Disney Fantasy – Day 5 – San Juan

San Juan

Today we didn’t have an excursion planned which meant we didn’t have to get up so early today. Thank goodness as Ella kept us up part of the night because of her stomach problems.

We didn’t quite know what to do in the early morning hours. Can we leave Ella here and let her watch TV while we go venture out then just come back later in the morning. Does Heather stay and I come back to relieve her and I stay in the afternoon or come back to check how Ella is doing and they both come out? She was starting to come around and by 6am it had been a few hours since she had any problems. Ella was so cute, she felt so bad for not feeling good because “she didn’t want to let Leighton down” by not coming with.

Running out of time, we told Augers we would be ready to head out the door by 9am, I ran to pick up a few plates of food from Cabanas and brought it back to the room while the rest got ready. Everyone ate and eventually Ella ate a few things. Augers went to Cabanas to eat while we continued getting ready and waited to see if Ella was able to keep her food down. She did and you could tell she was turning into her usual self now. In the end, we wonder if she was dehydrated or something cause once she got some food and juice in her, she really started around.

So hurray! We are all going today. Because of all this however we are leaving later than we planned but in the end that was just fine.

I should also mention that when I left to get breakfast I open the door and hanging on it is this big sign that says, “Oh NO. Big 4-0” brought to me by Augers for my birthday. Later they would want me to get it signed by characters. They also got me a T-shirt to wear around.

So your friendly neighborhood vacation planner (Me) knew that we should go to the fort and knew that there was a free trolley that took you around Old San Juan including a stop at the fort. I used this link to show me where the trolley stops and printed off the map and took it with for this particular day. I wasn’t sure where exactly the stop was at so I asked one of the guards by the pier and he said down the way towards the flags…there were flag poles with the US and Puerto Rico flag on them. On another pole nearby was the number 14 on it, indicating the tram stop, just like on the map I had. Here I thought where the map showed ’14’ it was just a number so I knew that it rain by the piers, nope that is an actual number to reference a particular stop.

So we waited for the trolley and while we waited taxi drivers kept trying to negotiate a deal to take us. Chris said he loves negotiating so I left it to him. Once we saw how full the trolley was, we knew we had to get a cab up there. He had one guy down to $30 for all of us but Chris was trying to squeeze another $5 out of him but he wouldn’t budge. Another one came up and was really trying to up-sell a whole tour of Old San Juan. “For $10 a person I take you across and show you the sites.”

“No we just really want to go to the fort,” we tell him.
“Why? There is so much more to see. That fort, there is nothing there but if that’s where you want to go for $10 a person I take you.”
“$10 a person?” I pipe up, “the guy over there was going to do it for $3 a person!”
“That guy is a mute, you know. You don’t want someone that doesn’t speak English.”

Mean time, another couple with a child who had been to San Juan before started talking to the rest of our crew in the background and said don’t let him talk us into a tour, the fort is where we want to go.

Finally Chris negotiated him to take us for $40. So somehow we lost out on a better deal but whatever. We were tired of negotiating and the kids were getting over heated quickly. We were not quite used to the heat and humidity. Normally when it gets hot and humid at home we know how to beat it, when you are unfamiliar territory it seemed to get to us quickly. It’s not like we never felt it before, but we were really needing some A/C.

So fine, $40 for a ride and A/C, lets go. The other couple that was talking to us negotiated to come with us and off we went. Our driver said I will take you by a few things, you know even for $5 a person I could maybe stop but I’m just going to drive by now.” At least he pointed some things out on the drive which was good because one of Kaitlyn’s teachers said she needed to do a report on San Juan as part of her homework while she was gone.

As you can see, we passed some things along the way but he did not stop! Unfortunately, I no longer remember what exactly these thing were. Maybe someone will help me out.

Ambulance workers were on strike. Apparently little later they drove down the streets with lights and sirens on. I heard some people later say they originally thought it was a parade. Glad we didn’t get sick.

So even as we were getting close the driver was still trying to up-sell us saying, “look at this map of the fort, all this lawn in the front, I have to stop right here and that will still be a 20 minute walk for you but if that’s where you want to go.” I just kept saying, “Yeah, I think that’s where we will go.”

