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The Port of San Juan, Puerto Rico

PORT OF SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO One of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean, San Juan's seaport is the fourth largest in the Western Hemisphere. San Juan serves as the home port for the ships of several cruise lines as well as a regular port of call to many others. Celebrity, Costa, Crystal, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Radisson Seven Seas and Seabourne cruise lines all frequent the port, the number one port of embarkation and debarkation for cruise ships in the southern Caribbean. More than one million visitors come to Puerto Rico as cruise passengers every year. San Juan’s port facilities are modern and designed for high volume. Their location on the San Juan peninsula, within walking distance of Old Town’s seven square blocks of historic treasures is one of the port’s biggest assets.

Ongoing port projects have kept pace with the needs of the ever-growing cruise industry and are designed to create an exciting and memorable gateway to Puerto Rico for cruise visitors. From the cruise port, tour operators offer a wide array of shore excursions, from adventurous rainforest hikes and horseback riding tours to cultural and historical tours in the Old and New cities to a popular tour of the Bacardi Rum Distillery. As Puerto Rico is about 100 miles long and 35 miles wide, visitors can enjoy the whole island with ease.

Nearly all major airlines offers service to Puerto Rico. Most land at the modern Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, just seven miles east of the cruise port. The busiest in the Caribbean, the airport also serves as a hub for travel to and from many of the neighboring islands.

Close to four million people live on Puerto Rico, more than one million in the greater San Juan metropolitan area alone, making the city vibrant, modern, bilingual and multicultural. The island’s temperatures average 83°F in winter and 85°F in summer, with trade winds cooling the island’s coastal towns.

LOCATION Puerto Rico is the largest island in the eastern Caribbean, located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic and 1,000 miles south of Miami. A commonwealth associated with the United States, no visas or passports are required for American citizens. The island’s white sand beaches, tropical forests and steady trade winds contribute to its year-round comfort, with average temperatures of 80 degrees and moderate humidity. San Juan is its capital city. LANGUAGE Both Spanish and English are both official languages. CURRENCY U.S. Dollar.

BEACHES AND SPORTS From spectacular surfing waves to challenging golf courses, Puerto Rico offers the active visitor limitless recreational opportunities. Tennis, fishing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling and horseback riding rank as the most popular sports, with windsurfing and parasailing close behind. Hundreds of miles of coastline have created what is said to be a “different beach for every day of the year,” from white sand dunes to black beaches of volcanic sand. Peaceful, shallow waters at Luquillo contrast with the exciting surf of Rincón. Golf courses all boast great views of the sea, a horseback ride along the beach is a classic activity and fishing is great whether in the deep seas, on the lovely rivers, lakes and bays or kayaking the Tanama River.

NATURE AND ADVENTURE As a tropical volcanic island, Puerto Rico offers rugged mountains, rain forests, karst formations, caverns, streams and rocky cliffs, all home to exotic birds and animals. Adventurous visitors can canoe or hike the trails of a rainforest, explore the caverns of the third largest underground river systems on earth, or rock climb.

ENTERTAINMENT AND NIGHTLIFE San Juan boasts the livliest nightlife in the Caribbean and offers big-city entertainment of all kinds. From Vegas-style gaming at one of the Condado or Isla Verde hotels to Old San Juan’s famous bars to discos and popular restaurants found throughout the city, there is something for everyone. San Juan and inland towns hold annual festivals with live music, arts and crafts, and roadside gambling. And the Le Lo Lai Festival (787-723-3136) of popular and folkloric music has showcased the island's blend of Spanish, Indian and African traditions, customs and heritage for its visitors for more than 25 years.

MUSEUMS In Puerto Rico, visitors find cities and towns that are in themselves living museums of the Spanish colonial period — the entire city of Old San Juan is a museum — and villages more than a thousand years old. There are more than 40 museums around the island, ranging from San Juan’s new, world-class Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (787-977-6277) to the renowned Ponce Museum of Art (787-848-0505) and the Las Américas Museum (787-724-5052), featuring art and artifacts from countries throughout the hemisphere. The Museum of Contemporary Art (787-268-0049) and the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center, with its fascinating collection of pre-Columbian artifacts and re-created village, are just a sampling of others.

In the northwest mountains of the island is the Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory (787-878-2612). One of the most important research facilities in the world, its huge dish is tuned to detect sounds emitted by the farthest stars. Visitors discover how the structure is used to study radio emissions from distant galaxies, quasars, pulsars and many other cosmic sources.

For further information, contact the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, Puerto Rico Main Office, La Princesa Building, #2, P.O. Box 902-3960, Paseo La Princesa, Old San Juan, P.R. 00902-3960; phone 787-721-2400 or 866-2-GOTOPR, fax 787-722-1093,