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cougaraz

Live from Grand Princess, Roundtrip San Francisco, 14-24 August 2019

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5 hours ago, CRUZERJON said:

Mikado, as I am a neighbor in Pismo, just curious if  you drove up and parked for the 10 days and if so how did that work out.  We're on the October 3 sailing and this will be our first cruise since moving here from the Bay Area last year. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks to you and Cougar for taking us along.

 

Hi, 

We are in SLO & have used the parking structure across from the cruise terminal.  We found it very convenient.  My husband dropped me & the bags off & parked.  We both just walked over with our bags after the cruise to get the car.  We did reserve ahead of time.  On our last cruise we rented a car one way each way.  He dropped me off then dropped the car a mile or so away & took the trolley/bus back to the port.  Amtrak  does sound more relaxing however! 😊

 

 

 

 

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On 8/14/2019 at 7:32 PM, live2skide said:

Enjoy!!!  I guess between the "corkage" and purchase price vs the minimum $40/bottle on board you are still ahead!  I will bring 2 bottles for my roommate & myself; because I can't carry much more; then stick to the bottle of vodka I pre-ordered and the mini bar.

I remember bringing wine home from a European cruise in the days where nobody cared how much liquid was in your carry-on. I got nailed in Venice on overweight "carry on" charges (>22#) and had to check the bag. Wasn't happy about the 150EU I had to spend to bring home my cheap wine! HA!!  I also remember in Europe that Princess never checked how much wine you brought on board! We would stock up in every port, and drank it all the way across the Atlantic!  Have corkscrew and stopper already packed for this trip!

Thanks for the UBER info and the early boarding! :)  We are aft on Dolphin next cruise, close to the elevator as well, and look forward to that quick trip up to the pool area and horizon court for breakfast.  Happy sailing!!  Will enjoy your posts for the next 10 days!!

When you're a confirmed wine drinker paying $15 for a couple extra bottles of your choice is not really much.  Remember, you're on a wonderful and lengthy cruise, so make the most of it like a drink before theater or before attending a lecture.  Also, if you like it as I do, bring that tall colored water glass with the false ice cubes to carry your wine as you wander about.  But . . . don't try this charade in the restaurant.  The ever watchful maitre d' bosses are onto such knavery.

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Saturday, 24 August, in port San Francisco

 

This morning weather conditions arriving in San Francisco were exactly what one would expect, low clouds, fog and cool conditions in the mid 50s.  We had little to no sea state as we slid quietly underneath the Golden Gate Bridge and made a smooth approach to our berthing location.

 

Yesterday was a perfect and very relaxing final sea day for this voyage.  Everyone cruises for different reasons and everyone has a different plan.  Some people want to maximize every minute and participate in every activity offered, some love to spend time outside, some like to nap, rest, recuperate and still others like a blend of all the above.  For us, relaxation and rest were high priorities.  We enjoyed another fantastic breakfast in the dining room with Giovanni cooking omelets to order, ham and cheese for Melissa and ham, cheese and mushroom for me.   Both were served with the usual side offerings and, of course, all the fresh pastries and coffee one could ever want.  After breakfast, we were out on the Promenade for a couple miles of walking.  We did well with walking on this cruise, each of us missed our 10,000 step goal just once and we had a high in the mid 18k range on Victoria day.  The sun was bright on the eastern facing (port) side of the ship and by the end of the walk, I was down to my shirt sleeves and wishing that I had some shorts. 

 

After our walk, we went to the culinary demonstration featuring our head chef Joel and Maitre d’ Joachim, along with the Cruise Director Steve were there.  In the end, the demonstration was short on culinary technique  and instruction and very long on humor.  There was a great rapport between Joel and Joachim and the result was really a comedy show about food.  The show went on much longer than any of the other culinary demonstrations we have been to, well over an hour.  However, it was fun and enjoyable.  At the end, they brought out a representative group from the front and back of house staffs and it was obvious the deep affection, respect and personal relationship that the big bosses had with even the lowliest staff onboard the ship.  I have spent my entire working life studying, practicing and being fascinated by leadership on ships at sea.  It is no exaggeration to say that the present leadership on Grand Princess is the best I have seen on any cruise and rival some of the finest teams that the US Navy has put together in the last two decades.  The ship was immaculate and getting better daily, the crew were friendly and engaged, the food and drinks were excellent and it was plain to see at every turn that was because senior officers, mid-level managers and front-line supervisors were engaged.  I saw countless moments of training and mentorship over 10 days and I can’t remember ever seeing more senior officers out and about on any ship.  When Joel and Joachim finished their routine, we had an opportunity to tour the galley.  I always love seeing the acres of clean stainless steel, gleaming in their anticipation of the work to come.

