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The balloons have fallen and we safely sailed into San Francisco just before dawn on March 30, 2019. SF was lit up as well as the Bay Bridge. I did get an actual Navigation Map for this particular cruise, showing the chart from SF to Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas, then back to SF. I almost missed getting the photo of the map as they auction the chart off during the cruise on the last sea day and whomever got it had not picked it up yet .We sailed on the Grand Princess which had just come out of a 2 week dry dock in Portland, Oregon. They had 1200 contractors working around the clock to get everything done. The contractors stay on the ship in the passenger cabins. The crew also stays on the ship as they must feed and sleep all the contractors. They had a DVD showing the dry dock process which was very interesting. The Grand is an older ship i.e. 1998 and has been refurbished several times as all ships are. I do love this ship. The woodwork in the ship is wonderful. Unfortunately, the newer ships have removed most of the woodworking and gone to almost a minimalistic (not sure this is an actual word, but hopefully, you get the idea) look. There were a few hiccups that had to be worked out since she was just out of dry dock but everything pretty much got back to normal. The food and service is really good on the Grand. The Princess ships have always been service oriented. They do what they have to, to please the passengers. The second officer in charge gave a great presentation on exactly how they navigate these babies, equipment, software, port considerations, etc. etc. He also went into what one has to do to go through the ranks to finally arrive at Captain. He started on tankers, ferries, then cruise ships - interesting stories. We had a 3 hr Segway tour on Puerta Vallarta which was really fun. I called the company prior to the cruise and set up the tour since normally they don't work on Sunday, but did arrange for our tour. There were only two of us on the tour as well as Sara, our informative guide. Great fun. Love those Segway machines. Although most of the places we visited have beautiful Malacons (promenades along the water front), they also have cobblestone streets. That was a new challenge for us on the Segway but certainly made it more fun. We stopped at a family run Tequila making factory. Tequila is a Mexican liquor made chiefly from the fermented sap of the blue agave plant. It is subjected to two separate distillations. I always thought Tequila tasted like floor varnish, but after tasting all the new types they have, have changed my mind. They have one called Pecan Tequila, which tasted like Bailey's Irish cream - really good. Even the straight Tequila has several different qualities and some is very smooth - much better than floor varnish. We got to taste them all !!! Not sure we could pass a breathalyzer test but we had just had lunch, so that helped and we got the Segways safely back to the Segway shop. In Cabo San Lucas we went in search of whales on a zodiac. The end of March is the end of the migration season for this area but we did find a mother and a fairly new born. Mom was teaching the little one how to breach i.e. jump out of the water. It was thrilling to see. The ride on the zodiac was thrilling as well, as they go at speeds similar to a jet ski i.e. fast. In Manzanillo and Mazatlan, we enjoyed the promenades, walking tours and shopping. In Mazatlan they make a delicious marshmallow and coconut candy. Be careful when you try it however, as it is quite addictive! We went with a travel agency that provides bus transportation in CA from Sacramento, Stockton, Lodi, Modesto, and Manteca to the ship. Once you give your "checked" luggage to the bus driver, one doesn't have to see it again until it arrives at your cabin door. After the cruise, one identifies their luggage in a very orderly fashion, porters take the luggage to a bus, and then homeward bound. The agency provides a hospitality desk on the ship with daily hours to help with any issues as well as distributing a different gift each day. If the ship goes to Cabo, there is a fiesta party with music, lunch and drinks at the public area at a condo in Cabo. It is right on the ocean with great views. It is very close to where the tenders come into Cabo, so an easy walk. When the ship didn't go to Cabo, then there was a big party on the ship for the our group. Likely this time, there were perhaps 250 people in our group. I didn't actually count them, but am guessing. On one of the cruises we took, the party was on the ship. They had the ship's photographer get everyone together at the party and took a photo of likely 275 people. They did a fantastic job. We were given an 8 x 10 photo of the group. That is really a challenge for any photographer. Prior to the party day, one of the gifts was a T shirt with the destination on the shirts which most of us wore to the party. Great fun. This is really a great service for us that live in the valley as otherwise one goes into SF a day early, and stays in a hotel - just to be sure there is no traffic jam going into SF which could mean missing the ship. All of this, at no extra cost for the cruise. We do appreciate this service. We had a mini-suite with club class service meaning that you have a separate dining area and never have to wait in line for anytime dining for dinner. The mini-suites provide extra room and storage capacity. For us, it makes the cabin more usable and home-like. We both photograph and have computers which means charging stations and table room for the computers and cameras for a work space. The beds on the Princess ships are fantastic - best beds at sea, as far as we are concerned. Getting on and off the ship was quick, easy and efficient. Princess really has their act together when it comes to Embarkation and Disembarkation. They are also efficient at getting people on and off for ports that need to use tenders to get the passengers to shore. They had several types of entertainment day and night. Thankfully they list everything in a daily newsletter (as most ships do) as well as providing maps of the ports and things to see while in port and transportation available to get around the area. There were several other things we did and saw, but won't bore you any further - that is if you in fact, got this far. As you might have guessed, we love cruising. So much to do on and off the ship and everyone is always so friendly. You get to meet people from all over the world, passengers and crew and learn so much about other cultures; also, great photographic opportunities.

