A WONDERful first Disney cruise - San Juan to New Orleans - updates x2 - 6/18!

DisneyParkLover

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 30, 2013
Hello! And to all who come to this happy place...welcome! This is my fourth trip report (although my third was never really completed 😩🤷‍♀️). But this was the first time on a Disney cruise for anyone in our group and there are never as many Disney cruise reports as I’d like, so I thought I’d share our experiences!

Cast of characters:

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This is me. I’m Katie (or mom as I’m frequently called!). I am a 36 year old Disney-phile. My love for Disney has brought us on about 20 Disney trips in the last 10 years and finally on our first Disney Cruise. I am so Disney obsessed that I decided to turn it into a career and as of last fall I am now a Disney travel planner! ❤

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The tall one is my handsome husband James (or DH as I’ll probably refer to him). He isn’t nearly as Disney obsessed as I am, but he likes Disney and is happy to be along for the ride. He loves cruising so he was excited to combine Disney and cruising (finally!).

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This is Luke. He is really the main reason for this trip. I’ll cover more in my next post about how this trip came to be, but he started begging to go on a Disney cruise when he was about 4. He is now 6 1/2. He loves Disney, loves cruising, loves the water, and loves thrills. He is going to be my travel buddy for sure!

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This is Annie. She is 3 1/2 and is very much a three-nager. She is independent and strong-willed. She loves Disney characters and Mickey bars, but very much dislikes being told what to do.

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Last but not least, these are my parents. They are known as Gaga (my mom) and Gompa (my dad) by the kids, so I will likely refer to them as such. We are fortunate to have them living very close by and they accompany us on a lot of our travel. My dad celebrated his birthday on this cruise. (Although I won’t tell you which one! 🤫)

So there you have our merry bunch. Up next will be trip details!
 
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DisneyParkLover

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 30, 2013
So now that you’ve been introduced to everyone, let me tell you how this trip came to be.

My first Disney trip was when I was 7. You would think that would be when my love for Disney began...but you’d be wrong. It was a great trip, but my real Disney obsession didn’t start until about 18 years later. You see, my brother was turning 21. And my mom wanted one last big family trip before the “empty nest”. She suggested Disney. My brother and I didn’t really want to go to Disney. We thought it was too babyish and we were pushing for Vegas. But mom’s always right, so....we went to Disney.

And we had the best trip. I think I loved it even more as an adult than as a kid. And that trip sparked a love that has since grown to 20 more trips, a trip to Disneyland Paris, a Disney travel planning job, and now this cruise! So I guess mom really was right! 🤣

So let’s move on to 2018. My love for Disney parks was already firmly seeded. I also loved cruising. But those loves had never converged. My son began seeing commercials for Disney cruises around age 4 and started begging to go. But that’s a big cost and I didn’t know if he would even like cruising. So I did what anyone would do...I booked a “test cruise”. A short 4 day cruise with another cruise line from our closest port of Mobile that came in around $900 for the 4 of us. So what did the kids think?!?

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I think it’s safe to say they were fans!

So we definitely had a Disney cruise in mind. But budget was still a consideration. When they released the early 2020 sailings in late 2018, I noticed this particular sailing right away. It was much less expensive than some of the others due to being a repositioning cruise. And New Orleans is an easy drive for us! So I checked the cost of one way flights from New Orleans to San Juan. Very reasonable and we had enough Southwest points to cover them! Plus the cruise had a stop in Castaway Cay and lots of sea days, which is what I was looking for in a first Disney cruise! I talked to my parents and they were in. So it was decided and deposits were made! We had our first Disney cruise booked! (And we only had to wait almost a year and a half! 🤣)
 
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DisneyParkLover

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 30, 2013
Since I could barely stand the 400+ day wait, we knew the kids wouldn’t be able to. So we made the decision early on not to tell them.

