We embarked on the Grand Princess on March 31st in San Francisco for our first cruise on the Pacific (6th cruise experience). We were excited to return to San Francisco and spent a few days sightseeing before the cruise. We arrived at Pier 35 to find a scene of confusion. It was difficult to get someone to take our bags. The long winding line to enter the terminal extended down the sidewalk. Once inside the line moved along and check in was quickly handled. Our cabin was ready when we boarded and our bags showed up in timely fashion.
We had signed up for early traditional dining (6pm). When we arrived at our table a few minutes before six we found our table guests already into their soups and salads. It was then that we realized that first seating was moved up to 5:30pm. I don't know why the change was made, but we found it rather inconvenient, particularly with a cruise itinerary that included two late arrivals in ports. We didn't arrive in Catalina until almost 2pm, so we skipped dinner on the ship in favor of spending a little time ashore. At Puerto Vallarta, our catamaran excursion returned late, so we again missed dinner. Overall we found the cruise enjoyable. The demographic sailing out of San Francisco was overwhelmingly Californians who live within driving distance of the port. Average age was quite a bit higher than on past Princess cruises as I am sure it attracted those unable or unwilling to fly to a port city. We enjoyed the cruise director, Warren and his staff. We found assistants Bernie and Mike to be quite quick witted and entertaining. The overnight stop in Cabo was great as it allowed us to do an excursion on one day and do our own thing on the other day. We found the Pacific to be quite rough on the return trip (15 foot swells and 45 mph winds) so the pools were drained and many open decks closed.
We particularly enjoyed afternoon tea and the "Pub" lunch. Debarkation was via self service and was quick and painless. We followed up our cruise with several days in Yosemite, which was certainly a high point of the overall trip for us. Overall, we enjoyed the Grand (2nd time) although she is showing her age particularly with outside rust spots coming through the paint. The crew were great and provided the high level of service that we have come to expect from Princess. I will close with one amusing story-recognizing the average age of the passengers was probably 75, we were riding in an elevator full of people when one dear elderly lady commented,"passengers on this ship have no respect for the elderly," to which another senior passenger responded, "that's because everyone on the ship is elderly."