The embarkation port of San Juan is really your first port of call. This is a magnificent island featuring beautiful beaches and a lot of history. Many cruise guests including ourselves spend a few days before and or after the cruise. There is so much to do and see. We highly recommend a visit to the Bacardi Rum Factory, all of the forts, the rain forest etc. It is easy to get around Puerto Rico and we find the people very friendly. The Old City is excellent with many shops and great restaurants not to mention watching the cruise ships arriving daily. RCI offers several tours or try Viator.com, great prices and selection. disappoint
We did the RCI Town & Country Drive. You complete a circle island tour in an open air bus stopping at several scenic spots while receiving a personal narrative tour. There were about 18 people on the bus with comfortable seats and plenty of room. The driver was very knowledgeable and the island is beautiful. There was limited shopping at the dock so we just went on board after the tour to enjoy the afternoon on the ship.
My wife and I did a split on this island. While she took the RCI Ultimate Island tour I went on a two tank scuba dive. The dive was fantastic, however the seas were a bit rough for the Zodiac the dive operation used. There were only four of us plus the Dive Master Jude. She was one of the best Dive Masters I have been with, very patient and experienced. We dove on a 150' wreck in 50' of water left over from the Hurricane of 1995. The highlight other than the sharks was scratching the shell of a large sea turtle who was loving every minute of it. Plenty of sea life on both dives and the water/visibility was perfect. My wife's tour was also excellent with part of it on a catamaran and bus. Again we were back on board shortly after noon. The port has plenty of shops and we picked up some jewellery at great prices from Bellerina Jewellers. Rick K was an excellent salesman who gave us cold beer, bags and even a polo shirt just for coming in. Their prices and his attitude made our day!
Our orginal Jeep Safari tour was cancelled without notice so by chance we were able to sign up for the Scenic Railway tour at the dock. It turned out excellent with the 2 hour narrated bus tour and the two hour train ride. Who knew such a comfortable train on narrow guage rails could be so much fun. The shopping at the dock was just OK, we went back to the boat early.
The ship docks at a very run down section of town, almost slums from what we could see. We signed up for the RCI Discover Guadeloupe tour and were impressed. We toured the island by modern motor coach stopping at a rain forest falls, a botanical garden (out of this world) and a dormant rum factory. Once you are away from the port this island is full of surprises. Very modern expressways, name brand retailers and nice subdivisions. RCI really needs to find a better place to dock at this island. Shopping at the dock really was restricted to a few booths. I would not venture into the area without an escort. It was also the day after carnival so nothing was open anyways.
There is not enough space for our last port of call in the Barbados. We did the RCI 4 x 4 Safari and shipwreck snorkel adventure. Barbados is a beautiful progressive island. The playground for the rich and famous. Great jewellery finds there as well in the port mall.