So in 2019, when I started my new job and was watching endless training videos about Disney, Luke’s desire to go on a Disney cruise really amped up. He started putting away every dime in hopes that he could save enough for us to go. Which led to this gem that I just have to share with you....

My husband loves our yard. He is a little fanatical about it. He has seeded it and done grass plugs and waters it obsessively. He pays someone to come out and spray for weeds (bee safe spray, just FYI). This is something we disagree about. I couldn’t care less whether we have grass or weeds. I don’t really want to pay for this service. So one day, the little purple flowers start to pop up in everyone’s yards. My son then asks why we don’t have any, to which I quipped (to get under my husband’s skin 😂) “because daddy spends all our money to get rid of those pretty flowers”. To which my husband retorts “those flowers are weeds, buddy. We don’t want weeds in our yard!” I think nothing of it until nearly a week later. My parents have been babysitting and when we pick the kids up, my mom pulls me aside and says “Luke told me tonight that ‘we can’t go on a Disney cruise because daddy spent all our money on weed.’” 🤣🤣🤣. Y’all. I died laughing and had to explain to my mom the entire story about the yard. And then I emailed my son’s teacher so if he repeated this at school she would understand the context - my husband just has an obsession with a nice looking yard, not drugs.
 
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  • DisneyParkLover

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2013
    Travel Day(s)

    So as I mentioned, this was a repositioning cruise that started in San Juan and ended in New Orleans. Since we live in driving distance of New Orleans, we decided it would make the most sense to drive to New Orleans, fly to Puerto Rico, and then have the cars waiting for us on return. We knew we wanted to spend some time exploring Puerto Rico, but we also didn’t want the kids to miss too much school. And I don’t have too many vacation days, so we settled on driving down to New Orleans Thursday night after work/school and then flying out super early the next morning. (The cruise departed Sunday.) This wasn’t really the best plan, but I’ll get to that later.

    My parents drove down separately. And since they don’t have the same vacation days/school days concerns as us, they left about a day and a half earlier than we did and enjoyed some extra time in New Orleans.

    We picked up the kids from school and wound up heading out a little later than I had hoped. Maybe 4/4:30ish? The drive was easy, but slow. Any time you are traveling with 6 and 3 year olds, you have to be prepared for plenty of stops for food and potties. So based on texts to my mom, it looks like we arrived around 11. My mom had selected a lovely Holiday Inn and Suites near the airport with a free airport shuttle and that would let us leave the cars there for free during our cruise. 👍

    Unfortunately, a couple things went wrong here. The first was a flight change. Our flight was originally at 6:10, so I was thinking we could leave the hotel around 4 and be fine. But then they moved up our flight to 5:30. And then the free shuttle that was supposed to run every 30 minutes was only running every hour instead. So instead of my intended 4 am departure time, we now had a shuttle scheduled at 2:30 am. 😩So by the time we brought in the bags and kids and got them settled for bed, we were looking at an alarm that was set for just over 2 hours later. 😭

    So the kids woke up super crabby and this led to some pretty rough spots on this day. I like to be totally transparent in my trip reporting, so you’ll hear more about that later, but the take home message is that I wouldn’t plan this way again.

    We got to the airport very early and they hadn’t even started checking in yet. And then after they started checking in, we waited in the line a little while before they opened the kiosks. And then there was some time where we struggled with adjusting luggage between bags to get them all under weight, and managing car seats and a stroller. These kids really take a lot of stuff! 😳. Plus I had an entire suitcase devoted to fish extenders! (I’ll talk about those a little more later.)

    Once we got everything checked in and made it to the gate, we passed the wait by letting the kids play on phones and iPads. No shame here. They don’t use these things at all at home, but I happily employed them during travel! 👍
    We had checked in as soon as possible and we actually got an A boarding group for this leg. So we didn’t even have to worry about family boarding. My parents were in B group, but we were able to snag two rows of 3, one behind the other. This was on 1/31/2020, so we were just starting to hear about Covid-19, so I insisted on disinfecting everything before we sat down. Luke sat with my parents and Annie sat with us.


