Acajutla (Photo:Fotos593/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Acajutla

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, and one of the newest destinations for the cruise industry (and tourism in general) as the country continues to recover from a devastating 13-year civil war that ended in 1992. The handful of cruise lines that visit El Salvador during Panama Canal or westbound post-Canal sailings primarily stop at the country's main seaport, Acajutla, a massive industrial port on the Pacific Ocean. Princess Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises are the only lines targeted at English-speaking cruisers that visit the port.

Acajutla is well-situated for visits to several Mayan ruins, as well as tours to view some of the country's active volcanos, coffee plantations or see some of the native wildlife. Most attractions are within a one-hour drive of the port. Additionally, a handful of taxis are usually on hand for cruisers who haven't booked a tour but want to explore the local area. (You'll find them at the craft market, but only in the first hour or so after your cruise ship has arrived.)

There is little to see at the port itself, though the El Salvadoran tourist board has created a small park and craft market on site for cruisers to check out via a courtesy shuttle. There is no town within walking distance, so cruisers interested in touring the region will need to book an excursion, either through the cruise line or a private tour operator.

Only one tour company is permitted within the port's confines, but members of the local tourist board will try their best to arrange transportation to the port's entrance for cruisers who have booked private tours.

About Acajutla


Pro

Acajutla will give you access to some of El Salvador's biggest draws, like Mayan ruins and coffee plantations

Con

There's no town within easy reach of the port, so you'll probably need to book an organized tour

Bottom Line

Tourism is relatively new to this area, but there's plenty to experience around Acajutla


Find a Cruise to the Panama Canal & Central America

Where You're Docked

Cruise ships dock next to tankers and cargo ships in the immense industrial port, located just on the outskirts of the city of Acajutla.

Good to Know

You'll notice a lot of armed policemen at the beach and the craft market. Their presence does not necessarily indicate tourists are in danger, though as with anywhere keep an eye on your belongings and don't wear any flashy jewelry. The increased police presence is more the result of a need for jobs for soldiers previously engaged in the country's civil war than safety issues for visitors.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The official currency in El Salvador is the U.S. dollar. There are no ATMS anywhere near the port, so you'll need to use the ATM onboard your ship before getting off.

Language

The official language of El Salvador is Spanish. Few people speak English, including taxi drivers.

Shopping

Mostly what you'll find in the Acajutla region are cheap souvenir items targeted at tourists, such as shot glasses, T-shirts and jewelry that may or may not have been made in the area. But in a few spots you'll find colorful handcrafted items including baskets, mats and sandals made from wicker and tule (a native reed).

Best Cocktail

El Salvador's national drink is the guaro sour, which is rarely drunk straight. If you want to give it a try, go for a Cacique Guaro, which mixes the sour liquor with fruit juice or a soda.