuang-shih, has instructed Taiwan International Ports Corporation (TIPC) to coordinate with Royal Caribbean on the investment plan.

Jinlongtou port currently belongs to the Taiwanese navy, and the navy has agreed to hand over the port and transfer its base to another port.

Royal Caribbean is expected to propose a development plan by the end of January.

Port Focus: St. Thomas


The US Virgin Islands is popular among Eastern Caribbean cruise stops and the island of St. Thomas is an American owned island with Caribbean flair.  Great beaches and shopping highlight what there is to see and do here.

St. Thomas Benefits

  • Beaches: St. Thomas features some very beautiful beaches, including Magens Bay, which is among the most beautiful beaches in the world.  There's also other beaches here that offer beautiful water color and very fine sand.  When you think of a Caribbean beach, St. Thomas is the sort of beach experience you will have in mind.
    • Best public beach: Magens Bay or Coki Beach
  • Shopping: St. Thomas offers a lot of shopping options around and near the cruise terminal.  Being an American island, the prices here are fairly close to what you'd expect to find back on the mainland.  The island boasts good prices on jewelry, liquor, linens, china and crystal.  By far jewelry is what is in demand here and there are lots of places to check out.  There is no sales tax in the United States Virgin Islands so you can take advantage of the $1,600 duty-free allowance per family member (remember to save your receipts).
  • Proximity to St John: It's common for St. Thomas to have many cruise ships in port but St. John is very close and there are water taxi options that take just 20 minutes to get over to the island.  For those that have visited St. Thomas before, St. John is close enough to allow for two ports in one.

St. Thomas Detractions

  • Traffic: Like many small Caribbean islands, traffic can snarl up the roads often and quickly.  This is especially true in the late afternoon, which is typically when cruise ships leave port. If you are planning to use a third-party excursion or going to explore on your own, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get back.  
  • Crowds: During the busy season, it is not uncommon to have six or more cruise ships docked in port on any given day and that leads to a lot of people in one place.  St. Thomas has cemented itself as a cruise destination and many cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, send many of their ships here.  More than likely you will feel engulfed in a sea of other tourists.

What to do in St. Thomas

On your next Royal Caribbean cruise to St. Thomas consider these activities

  • Beach visit to one of their beautiful beaches, including Magens Bay, Coki Beach or Sapphire Beach
  • Take water taxi to St. John
  • Duty-free shopping in Charlotte Amalie
  • Go to Mountain Top (it's a bit of a tourist trap, but the view is worth it)

Royal Caribbean ships stopping in St. Thomas: Freedom of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas & Legend of the Seas

Bayonne, New Jersey cruise port open again after Hurricane Sandy


Following the devastation by Hurricane Sandy, Cape Liberty cruise port in Bayonne, New Jersey is open again for departures and arrivals.

Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas is in port today for an eight night cruise to the Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean spokesperson Cynthia Martinez said the Cape Liberty sustained some water damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy.  Once the storm passed, the Cape Liberty staff began working to prepare the terminal for the arrival of passengers today. All of the port's power is being produced by backup generation because the electricity has not been restored to the terminal building.

Royal Caribbean is dealing with refunds and rescheduling tickets for those who can't get to the port because of Hurricane Sandy on a case-by-case basis.

People who can't make their scheduled departure are encouraged to call (866) 562-7625. 

Royal Caribbean interested in port of Kotor


There's a report out that claims Royal Caribbean is interested in sending its ships to the port city of Kotor in in southwestern Montenegro.  This Mediterranean port city is an option for Royal Caribbean to send its ships there.

According to the report, Royal Caribbean is considering significantly improving service to Kotor harbor.  

Royal Caribbean enters into joint venture with Barbados


Royal Caribbean is partnering with Barbados Port and SMI Infrastructure Solutions to build a brand new state-of-the-art cruise terminal in Barbados that will cost over $300 million.  The new facility will allow some of the world's biggest cruise ships to dock at the island.

George Hutson, Barbados Minister of International Transport and International Business, announced the two year project at the recent Barbados Port Inc.’s 50th anniversary staff awards ceremony.

“If we are going to remain relevant, if we are going to capitalize on the opportunities available from cruise tourism, we must renew our plant from the basic infrastructure currently existing to one which will accommodate and service the increasingly large cruise ships."

According to Hutson, Barbados is hoping the new cruise terminal will attract more cruise ships to the island, which in turn will lead to increasing revenue generated by cruise passengers on the island.

The new terminal will be completed in two phases, the first phase will cost $300 million and will include two cruise piers, arrival and departure facilities, along with parking lots. The development will take involve reclaiming 15 acres of land from the sea, 100,000 square feet of which will be provided for commercial activity. Dredging is slated to begin in November.

Cruise tourism in Barbados has grown from 127,000 in 1985 to 726,543 last year.  The best year ever for cruise passenger traffic to the island was 2004 when 812,863 people visited the island.

Royal Caribbean shows interest in developing Ukraine cruise business


The Ukrainian government will begin promoting the development of a cruise industry in its country, specifically eyeing the ports of Odessa, Sevastopol and Yalta as prime candidates.

Royal Caribbean vice president Craig Maylen met with Ukranian Minister of Infrastructure Borys Kolesnikov during a visit to the United States.  Maylen talked about the future of the ports, "Odessa port has great prospects for receiving cruise ships, as it is in the heart of the city, and it is very convenient for tourists"

The meeting took place in Royal Caribbean's headquarters in Miami, Florida where the two sides discussed a number of issues regarding the  potential of Ukrainian ports in the cruise industry. 

According to Maylen the port has quite a good infrastructure. With certain infrastructure improvements in Yalta and Sevastopol, the ports could be upgraded to handle considerably larger cruise ships than they serve now.

Video: Endless destinations aboard Royal Caribbean