 

Of course, after a galley tour, one would be remiss if they didn’t take the opportunity to have some lunch in the dining room.  The lunch offering was tempting, I started with the bruschetta and then joined Melissa in trying Giovanni’s special lunch pasta.  He made penne with garlic, olive oil and shrimp.  He was a little heavy handed with the olive oil, but it was still delicious.  Melissa had a cheeseburger and I went with the Paella.  Given another chance, I would give the Paella a miss and go with something else.  It wasn’t bad, just a little pedestrian and forgettable.  What wasn’t forgettable was the dessert of a banana split featuring three flavors of homemade ice cream, real whipped cream and a fresh banana…can you say DELISH?!?!?

 

After lunch, we retired to our room for some reading time and a nap.  After obtaining a cup of coffee, we resigned ourselves to the unpleasant task of packing to depart.  Honestly, it wasn’t that arduous and we made quick work of it, probably no more than 30 minutes to complete the chore.  That gave us time to relax, change for dinner and then head to the Wheelhouse Bar for our traditional pre-dinner cocktail and Perrier.  It was a little bittersweet as we had another great set of cocktails and music, but had to say goodbye to some great staff.  Bon and Anthony are staying onboard, but it was the last night for Gladys before she heads home today.

 

Dinner was in the dining room with Arnold as our main waiter, assisted by Kamlesh.  As we were expecting, the service was fantastic and so was the food.  We don’t like to rush dinner, it is a great opportunity to savor the food, the wine, the atmosphere and the chance to spend time together.  There are plenty of cruisers that don’t prefer the dining room or that want a shorter experience, but for us, 2 hours over dinner is the highlight of the day.  For starters, I had the sweetbreads and Melissa had the seafood soup.  I love sweetbreads, they are so decadent and quite honestly I wouldn’t even know where to look for them on a menu back home.  The chef’s execution was right on and the puff pastry vessel they were served in was perfectly executed.  The pasta last night in Club Class was a farfalle mare e monti, seafood and mushrooms in a tomato-based sauce.  This is what I would refer to as graduate level pasta dining.  The flavors were strong, complex, rich and not for the faint of heart.  Honestly, it was super delicious, rich and intoxicating, but I can easily see how many people would not have preferred it.  For our mains, I opted for the pork belly and Melissa had the mussels.  Both were very nicely executed and little was left on the plates when we finished.  For our final dessert, neither of us could pass up the Baked Alaska accompanied by an Irish Coffee.  It was a fantastic way to close out our last dinner of the cruise.

 

After dinner, it was back to the room, into our PJs, bags out into the hall and then off to bed for us.  However, the good news is that there is still more to come.  I will be posting a summary of disembarkation, an overall review and lots of photos and videos.

 

I want to extend a special thanks to The Mikado for contributing and perhaps pioneering the idea of a collaborative “Live” with more than one poster!

 

 

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12 hours ago, cougaraz said:

Saturday, 24 August, in port San Francisco

 

 

 

This morning weather conditions arriving in San Francisco were exactly what one would expect, low clouds, fog and cool conditions in the mid 50s.  We had little to no sea state as we slid quietly underneath the Golden Gate Bridge and made a smooth approach to our berthing location.

 

 

 

Yesterday was a perfect and very relaxing final sea day for this voyage.  Everyone cruises for different reasons and everyone has a different plan.  Some people want to maximize every minute and participate in every activity offered, some love to spend time outside, some like to nap, rest, recuperate and still others like a blend of all the above.  For us, relaxation and rest were high priorities.  We enjoyed another fantastic breakfast in the dining room with Giovanni cooking omelets to order, ham and cheese for Melissa and ham, cheese and mushroom for me.   Both were served with the usual side offerings and, of course, all the fresh pastries and coffee one could ever want.  After breakfast, we were out on the Promenade for a couple miles of walking.  We did well with walking on this cruise, each of us missed our 10,000 step goal just once and we had a high in the mid 18k range on Victoria day.  The sun was bright on the eastern facing (port) side of the ship and by the end of the walk, I was down to my shirt sleeves and wishing that I had some shorts. 

