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Just returned from San Juan

Houston, Texas
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Just returned from San Juan

Stayed two days in San Juan to bookend a voyage on the Carnival Victory. Stayed at the Hotel Milano - a little expensive, but close to the cruise ship port. The people there are friendly. The hotel is in Old San Juan, so it's very easy to walk to sights such as El Morro or San Juan's cathedral. (Some sights closed Sunday and Monday.) Lots of small plazas for resting and people watching. Drivers are very polite about letting pedestrians cross. Souvenir stores, arts and crafts stores, and jewelry stores abound in Old San Juan. Bought some larimar (a fairly newly discovered gemstone, called the "Caribbean gemstone" because it's only found in the Dominican Republic) at various stores. Best designs and stone color at Bella Jewels on Fortaleza, and a very honest employee. I was interested in another new stone, Ammolite, and she told me she only had it set in silver while Ammolite looked better in gold. Also, it was so expensive (she called it a "precious stone") it didn't make sense to buy it in silver. Anyhow, excellent larimar (which is not high end, think turquoise only darker) and it looked like they also had gorgeous citrine and so forth. Also went to El Junque rainforest park. Even if you're going to Dominica or another island with rainforest, El Junque is still lovely and has gorgeous mountain views.

New York
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1. Re: Just returned from San Juan

How was the weather? We're going next week.

Houston, Texas
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2. Re: Just returned from San Juan

The weather was very good. Some rain the last day, but only just enough to keep us inside for half an hour and then it stopped. Definitely think short sleeves, but the heat was not oppressive. Weather at El Junque changes very quickly, so bring an umbrella.

Elmira, NY
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3. Re: Just returned from San Juan

Thanks for your post .

My husband age 63 and I ( age 59 ) are going to

San Juan for the first time on Monday..two days from now...flying nonstop out of Tampa.

We are going to be there 3 1/2 days. Staying

at the Radisson Ambassador.

Going to do our best to walk around OlD San Juan..though we each have a knee problem.

We like to play slot machines and walk on the beach.

Limited shopping..

This forum has been very helpful in recent weeks in answering my questions.

Thank you all very much.

Traverse City...
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4. Re: Just returned from San Juan

Darshan1 - You wrote:

"Anyhow, excellent larimar (which is not high end, think turquoise only darker)"

I'm pretty sure you mean lighter, no? That is, larimar is definitely lighter than turquoise...

Ontario
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5. Re: Just returned from San Juan

Hello, so did you do the Southern Caribbean on the Victory.We are going in March first time crusiers and we are pumped. We booked at Hampton Inn Suites as were booked post cruise at the Sheraton - we want to go to the forts and maybe the Bacardi factory. If you dont mind me asking how was the cruise.

Elmira, NY
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6. Re: Just returned from San Juan

Hi ...

Hubby and I just returned from our very first visit to PR...staying in Condado at the Radisson Ambassador...which I selelected cause we got a very good price back in mid January for our mid February trip.

Our room on the 7th floor was quite spacious and clean....very good towels and plenty of lights in the room. (Partial view of the ocean which I had requested a few days via phone before we checked in.)

We ate at a really good Mexican place..very popular..

across the street Tiuna's...good food.

We also ate one night at Pizzeria Uno down the street..so hubby could have beef tips..which were good. Next night we ate a new restaurant in the Condado Plaza Hotel ..the Varita...very good American and Puerto Rico cusine on the menu.

I liked the casino at the Condado Plaza Hotel a lot better than the one at the Radison where we stayed.

We spent two days over in Old San Juan,,.which is

a delightfully different place to shop. Loved the

old cobblestone streets and the many varied shops.

Loved walking around the San Juan Cathedral ...to walk in a building from 1521 was awesome !!!

All our taxi drivers were very helpful and friendly.

All the staff at the Radisson were quite welcoming and helpful...from the maids to the doormen to the

desk agents..very friendly.

Thanks to this forum..I was able to get a lot of helpful tips before our trip..so THANK you all again.