Ummmm….no, it’s NOT a 20 minute walk!

Kaitlyn making sure she gets a picture for her class report.


Kaitlyn and Kate

It’s not worth it to post ALL the pictures so click on one and it’ll take you to the rest of the photos if you are so inclined.

Early on, the heat was affecting us. Every opportunity we could, we made sure to find either shade or a breeze. We were also quickly in need of more water, even though we brought water bottles with us. We found a little souvenir store with water and Gatorade so we all bought something out of there. After that point, we did pretty well as we quickly figured out what we needed to do in order to stay cool. Find shade or breeze often, and stop to sit and take rests frequently, if even for a minute or two.

Enjoying the view AND the breeze!

Overall, it was very interesting and we were surprised at how well all the kids did and how they enjoyed it for so long. They really take a liking to history much, much more than I ever did at their age. So good for them! The person who may have complained the most about how tired and hot she was, was Kaitlyn. Holy cow, I thought it would come from one of the younger ones but should have knows it would be her cause she really doesn’t like to sweat.

So when we were done we took the long 5 MINUTE walk back to the road where we thought the trolley would drop people off and pick us up. Here comes the trolley…..wait….where is it going? It’s driving all the way up to the front door of the fort! We watch people get off then people get on. And more people get on. Crap! They won’t have space left when they come back here!

The trolley was fairly full but with some kids sitting on laps, we all made it on and we took it back down to the pier. The little old man sitting beside me (with Sophie and my lap) and Leighton, who didn’t speak English was so cute. He would wave at the little girl ahead of us or motion to Leighton and Sophie where to hold on cause they might smack their face if we hit a bump.

We made it back to the pier and we debated what else we should do. We decided to go to CVS nearby and pick up some supplies and souvenirs. We also went in because it had A/C and we were needing a little by this time again. I made sure to get my souvenir of a magnet from San Juan to hang on our stateroom door. By this time I could feel like we will be taking other cruises so I wanted magnets to put on our doors to show where we’ve been. I also was able to get my Mt. Dew fix. They have Coke products on the ship which is fine but I was missing my Dew.

We made sure not to lose anyone this time so our family waited for Augers to finish and we left together. We then took some nice pictures of our ship at the pier.


It really is a pretty city to visit though.


We got back on the ship with plenty of time and let the kids swim and get a little snack. Chris and I watched the people on the deck of the ship next to us which I believe was the MSC Divina. Many of them were on the top deck looking over at our ship, quite possibly watching FunnelVision and wishing they were on our awesome ship. We watched as they pulled away from the pier. Divina wasn’t out of sight too long before we had to go down and get ready for Pirate night.

Pirate Night

Tonight was Ella and Leighton’s night to get dressed up at the Boutique. We all got our pirate outfits on, watched a bit as we began to pull out of the pier then we had to head down to the boutique. Chris and I went to take the kids again.

We get there and check in and they give Leighton and Ella a pirate name to which I do not remember. They got to keep the scroll that had their name on it so I will have to check that.

Again, they do a surprisingly wonderful job there. The mood in the Boutique had changed from princess to pirate with different decorations and different lighting. They talk to the kids sitting there and try to throw in some pirate talk but general conversation was not in pirate talk.

We were happy with both people the kids got to help them get ready.

Leighton getting a little “roughed up”.

This burlap sack was hanging over the pink chairs.

They had a crowd watching the transformation. Somehow, Ally became the captain of their pretend ship and Leighton was first mate. The rest were deckhands.

Pretending to give Ella another piercing in her ear. She got nervous that she was actually going to pierce her ear.

At the end they both had to take the Pirate Oath which was quite cute then at the end everyone working would yell “YO HO!” The kids also got a sword, a sheath to put it in, a bag with gold dub looms, earring, and an eye patch.

Finished Product!

Aye! It be a scurvy looking crew!


Here’s the problem with writing something nearly a month past is you forget things. I believe we skipped the show tonight to get done up as a pirate. Tonight was the ventriloquist and I don’t remember seeing her so obviously we skipped it. We had some time to kill before the characters came out so we stopped at the shops for a bit and waited for (Captian) Jack Sparrow to come out. We were not going to be late for this one. For once, we wanted to be at the front of the line.

