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We are on the Star Princess next September for a B2B out of San Francisco going north to Seattle and Vancouver the first week, and a California Coastal the second week. Very much looking forward to sailing from San Francisco. Let’s hope it’s clear! I have many questions about the ports, but I’ll look over on the ports boards to find some answers, but just wondering if anyone has any thoughts, comments, etc. regarding the ship and the itineraries in general. We live in SW Florida, so we have pretty much only done the Caribbean and quite a few of them at that, so we are really looking forward to a different experience. Any comments are most appreciated. Thanks folks!

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I enjoy the west coast sailings. Living in Colorado, It is just as easy to go west as it is to do east coast sailings.  I have sailed in and out of San Francisco and Vancouver multiple times.  When you go under the Golden Gate or Lions Gate bridges be sure to be at the highest most forward deck no matter the time. It will be crowded on your sail away from SFO, but in the morning on your approach to Vancouver there will be very few people.  

If you stop in Astoria, it is a quaint friendly city and very easy to walk.

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I love the Star!  It has a great promenade deck, wonderful for seeing the sights.

 

The Star also has a great dessert buffet area, outside of the regular buffet, so there is less crowding in both places.  Fantastic!

 

Stanley Park is a beautiful place to see in  Vancouver.  The Boeing tour in Seattle is fascinating.

 

Enjoy your cruises!

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Highly recommend you arrive S.F. a good number of days prior to initial boarding. S.F. is a really nice city to explore. Suggest you stay at a hotel in the Fisherman's Wharf area. If you are interested in free walking tours check out the below site. These tours have highly competent guides. We took a few of them when we visited. While free they do request a donation to keep their organization going. Remember, S.F. and some of your ports of call may have cooler weather than you have in SW Florida and on Caribbean cruises. Don't forget a rain jacket.

http://www.sfcityguides.org/ 

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Thanks so much for the info and suggestions. We are planning to spend two days post cruise in San Francisco. We are planning to stay at the Mark Hopkins which is a short cable car ride to the wharf. The one thing we also want to do is go to Muir Woods. Still trying to figure that out at this point. Thanks again.

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You did not say when you plan to arrive in San Francisco; be advised that if you miss boarding in San Francisco you will not be able to join the ship until Day 5 in Vancouver.  I would say spend those two days in SF before the cruise.

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10 minutes ago, cherylandtk said:

You did not say when you plan to arrive in San Francisco; be advised that if you miss boarding in San Francisco you will not be able to join the ship until Day 5 in Vancouver.  I would say spend those two days in SF before the cruise.

Agree with this. I would spend the extra days pre-cruise. Because of U.S. maritime law (PVSA) you would not be allowed to board in Astoria or Seattle if you miss the ship because of an airline issue. You would have to fly internationally to Vancouver to board, passports required.

Probably the best way to see Muir Woods is a car rental. It's around a 45 minute drive without traffic across the Golden Gate Bridge. Speaking about the Golden Gate suggest you spend your sail away on the upper deck above the Lido Pool. It's a really nice sight going under it. We were on the Star going under the bridge and we went all the way up to the small deck above deck 16. It almost feels like you can touch the bridge. 

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Hi,

I'd like to point out that the Mark Hopkins is on top of a hill in San Francisco and it is a REAL hill!

You will not enjoy walking up and down to go sightseeing and then back to the hotel so be prepared to use uber/lyft or be in really good shape!!

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Mark Twain allegedly said the coldest winter ever was August in San Francisco.  I do know that one time I was in SF in August, I was very cold.  Moral is to prepare for the worst weather.  We always arrive at least one day before the ship sails so that we are ready to board and in the vacation mode.  

 

You can buy day passes for the cable cars but be mindful that the cars are full of pax with a waiting line to board.  Be prepared to wait.  We always like to visit pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square.  We normally stay in one of the hotels in the area so we can walk to the attractions and restaurants.  

 

In San Diego there is the fantastic zoo and old San Diego both well worth visiting.  In Victoria the Butchart Gardens are not to be missed.  The BC Parliament in Victoria is  also a stunning view and they have an excellent national museum that you can spend hours viewing their past.  Everyone heads to Pike Place in Seattle to watch them throw the fish at the fish market plus the fantastic restaurants and shops.   

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16 minutes ago, skynight said:

Probably the best way to see Muir Woods is a car rental. It's around a 45 minute drive without traffic across the Golden Gate Bridge. Speaking about the Golden Gate suggest you spend your sail away on the upper deck above the Lido Pool. It's a really nice sight going under it. We were on the Star going under the bridge and we went all the way up to the small deck above deck 16. It almost feels like you can touch the bridge. 

 

On our several cruises out of SF, the top decks are very crowded as most pax are there to witness the ship going under the GG bridge.  A fantastic sight to behold.  One cruise we left SF late and sailed under the bridge in the dark and it was still crowded.  The lights of the bridge and city were breath taking.   

 

In late 2021 the Star will be transferred to P&O Australia preceded by its sister ship Golden in 2020.  

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We are planning to arrive in San Francisco a day before we board on Sunday. Thinking we would stay at an airport hotel the night before and grab a cab to the pier the following morning. Does that sound feasible? Or should we allow more time on the inbound portion? We will benefit on the time change and should arrive early afternoon on Saturday, with boarding on Sunday. Upon our return, we are planning to stay an additional two nights and leave on Tuesday to head back east.

 

If there any pitfalls to that schedule, I appreciate your thoughts greatly. Thanks again.

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Your plans sound wonderful. I have sailed out of San Francisco on Princess many times.

