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This is the Grand Princess sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge.  We were on the Crown Princess, which is her sister ship.  We sailed out of San Francisco at night, and went up to one of the high decks as we sailed under the bridge. So glad we stayed up to see it, as we missed the arrival at 5 AM.   It was amazing, but our phone would not take good pictures.  It really looked close, but a crew member told us that there was between 8 and 12 feet of clearance, depending where you measured it.

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We have been to SF several times, so this time we explored Pier 39. It was walking distance from the ship, but it was a long walk.  In the past we have ridden the cable cars, visited Ghiradelli Square and sampled wonderful chocolate, and driven down the crookedest road in the US.   Pier 39 has lots of interesting shops, and we definitely walked off that night’s dessert.  The carousel is also at Pier 39.  It wasn’t running that day, so not sure if it usually does.    It was a bit chilly and windy, but that was expected.  We decided not to take the Alcatraz tour, as it involves a half hour boat ride, and we preferred not to do it that day.  It’s always good to leave something to do the next time.

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This is Travis, on his first day working as a bartender at the Edgewater Grill in San Diego.  See how happy he is!

The last post showed how tired he was after waiting on us, as he doubled as a waiter. He was so personable and fun to talk to.  We had a fabulous pizza and enjoyed the ocean view.  It was a hot day, and we had walked all around the Seaport Village shops, so we sat inside, and enjoyed the cool while most people wanted to sit outside.  This is a lovely place.

Seaport Village is a great place to walk around and see all the different shops.  There is something for everyone there.  We took a bicycle taxi from the ship as we knew we would get our walk in once we got there.  Gary entertained us as he pedaled.

We have been to San Diego numerous times, so we bypassed the regular tourist stops like the zoo and the theme parks.  It was a beautiful day and much warmer than the days in San Francisco and Santa Barbara.

In the past. we have boarded a cruise ship her, so it was different to get off the ship here.

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Princess always has great sailaway parties, and Crown Princess kept up the tradition.  A live band always make it more festive, and they had a terrific one.  Tickets were given out to all who danced, and of course we were right in there!  They did a few line dances and a few freestyle.  There was a small group dancing, but more dancing than watching, which is unusual.  I was the first one to win a bottle of champagne when they drew the tickets, so that was a fun start to the cruise.
The next day was a sea day and so many activities the day flew by.  It was cloudy and cool, not many people in the pools.  We do all the dance classes for exercise.  This cruise they had party line dances, country line dances, cha cha, merengue, rhumba and jive.  Oh, and I took a tap dance class, minus the taps, while he did a golf putting contest. Princess offers free Zumba classes, but they were too early for us!  We seem to be out late and sleep in.  The cruise director’s staff did a terrific job on all the activities. A big thank you to Andrew,  Alex, Maddy, Sasha, Bernie, Kim and DJ.  Billy Hygate was the cruise director and we had some conversations when he had a few minutes free.

We like late dining so we don’t have to rush from a shore excursion or other activities in late afternoon to get ready for dinner.  We had a table for 2 in an alcove with another table for 2, and we enjoyed their company.  There are always other options besides the main dining room like the buffet, two specialty restaurants, room service and the International Cafe.  Also pool grill and pizza.  Pizza on Princess has been rated number one at sea several times.

Our first port will be San Francisco.  It has been along time since we have been there and we don’t have big plans this time.  This is a relaxing, restful cruise for us.

Eddie’s turn for festivities!

We boarded Crown Princess for a California Coastal cruise in late September.  It was our first cruise on this ship.  About 40 years ago, we drove from Las Vegas to San Diego and up past San Francisco in an RV. This time we did it in style; no cooking or cleaning, just relaxing and having fun.

Crown is an elegant ship  with a beautiful atrium area that they call Piazza.  There are several pools and hot tubs, lots of bars and lounges and places to eat.  We especially like Crooners Bar as it is  good for people watching.  They have delightful olive trays with huge olives stuffed with blue cheese, almonds, and other goodies.  There are cooking demos near it and martini making classes, napkin folding, and a great trio kept us entertained.  The International Cafe is in the Piazza and is open 24 hours.  They serve pastries, sandwiches, salads, desserts and fresh-baked cookies in the afternoon.  We had a balcony cabin on deck 10, which has bigger balconies that are half covered and half open.  There are small differences in ships even in the same class, and this one had plenty of storage space for 7 days.  Sotero was our terrific cabin steward and took good care of us.  Princess still puts a chocolate on your pillow at night, and it is a nice touch. They no longer have assistant cabin stewards except on turnover days, and he had 18 cabins to take care of.   All crew members work hard, but cabin stewards have an extra-hard job.

