The desire to get to warm weather along with an anniversary took my family on a cruise to the southern part of the Caribbean. Being Costco members, we used their travel agency back in September to book the cruise.
Princess cruise lines used to be one of the more expensive lines so we never used them before when we cruised. They have gotten competitive price-wise.
At this time, there is only one airline, Sun Country, that flies non-stop to San Juan, Puerto Rico from the Minneapolis airport. They weren’t the cheapest but it wasn’t that much more. And they only fly on Sundays — one flight there and one flight back.
The cruise lines offer round trip transportation from the airport to the ship. The cost is around $28 per person.
When we arrived in Puerto Rico our baggage had not yet arrived at the baggage carousel so I headed to the bathroom. A line of women warned me that I wasn’t the only one with the idea. Once I reached the front of the line, I saw the problem — 8 stalls, 5 with handwritten notes that they weren’t working and one with no toilet paper. It was a tad frustrating.
The cruise lines generate a lot of money for Puerto Rico so I expected them to be ready for tourists. I was disappointed that they weren’t.
I headed back to the carousel where our suitcases were supposed to be but found out that they had moved us to another carousel. I wonder why things don’t ever seem to go smoothly?
With suitcases in hand, we followed the person who held up a sign that said “Princess.” We boarded a bus that took us to the ship — about a 15 minute ride (not the 45 minute ride that Costco had told me about). I wondered (am I paranoid?) if they tell you it’s longer so you don’t hire your own cab which is a lot cheaper. Oh well … next time …
Once at the pier, we entered a large building that had people behind counters where they checked your identification then gave you a cruise “pass.” It’s much like a credit card. Everything you do on the ship is charged to this card — one has to be careful not to overspend as they don’t give you a statement until the evening before your last day unless you ask for it.
Our suitcases were whisked away from us when we got on the bus so we didn’t have to worry about lugging them around.
Before entering the ship, they take your picture. Then you slide your cruise “pass” into a computer. Every time you leave and return to the ship you have to slide your cruise pass through this machine. They then check your picture to make sure it’s you. This is very handy for them as they know which passengers are on board and which ones still have to return from any excursions they may have taken.
A person standing on the side welcomed us. Then — nothing. On previous cruises when you enter the ship they have a person who escorts you to your cabin. I asked the person which way to go and I was told a floor number. We eagerly headed to the floor only to be told by a cabin steward that we were on the wrong floor. We were directed to another floor. Wrong floor again. (I don’t normally get uh-oh moments this early in the process of a vacation but I was on my way to experiencing it …) Finally, the third time we were directed to the right floor.
We examined our cabins which were adjacent to each other — my husband and I in one and our sons in the other. The cabins looked more spacious than we remembered. A lot of closet space with shelving. The balcony made the room look bigger also. The only thing tiny was the bathroom.
The shower stall must be 2 feet by 2 feet. Not much room for turning around. Really tall people might have problems in here.
Since our suitcases had not yet arrived, we walked around the ship, had dinner in the Coral dining room and then returned to the cabin to unpack.
Around 8 p.m. we had the standard emergency practice of meeting at our “muster” stations and reviewing how to put on our life jackets.
Back at the cabin, our cabin steward had turned down our bed covers and put 2 pieces of chocolate on the bed. This would be the standard practice every evening. A piece of paper that listed the next day’s events was also left in our room.
Standing on the balcony, thoughts of Minnesota drifted away. The warm night air felt good on my face. I was sure to have a good night’s sleep swaying to the slight motion of the ship.
Day 1 was now over.