We recently got home from a Southern Caribbean cruise and I thought I had best write about it now, before my memories and tan have all faded away…
I thought I would start at the very beginning (you know, the very best place to start) and that would be at my favorite airport, San Diego International. Let me tell you, if you live in Southern California and have not been flying out of SAN, you are missing out. Traffic to San Diego: not bad. Airport parking: easy. Check-in: quick. TSA screening: surprisingly not painful. Airport itself: relaxed. Compared to flying out of LAX, San Diego International is like a spa day. 🙂
Anyway, we booked a redeye to San Juan, Puerto Rico, so we arrived at the airport at about 8:30pm. In less than 30 minutes, we were in our terminal and enjoying dinner at the Stone Brewing restaurant in terminal 2. This is a great place for burning time at the airport since it has good food, Stone beers for those who are feeling parched, and most importantly good people watching from the open dining area. What else could you ask for?
At about 9:45 we headed to our gate. To find out that our flight was delayed. And then delayed again. And again. Turns out the first officer was sick (or a little too much fun in the Gas Lamp District of SD, perhaps?) and they were trying to get a replacement in. Long story short, there were extra issues because TSA closes at 11pm and therefore they would have to get a replacement in before then. Of course the only guy they found to step in lived out of town and was unable to make it by 11:00. But through some major miracle (and possibly bribing) TSA stayed open past midnight for our flight and we actually made it out. At about 12:10am, they started boarding the passengers; at 12:30, the new first officer boarded the plane to joyful applause; and by 12:33am, we were taxiing away. Oh and let me hand it to JetBlue on this, they kept us all updated and snacked-up while we waited. That’s right, in the age of stingy airlines, JetBlue rolled out the snack carts and waters and it was open season on snacking while we waited. Woohoo!
Once we took off, we made an effort to sleep. I took some melatonin blend from Trader Joe’s and it put me in a nice sleepy haze, though I never got comfortable enough to sleep for more than 20-30 minute spurts of time. About an hour before landing, as I was settling in for a final little catnap, my lovely neighbor opened the windows and started listening to loud videos on her phone. Thaaaaanks… But on the bright side (literally bright, darn it) I got a nice view of Fort Lauderdale as we made our descent.
Once we arrived at the gate, we grabbed our carryons and
sauntered casually raced to make it to our connecting flight. Since our departure from San Diego had been delayed by over two hours, what was going to be an irritatingly long layover was down to just long enough to use the restrooms and line up for boarding. But hey, we made it!
The flight from FLL to San Juan is only about 2 hours. Since it was nearly 9:00 in the morning, people had their windows open and I was enjoying the views–well between brief spells of narcolepsy–of the ocean and islands below. Here is one of my favorites:
At about 11:15am, after what seemed like eons of traveling, we made it to the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. Having been to Puerto Rico several times, it is starting to feel like coming home. 🙂
Off the plane–Hallelujah!–we headed to the baggage claim where we were sure to wait a while for our luggage. We actually wondered if it would make it at all since our connecting flight had been so delayed. But lo and behold, our bags popped onto the carousel in record time. Apparently last bags on are the first bags off. Nice.
Then off to the taxi stand. A quick side note: there is major drama between the taxi union and Uber in Puerto Rico right now–which I will probably mention in a later post–and from our experience this time around, I am a little partial to Uber. But there is something nice about knowing the reliability of the taxis in San Juan. Prices are regulated and there is an easy system at any major tourist area (airport, ferry terminal, cruise terminal, etc.). Anyway, all that to say that getting a cab from SJU is a breeze. Walk to the ground transportation area outside the baggage claim, locate taxi stand, get your price quote based on destination and number of bags, and you’re off.
From here we headed to the Caribe Hilton, our very favorite place to stay in San Juan. Now to be fair, we have only stayed at one other hotel there, but still, the Caribe is the best. 🙂
Since I have already posted about the hotel (see link above), I will spare you my long winded spiel. But here are just a few pictures…
Tips and Lessons Learned:
- I know I already said it, but seriously, if you are a SoCal resident and are looking for a nicer alternative to LAX and ONT, head to the San Diego Airport. It is so much better. No wait, that will make it more crowded and less appealing for me. Never mind, as you were. Continue on to LAX. 😛
- Jet Blue is not bad. They are generous with snacks, they give you mini bottles of water as opposed to a cup of water, and the coffee is decent. They also have Fly-fi that works pretty well once you figure out how to get logged in (seriously took me way too long to get it figured out–I had to seriously evaluate my intelligence on that one).
- When flying, please consider your neighbors. Really truly, to the woman who sat next to me on the first flight, I think you’re swell and all, but please cover your coughs and use headphones when you watch videos! Pretty please 🙂
- When grumbling about a really long layover, remember that it just might save you when your first flight is super delayed. Yay for long layovers!
- If you are going to San Juan, be sure to consider the Caribe as an option for your hotel.
Cruising the Southern Caribbean: Pre-Cruise Fun in San Juan