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    I will say, for being sleep deprived, the kids actually did amazingly well on the flight. They colored and used the Southwest app to watch some shows. And sunrises from the air are definitely a perk of early flights! 😍

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    Before long, we made it to Orlando where we had a couple hours to kill. Me being me, food was the first thing on my mind, so we wandered over to the food court. Even though it was only about 9 am, I had been up for almost 7 hours, so I was ready for lunch. So while James got himself and the kids some breakfast platters, I got a meal from Chipotle. This was not good. I got a plain cheese quesadilla thinking the kids might want to share some, but they were happy with their breakfast, so I could have gone with something a little more exciting. But as it was, it was all cold. Cheese quesadilla was cold and bland. Beans were cold and too oniony for my taste. And even the queso (which I thought would be impossible to mess up) was not good. Cold and clumpy and just tasted off. Sadly, most of this expensive airport meal wound up in the trash.

    We headed back to the gate and didn’t have too long to wait for our next flight.


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    We got a B group for this leg, so we took advantage of the family boarding and got the same arrangement of seats as before. The early morning was catching up with Annie!

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    So despite demanding the window seat, she missed all the beautiful views flying into San Juan!

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    Up next: a rough start but otherwise awesome first day in Puerto Rico!
     

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    Mich123

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 12, 2009
    Great start! I've been dreaming about our fall repositioning cruise (NYC to PR) and hoping we will still be able to go. San Juan is one of my favorite places, so I'm hoping you have fun, too!
     

    DisneyParkLover

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2013
    Great start! I've been dreaming about our fall repositioning cruise (NYC to PR) and hoping we will still be able to go. San Juan is one of my favorite places, so I'm hoping you have fun, too!
    I’ll be honest, Puerto Rico was never really in my radar prior to this trip. I had heard it was nice, but I didn’t have a burning desire to go, you know?

    But....***SPOILER ALERT****......we loved it so much! I can’t wait to have a chance to go back and would love to have a trip where we spend a week or two just exploring Puerto Rico!

    And I am certainly hoping that you should be good for a fall cruise. We have a September Disney trip booked and I don’t want to even think about the possibility that things may not be better by then. I need to believe that they will be.
     

    Quellman

    Donald Duck
    Joined
    Aug 15, 2014
    I’ll be honest, Puerto Rico was never really in my radar prior to this trip. I had heard it was nice, but I didn’t have a burning desire to go, you know?

    But....***SPOILER ALERT****......we loved it so much! I can’t wait to have a chance to go back and would love to have a trip where we spend a week or two just exploring Puerto Rico!

    And I am certainly hoping that you should be good for a fall cruise. We have a September Disney trip booked and I don’t want to even think about the possibility that things may not be better by then. I need to believe that they will be.
    Totally agree! We hadn't much desire to visit San Juan, but when the Fantasy diverted there on one of our cruises, we found it enjoyable and wouldn't mind going for a destination vacation instead of a cruise stop!
     

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  • DisneyParkLover

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2013
    Our First Day in Puerto Rico

    We arrived in Puerto Rico on time which was just after 2 pm. We had been traveling for approximately 24 hours. One long car ride, a shuttle, and two flights on very little sleep. And the kids were DONE.

    We headed down to the baggage carousel. We waited and our luggage came out rather quickly. But no sign of the stroller or car seats we had checked. So we waited. And waited. And waited. After realizing that there was no more luggage coming out and our stuff was definitely NOT there, I headed over to the lost luggage desk. I waited in line to find out that they put all the car seats and strollers somewhere else. That would have been nice to know 30 minutes ago, but at least they weren’t lost. 🤷‍♀️