Houston, Texas
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10 posts
136 reviews
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7. Re: Just returned from San Juan

RE: Larimar. No, but I think I know what you're talking about. When I first saw larimar in pictures online, it was a light, brighter blue - fairly close to turquoise. However this was not the color you find in all the stores. (If you do a google images search, you'll find that larimar has a lot of darker shades, and that predominated in San Juan.) Most larimar appeared to be a stormy, cloudy blue. It's not quite as a deep blue as lapis lazuli, but it is still very beautiful, and, I think, distinct enough from turquoise or lapis that it makes a good gift as it's unlikely the recipient already has a larimar in his/her collection. I have heard that larimar is also found in green, but not usually made into gemstones.

Houston, Texas
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8. Re: Just returned from San Juan

Re: Carnival Victory/Southern Caribbean. The cruise was wonderful! You're going to have a great time. What tips can I give you? We aren't stay-up-late party animals and it surprised me that on such an exotic cruise (to me, anyway) that people would stay on board and drink all day and night. Thus, it was a little loud sometimes. Perhaps bring a portable white noise machine. Even if you're on a quieter deck, it's still a boat, so there may be some annoying creaking sounds when it rocks. The food in the buffet restaurants is passable, but not wonderful. The food in the sit-down restaurant is mostly great. On the dress-up nights, I'd heard that men didn't need to bring a jacket, but I'm glad I did as it seemed most men had them. The scenic bus tours of Dominica (Rainforest & Jaco Falls), St. Lucia (Best Views of Saint Lucia), St. Thomas (Best of ST), and Antigua (Best of Antigua) were great. Very good guides and incredible scenery. Our St. Kitts tour (Brimstone Hill and Gardens) was pleasant enough, especially if you like history. Our Barbados tour (Coast-to-Coast Panorama) was the one disappointment. The bus was big and the guide spoke too softly. To be honest, we tend to be more cautious than is probably necessary, but I've heard that Antigua and St. Kitts have a little trouble with crime (be careful of pickpockets in Antigua), so it might be better to go with an organized tour that Carnival has checked out. But Barbados, I think, should be safe, so perhaps hire your own guide to show you the beautiful beach (which we barely saw), the rough Atlantic coast (terrific) and maybe a botanical garden or something.

St-lambert
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9. Re: Just returned from San Juan

Hello

Me too ,French Canadien doing Carnival Cruise on Mars/29, so looking for one night pre-cruise and then 3 nights post cruise, I took note of some info in this post. What is El something, should I rent a car for one day, to discover the island, if yes what must see/do ?

Merci

Houston, Texas
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10. Re: Just returned from San Juan

Re: 3 days in Puerto Rico. Hmm, I don't know entirely how to guide you because we didn't spend that long in Puerto Rico. The biggest attractions in Puerto Rico, as far as I know, are Old San Juan, the beaches and casinos of Condado or Isla Verde (also parts of San Juan) and El Yunque, which is a large, mountainous rainforest. There are most likely tours available of El Yunque from many large hotels, but we arranged ours on board the Carnival Victory. You do not need to have a flight that day to take the tour even though it is a disembarkation tour. What will happen is that you will meet your luggage at the airport after the tour (they have it collected together - easy to find), and you can ask the tour driver if he'll take you to your hotel. He may not be able to, depending on where you are staying, but if he can't, you obviously can take a taxi.

I'm not sure what you'd do with a car unless you just feel like exploring. A car is not a good idea in Old San Juan, and you probably don't need it to get to El Yunque unless you don't want a bus tour. There is a famous Bacardi rum factory, I think, and there's also, on the other side of Puerto Rico, something called the Bosque Estatal de Guanica. It's nowhere near as famous as El Yunque, but it's a very rare kind of forest called a "dry forest." I suspect it will look desert-like. Perhaps there are pictures online? Another possibility would be to take a short flight to Vieques for the day and see what I've heard is an unspoiled paradise. Sorry I'm not more help!