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We had a wonderful time on our Grand Princess cruise. This was a round trip 7-day California Coastal out of San Francisco. We enjoyed meeting the many Brits on the ship and had a great time with our table mates at evening dinner. I have seen posts of the Grand being in sore need of a refurb and I will admit I noticed things I haven’t noticed on other cruise ships but in no way did that impair our ability to come back new after our super enjoyable vacation. Here are some tips and highlights: PARKING: You call in advance and pre-pay. The parking lot is about a 10-minute walk away. It does get a little congested at the terminal lot, but they do an excellent job keeping the traffic moving. I wouldn’t arrive too early since we debarked late because we were driving, and people were arriving for the next cruise (around 10 a.m.) It was kind of a zoo. I’d arrive around 11 if you must arrive early and have a choice. If you are the keeper of the passports and need to wait for your vehicle driver to park the car and walk back to the terminal, dress warmly. We were in the Union Square area in the morning and what I was wearing was fine but it’s quite a bit chillier by the terminal and you will have to wait outside unless you hand your significant other their passport before s/he takes off for parking. PRE-ORDERED FLOWERS: I ordered a single rose for my husband for $7 and assumed there would be no vase so brought one with me. It was provided. What a steal for $7! I also bought a rose corsage (for me from my husband who didn’t know he ordered it) and boutonniere for formal night. I thought they were reasonably priced and looked great in the pictures. We put them in the refrigerator to see if we could use them on the 2nd formal night but they were a little old by then. CABIN: This was our first cabin on the Lido deck and we loved it. We thought it might be noisy, but it wasn’t, and we loved being so close to the bar and Horizon Buffet (notice which one I mentioned first!) It was awesome having a balcony at Sail Away under the Golden Gate Bridge. We considered joining the party on deck but could hear the music from our balcony and loved the tranquility of sailing out of SF in our own world. DINING: We had early dinner which was confirmed for 6 p.m. but was really at 5:30 p.m. We loved going back to traditional dining where you get to know your table mates (we so enjoyed their company) and your waitstaff. There was brunch our last sea day, which we didn’t know so we had breakfast early and went back for brunch. Had I known, we would have just gone a little later than we did for just brunch. We also went to the Crown Grill for dinner. It was a great experience with excellent food and service. We were a little disappointed in the entrees. My husband had the porterhouse that was slightly tough and I had the lobster that really wasn’t sweet – more like flavorless -- but I thought the experience worth it. My husband felt it wasn’t worth the extra money. I’d say the amazing appetizer, soup, and an elevated salad, and dessert plus the experience and excellent service was worth it. We also did Chef’s table. Our advice is to call the Dine line as soon as you get on the ship to sign up for it. OMG – was the food excellent and the experience amazing.! The cost was $95 per person. You get a cookbook and pictures, in addition to the amazing experience. There was only one Chef’s Table for this cruise and we feel fortunate to have experienced it. Because you sign up onboard and don’t know until a day before if you are on the attendee list, I hadn’t researched if we should tip. I brought cash but really there was no time that seemed appropriate and there are so many people involved it really would have been awkward to try to catch them all – most were gone by the time you stumbled from the table in your “I’m a beached whale” state. Researching after the fact for Princess, the consensus is to not tip. Other cruise lines may be different. EXCURSIONS: Our first port was Santa Barbara and we booked the Trolley through Princess. My understanding is the Trolley does not run on the days cruise ships are in port except through the cruise line. The price is the same or close. The difference is it is not hop on/hop off except you can be dropped off by the Court House. We thoroughly enjoyed the Trolley and it was reasonably priced. It was chilly though. The first stop was at the mission and I jumped off the Trolley and ran straight to the gift shop to purchase a jacket. You’d think I would have learned after freezing at the terminal in SF but quite frankly, I thought it would have been warmer in Santa Barbara – it is after all Southern California! Do get off at the Courthouse and wander around if you have time. It’s beautiful and the views are gorgeous. You can get back to the terminal easily for 50 cents per person with the Santa Barbara shuttle. We met up with family in Long Beach for an all-you-can-eat lunch at Hokkaido Buffet (like we needed that being on a cruise) and then walked around the Queen Mary. Be aware that you can get on the Queen Mary for free by showing your cruise card. Tours are greatly discounted ($10 vs. $32) so show them your cruise card at the ticket gate and ask for cruise pricing. They will send you upstairs and you buy your tickets there. In San Diego, I brought a Bay tour through Groupon (price couldn’t be beat) and we did a walking tour of the Gaslamp District through the Gaslamp Historical Foundation. Both were very enjoyable and educational. We didn’t get off the ship in Ensenada since we’ve been there numerous time on other cruises. ENTERTAINMENT: We went to as many production shows as we could and thought they were excellent. I really enjoyed Born to Dance since I’m a musical fan. My husband enjoyed it too but I enjoyed it more. If you are going to the 8 p.m. showing, don’t arrive after 7:45 or you will have a challenge finding seats unless you are a party of one. If you are a large party, get there around 7:30. We loved the comedian, Steve Caouette. He was so funny and didn’t resort to distasteful humor like so many comedians. I also really enjoyed watching three movies, The Shape of Water, The Greatest Showman, and Star Wars while my husband retired to bed early for two of them. Star Wars was a Movie Under the Stars twice. The first time was far too cold, so I thought I’d brave the night we left Ensenada since it was so warm there. Wrong! I wore a sweater, vest, cape, knit scarf, a blanket over my head, sweatpants, and two blankets on my legs. I was still cold! Next time I’m bringing thermal underwear and a ski mask! DISEMBARKMENT: A couple things that were new to us is you no longer fill out paperwork on when you want to debark and give it to your cabin steward. You now fill it out, drop it off at Guest Services, and if you don’t drop it off, they assign you a time. We were sure to drop it off since we were driving and didn’t want to have to rush on our last day of vacation. Also new to us was you no longer must fill out a customs form (not sure if it’s just a San Francisco thing). We just walked off and showed our passports. The whole process was easy peasy! We thoroughly enjoyed our Princess cruise. As soon as we got home, I had to book our next one since I was missing it so much!