The line formed about 15 minutes beforehand so we got up and were 3rd in line. The guy playing Sparrow did a good job with the actions overall. Maybe stumbled a little too much or played it like a drunk Jack Sparrow…excuse me, CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow.

Captain Jack signing my big….ass sign. At dinner I asked the servers to sign my card but momentarily forgetting I had kids around me said, “they need to sign my big aaaa….ssss card.” It pretty much came out as ass anyway. The rest of the adults had a good laugh at that. “Sometimes you just have to call it like it is” they said.


Time to meet more characters, tonight, dressed up in pirate gear.


While they were getting their signatures with Pirate Mickey and the gang, Chris, Kaitlyn, Ally, and I went up to the top deck to reserve our spot for the Mickey Pirate Show (that’s right, now I remember why we skipped the theatre this night). Remember how we were so hot and could have used some rain to cool us down? Yes, it came now. The only time it really rained more than a light mist or brief light shower was tonight and it was Pirate Night. We were at the railing on Deck 12 and the Pool Deck on 11 was filled up when they made the announcement that the show was being moved to the Atrium. So down we all went. The Moms, who were bringing the rest of the children up, just got to Deck 11 as they made the announcement and they rushed back downstairs to get a spot. We were actually fairly warm cause we had wrapped up in towels that must have been just put up there cause they were warm. But we had to go.

The four of us eventually made our way down to Deck 5 and watched while the rest were on the opposite side of the Atrium from us and watched from Deck 4.

While I am sure they plan for these types of things, it was still amazing at how quickly they got things set up at the Atrium. We were bummed we didn’t see the full version but at least they were able to do something. I honestly don’t remember what it was about, if it was really about anything. I was too busy people watching and then I backed up to let some kids see, I didn’t need to see this.

Birthday Dinner

Tonight was our last night in Enchanted Garden. After Mickey’s Pirates of Caribbean, we had to wait for a bit until we could go in for our seating time. This is when the Ship Detective game really took off as we waited to get in. Leighton had been on again, off again with this but this was when it heated up and got Kate and Sophie into it as well with their own game. This is where you register a card and have to find these animated paintings located in different areas on the ship. The general locations are given to you on a map and there are three different difficulty levels you can play. So they were off to find a few nearby locations before we ate.

Meanwhile, the rest of us waited and took a couple of pictures.


Our table and here you can get a good look at our location.

Their menu was “Pirate Themed” so they had a pirate name for their menu items

The hat Kate is wearing was actually the kids menu.

When you ask about Disney service…here it is in action. They would come around and cut up the food for the kids and sometimes serve them a bite. Ally got to the point where she would order “the uesh” (the usual) of steak and potatoes and they would often help her cut her steak. They would come and pull the lobster meat out of the tail for all of us and other random tasks.


So the kids were getting tired and antsy and wanted to leave but the other adults tried to keep them there quietly. I knew what was coming and I kept trying to tell Heather that I knew what was coming and it was OK if they left. They toughed it out long enough until the wait staff came to sing to me.

Yes, I am wearing the kids menu/hat and Ella’s earring.

My very yummy birthday cake!

Note the professional photobomber.

The wait staff signed my big a….sss card. You can also see I got Goofy’s signature which was a goal of mine.

Fireworks and Late Night Cards

We headed back to our room for a bit before finding…

Hook and Shmee.

Then headed back to Deck 12 for the Pirate of the Caribbean show and fireworks. We were told that the best viewing was Deck 12 on the starboard side (right).

The show was….just alright. The choreography wasn’t very good and over-acted for effect. Maybe it was because the space was limited or because we had such a good view of things but part of it seemed like the actors were just not into it tonight. Plus, I don’t know when Mickey usually comes down from the stack to save the day (maybe he would have done this at “Mickey’s Pirates of the Caribbean”), but he didn’t do it tonight. But, it did lead up to…….

Now we have all seen fireworks before, and the fireworks they were lighting off were similar to ones we have seen before. With that said, there is something special about being on a Disney Ship, with the Pirates of the Caribbean theme playing in the background, in the middle of the Caribbean, with your family. In a way, the bad choreography helped set the mood a bit.

and here is our reaction the beautiful sight.

