Oh wait. We did that. And we had a blast… Away we go.
Part One – Operation Get to Puerto Rico
This was a multi-day process. Since many airlines pulled their routes to Puerto Rico, we drove down to America to get this show on the road. Fortunately for us, Maine is full of delicious craft beer and we had nowhere to be until our flight the next morning. So we may have stopped a few times. Well, maybe more than a few (Mason’s Brewing Co, Rising Tide, Bissell Brothers, Fore River Brewing Co, Foundation Brewing Company, and Austin Street Brewery… Fore River has a standout raspberry sour!). And then we ate some food. And then we tried to sleep. Some of us may have succeeded. I did not. I never sleep well before an early flight.
Friday was the day we spent the entire day in planes and airports. What was supposed to be a flight from Portland to Philly, an hour layover, and then another flight from Philly to San Juan didn’t quite work out. It turned into our flight from Portland leaving almost an hour late (because they somehow misplaced the plane at that tiny little airport, and then had to de-ice it), which resulted in us being able to see our flight to San Juan out the airport window and not board it after a run through the Philly airport. And then another long hike to Customer Service, where they gave us our new game plan for the rest of the day. This plan involved sitting in Philly for another four hours, flying to Miami, sitting there for a couple of hours (heads up, the non-Air Canada part of the Miami airport is pretty awesome), and then flying to San Juan. Our luggage didn’t take the same route to get there, but it got there before us, and we tracked it down. All part of the adventure.
We did finally get to San Juan around midnight – only about 10 hours later than planned. And then we crashed once we got to our hotel (Best Western Condado).
We didn’t have a lot of time to play around with in San Juan before it would be time to board the ship, but we managed to make a day of it. Tasty breakfast (and smoothies!) at Bajuice… and then we packed up our junk and grabbed a taxi to the port. Our ship wasn’t leaving until evening, but we still had to check out of the hotel. So we decided to take our luggage to the port and dump it, and then head back into Old San Juan to have some beers to celebrate Greg’s birthday. So we spent the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon at La Taberna Lupulo – a great little spot with loads of tasty craft beers for us to sample. This was the one spot that was on the radar for San Juan, so I’m glad we had a chance to get there.
Part Two – The Cruise
There wasn’t much of a line at all when we went back to the port, so check-in was a breeze and our cabins were already ready when we got on the ship. The cruise gods liked us on this one, because we were supposed to have an inside cabin (as part of the group that we were booked with), and instead we got a balcony… a giant one! It was a pretty busy itinerary and we were traveling with other people, so it didn’t get used quite as much as I might have liked, and it did have a weird open space in front of it and not a direct water view, but it was super peaceful and I did spend some time out there each day.
For this cruise, on the Adventure of the Seas, we were traveling as part of two groups – Team Diabetes (thanks again for everyone who helped us in any way with our fundraising for this event… and Nicole and Lloyd who invited us to join them) within the much larger Run For Fun Cruise group. Our itinerary had 5 ports, and the goal was to go for at least a 5K run or walk in each of the ports. Mission accomplished. In the Caribbean. There was much sweating.
The rest of embarkation day was the same as usual – sit around, explore the ship some, pick up our RFFC stuff (bag, shirt, bracelet kinda deal), muster drill (a terrible, squashed out on the deck outdoors version again… but I get it, it’s important), some drinks, dinner, etc. So let’s go to day 2…
St. Maarten – Today was the first of our races, which was a 5K around the port area and over to the Boardwalk in St. Maarten. I’m a big fan of having a nice view when I am out for a run or walk, so I actually quite enjoyed these morning outings. It wasn’t much different than how we normally start our day on a ship (we normally walk or run on the track early every morning… because sunrise at sea is amazing) – just later in the day and with way more people.
Daily, our post race routine was have drinks, eat, get cleaned up – in whatever order was most convenient. Then the rest of the daily routine was drinks on the ship, trivia, dinner – again in no particular order.
Note: Collectively, we may suck at trivia whose themes include Abba, Michael Jackson, Broadway musicals, love songs from movies, and sometimes general knowledge.
While I am in no way complaining about getting away from the winter on a fun trip with friends, I’m not a huge fan of this class of ship. Nearly every public bar or seating area is super loud (either because of loud music playing over the speakers or live entertainment) and it was nearly impossible to find a normal volume place to just hang out and have a drink with friends. Some nights we went to bed early just because we didn’t feel like sitting around drinking anymore (what? I know!), and there wasn’t much else to do on this ship. We did go to the Quest (adult game show) one night… it was pretty tame on this ship.
