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

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3 hours ago, Gimer said:

Did either of you get to taste the Crab Cakes offered at the Salty Dog Grill?   The recipe is suppose to be from the Tracy King Crab Shack, in Juneau.  Thanks.

Stan......we did on our July cruise. They were not especially great.....way too much filler, not enough crab. We go to Tracy’s every time we are in Juneau and I don’t think that I have been too impressed with her crab cakes there either. Course with a big old succulent crab leg in front of you, who pays much attention to a measly little crab cake 😄

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Hi Andi, you are right on about those measly little crab cakes, but at Tracey King Crab Shack, I was paying 18 bucks for those.  I had one of this King Crab Leg and it was scrumptious, and it was only $28.   

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On 8/8/2019 at 1:07 PM, 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.


Did you see or hear anything about a pilots get together?  I did a TA on the Royal and there was a group that got together, and, of course, did some hanger flying.

Regards, Mark

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On 8/21/2019 at 11:01 AM, 2old4this said:

As you began your travel to Paradise, the preparation and all, I began to get antsy to be off and gone, as well.  I take the same cruise on 18 November and wish my bags were going aboard right now.  First time for me on Princess and new to Grand, as well.  I am hoping your coverage (text and photos) will be as complete as you have already texted.  Jack Morris - Cabin 424, Carrib Deck.

You are going to Alaska on Nov 18th?  🤔

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44 minutes ago, Colo Cruiser said:

You are going to Alaska on Nov 18th?  🤔


44 minutes ago, Colo Cruiser said:

You are going to Alaska on Nov 18th?  🤔

No!  Got the travels mixed.  Hawaii in November.

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Friday, 23 August, at Sea


The sun came up on Grand Princess sailing off the coast of Oregon under clear skies, sunshine and seas that were just rough enough to remind you that you are, in fact, on a ship at sea.  We have really been blessed with great weather on this trip and yesterday in Victoria was no exception.  Of course, Victoria is known for its amazing climate.  Yesterday the sky was absolutely flawless with blue skies, bright sunshine and temperatures climbing to a very comfortable high in the low 60s. 


We woke at a fairly early hour and watched Grand Princess make its approach into Victoria with very little difficulty. Overall, it was a smooth evolution.  Shortly after tying up at 0700, we headed down to the dining room for breakfast.  As we have come to expect the service was absolutely flawless and the food delicious.  I steeled myself for the big day ahead with the buttermilk pancakes which were plate-cleaning delicious.  Also, as loyal readers may find unsurprising, Melissa chose fried eggs cooked over medium.  We managed to enjoy enough coffee to get us going and ready for our day.


We disembarked onto the very wide and modern Victoria pier just as the Ovation of the Seas was making her approach to the pier.  We hustled to make sure we were well ahead of the 5,000 guests she was about to disgorge, but did stop for a picture with McKinley the Moose, including one with his good friend and our new roommate Stanley the Stowaway Teddy Bear.  Stanley joined us mid-trip and so far we are struggling with some boundary issues.  His first day in the room, he ate all the pillow chocolates and drank both bottles of Club Class wine, which given his diminutive size caused us some concerns about the nature of his relationship with alcohol.   He is also prone to napping at odd hours, hogging the bed and takes very long showers.  However, he does seem to enjoy adventures ashore.


We didn’t exactly have a plan for the day, but given the very short time the ship was in port, really just about six hours, the options are pretty well limited to a tour or a quick visit to the city.  We opted for the quick visit to the city as we have been here on cruises before and I was up here for work last fall.  Given the lovely weather, we chose to walk into the city.  From the cruise ship terminal, there is a well-marked pathway that leads through a quiet (boring) residential neighborhood and then down along the inner harbor straight to the Empress Hotel.  Unfortunately, there was some construction on the trail, so we had to divert into the neighborhood a little more than would otherwise be required.  Still, it is easy to navigate, level and from ship to the Empress of the British Columbia Provincial Capital building is 20-25 minutes of easy walking for us.  Along the way, there are a few hotels, a wild salmon café that was doing a booming business and the seafood restaurants of the fisherman’s landing. 


