Cruise – Day 9, SJU to YYZ, via CLT
It was 8:30am when our alarms went off, and we slowly got up and began getting our stuff together to leave the cabin for the last time. It was a terribly sad day – not because we weren’t going to be on the boat anymore, but because the ‘w’ word was clouding our thoughts. Back to work was quickly approaching. Gathering our belongings didn’t take very long since we had done most of the packing the night before, so it was just a matter of showering and doing a quick cabin check to make sure we had gotten everything. I think we left the room at 9:30am, and made our way to the Schooner Bar for the disembarkation procedure at 9:40am.
Walking towards the elevator we saw a sign that informed us we weren’t scheduled to be off the ship until 10:30am, so we had some time to kill at the Schooner Bar. There was a light continental breakfast with juice and water, so we sat at the bar and kind of woke up. At 10:30am they made the announcement that we were to disembark, so we followed the RCCL staff down to the gangway. Because we were non-US citizens, we had to go through security in San Juan before collecting our bags. The whole process was pretty smooth and we were through security and had our checked bag in no time. It was the next line that seemed to take forever – getting through the next security line for all passengers. Once we finally got outside, we easily found our shuttle bus to the airport and boarded. The ride to the airport was roughly 15-minutes. It was now around noon. We put our bags through security, then checked-in for our 5:40pm flight with US Airways.
The five hour waiting game began. We were each pretty hungry, having skipped breakfast to sleep in a little bit, so we opted for a Domino’s Pizza. It was very plain and not very appetizing, but at least we had something in our stomachs. We then stopped by the duty free for some bottles – 1L of Crown Royal and 1L of Ketel One for $36. After, we found a nice spot to sit, where it wasn’t overly crowded. This was to be our home for the next four hours. Ha! We each spent our time reading and people watching at the San Juan airport.
Nearing our departure, we noticed that the flight was delayed and we weren’t scheduled to depart until 6pm now. A little behind schedule, but not terrible and we should still have enough time to catch our connecting flight in Charlotte at 10:06pm. It just means we may not have a lot of time to get something to eat before re-boarding. The flight from SJU to CLT wasn’t bad and went by pretty quickly. Here are some sunset pictures I took from the plane:
When we landed in Charlotte, the captain came on the radio and said that the airport didn’t have a gate for us, so we’d have to wait a bit. My question – how does that happen? The airport knew the flight was coming, it wasn’t a surprise landing. We must have waited on the tarmac for 45-minutes before we got to a gate. The issue was that they finally found a gate for us in the international terminal, and there was a plane beside us that had arrived from Mexico that needed to have all their passengers go through security, meaning we couldn’t leave the plane until they had all passed through. Which was crazy, because our flight wasn’t coming from an international departure city. Anyways, we finally got off the plane and it must have been 9:15pm, meaning we only had 45-minutes before our flight to Toronto. We checked the gate, which happened to be beside where we landed, and saw that the flight had been delayed to 11pm. Bollocks! But at least this meant we could get some food.
After checking the ‘you are here’ map of the airport and looking at all the food options, we chose the Bacardi Rum Bar, near our gate, to have a bite to eat. Julia went with a Sam Adams and a Cuban sandwich, while I decided on a bloody mary and a bacon-cheeseburger. This was the first time all week I’d had a good bloody mary/caesar. The hot sauce that they had was Cholula Original, which neither of us had tried before, but it was DEEEEE-LICIOUS! Completely made me forget that our flight was delayed.
We settled our tab and were going to stop by the Carolina Brewing Company for a craft beer, but it was already shutting down when we got there – crazy, it wasn’t even 11pm yet! Our flight was the only one still to depart so we had plenty of space to sit and relax. We watched a handful of Spanish-speaking kids play football and race. The little things you do to pass time at an airport. Around 10:45pm, they made an announcement that our flight was going to be moving to another gate, as the plane we were originally supposed to be on required some further maintenance. When we moved to the seats at the other gate, the updated time showed 1am. What a gong show! Note to the readers – if you can, avoid US Airways at all costs! Between losing my bags twice on a trip to New York City and the delays we’ve encountered on this trip, spend the extra money to go with a more reliable airline. By now, everyone left in the airport was fuming. Oh, and not once did the US Airways staff issue an apology.
Our plane was finally ready to board at 1am – which was great, because after hearing of the weather reports in Ontario, we were worried that we were going to be stuck in Charlotte for the night. We felt bad for my parents who had already left for the airport to pick us up. The flight into Toronto wasn’t bad, until we started making our descent through all the cloud coverage and snow. The clouds were so low that when we finally broke through them we hit the runway. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many snowplows in one area before, with as many as I saw on the runway at Pearson. At least they were making it accessible to land. We quickly departed the cabin and made our way to security, then to baggage claim. It was a lengthy wait for our bag with the weather. When we saw it, we scooped it and made our way through the final security checkpoint, and out to my parents waiting on the ring road. Perfect! The drive back to Kitchener was a little crazy, with all the snow, and the lack of plows on highway-401. It was 4am by the time we got into our apartment. Not a very good way to end the trip, that’s for sure. All that sun & fun last week, right to snow and below-zero temperatures.
Now the planning begins for the next trip…