In a previous post I said I had my favorite thing that happened to/with each of my girls. Tonight I wish I could have gotten a photo of Kaitlyn but the picture is burned in my mind. I looked over at her when the fireworks were going off and there was Kaitlyn with her hoodie over her head, looking up towards the fireworks, eyes wide open, and mouth slightly open with a smile. You could just read her mind thinking, “this is the coolest thing I have ever seen.” You could tell she loved being there at that moment in her life and my heart melted cause I was able to see it and give it to her.

Later, I turned on one of the TV channels that shows our track and location.  You could see the captain zig-zagged us around the rain long enough to get the fireworks off and to have a little dance party.

After the fireworks was the deck dance party. We tried to get Ally and Kaitlyn to go with their Edge club members who had a sign on the pool deck so others knew where to meet them but they wouldn’t go down. Everyone partook in the dance and we made our way from Deck 12 to 11 eventually.

This was fun and we were all in a good mood!

During this time apparently they also had food at Cabanas. It ends rather early, at 11pm I believe, so by the time I was ready to eat something again, which was closer to midnight, they were done serving already. I was really looking forward to some turkey legs!

After the dance party, they played Pirates of the Caribbean on the FunnelVision. I really would have liked to have stayed and watched it but the children were tired and so we went down to let a few of them get ready for bed.

The adults were not tired however. The Number 1’s went to the Edge but were told to be back by midnight cause we wanted to play some cards still. We also had the benefit of turning our clocks back this our. The adults said I had such a great day, tour San Juan, pirate night, they sing happy birthday to me, light off fireworks for me and even give me an extra hour to celebrate.

So the 1’s came back and the adults went to a very empty night club. They were actually vacuuming when we got there. Again, the sad thing about a Disney Cruise is no night life. There were people at The Tube but they cleared out too while we sat and played cards until 3am. Chris won.

It was a great 40th birthday though and one I will not forget.

Video of the Fort

Tips for Future Travelers

  • I believe it is fairly easy to navigate around Old San Juan for free using the free trolley and this map.
  • Remember the numbers on the map will also correspond to the numbers on the signs across the town. They are not just keys to the map.
  • The number fourteen on the map is closer to Piers 1 & 2 and to the left as you leave Pier 3 & 4…by the American and Puerto Rican flags.
  • Go see the fort, if only for a little bit. It does cost $5 to enter but it is really neat and offers some great views.
  • If you want, we were told the front lawn of the Fort is great for flying kites.  We thought about it but the kites weren’t cheap enough for us.
  • The trolley drops people off and picks them up all the way up to the front entrance of the Fort. No need to wait down by the culdesac looking area where the taxis stop.
  • Don’t let taxis talk you into taking a tour of the whole city. Go see the Fort and tour the rest on your own or book someone ahead of time.
  • Bring plenty of water and learn how to keep yourself cool with shade, breezes and frequent rests, if only for a couple minutes.
  • Locals seem to be very nice.
  • If you think you will be hooked on cruises, buy a magnet from your ports to put on your stateroom door and show people where you’ve been.
  •  If you have no kids or don’t have to get character signatures, try to catch a view up top as you sail into or out of San Juan. You sail past the Fort and is very pretty from the quick glimpse I could get of it.
  • Bring a pirate costume from home. It’s simple to make one with a white t-shirt, red sash, and black pants. Disney provides everyone with headbands.
  • Do the Pirate Boutique. Again, I was skeptical but glad Ella and Leighton did it. If you have a boy (or Tomboy), they will love it.
  • Be on Deck 12, starboard (right) side for best view of the fireworks.

Up Next: Day 6 – At Sea

3 thoughts on “Disney Fantasy – Day 5 – San Juan

  1. Pingback: Disney Fantasy – Day 4 – St. Thomas | Failed Attempts of Fathering Three Daughters

  2. Great post! I’ve been to Old San Juan three times (including my honeymoon) and it’s extremely easy to navigate. We’ve walked from the pier area to the fort, no problem. Flying kites by the fort is super fun! We bought cheap kites at one of the nearby drug stores.


  3. Pingback: Disney Fantasy – Day 4 – St. Thomas | Vacationing Dad

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