    At this point, Annie was losing her mind. Like on the airport floor throwing a tantrum. So instead of having her be able to pull her own suitcase, we had to pop her in the stroller and try to push the stroller along with managing 5 suitcases and two car seats between 2 adults (plus whatever stuff my parents had). 😩. We somehow manage to schlep all that stuff across the street to the car rental location. Where we found 4 empty lines and one car rental company with a ridiculously long line. Guess which one we had pre-rented our car through?!? 😩

    So I get in line for the car rental which takes FOREVER. It’s insane. The people at the front of the line have clearly never rented a car before and they are having a hard time comprehending how any of it works. Then after each question, the desk agent has to explain it to each member of their party as they come over one by one. 🙄Meanwhile, the kids are bickering and Annie is still crying on and off. There is a bathroom at the rental location so James and my parents take both kids, but they both tried and neither had to go. So finally after 45 minutes or so, we have our paperwork and we head to the car booth, which is all the way on the far side of the parking garage. So there we go with all our stuff. We get over there to find out they don’t keep the minivans onsite and they are “a little backed up so it may be awhile”. Then I discover the clothes I had carefully tucked in the front pocket of the suitcase had somehow gotten something all over them and were unwearable. 😢. And then shortly thereafter, Annie announced she “had to go to the bathroom - bad”. So James walks her all the way back to the bathroom and shortly after he returns...Luke has to go. 😤😩😭🤦‍♀️
    It is (a tiny bit) funny now, but I was at the end of my rope by this point. I know you guys didn’t need this whole backstory, but like I said, I like to be transparent. I love to travel and my kids are mostly good travelers. But no trip is perfect and I want to be honest and the good, bad, and ugly in case it will help other travelers.
    Finally we got our minivan and headed out of the airport. The first photo I took shortly after heading out is time stamped 4:20, so the airport fiasco took about 2 hours. But at least we were finally on the way. We had an activity planned for this evening at 7:30 that was about an hour’s drive. So we discussed dropping our stuff at our AirBNB, but since it was the wrong direction, we decided to just head towards our activity. Here’s a couple photos along the drive:

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    We were impressed how lush and green it was! We drove near the exit for El Yunque and since we had plenty of time, we decided to take a little time to explore the rainforest!

    This was a great decision! The kids had dozed in the car and it was enough to rejuvenate them and they were excited to get out and see the rainforest. We stopped at several stops along the way - an overlook, a waterfall, and the tower (although sadly the tower was closed).

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    This was such a beautiful area and we were so glad we decided to take this detour! I highly recommend making time for it. Luke wanted to do the rainforest zipline, but he was too young, so that would be something we would consider for a future trip!

    We enjoyed our rainforest time, but we had to head out because we had something important to get to - something I had wanted to do for years!
     
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    DisneyParkLover

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2013
    Our First Day in Puerto Rico (cont.)

    So where were we headed? If you guessed a bioluminescent bay, you’d be right! This had been on my bucket list since I first read about them many years ago. Some of you are familiar with bioluminescent bays, but for those who aren’t, here’s a quick rundown from Discoverpuertorico dot com:


    These rare ecosystems happen when microscopic, single-celled organisms called dinoflagellates grow in quantities big enough to produce a “glow-in-the-dark” effect when they are stimulated by movement. There are only five ecosystems in the world where the concentration of these planktons is high enough to be considered bioluminescent bays, and Puerto Rico is home to three of them.

    So needless to say, when we booked this trip and I knew we were going to Puerto Rico, I desperately wanted to find a way to make it happen. Unfortunately, there were some hurdles to overcome. First - most of these tours are done by kayak and Annie did not meet the age requirement. (Nor would she be able to help paddle one.) After much searching, I was able to find a tour company that offered tours by electric boat instead.

    But the second problem was that this company did not operate on the weekends, so our only option was this day. So even though it was less than ideal with the long travel day, if we wanted to make it happen, it had to be this day.

