December 2, 2017
For the last several months, I was very excited as Mom, Gary, and I planned on taking a cruise to the Caribbean. The cruise is to be my first time ever on a cruise ship. When I was a kid watching the Love Boat, I always dreamed of going to Alaska on a cruise and hoped one day I would go. Alaska hasn’t happened yet, but the Caribbean is as good of place as any to start. We were scheduled to sail on the Norwegian Dawn (pictured above).
A couple of months prior to the cruise in September of 2017, two major hurricanes hit the area and put our entire trip at risk. First up Hurricane Irma struck St. Martin and the Virgin Islands. Both were part of our itinerary and the devastation put any chance of calling on those islands at risk. Shortly after Irma, Hurricane Maria struck the Caribbean and did lasting damage to the islands of Dominica and Puerto Rico. Our cruise was scheduled to leave out of Puerto Rico so there was a lot of uncertainty. It had been six years since I was last in Puerto Rico and was looking forward to seeing some of the familiar sights. Originally, we intended to fly in on Saturday, spend the night and then leisurely head to the ship on Sunday. As the sail date approached, we decided to stick with the cruise even as they altered the itinerary due to the slow recovery on Saint Martin.
We decided to minimize our time in Puerto Rico – mainly because hotels were still struggling with availability due to the damage as well as the local islanders who were staying as they were re-building their lives. I was curious as to what condition the city was going to be in after two months of recovery.
I left Los Angeles on a red eye to Charlotte, North Carolina to connect to a flight on Sunday Morning to San Juan. The plan was to meet Mom and Gary at the Charlotte airport and then fly together for the last leg. The flight itself was fine – although I keep forgetting how tough transcontinental red eye flights are. They usually are faster than regular cross country flights and I never have enough time to get comfortable and get any reasonable amount of sleep.
True to expectation, the flight seemed super fast. I’m so used to 12-14 hour flights to Asia – four hours just isn’t enough to rest. I couldn’t get streaming movies to work on the plane but my music worked well to tune everyone out. Nice smooth flight but when I ask for a Sprite don’t give me Sierra Mist!