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twangster

Adventure 5 Nights 5/5/18 Repositioning San Juan to Bayonne

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I'm doing something I never do and don't recommend.  I'm flying in the day of the cruise, tomorrow. 

Coming from the US West I'm taking a red eye tonight at midnight to NYC then off to San Juan in the morning landing in San Juan at 12:05pm.   I booked air through Royal's Air2Sea program plus I have travel insurance so between the two and with a evening sail away I'm rolling the dice. 

I came across a deal on this 5 Night cruise and couldn't pass it up.  $549 all in, solo in a balcony with $50 OBC.  Air2Sea was actually cheaper than Delta direct plus it provides some limited coverage in case of delays.  Between air and cruise fare I'm right at $1k for this trip. 

Shortly after I booked the news of a cheap cruise broke and many members of the RCPeriscopers.live group jumped on board including @mpoole3 who will be live blogging on the main page of RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com so this will be a light blog for me.  Keep an eye on the main page for his blog.

We have one port of call on this cruise, St Maarten.  I have no plans this time and may just take a taxi to Maho Beach and explore that area and a few beaches nearby.  On my last stop in St. Maarten I took a coastal catamaran and we sailed past Maho Beach but we were offshore.  There are few other beaches close by so I may just beach hop this time.

After St Maarten on day 2 we have 3 sea days on our way to Bayonne, NJ where Adventure will spend the summer alternating embarkations with Anthem. 

On this cruise I transferred the booking over to mpoole3's brother who is a travel agent which netted another $50 in OBC.   Consequently gratuities are covered and I'll have little left over for a few drinks since I'm sailing without a drink package. 

I'm traveling light having crammed everything into a 22" carry on suitcase.  That'll help if I have flight delays or need to leverage Air2Sea to fly me to St. Maarten.  I should have enough time for a shower in the JFK Delta Sky club in the morning.  With no checked luggage I'll have everything with me in the club and as soon as I board Adventure in San Juan.

Two other new additions for me on this cruise are a new travel router and some iPhone lens(es).  Credit for this travel router goes to @Galveston Steve and credit for the Moment iPhone lens goes to @JLMoran.  Indeed this blog has the effect of causing people including myself to spend some money!  

I've used the new travel router on a couple of business trips to share my free wifi plan on Delta courtesy of TMobile so my non-TMobile work phone and laptop could join.  It worked well for that so in the interest of traveling light I'm leaving my trusted travel router at home.

It's been a while since I've taken a red eye but it's practice for my overnight flight to Barcelona to join Symphony on her transatlantic to America in October.  Looks like my inbound aircraft is now in the air on its way here.  So far so good. 

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I'm pretty new here but I've read all your other live blogs and loved them....especially your awesome pics!  My family and I are sailing on Adventure in August and can't wait....this will be our first cruise on RCI and my kids' first cruise ever.  I can't wait to follow along your trip!  Wishing you safe travels!

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7 hours ago, twangster said:

 

I'm traveling light having crammed everything into a 22" carry on suitcase.  That'll help if I have flight delays or need to leverage Air2Sea to fly me to St. Maarten.  I should have enough time for a shower in the JFK Delta Sky club in the morning.  With no checked luggage I'll have everything with me in the club and as soon as I board Adventure in San Juan.

 

I have an 8 hour wait between flights in JFK, given your landing time in SJU i presume your flight departs JFK at 8am, which would be the same one i have booked for nov, which terminal do you depart and would you say it was worthwhile me getting a single visit pass for the Delta sky lounge given that it only opens at 5am and our flight is 8am? the cost of pass is $59 pp which i dont mind paying if it would be worth it, other option is Wingtips lounge which is open 24hrs but tickets state maximum stay is 4hrs, not sure if that is enforced and reviews are not that good, so may still end up sleeping on the floor somewhere lol 

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IT'S CRUISE DAY!!!

I'm writing this at 33,000 ft on the flight from NYC to San Juan.  So far this has worked out well.  Three hours of sleep heading to NYC and a couple more on the flight to San Juan.  There are a few cruisers on this flight, quite a few.  Looking at the map on board made me realize this is likely close to the course we'll sail North from St Maarten.  

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5 hours ago, Ray said:

I have an 8 hour wait between flights in JFK, given your landing time in SJU i presume your flight departs JFK at 8am, which would be the same one i have booked for nov, which terminal do you depart and would you say it was worthwhile me getting a single visit pass for the Delta sky lounge given that it only opens at 5am and our flight is 8am? the cost of pass is $59 pp which i dont mind paying if it would be worth it, other option is Wingtips lounge which is open 24hrs but tickets state maximum stay is 4hrs, not sure if that is enforced and reviews are not that good, so may still end up sleeping on the floor somewhere lol 

When I took off heading to NYC I was due into terminal 4 and scheduled to leave from the gate right next to my arrival gate.  As we started our descent into NYC both my arrival and departure gates had changed to terminal 2.  I took the bus from the C gates over to the B gates because I like that sky club more.  Plenty of time for a continental breakfast and a shower.  It felt good to wash the sleep off me.  Not sure it's worth $59 but that's a personal decision.  I had 2 hours between arrival and boarding.  More than enough time to ride the bus between terminals (staying in the secure area), shower, eat and experience sky clubs in both terminals.  The terminal 2 club also has showers but terminal 4 is newer.  

