All together, my husband Jeff and I spent eleven wonderful days in honeymoon heaven – but it was almost blown away by a hurricane! Read more about our first adventure together, testing the winds of change.
DAYS 1 AND 2: Our first two days, we adventured the coast of San Juan, PR, seeing the old forts lining the coasts and colorful houses of Old San Juan. We’re both pretty big histroy nerds (him specifically with war and military history), so this was right up our alley! We ventured to San Cristobal and El Morro, two of the most popular, and climbed every turf surface and wall we could – sometimes feeling that “are we supposed to be up here?” feeling.
DAY 3: When we boarded our cruise, we were greeted with the news that a tropical storm was forming of the coast of the Antilles Islands, right where we were heading. Knowing full well that the cruise line wouldn’t sail us right into the storm, there were far from any concerns. We were completely blown away by the size and amenities on our cruise with Royal Caribbean. They offered so many options included with our package that we didn’t know what to do first! Obviously, we went for the pool and food though.
DAY 4: Our second day aboard and we were docked in St. Croix, where we paddle boarded the mountainous coast, and jet skied the bright blue oceans. We had such a blast without planning any cruise excursions, since our original destination for the day was supposed to be St. Maarten, which unfortunately was still in disarray from the last hurricane. When returning that evening (sunburnt and exhausted) to debark from St. Croix is when we received the news that the tropical storm was now a hurricane expected to grow catastrophic. At the time, it was only a Cat. 1 or 2, but could grow to be a Cat. 5 overnight. Our plans quickly changed, and the boat informed us early we would be heading to St. Kitts instead of Antigua, staying out of the way of the storm until further information was known.
DAY 5: At this point, the storm was bordering land break near Dominique, and we were a bit bummed that our amazing six-mile volcano hike through the rainforest would be cancelled. Waking up in St. Kitts, we quickly learned today wouldn’t be that exciting either – we were notified that we would only momentarily dock on the island for supplies and journey out to sea, bypassing our plans for St. Lucia, Barbados and Martinique, heading straight for two days in Aruba. The storm had quickly evolved into the strongest Cat. 5 to hit the Atlantic Caribbean ever, and we were at high risk of disaster.
DAYS 6 and 7: Two days at sea brought a lot of exciting on-board activities – adult game shows and comedian performances were by far our favorites. We ate, drank, and swam our married way through activities, naps, and eateries from bow to stern. Jeff enjoyed quite a fun amount of time on the Flow Rider, a surfing and boogy boarding machine. Although, the looming news stations quickly brought the devastating news of early storm impacts in the eastern islands. It broke my heart seeing complete islands flattened to mere rubble.
DAYS 7 (Evening) and 8: With an overnight in Aruba, it was a perfect time to see the nightlife. Jeff and I opted on day one to go on a sunset snorkeling and catamaran trip since we didn’t dock till 2 p.m., where we dove over a World War II German shipwreck and some of the best coral reefs around! This was by far my favorite excursion of them all – the natural beauty was simply breathtaking along the island. On day two, we took to the streets to explore the shops and local markets for some island fun. The locals truly lived up to the saying that they are the friendliest island around.
DAY 9: Finally, we were taken just east for a day in Bonaire, a Dutch colonized island off of the South American coast – the people were just as warm and friendly as Aruba. On a glass bottom boat tour, Jeff and I saw sea turtles and sting rays much larger than you could see in any domestic zoo. The scuba diving clearly makes this a destination we would return to any day. When exploring the port, our boat captain pointed us in the direction of a local farmers market, where artisans sold handmade jewelry and delicious street food. One local vendor making cactus rum gave us several tastings and it was beyond any other I’ve ever tried – obviously we picked some up, but not before the maker convinced my husband to try the chili pepper version to “inspire those masculine honeymoon vibes.” We still laugh about that to this day.
DAYS 10 and 11: The last two days were at sea – our trip was extended a day in order to take us back to Fort Lauderdale instead of Puerto Rico. At this time, PR was just hit less than 24 hours before by the strongest Cat. 5 in Atlantic hurricane history and they experienced significant widespread devastation. The whole island was without power and the port authority refused to let our ship back in that condition, especially since the airport wouldn’t be working anytime soon. I was very proud though that the cruise line offered to not only accommodate passengers on the ship overnight at dock who were stranded until they could travel the next day, but reimbursed all for travel change expenses incurred to guests by airlines. They even had semi after semi lined up upon arrival at the dock with 41 pallets of supplies to take with them back to Puerto Rico with the PR residents from the cruise with free accommodations and amenities.
As a person in marketing, it’s hard to impress me from a brand perspective, but I am beyond thrilled and impressed by the consumer-oriented behavior we experienced with Royal Caribbean. Not once did we have a worry in the world on our honeymoon, and they made sure that we completely enjoyed our trip (even though we didn’t visit a single island on the original itinerary).