We flew down to San Juan three days before the cruise. We stayed at the Sheraton in Old San Juan. It was perfectly located for exploring Old San Juan by foot. We enjoyed watching people fly kites near El Morro, and toured both forts. My husband and I took the ferry across the bay (on the other side of the street from our hotel) for $1 and caught a bus for 75 cents to the Bacardi factory. There is no admission and we got tickets for free drinks made with the various varieties of rum.
Embarkation was a mere half hour process on Easter Sunday. We had no trouble bringing a few bottles of wine and some gin onboard. We had originally booked an oceanview cabin with a window, but received an upgrade to two balcony cabins. Having a balcony was fantastic! Our cabin steward opened the door between our sons' adjacent room and ours, and we had a neat little suite! We set sail around 11pm and we enjoyed sitting on our balcony cruising past El Morro at night! Anytime dining worked just fine for us. We had minimal waiting no matter what time we came down to dinner, and excellent service. We met many interesting people at our dining tables over the week. The Horizon and Cafe Caribe were available almost nonstop for grabbing snacks or a meal. They had several nationality themed days, and it was nice to be able to try new foods. (Squid ball soup ?!?) It was fun to grab a plate of cheese and crackers and take them back to our balcony as we left port each day and had a little wine and cheese while we watched the sun set. Being spring break, there were lots of families and extended families on board. Probably more Puerto Rican passengers than Americans that week. The maitre'd always was careful to seat us with other English speakers. "Movies Under the Stars" was a big hit this week! Watching Avatar was amazing with warm tropical breezes blowing! The boys participated in some of the teen activities and spent time in the "teen club". They had a great time doing their own thing, and meeting kids from other countries. The onboard entertainment that we saw was pretty good. We saw a hypnotist and an "observational" comedian who was pretty funny. The pools were small, but we had so many islands to visit, we hardly used them. Our last day was a sea day, and we sat at the pool at the very back of the ship and looked out over the massive wake from the ship! We even watched a wedding on the deck above us! Formal nights meant a bit fancier food in the dining room and the opportunity to get a family potrait snapped! We ate at Sabbatini's one night and it was well worth the cover charge...great meal!
The Sunday night after we disembarked we stayed in San Juan again, this time in the Condado area at the Radisson. Our room was very inexpensive, and it is about a block to the beautiful beach. A word of warning: on the day we spent at the beach, the waves were high. I did not notice it at the time, but all the hotels were flying red flags..meaning dangerous swimming conditions! We witnessed a near drowning!