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We arrived into San Juan a few minutes early.  Standard approach with views of Old San Juan on the left side of the plane.

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New San Juan:

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Off the plane a few minutes before noon.  Signs and a kiosk near baggage claim pointed to the Royal Caribbean transfer desk.  Checked luggage is accepted here and placed on a truck.  Have your luggage tags handy as you won't see you bags again until they are delivered to your stateroom.  I only had carry on and the bus isn't really set up for people with carry on luggage, requiring a seat be used for it. 

Rumors of a delayed embarkation, boarding apparently started at noon. A simple extension cord was confiscated.  Security was the most thorough that I've seen.  I had to argue to keep my cell phone charger but in the end they relented.  It's a European style that plugs into the euro power port on board leaving the North American outlet for other things.  They asked me if I was from Europe.  Sure, if I can keep my charger, yes, I am!  Ten minutes spent having them go through every layer of clothes in my carry on.  Despite that I was on board by 12:45pm. 

The escalators to the upper floor where the main gangway is located are broken so we boarded on the pier where you would normally would at a port of call.

It's 1:35pm and they just announced cabins are ready.  Time to check out my cabin!

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Main Dining Room:

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Day 1 dinner menu:

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With a 6pm dinner but an 8:30pm sail away it left some time after dinner to explore the ship.  It did feel odd after the muster drill at 4:30pm not immediately having sail way but it allowed me to have a few diamond happy hour drinks and take some pictures around the ship.

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The peak-a-boo bridge.  More on that later.

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Great pics as always @twangster! Appreciate the cabin tour. I didn't realize that the balcony rooms had the actual balconies fully enclosed like that. So no way to open up between connecting rooms and get a larger space out of it.

I did notice the balcony railing / glass is angled outward. Do you still have a good view to either side when sitting, or do you have to walk right up to the railing to have any view to the sides?

Since you said you're traveling light, I'm curious if all the pics from your phone or if you had jammed your regular camera into your suitcase? If all from the phone, that's even more impressive with those night shots! And I would definitely want to know what app / settings you used, any tripod / monopod, etc. Learning time! 😁

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Day 2 - St. Maarten

No official excursion today although I did get a letter in my cabin with a 20% offer if I took it to the Shore Excursion desk to book one.  

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Instead of booking something through Royal I jumped in a shared cab to Maho Beach for $16 roundtrip.

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This is the beach at the end of the runway for the airport on the Dutch side of the island.  I had looked up incoming flights and scheduled my day to arrive when a couple of larger jets would be arriving.  First WestJet from Toronto:

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A few minutes a Delta jet from Atlanta arrived:

 

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A JetBlue plane took off between the two arrivals.  I had been sitting on a beach towel lined up with center of the runway.  When I saw the JetBlue plane getting to takeoff I moved over closer to the Sunset bar.  I've been here before and didn't want to discover sand in crevices I didn't my body had for the next week.   

A short time later that group of friends in the water when WestJet arrived broke into cheers and I looked over to see a guy had hit the sand on his knees and opened a ring box that he was presenting to a girl standing there in shock.  Before I could react and try to save him, she accepted.  Another man down. 

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With that it was time for a beverage so I jumped in a taxi and headed back to the cruise ship pier.  I decided to contribute to the local economy before getting back on board.  $3 plus tip or 2 for $5.

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5 hours ago, hayley_bopp said:

Loving the pics as always

What settings do you use to get the vibrant inside/night shots and still have sharp focus on any people in shot?

Thanks.  Dumb luck really, night shots are usually taken after diamond happy hour, so...

4 hours ago, JLMoran said:

I did notice the balcony railing / glass is angled outward. Do you still have a good view to either side when sitting, or do you have to walk right up to the railing to have any view to the sides?

Since you said you're traveling light, I'm curious if all the pics from your phone or if you had jammed your regular camera into your suitcase? If all from the phone, that's even more impressive with those night shots! And I would definitely want to know what app / settings you used, any tripod / monopod, etc. Learning time! 😁

I'll try to get some shots to show the balcony on a sea day coming up.  You get a good view when sitting but more private.  You do need to lean onto the railing to look down at the pier or ocean.

All iPhone photos.  I am experimenting with 'Moment'  app so some are shot with that, some with the native camera app.  No tripod on this trip, all handheld. 

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