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cougaraz

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

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Posted (edited)

Greetings everyone!

 

We are less than a week from departure and so it is time to get this "Live" up and running.

 

I will be traveling with my wife and this is an anniversary cruise of sorts.  We embarked on our first cruise together, 12 years ago this summer.  That trip was also a 10 day roundtrip from San Francisco on the old Dawn Princess in the summer of 2007.  Most importantly, we got engaged the night before we departed on that trip.  After I proposed, and she said yes, we had dinner at John's Grill in San Francisco.

 

We are both experienced cruisers and world travelers, with 14 cruises as a couple completed to date.  Generally, we are very relaxed when we sail, taking advantage of sea days for naps, walks on deck, reading and of course, eating.  In port, we are planning on a mix of excursions and some on our own exploration.  We have sailed to Alaska many times before, including a rather memorable pair of 7 days trips from Seattle separated by just a week.  

 

Our plan is to fly from Southern California to San Francisco the night before departure, have a celebratory dinner at John's Grill and then embark the next morning.

 

Subject to internet speeds and the behavior of Tapatalk, the intention is to update daily and post pictures as possible.

 

 

 

 

Edited by cougaraz

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Looking forward to your posts, we will be on the same voyage Sept 3rd.  Our 4th sail to Alaska and love the Grand.  Especially RT SF.

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Coug, my wife and I will be along with you. 

 

This will be my 8th AK cruise and my 20th-ish overall. It will be my wife's maiden voyage, poor girl. I spent the past 10 years on the sidelines (no cruising) for one reason or another but now intend to complete one cruise per quarter from here on out.

 

Thank you for taking this project on. I just want to do nothing in particular on no time schedule.

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39 minutes ago, The Mikado said:

Coug, my wife and I will be along with you. 

 

This will be my 8th AK cruise and my 20th-ish overall. It will be my wife's maiden voyage, poor girl. I spent the past 10 years on the sidelines (no cruising) for one reason or another but now intend to complete one cruise per quarter from here on out.

 

Thank you for taking this project on. I just want to do nothing in particular on no time schedule.

Looking forward to sailing with you.

 

I would love to be on the quarterly cruise schedule, but I don't think that is going to fit particularly well with our work schedules just yet.  Still, work is the primary impediment to us sailing more often.  We love cruising and the freedom to make the trip what we want it to be.

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6 minutes ago, cougaraz said:

Looking forward to sailing with you.

 

I would love to be on the quarterly cruise schedule, but I don't think that is going to fit particularly well with our work schedules just yet.  Still, work is the primary impediment to us sailing more often.  We love cruising and the freedom to make the trip what we want it to be.

And we with you.

 

I am incredibly blessed to have spent most of my life doing exactly what I wanted to. I retired from an airline career (Boeing 767 Captain) about 10 years ago and started an investment management business that gives me the freedom to earn without being tied to any particular daily routine.

 

Really, really looking forward to being on the ship again. Are you in on the "informal" M&G? 15th at 09:30 in OneFive if I recall correctly.

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6 hours ago, The Mikado said:

And we with you.

 

I am incredibly blessed to have spent most of my life doing exactly what I wanted to. I retired from an airline career (Boeing 767 Captain) about 10 years ago and started an investment management business that gives me the freedom to earn without being tied to any particular daily routine.

 

Really, really looking forward to being on the ship again. Are you in on the "informal" M&G? 15th at 09:30 in OneFive if I recall correctly.

 

Yes indeed, we are planning to go to the Meet and Greet.

 

There is still a fair amount of work to be done to get us ready, but we are seasoned enough that once packing starts it will be over in very short order.

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I'll be anxious to read your "Live-From", as we will be on the same ship for the same itinerary in a few weeks. While I've been on most of the ships in the Princess fleet, and have done 3 previous AK cruises, I've not been on the Grand yet, so will be interested in hearing about what you experience.

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I need a good live trip I look forward to joining you vicariously!

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Posted (edited)

It has been a busy Saturday here getting some final errands run and making sure that we are ready to go.  We slept in this morning (which in our family while at home means 7AM), walked the dog, dropped the dog off at the groomers, got the car washed (thanks to an accurately delivered sea gull bomb), hit the ATM, picked up dry cleaning, filled the car with gas, knocked out our commissary and exchange shopping, picked the dog up from the groomers and folded laundry.

