On our last Carnival cruise, we had a ‘new to me’ port – San Juan, Puerto Rico. And after reading so much about the city, I was excited to have some time to explore the area. We took part in a Carnival Cruise excursion — Old San Juan Walk, Mojito & Mofongo Experience.
Explore Old San Juan
Our excursion began with a walking tour of Old San Juan. Our guide was born and raised in Puerto Rico and extremely knowledgeable of the area, especially the history. Our group of twelve set out to explore, learn and see the city from a local’s point of view.
We made our way through the shopping district (there’s time to shop after the excursion!) and I loved learning about the techniques and stories behind making hand-rolled cigars. The gentleman pictured below is quite a local legend – he’s even been featured in Cigar Aficionado magazine.
Pro Tip: When you visit the local merchants selling local goods – the ones with orange tablecloths are considered “certified sellers” from the local tourism agency.
Experience the History of Old San Juan
The views during our guided walk were incredible. If you go, make sure you’ve got a camera with you. I couldn’t stop taking pictures. We learned about the Puerto Rican culture, the neighborhoods of the city and took a look at the history of the town.
My favorite part of our walk included a stroll along the waterfront to the San Juan Gate just before the entrance to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro. And as a lover of fun facts, I’m so mad that I lost the notebook where I had scribbled down notes.
Throughout the walk, our guide did a great job of finding shady spots to stop and share stories and tales of this historic city. There is a stop about halfway through the walking tour for a restroom and water break too. Pro Tip: Bring your own water bottle!
Time for Mofongos and Mojitos
The walking tour ends at a local restaurant where the group is welcomed to a private dining area – and this is where the fun really begins. The head chef introduces everyone to the native dish – Mofongo.
Made up of rice, spices, butter, lettuce and chicken – everyone received their own ingredients to build their own Mofongo dish.
It was a hands-on activity (with plastic gloves!) that we really enjoyed, mine didn’t look as pretty as others, but I sure enjoyed eating it. Pro Tip: You’ve gotta mash the ingredients together – stand up and put some elbow into it.
It was our first time having Mofongo and it was delicious. Not too spicy and filled with flavor. Our chef let us know that while chicken was the ‘standard’ way of serving it – beef and steak are also substitutions too. Pro Tip: Dietary restrictions? Be sure to let your walking guide know when you check-in for the tour.
In addition to the mofongo, this excursion was also the first time I’d ever had a mojito too. How’s that for living it up on vacation?!
Rum, mint, lime juice, sugar and splash of tonic – it was a tasty drink, especially after our walking tour through town. The chef walked everyone through the process of making the drink and we were presented with our own – a nice touch on a hot day.
Great Cruise Excursion
This excursion was especially fun for me because it involved a hands-on activity. Instead of just listening or watching someone — I was able to take part in the fun. The walking tour took us to parts of the city that only a local would know and I appreciated seeing the ‘other’ side, rather than just the touristy areas.
If your Carnival cruise stops in San Juan, Puerto Rico, I would definitely look into booking the Old San Juan Walk, Mojito & Mofongo Experience. With a three-course meal, drinks and a fantastic walking tour of the city – it is a great way to see the sights and learn too.
Have you visited Old San Juan?
** My family and I were invited guests of Carnival Cruise Lines and provided accommodations, meals, gratuities and this excursion. Thoughts here are my own. **