Arriving at the Empress, we stopped for shoot a little video take a few pictures and then seek out a hot cup of Canadian coffee from our good friend Tim Horton.  I first learned of Tim Horton’s when we were living in New England and there was a donut shop on literally every other corner.  Since then, I have enjoyed their donuts and coffee as far away as Abu Dhabi.  Fortified with hot joe, but choosing to pass on their free NHL coffee cup promotion (too much risk of getting a Habs cup, GO BRUINS), we headed to the Royal British Columbia Museum while walking through much of downtown Victoria.  The museum is centrally located near the inner harbor and admission was about $20US per person.  The exhibits are divided into three primary areas, one for special traveling exhibits (in this case on the history of the Maya), then an area on the natural history of British Columbia,  and one on the human history of the area.  I would say that we made a reasonably quick pace and spent about 2 ½ hours inside.  One could certainly invest twice that if unconstrained by time and fear of missing the ship’s departure.  Overall, I found both the human and natural history sections to be very interesting.  As many of the native cultures and flora and fauna of BC and southeast Alaska are held in common, it was a great academic exploration of much of what we had just seen.  Melissa and I agree that the dioramas of the plants and animals of various natural regions within the province.  I would say that the museum is well worth a visit especially the totem exhibits, but did feel that it lacked some modern context and I thought the story of exploration and development through the 1930s was well done, but then kind of just petered out.


After the museum, we walked over to the provincial capital for some great photo opportunities on the expansive lawn.  With the flower baskets around town in full bloom and the sun shining I think that there were quite a few locals sprinkled in among the tourists enjoying the gorgeous day.  Unfortunately, our time was short and I am a touch panicky about missing the ship, so we started our walk back along with a lot of other intrepid cruisers. Truthfully, it looked like a stampede heading back to the ship at 12:30!  Once again, the navigation was simple and it was no time before we were back onboard.


Having burned at least ¼ of the calories we had taken in at breakfast, we headed back to the Da Vinci Dining Room to find it packed and jumping.  People were back from their day ashore, everyone was arriving right at lunch time and so the room had an excited feel to it.  We found ourselves once again under the careful service of Alberto and Hari.  Melissa and I both started with the seafood quesadilla, followed by the chicken liver mousse for me.  I don’t have a Jewish grandmother who made me homemade chopped liver when I was young, but if I had she would have been proud of this dish.  Sure, it was given a gourmet twist, but the flavors and texture were so rich, but still humble, it was delicious!  For her main, Melissa chose Giovanni’s freshly prepared spinach and ricotta ravioli and I had the Monte Cristo sandwich.  Both were good choices and we rounded out the meal with mocha fudge ice cream and the apple-walnut cobbler.  Melissa got the better of the two with the ice cream as the “cobbler” was really more of a mug cake and I am still looking for the apples. Due to the sheer number of people returning to the ship at 1 pm, the Da Vinci dining room stayed open welcoming in passengers for lunch until 1:30 pm. We thought that was a really classy touch, even if it is a touch unfair to the crew, who work really hard with little downtime. But all of them did it with a smile asking us about our adventures (and enjoying our photos of Stan).


Full from our lunch and tired from our adventures, we retired to the room for some napping, but not before enjoying our departure from Victoria on the balcony under the gorgeous sunshine.  When I am able to post videos at home, it really was picturesque. 


Upon waking from my nap, Melissa had returned from the Horizon Court with some delicious scones which we proceeded to accompany with some fresh coffee from the International Café.  It appears that we will run out of punches on our legacy coffee cards on the final day of the cruise and just in time before the sundown at the end of August.


Our standard pre-dinner ritual found us in the Wheelhouse Bar enjoying the tunes being played by Holiday Dreams and the cocktails mixed by Bond.  It has become a real favorite of ours to get a drink before dinner, enjoy some music and conversation.  The most cruised passengers on the ship were also in attendance dancing the night away (they are at 2,306 nights aboard Princess, and it is a delight to watch the sheer delight they have in dancing each evening).  By the way, 2,306 nights, #SquadGoals!


