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Luxury Cruising from San Francisco to Hawaii on Princess Cruise Lines

In a recent article entitled Three Reasons to Book Your Next Cruise out of San Francisco, we wrote about the fun of spending part of a vacation in the famous City by the Bay, and part of it cruising to exciting destinations like Hawaii, Alaska, and the South Pacific. This story is about the cruise we selected to follow our own tour of San Francisco.

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS

The Grand Princess sails round-trip from San Francisco to Hawaii

Selecting a cruise

We did an internet search and explored all the cruise line itineraries sailing out of San Francisco on our travel dates, and Princess Cruise Lines had exactly what we wanted – a roundtrip sailing from San Francisco to the Hawaiian Islands. We made the right choice, and here’s what you can expect if you decide to take the same plunge.

Sailing out of the Golden Gate

We settled into our stateroom, popped open a bottle of bubbly, and when the ship pulled away from the dock, we proceeded to our patio to watch the San Francisco skyline on slow parade.

The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge

We could see the Golden Gate Bridge coming up above the bow, and we bid a fond farewell to old Fort Point as we made our way out of San Francisco Bay and into the vast blue Pacific. All we could think at the time was, “What a spectacular way to start a cruise!”

Sweet suites
Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, Grand Suite

Welcome to the Grand Suite

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, Grand Suite

Grand Suite living

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, Grand Suite bath

Grand Suite bath

The Star Princess has several luxury suites positioned throughout the ship. The Grand Suite is 1,314 square feet of pure indulgence, with a walk in closet, large bathrooms, and an oversized balcony. These elegant digs are for the truly fortunate among us.

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, Sabatini’s Specialty Restaurant

Sabatini’s Specialty Restaurant – exclusive breakfasts for suite passengers

Besides luxury accommodations, the suites come with supplementary amenities such as an exclusive Suite Breakfast at Sabatini’s specialty restaurant – where you can start your day with a complimentary “Good Morning Mimosa,” and select other goodies from an extraordinary breakfast menu.

There are also afternoon and pre-dinner cocktails and private nosh parties where suite passengers get to mingle and mix with the ship’s officers that drop by.

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, Suite passengers disembarkation lounge

Suite passengers disembarkation lounge

Suite passengers are also provided with priority boarding and disembarkation via the Elite/Suite Disembarkation Lounge. While visiting ports that require taking a launch to shore, suite occupants are furnished Priority Tender Disembarkation Tickets – a nice time-saving touch.

Time for dinner

It was soon time for our initial dinner on board the Star Princess. The first night aboard a cruise ship is a casual affair, so after cleaning up a bit, we made our way down to the Portofino Dining Room on Deck 6.

That’s entertainment
Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, Always top notch entertainment

Always top notch entertainment

After a sumptuous dinner, it was time for our opening night of entertainment in the Princess Theatre on Decks 6 and 7. The first show included the entire cast in an extravaganza review. The large two-story theatre was packed, but comfortable, and everyone enjoyed the lavish musical production.

Days at sea

It took four days to reach our first port of call in Hilo. We travelled 2,003 nautical miles (2,303 highway miles) from San Francisco. The time passed quickly. Days at sea can be quiet or exciting – it’s your choice.

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, Ship's Boutiques

Ship’s Boutiques

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, Internet Cafe

Internet Cafe

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, String Quartet in Atrium Lobby

String Quartet in Atrium Lobby

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, Art Auction display

Art Auction paintings on display

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, Exercise Room with a view

Exercise Room with a view

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, Learning how to paint landscapes

Learning how to paint landscapes

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, May we serve you?

May we serve you?

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, The Casino is now open

The Casino is now open

Having your teeth whitened is just one option onboard, as is enjoying sundry Spa indulgences, snoozing by one of the Pools, and chatting it up while enjoying the entertainment at your choice of the many Bars and Lounges. There is also the opportunity to watch Movies outdoors or indoors, peruse the Library, read, and of course – eat.

The ship’s master
Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, Captain Perrin with Hotel General Manager Terri Lynn Cybuliak

Captain Perrin with Hotel General Manager Terri Lynn Cybuliak

On one of our days at sea we had an opportunity to interview the ship’s captain. At the time of our sailing, the master of the Star Princess was Edward Perrin who hails from Dorset, England. As is usually the case, Captain Perrin was most congenial and very willing to share stories about his ship and experiences at sea.

We always ask sea captains what they like best about their jobs. Captain Perrin revealed that he most enjoyed the ability to have a positive impact on people’s lives – both crew and passengers.

Where passenger services are concerned, an important member of the crew is the Hotel General Manager. On the Star Princess, that was Terri Lynn Cybuliak, and she greatly contributed to our fun discussion.

Attention on the bridge
Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, bridge

Always vigilant

After our meeting, Captain Perrin invited us to join him on the bridge. The ship’s bridge is always manned 24-hours a day by two officers working four-hour shifts in a three-watch system. It is interesting to witness the vast array of sophisticated systems that run these mega ships in a controlled and quiet atmosphere.

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, bridge

In my next life…

The control seats on this oceangoing Star Wars style bridge are very comfortable.

Dining in the specialty restaurants
Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, A typical steak dinner

A typical steak dinner

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, dinner

Doesn’t that look scrumptious?

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS, Specialty Restaurants

The best of everything is found in the Specialty Restaurants

Princess Cruise Line's GRAND PRINCESS,  dessert

Before we go – chocolate anyone?

All the food aboard the Star Princess, and most other cruise ships for that matter, is quite delicious. It is amazing that seagoing chefs can prepare thousands of assorted meals daily, and do it with such finesse.

People always ask, “If all the sit down meals are included in the price of the cruise, why would anyone pay extra to eat in a specialty dining room?” The answer is quite simple – intimacy – and a little something extra special for an important occasion.

Each specialty restaurant has its own kitchen, so there is just a touch more attention to detail in the food preparation and presentation. The waiters have fewer tables to attend and the overall experience is that of eating in a truly fine restaurant. The extra charge is never extravagant, and the experience is worthwhile.

Our recommendations

Throughout the years, we have enjoyed many cruises, and Princess Cruises is one of our favorite lines. It provides first time cruisers with an enjoyable introduction to cruise vacationing, and it offers seasoned cruisers a nice selection of accommodations and amenities. Whatever your wallet dictates, a Princess Cruise will provide good value for your vacation dollars.

If you want to contact Princess Cruises *click here*

All photos by Judy Bayliff

 

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