The Newly Refurbished Grand Princess Gets 5 Stars

Grand Princess Cruise Review by Judy Murphy

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2019
  • Destination: Mexican Riviera
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony
The balloons have fallen and we safely sailed into San Francisco just before dawn on March 30, 2019. SF was lit up as well as the Bay Bridge. I did get an actual Navigation Map for this particular cruise, showing the chart from SF to Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas, then back to SF. I almost missed getting the photo of the map as they auction the chart off during the cruise on the last sea day and whomever got it had not picked it up yet

.We sailed on the Grand Princess which had just come out of a 2 week dry dock in Portland, Oregon. They had 1200 contractors working around the clock to get everything done. The contractors stay on the ship in the passenger cabins. The crew also stays on the ship as they must feed and sleep all the contractors. They had a DVD showing the dry dock process which was very interesting. The Grand is an older ship i.e. 1998 and has been refurbished several times as all ships are. I do love this ship. The woodwork in the ship is wonderful. Unfortunately, the newer ships have removed most of the woodworking and gone to almost a minimalistic (not sure this is an actual word, but hopefully, you get the idea) look. There were a few hiccups that had to be worked out since she was just out of dry dock but everything pretty much got back to normal. The food and service is really good on the Grand. The Princess ships have always been service oriented. They do what they have to, to please the passengers.

The second officer in charge gave a great presentation on exactly how they navigate these babies, equipment, software, port considerations, etc. etc. He also went into what one has to do to go through the ranks to finally arrive at Captain. He started on tankers, ferries, then cruise ships - interesting stories.

We had a 3 hr Segway tour on Puerta Vallarta which was really fun. I called the company prior to the cruise and set up the tour since normally they don't work on Sunday, but did arrange for our tour. There were only two of us on the tour as well as Sara, our informative guide. Great fun. Love those Segway machines. Although most of the places we visited have beautiful Malacons (promenades along the water front), they also have cobblestone streets. That was a new challenge for us on the Segway but certainly made it more fun. We stopped at a family run Tequila making factory. Tequila is a Mexican liquor made chiefly from the fermented sap of the blue agave plant. It is subjected to two separate distillations. I always thought Tequila tasted like floor varnish, but after tasting all the new types they have, have changed my mind. They have one called Pecan Tequila, which tasted like Bailey's Irish cream - really good. Even the straight Tequila has several different qualities and some is very smooth - much better than floor varnish. We got to taste them all !!! Not sure we could pass a breathalyzer test but we had just had lunch, so that helped and we got the Segways safely back to the Segway shop.

In Cabo San Lucas we went in search of whales on a zodiac. The end of March is the end of the migration season for this area but we did find a mother and a fairly new born. Mom was teaching the little one how to breach i.e. jump out of the water. It was thrilling to see. The ride on the zodiac was thrilling as well, as they go at speeds similar to a jet ski i.e. fast.

In Manzanillo and Mazatlan, we enjoyed the promenades, walking tours and shopping. In Mazatlan they make a delicious marshmallow and coconut candy. Be careful when you try it however, as it is quite addictive!

We went with a travel agency that provides bus transportation in CA from Sacramento, Stockton, Lodi, Modesto, and Manteca to the ship. Once you give your "checked" luggage to the bus driver, one doesn't have to see it again until it arrives at your cabin door. After the cruise, one identifies their luggage in a very orderly fashion, porters take the luggage to a bus, and then homeward bound. The agency provides a hospitality desk on the ship with daily hours to help with any issues as well as distributing a different gift each day. If the ship goes to Cabo, there is a fiesta party with music, lunch and drinks at the public area at a condo in Cabo. It is right on the ocean with great views. It is very close to where the tenders come into Cabo, so an easy walk. When the ship didn't go to Cabo, then there was a big party on the ship for the our group. Likely this time, there were perhaps 250 people in our group. I didn't actually count them, but am guessing. On one of the cruises we took, the party was on the ship. They had the ship's photographer get everyone together at the party and took a photo of likely 275 people. They did a fantastic job. We were given an 8 x 10 photo of the group. That is really a challenge for any photographer. Prior to the party day, one of the gifts was a T shirt with the destination on the shirts which most of us wore to the party. Great fun. This is really a great service for us that live in the valley as otherwise one goes into SF a day early, and stays in a hotel - just to be sure there is no traffic jam going into SF which could mean missing the ship. All of this, at no extra cost for the cruise. We do appreciate this service.

We had a mini-suite with club class service meaning that you have a separate dining area and never have to wait in line for anytime dining for dinner. The mini-suites provide extra room and storage capacity. For us, it makes the cabin more usable and home-like. We both photograph and have computers which means charging stations and table room for the computers and cameras for a work space. The beds on the Princess ships are fantastic - best beds at sea, as far as we are concerned.

Getting on and off the ship was quick, easy and efficient. Princess really has their act together when it comes to Embarkation and Disembarkation. They are also efficient at getting people on and off for ports that need to use tenders to get the passengers to shore.

They had several types of entertainment day and night. Thankfully they list everything in a daily newsletter (as most ships do) as well as providing maps of the ports and things to see while in port and transportation available to get around the area.

There were several other things we did and saw, but won't bore you any further - that is if you in fact, got this far. As you might have guessed, we love cruising. So much to do on and off the ship and everyone is always so friendly. You get to meet people from all over the world, passengers and crew and learn so much about other cultures; also, great photographic opportunities.
Judy Murphy’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
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