When we walked off the ship we went to catch the ferry to old San Juan then a public bus to the Bacardi Rum Factory. Once we reached the factory we joined a group for a tour. The tour was interesting and then we had two free drinks each at the welcome center. My personal favorite was the cherry flavored rum. We bought one bottle of the cherry rum to bring home.
If you plan to ride a public bus make sure you have money in the form of coins. They do not take bills. It was only 50 or 75 cents but we did not have coins so the bus driver let us ride for free. He said it was his treat. That was nice of him. The driver would not take a tip either.
Waste of time and effort. Of all the things we did during our trip, this is the one we should have skipped. First of all, in the incredible heat, the trip there was exhausting and the tour did not justify the cost spent on the taxi and ferry getting there. They give you two free drinks which is nice, actually found a new drink I really like. But otherwise, not worthwhile. They take you to watch a little movie and then show you a facade of an original distillery and the first bar in the original bacardi building. You don't see anything they are actually doing now and turns out the headquarters. This isnt even the headquarters or the original site of Bacardi. Unless you love rum/bacardi, its probably not worth the effort.
We hadn't exactly planned on hitting the Bacardi Factory but when we found ourselves with a bit of time to spare before going to the bioluminescent bay, we decided to make the short trip across the bay to visit the "Cathedral of Rum". To get to Casa Bacardi from Old San Juan, you need to take the Cataño ferry across the bay (Pier #2; tickets are only 50 cents). Once you exit the ferry terminal in Cataño, turn right and you'll find plenty of taxis waiting by the big yellow building. (there is a fixed rate of $3 per person). Don't forget to allow some time on the way back to take pictures of San Juan from across the bay!
When we got to Casa Bacardi, we were offered 2 coupons for free drinks at the outdoor Bacardi bar - they can make any drink you want, and I'd recommend the mojito or coconut rum mixed with pineapple juice :o) I thought the tour was very interesting since it mostly dealt with the history of the Bacardi family, from their early beginnings in Santiago de Cuba in 1862 to the construction of the new Bacardi factory in Puerto Rico as a result of the Cuban Revolution. What can I say? I like to drink rum, but I don't care all that much how it's made so for me learning about the Bacardi family was much more interesting than a real distillery tour. The tour began with a short video presentation and we were then shown into a room filled with old family photographs, rum bottles, letters and contracts, medals and awards. There was also another section where we could smell all the different rums along with their main ingredients. Finally, we stopped by the lounge where the bartender showed us how to make a few Bacardi cocktails and also explained the origins of the Cuba Libre, Daiquiri and Mojito.
Since the tour is free and you only need to pay for transportation, I thought it was well worth paying a total of $7 per person for a ferry ride across the bay, a visit to Casa Bacardi and 3 free drinks (we managed to get an extra coupon!). Casa Bacardi is open daily (check the website for schedule).
We decided to go to the Bacardi Rum Factory on the day we were leaving on the cruise since we had more time that day than the one we returned, I wouldn't put this on my must see list, in fact I think it's pretty close to being a tourist trap except for I did learn a little about the history of Bacardi Rum, which is still a family owned business, and why they use a bat as their logo, a colony of fruit bats at the original distillery in Cuba was the inspiration, bats are a symbol of health and prosperity.
To get to the Bacardi factory, you need to take a ferry ride across the bay (50 cents each way), and then catch a van for $3 per person which are sitting in a garage just about a block away if you turn right. It's too far to walk from the ferry pier. Once you get to the factory they will give you a free tour ticket and a couple of tickets for free drinks which you can have before or after your tour, obviously all made with Bacardi!
I was disappointed as this is not a factory tour, you don't see any of the rum production or inside the distillery. The tour consists of a very short ride via tram to the Bacardi welcome center where they tell you a bit of the history of the Bacardi family and how they ended up in Puerto Rico, next you watch a short film and then see a couple of recreated rooms, the Bacardi office and the 1st distillery. The last stop is the Bacardi lounge where they show you how to make some of the classic rum based drinks like the Cuba Libre, mojito and Daquiri. Then it's back on the tram to the gift shop, the only unique thing that they sell there is Bacardi's exclusive Reserva Limitada, aged twelve years, which was $85 per bottle.
