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Grand Princess 10-Day Mexican Riviera Cruise - Photo Review - Jan 9-19th, 2016


WinksCruises
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Thanks for a most entertaining and enjoyable review. And, with great pictures to augment it as well. It would appear that you and Mrs. Winks both have a knack for making whatever you do sound like a lot of fun. Body parts snatchers and drug cartel gangs not withstanding of course.....:rolleyes:

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Dear Mr. Winks,

 

Thank you for this review. For being "one of the worst ever," I found it to be quite entertaining and chock-full of information and opinions. And, as my DH would say, "any story worth telling is worth embellishing," and you have a special knack for glitzy embellishments :) What fun! I don't think our upcoming California Coastal on the Grand will be much like your Mexican Riviera, but your port reviews did bring back happy memories of our own Mexican Riviera cruise to the same ports a couple of months ago, on the Crown. Except we had some fun excursions, such as the Turtle Sanctuary in Manzanillo, and whale watching in Cabo. And a not-so-fun excursion to someone's uncle's jewelry story (or at least so we suspect) in Matzatlan -- an excursion euphemized "Matzatlan city tour" or something like. I can't tell you too much about what we did in Puerto Vallarta, but I am told it was fun, LOL (see attached image.)

 

Anyway, thanks for feeding my hunger for information about the Grand, as we will be on her for the first time in two weeks.

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Edited by cvpends
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  • 2 months later...

Warning regarding Ted Mc Court talks:

 

He is sometimes talking absolute rubbish, especially regarding the US Airways Hudson ditching.

 

Anyone within the Industry who knows what they are talking about agree that this was a VERY WELL handled accident.

 

Best regards,

 

Despegue

Captain B747-400

Instructor B737.300-900

Master in Aviation Safety

Chairman TCAS Maritime and Aciation Safety

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ahoy mateys!

 

Sorry for the long absence from this review. Thanks for your comments and for hanging in there.

 

First, a brief story that relates to our return here… Mrs. Winks and I just got back from sailing on the Empress of the Seas, a retired Royal Caribbean ship that’s recently been returned to the fleet. Why did they refurbish and then place this 20-year-old relic back on the high seas? For the sole purpose of going to Cuba.

 

Turns out the other, newer, fancier, Royal ships - with their cray-cray bumper cars, flow riders and crane arm observation towers - all suffer from the same fatal flaw; they’re way too big to dock in Cuba. But the Empress of the Seas, at under 700 feet bow to stern, like a tween who still wants to play in the kid zone, just manages to squeeze in under the “You Must Be Shorter Than This Line To Dock Here” sign they have floating at the entrance to the port of Havana. So welcome back to the fleet, Ms. Empress.

 

And while the suits at Royal C wait around for their new comrade from Cuban Raul C to bestow his final blessing on the commencement of these weekly pilgrimages to the paradise he likes to call Communist Cay, the Empress is busy doing short, 4 and 5 night, Bahama and Cozumel runs to bide the time and churn a buck. And since the Empress of the Seas was our first cruise ship vessel ever, from back in 1999, Mrs. Winks and I decided to try and re-capture some of the by-gone magic by booking a 5-night trip to Cozumel on her.

 

You can read all about that adventure by clicking on the link in our signature below, but long story short, this is all a roundabout way of reporting to you that we ran into a woman on that Empress cruise, during our Cabin Crawl actually, who had read this very Grand Princess Cruise Critic review; and, let me tell you in no uncertain terms, she was very disappointed that we’d never come back here to complete it!

 

Now, ole Winks needs to be honest with you all. It completely alludes me why any of you folks would still want to read this gibberish. Heck, even I got bored after we didn’t get kidnapped by drug lords (or even drunk) in Manzanillo. Why would you possibly want to read more?

 

Well, just to come full circle on this, and perhaps put an end to the hate mail and all those middle of the night phone calls, here, at last, is our admittedly hazy recollection of our final day at sea on the Grand Princess and the problematic disembarkation fiasco that followed in San Francisco. It’s that harrowing process known as…

 

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Our Final Sea Day

 

Rough Pacific seas and heavy, thick cloud cover, accompanied us on our final day. Surprisingly, there were occasional small, breaks in the overcast that let rays of sun slice through - thus rendering a view like you see in the picture above, a brilliantly lit promenade deck juxtaposed by a sullen grey seascape.

