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Everything posted by jondfk

  1. Thanks for this, I ordered previously and got tests that expire literally 2 days before our sailing. I've gone on the waitlist for "fresh" kits which hopefully will get them in our hands in time. Meanwhile, hoping the editing kits might get a further extension . . .
  2. Of course, no one has sailed out of San Francisco post Covid, so no real world experience. However, we have sailed from San Francisco about a dozen times with Princess, here are our past experiences. As noted above, current processes include requesting a boarding group using the medallion app which may (or may not) result in your experience being quite different from ours. That said: Entry to the building has in the past been completely closed until sometime between 10:30 and 11:00 depending on many factors most obviously how completely offloaded the prior sailing is. When ships arrive late, offloading starts late, and the building stays locked. Recognize that there is no shelter of any kind outside on pier 27. If it's raining you will be wet, if it is cold (typical) you will be incredibly cold. We stopped trying to be especially early after a couple of bitter outside experiences. Inside, you generally flow quite well, first past a cursory passport check, up the escalator, through security. There is some metering at the bottom of the escalator if the security queue is full. Frequently a single Security line opens at 11:00, others come online by noon. The wait is frequently shorter if you arrive just a bit later. Post security there are two check in queues, "normal" and "priority" (suites, club class, Elites). Recognize the staff helping out are not Princess employees and tend to direct everyone to the "normal" line. Early in the process it really makes no difference because Princess has dozens of checkin counters. Even in the past, without medallions, the process was quick. A passport check, delivery of keys, and a paper boarding priority number (make CERTAIN you get this, it's critical later). When embarkation begins they do so via priority numbers with the first color / number groups assigned to suites / CC / Elites, in order of arrival, not status. Suite holders were assigned an escort (typically a member of wait staff), to help guide you aboard, the nicest thing about this is having someone to navigate your carryon up the steep and bumpy gangway - something DW enjoys. Embarkation lunch usually starts at 12:30 (sometimes 12:00, one time 1:00, for reasons I don't understand) in one of the midship MDR's. We've never failed to make it onboard in time for lunch. As said, we've adjusted our arrival time to avoid the risk of being locked out, we target 11:30 arrival and have still managed to be in one of the first 10 (even as Platinum) boarding groups. Peak time seemed in the past to be around 12:30. Those looking to avoid lines could reliably do so by arriving between 1:00 and 2:00. Loooong reply I know, but hopefully answers most questions.
  3. I think that's the key, cooked to order, isn't everything, even the most pedestrian, better when fresh? I'm an avocado omelette guy which I agree isn't all that special, but as CineGraphic said, try ordering one in the MDR. There's a level of attentiveness of the staff that just isn't possible in a mass setting. If you're the sort who "always" has a latte for breakfast, within a couple of days, you'll hear the machine start working when you appear in the doorway, if you like a particular pastry (DW likes chocolate croissants) they will be there waiting for you without a second request. Small things can make for a really special experience. I often say to non-cruising friends that cruise food isn't the best meal I've ever had, but it is the best 21 consecutive meals I've ever had. Similarly, Princess suite breakfast isn't the best breakfast of my life, but is absolutely the best 7, 10, 14 or more consecutive breakfasts of my life.
  4. As a 10+ time WS lover who actually WAS quarantined in a WS I don't share your view. We were allowed out for fresh air only once in 6 days, for 30 minutes, very late afternoon and once out to promenade had to remain out there shivering for the entire allocated time (they didn't want "traffic" in the hallways). I've heard some say quarantine didn't seem so bad, trust me, 20 days (6 on ship, 14 at Travis) with even the most basic choices (meals, drinks, etc) removed was no kind of fun. We go back to Grand in January, WS are available (even now) but we'll have a balcony, as do all of our 7 future sailings. I'm not saying we'll never sail in a WS again, but surely not until C19 is a distant memory.
  5. Roughly yes, about the size of an airtag. I have an airtag luggage tag and my medallion would fit the same hole. I'm not sure either would actually be secure for the handling luggage receives though.
  6. About the window suites on Grand, we've sailed in these something like 7 times. Casino noise. There is none, zero, none as far as I could hear anyway. When the ship is in motion you do get a lot of "white noise" from the surf racing by 10 feet or so from your windows. Smoke. DW is fairly sensitive and has sometimes picked up odor from the cigar bar which is just forward of F301. There is a companionway door near 301 there that used to be frequently propped open (allowing smoke in) on recent cruises this has been more consistently closed. Smoke odor has never been an issue inside the room though I confess we tend towards F307 & F309 which might help in this regard as well.
