Cruising with Royal Caribbean Day 1: Embarkment

Day 1: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Date: 21 April 2018
Port: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Boarded: ~3:30pm
Set Sail: 8:00pm

The start of the 2017-2018 school year didn’t go quite as planned. I mean, how many people in this world can say they spent the first day of school boarding up their windows in preparation of a hurricane. However, hurricanes and the aftermath aside, I was determined to experience more of the Caribbean Islands before leaving St. Thomas. And there was really only one way I could think to visit as many as possible. That is how my decision to take a cruise for spring break came about.

I went to facebook to see if I could find a friend or two to join me on my Royal Caribbean Cruise is April. The St. Thomas school district takes their spring break much, much later than the schools on mainland US. But, I was hopefully I’d be able to find a friend. After several Facebook posts, I finally had a friend respond.

This particular friend is my world traveler, Darren, who has been to over 100 countries. We met in Mexico in 2014 on a Contiki Tour and he visited me in St. Thomas in 2016. Now, it’s 2018 and we’re about to take off on a 6 island Caribbean cruise!

Old San Juan

Once April rolled around, Darren and I were well prepared and extremely ready to board our ship and start island hopping. Our ship for the week on Royal Caribbean Cruises was called the Adventure of the Seas. However, we both knew we didn’t want to arrive in Puerto Rico and go directly on to the ship.

**This ship has since changed routes and is no longer located in the Caribbean. The new ships and routes are the Freedom of the Seas and the Enchantment of the Seas. The itinerary is slightly different, but generally has kept the same port of calls.**

We decided to meet up in Old San Juan the night before our embarkment day and spend the evening enjoying Old San Juan. He was flying in from England and it just made logistical sense to have a free night before boarding. Plus, I love Old San Juan and Puerto Rico, especially the night life on Calle de San Sebastian.

If you’ve never been before, I highly recommended visiting Old San Juan. If you like to go out and enjoy the night life, you might also enjoy La Factoria.

La Factoria is a unique bar, that really is 4-bars in one. In the front is the main bar where you can enjoy a fancier style cocktail. If you continue walking through swing doors, you will find a speakeasy type bar. If you continue walking through another set of swing doors, you have entered into the salsa bar. This is the part of the bar that is more “partiesque” with countless people salsa dancing. Think Justin Bribers “Señorita.” If you continue through another, final set of swing doors, you have entered into the last speakeasy type bar. This is all La Factoria. 

We might have enjoyed a few delicious cocktails at La Factoria, and a few other local establishments.

Embarkment Day

The next day, we spent the morning wandering the blue cobblestone streets, which makes you feel like you’re somewhere in Europe. I could feel the excitement of travel beginning to reemerge in my heart and soul. It was truly a refreshing feeling after a really hard 8 months, post hurricanes aftermath. It was such a great feeling having the freedom to travel and having a travel friend along for the ride made it special.

We didn’t have to officially board the ship until 3-4:00pm so we decided to sleep in before heading out. Darren actually wanted to try and watch a European Football Championship game that was on TV. Thankfully, we found a place that was able to play it on TV and we were able to grab a snack and some beverages before boarding.

Once the game ended, it was time to start making our way to the ship. We selected our bags from our hotel, ordered an Uber, and off we went to the boarding dock.

Boarding the Adventure of the Seas

Check in for the ship, was to say the least, a complete cluster. It all starts with baggage drop-off and we couldn’t figure it out. We knew where to go as there was loads of people with luggage at one end of the dock, but we struggled with how to check in our bags. Thankfully, Darren and I are both well traveled, so we eventually figured it out.

After an entertaining baggage drop-off, we finally made it to the ship check-in where we handed over our passports. It wasn’t long before we were officially making our way to the ship entrance. I think it was at this point that I realized how massive this cruise ship really was. We were standing at the bottom on the dock looking straight up. Words do not help explain the magnitude of our ship, Adventure of the Seas.

It didn’t take us long before we located our cabin and met our cabin steward, Randy (He was AMAZING)! But, we didn’t stay in our room long after we found it. For starters, our luggage hadn’t made it to our cabin so we couldn’t even unpack. Plus, there was so much to see and do and experience on this ship. Neither of us could just sit in our room. We needed to wander and explore. 

We spent a solid hour walking around the ship while it was still at port and even found ourselves a nice cold beverage from the pub. The first couple hours on the ship are very rigid because of the amount of safety factors the ship is mandated to hold, but safety first.

The remainder of the night went as followed: drink from the pub, buffet dinner, drink from another bar, watch the game, then off to bed. We had an early start the next day at our first island of the trip, St. Kitts. Stay tuned for more adventures on with Royal Caribbean’s Southern Caribbean Cruise on the Adventure of the Seas.

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