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Old 01-20-2013, 06:56 PM   #1
allears
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St Thomas and San Juan on our own

Sailing in a few weeks on the Fantasy. We've cancelled our planned excursions on St Thomas and San Juan, any tips for exploring either on our own?
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:34 PM   #2
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Sailing in a few weeks on the Fantasy. We've cancelled our planned excursions on St Thomas and San Juan, any tips for exploring either on our own?
We were on the Dec 15th Eastern. We did a morning excursion in St Thomas that ended about 12:30. We walked the rest of the way into town, wandered the shops on our own in the afternoon. We took a taxi back to the ship. Taxi is $4 per person.
Had we not been shopping we would have taken the Skyway tram up for the views. That is a short walk from the pier.

In San Juan we walked all over. It was pouring rain when we got off the ship, but we did not let that stop us. We walked up to the fort (San Cristobal- the same one the Disney excursion goes to). We stopped at a Starbucks for a coffee to warm us up. The fort was excellent. Make sure you look at the cobblestones.

We then took the tram to the other fort (El Morro). The rain stopped.
After the fort we walked through the shipping area, stopped for lunch and then back to the port. We took our sweet time. It was a relaxing afternoon.

San Juan has a free tram that can take you places.
The forts(National Park) also have their own tram to take you between locations. (I think- as the regular tram does not drop you off all the way up the driveway to El Morro)

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Old 01-20-2013, 09:06 PM   #3
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what is your sail date?

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Originally Posted by allears View Post
Sailing in a few weeks on the Fantasy. We've cancelled our planned excursions on St Thomas and San Juan, any tips for exploring either on our own?
we are sailing on the 23 of feb. i too am probably not going to choose to do the excursion through disney. i think i will probably explore the shopping and the beaches via a cab.

as for tips i am not sure other than searching tripadvisor. i have used it to kind of preplan some of my potential spots.
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:11 PM   #4
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what is your sail date?

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Originally Posted by allears View Post
Sailing in a few weeks on the Fantasy. We've cancelled our planned excursions on St Thomas and San Juan, any tips for exploring either on our own?
we are sailing on the 23 of feb. i too am probably not going to choose to do the excursion through disney. i think i will probably explore the shopping and the beaches via a cab.

as for tips i am not sure other than searching tripadvisor. i have used it to kind of preplan some of my potential spots.
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:14 PM   #5
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we are sailing on the 23 of feb. i too am probably not going to choose to do the excursion through disney. i think i will probably explore the shopping and the beaches via a cab.

as for tips i am not sure other than searching tripadvisor. i have used it to kind of preplan some of my potential spots.
We're also on the 2/23 Fantasy. Really looking forward to it.

We're going to do the DCL St John excursion from St Thomas and I think we'll have enough time after that to go on the skyway. We plan to just walk around Old San Juan on our own. Here are links to some SJ walking tours:

http://www.discoveringpuertorico.com...n-juan-part-1/

http://www.puertoricodaytrips.com/ol...alking-tour-1/

http://gopuertorico.about.com/od/old...alkingTour.htm
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Old 01-20-2013, 11:12 PM   #6
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San Juan is very easy to walk off the ship and do on your own. You can walk or take the trolley, and there's a lot to do and see there. The forts are both cool (San Cristobal and El Morro). If you walk from one to the other though, remember to stay on the top side of the wall, don't walk through the neighborhood outside the wall. That's called La Perla (I think) and local police don't recommend you go there. We did walk through it anyway, and had no problems, but it isn't for the faint of heart. There's also a lot of shopping and good restaurants in Old San Juan.

St. Thomas depends on what you're after, but we usually do our own thing there too. If you like beaches, there are plenty of good ones. Our favorite is Sapphire beach. If you're in port for awhile you could take the ferry to St. John, which has even better beaches. You have to cab from the port to the ferry terminal, take the ferry over, then cab from the ferry terminal on St. John to the beach of your choice (I recommend Trunk Bay for a first timer). It sounds a lot worse than it is, just coordinate your times and leave enough time to get back to the ship.