 

Because it was such a rocky ride back, there weren’t many outdoor activities going on, just some Bingo finals and a seminar at sea about religion and ethics, so everyone’s attention turned to the inevitable: Time pack up and get off our ship! Mrs. Winks and I obliged and emptied our closets into our suitcases and filled out the customs form.

 

For our final evening on the Grand, it was a toss-up between attending a variety show in the Princess Theater or catching the Helen Mirren flick, Woman in Gold, at Movie Under the Stars, but since the weather was still a little inclement, we opted for the indoor show. The comedian, Derrick Cameron was pretty good, with his toxic observations about cruising and travelling. He was followed by David Austen, a vocalist who has quite a cult following on these cruises, but who did nothing for us. He belted out over produced renditions of classic standards and show tunes that had the crowd of mostly female fans swooning and had us bee lining for the exits and up to the One5 lounge after just the first medley of hits.

 

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Vocalist David Austen, Comedian Derrick Cameron and Cruise Director Dave Cole

 

After a few cocktails at the lounge and a final dinner in the Main Dining Room, we headed back to our cabin to put our bags out into the corridor for pickup. There, we ran into our room steward Rodrigo, thanked him for taking such good care of us and took the photo below. I’m not sure why he and Mrs. Winks are holding empty water glasses, but you got to love the kid from a cabin down the hall who took the opportunity to run up and photo bomb the shot!

 

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Saying goodbye to Rodrigo and a photo bomber!

The next morning, we arrived in a cold and rainy San Francisco port. The wind was especially strong, something we noticed when we went up to the Horizon Court for breakfast and saw the flag off the back deck whipping around loudly. At times, the rain came down in torrents and the wind rocked the docked ship.

 

Then came the announcement over the public address system: there was a problem with the gangway; it was no longer safe to facilitate passengers leaving the ship because of the gusty winds! The disembarking process was halted as the team on the dock tried to figure out an alternative.

 

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Trucks lined up to restock the Grand on a rainy San Francisco morning

 

It’s crazy how many times in cruising you can get off a ship and pass through customs with record speed and find yourself in the airport, twiddling your thumbs with hours to kill, even when you booked a morning flight all because the process went so smoothly. But every now and then, the gremlins muck up the works, and you find yourself worrying you may not make your afternoon flight. This was one of those times!

 

After breakfast, we went to our appointed lounge and waited. Our concierge was there and told us that a makeshift gangway ramp was being set-up for Deck Two, just a few feet above the dock, so that wind wouldn’t be an issue. But what became an issue was the number of passengers using wheelchairs and other mobile assistance who had to be lifted down a couple of steps. This gummed up the works and significantly slowed down the disembarkation process. 10 am approached and we were still hanging out in the lounge.

 

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The line of passengers to get off the ship and wheelchairs backing down the makeshift gangway

 

Fearing the backlog we might expect at customs, we asked Julia to wield her magic and let us disembark before our group color was called. It still took another half hour to snake through the line and off the ship, but fortunately, immigration officials were there to check our passports on the ship, while we were waiting our turn on the gangway, so once we got off the ship and gathered our bags, things did move faster.

 

In the end, we made our 12:15 flight, but it was just another reminder about the risk you run booking a pre-noon flight back home. You never know what you might run into.

 

Overall, it was a terrific cruise with a fresh itinerary that gave us a much needed break from the St. Thomas and Princess Cay stops you experience repeatedly when cruising the Caribbean. Princess is becoming our cruise line of choice and we have another one booked for early 2017.

 

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The Grand Princess was a lot of fun and provides a wonderful cruising experience as long as you’re not expecting all the bells and whistles that come with the mega-ships.

 

Thanks for your readership, patience and comments! Enjoy your next voyage. We’ll see you on the high seas.

Edited by WinksCruises
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Thank you for providing the final installment that most of us have been waiting so (patiently):rolleyes: for. I am now on my way over to read your Empress of the Seas review. I am sure that it will be as enjoyable as this has been. Thanks again.

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Thank you, WinksCruises, for finishing up this wonderful review. Your attention to detail, amazing photos and flare for the dramatic made for a fun reenactment of your adventure. It's almost like I lived it with you! Can't wait to see what happens on the next one! xoxo

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Thanks for coming back to finish your review. I feel like I was with you and I was.:D

 

DH and I made up a game on the last day called, "How Long Can We Stay On The Ship Before They Boot Us Off". The answer was 12:00 pm. It was okay though because DH got to use his AIBP a few times that morning and I had lunch in the IC. :D

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  • 1 month later...

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