  7. On the subject of first night specialty dining, here's our experience. First, if you absolutely want to do this on the first night, by all means wait until you board and call the dine line or stop by the venue to make a booking. Believe me, you'll be accommodated. Second, while this is advertised as a "first night" perk. For a myriad of reasons we prefer MDR on night one. In every instance, whenever we dined at Crown Grill (for example) the first time, the cover was waived. I've seen reports that this hasn't worked for a small handful, but on most ships, and in my experience, on every occasion we've done so with not so much as a raised eyebrow. A brief word with the Maitre'd when you arrive a CG or Sabatini's is all it takes. By the way, the best Suite perk is the Suite Breakfast. Not to be missed. Very special, you'll be well pampered. No reasonable request will be denied. DW loves a chocolate croissant, even when they are not on the pastry tray. After a single request, they appear every day like magic.
  8. I understand your dilemma. We're booked on Grand for January 4th to Hawaii. Having had 5 bookings cancelled (2 after final payment, waited 7 months for refunds) we swore we wouldn't go past final payment again until ships started actually sailing. Grand started yesterday (yea) but has cancelled all Hawaii sailings until 12/31 making ours now the first to sail which seems a risk. Final payment is due in about 10 days - we've decided we will go ahead and make final payment and keep fingers crossed that the plan to sail to Hawaii holds. Not sure if our decision making process assists you, thought I'd share however just the same.
  9. It is still there, but the hours are (or at least were) fairly limited. I too love the location, but your walk for cocktails might be a bit longer than planned at times. Champagne problems right?
  10. Please don't waste a single moment worrying about this. You're not disregarding the rules, you're complying to the best of your ability, no one could ask for more. Enjoy your cruise.
  11. It was decent before quarantine, one example, the movie Ferrari vs Ford had recently been in theaters but I missed it, it was on VOD before lockdown. As for TV that's quite subjective of course, we watch a lot of HGTV at home and there was a decent selection of titles upon boarding the ship. Quite a lot of popular sitcoms too, Big Bang, Modern Family that sort of thing. We're not big on crime drama (I know lots love them) so can't say we surfed in that area.
  12. Thanks very much for starting these live from threads. We're sailing in January (to Hawaii we hope). Looking forward to your updates and observations. Grand is second only to Coral our favorite ship. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
  13. Hi, no judgement here. We were on the final Grand sailing before covid, the one that landed us at Travis in quarantine. We spent days (all or most of 7 actually) confined to cabin so we used the VOD a lot. The good news is Grand was upgraded to the full Medallion Class entertainment experience in the dry dock prior to our sailing in February of 2019. The system was good and we used it a fair bit before the confinement started. Once we were locked down they added MUCH more content to keep us "happy" this was done every day, in a somewhat haphazard fashion (meaning movies ended up under the TV shows menu and vice versa etc). By the end of our stay on board something like 200 movies and TV series were available. This wouldn't be the "normal" experience but it does show how capable the system is. I think you'll be impressed. Hope this helps.
  14. This area is great but is subject to closure by the bridge especially when navigating into / out of harbor. The sound of hundreds stomping around above could undoubtedly be distracting. Still I've had good luck watching the sail in to Honolulu and Kauai from this location. The sail into Kauai is not to be missed, a very complicated entrance with lots of turns and tight navigation.
  15. What I love about Tony is he posted his entire experience, including his mistake knocking the card onto the floor. There's no way to know definitively whether the reagent he had already put into the card had spilled or splashed out, as such, there's no way to know whether his result would have been valid. He put up no fight, simply moved onto a fresh kit, and completed his test successfully on the second attempt. Perhaps just as important the proctor didn't hesitate a moment and declared the test fouled. There was no gee, what should we do now, or that never happened before. Very professional, just get a fresh kit and let's try this a second time. Thanks Tony for posting the full experience.
  16. One comment based on watching Tony's (La Lido Loca) YouTube proctored test experience with EMed, if anything whatsoever goes wrong while the test is being witnessed, it will be invalidated. For example, Tony knocked his test card off the table while trying to remove the swab from the package. Tony said, "nothing spilled", the proctor said, doesn't matter the card left my sight and therefore is spoiled. Get a new kit and let's start again. I wasn't a big deal because Tony bought a 6 pack and therefore had another one handy. I say this only as a warning if folks plan to order a 2 pack to cover two sailors. Doing so leaves you no room for error which could be quite stressful 48 hours before you hope to board. 'nuf said.
  17. Yes. With Golden gone fleet exit, the only Grand class ships that have them are Grand and Caribbean, each have 7 on Fiesta deck 6. F301 is slightly smaller than the others, the one closest to the piazza F315 is a handicapped room. F301 is considered undesirable but in fact is just like the others except it doesn't have the giant "desk" running along the windows, there's still plenty of flat space and storage elsewhere in the room. The very latest Royal class ships (Sky for example) have only two, up high, forward. S107 & S108. Shhhh. Don't tell anybody, they are hard enough to get!
