Sunday, February 14, 2016

Southern Caribbean - Day 1 - Travel and Embarkation

Saturday morning we set off with our in laws for a week long adventure to the Southern Caribbean.  We chose to sail out of San Juan, Puerto Rico on the Celebrity Summit as it had great ports of call, and minimized sea days since you are already "there" when you embark.

The flight from DC was about 4 hours and we watched some movies in Amazon instant video and slept most of the flight.  DC was 18 degrees F and snowy when we left, so first act upon landing was to change into our tropical attire we had packed in the carry on.

Tip: Anytime you travel, but especially for a cruise pack 24 hrs worth of clothes, meds, and a swimsuit in your carry on so that if your bag is delayed and the ship sails, or if your bag doesn't immediately get delivered to your cabin, you can enjoy all the activities on board.

Note for SJU that you cannot enter any baggage claim areas from outside - only way in is from the gates, so plan to meet your party out side by the taxi stand at a specific terminal, and set contingency plans for if not here by X then proceed without us because cell phone service on Verizon was sub par while AT&T was good.

We met up with my in laws at their terminal and got a Taxi Touristico to the cruise terminal.  The taxis are either metered or flat rate, and the taxi stand agent will ask your destination, get a headcount and luggage count, and write the destination and total amount due on the slip of paper for you so it's really easy.  It was $25 for all 4 of us and luggage (plus tip) for the <15 min ride to the pier.  Super easy and a much better rate than paying the cruise line for a transfer which is usually $15-25 pp.

Embarkation was relatively easy at the terminal - Tom and I had our bags tagged and taken by the porter, were checked in and in our room changing into swim gear within a 10 min window!  We opted for a room with balcony on deck 6 and love it!

We spent the afternoon sunning by the upper deck and enjoying the warm salty water of the Thalassotherapy Pool.  Afterward we changed and did an early dinner in the main dining room, Cosmopolitan, before the mandatory muster drill at 7:45 pm.  Dinner was very good - we tried almost half the menu between the four of us.  Highlights included the mushroom soup, roasted beets with feta and tomato, and the beef spring roll. Entrees were fine, the home style porkchop being the standout.  The drill lasted about 45 min and it is very apparent that after some recent maritime disasters around the world the cruise lines and staff are taking safety very seriously and want the guests to know what to do.

Tom and I turned in early since we had been up at 5 am to make our flight.  First port of call on Sunday is Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.  We will spend Valentine's Day snorkeling and sailing ⛵️

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