Wonderful, relaxing cruise. We saw it all and used mostly walking and public transportation. Plan well and you can see much. We have taken this cruise before and will take it again. There is much to see in every port and you need to visit (especially Santa Barbara and Long Beach) several times to appreciate the beauty of these places.
5 out of 5
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
The Grand Princess food in the Assigned Seating dining has changed. They put sauces on everything (protein, carbohydrate, vegetables). The sauces are too rich and do not always blend well together. Therefore, the food is overly rich. This started happening 2 years ago. Definitely a difference. It is not appropriate food for the age population the cruises serve (most people over 60). Good cooking does not require a sauce on everything. Some of the sauces were a failure of improper combination of sweet and vinegar. The beef sauces were the worst. When we ate in the Specialty Restaurant (Crown Grill) the sauce on the steak was excellent, but never in the assigned seating dining room. 3 times we had something listed as English Pea and it was not English Pea but a sauce or soup made from split peas (much different from English peas, which in Europe is a dish made with fresh peas (color green) and not with split peas (gray/green/yellowish sauce). They should not advertise English peas and serve split peas. Maybe they don't know the difference. Otherwise the food was good and the desserts were the best of all the food. The bread (rolls at dinnertime) are delicious. They just need to re-think their sauces on this ship. A good cook knows what blends well with other things and these sauces did not blend well. Maybe they need a professional saucier on this particular ship.
4 out of 5
5 out of 5
The 2 new shows, Stardust and Born to Dance, were very good. The comedian (Ty somebody) was not appropriate for this cruise and his comedy was boring old 1960's dirty mouth humor and not funny at all. The audience was not impressed. This comedian Ty belongs on a younger crowd Carnival cruise that goes to the Caribbean. The musician and comedian, Steve Moris, was great and super funny. Steve Moris is a skilled musician and entertainer and is very clever and unique at comedy. He is the greatest. Also, the Rhapsody Trio (from Hungary) played beautiful classical music. They are very skilled musicians. The group Seascape was not very good. The guys in the group were good musicians and the male singer was good, but the girl singer was horrible and had no talent. Without the girl singer (or with a skilled girl singer) the group would be good and easy to dance to. The female singer kind of ruined it all for us. She is not a professional.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
There used to be more service waiters from East European and South American countries and it was interesting to talk with them briefly. There are now very few employees for the variety of countries that used to be there. We would like to see a better balance of employees from many different parts of the world.
5 out of 5
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
The cabin is always comfortable, we like the location we always choose (which most other travelers don't seem to care for) and the room service we received was very efficient and caring (Dominador, from the Philippines, was very attentive).
Spend enough time outside and breathe in the ocean breeze. If you sail out of San Francisco, you may be fortunate enough to view the invasion of 10s of thousands (a solid mass, almost) of orange jellyfish off the Farallon Islands. It is an unusual sight, but the ship's crew members say that they are often seen in this area and also in Australian waters. We saw them shortly before dark on the first day out.
Take the street car up to the mission, walk 5 blocks up to the mission, then take street car back to courthouse and go up in the tower. If you have time, visit the Presidio. It is a must. Carry plenty of change for the street car (red line is 85 cents and blue line is 25 cents each way). It's easier to just give them a dollar bill and let them keep the change for the red line. We paid a total of $2.50 for our transportation and $4.00 for Presidio tour for seniors – the best tourist bargain in Santa Barbara port.
You might be better off renting a car for the day in San Pedro. There is much to see, but it is in different areas. We had friends pick us up and we went to several interesting new places (Point Fermin Lighthouse, Korean Bell Memorial, other museums are in the area, as well as the view of the harbor from above). After driving through the thoroughly modernized city of Long Beach, drive down the coast from Long Beach is a lovely town to hang out in. The aquarium in Long Beach is one of the best and the harbor cruise is relaxing with lovely local sights. If you want to see the Queen Mary, you don’t need to pay for a tour. Just tell them you are going to have lunch on the ship and you should not have to pay for the tour. The lunch is delicious (about $13.00 or more for a hamburger, but well worth it). The Scorpion (Russian) submarine) is interesting to see also. To the south of Long Beach, Belmont Shores has some nice eating places and walking down the streets of Belmont Shores you find many quaint shops. Also, you can visit other attractions on the coastal area from about 10-15 miles south of Long Beach. Well worth renting a car for the day unless you have friends to drive you around.
Behind the Santa Fe Amtrak station, for $7.00 you can pick up the blue line south and ride the light rail all day to all destinations. There's nothing remarkable at the border, except to turn around and come back. We used to eat the best tacos at the border, but they tore down all the old businesses and are "upgrading" the U.S. side with Jack and the Box and McDonald's (particularly awful ones). It's interesting to ride this route though to see the differences of different parts of vast San Diego. Returning to downtown, there is a bathroom if you get off at the transit offices at 12th and Imperial. Then you can take the Green Line out to Santee (a lovely area all the way out) and return on the orange line, transferring to the blue line to come back to the Santa Fe station (short walk to ship from here.)
The best tour deal is the 3-4 hours tour to the 2 wineries (Casa Lupe and L.A. Cietto). You are taken to the eastern countryside. It looks boring, but keep your eyes open and listen to tour guide. The Bufadora tour is also recommended, but do not wast time looking at the trinkets on the way to the blowhole. Spend enough time viewing the wonder of nature and you should have enough time left over to have a couple of shrimp tacos at Lupita's (near the bathrooms and where your tour bus will pick you up. Lupita herself is usually there and she loves talking to tourists and the tacos are so good.
5 out of 5
This was the best and easiest disembarkation we have ever done in San Francisco, not like Seattle, where it is miserable getting on and off the ship.
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