  18. I'll kick in. Grand get's kicking from some because she's the grandmother of her class and there's no denying she shows her age here and there. Mainly what you realize if you, say, sail Regal and Grand back to back, as we have done, is how much further along things have come in terms of glitz and glitter. Grand seems rather plain by comparison. However, we love Grand, second only to Coral in the current Princess fleet. Although she was briefly the largest passenger ship afloat when she launched, she is today one of the smallest of Princess ships carrying "only" ~2500. Enormous amounts of deck space, but one full deck of cabins fewer than her class mates, she never feels as crowded as say Ruby or Crown. Her original Skywalkers was cut away to save weight on the stern, the replacement, One5 is a pale substitute. For whatever reason we've had consistently fantastic staff on Grand, I realize service is subjective, and I'm not a particularly harsh critic but we've had disappointments on other Princess ships, but never Grand. I'll tell you how much we love her. We were on her final cruise, the one that landed us at Travis. Believe me when I say no part of the experience was any fun. Still, our first cruise back with Princess will be . . . on Grand. We want to give her a fresh chance to impress and we fully expect she will.
  19. Not only Club Class dining, but, perhaps more special, suite breakfast! I'm guessing (just guessing) that you're sailing on Grand in the near future. If so, suite breakfast is in Crown Grill (on most other ships it's in Sabatini's). It's a really nice perk and the service team never fails to impress.
  20. I'll second the vote for Alfredo's, a really nice alternative to the main restaurant and grab and go up on the lido deck. You're served, there's rarely any wait whatsoever to get in and the pizza is always hot, fresh and cooked to order. To make a meal of it, order your pizza then stroll across the lobby to International Cafe for a side salad or dessert (bring these things back to your table in Alfredo's). The Club One5 is a bit of an odd space, added to Grand many years after launch. No views from here, but a quiet alternate venue for a drink. There is a nice, secluded outdoor space just behind One5 that often goes unused, another place for a quiet respite (the port side of this space is smoking permitted, the Starboard equivalent is non-smoking. We especially like Crown Grill on Grand. The space layout seems less congested than some other ships in the fleet. Finally, the covered conservatory pool area can be a godsend on cold or hot days. Since you're sailing to Mexico at the tail end of summer you might find the outdoor Lido deck a bit too intense sun wise, the conservatory area is the answer. Please do a live from. We're sailing on Grand in January and will meanwhile live vicariously through you!
  21. Your comment caused me to check my FCC account, which I haven't done for many months. I stand corrected, while I know the original expiration date was March 31, '22 (two years from when we landed in Travis) it has been changed to 12/31/22. This has me wondering whether we should be looking for something in the fall instead of January, something to ponder . . . Thanks for making me check!
  22. Been waiting for some sort of update, not entirely surprised. We're booked on Grand for Hawaii on January 4th which now looks to be the first scheduled sailing to the islands. Really hope it happens, we're booked using the substantial credit we received when we sailed on the final Grand cruise which landed us in Travis at the start of this thing. That credit expires 3/31/22 and, given what we went through to "earn" it, we'll be looking for a long extension if they cancel our 4th attempt to redeem. For those who lost their dream holiday, so sorry for you, a cruise to Hawaii for Christmas is really special and I'd highly suggest moving across to the equivalent in '22 if you're able.
  23. This day, we throughly enjoyed. It was so cold, they piled up the blankets (like 6 each) and kept the very rich hot chocolate coming. Ours was a slightly drizzly day, so the protection offered by the sanctuary made the day much more enjoyable. For the canal, I wouldn't pay again. But for Glacier Bay, absolutely, a must do in my book.
  24. We're big sanctuary fans, frequently book full cruise (which, by the way EXCLUDES panama canal and glacier bay days). As noted previously, there is a substantial uncharge for Canal day, double the normal daily rate, nearly triple the full cruise rate. As also said, they do make it a nice day with much more food than is usual, special drinks, a moment travel mug, maybe a couple other small things. Whether that makes it worth the premium is debatable. More important, the sanctuary on Grand class ships, including Ruby has floor to ceiling windows for the most part which doesn't make for the best viewing or picture taking, you'll find yourself leaving the area for best views and photo's. Perhaps the largest benefit is the certainty of finding a bit of shade on what is often a very hot day - this alone might make the cost worthwhile. As much as we are fans of sanctuary, we've only paid for it on Canal day once, we just didn't find the benefits worth the greatly increased cost.
  25. We've mainly sailed in standard cabins, with TD. More recently we've experienced Club Class and definitely find it worth a modest premium (what is modest is a personal judgement, can't help with that). One benefit that I've not seen mentioned before, is a sort of behind the curtain thing. CC waitstaff wear distinctive uniforms, this may seem meaningless, but in fact this is huge behind the scenes. CC staff have line jump privilege in the kitchen, so dishes come out with better spacing than is possible with ATD. I've been told that the line for "mains" can often stretch 20 or 30 (assistant) waiters deep at peak times. In such situations this secret perk has a real impact on meal spacing. In our experience better CC dining staff quickly learn your preferred pace and work hard to meet your wishes, even if unspoken. You won't find this written anywhere but if you pay attention to non CC stations around you in the dining room you'll quickly notice that your CC assistant waiter may enter the kitchen the same moment as the guy at the next station, but he'll remerge many minutes, some times tens of minutes, earlier.
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