Bacardi rum did not originate in Puerto Rico, the Bacardi family emigrated from Spain to Cuba where they started a distillery in 1862. The plant in San Juan was built after Prohibition in the US ended to save taxes on import to the US, after Castro came to power in Cuba, Bacardi left Cuba and currently does not have a presence there.
Personally I'd only recommend this tour if you've run out of things to do in San Juan.
Jason absolutely loved the Bacardi Rum Factory. He had such a great time learning about the history of Bacardi Rum and about how the rum is actually made. His favorite part was when he got to taste the various types of rum. The good thing about this tour is that it is free and you get 2 free drink tickets. You can drive to the factory as outlined below or you can take the ferry from Old San Juan. The ferry is only 50 cents a person. It's cold inside the building so bring a sweat shirt or sweater.
The tours are available 7 days a week Monday thru Saturday from 8:30 am to 6pm. The last tour begins at 4:30pm and Sunday 10am to 5pm with the last tour leaving at 3:45pm. The factory is open for tours 357 days a year- closed for 3 Kings Day (1/6), Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Years Day
Just got back from San Juan and took ferry over to tour the bacardi rum distillery....guess what? It was closed for two weeks. So disappointed, we had no option but to ferry back across the river.
I certainly wish the site would have told us they would be closed, but we saw nowhere that the first two weeks of September was a plant closing.
So, you folks planning a trip next year....remember this..........also, learn to speak Spanish fluently....very few over in Puerto Rico speak English.
Christened as the “Cathedral of Rum” by a former governor, the Bacardi Rum Factory is the world’s largest producer of distilled spirits. Producing more than 100,000 gallons of rum daily and shipping more than 21-million cases of rum per year worldwide, this is a massive operation with a correspondingly massive tax bill (along the lines of $240 million per year). Free forty-five minute tours provide insight into the company’s history, the rum-making process, and rum-mixing. Most importantly, a visit includes two free drink tickets per person to sample the goods.
IF YOU MUST GO TO BACARDI, KNOW THIS:
PROS: free tour, complimentary beverages (2 per person), inexpensive alcohol and gifts, gracious staff
CONS: 4+ hours total (including travel from Condado), BORING tour, bus/taxi to ferry to bus/taxi just to get there and back, surrounded by other tourists, long lines for drinks and/or gift shop
GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO THE ABOVE!!!
Don Q Rum has a "Casa Don Q" across from Pier 2 in Old San Juan. Think of it as a miniture Casa Bacardi tour, and at your own pace. Same free beverages, excellent gifts, gracious hosts, and interesting facts as Bacardi (and I, personally, think better rum!) without the extra ferry and bus/taxi ride. SUGGESTION: when you first walk in, go directly to the bar area and ask for a "house mix" (very tasty) with an extra shot of Don Q Crystal and take your time browsing the company/manufacturing info in the clean, air-conditioned Casa Don Q.
Great if youve harboured a lifelong ambition to own a Bacardi branded key-fob or ash tray.
For normal people, a hideous waste of your holiday.
After the mediocre Guinness Factory in Dublin, the abysmal Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, we have finally learnt our lesson - a drink related factory tour is not / cannot be a good thing.
The most interesting exhibit is a collection of small barrels containing different flavoured Bacardis that you sniff.
Located on the other side of the bay, a trip to the Bacardi Factory will swallow up at least 4 hours of your holiday - spend the time in Old San Juan instead.
As for the "free samples" - they're not FREE. You've paid for two ferrys and two taxi rides by the end of the day.
They're not even that good. The mojitos have been mass produced in a jar that looks like a dirty fish tank.
Although the Bacardi factory sounds like good use of an afterenoon, your time would be better spent touring Old San Juan. The factory is your standard tourist trap, and not worth a visit. Sure you get two free rums, and a semi interesting tour of the factory, but visit the fort instead.
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