    We found the check in tent along the bay fairly easily. We still had about an hour before our tour, so we decided to grab a quick dinner. There were several restaurants across the street, so we just picked the one that sounded best. I believe it was Cafe Playero. James and I shared the fish tacos and the Jibarito - codfish fritters, stuffed fritters, deep fried corn meal sticks, and mozzarella sticks. I think my parents got the same? For the kids we got an order of chicken tenders to share.

    All the adults’ food came out very quickly, but the kids’ chicken tenders took a long time. So we wound up having them boxed up and the kids nibbled on them after we checked in while we waited for our tour. The food was delicious! I especially loved the codfish fritters.

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    Before long it was time for our tour! BioIsland Puerto Rico was our tour company and they had two electric boats - a six person and a ten person. And since we were a party of six, we were lucky enough to get a “private” tour for just our group.

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    It was too dark to get any kind of pictures, so you guys will have to make do with my descriptions and one photo borrowed from the internet. First they take you down a long river covered by mangroves. That’s where we spotted this huge iguana!

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    It is completely dark as you navigate down this small channel and then it opens up into a beautiful lagoon. At first the water is completely black and then they start dipping oars in the water to agitate it. And everywhere they disturb it glows and sparkles! The kids loved dipping the sticks and their hands it the water to make it sparkle. Annie thought it must be a mermaid lagoon filled with mermaid magic! 🧜‍♀️ ✨ Here is a photo from Steph on Flickr that shows what it looked like:

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    I thought that was the most magical part, but it was actually after we started back. We had just gotten back under the mangrove cover when it started to rain. As the fat rain droplets made it through the mangroves, they hit the water with enough force to disturb the dinoflagellates. So each droplet caused a small area to glow/sparkle. So all around us as the rain fell, we were surrounded by glistening, sparkling areas of bioluminescence. 😍😍😍. It looked a lot like this (photo credit Interwoven Roads):

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    This was an amazing experience. Even if it hadn’t been for the bioluminescent bay, I would have still enjoyed the boat trip with our knowledgeable guides. But with the bioluminescence it was magical! After our awesome boat trip, we headed back to San Juan to find our beautiful AirBNB.


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    (Collage is from the AirBNB site.)

    We dropped the bags and then drove around until we found some street parking a few blocks away. And then we all promptly passed out!

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    DisneyParkLover

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2013
    Puerto Rico Day 2 - Old San Juan

    We had no specific time frame this morning, so we all got a good night’s sleep and took our time this morning. Our only morning plans were to walk around Old San Juan and go to Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Based on the time stamps on my photos, it looks like we headed out about 9. (That’s a late start with 2 small kids! 🤣)

    I had selected our fabulous AirBNB due to its lovely location right in the heart of Old San Juan. So we just walked out the door and began our walking tour from there. (I’ll add a map later that shows approximately where we walked.) I had printed off a free walking tour guide that I used to give us some info about what we saw. We passed some beautiful, colorful buildings on our way.

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    We were headed to El Morro, but our first stop was to take some beautiful photos along the water. This is at Plazuela la Rogativa and the Puerta de San Juan. This gate from the 1600’s was the main entry into San Juan when it was a walled city.

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    In the photo below where you see the stone wall broken up by the red, that’s the top of the Puerta de San Juan.

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    We started back towards El Morro, but the kids spotted a playground along the water. Since most of the morning sightseeing wasn’t going to be super exciting for them, we went ahead and stopped to play for a little bit. And when else are you going to find a playground with views like this?!? 😍

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    After our playground stop, we finally made our way to El Morro! I’m at my photo limit for this post though, so I’ll put those in the next post!
     
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    DisneyParkLover

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2013
    Day 2 - Castillo San Felipe del Morro

    We finally made it! Castillo San Felipe del Morro was a citadel constructed back in the 1500’s under the orders of King Charles V of Spain to defend San Juan from attack by sea. We discovered on our self guided tour that San Juan was very desirable due to its location right at the eastern tip of the larger Caribbean islands. Therefore it was subject to many attacks but was never overtaken by sea. I guess El Morro served its purpose!

