Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Disney Cruise: Part 5

The day after we were in St. Thomas, we found ourselves in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Fortunately, the ship docked bow first, so we weren't awakened to the previous day's shaking and rumbling.

The Fantasy in port in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Just like the day before, we slathered ourselves in sunscreen, filled our water bottles, ate a quick breakfast, and headed off of the ship. Even more so than the day before, we were slapped with a wall of heat as soon as we stepped off of the ship. My poor family had practically turned into three little puddles before we reached the end of the dock.

The main attraction in San Juan that we wanted to see was an old fort (built in the 1500s) called Castillo de San Cristóbal. Fortunately for us, we docked in Old San Juan, which meant the fort was just a few blocks from the dock.

We kept our meandering to a minimum because of the heat, so did our best to make a beeline from the dock to the fort. Because the fort is up on a bit of a hill, it is rather easy to navigate to... lucky for us! We walked through a little pavilion and along some really neat streets to get to the fort; we also gratefully found some shade along the way.

Arturo Somohano Portela (conductor, musician) statue in Old San Juan

Annika, Eric, and Conor cooling off by a fountain in the shade

Enjoying the shade

Christopher Columbus statue in Old San Juan

Before long, we found ourselves staring up at one of the rather impressive and ominous outer walls of the fort. The sheer thickness of the walls is enough to stop you in your tracks and appreciate how hard it must have been to (a) build the fort and (b) try to invade such a structure. We were able to poke around in most of the fort, including the barracks, dungeon, powder room, lookout areas, and more. Most of the rooms are empty, but one of the barracks rooms does have items like bed and clothing to show what the living conditions were like for the soldiers back in the day.

Prior to going to the fort, Eric and I wondered how long the fort would keep the kids' attention, but that a moot point. The kids loved exploring the fort. I also appreciated that there were plenty of outdoor areas that were basically large lawns that allowed the kids to stretch out a bit and burn off some of their energy. It was really fun to hear the kids ask to explore new rooms and discover things that caught their eye... most often, a beautiful view out of a window or a doorway that lead to another room.

Annika on a wall in Castillo de San Cristóbal

Annika and Conor on a wall in Castillo de San Cristóbal

Annika and Conor exploring Castillo de San Cristóbal

Annika and Eric off to discover more of Castillo de San Cristóbal

Conor found some much-appreciated shade in Castillo de San Cristóbal

View from Castillo de San Cristóbal toward San Juan

Annika on a wall in Castillo de San Cristóbal
Conor, Meredith, and Annika(Castillo de San Cristóbal)
Conor, Eric, and Annika(Castillo de San Cristóbal)

One of the Castillo de San Cristóbal lookout towers

This drawing is on the Castillo de San Cristóbaldungeon wall and is believed to have been drawn
by a ship captain awaiting execution 
Annika and Conor looking out from the
Castillo de San Cristóbal powder room
Plaque in the Castillo de San Cristóbal
powder room

Conor and Annika with a Spanish Musketeer

Conor walking toward a lookout

The kids really had a (cannon) ball exploring the fort
 We really lucked out with the day we were in town because once per month, the fort has reenactment actors on hand in full costume to answer question, and they happened to be there the day that we were. We saw a "soldier" in the barracks, as well as the soldiers in the photo below. They were wonderful about answering questions and informing the tourists about the fort and life back in the 1500s.
The kids with some reenactment soldiers

After exploring Castillo de San Cristóbal, we initially planned on exploring another fort that is about a mile away, but the shuttle runs every 30-ish minutes (again, island time) and with the kids on the verge of overheating, we opted to cut our losses and head back to the ship to cool off in the pools and have a little R&R before gearing up for Pirate Night on the ship. Arrrg!

One thing Disney does right is Pirate Night. The crew members are in costume to the hilt and many of the guests are decked out (to some degree) in pirate garb. 

Because Annika had a special thing a few days before (getting her hair braided), we made an appointment for Conor to get "pirated" in the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique on Pirate Night. He could choose between looking like Captain Hook, Blackbeard the Pirate, and Jack Sparrow; he opted for the Captain Hook look and, I have to say, looked marvelous once all was said and done. After his makeup was applied, he even had to take a pirate oath. It was a riot!

Conor being made up like Captain Hook

Arrrg, matey!

Conor taking his pirate oath
 After Conor's appointment, we had a few photos taken with Captain Jack Sparrow (from The Pirates of the Caribbean movies) and Pirate Minnie.

The Olsons and Captain Jack Sparrow

The kids and Captain Jack

Annika was a bit disappointed that she was wearing a "boy" pirate costume (that's what I could find after Halloween), but put on a happy face. Eric and I decided to surprise her with a "girl" pirate costume while we were waiting in line for photos with Minnie Mouse. Sometimes it is the little things that make a difference to a person, and this was one of the times we opted to go all out. Annika was thrilled with her new costume!

The kids and their new cruise friend Hannah

The kids and their ship friends: Hannah,Abby and Connor
(Quite the motley crew of pirates!)

Pirate Minnie and the Olsons

Our cute little pirates with Pirate Minnie
Once the photos ops were taken care of, we headed to our assigned restaurant and enjoyed a fun pirate-themed dinner with the Colvins. After such a busy day, it felt great to sit down, enjoy a lovely meal with fun people, and catch our breath for a bit. Also, knowing that a sea day was to follow, we knew that we'd have a bit less hustle and bustle, which was just about perfect!

The Olsons at Pirate Night dinner

The Olsons and the Colvins (our wonderful dinner companions!)

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