My two sisters and I chose to go on this cruise because we had never been on a cruise before and we wanted to do so before we got to be too old to enjoy it.
We left out of San Francisco, being raised in California, we didn't do any exploring of the city because we had all previously been there and done that. The first thing we learned about cruising was don't judge the cruise by the disembarkation experience...this was a cluster cram (for lack of a more suitable word).
We got on board the Grand Princess and we were all in awe of the ship its self...It was huge and luxurious. Five swimming pools, six hot tubs, I can't even tell you how many bars. Five restaurants and several other dining options available. There seems to be one employee for every three passengers, so what ever you needed was tended to almost immediately.
We were first time cruisers, so we didn't know how to go about without advice and other passengers seemed to be the most logical people to ask, so we did. Most people were quick to lend a hand and advice was sound and friendly.
We expected our cabin (stateroom) to be crammed and cluttered, but we were pleasantly surprised to find it roomy and adequate for all three of us (and our luggage). We chose the stateroom that had twin beds and expected to find a roll away bed for the third bed. We were glad to see that there were beds above the twin beds that could be folded down to provide a bunk bed experience. We only needed one of these, at that is where I slept.
If there is any advice that I could offer a first time cruiser, it would be to read the Princess Patter every evening and circle the things that you are interested in participating in. Downloading the app onto your phone is just as helpful (maybe more so, but I didn't down load it, so I can't speak on it with any real knowledge). Catch every show that you are interested in and plan your meals around your entertainment, not the other way around. Don't be too shy to participate in the activities...they will make your experience more personal and memorable. Buy the photo package and maybe even the video...you won't regret it. Individual photos are expensive, but the quantity and quality of their photographs are worth it, if you have the prepaid, all inclusive package.
You are never going to have enough time ashore, so plan your time on land wisely. Shore excursions are worth the cost, but they are meant for tourists, so if you want a personal experience, do your research and plan accordingly.
If I had the opportunity to do this again, I would definitely do it.
If I would have known, I would have paid the higher price for the balcony. The window with the obstructed view is good, but the window does not open and the view is quite obstructed. The cabin is surprisingly roomy though and the closet is adequate, but bring along extra hangers.
I was born and raised in California, so I didn't do any sight seeing in San Francisco.
It was raining on the island, but the rain was warm and it didn't detract from the experience at all. We were met by our guides at the port and driven directly to the kayaking site. We were given life jackets and brief instructions and set off immediately across the bay. It went smoothly and the guides told us of local history and legends while we paddled. We got to the other side and gathered back together to trek up the river. It was easy enough for first time kayakers to participate...both of my sisters had never been in a kayak until this experience and they both loved it. When we got almost to the waterfall, the water was too rapid to continue, and when we tried to turn around, my sister and I flipped out kayak. The guide was quick to assist us in getting our kayak turned back over and helped us both get back into it (which was amazing because I am not a small woman and he did it with easy and grace). We paddled back across the bay and went back onto the ship to change our soaked clothes and went back ashore to enjoy what time we had left on the island.View All 9 Kayaking Reviews
I was surprised by how many people from the ship were able to attend this luau. The drive over was long and there was a lot of traffic to deal with. The driver could have taken this opportunity to prepare us for what to expect at the luau, but he chose to tell us his personal life story instead. We made it to the luau barely in time for the luau to begin. The luau photo cost us $20 and this was an expense that I didn't anticipate. In my opinion, the luau was too crowded and the food was just average...except for the pork, it was excellent. I also like the macaroni and potato salad combined. I had never thought to combine the two before, but now I just might try it. This excursion was a bit of a disappointment to me and I wouldn't recommend it to others as it seemed to be inauthentic and more tourist trap inclined.View All 54 Luau Reviews
Kauai was my favorite island. It felt more like an actual island and not so much of a city in the middle of the ocean. We did the Hop on Hop off bus and got stuck at Koa Wood Factory because the driver told us to go to the material store, and we thought that was were the bus would pick us up, but we watched the bus pass us by and realized that we needed to go back to the Koa Wood Factory to get back on the bus. We would have had more chances to get more shopping done had we not missed the bus the first time. We still enjoyed the Botanical Gardens and the Koa Wood Factory though.
This was the island that we were anticipating the most because my sister used to live here. The tenders took so long to get us to the island, that we missed our opportunity to rent a car and visit her old neighborhood. We were anchored by 8:00, but we didn't get ashore until 11:00. We had to be back to the pier at 3:30, so the cab driver told us that we would never make it to the interior of the island and back in time to get back on board. We ended up wandering down the tourist trap pier area and boarded the ship disheartened.
I never expected Ensenada to be so much fun. I had considered not even getting off the ship, but I am glad that I did. The tour guide we had, Michelle, made the excursion so much fun that I am grateful to have had the experience. She made me want to visit Mexico again...I may even book the Mexican Cruise because of her.View All 6 Bodegas de Santo Tomas & Riviera del Pacifico Reviews