    Here are some photos walking up to El Morro.

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    And several looking back at the stunning views of San Juan from El Morro.

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    My adorable kiddos in front of the castle.

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    Looking at the water and the outside walls of El Morro.

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    And one of my favorite photos of the trip - James and the kids in front of one of the castle doors. 😍

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    I’m at the photo limit again, so I’ll add more photos in the next post!
     
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  • DisneyParkLover

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2013
    Day 2 - Castillo San Felipe del Morro (continued)

    More photos from inside El Morro...

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    Luke was very into photography this trip, so I let him shoot some photos with my camera. I love the artistic style of this one he took! Who knows, it may be his calling.

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    A photo of our whole group together!

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    My kids were obsessed with the iguanas here. They were everywhere and they were huge! They actually managed to get pretty close to one (see the bottom photo).

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    After our iguana hunt, we headed out of El Morro. But we still had lots of Old San Juan to see!

    Next up: the rest of our walking tour
     

    DisneyParkLover

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2013
    Day 2 - Walking Tour of Old San Juan

    After leaving El Morro, we headed across the street to continue our walking tour.

    El Cuartel de Ballaja is right across the street. This military barracks was established in the 1800’s for Spanish troops and their families.

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    This beautiful pink building was actually spotted on our way up to El Morro, but it fits in better here. I’m not sure what is is. 🤔

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    Here are a couple photos of Casa Blanca and the statue in front of it. Built in the early 1500’s, Casa Blanca was the first fortification in San Juan (before El Morro). It was also a home for Juan Ponce de Leon and his family. Unfortunately, he died without ever actually living there.

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    Here is Totem Telurico. It is a clay totem pole made with clay from across the Americas.

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    This is San Jose Church. It was undergoing some renovations. It is one of the earliest surviving examples of 16th-century Spanish Gothic architecture.

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    And here is San Juan Bautista and the statues/park across the street (Plaza de la Catedral). This is the oldest cathedral in the United States.

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    Out of photo space again 🤣. Will continue in next post.
     
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    DisneyParkLover

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2013
    Day 2 - Walking Tour of Old San Juan (continued)

    Next up was “umbrella street”. Sadly we didn’t get to see the colorful umbrellas, but they did have this giant flag displayed while we were there.

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    After umbrella street, there were more places listed on my walking tour. But we were tired and hungry. Plus, we had seen the places we were really hoping to see. So we decided to wrap up the tour and head to lunch!

    As promised, here is a map of where we walked in Old San Juan:


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    We saw Plazuela la Rogativa, Puerta de San Juan, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, La Casa Blanca, El Cuartel de Ballaja, Totem Telurico, La Fortaleza, umbrella street, San Jose Church, San Juan Bautista Cathedral, and Plaza de Armas (along with a lot of beautiful shops and buildings in Old San Juan). San Juan was very walkable and I highly recommend staying right in Old San Juan for convenience. Our AirBNB was large, spacious, and beautifully appointed and cost us less than a hotel would have!

    Back to the trip reporting, though! As I said, we were quite hungry and someone in our Facebook group had mentioned a restaurant I knew the kids would love. So we headed over to.....Chocobar! 🍫

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    I had the grilled cheese and chocolate. Weird combination but totally delicious!

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    James had a burger. The kids had regular grilled cheese sandwiches and we split mini churros for dessert. Here’s my parents’ food. Looks like they had a burger, a grilled cheese with chocolate, and some fried balls of something?


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    No idea what that is, but I do know we all had delicious chocolate shakes (regular for the kids and alcoholic for the grown ups). Mmmmmmmmm!

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    DisneyParkLover

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2013
    Day 2 - Beach Time!

    After lunch at Chocobar, we headed around the corner to stop at the grocery store. We picked up some snacks for breakfast the next morning and some wine to take on the boat.

