I'm planning my honeymoon - my (soon to be) wife and I will most likely be sailing on the Adventure OS in September 2008.
We want to fly into Puerto Rico a few days early to extend the vacation. Does anyone have any tips on where to stay and what to do? We are looking for a decent place (not 5-star, but also not just "a place to sleep") that is near fun stuff (we like biking, hiking, swimming, etc.) and relatively easy to get to the pier when the time comes.
Would it be smarter to book one of the packages through RCCL?
I have been to Puerto Rico many, many times for land trips not related to a cruise. As far aas the hiking part of your request, I would suggest a excursion with along day in the beautiful rain forest with plenty of hiking, rather than worry about a hotel that is close to hiking.
There are two main tourist areas, Isla Verde and Condado. Isla Verde is near the airport, but an easty $20 cab ride to the cruiseport. In a slightly more moderate price range than the Intercontinental, El San Juan, and Ritz Carlton, I would sugggest the Marriott Courtyard, on the beach next to the Ritz Carlton; the Hampton Inn, which is just across the street; and a few blocks from the beach, the Holiday Inn or Embassy Suites in Isla Verde or Hampton Inn Isla Verde, all a bit less pricey than the two I mentioned first.
If instead you go to stay in Old San Juan, by the cruiseport, nothing can beat the quiet charm of El Convento, which was a former convent. I think it is fairly expensive. I have not stayed there, but have spent a lot of lunch times in their charming courtyard restaurant. The Sheraton is directly across the cruiseport for some ships. I have stayed in the Condado Plaza in the Condado area, and have enjoyed it there. Some of the hotels I have mentioned had been owned by Wyndham and have been sold. I am not sure who the current owners are,
There are a number of bed and breakfasts and inns, but I have not stayed at any of them. Perhaps someone else can help you with those.
I recently went on the AOS and stayed the night before at the Hampton Inn Isle Verde. It was a nice hotel and had Continental breakfast in the morning. It is within walking distance to restaurants/bars, and shopping. It is a block or two from the beach. Right across the street on the beach is the San Juan Hotel and Casino which was very, very, nice but might be pricey for you. Since, it is your honeymoon you might want to look at the Intercontinental which is also on the beach. It has a nice pool area too. There is also the Condodo area, and Old San Juan. All are a quick taxi ride to the Pan American Pier where the AOS is located.
You probably would need at least a 1/2 day for the Rain Forest. One tour many people really enjoy is a night time Bioluminescent Kayak tour. It takes you kayaking on a river where when you put your hand in the water it seems to glow. You could go visit the Bacardi Rum Distillery, take a walking tour of Old San Juan, or tour the Fort El Morro. You might take a sail boat ride and snorkel, scuba or snuba. On the streets if you see a sign with a symbol of a bus and it says "Parada", it is a free trolley bus. I guess whether four days is too much depends on how active you are. I remember seeing signs on the sidewalks for signing up for various tours. Your hotel concierge should be able to assist you too.
My friends and I actually went on the bioluminescent bay kayak tour on our last cruise - it was FANTASTIC. The drive to get there was very long (1 - 1.5 hours), but it was totally worth it. I wasn't sure what to expect before I went, so I was completely surprised when I got there.
My fiancée wants to do it again, while I want to use our time for something new - we will see what happens.
As for the rain forest, I was told that the concierge could arrange it when we get there. I know they can do this, but would it be smarter to do it from home ahead of time, so the tour company has more than 1 night’s notice? Or maybe I can call the hotel once I have reservations, I don’t know…