MITSUGIRLY has a JEWEL of a time on my 1st RC cruise in years!
Day 1: Flying to Puerto Rico for an over night stay
JEWEL OF THE SEAS
I have cruised with Royal Caribbean only once and it was back in the 90's (or it might have even been in 2000), on the Majesty of the Seas. So, basically I'm a "newbie" to Royal again I guess you could say. I've always wanted to try them again, but their prices are just so outrageous every time I've looked. I did some research (since we always cruise at Spring Break) and found that the Jewel, cruising out of Puerto Rico, was a price that I just couldn't pass up! FINALLY! I would get to try out Royal again. I booked and was super excited!!!!
ABOUT MY FAMILY AND WHO CRUISED THIS TIME:
This cruise was myself, my husband and Sakari (pronounced just like it's spelled Sa-Kar-ee, our now 9 year old daughter who will be turning 10 next week). This time, my 3 adult children would remain home (Kenny-31, Kendra-29 and Kolin-23).
Kendra, usually tries to cruise with us (pulling along my grandson B, sometimes her fiance, and the last cruise her daughter Kam). But she bought a house last year and they completely gutted it and made it "brand new" and they have been working diligently on trying to get it finished the week we were gone so that they could move in this month. Although it was a hard decision to make, she decided to sit this one out.
CAMERAS USED THIS TRIPl
This entire review was shot with my Olympus Tough TG2 & a few with the 620. I take my model 620 & 830 along with me for back up because you never know what might happen and I would be devastated if I was without a camera. Last Christmas, we also purchased Sakari her own camera (the 620 model) and she uses hers as well.
I'm back at school after taking a bit of a break...well...more than half a year LOL Summer classes are the only time we are "allowed" to not take classes and last year was the first time I decided to "break" and enjoyed it so much that a would "break" again during winter. Oops! So, now I had to re-enroll in school again to pick up where I left off at and start my classes. I've been procrastinating because I only have 3 "elective" classes left before my last nursing class and most nursing classes are only 5 weeks long but electives are 15 weeks!!! So what does this mean? This means I'M DOING HOMEWORK MY ENTIRE CRUISE AND TESTS! BLAH!!! (BTW, I'm already a nurse, just doing my bachelors now).
Puerto Rico has been one of my favorite cruise ports to cruise out of. I was super excited, homework and all, to head back. Since we were sailing during Spring Break, I would have a limited time to stay (due to Sakari's school schedule) and flew in the day before the cruise.
I set the alarm for 8am...only IT DIDN'T GO OFF! I'm a planner and now we are running late! I didn't wake up until 9:30am. Great way to get this cruise started (and trust me, it will end just as bad for those that stay until the end!).
We raced around the house in a mad fashion, hurled the luggage into the truck like we were competing in the Olympics and headed off for a quick breakfast along the way and the hubby some coffee...because no matter how late we are to anything...he MUST have coffee. Otherwise, I'm leaving him behind!
Well, breakfast didn't start out good either. We stopped to order breakfast sandwiches and on route to the airport, when I opened mine, I found only the outer bread with no egg, no sausage, no cheese, no nuttin!
We arrived at the airport parking lot and we almost thought we wouldn't be able to park. Almost every parking spot was taken. All the way to the back of the lot and the last row. Whew. This is not starting out good.
Caught the shuttle to the airport, checked in at 11:15am, security check...halt! My bag was pulled from the x-ray machine. What the heck? I do this often enough to know what shouldn't be in that bag. IT WAS ALL THE CHANGE I HAD! LOL Seriously? I brought a bunch of change for vending machines along the way and obviously they didn't like that.
We raced to the gate (always at the end of the building for us for some reason) to find out our flight was a bit late coming in. Whew! Well, at least we made it.
We boarded the plane at 12:30 and headed out to Baltimore.
We had received some free drink passes prior to this trip and after the morning I had already had, it was time for some alcohol. It's 5 o'clock somewhere right? This would be the point and time that I would discover that I had forgot my first item...my reading glasses. Oh just great. Squinting at the "menu", I picked out my first drink...vodka and OJ.
Nuts and booze should calm me down right?
Like always, Sakari starts a masterpiece.
We landed in Baltimore without a problem and made up some of the time we had lost by the delay. We didn't have a plane change so Sakari amused herself by laughing at daddy's pop bottle that had now turned into a square.