Very Enjoyable Cruise!

Grand Princess Cruise Review by coopco

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We had a wonderful time on our Grand Princess cruise. This was a round trip 7-day California Coastal out of San Francisco. We enjoyed meeting the many Brits on the ship and had a great time with our table mates at evening dinner. I have seen posts of the Grand being in sore need of a refurb and I will admit I noticed things I haven’t noticed on other cruise ships but in no way did that impair our ability to come back new after our super enjoyable vacation.

Here are some tips and highlights:

PARKING: You call in advance and pre-pay. The parking lot is about a 10-minute walk away. It does get a little congested at the terminal lot, but they do an excellent job keeping the traffic moving. I wouldn’t arrive too early since we debarked late because we were driving, and people were arriving for the next cruise (around 10 a.m.) It was kind of a zoo. I’d arrive around 11 if you must arrive early and have a choice. If you are the keeper of the passports and need to wait for your vehicle driver to park the car and walk back to the terminal, dress warmly. We were in the Union Square area in the morning and what I was wearing was fine but it’s quite a bit chillier by the terminal and you will have to wait outside unless you hand your significant other their passport before s/he takes off for parking.

PRE-ORDERED FLOWERS: I ordered a single rose for my husband for $7 and assumed there would be no vase so brought one with me. It was provided. What a steal for $7! I also bought a rose corsage (for me from my husband who didn’t know he ordered it) and boutonniere for formal night. I thought they were reasonably priced and looked great in the pictures. We put them in the refrigerator to see if we could use them on the 2nd formal night but they were a little old by then.

CABIN: This was our first cabin on the Lido deck and we loved it. We thought it might be noisy, but it wasn’t, and we loved being so close to the bar and Horizon Buffet (notice which one I mentioned first!) It was awesome having a balcony at Sail Away under the Golden Gate Bridge. We considered joining the party on deck but could hear the music from our balcony and loved the tranquility of sailing out of SF in our own world.

