Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Grand Princess Sea Day

Hello from the calm waters somewhere off the coast of Baja California. Seriously, these waters are the smoothest of our long cruising year. Take a look at that water.

We love this ship. Actually, we love the crew on this ship. Some of them have been on this ship for several contracts and we get to see them year after year here. They are what make us come back to the Grand again and again. I’ll never get tired of the love we get from these guys and am so excited to have 18 more days of it. Unfortunately, the ship is desperately in need of some deep cleaning. I had considered taking some photos of just how badly stained I’m finding things – carpets, furnishings, bathrooms, and shower - but decided to pass. It’s not ruining our cruise, but it is definitely very noticeable. As long as our favorite crew comes back this ship we’ll keep coming back. As soon as they move on from the Grand, so will we.

Working around certain crew member schedules has us falling into a routine:
  • Hubby grabs some coffee at a special bar with a special bartender while I sleep in a few extra minutes.
  • When I’m ready, I choose my encouraging word money pocket for the day and drop it in the Wake Show box then meet hubby at the bar where I get my morning beverage, ice water. (I don’t drink coffee and I don’t drink hot tea.) 
  • When we’re ready we head to breakfast at the buffet. 
  • After breakfast hubby heads out to do who-knows-what while I head to the crafting session. I’m very happy to report this ship has two crafting sessions a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Yesterday was the crepe paper flowers; today was button crafts. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow is.
  • Hubby and I then meet up again at noon and head to the Promenade deck. (Today it is almost warm enough to sit out there. Almost, but not quite.) 
  • Back to the cabin to work on typing up the blog in a Word document while we wait for another special crew member to get off his duty so we can visit one-on-one and share the love. 
  • Back to the special bar and bartender. 
  • Off to dinner in the buffet. (Except tonight I had to take a little rest between the bar and the buffet. Our bartender pal took very good care of me this afternoon. Enough to warrant a little lie down.)
  • Back to the cabin to, if we’re lucky, catch at least part of a movie before we fall asleep. (Last night I fell asleep to It’s a Wonderful Life. I really like that they have the holiday movie channel!)
Other than finding a few minutes somewhere on the ship with a solid internet signal to get the blog posted, that is pretty much our day. I am going to again complain about the internet. It takes almost 10 minutes just for my email to load. In two days I’ve already blown through half of my 250 minute allotment. And I’m not even reading anything else – just uploading a minimal number of blog pictures, posting the blog (which is just a matter of copying and pasting because I wrote it offline), and checking email. That’s it. No responding to email, no surfing the web. Nothing else. And I can’t even do any of that in the cabin because I have no internet access in there. It. Just. Plain. Sucks.

While our daily routine doesn’t sound exhausting it must be because we have been asleep before 9 every night so far. Tonight is formal night and we’ll leave the Champagne Waterfall for those who can manage to stay up later than we can.

Tomorrow is yet another sea day and the Most Traveled Passenger Luncheon. We might just have to alter our busy boring schedule to fit it in.

(For those looking for the Patter, I’ve tried several times to get it to upload into Google docs. The internet is just taking too long. Sorry. I do have it scanned, though.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Grand Princess Sea Day

Hello from the cool waters off the coast of California.

After having spent the last two weeks in nothing but shorts and t-shirts, this weather is a shock to the system. Long pants and sweatshirts, even when inside, are the clothing choices today. It’ll be warmer in a couple days, but right now it’s just brrr.

Today is a sea day so the ship is buzzing. Lots of activities to found everywhere you turn. I even made it to the arts and crafts session, crepe paper flowers. Take that, Royal Princess! We made roses, and mine isn’t nearly as pretty as the other competitive trying-to-impress people at my crafting table. But maybe good enough to fit in our bouquet. Can you tell which one is made from paper?
Why can’t people on cruise ships just come as they are, be who they are, and not feel the need to show off and one up each other?

We have no need to fall into that trap. We’re back to an inside cabin this week, not planning any excursions, have no specialty dining reservations, and no spa appointments. Oh yeah, and we eat at the buffet. We did have something new at the buffet today. A supervisor was walking around, handing out surveys. Here’s a copy:
It really is too early in the cruise to give out impressions, but I filled it out anyway. I do hope they give it out the first day on next week’s cruise so I can fill it out based on 10 days of service and food, not just one day. We did have quick drink service today, though!

Some other things of note about the ship:
*Yes, it’s decorated for the holidays. Just today they added little decorations to our cabin mailboxes.
*Quad cabins have the bunks on the wall, not in the ceiling. As we booked a guarantee cabin we didn’t even realize we had a quad cabin until we came in the room. Hubby tried his best to get in and out of our bed with the bunk protrusion sticking out, but after one night he’s realized he just can’t do it. So we had to ask the cabin steward to move them into twins. Much better for hubby, for sure.
*I forgot the Grand has the smaller closets. The tradeoff is that the bathrooms and showers are larger. We never used all the space in the larger closets anyway so it is fine for us.
*The TVs are not on-demand and they are still the smaller screens. We’ve had big screens on Princess ships all year but not on this ship.
*Today Christmas and holiday movies are running all day on channel 27. Hope they have it every day!
*The internet sucks in the cabin. I loved the super speedy, super reliable, unlimited MedallionNet on the Caribbean Princess. I flew through my minutes and hubby’s minutes using slow internet as we did the transatlantic on the Crown Princess. I trudged through the frequent dropped connections on the Royal Princess. But here on the Grand, I keep getting the taking too long to respond crap when I'm trying to work in the cabin. I say crap to that.
*Yesterday we had the fastest mini bar swap in history. I called before muster drill when hubby was taking a shower. They arrived with the swap before he even got dried off and dressed. Now that’s fast.
*The new bar menu is starting next cruise. New wines, new drinks, new ingredients in drinks. Bartenders are saying it’s a huge switch. I’ll be on next week so I’ll try and get new menus posted then.