There's also a lot of shopping in St. Thomas. You can walk downtown, but it's probably better to take the shuttle.
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Old 01-20-2013, 11:41 PM   #7
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We did both Ports on our own while on the December 15th Eastern.

We are a family of 4 (DS 8, DD 12).

At St Thomas we decided to go to Trunk Bay on St John. It is several steps to get there and pricey, but probably still a lot less expensive than a DCL excursion. The taxi from Havensight to Red Hook Ferry was $10.00 per person + tip. The Ferry was $6.00 for adults(12 and up) and $1.00 per child per way.... You can buy round trip tickets, but don't lose your tickets... Once at Cruz Bay you again take a taxi to the beach if your choice. There is a set fee for whichever beach you choose + tip..... Then on the way back to the ship you pay it all again in reverse. Trunk Bay looked like a deserted island when we arrived, but quickly filled up! Keep in mind there are no chairs already set up, like at Castaway Cay, but you can rent them.... The deposit is steep(I think $100.00??)....it was gorgeous and I am glad I saw it, but probably don't need to go again. I kind of felt rushed, but the overall experience was fun!

San Juan.... Oh my, I think I may have left part of my heart there..... As an earlier poster stated, it rained until noon the day we docked there. Out family decided to sleep in a bit because of the rain. We ate a late breakfast, then played the midship detective game to pass the time. At noon we exited the ship in the sunshine and had an absolute BALL exploring Old San Juan on foot. It's a short walk up a hill and there is shopping everywhere! We didn't get to do the forts, but you can see them from many places as you venture around.... It's a beautiful place that I pray I can see again sometime to further explore!! We also had Starbucks, but the afternoon was scorching so our coffees were frozen!!
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:52 AM   #8
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At St Thomas we decided to go to Trunk Bay on St John. It is several steps to get there and pricey, but probably still a lot less expensive than a DCL excursion. The taxi from Havensight to Red Hook Ferry was $10.00 per person + tip. The Ferry was $6.00 for adults(12 and up) and $1.00 per child per way.... You can buy round trip tickets, but don't lose your tickets... Once at Cruz Bay you again take a taxi to the beach if your choice. There is a set fee for whichever beach you choose + tip..... Then on the way back to the ship you pay it all again in reverse. Trunk Bay looked like a deserted island when we arrived, but quickly filled up! Keep in mind there are no chairs already set up, like at Castaway Cay, but you can rent them.... The deposit is steep(I think $100.00??)....it was gorgeous and I am glad I saw it, but probably don't need to go again. I kind of felt rushed, but the overall experience was fun!
We (me, DH, and DD who was 9 mo.) did the same thing on St. Thomas day when we went on the Dec. 1 cruise. We got to spend about 4 hours at Trunk Bay and had a great time.

Since we did the beach in St. John and CC, we decided to go to the rainforest (El Yunque) to do some hiking in San Juan. It is beautiful! We had a wonderful time! We rented a car from Charlie Car Rental. They pick you up from the pier, it's about 5 minutes to their rental office, then a 45 minute drive to El Yunque. You can also rent a car from the Sheraton, which is right there by the pier (a bit more expensive than Charlie).

El Yunque hikes are all listed on the park website. We had time to make a Walgreens stop, then stopped at Yokahu Tower and La Coca Falls (both roadside), and hiked the Big Tree Trail at km 10.4, which is about a 1.4 mile hike roundtrip, ate lunch at Yuquiyu just up the road a bit from Big Tree Trail, and drove back to Charlie Car Rental. We still were back on the ship about an hour before we had to be.
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Last edited by erogers; 01-21-2013 at 11:56 AM. Reason: took out picture - it's not posting properly
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:32 PM   #9
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St. Thomas - ferry to St. John, cab to Trunk Bay Beach or Cinnamon Beach (it's a national park, you'll need cash for your park admission). Check out "Thinking of St. John and how to go," a thread on Cruise Critic.com

San Juan - we caught the free bus to El Morro fort, it was nice. Caught a bus back that took us the long way past the other fort and through Old San Juan so we saw some of the sights. I really liked El Morro, got some lovely pictures. I was 24 weeks pregnant, and it wasn't a crazy amount of walking or rough terrain.
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Old 01-21-2013, 02:20 PM   #10
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How much did it cost to do the rainforest on your own? Rental etc
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Old 01-21-2013, 03:43 PM   #11
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How much did it cost to do the rainforest on your own? Rental etc
The rainforest in Puerto Rico is free if you rent a car, you just drive on the roads and go hike trails when you find them.