    Then we headed back to the AirBNB where we put away our groceries and let the kids have a little rest. After a short rest, we changed into our swimsuits for some beach time!*

    *I feel like I should back up a little bit here. As I mentioned previously, I didn’t tell the kids at all about our cruise during the planning. And at this point (the day before we boarded), they still did not know. We told the kids we were going to Puerto Rico, but nothing about the cruise. So when we told the kids we were going to Puerto Rico, Luke got really excited about going to the beach. Except...we weren’t planning to go to the beach! 🤣 Even though we knew about Puerto Rico’s beautiful beaches, we have nice beaches at home and we knew we’d be at Castaway Cay in a few days. So we really wanted to focus what little time we had in Puerto Rico on the things that are unique to Puerto Rico. But Luke was so excited about checking out a beach. And that got Annie excited about it. 🤦‍♀️. So we decided we’d make time for the beach.

    While researching beaches, I saw that Playita del Condado was recommended for small kids because there was a rock wall that protected it from the surf and undertow of some of the other beaches. So that’s where we were headed. I think this was the right call as we parked next to the famous Condado Beach (Playita del Condado is right by it), and I could see that the surf was quite rough.

    Here’s a picture showing the protective rock wall:

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    The water was a little cool (this was February 1st), but we got used to it pretty quickly. The water was so clear! Here is a picture of my foot. 🤣. It looks pretty misshapen because of the water but it really shows how clear the water was.

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    And some more photos of beach fun!

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    We stayed for a couple hours and the kids had a blast swimming and playing in the sand. I’m glad we made time for it as it made the kids so happy (although I still prefer our white sand beaches in Gulf Shores 😍).
     
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    DisneyParkLover

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2013
    Day 2 - Dinner at El Jibarito

    After we had gotten our fill of beach time (the grown ups that is, the kids never get their fill), we headed back into Old San Juan. We passed Castillo San Cristobal. Sadly, no time to tour the inside this trip. Next time.

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    We drove back to the AirBNB, but sadly no available street parking this time. So we parked in a nearby garage. We walked to our AirBNB and got washed up for dinner.

    While planning the trip, my mom mentioned that she really wanted to try mofongo. So when searching for “best mofongo in San Juan” one place came up time and time again. And lucky for us, that place was only about 2 blocks from our AirBNB. So we walked the 2 blocks to......El Jibarito!

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    Since it is a small restaurant and it was a Saturday, we had a bit of a wait, but not too bad. Maybe 30 minutes?

    A gentleman at the next table offered to take a group picture of us.

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    Then he thanked us profusely for taking the time to visit the island and asked if we were enjoying ourselves. ❤ I was truly blown away the whole trip by how kind and friendly everyone was. They seemed genuinely grateful for the tourists.

    I ordered a sampler platter to try to really experience the local cuisine. They also brought around tastes of several menu items which I thought was nice. I think James picked one of those after sampling it (his is the food in the second picture with the dish of shrimp).

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    Here’s a photo of my parents’ food. No clue what it is. 🤣. Mom, if you read this, feel free to let us know.

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    I do know that we enjoyed our dinner, but the general consensus on mofongo was that it was not our cup of tea! (I am probably biased, since I don’t like bananas or plantains. But since nobody else loved it either, I feel a little more justified in my assessment.)

    After dinner, we walked back to the AirBNB and climbed into bed. And with that, our time in Puerto Rico had come to a close. 😢. We would be boarding the ship midday the next day and the morning would be spent packing and returning the rental car.
     
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    chamberlain

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 17, 2014
    We also found everyone so friendly in San Juan. We were approached several times by locals thanking us for coming to their city. It really made us feel welcome!
     

    DisneyParkLover

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2013
    Day 3 - It’s Disney Day!

    Today was the day we were finally setting foot on a Disney cruise for the very first time! We had decided to use the Mickey phone call to tell the kids about our cruise.

    ***Will try to add reveal video here***

    I’d say they were pretty excited!