I wasn’t planning on posting all the Patters, but there are folks coming on next week who might find them useful so I’ll go ahead and do them for this cruise. You can find them here.

I am doing something different with the encouraging word money pockets for this cruise. I am putting them in the Wake Show box each morning. Even they need the warm fuzzies! (The Wake Show is the TV program filmed everyday where the cruise director goes over the happenings of the day, announces birthdays and such, and has trivia questions.) So shh…don’t tell.

Off to another sea day tomorrow.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Grand Princess Mexican Riviera Cruise

Hello from the Grand Princess! Yep, we're headed out again. Two back to back cruises and our cruising year will be over. It's a great way to end it. We specifically booked this ship to see both our favorite bartender and a jr waiter who calls us his parents. Which means I'll finally get some decent drinks in my system and lots of love!

Based on how today went, clearly the Universe thinks this is a great idea.

We grabbed the hotel shuttle at 9:30 am and were back at the airport by 9:50.
Checked in with the Princess reps and were on a bus by 10:30.
Arrived at the port long before 11:30 and were able to check in right away and board the ship with very few lines anywhere.
At 11:35 I was sitting having my special drink made by my special bartender.

He went on break at 12:30 so we went to the dining room for lunch, something we rarely ever do.

Here’s the embarkation day lunch menu:
Orange soufflé for dessert, please.
When we sat down at our table for two, guess who was pulling out our chairs for us? Our jr waiter we came to see. He usually works Club Class but it wasn’t too busy so he and his waiter were assigned to the regular side of the dining room. In our section. I tell ya, that kid did not stop smiling during the whole meal. Our waiter even commented that he had been talking for days about his parents coming onboard. (Even though we really aren’t his parents, we love that kid. No matter where he is around the world, we send him care packages of snacks and candies.)

When we got back to our cabin, we had a special surprise waiting for us. A beautiful bouquet of flowers from that same “son” of ours.

Our cabin steward arrived, and (surprise!) introduced himself. Finally a cabin steward who might get it right this time.

And another surprise - we also broke the 72 hr laundry notification = no most traveled guest party streak. We received the 72 hour notice AND also the invitation to the luncheon. First time we’ve made it into the top 40 with the so many elites notice.

For those who are just looking for the entertainment, movies, and clocks forward/clocks back here ya go:

The only thing today that happened today that wasn’t fortuitous is our crew member pal leaving today got sick. The doctor has quarantined him in his cabin and he can’t leave until right before the ship leaves. So we didn’t get to see him.

After muster we’re heading back to our special bartender and I might just have another special drink. We have three sea days coming up in a row. We’ll see what kind of trouble I can get in/stay out of.

Our Itinerary (Twice)

Sunday, December 2, 2018

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San Francisco Catch Up Day

Hello from sunny South San Francisco.

Usually we head right to a hotel near Fisherman's Wharf when we come to San Francisco, but this time we went the cheap route and stayed out by the airport. In a Best Western, of course. That Diamond loyalty level came in handy again as we were upgraded to a an executive level room on the top floor with great views of the bay and turn down service in the evening. Chocolates included, just like on a ship.

But today wasn't about the hotel, it was about how we spent the day at the hotel. When we return from these upcoming cruises we'll be doing the tourist thing by spending the day at Fisherman's Wharf before our late afternoon flight. That gave us today to fill with non-touristy things.
  • We walked over to Costco to pick up snacks for the crew. 
  • We walked to McDonalds and ate lunch outside in the sunshine. 
  • I took a picture of a saying they had by the register to motivate their employees. It's very blurry because I took it stealthily from afar, but it was important enough to share anyway. It read: Do everything with a good heart and expect nothing in return. Always a good reminder for us all.
  • Taking the saying to heart, as soon as we got back to the hotel I gave the housekeeper who had just finished our room a encouraging word money pocket.
  • We did a load of laundry at the hotel ($1.75 wash, $1.25 dry) using the detergent we bought at the dollar store in Islamorada, Florida.
  • Hubby watched football on TV.
  • We found out it snowed even more back at home. It started during the Boise State game last night. (A game hubby was so happy to have on the TV here.)
Notice we have yet another crooked TV screen?
We are excited to start wrapping up our cruising year. Tomorrow we'll be heading back to the airport to take the Princess transfer to the port. We rarely take a Princess transfer and we said we never, ever would do it again in San Francisco. (We had a bad experience with it in San Francisco a few back.) We also had a bad experience with a shared shuttle service in San Francisco, too. They totally lost our luggage on our way to a 15 day Hawaiian cruise and took no responsibility for it. Try doing a 15 day cruise without any of your stuff!

So the past couple years we've been using the same private car company from Viator. We were going to use him again, but since we had additional Princess credit to use up (from the hurricane-diverted cruise) we went ahead and booked the Princess transfer. We shall see how it goes. I know we'll get there, but at what time, and how much walking through the airport terminals we'll have to do, I don't know. All we care is that we get to port before 2:00. One of our crew member pals is leaving to go home tomorrow afternoon and we'd love to be able to send him off with hugs and kisses before he heads out.

See you tomorrow from the Grand Princess!