I recently had the pleasure of taking my vacation aboard the Carnival Miracle. One of the cruise ship’s stops was in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My wife and I decided to take the “San Juan City and Shopping Tour” which was $39.99/person for 2 and a half hours. It’s my understanding that other Carnival ships that dock there are offered the same tour so if you’re heading to San Juan on a cruise ship, you may be on a shore excursion with passengers from other Carnival ships.
Let me assure you that this excursion, as far as we’re concerned, is the single biggest rip-off we’ve ever encountered on a shore excursion. Carnival cruises should be ashamed to offer this excursion. Thankfully it was “only” $80 for the 2 of us and not more than that.
The tour guide was the bus driver with a headset. She was kind and we didn’t have any issues with her. It was the tour itself that was ridiculous.
The tour begins with a drive up to San Cristobal Fort. That’s where the rip-off begins. The entrance to the fort is a few blocks away from the ship. Entrance to the fort is $3. So, we were driven a few blocks, and dropped off for 45 minutes. In fact, the fort is huge and a proper visit would take longer than that but at least we got to check it out. Now, the visit was on our own because there is no guided tour with this excursion.
We were then driven to the San Juan capital building which was a few minutes away. We were allowed to get out and take pictures. This was about 10 minutes.
We then drove to the Condado area of New San Juan. The drive lasted about 10-15 minutes and the tour guide just pointed to schools, hotels, and other benign buildings that we could care less about. The most interesting part of the drive was seeing a dog on a surf board fall in the water.
After the quick drive, we were brought back to Old San Juan to visit the shops. The bus driver asked us to let her know if we needed a lift back to the ship or if we would walk around and make our back on our own. I have news for you. The ship was one block away. We’re talking a 2 minute walk. If we chose to get a lift back to the ship, we were asked to be back on the bus within an hour. So the last hour of the 2 and a half hour tour never happened for us.
I don’t mean to be obnoxious by doing the math but the tour was $39.99 so let’s call it $40. There were about 24 people on our tour bus. Twenty-four people x $40/person = $960. So the tour company and Carnival split the $960 they raked in over a glorified 20 minute taxi ride. I’m in the wrong business! What a money machine, not to mention insult to my intelligence (and wallet).
We could have walked to most of the places we visited because they were 2 minutes from the ship! If we wanted to see the hotels and schools, we could have hired a taxi for $10. Total rip-off.
Who is this tour good for?
The only people I can see that this tour might be good for is people who cannot walk up a slight hill. That way, they can stay in the bus and be driven around (and be ripped off). For everyone else, it’s a total waste of money.