There's nothing quite like the Caribbean during the winter time. I get to be with family, my wife, the sun and the beautiful waters. What a way to end 2015...
It never hurts to plan your trips the week before the official holiday week, but LAX never ceases to amaze me. The experience was a pain from start to finish. Keep in mind that I took a red-eye flight to get to Dallas Fort Worth, then waited for 3 hours to take a connector flight to Puerto Rico. This was a family decision to avoid staying a night in San Juan and instead going directly from the airport to the cruise ship. I wouldn't have minded staying the night so much, but if they want to deal with the people and car traffic coming out of the airport, be my guest. From Los Angeles, there's a 4 hour time difference, so the jet lag will hit you the first day if you're not well rested. I usually try to sleep through both flights if I can, but for a 10 hour combined flight, it's a challenging stretch.
From our last Royal Caribbean cruise through the Mediterranean, I've learned that if you want to avoid long lines at the port, GET THERE EXTREMELY EARLY. You do not want to wait in those lines. Since we got to San Juan around 1 PM and take a 25 minute taxi ride to the port, it was virtually impossible to make that happen. The wait time to get all of our documents and paperwork processed was roughly an hour and 20 minutes. Pile that on with a semi-turbulent flight and little sleep and you get a very cranky traveller.
Once we were able to board our ship and get the keycards to our rooms, my wife and I immediately started unpacking our stuff and headed for the cafe. I try to make it a habit to not eat anything on a long flight, so once I get off the plane, food is the first thing I look for.
The first ship day is always the most exhausting because of the scheduled safety drill and formal dinner arrangements. The wife and I decided it was best to nap for a bit and get to the buffet later on at night. Every day from this point on will be a different island, with St. Thomas as our first destination.
Let's hope for some smooth sailing and plenty of R&R!