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My Carnival Celebration Vacation 2023

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last week I wrote about Amber Cove, Puerto Plata, and the surrounding area up to 2,600 feet above sea level along the north-central coast of the Dominican Republic. That was Day 3 of my 7-day cruise aboard the Carnival Celebration from Sunday January 08TH 2023 to Sunday January 15TH 2023.

This week we jump to Day 4 of my 7-day cruise – and the 2ND port-of-call in San Juan Puerto Rico.

But First: It’s always good to return back to the U.S.A. – whether it’s stateside or a territory at sea – if only to get full-use of my cell phone (iPhone) back again without any extra International “roaming” charges. Those LTE signal bars look so beautiful after not having any since a few miles offshore Miami Beach.

I pre-purchased a shore excursion for Old San Juan – visiting fortresses. Shortly after arrival and U.S. Customs clearance on the island, I met my group and we hopped on our bus. Our tour guide / driver narrated during our short drive up to the first fortress. She also exhibited a little bit of Puerto Rican road-rage along the way, as traffic was thick and slow due to several cruise ships in port. Cops were blocking roads in an effort to make traffic run more smoothly, but it seemed to be causing more problems than not.

We made it to Castillo San Cristóbal, and our tour guide /driver handed-off to another tour guide who told us a little bit about the fortress. Then she told us to go check it out for ourselves and return back to the bus about 40 minutes later. (This was very unlike the shore excursion that I enjoyed on the previous day in the Dominican Republic as described last #TravelThursday.)

Our next fortress was Castillo San Felipe del Morro, and it was essentially the same situation. Our tour guide told us a little bit about it, and then we went to check it out on our own. After we were done – we walked back on our own to the bus to be there at a certain time.

After the two fortresses our tour guide / driver drove us to the city center of Viejo San Juan, and that was pretty much the end of the tour. She recommended that we walk back to the ship from there (a short walk), as traffic was muy malo. (She essentially gave up for the day.)

While the shore excursion for the Dominican Republic was a perfect 5 stars because of our tour guide and what we saw – this shore excursion was more like 3 stars. It wasn’t really a waste of time or money, but we could’ve had better, more knowledgeable, and more patient tour guides with less attitude. We could’ve also had cold air coming out of the bus vents instead of air.

I took some good pictures from the fortresses. They will appear on my Flickr Photostream in the weeks to come. Here’s one of the 3 cruise ships in port at the time from atop Castillo San Cristóbal. (The Carnival Celebration is in the middle.)

Fun Fact: This was my 2ND-ever visit to San Juan Puerto Rico. My 1ST visit was a little over 12 years ago on January 20TH 2011 as part of a 7-day cruise on the Carnival Glory.

Next #TravelThursday we’ll head over to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands to enjoy a fun day on a nearly empty ship, or – perhaps – it didn’t quite turn out that way. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2023 Christopher M. Day, CountUp