Tuesday, May 14, 2013

March 9 - Off to Los Angeles

Since we wanted to head to Los Angeles the day prior to our cruise we had to arrange for a flight after our work today.  We managed to get a flight that left at 16:25 out of Vancouver with Air Canada.  So after getting up at 3:30 am for work!  Yup I start work at 4:44 am every day but I am finished by 12:30.  

Friends picked us up and drove us to the airport (thanks Dave and Yvonne).  With only carryons we quickly cleared security and then US Customs and we had about an hour to kill prior to boarding.  Let the mini break start.

We landed on time and made our way to the shuttle pick up area at LAX.  We had reserved a shared ride with Prime Time Shuttle to our hotel in San Pedro.  Our shuttle arrived at 19:30, right on time and we shared the van with four other people.  Unfortunately with a shared ride we had to head all over and it took an hour and a half to get to our hotel after making two stops prior to ours.  Traffic wasn't bad but having to travel on non highways to make the stops slowed us down.  I laughed saying "heck this shuttle is going to take just as long as the flight here took".  I will also comment that this driver was very nice and helpful but his driving was crazy and when you are a professional driver like we are you really sit uneasy when you know you are being driven by someone taking chances.   

In the future we will not make prior reservations but will wait till we arrive and then weigh the options between Prime Time and Quick Shuttle to see who offers the best routing/fastest time.  Because we booked ahead of time we were stuck with Prime Time and their routing.

We booked our hotel - the Crowne Plaza LA Harbour at San Pedro - thru Priceline about two weeks prior for $78 for one night (Thursday night).  

When we finally arrived we were greeted by a friendly front desk person who quickly checked us in and gave us a room on the seventh floor.  

Since we hadn't really eaten anything since around 2 pm we dropped the bags and crossed the street to eat at the Green Onion - A Mexican Restaurant that really feels odd, sort of a pub atmosphere/restaurant.  We shared a combination meal and Bernie had a beer.  Although I had to return the glass I was given cause it was dirty, then the plate I was given was also dirty and had to get that replaced.  The food was okay, the taco was very good and also the enchilada too, but the Chili Rilenos was blah and mushy certainly premade and then re heat.  But the price was very reasonable.  Would I go again, probably not but it met our needs for the night.

I will add that the next morning when we had a chance to explore the area of San Pedro we came across numerous restaurants that we could of eaten at and would definitely go to the next time.

Back at the room we curl into a very comfortable bed and crash.  We both commented after waking up relatively early that we slept like a baby and found the room to be very quiet.  Other things we liked about the room was the size was good.  Loved the toiletries and have to comment on the water pressure which was amazing and a great way to start the day.  The restaurant served a very nice breakfast with great service the next morning and reasonably priced.  We would definitely stay here again.

Like I mentioned above we strolled around the area a bit on Friday and were pleasantly surprised at the lovely area we encountered.  Travelling along 6th Street we came across a street market with tables set up selling various items, fruits, vegetables, crafts, food, flowers, oils, and other things.

We stopped at Off the Vine (link to their facebook page) wine store which came highly recommended on the Cruise Critic site.  The owner assisted us by suggesting a few bottles.  Make sure you check out their page and tell them you learned about them from Vickie.

We made our way back to the hotel to grab our bags and even though the ship offers a free shuttle we both agreed with very little bags to drag we could easily walk to the ship and we did.  It was a lovely walk along the harbour to the ship, about 15 minutes.

hard to see but our hotel is the higher building on the right

Check it was very smooth and we were going up the gangway within 10 minutes but that is where the line up started.  On the Promenade deck they had a queue of about 100 waiting to board and scan your card and have your picture taken by security.  When we made it to the front of the line we noticed they only had two scanners and really felt Princess should of accessed the situation and added another scanner.  In the end it took 10 minutes to board, then another half hour lining up for security picture.

Now about boarding with wine - when we went thru the security scanner with our carry on bags which had a knapsack with two bottles in it.  The person reviewing the screen commented that there was wine and directed us to a table nearby.  We carried our bag there where we were asked to show them the bottles.  I am guessing to confirm that they were wine/champagne and not hard liquor.  They asked for our cabin number and our cruise card and they took our folio number down and that was it.  We did not sign anything and I just assumed that they had charged us the $15 corkage but was not sure.  Read more later to find out how it all played out.  

Our cabin E712 a balcony near the aft on Emerald deck was quick to get to and was ready and everything was set up, including our mini bar.  Our cabin steward Nate introduced himself and we put in our request for extra towels, two extra pillows and two more pillows (really wish Princess would change those skimpy little pillows for better/bigger ones, or at least offer a choice).

Officers are as follows:  Captain Marian Manfuso, Staff Captain Goran Favro, Hotel General Manager Richard Harry, Cruise Director Richard Joseph, Customer Services Director Paolo Rellini, Executive Chef Joel Directo, and Maitre d'Hotel Jacques Ghennai.  We are excited to see Richard Joseph - CD and Chef Joel Directo again.

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