At the Wheelhouse Bar, we have taken to bringing a notebook with us and jotting down ideas for future travel adventures, items to bring for our next cruise and some notes on what we have especially enjoyed or disliked about this particular cruise.  It was helpful when we were packing for this trip to look back on our notes from our sail with Cunard on QM2 in December.  Dinner was once again a smash it.  We have sailed quite bit, but I can’t remember a cruise where I looked forward to the dining room dinners quite as much as on this trip.  Alfred and I Wayan had us under the care and we started by finishing our fantastic bottle of Sancerre.  For starters, I had the smoked salmon and crawfish tails, while Melissa began with the panko crusted crab cake.  The crab cake was much better than the offering on the first night of the cruise.  This version had a nice hint of spice with a lot more crab and a lot less cake.  For pasta course, I had Giovanni’s special with olive oil, garlic, chili flake and broccoli and Melissa had the wagon wheel pasta with braised oxtail.  For mains, Melissa chose the Tandoori grilled prawns and I had the New York Strip steak.  The steak was very good and cooked exactly as ordered, medium rare, but the prawns were a bit of a sleeper hit, they were really flavorful and juicy.  Dessert was a split decision as I think we were both super happy with our choice, I had souffle and Melissa had the Frozen Chocolate Praline Torte, which based on the moans and groans of pleasure and the way Melissa guarded the dessert with her fork and elbow, I think it was a hit!.  I don’t think there could have been a better way to wrap up the meal.


We did pause after dinner for a quick spin through the shops to pick up a couple of souvenirs to ensure that the right folks back home have something to remind them of our adventures.


That just about wraps up this installment and before long we will have unfortunately sad notes about disembarkation and the ride home.  However, not before we once again visit passengers behaving badly and once again the issue is bare feet where they don’t belong.  In just a few hours I saw yet another person, with bare feet on the furniture.  In this case, lounging on a sofa and rubbing their dogs all over the armrest.  So, fellow travelers, you might want to make sure you wash you hands before heading to the dining room after your pre-dinner drink in Explorers because not all of your accompanying passengers have what we call common courtesy.  Of course, there is always someone looking to up the ante so this afternoon I saw a passenger walking barefoot down Deck 7, through the photo gallery and into the Vista Lounge for trivia.  Seriously, who does that?  I will reiterate that most of you are lovely people and justifiably horrified at what others will do onboard.

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Cougaraz... Would appreciate if you tell Giovanni that Ginger and I will be on the Grand September 13th and that I am bringing a couple of bottles of his favorite Sicilian wine.. 

Edited by LARGIN
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15 hours ago, Gimer said:

Mikado, any chance you still have Day 2 Princess Patter, August 15, 2019.  You double post Day 3.  Thanks a lot.   

As soon as I can. I’ve been posting them from my iPhone and it hasn’t been a pleasant experience. But, I do have all of the days. 

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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.

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Hi, Jon. 


We took, I think, a more civilized way. I’m not sure if it’s actually cheaper than parking for 10 days or not but we have a lot of points on Amtrak so we took Amtrak from San Luis Obispo to Jack London Station in Oakland and then continued across the bay on the Amtrak bus.


We booked this particular itinerary with points so it didn’t actually cost us anything. We do like to be comfortable when we travel so we booked a roomette rather than business or coach seats. It gives us a private, but small, space plus dinner is included in the fare. And we don’t have to drive. 


Parking is free at the Amtrak station in SLO. All you have to do is request a green multi-day parking pass from the Amtrak agent there at the station. 


I don’t know the exact rates but I do know that parking near the cruise terminal is very pricey. 

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On 8/14/2019 at 4:01 PM, The Mikado said:

We do have two chairs on our balcony. I’ve read other posters referred to “barrel chairs”. I have no idea what those are but we do have two semi-comfortable chairs and a small round table on our balcony. 



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.



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