Monday, December 2, 2019

It was all we had hoped for... and more...

Today, our last dat before we dock at San Francisco tomorrow morning, was probably our busiest day of the two weeks!  I'll do more of a picture tour of the day, and I also realize I haven't really shown what the ship looks like, so I'll try to give you an idea.

9:45 am:  The Head Chef and his Mate gave a cooking lesson and told us a bit about the kitchen and what goes in to the food service and then we were given a tour of one of the galleys.  It was quite an hysterical show with lots of drama.  But here are a few trivia facts:

  • They prepare 12,000 meals a day
  • They make 180 pounds of ice cream in different flavors/day
  • They clean 35,000 plates and 20,000 glasses
  • They bake 16,000 dinner rolls/day
  • They make 75 pounds of tomato sauce/day
  • There are over 500 staff connected with the service of food and drink on board - that's more than half of the entire staff
L:Head Chef from the Philippines
C: Second in Command from England
R:  Kevin our cruise Director from Canada
Fruit & Vegetable Scupltures

More of the galley
Some meringue cakes
The galley is mammoth with different stations all around

At the end of the program, they brought out a large number of the staff and introduced them.  Then they had a special treat.  Hector, who works in the kitchen, wanted to sing us a song.  Everyone was choked up.

10:00:  Free Mimosas for all as the Captain bids us all a farewell

1:00:  Rehersal for the Pop Choir

2:00:  The Grand Princess Pop Choir Concert!  We had a huge audience and the concert was fantastic.  We started out with Here Comes the Sun, then sang Eidelweiss, followed by Blue Bayou, then Somewhere Beyond the Sea and we ended with Under the Boardwalk.  I was in my glory!

After the concert we went back to the room and started to pack.  We had to get out luggage out in the hall by 11:00 pm tonight and we have to be out of our room by 8:00 am tomorrow morning.

4:00:  Dancing in the Piazza with a mariachi band

6:30:  The final concert of the Grand Princess dancers, singers and orchestra.  We have been so impressed with the quality and professionalism of this young people and they didn't disappoint tonight.  The theme was "The British Invasion."

7:30:  Concert with a Country Western/Flamenco Guitarist!  

8:30:  Our last dinner.  Since we are wearing our casual clothes that we will be disembarking with, we went to the Harvest Court buffet instead of to a more formal restaurant.  

10:00:  ... we were going to go down to the Explorer's Bar for more dancing...  but alas, we crashed!!

And now, here's a bit of the ship; I realize I didn't nearly cover the immensity and beauty of The Grand Princess.

The Princess Theater
The roof-top pool on deck 14
The hot tub at the Neptune pool

Enjoying a walk on the deck

Beautiful at Night

We checked with the Captain, and we come under the Golden Gate Bridge tomorrow morning at 5:30, so we have set our alarm for 5:00 and plan to get up and go to the top deck at the front on the ship and experience it all.  

We leave you with this picture which seems to embody our last two weeks:  fun, adventurous, gorgeous, awesome, unpredictable, outstanding.


Sunday, December 1, 2019

December 1st - RABBIT! RABBIT!

Can you believe it's December 1st already?  Our last sea day is tomorrow as we wend our way from Ensenada to San Francisco.  It's been a great two weeks, but both Luke and I are ready to get our feet on terra firma.

Today, after breakfast, we went in search of the fitness center which we hadn't discovered yet.  That got us up to the top deck -16, where we found a cadre of in-the-know people who were sunning themselves on lounge chairs in a protected area.  We decided to join them.  Luke took his shirt off and was basking in the sun.

I took out my Sunday Times Crossword Puzzle book and was engrossed in that, when all of a sudden a loud noise was heard and a navy jet bomber - just like the Blue Angels - roared right by our ship.  We hadn't seen ANYTHING on the big seas for the entire trip, and here were these fighter bombers looking as if they were attacking our ship! It was quite dramatic.  But then the public address system came on and the Captain told us that it was the military doing some practice runs.  We could vaguely see land in the distance and we figured maybe we were somewhere near San Diego where there is a military base.   It was quite the drama for the morning!


After my Pop Chorus rehearsal, I met Luke in the Princess Theater for the finals of The Voice.  It was a kick-  They had the chairs that turned;  they had the music;  and the emcee, who was the cruise director of entertainment, was hysterical.  There was some very funny banter going on and the talent was pretty good.  There were sic finalists who each sang a song ad then picked a judge.  Then each judge had to select one of their two to go on to the finals.  Then the audience, who.was given an electronic voting remote, voted for the winner.  Ralph won and he was awesome-  He sang Don't Stop Believing and had everyone in the theater clapping for him.  It was very cool.

We pulled in to Ensenada, Mexico around 4:00 pm and will be leaving this port at 7:00.  This is a necessary stop because of some U.S. rule that says any ship, not made in the USA, must stop at an international port if they want to stop at an American port.  

We didn't even get off, because Ensenada really isn't a very interesting place.  Most of the passengers who got off, and there were quite a few, went shopping!!!  There was a Carnival ship in port when we arrived.  An ambulance was waiting for some passenger- we have no details about that, and there was a very large truck that we presume might be a gas truck filling up our tanks!

