I'm thinking about a cruise in August - I would need to fly into San Juan. The ship leaves at 10 p.m. - Should I fly that day or the day before? Which airport? Good Hotels? Getting around from airport, hotel to ship? I have always gone out of Miami. This would be something new for me.
I'd fly in a day before the cruise. I've run into flight delays even in great weather, so you never know. Besides, San Juan is a great place to visit. And, as boarding begins long before 10:00 pm, you'll have more time to enjoy the ship than if you flew in same day -- and you won't be as tired.
From where will you be flying? The flight day could be a long one.
We cruised out of San Juan on Adventure of the Seas in 2005, leaving at 10 PM. We did decide to go in a day early because I've encountered too many flight delays (and cancellations) in my life. Don't forget that August is hurricane season. . .Two days before we left, a hurricane headed through Miami (our connection), closing the airport for the good part of a day. Luckily, it was open by the time we left on Saturday morning.
We stayed at the Marriott, which is in the Condado area of San Juan. While it was nice, it was very expensive and either a bus ride (25 cents) or taxi ride to Old Town. Knowing what I know now, however, I would opt for something in the Old Town area. I've heard great things about El Convento, the Sheraton and the Hilton in that area.
The Sheraton is a very convenient place to stay precruise. And, yes, it is somewhat pricey. However, if any of you are point/mile freaks like I am, here is a tip for you. The Starwood credit card has no annual fee the first year, and you get 10,000 points after the first purchase. Just go to spg.com, and you will see the link for the credit card application. The Sheraton Old San Juan is 7,000 starwood points for a night. You can use the card as you wish or not after ONE purchase, but just be sure to cancel before the year is up.
Virtually all of the decent hotels in San Juan are pricey, including the ones in Old Town. (El Convento is extremely pricey most of the time, but has a unique charm.)
San Juan is not a particularly pleasant airport to spend a lot of hours in, so if you have a late flight back after the cruise, try to take some kind of tour. The cruise line will probably offer several, and they will conveniently depart from the ship and drop you off at the airport. (Your luggage will travel separately.)