 

 

 

After our walk, we went to the culinary demonstration featuring our head chef Joel and Maitre d’ Joachim, along with the Cruise Director Steve were there.  In the end, the demonstration was short on culinary technique  and instruction and very long on humor.  There was a great rapport between Joel and Joachim and the result was really a comedy show about food.  The show went on much longer than any of the other culinary demonstrations we have been to, well over an hour.  However, it was fun and enjoyable.  At the end, they brought out a representative group from the front and back of house staffs and it was obvious the deep affection, respect and personal relationship that the big bosses had with even the lowliest staff onboard the ship.  I have spent my entire working life studying, practicing and being fascinated by leadership on ships at sea.  It is no exaggeration to say that the present leadership on Grand Princess is the best I have seen on any cruise and rival some of the finest teams that the US Navy has put together in the last two decades.  The ship was immaculate and getting better daily, the crew were friendly and engaged, the food and drinks were excellent and it was plain to see at every turn that was because senior officers, mid-level managers and front-line supervisors were engaged.  I saw countless moments of training and mentorship over 10 days and I can’t remember ever seeing more senior officers out and about on any ship.  When Joel and Joachim finished their routine, we had an opportunity to tour the galley.  I always love seeing the acres of clean stainless steel, gleaming in their anticipation of the work to come.

 

 

 

Of course, after a galley tour, one would be remiss if they didn’t take the opportunity to have some lunch in the dining room.  The lunch offering was tempting, I started with the bruschetta and then joined Melissa in trying Giovanni’s special lunch pasta.  He made penne with garlic, olive oil and shrimp.  He was a little heavy handed with the olive oil, but it was still delicious.  Melissa had a cheeseburger and I went with the Paella.  Given another chance, I would give the Paella a miss and go with something else.  It wasn’t bad, just a little pedestrian and forgettable.  What wasn’t forgettable was the dessert of a banana split featuring three flavors of homemade ice cream, real whipped cream and a fresh banana…can you say DELISH?!?!?

 

 

 

After lunch, we retired to our room for some reading time and a nap.  After obtaining a cup of coffee, we resigned ourselves to the unpleasant task of packing to depart.  Honestly, it wasn’t that arduous and we made quick work of it, probably no more than 30 minutes to complete the chore.  That gave us time to relax, change for dinner and then head to the Wheelhouse Bar for our traditional pre-dinner cocktail and Perrier.  It was a little bittersweet as we had another great set of cocktails and music, but had to say goodbye to some great staff.  Bon and Anthony are staying onboard, but it was the last night for Gladys before she heads home today.

 

 

 

Dinner was in the dining room with Arnold as our main waiter, assisted by Kamlesh.  As we were expecting, the service was fantastic and so was the food.  We don’t like to rush dinner, it is a great opportunity to savor the food, the wine, the atmosphere and the chance to spend time together.  There are plenty of cruisers that don’t prefer the dining room or that want a shorter experience, but for us, 2 hours over dinner is the highlight of the day.  For starters, I had the sweetbreads and Melissa had the seafood soup.  I love sweetbreads, they are so decadent and quite honestly I wouldn’t even know where to look for them on a menu back home.  The chef’s execution was right on and the puff pastry vessel they were served in was perfectly executed.  The pasta last night in Club Class was a farfalle mare e monti, seafood and mushrooms in a tomato-based sauce.  This is what I would refer to as graduate level pasta dining.  The flavors were strong, complex, rich and not for the faint of heart.  Honestly, it was super delicious, rich and intoxicating, but I can easily see how many people would not have preferred it.  For our mains, I opted for the pork belly and Melissa had the mussels.  Both were very nicely executed and little was left on the plates when we finished.  For our final dessert, neither of us could pass up the Baked Alaska accompanied by an Irish Coffee.  It was a fantastic way to close out our last dinner of the cruise.

 

 

 

After dinner, it was back to the room, into our PJs, bags out into the hall and then off to bed for us.  However, the good news is that there is still more to come.  I will be posting a summary of disembarkation, an overall review and lots of photos and videos.

 

 

 

I want to extend a special thanks to The Mikado for contributing and perhaps pioneering the idea of a collaborative “Live” with more than one poster!

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You so much. We enjoyed your cruise, felt like we were at sea along with you. Safe travel to you. 

        _/7_/7_/7_
        \:::::::::::::/
       ~~~~~~~~~

 

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Sunday, 25 August, Not on the Ship        

 

Well, loyal readers, eventually we had to reach this point.  The weather in San Diego this morning was very nice, temperatures in the mid-60s, climbing near 80 along the coast today with abundant sunshine!

