For several years, Puerto Rico’s heritage, art, food, and beautiful beaches have made the island a popular tourist destination. San Juan, which is home to the United States’ oldest city, is a popular cruise port for travelers who wish to see the city, and many return to spend more time there and explore the rest of the island.
Puerto Rico’s mountains, rainforest, white-sand beaches, friendly people, and vibrant environment are just a few of the attractions for cruise passengers. San Juan is on several itineraries due to the ability to see the renowned port while enjoying the ease and luxury of a cruise ship.
Our 7 top selections for the best cruises to Puerto Rico and other beach destinations are listed below.
1. Holland America
Eastern Caribbean Cruise for Seven Days
The trip departs Fort Lauderdale in the late afternoon, giving tourists time to shop along Las Olas Boulevard or take a paddle-wheeler ride on the Intracoastal Waterway. The next day is spent at sea, where visitors can enjoy the restaurants, casino, spa, and entertainment onboard the Zuiderdam. Club HAL offers supervised games, sports, arts and crafts, and themed parties for children.
For a day of snorkeling, diving, fishing, or kayaking, the cruise docks in Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos. Then it’s on to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for an overnight stay and a full day in the ancient town the next day. A drive through the El Yunque National Rainforest, a kayak ride through a bioluminescent bay where the water lights at night, a walking tour of Old San Juan, and a gastronomy tour with tastes of local cuisine are all potential experiences.
St. Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands, is the next stop, where passengers can relax on the beach, snorkel, shop in Charlotte Amalie, or take in the views from some of the Caribbean’s greatest vantage points. The Sea Trek Helmet Dive at Coral World Ocean Park, which includes a guided stroll along an underwater trail, is a fascinating experience. The cruise arrives in Half Moon Cay, the Bahamas after a day at sea, for a day at the beach, snorkeling, kayaking, horseback riding, or hiking before returning to Fort Lauderdale the next morning.
2. Oceania Cruises
A Ten-night Cruise Through the Atlantic and the Amber Gems
The cruise departs from Miami for two days at sea aboard Riviera, where guests can dine at a variety of restaurants, relax at the Aquamar Spa, exercise at the fitness center, participate in cooking or art class, gamble at the casino, or enjoy evening entertainment at one of the lounges or piano bar. On day four, the ship docks in Gustavia, St. Barts, for a day of duty-free shopping, colonial exploration, or beach relaxation.
Fort-de-France, Martinique, is the next port of call, a walkable harbor city with lovely beaches, hiking trails, and a French feel. The picturesque 18th-century city of Soufriere, botanical gardens, thermal baths, and breathtaking mountain vistas await the next day in Castries, St. Lucia. The ship then heads to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a visit to historic Old San Juan, a day at the beach, an excursion to the El Yunque jungle, or a tour of the Bacardi Rum Plant.
The trip continues from San Juan to Puerto Plata on the Dominican Republic’s northern coast, which is renowned as the Amber Coast due to its abundant deposits of the resin mentioned in the ship’s name. The ship returns to Miami after a day at sea.
3. Norwegian Cruise Line
Cruise to Curacao, Aruba, and St. Lucia in the Caribbean
The Norwegian Epic embarks on a seven-day trip from San Juan, where visitors can tour Puerto Rico before or after the cruise. A day at sea follows, complete with nightly entertainment, a range of dining options, lounges, a whiskey bar, cigar lounge, spa, and pool. The Aqua Park, kiddie pool, and Teen Center are all available to young cruisers.
After that, the ship docks in Oranjestad, Aruba, for a city tour that includes Dutch historical buildings, a lighthouse, and an aloe farm. The next port of call is Willemstad, Curacao, where visitors can take a trolley train tour of the island, kayak, snorkel, swim with dolphins, or take a yacht tour of the lagoon. The next port of call is St. George’s, Grenada, where you can take a glass-bottom boat tour or join a Rhum Runner party. A picturesque drive through a rainforest to La Soufriere among the high Pitons is one option in Castries, St. Lucia.
The following day is spent in St. Kitts, where white-sand beaches, shopping, and dining at a beachfront restaurant are all on the agenda. The ship will then return to San Juan the next day.
4. Windstar Cruises
11-day Cruise from Boston to San Juan
The all-suite Star Pride, which opened in 2021 after a comprehensive renovation, can accommodate 312 guests and features new public areas, a spa, an infinity pool, a fitness center, and dining options. The ship sets off from Boston and spends two days at sea on its route to Hamilton, Bermuda. A guided kayak tour, a Segway tour, and the opportunity to snorkel amid two of Bermuda’s famed shipwrecks, the Constellation and Montana, are among the activities available. The next day, tourists in St. George’s, Bermuda, can take a horse and carriage tour of the historic Old Town.
On the route to Gustavia, St. Barts, guests will have two more days at sea to rest and enjoy the ship’s services. A sunset Champagne cruise, self-guided rental vehicle tour, catamaran trip with snorkeling, and an excursion on a semi-submersible to search for green turtles and fish among coral reefs are all available on St. Barts.
