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Cruises to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Puerto Quetzal (Antigua) (Photo:loneroc/Shutterstock)
Puerto Quetzal (Antigua) (Photo:loneroc/Shutterstock)

About Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Puerto Quetzal -- a Guatemalan port that serves as the jumping-off point for Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the nearest town of interest, some 90 minutes away -- doesn't seem like much at first, but it can be a great option for anyone who needs a break from the hustle and bustle of the usual stops on a Panama Canal or South America itinerary.

Antigua is a lovely Spanish colonial city, easily walkable and quite charming. There are several churches to peek into, museums to browse, cafes to grab a bite at, and, if you're there in late winter you'll catch the gorgeous jacarandas in bloom. If you choose to stay in port instead of taking the long ride to Antigua, prepare for a slow-paced and pleasant day of shopping for colorful, reasonably priced trinkets; there's not much else to do.

Depending on where you dock, the view from your ship will either be industrial with tankers and cargo ships in your line of site, or scenic, with an adorable marina situated in front of the welcome center. You'll find shops and restaurants at the welcome center. Beyond that, as the maitre d' on our sailing slightly overstated, "it's Jurassic Park."

Despite its prefabricated nature and rows upon rows of vendors selling baubles and cheap mementos, the Jurassic Park-ness is precisely what makes Puerto Quetzal feel less forced and less commercial than some other ports.

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16 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Miami

16 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Falmouth, Cartagena ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Miami

16 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Grand Cayman, Aruba ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: San Diego

11 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Quetzal ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Quetzal ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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17 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
San Francisco
Visiting:
San Diego, Cabo San Lucas ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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12 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Panama City
Visiting:
Panama Canal, Puntarenas ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Cartagena, Panama Canal ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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20 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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15 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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16 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Cartagena, Colon ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Cartagena, Colon ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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17 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Huatulco ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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16 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
San Diego, Cabo San Lucas ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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24 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Grand Cayman, Cartagena ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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15 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Cartagena, Colon ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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15 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Cartagena, Colon ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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Cruise Critic Favorite

48 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Southampton
Visiting:
Hamilton, Port Canaveral ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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Cruise Critic Favorite

37 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Montego Bay, Puerto Limon ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Cartagena, Panama Canal ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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27 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Southampton
Visiting:
Hamilton, Port Canaveral ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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18 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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17 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Cartagena, Panama Canal ...
see more
Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Cartagena, Panama Canal ...
see more
Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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Why go to Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)?

Pros:

Nearby Antigua boasts volcanoes, museums and stunning architecture

Cons:

The port itself is purpose-built for cruisers; enterprising and pushy locals all sell similar wares

Bottom Line:

There's fun to be had, but it requires leaving the immediate port area

Puerto Quetzal (Antigua) Cruise Port Facilities?

If you're at the cruise terminal, all you need do is walk off your ship, and you'll pass over an open-grate bridge as you make your way to a small visitors' center, which offers local information, shore tour sign-ups, a desk that sells postcards and stamps, and performances by local musicians. Just outside, you'll find a compilation of wooden signs that serve as a directory to various areas like shops, restrooms and restaurants. Cruisers docked at the cargo pier will need to take a courtesy shuttle to the passenger terminal. The shuttle runs every 10 minutes or so.

Good to Know?

Persistent locals can try your patience if you just want to stroll around the shops inside the visitors' center to browse without buying. They'll use high-pressure sales tactics, but a firm "no, thank you" or no, gracias usually does the trick. Also beware that prices are rarely posted on items; it's a sign that haggling is fair game. Never accept the initial price a salesperson quotes you, unless the prices are clearly marked on items from the start. If you can withstand the pressure to buy immediately, don't feel bad about checking prices elsewhere before making a purchase. Sales tactics are much less fierce in Antigua, where street vendors might follow you for a bit but will take no for an answer and vendors inside the Old Cinema Market barely try to sell you at all.

Getting Around?

The best (and most affordable) way to do get around is by booking a shore excursion. You'll also find local guides selling excursions at the visitors' center. Taxis are available, but because Antigua is 90 minutes away, they can be pricey.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The official monetary unit in Guatemala is the quetzal (named after the country's official bird), but American dollars can be used throughout Puerto Quetzal, as well as in Antigua. Be sure to have small bills available, as change might not be given back to you in U.S. currency. Also be sure that your dollars are free from even the slightest rips or tears, or they might be refused by shop owners. Credit cards are not generally accepted. If you run low on cash, an ATM is available at the welcome center.

Language?

Spanish is the primary language spoken throughout Guatemala, but most folks working in the port speak at least some English. It's still a good idea to study up on common phrases and numbers, download a translation app to your smartphone or carry a phrasebook. In Antigua, restaurant waitstaff speak some English, but most others do not.

Where You're Docked?

Puerto Quetzal has room for two cruise ships at the Marina Pez Vela: one at the cruise terminal and one at the cargo pier.


Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination

  • 2018 Top-Rated Panama Canal & Central America Destinations
  • 2017 Top-Rated Panama Canal & Central America Destinations
  • 2016 Top-Rated Mexican Riviera, Central & South America Destinations

Puerto Quetzal (Antigua) Cruise Reviews

Nieuw Amsterdam
pwtubbs
Sail Date: Sep 2019
Did not leave the ship in Antigua. However, please see my photo of Puerto Chiapas (previous port, not listed here)...$1/shot tequila is notable!... Read More
Carnival Miracle
klitz
Sail Date: Mar 2020
Antigua is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site for its colonial architecture.... Read More
Norwegian Star
Freyward_Cruiser
Sail Date: Feb 2019
We took the bus tour from the ship that dropped us in Antigua and let us explore on our own. This is a beautiful city and should not be missed!... Read More
Norwegian Joy
Holly1a
Sail Date: Nov 2019
We took the bus to Antigua and then did the Hop-On-Hop-Off tour. The city is small, so you can walk it or choose to get on the small van. The ride to Antigua is 1.5 - 2 hours, so you see a lot of the Guatamalan... Read More
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