We were off again for our 3 hour and 45 minute flight to Puerto Rico.
On the longer flights, you are offered more snacks and more variety.
Southwest airline cookies...in the shape of a plane.
We...well really I, decided it was time for another drink! This time around, I would try the "Rum-Rita"...sounded interesting (I'm not much of a drinker and had no idea what to get) and the hubby had one of those bloody Mary things. Between Rita and Mary, all 4 of us were having a good time!
The stewardess came around and handed Sakari her own set of wings. Gosh don't give her any ideas, she might want to start taking pilot lessons now. She's very influential these days.
Well I must say that "Rita" became my new best friend. That stuff was pretty darn good! I decided I would order another, even though I was out of coupons at this point (had to play nice and share with the hubs), I would just purchase the next at the inflated rate of $7.00! I raised my hand like I was in school again and the stewardess came over and I said "another round please!" She asked for my drink coupon and I told her I was fresh out. The hubs handed her the cc and off she went...only to come back and say "darn, the machine isn't working...this one's on us". Well, my day just started looking brighter and I was now counting puffy cotton balls in the sky with a smile on my face!
Puerto Rico...Mitsugirly has arrived!
The hubs and I like to watch a show called The Profit. Just the night before this vacation, we watched a special series he did on Puerto Rico and the devastation from the hurricane last year. He visited and showed how people were affected, the clean up effort, the lack of help, and the devastation. The show was heart-wrenching to watch. If you get the chance, google it and WATCH THE SHOW! Some of the stories on there just made me want to cry to see what they went through. I was especially interested in the doctor and nurses that were helping people. I just can't imagine! They would take 10-15 hour days and only be able to reach maybe 5 people a day to help them due to the traveling situation. Sometimes it would take up to 3 hours to reach someone due to the roads and bridges being out or blocked.
So flying across PR, I found myself looking down at the buildings with a lot of them still covered in blue tarps in areas.
Visiting Old San Juan does not give you an adequate picture of those that are still, to this day, struggling to get back to normal and the clean up process continues in many areas, especially the middle of the island. (We would talk to locals about this later in our trip to get the inside scoop).
We landed and was in the cab by 6:20pm. They would hand us a ticket with the price to get from the airport to our hotel in OSJ. $25
We arrived at the hotel a little before 7pm.
I had a hard time finding a place to book our hotel prior to our cruise. I searched for months and just couldn't make up my mind. The Old Sheraton was outrageous with their pricing now, as was a lot of the other places. I imagine the hurricane has some bearing on this due to some places still not being open.
I reluctantly decided to go with a place called Da House. There seemed to have mixed reviews on it and not many on here had actually experienced a stay there. I figured it's only for 1 night...how bad can it be? There's running water and a/c and electric. It would suit my needs at the time and was a decent price compared to other places. $157.07 for a "queen room with juliet balcony" whatever that meant. I had a feeling it was the same as our Sheraton room last time.
Our taxi pulled up and lifted our luggage out of the trunk then pointed down the alley. There's the entrance down there. Hmm, ok, we headed down to the "entrance" only to find several steps to the door. :confused:
We rang the doorbell and was buzzed in. Next would come the fun part. THERE'S NO ELEVATOR in this place...at all. We had to carry our heavy 45.7-49.4 pound luggage x3 all the way up to the second floor, which consisted of 4 flights of stairs because the ceilings in this place are T-A-L-L!
Huffing and puffing, we finally made it to the front desk. Hubby was a little perturbed to say the least. He asked about "help" in this place with luggage and we were informed "they have already left for the night". Well lucky him!
The guy at the desk said "Well at least you have a room on this floor (2nd floor) and you won't have to go up any more stairs. :rolleyes:
We checked in and headed to our room...
So here we are at the hotel...
Instead of having an entrance and lobby in the front, on the main road, they have a gift shop.
The roads are brick and bumpy (which looks cool...until you have to attempt to roll your luggage down it). On the right is Da House and that door you see is where you enter the building.
I forgot to mention, the airport broke one of my "main" wheels on my luggage (by main I mean the one you need in order to pull it by the handle and it roll instead of the others where you push it) and the wheel was pushed up all the way into the luggage. This made it very hard to push on these roads...on anywhere else as a matter of fact.