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This post disappeared when we lost our server, so this is a second try. What a fun afternoon we had at the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau.  Thanks, Chuck!  The piano player was a blast, and we were all singing along.  He had us yell “look who’s here!” when people would come in. Sometimes they waved and found a place to sit, but a lot of times they just left.  Seats did not stay empty long. The Glacier margaritas were delicious as was the reindeer sausage pizza.  It’s always good to sample local specialties.

St Maarten/St Martin is an interesting island.  It is half Dutch and half French. The island is 37 square miles, with 37 beaches.   On this trip we visited the Dutch side, walking downtown, and along the beach, enjoying the sun and breeze. Philipsburg is picturesque and nice to walk around.  Get Wet Beach Bar had been recommended to us, but we had a hard time finding it.  We walked all the way down the beach and missed it.  Coming back again, we found it.  The reason we missed it is because the signs are angled so that you only see them from one direction.  We had the greatest ribs there, cooked by Randy in the picture above.  He was cooking right out on the sidewalk in front of the bar. They were so good we had seconds.   We met some people from our ship there, and had fun talking to them.

grnhseThis is our hangout in St Thomas.  After walking around and looking in shops for awhile with a couple from the ship, we all headed here for lunch.  Doug, the manager, remembered us from last time.  We always have the Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer and this time we also tried the Crab Rolls.  There is a fun atmosphere here and the food was delicious, as always.

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We walked around some more after lunch, then headed back to the ship for some hot tub time.  Most people were still ashore, so the hot tub was not crowded.  We enjoyed the quiet in the solarium after the hot tub.  It was a relaxing day.

 

cocoaAfter a rainy trip from Orlando to Cocoa Beach, it was just drizzling in CB.  We used Happy Hour shuttle service, and they are terrific.  No waiting to fill a van; Ron picked us up at baggage claim at the airport, and we were off.  We stayed at LaQuinta, and found it pleasant with nice landscaping.  I love the palm trees.  We headed to their Time Out Sports Bar for a sandwich.  We are not sports fans, but at least we know the Gators.  There were 4 or 5 people there when we went in, but in 20 minutes, the bar was full with fans waiting for the Gator game to start.  There was a lot of teasing going on between all the customers and Eddie joined right in.  A young man next to me said $1 shots start soon.  He said he was going to have a Fireball, so I asked what it was.  He bought us both one to try, so then we had to reciprocate.  It is a cinnamon flavored liquor.  He told me it tastes cold at first then hot, but it didn’t taste hot to me.  Most of the customers were locals, and that always means you’ve found a good place.

Ron was back the next morning to take us to our ship.  The predicted rain was gone and the sun was out.  It was a beautiful day.  We had a short ride to the pier, and then we were on Freedom of the Seas again. Walking on board a ship is a wonderful feeling.

breezeBahama Breeze, Las Vegas, is a great start for a trip.  We made it for Happy Hour and enjoyed our usual Pineapple Coconut martini to toast our trip. The inside bar was full, so we headed to the patio bar.  They had the windows open and the guitarist was playing great music.  We sang along and had a dance or two.  Then we ordered appetizers and called it dinner.We visited with the guitarist on his break.  We ran into the son of a man Eddie worked with years back in LV, so there was some catching up going on there.

Saturday we flew to Orlando to spend a night in Cocoa Beach before boarding our ship on Sunday.

inspWe just returned from four days on Carnival Inspiration.  The ship is maintained well and the crew were some of the best. We missed having a balcony, but thought we could stand it for a short cruise.  It only has balconies in suites.  They recently added Serenity, an adults-only retreat on the stern.  Between the noisy air ducts and the constant scraping of chairs from the buffet above, it was not very serene.  We chose this cruise because we did not have to fly, and wanted to see Catalina Island after 30+ years.

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