As we get closer to the end of our voyage, we feel a need to take advantage of as much as we can.  Before dinner, we went to the Wheelhouse Bar and danced to an excellent trio.  The singer was from Mexico and had a beautiful voice.  There were a number of couples on the dance floor, and I just couldn't resist taking a picture of the 5" heels that a lady in her eighties was wearing.  How do these ladies do that?

After a lovely dinner, we went to the theater to hear a very good vocalist.  He opened with "I Will Always Love You" which I associate with Whitney Houston, but it was actually written by Dolly Parton!  And he closed with a beautiful Josh Groban song.

But the night was still young.  It was only 10:00, so we went to the Crooner's Bar to hear a wonderful singer/piano player who has quite a following.  Thenwe went to the Explorer's Bar to dance some more to the Brilliantes - another great trio with an exceptional singer from Australia.  They stopped at 11:30 and we called it a night!

 I went out on the balcony tonight and I could see lights, so I guess we're staying fairly near shore- although the Casino was buzzing tonight, so we must be out far enough to be in international waters.

Tomorrow is our last day-  it's been all I had hoped for and more...

Another Wonderful Day

Another wonderful day.  The pace has changed a bit since we first started.  I'm not sure why, but there are fewer things on the "Daily Patter" that we must do, so our days seem a bit more leisurely.  Then again, we're staying up later and partying more at night.

We had a late breakfast, then went to the pool deck to play a few rounds of Bananagrams.

Later, I went to my Pop chorus rehearsal.  We're doing so well with the songs that Jonny is adding some choreography to some of our songs which is quite fun.  We give our concert tomorrow!

Then Luke and I went to the Princess theater to hear a talk by the Captain, John Smith and his first Engineer.  It was interesting and we learned many things about the ship.  "She's not a boat," the Captain reminded us.  "A ship carries boats; a boat doesn't carry ships."

Do you know that they have desalination plants on board.  It would be impossible to carry enough water for 3,000 passengers for 4 days at sea, so they make their own water!  One time, they pulled in to a port that had been severely damaged by a storm and was without water, and the whole time they were at the port, they made water that was then carried off the ship by trucks and taken to the people on the island.

Another question posed to the chief engineer was about all the sewage and where did it go?  Well they have tanks filled with sewage-eating microbes that eat the sewage and excrete water.  They then filter this water and it is so pure you could drink it- but they don't, they put it back in to the ocean.

Someone asked about the gas mileage of this ship.  Well, she actually goes 55 feet/gallon!!!  BUT, the officer reminded us that she is carrying 3,000 people and 900 crew so when you calculate how many people she's transporting, it comes to 40 mpg!

Captain John Smith in the middle with his Chief Engineering Officer

The Ukulele Players
The Hula Dancers
After our meeting with the captain, we went to the Vista Lounge to the hula dance and ukulele program.  There have been Hulu dance and ukulele classes throughout the trip.  Luke went to two hula dance lessons, but didn't stay with it long enough to join in the concert.  But there was quite a crowd up on stage and they were quite good.  A good part of the ukulele had never played the instrument before and it was really fun seeing them up there performing.

Tonight was another formal evening, so the sparkly jacket was donned and once again, Luke was the Beau  of the ball.  He had people asking if they could take his picture, and everywhere we went passengers and staff alike would ooh and ahh and make the thumbs up sign.  It was really fun.  Chet and Alice, who are Platinum Princess members, had an invitation to the Captain's Circle but they didn't want to go, so they offered it to us.  We went through a receiving line and even Captain John Smith was awed by Luke's jacket.  The elite passengers were recognized for their loyalty to Princess. There was a woman in a wheel chair that was celebrating her 102 birthday so we all sang Happy Birthday to her.  She was amazing.  The passengers with the most miles at sea were given a plaque and brought up in front.  They had clocked 786 miles.  It was interesting to hear that of the 3,000 passengers on board, over 1,000 of them were in the Captain's Circle.  We're not sure what constitutes an Elite or Platinum or Gold member, but that's a lot of people who have done a lot of cruising.  We have had a blast, but we're not sure we want to plan two or three cruises a year!!  We met a man yesterday who took this Hawaiian cruise because he wanted to check out this time-shares on Kauai and Maui that he and his wife will be staying at for 7 weeks...  and they're leaving for their time-shares in two weeks!  So you take a 15 day Hawaiian cruise to go and check out your time shares that you'll be staying in in two weeks?  Does that make sense?

We went Dancing in the Wheelhouse Bar where the Princess orchestra played Big Band Era songs, then went to dinner.

After dinner we went to the most amazing show called Born to Dance.  It was so much fun and such high quality, we could have been watching a Broadway presentation.  The singers and dancers were terrific, the music was wonderful as they traced the history of dance and the different choreographers over the years, and the costumes were fantastic.  I was in heaven.

Then we went down to the Piazza where we closed out the disco dance band.  What is so amazing to me is to see so many older people kicking up their heels.  If you were to pass them on the street you would think their lives were pretty dull and boring.  But to see them on the dance floor is a whole other experience.

Tomorrow we arrive at the Port of Ensenada.  It turns out we are only there for three hours- from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm.  We're not planning on getting off the ship because we don't want to buy anything, and Ensenada is kind of a nothing place.  Hopefully it will warm up and maybe we can go for a swim in the pool!

Adios for now.