    We had discussed several times what the best way was to manage getting to port. We had a rental van which was great, but we had to return it and then get to port. Being a group of 6 with 2 kids in car seats complicated things. If we all went to return the van together, we would have to get two cabs, transfer all the luggage, install the car seats in the cabs, etc. So in the end we decided the easiest thing would be to go to port and drop off all the luggage and car seats. Then we’d leave the kids there with the grandparents and DH and I would return the van.


    So after we got our surprise call, we packed up our stuff. James and I walked over and got the van from the parking garage and pulled it up near the AirBNB so we could load up the stuff. Then we headed to port! Based on my time stamps, it looks like around 10 am is when this beauty came into view...

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    The drop off process was fairly easy. We dropped off all the luggage and Annie’s car seat. Luke wanted to come with us and since his car seat is just a small booster, we went ahead and brought him with us so my parents would only have Annie to deal with. We also left them with the stroller so they could restrain her. (Don’t judge me, she’s a handful. 🤣)


    DH, Luke, and I headed to the airport. This was a slooooow process. We had to stop and get gas, then wait for a drop off agent, then do the inspection, then walk over to the cab area, then get our carryons in the cab and install Luke’s car seat. Then we were finally on the way back. Unfortunately, during this time there was nowhere inside that they would let my parents wait, so they were stuck outside on a bench in the heat with a crabby toddler for quite awhile.😢. Given the circumstances, I don’t know that there would be a better way to do this, but hopefully next time we will be at a port with an indoor waiting area, or at least have two small boosters instead of the huge car seat.

    We got into the waiting area and were disappointed to discover they hadn’t started boarding yet. Boarding was supposed to start at either 11 or 11:30 and it was after 12. So we were afraid that we would be really delayed. We used the waiting time to visit the bathroom and take a few photos.

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    Doesn’t Annie look excited to take her first Disney cruise?!? 🤣

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    That’s better!

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    Fortunately, after they started boarding it was very quick and efficient. We stopped to take some embarkation photos....


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    ....and shortly before 1, we were hearing them announce our names as we stepped aboard the Disney Wonder. This was a super magical moment and I love the Disney touches like this. ❤

    Here is the day’s Navigator for those that are interested.
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    Next up: our first Disney cruise day!
     
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    DisneyParkLover

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2013
    Day 3 - Embarkation day lunch

    I had made a list of things I needed to do once onboard*, that looked kind of like this:

    • Register kids at kids’ club
    • Try to get Palo brunch
    • Try to get opening for tastings
    • Get rainforest room passes
    *Side note: I should probably note here that I had some pretty bad FOMO regarding this cruise. We had been wanting to do a Disney cruise for such a long time and I had no idea when or if we would do another one. So I wanted to do it all, and unfortunately I think that made for some increased stress at some points during the cruise. But I’ll cover that more in my wrap up/summary.

    Fortunately, I was able to get the kids registered before we got onboard and I had some friends of my FB group that were able to help me get a Palo brunch and open bar, so the next two items were covered. And we had decided to skip the rainforest room as we didn’t want to spend that much time away from the kids.

    So we had just boarded and had already checked off my “upon boarding” list, so instead we decided to get some food as we were all pretty hungry. I had read the buffet is usually a mad house for embarkation lunch, so instead we decided a nice, relaxing sit down lunch would be in order.

    If you noticed on the Navigator, Triton’s was the sit down choice for lunch, so that’s where we were headed!

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    It was fairly empty so were seated right away and the service was very quick.

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    I had the pennette pasta (sorry for the terrible photo).

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    The kids both had mac and cheese.

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    No idea about anyone else’s meals. For dessert I had the Welcome Aboard Sundae...

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    ....and the kids had their first of many Mickey bars on the cruise. 😍

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    Mickey bars always make for some happy kids! Lunch was delicious and this was a nice, relaxing start to the cruise!
     
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