Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Grand Princess Hawaii Cruise - The Plan

It has been ten days since our return to reality after our cruise to Hawaii, on board the Grand Princess. It was our first visit to the islands and we were silly with excitement. Earlier in the year we had cruised on the Grand to Alaska, so we were familiar with the layout of the ship and the excellent service that Princess Cruises provides. This trip we were  expecting to see familiar crew faces, but the staff had mostly changed. The crew staff commits to a number of months on the ship and then rotates out for several months of vacation. The latest staff maintained the high level of service we loved. The crew work long hours but always offer a friendly greeting and a smile. Rather than report only our daily activities I have decided to provide some general information and overview of the cruise experience. I'll try to answer some of the questions people ask me when I talk about cruising, FAQ style. This cruise was a fifteen day journey from San Francisco to Hawaii, of the fifteen days ten were cruising days and five are days at port.

How much does it cost?
The are several choices for staterooms, each with a different price. We choose the least expensive interior stateroom. When we originally looked at pricing it was about $1600++ U.S. per person. When we actually booked there was a sale and we paid  closer to $1000++ per person. In recent checks the prices of  the same accommodation and  cruise in 2014 is going at $1700 ++ per person in November. This includes room, food, activities and entertainment. We purchased vacation insurance for those "just in case" moments for $150. There are additional charges for liquor, soda, fancy coffee, specialty restaurants, internet service, spa treatments and shopping. There are abundant ways to spend money on shopping, so beware. They give you a room key that also is used to pay for additions. It is billed to your credit card and like any credit card it is easy to spend. You can print your current balance at a kiosk in the main lobby.  A daily gratuity is also added per person that is divided among  the staff on board. On this trip it was $11.50 each daily. We also give additional cash tips to our favorite staff. I find fun in searching the internet and looking for deals. They do exist but don't forget to do the math and include additional travel expenses. Princess Cruises committed a ship to San Fran this year and it looks like it will continue into 2014. It costs very little for travel when we leave from S.F. On prior cruises we had to travel to L.A. or San Diego and that travel cost added to what looked like a low price made it more sensible to leave from S.F.

More facts later, on with the fun! I threw the cruise finances into a tail spin by deciding to start the vacation a day early and stay in San Fran the night before we sailed. We jumped the Larkspur Ferry and motored off  to begin of our vacation. There was a convention of  realtors in town taking up lots of hotel rooms, so I had to chose the nearest hotel I could find with a vacancy. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency, about a twenty minute walk from the port. We hold a special place in our hearts for the Regency because years ago my parents lived nearby and we would take our young kids to visit and it always include a ride on the hotel elevators.So this trip began in  a familiar setting surrounded by Docker's clad realtors.

Hyatt Regency San Francisco Embarcadero

Since we were on vacation, cocktails and dinner were in order. We walked three blocks to Fuzio, another favorite hangout in San Fran. It was crowded with the Saturday-night-before-movie group, so we found two seats at the bar and toasted our vacation with some Sauvignon blanc. I enjoyed a bistro burger with cheddar and thyme fries, Avril  the Chinese chicken salad. It seemed everyone was happy and chatty, a most enjoyable evening. We headed back to the hotel on a full stomachs,  anticipating our cruise the next day.
Dinner at Fuzio San Francisco


Zoomie said...

I'm enjoying you trip already!

Chilebrown said...

I have been on the larkspur Ferry. Does that count as a cruise? I am looking forward to your next chapter. I am hoping for dancing videos.

Greg said...

Zoomie- Thanks! I'm having fun remembering and writing.
Chilebrown- Yes it qualifies. For us it was a gateway drug for hardcore cruising. ;)