Norwegian Cruise Line has begun reaching out to guests visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico to notify them that a popular rainforest hike shore excursion has been cancelled.

Little explanation has been given for the cancellations – which impact multiple sailing dates in 2024 – but guests who had booked the excursion are being provided full refunds.

Passengers on upcoming Norwegian Cruise Line sailings to Puerto Rico will no longer be able to enjoy the El Yunque Rainforest Hike excursion. The cruise line has been contacting booked guests and their associated travel agents to notify them that the excursion is no longer available.

“We are reaching out to advise that your shore excursion, El Yunque Rainforest Hike has been cancelled due to operational needs,” the email explained.

Guests who have booked the excursion are being given full refunds back to the original form of payment. This refund is automatic and impacted travelers do not need to take any action to ensure their fees are returned.

“We do apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,” the email concluded. “We sincerely appreciate your understanding and look forward to welcoming you aboard for your dream vacation at sea!”

While Norwegian Cruise Line is automatically cancelling and refunding impacted tours, guests who have made independent arrangements will want to reach out to their tour operators to ask about adjustments or cancellations if necessary.

El Yunque National Forest (Photo Credit: RandomHartz)

Other shore excursions are available to book and guests will have plenty of great options to explore the colorful culture and history of San Juan when their ship arrives, including surfing lessons, bike tours, rum tastings, dance performances, kayaking, walking tours, zip lines, and more.

Several tours to El Yunque are also listed on the Norwegian Cruise Line website, but at the moment those tours only include scenic drives, rather than hiking opportunities. Driving tours do often include stops at scenic vistas, waterfalls, or observation towers where available, though stops may vary.

The exact “operational needs” have not been detailed, but there could be several reasons for the cancellation. Roadwork or other construction in the park could make the property less accessible at the moment, or staffing considerations may be impacting how many visitors can be accommodated.

It should be noted that the park’s Baño de Oro Trail, one of the major hiking trails, has been closed for construction since July 2023. While a small portion of the tail is open, the remainder of the trail is closed for construction work.

Furthermore, the Mt. Britton Trail is also impacted by construction, as various road segments toward the observation tower are being repaved, and new culverts are being installed. This work began in August 2023 is expected to continue until March 2024.

Cruise Ships in San Juan, Puerto Rico (Photo Credit: Dennis MacDonald)

Parking is currently limited at El Yunque National Forest, and visitor capacity is being carefully controlled while construction is underway.

Flood or landslide damage in different areas of the park – a common occurrence in national parks – could also close all or parts of different trails. The park receives, on average, 120-240 inches of rainfall each year, depending on where the precipitation is measured.

It is also possible that the tour cancellations may related to shortened port visit times on the part of Norwegian Cruise Line, and not be related to operational challenges in the park itself.

El Yunque National Forest is nearly 29,000 acres and is the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest system. It is located in northeastern Puerto Rico, and is the largest block of public land on the island. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions, with many miles of hiking trails, camping facilities, waterfalls, swimming areas, and much more to enjoy.

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