The Princess people at San Francisco airport were on the ball and once I pulled the bags off the merry go round they were there to put them on a cart. We were a party of four so we had 4 suitcases and two rollators. My dad and his lady friend were with us or maybe it was the other way around. My dad is 90 and walks slower than a turtle. Can't see out of his left eye due to a stroke and is stone deaf but wears hearing aids anyway. His friend was 84 but looked and acted like she was 104. So our job was to herd them from location to location. We all gathered at the airport to wait for the bus. All we did was walk out there and got on. Off we went to the port. The trip to the port took 15 minutes but once we got to that area it took 45 minutes to get to the terminal. It was a Friday and traffic was heavy plus it was around lunch time so there were a lot of cars and people. Once we got there we simply got off the bus and the luggage was taken care of. Reminder to future cruisers who take the princess bus transfers, TIP YOUR BUS DRIVER.
I went inside and found a princess representative that took care of passengers with disabilities. They got wheelchairs for the old guys and guided us to a counter for check in that was just for disabled parties. The entire check in process was the most organized painless operation we have ever had. From getting off the bus and checking in we were in our cabins in about 20 minutes. Kudos to all of the princess staff for making this process painless. It also helps to tip the guys who push the wheelchairs around. They like tips.
We herded the two turtles to the Horizon court for the noon feeding. We came from Virginia so my dads stomach clock for food was telling him that it was after 4 pm. No problem getting a table and the feeding commenced. For the next 15 days we used the horizon court about half the time for breakfast and lunch and the staff was unbelievable and very efficient clearing tables and making sure we had drinks and refills. If you prefer something other than orange juice as a morning beverage you can request others like apple and cranberry and they will bring it.
We then had to go to the dreaded muster drill and even though my dads cabin was three cabins from our he had to go to a different muster station than they did. Big problem. We took them to their station and found chairs for them and explained to the muster staff about their disabilities. We then went to our location in the princess theater. I truly hate these damn drills and thought they were being phased out until the Concordia disaster occurred. I understand the reason for this drill but I can still hate it. Later during the cruise I witnessed a party of four having a private drill in one of the lounges with a crew member explaining everything because they had boarded late and missed the first one. Great that they made sure everyone was informed.
We sailed away and going under the Golden Gate bridge was fantastic. A lot of picture opportunities. Then it was time for dinner. We did the 5:30 seating because my dad has a schedule for his stomach. His watch said 5:30 so let the eating commence. We then walked around to look at the ship and become familiar with every place. The ship is old but I thought maintained very well. Things are going to break down, rugs are going to show some wear and OMG there will be rust. It's a big mechanical object that sails in salt water and the mechanical systems put up with 2000 plus people every week. It's the nature of the animal that toilets will stop up and rooms might be warmer than you would like them to be. And yes there are some people who (gasp) find rust. The elevators were hot and some didn't seem to work as well as others but you know what folks I was on a 15 night cruise to Hawaii with my wife and these mechanical deficiencies that other cruisers complained about were no big deal. Put things in perspective. You're on a cruise that millions of people would die to be on. You're not at work because you're on a 15 night cruise to Hawaii. Stop complaining and have some fun. We did.
The food was good to very good. My wife enjoyed the influence of native Hawaiian flavors to the new menu. The seafood was excellently prepared. Especially the scallops. She often ordered the vegetarian entree as a side dish to the usual side accompaniments that come with your meal. They were interesting and had great variety so vegetarians should not be disappointed. The only items that were not good was a soup made with goat cheese, apples and a "crusty grape" garnish. It sounded good in concept but was like drinking salad dressing and the grape was truly awful to bite into. It would have been good as a sauce on a steak or as a dressing. The gnocchi were heavy and doughy. But there was a garlic pesto pasta one night that was really great. The 5th floor cafe had some great desserts. Some better than what was on the dinner menu. One day they had pavlova with fresh strawberries which I wish I could have smuggled home. So stop by there to see there offerings. The Panini sandwiches there, however, had very little filling and not worth trying.
The entire princess staff was helpful and wonderful. We enjoyed interacting with the cruise directors staff when we played trivia or made leis with fresh flowers. We were told we weren't going to be able to take the fresh flower leis off of the ship so we threw them away and then saw many people walking right off of the ship wearing them. Would have liked to wear this souvenir a little longer. They were made with beautiful orchids. Try and get a ticket for this activity. One day they did ribbon leis which looked interesting and the next time they used fresh flowers. It would have been nice to learn a little more about the history of leis during this activity but I was still happy with the result. They were all nice and seemed to really want us and other people to have fun and enjoy yourself. We got to snorkel in Maui and eat the best nachos with island bbq pork we ever had at Dukes bar at Waikiki beach. They were really good nachos. When our order came there were about 8 other couples sitting around the bar and once they saw and smelled what we had they all ordered some nachos. The only negative comment I have is about going to Ensenada Mexico to satisfy the Jones act. Don't get off if you can help it. It's a dirty little town and the street vendors will hassle you to death. The worst part is the mothers laying or sitting on the sidewalk begging for money and their children are also begging. It's sad. There is a small area right next to the ship were you can buy stuff. I felt like I needed a shower after walking around that hole in the wall. I guess if Tijuana had a deep sea port princess would probably go there. Just a word to the wise, don't get off at Ensenada.