Friday, November 16, 2012

Anniversary Cruise! Arriving in Puerto Rico

My husband and I were celebrating a Big Anniversary a couple of years ago, so we thought it would be nice to cruise the Caribbean, then revisit our “old haunts” in PuertoRico, which is where he was stationed (NAS Roosevelt Roads) just a month after we were married. Back then, I had to stay behind to save up enough funds to ship our household goods, our car, and myself to the island to join him. That took six months. It was a very long six months!

This time, though, we were going together. At the same time. Here's my diary from the trip:

April 24 – San Francisco to Charlotte
Here we are on US Air Flight 404, on the first leg of our red-eye flight. We'll transfer in Charlotte, NC. I haven't been in North Carolina since many years ago, when I was a preteen and my family drove through the state on our way to Florida. We were moving from the Montreal area to the United States. But I digress, as I am so prone to do!

Tired but excited!
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
They've loaded the plane early. Everyone must be on board, because they are getting ready to shut the door – almost ½ hour early. Come on! Who ever heard of that?! Night-night. The cabin lights are about to go off.

April 25 – Charlotte to San Juan

I have a hard time sleeping on airplanes, even red-eye flights. I couldn't stay awake, and I couldn't stay asleep. Note to self: Next time, get some Ambien or Benadryl or something!

So, the sleep deprivation (and a little stress, but we won't go there) explains what happened at the airport in San Juan. Without thinking, we allowed our carry-on luggage to be loaded into the van and transported to the ship along with our checked luggage. So, it wasn't with us. What a knuckle-headed thing to do [Just how knuckle-headed, we wouldn't find out until later]! When we got to the ship, which was just a 10 or 15 minute ride on the shuttle, the bags had been “delayed” [ kidding...they were probably going through all the unlocked bags...], so there we were in our traveling clothes instead of the bathing suits I had specifically packed in the carry-ons so we could hang out by the pool or in the hot tub. Ah, well.

The main lobby. Fancy!
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
The ship, the Caribbean Princess, is lovely. It's almost exactly – if not exactly exactly – like the Sapphire Princess [another cruise...], which makes it easy, convenient, and nice for orienting oneself and finding where things are located.

We went up to the buffet for a light lunch around 2 p.m. The weather was cloudy and warm on this day, but no rain. Then sunshine. Then cloudy again. We must be in Puerto Rico. Yay!

Have the bags arrived?
In our cabin. Very nice!
Photo by Harry. All rights reserved.
It seemed like a good idea to drop by the cabin to see if our bags had arrived yet. And, hurray, the carry-on with the shoes and snorkel gear had arrived (very useful on the ship...). Just a tiny problem, though: The bag was in total disarray, and Harry's brand-new, never-been-used-before, purchased-just-for-the-trip camera was not in the zippered pocket of the bag. Sometime between when we entrusted our luggage to the cruise guys [As far as we knew at the time, it was “the cruise guys.” Turns out, it was a “independent” transport crew that the cruise line is not responsible for. Beware!] and the time it arrived in our room, someone had rifled through the bag and stolen the camera. I called the concierge desk to report the missing camera and filed a report. Since we didn't have the cruise line's own travel insurance, having opted for one through the travel agent, we would have to file a claim with our insurance company if the camera didn't turn up. I was very upset. It wasn't about the camera being was about not being able to take pictures with it.

Making the best of it.
Actually got compliments!
Photo by Harry. All rights reserved.
As I had walked away from the bags at the airport, a small voice inside my head said, “Take your carry-ons with you!” But I was too tired and sleepy from the trip to go back to the luggage area. Very disappointing way to start a dream vacation.

A second carry-on, the one with my swimsuit cover-up/dress, arrived, so I changed into that. Harry was able to at least take off his boots and put on some sandals.

To make a long story short, the bag with our clothing finally arrived, but not before we had already gone to dinner. Note to self: See? You packed too many clothes, anyway. Response to self: Oh, yah? We'll see about that.

Waiting for the movie.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
After dinner, we went up on deck to watch the “movie under the stars.” It was a Tina Turner concert, and it was a lot of fun. [I know you want to know what we had for dinner. I'm getting to that, don't worry.] After the movie, we went to the Explorer Lounge to see a flamenco guitarist, Juan Carlos, complete with really terrific dancers. Juan Carlos was outstanding. What with the ship being docked right next to Old San Juan in Puerto Rico, it seemed entirely appropriate to enjoy a Pina Colada. San Juan is, after all, the place where Pina Coladas were “invented” or “created” or “concocted” or whatever. How about “first served”? Yes, that's it.

Fabulous! Juan Carlos & Dancers
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Dinner in the dining room was simply excellent. I started with a very tasty spring roll with peanut sauce, followed by a fresh and crisp Caesar salad. Next, I chose a cool and refreshing Pina Colada yogurt soup. For my main dish, I decided on pan-seared barramundi with rice pilaf and asparagus spears. Finally, for dessert, Bananas Foster. Yum! Harry had seafood terrine, mushroom soup, Cajun-style crawdad pot pie, and also the Bananas Foster. Having trouble breathing because you're so stuffed after imagining all that? Yes, you can order an appetizer and the soup and a salad and a main dish and dessert. Still hungry? Yes, you can order two appetizers and two main dishes and two desserts. No, you don't have to decide between two equally enticing dishes. You can have them both! The answer is “Yes!” Don't feel like eating in the dining room? The same delicious food is being offered in the buffet area (in case you want to eat twice...).

There were only two table mates who joined us at our table-for-six this evening. They seemed very nice but were rather shy and non-conversational. It was hard work. But perhaps they were really tired from their flight, too.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro
("El Morro" for short)
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Following dinner, my husband and I went to the lounge for a comedy act, but it turned out to be rather vulgar. We stayed for maybe 5 minutes of it (thankfully), then went up on deck for the sail-away past El Morro. It was unfortunately a very dark night, so pictures with my camera were a waste (Harry's MIA camera would have caught the scenes perfectly...grrr...). Well, “It is what it is,” as they say; I am over the initial anger and have determined not to allow this one unfortunate incident to ruin a fabulous vacation.

Our room, A219 – Aloha Deck, is just like the cabin on our cruise to Mexico [more on that soon in another blog entry], only the floor plan is reversed. The lovely soap and shampoo and lotion are the same (must be a specially-made formula for Princess lines). Smells delicious (but don't eat it)!

This afternoon, I “won” a port and shopping book at the drawing, so now I shall have to go shopping so I can save lots of money.

My husband did really well today, all things considered, except he made me a tiny bit crazy asking, “So, what's next?” while I was trying to empty the bags and stow our stuff. It was almost as though he was doing it on purpose to frustrate me. Almost. But of course he would not do that, right?

As we sail away from Puerto Rico, I find I'm looking forward to our longer stay on the island right after the cruise. My husband's brother and our sister-in-law will be joining us. I hope they want to visit Old San Juan! But we shall have a wonderful time, no matter what.

View from balcony, stage left.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
My legs are kind of sore from all the trips up and down the stairs today. I prefer to use the stairs rather than the elevators. This is so I can burn off all (or at least some) of the extra calories I know I'm consuming because of the tasty, ever-present, enticingly delicious, and pretty-much-always-available food and snacks. Yes, I know I could be eating light. But you're kidding, right?

All in all, it's an excellent start. Tomorrow, we'll be in St. Thomas.

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