But, I would not do the rainforest without doing it on an excursion, it is a solid hour drive from the port, if not a little longer, Puerto Rico has very bad traffic and you could get stuck on your way back or lost and miss the boat. Road signage is crappy at best, very easy to get lost, GPS's is not very reliable in Puerto Rico. Also, the island has a very, very high murder rate. Also, when we go to Puerto Rico, my wifes relatives always update us on the things to be careful about, the last time we visited, March of 2012, was while you are driving, if someone gently bumps you car from behind, do not get out and investigate, drive away, that is one of the latest carjacking tricks, you get out, they get in your car and drive off with your car and theirs.

My wife is from there and I have been to the island 3 times and the rainforest twice, great place, take an excursion. Or just do Old San Juan.
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Old 01-21-2013, 03:52 PM   #12
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Do the Forts in Old San Juan, but do them on your own, very easy and really intersting. Wander the streets and shop, grab some flavored frozen shaved ice the Piraguas; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ICXja3VAqY

Also, there is a park called Parque de las Palomas, Pigeon Park, ask directions if you see a cop, or any local person, they will point you inth edirection, but it is basically up one of the first streets you get too after leaving the port, take a left, you will get nice views of the ships and the kids will love feeding the pigeons, they sell corn there for about a dollar, simple thing to do, very quanit. Bring hand sanitizer..
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:48 PM   #13
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How much did it cost to do the rainforest on your own? Rental etc
El Yunque is free, so we only paid for the car and lunch. The rental (we got a small SUV) was $88 for the day. This includes the rental company's rate for gas because we thought it sounded like a reasonable rate per gallon, but we found we could have saved a few bucks if we'd filled the car up ourselves before returning it. Oh well. Lunch for the two of us was $15 maybe.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:55 PM   #14
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We had no problem getting to El Yunque with the rental car company's instructions and our GPS. I agree that traffic can be heavy. It wasn't bad on our way out to the rainforest, but it did probably take us an hour to get back into town.
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Old 01-21-2013, 07:08 PM   #15
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We have been to St. Thomas three times, twice on a cruise and for a 7-night trip to the VIs. We LOVE the VIs both U.S. and British.
Suggestions:
1 - Taxi to Coki Beach and/or Coral World. We did these two places together twice. We went to CW first and got a locker and used their restrooms and showers. We bought burgers and fries there too. It is easy to get a taxi over and back. Look CW up on their website.
Coki Beach


DD#4 on Coki

2 – Taxi to Secret Harbour Beach Resort – (Check out their website). It is a quiet, private beach, with a dive shop where you can rent snorkel gear.
Great snorkeling, right from the beach.
We swam with a sea turtle every afternoon.

Swimming with our buddy

Sitting in the shade - see our toes?
3 – OR THE BEST FOR LAST - Hundreds of cruisers do this EVERYDAY – Take a taxi to Red Hook, a ferry to St. John and (a) – explore Cruz Bay, (b) taxi to Trunk Bay (c) rent a jeep and explore on your own. There are many wonderful beaches and a lot of people poo poo Trunk Bay for tourist crowds. We went on our own both times and not with a group. It was fine both times – tour groups rush in and out and you have a lot of time to yourself. I love Trunk Bay. If I were staying longer I would go somewhere else but is a wonderful place. (A reason to return). I consider St. John Heaven on Earth.

Trunk Bay

Took this one while snorkeling at Trunk
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