Viewing from the other direction (yes, it's also on a hill). The doors here with the steps leading up is the entrance to the stairs.
Looking up (and down) at the stairs and our adventure started.
This is the lobby and front desk area.
There are little rooms off to the side of the lobby. I guess this is like a gathering room for people.
Notice the doors open...no a/c in the lobby area.
When you look online, you'll see people in these little area's off to the side "enjoying" their time at Da House. I did notice a room that had some games on a table to play. However, in 85 degree weather and no a/c, I can't imagine sitting there for any period of time to play them.
See the games on the desk?
These areas are also open up above and go all the way to the roof with skylights. While it's very pretty, it also creates more heat coming in from the sun.
I guess maybe if you want to grab a bite to eat and sit down here for dinner?
This was right across from our room. The hubby waited here while I "did my thing" (took pictures).
Notice the busted window/skylight area? They must have had some damage from the hurricane.
The weird thing was, it was a piece of plastic and drywall thrown over it, which anyone knows that when drywall gets wet...
I imagine that's what is drooping down from the plastic...just an accident waiting to happen when it falls 4 floors down to that sitting area across from our room. Hopefully there won't be anyone there sitting when it happens.
This is our room: 206 Marta Perez
Now I'm just going to say this now...these pictures look A LOT nicer than in person. I'm just putting this out there right now!
The mattress sat on wood, without a box spring, and was very hard and uncomfortable.
The room is in an L shape and Sakari's "room" was off to the side.
Both "rooms" had a window/door that could be opened.
Except one of the doors in Sakari's area couldn't open because it drug on the tile in the room. Or just the window portion could be opened.
There wasn't a balcony, just a railing and this is looking down.
These tables and umbrellas belong to the restaurant directly across from the hotel.
Ok, on to the bathroom. The shower was super small. It looks bigger in the picture...maybe because I'm using a fish eye lens. But hey, I need to get use to this because I'm about to have a small ship room shower right?
Here is the door to the bathroom. For everyone's viewing pleasure...no matter what you do!
Now let's get into the nitty gritty of this room...
I have never stayed in a "Spanish" type place but usually love the architectural buildings and Spanish tile work but...
Here we are talking some very old and broken tiles around the room and dips and uneven floors. It's hard to tell in the picture but this dip in the floor messed with me several times when I walked across it and forgot it was there. LOL
Again, not sure if this place had issues from the hurricane or not...looks like they had done some mudding/drywall and never repainted it.
There was this VERY small desk. It's like kid size. I assumed it was like most fancy regular hotels that have a "work station" type desk for your computer. I felt like a kid when I sat down with my knees touching the top. However, after sitting down and pulling out the computer to do a bit of homework...I discovered there wasn't a plug anywhere in site. So much for that!
Now look at this floor. At first I thought it was extremely dirty with mud. But after getting a closer look, it's actually the tile that is messed up.
Then after taking even a closer look at my bare feet at this point, it was actually dirty as well and needed a good cleaning. Yuck. Back on the socks went.
Taking a closer look at the room now that I'm a little disgusted with the floor, I look up (the ceiling are EXTREMELY high) and see the vents. Is that mold growing around them???
My husband is now giving me this look like I really picked a winner this time around. Hey, it's only for 1 night. We will live with it.
It was getting late and I had only had a non-existent breakfast sandwich and alcohol for lunch. I was hungry.
Time to head out and back down the stairs we went.
Then Sakari yells "Hey mom, what's this????" as something scurries up the wall...
Yep, you guessed it...a roach. Now I'm sick to my stomach. Oh just fricken great.
Down the "alley-way" we went and decided to head toward the port area.
We came across a very busy street. I liked that they had outside dining and it felt pretty decent out at this time with the wind blowing, although it was still hot. We decided to eat at La Cueva Del Mar. (I just noticed a person in the next picture had a coat on! Are you serious? It was still hot!)
Here's the outside dining along the sidewalk. By the time we checked in, the last seat was taken outside and we had to go inside.
Inside was packed as well. I guess we picked a great place.
The hubby thought I was taking pictures of him but in reality, I was trying to be inconspicuous about taking some pictures of the restaurant.
When we were walking by outside, trying to pick a place to eat, I noticed these taco's on a woman's plate and thought they looked really good. So when the menu came, I was all about finding what it was she had.