Would like to make one suggestion, since time change works in your favor on arrival, I would stay at a hotel in the Fisherman's Wharf area of San Francisco.  You will be IN San Francisco.  Fishermans's Wharf/Pier 39 is a fun place to explore. Short taxi ride to  pier 27 on departure day.

Very little to see/do at SFO airport area hotels as they are not in San Francisco. 

Enjoy your cruise

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Thank you great suggestion! We may indeed do that option instead of the airport hotels. Any idea how long the ride is from the airport to the wharf? Thanks.

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Posted (edited)

About 15 minutes. Depends on traffic.  Cruise days traffic as well as Sunday tourist/local traffic can be frustrating and busy.

Your hotel should be able to make suggestions about times and any construction or streets to avoid.

Edited by lazycruzer
more info

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4 hours ago, Cruzin with BQ & CQ said:

...The one thing we also want to do is go to Muir Woods....

Be aware that if you do this in your own car, you MUST book parking in advance - thanks to all those annoying tourists (😉) they now operate a restricted number of vehicle entries daily. On the plus side, this does mean you just might be able to find a few moment without a horde of other tourists getting in the way of your photos!

 

I'd also highly recommend SFCityGuide walking tours; and if you're going to pack in a lot of activities, it's very hard to argue with the value you'll get from a CityPass or GO Card (which is best for you depends which sites you visit).

 

If you pack the clothes you'd wear in the dead of winter in FL, they should work for the typically very-rainy-but-rarely-even-close-to-freezing PNW and SF. Key element is a good top shell that will block rain and wind; you can easily acquire 'mid layers' like long-sleeve-Ts or fleeces in most all of your coastal ports, which double up as souvenirs as well as being practical. If you want to be on deck looking at stuff, a thin fleece beanie hat, scarf, and gloves (hit a Dollar Store when you get here, I doubt that FL stores will have such things in stock!) fold up very small and keep your extremities toasty when wind-chill is doubling down thanks to ship movement!

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2 hours ago, Cruzin with BQ & CQ said:

We are planning to arrive in San Francisco a day before we board on Sunday. Thinking we would stay at an airport hotel the night before and grab a cab to the pier the following morning. Does that sound feasible? Or should we allow more time on the inbound portion? We will benefit on the time change and should arrive early afternoon on Saturday, with boarding on Sunday. Upon our return, we are planning to stay an additional two nights and leave on Tuesday to head back east.

 

If there any pitfalls to that schedule, I appreciate your thoughts greatly. Thanks again.

Arriving Saturday is a good plan. However, I would not stay at the airport. There is nothing there. I would transfer and stay at a hotel near Fisherman's Wharf which is also close to pier 21. There is so much activity around this area which can be enjoyed late afternoon and evening.

I agree about the Mark Hopkins and being on top of the hill. Also the cable car is an attraction, but I would not count on it for basic transportation. As suggested in other posts I would select a hotel in the Fisherman's Wharf area for post cruise. There is so much there within "flat" walking distance, and there is easily available public transportation to other areas such as Golden Gate Park. 

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Thanks for your suggestions. We may need to rethink our plans. The only thing is I think we may be pretty beat up after the cross country flight, so I don’t know how much we can appreciate after a long flight, but post cruise we might appreciate our time at Fisherman’s wharf. Thanks.

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15 minutes ago, Cruzin with BQ & CQ said:

Thanks for your suggestions. We may need to rethink our plans. The only thing is I think we may be pretty beat up after the cross country flight, so I don’t know how much we can appreciate after a long flight, but post cruise we might appreciate our time at Fisherman’s wharf. Thanks.

You may be beat up just as we have been on our flights from the east coast. But after a few hours rest in our hotel room, we were able to walk to a nice restaurant.

Remember the time change for your flight home. We have been staying an extra evening at the airport for a very early flight the next day. An 8am non stop flight arrives around 5pm.

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San Francisco is nice if you stay in the tourist areas.  Cable cars are a fun ride, Fisherman's Wharf is touristy but fun.  You can rent a scooter with your smart phone for $3/hr to take you up the hills.  Use the Poop Map to see which areas to stay away from: https://www.openthebooks.com/map/?Map=32504&MapType=Pin&Zip=94103

 

Atlas Obscura has some interesting places to visit there: https://www.atlasobscura.com/things-to-do/san-francisco-california

 

Please don't feed the homeless, who are abundant.  If you feel so compelled, donate to one of the charities instead.

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I live outside SF so not as knowledgeable as others. That said:

1. Don't stay at the airport, there's better places in town

2. The incline to Mark Hopkins isn't that bad

3. If renting a car and going to Muir Woods, tickets are required

4. My favorite places are: Presidio,  Ferry Bldg, Spreckels Temple of Music in the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park

5. We have Indian Summer so fall is warmer than summer. 91° tomorrow and that's NOT unusual 

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I agree about the weather but when we were in SF Oct. 2017 and took a Hop On Hop Off bus and sitting on top, we were FREEZING!!  We were wearing long sleeves and a light rain parka.  You do need a hat, gloves and a scarf.

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Agree with the others regarding staying near the airport. Don't do that. San Bruno is miserable and depressing unless you like dive bars. Even then, there are better dive bars in SF.

 

Another wonderful option in addition to the the Fisherman's Wharf area is Union Square. Lots to do and see around the area and centrally located to other attractions.

 

https://goo.gl/maps/cXx8RiDbDHaNFMpn7

 

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We were just aboard the Star two weeks ago for a Seattle based coastal.  The ports were remarkable ....weather was everything from 45 to 95 degrees.  The ship is in need of plumbing repairs all over but other than that was fine.  

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