The cruise docks in Basseterre, St. Kitts, the following day, where passengers can ride a century-old picturesque railway, see one of the oldest cities in the eastern Caribbean, sample local cuisine at Fairview Great House & Tropical Garden, or go snorkeling. A powerboat tour to a quiet beach, a snorkel expedition, and a safari bus trip to The Baths and the white beaches of Devil’s Bay are among the excursions available in Virgin Gorda. The final port is San Juan, where passengers can visit the Bacardi Rum plant or take a walking tour of historic Old San Juan.
11-day Gems of the Leeward Islands Cruise
Guests join the Seabourn Ovation in Miami for two days at sea before actually arriving in San Juan, where they can visit the city and the Bacardi Rum Distillery before bottling their customized rum. A culinary adventure, a trip through the El Yunque jungle, and a strolling tour of Old San Juan are also included.
The next port of call is Marigot, St. Martin, where activities include an America’s Cup sailboat experience, a beach trip aboard a Rhino Rider inflatable speedboat, an art tour, and a lagoon kayaking adventure. The next port of call is Iles des Saintes, off the coast of Guadeloupe, for a taste of the old Caribbean. Hiking, canoeing, and drinking rum are just a few of the activities available. Guests can swim, kayak, zipline, or relax on a sunset catamaran trip in St. Johns, Antigua, and Barbuda.
Carambola Beach, Saint Kitts, and Nevis are the next port of call, with their opulent beach clubs and restaurants. Guests can ride the St. Kitts Railway around the island, take a 4×4 to the Valley of the Giants and zipline across the valley over the jungle below, swim with dolphins, or go snorkeling on a catamaran. Guests can snorkel or sail in an inflatable boat for stunning views of Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands. The ship sails to Miami after a day at sea enjoying Seabourn Ovation’s spa, restaurant, bars, and small-ship amenities.
6. Viking Ocean Cruises
Adventure in the Amazon and the Caribbean for 13 days
The cruise arrives in San Juan and stays the next day, allowing passengers to visit Old San Juan, the El Yunque Rainforest, and the posh Condado District before sailing to Antigua and Barbuda, where they can enjoy a catamaran cruise, off-road adventure, sugar plantation tour, or simply relax on the beach. The ship then docks in Castries, St. Lucia, where passengers can take an aerial tram ride through the forest canopy, participate in a cookery class, or take a catamaran trip. Bridgetown, Barbados, is the next port of call, home to Mt. Gay Rum, the St. Nicholas Abbey Rum Distillery, and beautiful beaches.
The ship sails across the Atlantic the next day, and visitors can make use of the small-ship facilities, restaurants, infinity pool, and entertainment before arriving in French Guinea, which was originally a French penal colony. The ship reaches the mouth of the Amazon after another day at sea to start sailing the great river.
The ship docks in Santarém, a little town founded in 1661 at the confluence of the Amazon and Tapajós Rivers. The ship arrives in Parintins, a river island, the next day for a folklore performance known as the Boi Bumbá, a theatrical custom. The ship arrives in Manaus, the most populous city in the Amazon basin, 1,000 miles upriver from the Atlantic, for an overnight stay with excursions including a boat ride, motorcoach tour, jungle hike, dolphin encounter, and gastronomic adventure. The following day, visitors depart for the journey home or further exploration of the old city.
7. Royal Caribbean Cruises
A Seven-Night Cruise in the Southern Caribbean
Guests board the Explorer of the Seas at San Juan for a seven-day cruise to seven different Caribbean locations. Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, is the first port, with sandy beaches, historical history, and delectable cuisine specialties such as conch fritters and coconut patties. The next stop is St. Croix, where duty-free shopping, rum sampling, snorkeling, and diving are all popular activities. The following day, tourists can visit St. Maarten, which is administered by both the Netherlands and France, and take a ziplining excursion through the tropical jungle, relax on a beach, or visit centuries-old ruins.
A catamaran tour along the coast of Castries, St. Lucia, offers spectacular views of the Pitons volcanic ranges. A rainforest or fishing village trip is available, as well as superb duty-free shopping. Colonial architecture, open-air marketplaces, and historic sugar plantations can all be found in Bridgetown, Barbados. Guests can take a solar-powered tram into Harrison’s Cave to observe waterfalls, pools, and stalactite formations, or rent a 4×4 car to tour the Barbados Wildlife Reserve.
The next stop is St. Kitts and Nevis, where hikers may take a six-mile climb to the crater of a dormant volcano, which rewards them with stunning vistas. In a century-old double-decker railcar, you may also ride across the countryside on the West Indies’ final railway. When the ship arrives in San Juan, visitors can continue their exploration of the city with a walking tour of Old San Juan and a meal of local food, such as mofongo (fried green plantains) or Bacalaitos (fried cod) (codfish fritters).