Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Nov 9 – All Aboard the Grand Princess

We wake and Bernie walks over to the Starbucks while I post up my blog.  We relax today knowing we don’t have to be up and ready for awhile.

Angelique and Simon are picking us up around 9:30 and we are going to head out for Brunch.  We drive up to Redondo Beach to a lovely restaurant called Baleen.  We had a great meal and even better company.

After lunch Simon takes us to a Total Wine store nearby.  Which is so nice cause here Bernie can buy his De Margorie Champagne. 

We are so happy to have such great friends, people that have similar outlook on life as we do, who are such caring and considerate people.  We hope we get to repay the favor and get to show them around Vancouver in the near future.

We arrive at the pier around 1:15 pm and we are on board the ship by 1:30.  Check in was quick for us.  We did notice that the health form now has two extra questions about visiting certain parts of Africa.  There was no wait for the check in counter and no lines at security.

We did bring on two bottles of champagne and one bottle of wine and we went to the table and paid corkage on the one extra bottle.  A larger sticker (so far we have seen stamps, small stickers and even initials to identify corkage was paid) but this sticker is big and know we will bringing this champagne to dinner so it works out fine for us.

We haven’t been on the Grand since 2008 when we did two 14 day itineraries back to back.  We notice that Maitre d’Hotel Giuseppe Franchina and Executive Chef Giuseppe De Gennaro were on this ship back then too.  We later run into the Maitre d’hotel and he recognizes us but at that time neither of us could recall from where.

Since we were on her last she has gone thru extensive renovations.  Skywalkers has been removed and many new areas have been created.  First thing we notice is the hallways are much wider than other ships.  We can easily walk side by side. 

We are in cabin C739 which is the second to last balcony cabin aft.  We do notice a bit more vibration but we can tolerate it.  

The room is like most balcony cabins on any ship.  The Grand does have some differences, the desk area has three drawers instead of the one cupboard.  I much prefer the drawers which can hold much more stuff and much more organized.  Bernie claims the room is not as long, and he may be right but it certainly is not by much. 

The biggest difference is the closet/bathroom area.  The closet is half the size of other ships on the Princess fleet.  The cupboard is not as deep either.  

The bathroom has a bit different layout.  The shower is larger and the sink/vanity is much smaller.  We don’t mind the size of the bathroom and we find we have more than enough space to store all our items on the shelves and in the closet.

We ask our steward for the standard – extra towles, top sheet, wine glasses and ice.  But we have a few issues that do need to be addressed.  The fridge for some reason does not work at all and the shower curtain stinks to high heaven of mold/mildew.  For the life of me I don’t know why they don’t change out the shower curtains more often.  It smells so bad I take it down and put in a plastic bag to cover the odors.

We wander around the ship for a bit and grab a cup of tea down in the International Café and run into Claire the Shop Manager.  We catch up with her and hope to go ashore with her later in the cruise.

Muster Drill is at 3:15 (we needed to bring our life jackets) and we are in the Vista Lounge.  When we arrive in the lounge we see Delmarie who works in Facets there.  You may remember Delmaire from the Star a few years ago, then the Caribbean last ear and the Golden earlier this year.

After the drill we go back to the cabin to finish our unpacking and then head up for sailaway.

Here we run into our friends Paul and Yvonne who are from Edmonton and we have sailed with a few times.  We are doing a few things in port with them as well as we will do a few dinners at specialty restaurants with them.  Note Formal nights on this ten day itinerary are the third night (sea day) and the day after Puerto Vallarta (second to last sea day).

Ana who is an Assistant Cruise Director who we have sailed with three times now is on board.  She is lovely, from Puerto Vallarta and such a joy to be around. 

We all decide to head up to the One5 Lounge for Platinum/Elite Lounge but it is PACKED, no seats to be had at 5 pm.  Note to self, might want to go to the lounge later on.  We leave without getting a drink.

Bernie and I agree that neither of us want to go to the dining room.  I suggest Alfredos Pizzaria, Bernie doesn’t seem impressed but agrees.  But he is quickly impressed once he is sat and we enjoy a great meal there.  I tried the Grand Princess Pizza and really enjoyed it.  It certainly was not busy there tonight.

We head up to Facets and sit and chat with Delmarie and we get to meet Martin who works with her and is a good “friend” of Corey who we have known for quite a while.  

We probably visit for over a half hour with her.

We head to the Princess Theater to catch the Welcome Aboard Show.  We see the Princess singers and dancers and we put a face to the name of the Cruise Director Mike Witte and his Deputy Paul.  The comedian Steve White also performed for a bit and we laughed our head off.  We look forward to his show tomorrow night.

After the show we head to Explorer’s Lounge for the Multi Media Trivia which is on Movie Posters.  Bernie and I partake and we don’t do too bad 29 out of 40 but we didn’t win but that is okay. 

We are back in the cabin early tonight but we are both really tired after so many very busy days.

Tomorrow we are back in San Diego.

Captain is Ronald Wilson, Staff Captain Michele Bartolomei, Chief Engineer Giberto Vinici, Hotel General Manager Martin Ford, Senior Doctor Jacobus Rupping, Food & Beverage Director Torsten Schuele, Customer Services Director Stefano Ambrosino, Executive Housekeeper Monico Reyes Jr., Maitre d’Hotel Giuseppe Franchina, and Executive Chef Giuseppe De Gennaro.

Entertainment Highlights:
Comedians:  Steve White, Steve Caouette, Vocal Impressionist Mike Wilson, Production shows:  Stardust, Do You Wanna Dance, British Invasion and Ye Olde Pub Night.  Movies:  Draft Da, Dawn of the Planets of the Apes, Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians of the Galaxy, Non-Stop, Million Dollar Arm, Maleficent, The Fault in Our Stars.

Todays Patter includes:  NFL New York Giants vs Seattle Seahwaks, then Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers; Sail Away Party, Spa Seminar:  Relieving Back Pain an Walking in Comfort, Wheelhouse Bar David Oates, Welcome Aboard show 7 pm and 8:30 pm; Evening Movie Jersey Boys; Multimedia Trivia 7:45; Mariachi Music in the Atrium; Tempo Quatro in Wheelhouse, MUTS Draft Day.

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