 

Our disembarkation morning yesterday could not have gone any smoother.  We woke up very early, around 5ish, and were able to watch the ship sail under the Golden Gate Bridge.  We have been on several cruises out of San Francisco, but this was the first time we have actually gotten up to watch the inbound transit under the bridge.  It was still very dark, so we could just see the navigational lighting until we were pretty much under the bridge.

 

After a quick shower and putting on our travel clothes, we headed down for breakfast.  Breakfast for everyone had shifted to Botticelli on the final morning.  Based on what we observed in Da Vinci right at the very end of our last night’s dinner I surmise that this is to allow for an extensive deep cleaning of the dining rooms.  Just as we were walking out on Friday night, we were among the last in the dining room.  I observed that the waiters on the far side were taking the doors off of the service stations and were starting an extra thorough cleaning.  Given that lunch isn’t served in Botticelli on embarkation day, there is a solid window to conduct a similar effort there following breakfast.  It is difficult to measure based on one meal, but Botticelli may also be bigger than Da Vinci or Michelangelo.  Nevertheless, our usual Club Class team was waiting for us and swiftly seated us for breakfast.  We both opted for the James Beard French Toast, which was crispy on the outside and moist inside.  Unfortunately, it was also pretty greasy and as such sat VERY heavy in my stomach for the morning.  Given the opportunity to rewind the clock, I think I would have opted for a bowl of cereal and the smoked salmon a bagel, but no worries.  The room was in a surprisingly jovial mood and after eating, we said our goodbyes to the staff and waved to our fellow travelers.

 

We returned to our room to retrieve our bags and Jimmy had already been in and made up the bed for the next guests who were lucky enough to embark.  We made it down to the Vista Lounge, the designated Platinum Disembarkation Lounge, and found some seats just about 8AM.  By the time we arrived they had already called all of the walk-off disembarkation guests.  Announcements were frequent and informative and the disembarkation proceeded smoothly and ahead of schedule.  We had Red 2 tags, which indicated the early airport transfer group.  In fact, we had cancelled our transfer during the cruise, but the paperwork hadn’t quite caught up.  We were not fussed enough about it to make a change to our tags to early independent though.  We were called about 8:45 and proceeded out the port side doors from Vista, onto the Promenade and forward to disembark.  One last scan of our cruise cards and we were headed ashore.  After stepping off the gangway and into the terminal, we presented our passports for a very brief inspection and then headed down to the luggage hall.  Our bags were presented and nicely clustered for easy collection.  It was then a moderate walk through the terminal and out to the curb.  Honestly, it was a smooth and seamless operation.  Once at the curb, we found a taxi easily enough and were on our way with no waiting.

 

Our decision to forgo the transfer in lieu of a taxi was driven primarily by the fact that we depart on a Saturday morning.  We knew from experience that this would mean a reduced driving time to the San Francisco airport as compared to a weekday where substantially heavier traffic could be anticipated.  By 9:30 we were checking our bags at the airport.  The cost for 2 Princess transfers was $58 and our taxi ride to the airport (with a nice tip for helping with our bags) was $60.  For us, it was worth it, no waiting on anyone else, guaranteed to be the only stop at the airport and personal service the whole way.

 

We have been fortunate enough to have several very smooth disembarkation experiences including every time we have been in Brooklyn and some not so smooth days, Rio de Janiero, and yesterday was among the smoothest and easiest.  It is always very nice when things go smoothly and it certainly leaves a much more pleasant taste in your mouth about the cruise than when you really struggle and fight to get home.  Our flight was on time and we were at home on the couch with our loyal hound by a little after 2PM.  Soup to nuts, it was a great cruise and we had a wonderful time.

 

I will get busy posting pictures, probably will go chronologically, including all of the menus.  Video will take a little longer as this work week starts pretty aggressively and editing video is not a quick process.

 

Thanks for reading!

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Fantastic review!  Looking forward to the pictures and videos.  Thanks for taking the time to document your trip with us. Truly felt like we were there with you. 

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Here is the embarkation day (Wednesday the 24th) menu for lunch in the Da Vinci dining room.  Also, when boarding we were handed the small card about stateroom availability and dining venues.

