FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

A Visit to Old San Juan

Mar 25, 2017

One of my favorite ports of call on our two-week December Caribbean cruise aboard Holland America‘s ms Nieuw Amsterdam was San Juan, Puerto Rico. We sailed into the harbor of Old San Juan right around noon on Pearl Harbor Day, rounding the point where El Morro guarded the entrance, El Morro cruising past the old city walls  City Walls  and past a tall-masted sailing ship Sailing ship before docking at one of the cruise piers within walking distance of many historic sites which dot the city. Founded in 1521 by Ponce de Léon, San Juan is the oldest city in U.S. territory.

The massive city walls and fortifications which protected the city and its inhabitants still stand today, and these were the focus of the first half of our day. With the ship scheduled to set sail at 8 p.m., we decided to focus our visit on the old city, saving explorations for the nearby rain forest and the beaches and newer city for another, longer visit.

We first entered Castillo San Cristóbal, along with El Morro a UNESCO World Heritage site and part of the San Juan National Historic Site. Operated by the National Park Service, a visit here requires a very modest $5.00 entrance fee which covers both sites. This massive fort is one of the largest fortifications in the New World, and we climbed up its steep ramps and stairways Castillo San Cristobal  to gain access to gun turrets offering awesome views of El Morro and the shimmering sea. San Juan On the way up we were greeted by large, stoic iguanas who enjoy sunning themselves on the walls and grazing on the vegetation sprouting from the ramparts. San Juan  Our perch also offered a view back down the hill to the cruise ships below. San Juan

The fort was occupied by U.S. forces up through World War II, and displays and videos (as well as ranger-led talks) throughout the complex allow visitors to understand daily life for soldiers stationed there throughout the centuries. We found the large plazas quite warm but were instantly cooled as we stepped into surrounding rooms housed within the thick walls and “air conditioned” by the breezes sweeping in from the ocean through open casements. San Cristobal

We then followed the city walls out to Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro). It involved a walk of more than a mile, but free trolleys circulate throughout the Old Town for those who find trekking a struggle, particularly on hot days. The scale of these fortifications awed us, and we again found ourselves admiring views of the lighthouse El Morro lighthouse  and gun emplacements Gun emplacements  while at the same time drinking in the beautiful blues of the sea and sky.

The rest of the day found us winding our way through the colorful, narrow streets, San Juan stopping at an open-air bar near the School of Fine Arts for some cold cervezas and snacks before continuing our meanderings. We took a quick look into El Catedral de San Juan Bautista, San Juan  site of Ponce de Léon’s tomb; admired a shady plaza outside the Hotel El Convento; San Juan  and peeked through the gates to view La Fortaleza, the official Governor’s residence, all decked out for the holidays. La Fortaleza

We made our way slowly back to the pier, poking into boutiques and galleries along the way and stopping to admire the statue of Christopher Columbus in Plaza Colón. San Juan

It was a thoroughly delightful day, with a wonderful mix of history, culture, fresh air and sunshine, shopping and food and drink, spent with good friends. I would love to spend more time in this lovely place!

— Patty Vanikiotis, associate editor/copy editor

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
May 26, 2022

New Caravaggio Experience at Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese

Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese invites art lovers to step back into the Renaissance with its new Caravaggio Experience. The experience entails a complete immersion into the work and life of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, the iconic Renaissance painter.

TAP Air Portugal: 77 Years Young

TAP Air Portugal, or rather Transportes Aéreos Portugueses, was founded 77 years ago, March 14, 1945, and flew its first commercial flight September 19, 1946, inaugurating service from Lisbon to Madrid, Spain, aboard a Douglas DC-3.

Daily
May 26, 2022

Off the Map Travel Norwegian Fjords Electric Porsche Trip

If you’re a fan of adventure travel and luxury cars, Off the Map Travel has an experience for you. The new Drive the Fjords tour allows travelers to explore the Norwegian fjords and Sunnmore Alps in style in an electric Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo.

Daily
May 26, 2022

New Golden Rock Resort, Sint Eustatius

Golden Rock Resort, the upscale, contemporary lifestyle property, opened in 2021 on the remote Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Eustatius. Compared to many other Caribbean islands, Sint Eustatius (aka Statia) is not known for mass tourism.

Celebrity Cruises’ Spring Sale

There’s no better time to plan the vacation you’ve been missing. Step aboard with your better half, your friends or the whole family and reconnect, reunite and rejoice with 25 percent off cruise fares for all guests. We’ll also help everyone get there with 25 percent off airfare from 20 major gateways across the country or $100 savings per person on flights from all other gateways when you book your air travel using Flights by Celebrity.*

Daily
May 25, 2022

Princess Cruises Launches All-Inclusive Premier Add-On

Princess Premier, a new add-on recently launched by Princess Cruises, offers cruise-goers unlimited WiFi, premium/top-shelf beverages, photos and more. The new offer builds off the popular Princess Plus add-on to bring guests a more comprehensive bundle and savings of more than 50 percent when all the amenities are purchased separately.

eFlyer Deals
May 24, 2022

Blossom Hotel Houston Presents Stay Longer Offer with Exciting Experiences and Initiatives

Houston’s newest luxury property, Blossom Hotel Houston, recently announced the Blossom Stay Longer offer, allowing guests the chance to experience all of the hotel’s world-class amenities. Tiered by length of visit, the offer ranges from three- to seven-night stays. Guests staying three nights will receive $50 in food and beverage credit, welcome beverages for two and complimentary WiFi.

TAP Air Portugal’s Porto

When American travelers make plans to visit Portugal, Lisbon is usually their first stop.

eFlyer Deals
May 24, 2022

Earn a Fourth Night Free at Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf

Through June 30, Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf offers guests a fourth night free, valid for a minimum of four nights in the property’s Junior suite.