 

The suitcases are up from the basement and we have been using the guest bedroom as a staging area for everything we know we are going to take on the trip.  The plan is to get the checked luggage to a 90% solution today and then get electronics charged, updated, media downloaded and get the carry-on luggage taken care of tomorrow.  Monday is a full work day, Tuesday will be a working morning and then knocking off mid-afternoon to head to the airport.

 

 

Edited by cougaraz

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It is early Sunday afternoon and I would say that we are 98% complete with our packing.  Just a little tweaking in my carry on bag, which is a backpack still to be done.  I also need to charge all my electronics and download some media onto my tablet.  Things were slowed down this morning by not one, but two encounters with the police.  First, I witnessed a hit and run car accident (no injuries, just some property damage) and then our neighbor's two year old managed to get himself locked in the car with the keys in hand.  He was able to hear us and it is very mild here today so he wasn't getting hot very quickly, but the only button he would push on the key fob was the lock!  The same police officer I had talked to just a few minutes earlier and the local firefighters were able to get him out within minutes of their arrival and he was not really upset about it.  They let him sit in the firetruck and honk the horn and turn the siren on, so he was happy!

 

We have a total of four bags, two big rollers which are almost all clothing, a small roller which is almost all shoes and a toiletry bag which is pretty self explanatory.  We will each also take a backpack.  I weighed the bags and we should be good on the weight limit, but I still think we over-packed a bit.  Our roller bags are very nice because they slide easily under the bed onboard.

 

Tomorrow is a full working day for both of us, in fact I have to be in early and expect to put in a heavy-lifting day to square everything away for my time away.  Tuesday, I have a major meeting in the morning, but should wrap up around lunch time.

 

After all the anticipation, hard to believe that in 72 hours we will be onboard!

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We just booked a 30 day cruise on the Grand leaving in Oct 2020 and are very much interested in your thoughts about the joys that await you on the Grand as you cruise to Alaska. We just got finished taking a family cruise on the Crown around the UK and had a great time and looking forward to more cruises on various Princess ships.

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Posted (edited)

It is finally departure day!

 

Yesterday was a crushing 12+ hour workday, but it was insanely productive and mentally stimulating.  I have a half day of work to knock out and should wrap up around noon. Then, home and off to the airport. Once the journey starts, I will try to include some photos.

Edited by cougaraz

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We board our train in San Luis Obispo at 15:30 and arrive in San Francisco at 22:30. After we get our bags in the room, we’re heading to the Buena Vista for an Irish coffee. 

 

The day has arrived. 

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Looking forward to your live report.  We board the Grand on the 24th for her next trip up the coast.  Haven't been on her for several years but had heard she had a recent facelift...mostly with upgrades for medallion stuff.  We will be celebrating our 50th anniversary and our 25th cruise with Princess.

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Following!

We have never been on the Grand and look forward to your posts.

Thanks for doing this and have a fantastic time!

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Will be following this as we are on the Grand for 10 days on September 3rd.  Enjoy!

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7 hours ago, The Mikado said:

We board our train in San Luis Obispo at 15:30 and arrive in San Francisco at 22:30. After we get our bags in the room, we’re heading to the Buena Vista for an Irish coffee. 

 

The day has arrived. 

That sounds like a great plan!

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Posted (edited)

Good morning from San Francisco where the weather is absolutely gorgeous!  Skies are clear, the sun is shining and temperatures are comfortable and headed for near 80 today.  Our travel day yesterday from San Diego to San Francisco simply could not have gone any smoother.  I was up at a normal time and worked until around noon.  Then it was a quick trip home, a bite of lunch, change of clothes and bidding farewell to our loyal dog.  We miss him, but I am not convinced that he doesn’t prefer the family he stays with to us while we are gone. 

 

 

We took an Uber to the airport, checked our bags, meeting the maximum weight requirement by just ½ a pound on one bag.  I had weighed it at home, but didn’t think I was actually cutting it that fine.  Security was a bit of a drag as the portion of SAN where we boarded was not operating TSA PreCheck when we went through.  Still the lines weren’t too bad and we were able to help a military spouse traveling alone with her baby get through with a stroller and bags to wrestle.  As is my custom, we were generously early and I took the opportunity to shoot a little video around the terminal and play with my new gimbal.  When the cruise is over, I plan to edit all of my video into a highlight reel of the trip.  We boarded on time and the flight only had 70 passengers on a Southwest 737.  This was nice because we had the middle seat between us empty and no one was there to mind that I suction cupped my GoPro to the window and shot some super cool videos of us coming up the coast of California.  We made an on-time departure and had a very smooth flight up, eventually arriving at the gate about 15 minutes early.