St. Kitts and Nevis – To get to our run today, we first had to take a chartered boat over to Nevis. Works for me… I love being out on the water and there was lots of pretty scenery. I’ve never been to Nevis, so it was nice visiting another place for our race. This one was a Where’s Waldo themed event, where the goal was to not get caught by the Waldo. I’m pretty sure Waldo passed me more than once.
After our race, we found some eats (mmmm rice and beans and veggies) and drinks, including some for the boat ride back to St. Kitts. Gotta hydrate!
Antigua – Race number three found us on the beautiful island of Antigua (where they have a beach for every day of the year), where we raced from the port to the finish line at Fort James Beach. This race had a super hero theme and loads of people dressed up (but not me, because always too hot… I did wear a superhero scrunchie in my hair though). I loved ending our race at the beach, and my only real goal for the day was to finally throw myself in the ocean after a race. And I did… but I lasted like 5 minutes and thought it might be better to spend the day not drowning (really rough with a strong current).
So instead I had some over-priced drinks at a very nice beach bar with incredibly slow service with the rest of the gang. Then we headed back to the ship, cleaned ourselves up, and wandered around the port area for a little while.
St Lucia – This was a hot one! And the route had some definite uphill involved, up to Vigie Lighthouse. I do like lighthouses. Nicole and I walked this one together… it was a little over 8K, with lovely views (except for a portion where we were in very busy traffic).
Our other plan for St. Lucia was to check out Antillia Brewing Company – one of very few opportunities to have some locally brewed craft beers in the Caribbean. So we spent our afternoon at their perfect location right along the water at the port. Hooray for tasty beer, at half the price of the much less tasty beer available on the ship.
Barbados – Today was our last run, and they shuffled us on buses out to the Cattlewash area. This was a nice race alongside the shore, but surprisingly completely lacking in any kind of breeze. After the race, we had a “beach party”. A nice way to end out the week, but admittedly not exactly what I expected (a beach house you couldn’t go in, with a pool you couldn’t use, across from a beach that was far too rough to be swimable).
Back at the port with a few hours to spare, we had some more drinks (including a very delicious coconut iced coffee) and lively conversations with strangers.
Our last day on the ship was a sea day (I was very glad for that sea day). Greg and Lloyd did a beer run on the ship (5K, with a beer consumed at each K). Go team! Some trivia was played, some drinks were drank, and there was much chilling out. We also had a final event with the RFFC gang so we could get our medals.
Debarkation the next morning was a breeze. We didn’t get off the ship until after 9 since our flight wasn’t until 1:30 and we weren’t in a rush to sit at the airport. When we did get to the airport, we should have been able to check in within a few minutes, but our flight was already delayed… which meant being able to check in was delayed. It took a while, but that all got sorted eventually (they took everyone on our flight and put us in a long line, assuming we they would have to re-book some people who would miss their connections).
The rest of the time in the San Juan airport was spent drinking beer. And then we flew to Philly. And then we drank beer. And then we flew to Portland. And then we found Nicole’s car, switched hotels, and went to bed. And the next morning, we drove home.
We had a lot of fun on this cruise (when you’re hanging with friends, you can have fun anywhere) and I am always happy to to be in shorts and sandals weather (down with socks!). I wouldn’t rush to get on this ship again (I prefer the bigger, snazzier new ships). The food was as expected (the buffet worked better for me because there’s always loads of veggies) and all the staff we dealt with was very friendly. Good times, all around.
About the Run For Fun Company… I liked the concept of a run-cation and I would likely do one again, but I’m not sure I would do it with this particular company. It’s an interesting way to see different parts of these ports that you likely wouldn’t normally see. It’s also a great way to meet loads of awesome new people. This group had runners and walkers from all over the US and Canada, each with an interesting story to tell. Such a great, supportive group – always cheering each other on and going back out to run people back in. Really, the people were a lot of fun.
They took a lot of pictures and released them all for free on Facebook (always a nice touch when a run does that). All the races had water stops and bag drops – also nice. And they always had some kind of local authority present in case someone was too hot or hurt or couldn’t finish.
There’s a lot of moving pieces to something like this – I get it (I work in the travel industry and I’ve planned big events). But there’s always room for improvement. A lot of patience was involved in waiting for the organizers to herd all the cats to where they needed to be every morning, and sometimes when it’s hot and you’re ready to go (and surrounded by loads of other people in a busy cruise port), it can get really frustrating. I think they spent a bit too much time trying to promote their own greatness and making sure they had a lot of content they could advertise themselves. And there’s definite room for improvement in how they get info out (pre-event and during) and how accurate that info is. But they get a lot of repeaters cruisers/runners, so they are doing some things right.