Puerto Rico's history, culture, food, and sunny shores have made the island a favorite travel destination for many years. Home to the oldest city in the United States, San Juan is a popular cruise port for visitors who want to experience the city, and many return to spend more time there and venture to other parts of the island as well.
Courtesy of Silversea
The mountains, rainforest, white-sand beaches, friendly people, and vibrant atmosphere are a few of Puerto Rico's features that attract cruise fans. The opportunity to explore the popular port with the convenience and luxury of a cruise ship keeps San Juan on a variety of itineraries.
Here are a few of our top picks for the best cruises to Puerto Rico and other beach destinations.
Related: More Caribbean cruises
Roger Paperno/Courtesy of Holland America Cruise Line
Seven-day Eastern Caribbean Cruise
The cruise begins in Fort Lauderdale in late afternoon, giving guests time to visit the city's shops along Las Olas Boulevard or cruise the Intracoastal Waterway on an old-fashioned paddle wheeler. The next day is spent at sea, and guests can enjoy the Zuiderdam's restaurants, casino, spa, and entertainment. For kids, there's Club HAL featuring supervised games, sports, arts and crafts, and themed parties.
The ship arrives in Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos for a day of snorkeling, diving, fishing, or kayaking. Then, on to San Juan, Puerto Rico the next evening for an overnight and a full day in the historic city. Optional activities include a drive through El Yunque National Rainforest, a kayak trip through a bioluminescent bay where the water glows at night, a walking tour of Old San Juan, and a food tour with samples of local cuisine.
The next port is St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where guests can relax on the beach, snorkel, shop in Charlotte Amalie, or enjoy views from some of the Caribbean's highest viewpoints. For a thrilling experience, there's the Sea Trek Helmet Dive at Coral World Ocean Park with a guided walk along an underwater trail. After a day at sea, the ship arrives in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas for a day at the beach, snorkeling, kayaking, horseback riding, or hiking before returning to Fort Lauderdale the following morning.
Michel Verdure/Courtesy of Oceania
Ten-night Miami-to-Miami Enticing Caribbean Cruise
The cruise departs from Miami for two days at sea aboard Sirena, where guests can enjoy dining at a variety of restaurants, indulge at Aquamar Spa, work out at the fitness center, take a 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 arrives at Basseterre, St. Kitts for a day of zip lining, hiking a volcano, or relaxing at the beach.
The next port is Kingstown, St. Vincent a historic city with the oldest botanical garden in the Western Hemisphere, rolling green hills, and a monument that honors soldiers who died in the first and second world wars. In Roseau, Dominica, the following day, there are lush rainforests, snorkeling, kayaking the ocean, and an aerial tram through a gorgeous green tree canopy.
Next, head to Gustavia, St. Barts where you can enjoy the unspoiled natural landscape and Swedish-French culture before the ship continues toward San Juan, Puerto Rico for a visit to historic Old San Juan, a day at the beach, an excursion to El Yunque rainforest, or a Bacardi Rum factory tour.
From San Juan, the cruise continues to Puerto Plata on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, known as the Amber Coast for its rich deposits of resin. After a day at sea, the ship returns to Miami.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Kikor/Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line
Caribbean — Curacao, Aruba, and St. Lucia Cruise
This seven-day cruise aboard Norwegian Epic boards in San Juan, where guests can explore Puerto Rico before or after their cruise. Next, there's a day at sea with nightly entertainment, a variety of dining spots, lounges, a whiskey bar, a cigar lounge, a spa, and a pool. For young cruisers, there's the Aqua Park, kiddie pool, and Teen Center.
The ship then arrives at Oranjestad, Aruba for a city tour of Dutch colonial buildings, a lighthouse, and an aloe plantation. The next port is Willemstad, Curacao where guests can tour the island on a trolley train, kayak, snorkel, swim with dolphins, or cruise the lagoon in a yacht. The next port is St. George's, Grenada for an optional glass-bottom boat tour or party aboard a Rhum Runner. In Castries, St. Lucia, options include a scenic drive along a rainforest to La Soufriere among the towering Pitons.
The next day is spent in St. Kitts with white-sand beaches, shopping, and dining at a seaside restaurant. From there, the ship returns to San Juan the following day.
Peter West Carey/Courtesy of Windstar Cruises
Boston to San Juan — 11-day Cruise
The all-suite Star Pride, completely renovated in 2021, carries 312 guests and offers new public areas, a spa, an infinity pool, a fitness area, and dining venues. Departing from Boston, the ship spends two days at sea as it cruises south to Hamilton, Bermuda. There, experiences include a guided kayak tour, a Segway tour, and an opportunity to snorkel among two of Bermuda's famous shipwrecks, the Constellation and the Montana. In St. George's, Bermuda the next day, guests can tour the historic Old Town in a horse and carriage.
Two more days at sea on the way to Gustavia in St. Barts give guests an opportunity to relax and enjoy the ship's amenities. In St. Barts, options include a sunset Champagne cruise, a self-guided rental car tour, a catamaran trip with snorkeling, and an excursion aboard a semi-submersible to look for green turtles and fish among the coral reefs.