 

 

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24 August Lunch

 

Avocado and Shrimp

Ravioli 

Salmon

Souffle

Cantaloupe Frozen Yogurt

 

 

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Dinner 24 August

 

Wine

Crab Cake

Fettuccine Alfredo

Cucumber Yogurt Soup

Roasted Pork

Prime Rib (Very small cut) 😂

Flour-less Chocolate Cake

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Lots of branding to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Princess sailing to Alaska

 

 

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were you able to find out if Giovanni will be still on the Grand in January

Remember: "Mr Frank" and Julie 

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10 minutes ago, jbeth said:

were you able to find out if Giovanni will be still on the Grand in January

Remember: "Mr Frank" and Julie 

I am so sorry, I kept meaning to ask and I forgot to get it done.

 

 

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On 8/24/2019 at 3:23 PM, brisalta said:

 

Did you have two chairs inside the stateroom? One would be a chair at the desk and the other looks like the upper part is cut in a barrel shape?

See picture with red arrow pointing at barrel chair.

Thank you.

 

Untitled.png

Ah, now I get it.

 

No, just a single, straight-back chair like the one at the desk in your photo.

 

Also, from your photo, from what I can see of the chair on the balcony, it appears identical to what we had two of on our balcony.

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Also, for those interested, I plan on scanning as PDFs all of the Patters from our cruise plus a couple of other interesting things. As you have been able to tell, the photos were somewhat spotty in the execution by my mighty iPhone.

 

This requires individual scans of each page which I will then combine to make one file per day. Give me a day or two; still catching up with clients and my back-office staff.

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"BRAVO ZULU",  job Well Done to you, Mikado & Cougaraz.  I felt I was cruising with you two, but I was still hungry.   This has been the most complete on going coverage of any cruise I've ever read.  THANKS.  I'll be boarding Grand one week from today, so I'm primed and ready to go.  

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5 hours ago, Gimer said:

"BRAVO ZULU",  job Well Done to you, Mikado & Cougaraz.  I felt I was cruising with you two, but I was still hungry.   This has been the most complete on going coverage of any cruise I've ever read.  THANKS.  I'll be boarding Grand one week from today, so I'm primed and ready to go.  

No praise for me, but I thank you for your thoughts.

 

Cougar did about 98% of the work with his excellent reports on daily life and activities aboard the Grand. As you've all seen, he and his wife are talented writers; thorough, and with a good eye for detail.

 

I thank him for pointing out all the stuff my wife and I missed!

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27 minutes ago, Gimer said:

Thanks for the Day 2 Patters.... 

You're welcome. These are much easier to read.

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22 minutes ago, The Mikado said:

You're welcome. These are much easier to read.

Did you get to meet the OP?

 

Alaska is definitely now on my cruise bucket list because of this thread. My parents were on the Grand to alaska in 2017.

 

They still talk about it. So after my honeymoon we will be saving up for Alaska.

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49 minutes ago, toads45froggy said:

Did you get to meet the OP?

 

Alaska is definitely now on my cruise bucket list because of this thread. My parents were on the Grand to Alaska in 2017.

 

They still talk about it. So after my honeymoon we will be saving up for Alaska.

I did get to meet Cougar and his wife. A very, very nice couple.

 

Mr. Cougar, as you might have surmised, is extremely high-energy, and Mrs. Cougar is not far behind. As we have seen, both are excellent writers and have a drive to experience new things. They found things on the ship that we never gleaned from the Daily Patter. We plan on using this blog for our next trip on the Grand which, tentatively, will be November on the 15-day Hawaiian itinerary. 

 

You will not regret an Alaskan cruise. More likely, you will be planning the next one before you disembark.

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Mikado, What's the date of your Hawaiian Cruise?  Fran and I will be on the November 3rd cruise.  We love doing those 15 days and with your live blog, WOW !, going to be wonderful read.   

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33 minutes ago, Gimer said:

Mikado, What's the date of your Hawaiian Cruise?  Fran and I will be on the November 3rd cruise.  We love doing those 15 days and with your live blog, WOW !, going to be wonderful read.   

Thank you but, to be clear, the live blog was Cougar's creation; I only added the Patters. I try to never take credit for someone else's work unless, of course, there's a slight chance I can get away with it. 

 

We are tentatively planning the later cruise, the 18th, I think it is. We are trying to gauge the sincerity of our daughter--who will remain at home with the dogs--when she says she doesn't care that we will be gone over Thanksgiving.

 

An amazing revelation over the days since we arrived back home: my wife, who has never been on a ship before this past cruise, is now even more hooked on them and her addiction seems to grow in strength by the day! Joy!

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