I LOVE shrimp and I can tolerate fish, depending on what kind. I hear everyone on cc talk about fish tacos. I seen it on the menu. I decide to order a plate of 4 combo tacos: 2 shrimp and 2 fish. Hey, if I didn't like the fish, I still had the shrimp to fall back on right?
Booking Da House was providing to be adventurous so why not continue this adventurous night and try something new!
So fish and shrimp tacos it is! They came and I knew they were exactly what I had seen outside.
The best tasting thing I have ever had. They were to die for! Even better than the shrimp. It made me wish that I had just ordered the fish tacos. I will know next time!!!
The hubby does NOT like fish...or seafood, but I have turned him on to shrimp scampi over the years and he will eat that. I insisted that he take a bit of my fish tacos and even though he put up one heck of a fight, he tried them and even liked it. Not enough to ever order any, but enough to not give me his puke face and that was good enough for me.
Hubby ordered chicken "balls" of some sort. Or maybe they were crispy balls of chicken. I can't remember the name. But they came and they were definitely CRISPY!
At one point he actually ask the waitress if they were over cooked and got the reply that's why they are called crispy chicken balls or whatever. Hmmm, makes sense right?
Sakari played it safe with regular chicken tenders. No crispy balls for her.
This was my plate at the end and I was now in a vegetated state not wanting to move. I was SO satisfied.
And our bill:
I didn't think it was too bad at all.
We walked out very satisfied (and by "we", I mean at least I did) and we started just walking around (or maybe in my case rolling) and noticed the port near by.
It's too bad the RC docks at a different port because I would have been willing to just walk to the cruise port...broken wheel and all.
Back to the hotel we went...for even more of an experience. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse!
Back up the stairs we went, which was even harder this time around since we were so stuffed, and then to our room.
It was extremely hot in there. There was a sign on the door saying that if you are not going to be in the room to conserve energy and keep the a/c off. So the minute we came back on it went!
Um...On??? I couldn't get it to do anything. I went out to tell the front desk. He came to our room. He couldn't get it to work either. He said he would have to call maintenance. We opened up the windows and the door to try to get a little bit of air circulation going, but it didn't work too good. He later came back and said they were going to "reset" the a/c in our room (like kick a breaker or something is the way he explained it).
YIPPEE! It came on.....
....for about 5 minutes and off it went again. UGH!
Back to the front desk I went to let them know. He would once again call maintenance to reset it.
It came back on and shut back off and NEVER CAME ON AGAIN after that. Oh just great. By the time I went back to the front desk, he had already pulled out 3 fans and was getting prepared.
Now came the excuses...
"That's weird, we've never had a problem with the a/c before".
"That room has never had any issues" <--meaning what? Others do?
"Well at least you can open the windows all night for some air" Are you serious? I'm not leaving my windows open all night for bugs to fly in, pigeons to fly in and possibly mosquito's as well. I remember last time we were here all they reported was the West Nile virus going around and with the recent hurricane and dampness...I'm not chancing that! Then remember there was a restaurant/bar in the alley across from us. With the windows open, you could hear everything. With them closed, not so much.
...last but not least...(I'm still rolling my eyes at this one)...
"Your room ONLY is on an entirely different a/c system and not the same as the rest of the hotel. I'm not sure why. But the rest of the hotel a/c is working fine. It's just your room." SERIOUSLY? Why in the world would ONLY ONE room in the entire hotel of 3 floors be on a different a/c system? :eek:
Of course they said they were fully booked and couldn't offer me another room. He told me that the manager comes in at 7am and I should talk to him about it.
He provided us with 3 fans, 2 of which were on a timer of 60 minutes and you had to wind it up every 60 minutes...which means that after 1 hour of falling asleep, you wouldn't be getting any air from those 2.
This was not going to be a good night. A hard bed, the thought of bugs and no a/c. I headed off to take a cold shower to prepare myself for the night.
After the shower, time to try to relax...only how? There's NO T.V! Say what? The description online said tv. The room even said if there's a problem to call the front desk. Guess what? No phone either! It would be an early to bed night for us.
Sakari finished her drawing and I'm not sure at what point she headed to bed. I was too busy tossing and turning while rolling in my sweat. :(