The next day, the ship arrives at Basseterre, St. Kitts, where guests can ride a century-old scenic railway, tour one of the oldest towns in the eastern Caribbean, experience local cuisine at Fairview Great House & Tropical Garden, or explore underwater in a snorkel safari. The next port is Virgin Gorda for excursions that include a powerboat cruise to a secluded beach, a snorkel adventure, and a safari bus trip to The Baths and the white sands of Devil's Bay. The last port is San Juan, and guests can tour the Bacardi Rum factory or tour historic Old San Juan.
@michutravel/Courtesy of Seabourn
11-day Gems of the Leeward Islands Cruise
The cruise begins in Miami when guests board Seabourn Sojourn for two days at sea before arriving in San Juan, where they can tour the city and the Bacardi Rum Distillery, enjoying a rum mixology seminar. There's also a culinary experience and a drive through El Yunque rainforest.
The next port is Gustavia, St. Barts, where guests can enjoy the harbor capital of this luxury French island. Take in views of the volcano hills, groomed beaches, and the sailing yachts that come to dock.
Iles des Saintes, off the coast of Guadeloupe, is the next port and offers a glimpse of the Caribbean of the past. Hiking, kayaking, and sampling rum are some of the offered activities. In St. Johns, Antigua and Barbuda, guests can snorkel, kayak, zipline, or relax on a sunset catamaran cruise.
Next, the ship heads to Carambola Beach, Saint Kitts and Nevis, home to luxurious beach clubs and restaurants. Guests can journey around the island on the St. Kitts Railway, ride in a 4x4 vehicle to the Valley of the Giants and zipline across the valley over the rainforest below, swim with dolphins, or sail on a catamaran for a snorkel adventure.
In Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands, guests can snorkel or cruise in an inflatable boat for breathtaking views. After a day at sea enjoying Seabourn Sojourn's salon, restaurant, bars, and small-ship amenities, the ship returns to Miami.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Courtesy of Viking
13-day Amazon and Caribbean Adventure
The cruise boards in San Juan and spends the next day there, giving guests time to explore Old San Juan, El Yunque Rainforest, and the plush Condado District before sailing away to Antigua and Barbuda where guests can take a catamaran cruise, off-road adventure, sugar plantation tour, or spend a relaxing day on the beach. Next, the ship docks in Castries, St. Lucia with options for an aerial tram ride over the forest canopy, a cooking class, or a catamaran cruise. The next port is Bridgetown, Barbados, home of Mt. Gay Rum, St. Nicholas Abbey Rum Distillery, and stunning beaches.
The ship cruises the Atlantic the next day, and guests can enjoy the small-ship amenities, restaurants, infinity pool, and entertainment before arriving in French Guinea, once a French penal colony. After another day at sea, the ship arrives at the mouth of the Amazon to begin sailing the mighty river.
The ship visits the small city of Santarém, founded in 1661, where the Amazon and Tapajós Rivers meet. The next day, the ship reaches Parintins, a river island, for a folklore performance, the Boi Bumbá, a theatrical tradition. One thousand miles upriver from the Atlantic, the ship reaches Manaus, the most populous city in the Amazon basin, for an overnight stay with excursions that include a boat cruise, a motor coach tour, a jungle trek, a dolphin encounter, and a culinary adventure. The next day, guests disembark for the trip home or for additional exploring of the historic city.
Royal Caribbean Cruises
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Seven-night Southern Caribbean Cruise
This cruise begins in San Juan when guests board Voyager of the Seas for seven different Caribbean destinations. The first port is Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, with sandy beaches, colonial history, and delicious food specialties like conch fritters and coconut patties.
St. Maarten, governed by both the Netherlands and France, is the next day's port, and guests can explore the tropical forest on a ziplining tour, spend the day relaxing on a beach, or explore a nature sanctuary.
In St. John's, Antigua, a helicopter ride over the shore provides perfect views of the jungles, beaches, and nearby volcanic island. Guests can tour a 17th-century site that once housed Antigua's first major sugar plantation, dine on the British, Creole, and West Indian flavors that make up the local cuisine, or enjoy the excellent shopping.
Bridgetown, Barbados is also home to colonial buildings, open-air markets, and historic sugar plantations. Guests can journey in a solar-powered tram into Harrison's Cave, where they'll see waterfalls, pools, and stalactite formations or they can explore the Barbados Wildlife Reserve in a 4x4 vehicle.
St. Kitts and Nevis are next on the itinerary, where options include a six-mile hike to the crater of a dormant volcano, rewarding hikers with spectacular views. There's also an opportunity to ride through the countryside on the West Indies' last railway in a century-old double-decker railcar. The ship returns to San Juan, and guests can continue exploring the city with a walking tour of Old San Juan and a dinner of local cuisine, like mofongo (fried green plantains) or bacalaitos (codfish fritters).