DINING: We had early dinner which was confirmed for 6 p.m. but was really at 5:30 p.m. We loved going back to traditional dining where you get to know your table mates (we so enjoyed their company) and your waitstaff. There was brunch our last sea day, which we didn’t know so we had breakfast early and went back for brunch. Had I known, we would have just gone a little later than we did for just brunch. We also went to the Crown Grill for dinner. It was a great experience with excellent food and service. We were a little disappointed in the entrees. My husband had the porterhouse that was slightly tough and I had the lobster that really wasn’t sweet – more like flavorless -- but I thought the experience worth it. My husband felt it wasn’t worth the extra money. I’d say the amazing appetizer, soup, and an elevated salad, and dessert plus the experience and excellent service was worth it. We also did Chef’s table. Our advice is to call the Dine line as soon as you get on the ship to sign up for it. OMG – was the food excellent and the experience amazing.! The cost was $95 per person. You get a cookbook and pictures, in addition to the amazing experience. There was only one Chef’s Table for this cruise and we feel fortunate to have experienced it. Because you sign up onboard and don’t know until a day before if you are on the attendee list, I hadn’t researched if we should tip. I brought cash but really there was no time that seemed appropriate and there are so many people involved it really would have been awkward to try to catch them all – most were gone by the time you stumbled from the table in your “I’m a beached whale” state. Researching after the fact for Princess, the consensus is to not tip. Other cruise lines may be different.

EXCURSIONS: Our first port was Santa Barbara and we booked the Trolley through Princess. My understanding is the Trolley does not run on the days cruise ships are in port except through the cruise line. The price is the same or close. The difference is it is not hop on/hop off except you can be dropped off by the Court House. We thoroughly enjoyed the Trolley and it was reasonably priced. It was chilly though. The first stop was at the mission and I jumped off the Trolley and ran straight to the gift shop to purchase a jacket. You’d think I would have learned after freezing at the terminal in SF but quite frankly, I thought it would have been warmer in Santa Barbara – it is after all Southern California! Do get off at the Courthouse and wander around if you have time. It’s beautiful and the views are gorgeous. You can get back to the terminal easily for 50 cents per person with the Santa Barbara shuttle. We met up with family in Long Beach for an all-you-can-eat lunch at Hokkaido Buffet (like we needed that being on a cruise) and then walked around the Queen Mary. Be aware that you can get on the Queen Mary for free by showing your cruise card. Tours are greatly discounted ($10 vs. $32) so show them your cruise card at the ticket gate and ask for cruise pricing. They will send you upstairs and you buy your tickets there. In San Diego, I brought a Bay tour through Groupon (price couldn’t be beat) and we did a walking tour of the Gaslamp District through the Gaslamp Historical Foundation. Both were very enjoyable and educational. We didn’t get off the ship in Ensenada since we’ve been there numerous time on other cruises.

ENTERTAINMENT: We went to as many production shows as we could and thought they were excellent. I really enjoyed Born to Dance since I’m a musical fan. My husband enjoyed it too but I enjoyed it more. If you are going to the 8 p.m. showing, don’t arrive after 7:45 or you will have a challenge finding seats unless you are a party of one. If you are a large party, get there around 7:30. We loved the comedian, Steve Caouette. He was so funny and didn’t resort to distasteful humor like so many comedians. I also really enjoyed watching three movies, The Shape of Water, The Greatest Showman, and Star Wars while my husband retired to bed early for two of them. Star Wars was a Movie Under the Stars twice. The first time was far too cold, so I thought I’d brave the night we left Ensenada since it was so warm there. Wrong! I wore a sweater, vest, cape, knit scarf, a blanket over my head, sweatpants, and two blankets on my legs. I was still cold! Next time I’m bringing thermal underwear and a ski mask!

DISEMBARKMENT: A couple things that were new to us is you no longer fill out paperwork on when you want to debark and give it to your cabin steward. You now fill it out, drop it off at Guest Services, and if you don’t drop it off, they assign you a time. We were sure to drop it off since we were driving and didn’t want to have to rush on our last day of vacation. Also new to us was you no longer must fill out a customs form (not sure if it’s just a San Francisco thing). We just walked off and showed our passports. The whole process was easy peasy!

We thoroughly enjoyed our Princess cruise. As soon as we got home, I had to book our next one since I was missing it so much!
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BC L256
We booked this cabin because it's right next to the Grand Suite and thought we'd have the same cabin steward, which we did. He was excellent. I was worried it would be noisy but it wasn't noisy at all. It's so conveniently located to bars and the Horizon Buffet. And the balcony is slightly bigger because it's angled. The one downside is there is a pull down chair in the shower and a bar on the shower wall and if you know Princess showers, they are about as small as you can get. But I never once hit either the chair or bar so after a while, you don't even notice them.There is no reason to not book this cabin!
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