 

 

We were in a portion of SFO that I had not been in on a Southwest flight before, it was very recently remodeled and exceptionally nice, with fresh décor and very wide transit areas.  By the time we made our way down to baggage claim, the belt was already rolling and our bags were among the first off.  I would estimate that from the moment we stepped off the plane until we had bags in hand was well under 15 minutes.  It was a fast walk to the taxi queue and we were on our way into the city.  Traffic was better than average for 530 and we made a quick trip into the city.  When Melissa and I were dating, I lived in Monterey and she lived in San Francisco, so it was a drive that I knew very well. 

 

 

We arrived at the Palace Hotel and it remains every bit as spectacular as I remember it.  The physical building is such a throwback to when style, design and artistry were as important as function in the design of great hotels.  Check in was painless and we were up to our room expeditiously.  Our room is very nice and large by the standards of hotel rooms in any American city and bigger than a lot of very nice apartments by San Francisco standards.  We dropped our bags, made a quick change from travel attire into something a bit more refined and headed out for a drink.

We made our way to the Pied Piper on the first floor of the hotel and had a couple of absolutely fabulous cocktails.  Melissa had a Sidecar, which led to some discussion on whether the English or French School is correct on the ingredients and I enjoyed a very nicely made Old Fashioned. 

 

After our drinks, it was a short 10 minute walk to John’s Grill and a stroll down memory lane.  12 years ago this summer, we went to John’s Grill after we got engaged and the next morning embarked on our first cruise together!  The restaurant was hopping for a Tuesday night and we sat upstairs, just a few tables from where we sat that night.  Of course, the engagement ring sits a lot more comfortably on Melissa’s finger a decade on, so she didn’t spend quite as much time staring at it as she did in 2007.  I had a steak and Melissa had the cioppino, both of which were really nicely prepared and delivered.  The food isn’t over the top gourmet, nor the service unusually attentive, but both were solid and we had a great meal.  I would love to say that after dinner we hit the town, but the reality is that we hit the pillows and settled into the very nice bedding of our hotel for a well-earned night’s rest.

 

 

This morning, we were up early and went downstairs from breakfast in the Garden Court! As far as physical locations for a meal, I am not sure I have been anywhere else on the planet that is quite such an extraordinary blend of the classic and the modern.  The breakfast buffet was sublime, very high-quality food, a broad selection and accompanied by the type of first-class service that just isn’t very common when dining buffet style.  We took our time, enjoying the food, juice, coffee, each other and not having to worry about getting to work.  After breakfast, we took a quick walk, picked up a couple essentials and are now finalizing our preparation to head to the ship.  We are planning to arrive between 11 and noon.

 

Stay tuned for more of the adventure!

 

Edited by cougaraz

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We are on the ship, standing at the entrance to the Da Vinci MDR waiting for the 11:30 opening. 

 

The wine police were out in force making me cough up $150 for absolutely nothing. So, I did not dodge that bazooka. But they didn’t actually count the bottles. Hmmm...

 

All in all, things have gone very smoothly, from Amtrak, to the Amtrak bus across the Bay Bridge, to the hotel, to the Uber XL to drag our bags to Pier 27, to the no-wait check-in, to the 5 minute wait to board the ship, to the sort-of aggressive security guy taking our photos. 

 

So so far so good. 

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On 8/13/2019 at 4:00 PM, cougaraz said:

It is finally departure day!

 

Yesterday was a crushing 12+ hour workday, but it was insanely productive and mentally stimulating.  I have a half day of work to knock out and should wrap up around noon. Then, home and off to the airport. Once the journey starts, I will try to include some photos.

Looking forward to your review.

We are departing on the Grand from SF in November to Hawaii and keen to hear about SF and the ship.

Graham.

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I'm looking forward to your review as well.  
We were on her in June to Alaska and will be on her again on  November 3rd to Hawaii.  

Grapua27 - is that the cruise you will be on?

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