Woke up really early in order to catch an early flight to Puerto Rico, where we would be boarding a 8D7N cruise of the Caribbean on non other than the Royal Caribbean Cruises! The cruise itinerary was booked in Singapore through one of the travel agents and the documents and bills could all be settled in Singapore, saving all hassles. We chose the Brilliance of the Seas for its itinerary, mainly because it visits St. Lucia, a beautiful island with the Pitons and has quite a few port of calls. The only downside was that the departure is off San Juan and not from Florida which some of the cruises do depart from, mainly because the cruise catered for visits to Southern Caribbean and it was not possible to travel that far schedule-wise.
It was a 3hrs flight to San Juan from Orlando and we were taking the flight operated by Air Tran. The boarding time of the cruise would start at 12pm and the ship planned departure was at 6pm. After the flight into San Juan, we took the taxi to San Juan harbour.
There was quite a crowd already waiting to board the cruise ship. There were a couple of checks before we could enter the registration and waiting area. The registration counter had given some hardcopy info on what to expect on the ship and we went to sit at the waiting area for boarding. Unlike Orlando, the weather wasn’t cold in San Juan, and the waiting area got a little stuffy due to the crowd and without air conditioning. There was supposed to be some food but didn’t looked appetizing enough. We could technically leave the place and return later but that would mean going through the security again. The wait was longer than expected, going beyond the stated waiting time. When there were signs that a queue was forming, we went to join the queue only to wait a bit more as the crew had some issues with the shuttergate that did not seemed to be able to operate and they had to manual wind up the gate.
Boarding was really long as there were a checkpoints and xray machines, similar to what you see in the airport, just more thorough. By the time we were through, it was almost 2pm already. Proceeded to the reception to do check in and get the keys to our rooms. The cruise ship was huge and there were many lifts but also many people moving around. After checking in, we wanted to go explore San Juan during the “boarding” time and checked with the concierge but they advised against the idea, since the old town was some 1hr away by taxi considering the traffic conditions and we might not make it back in time. So we just proceeded to eat at the restaurant and spent the day exploring, reading up on tours the following day and taking a nap for the lost sleep we had to trade for the early flight. There was a daily program sheet that recommends stuff to do during that day and also gave an introduction to the port-of-call the next day. Tour itineraries could be managed in the room using the TV.
Dinner was served in the main restaurant and there was a dress code to adhere to if eating at the restaurant but we didn’t make it since we were late and we had to eat at another complimentary restaurant that served fish and chips. On board the cruise ship were some entertainment venues, such as a theatre for short musicals or standup comedy, a casino, a bar, basketball court, swimming pool, movie theatre, arcade room and a shopping arcade. We weren’t that interested and retired to our room.