Friday, May 16, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 – San Francisco, CA – Partly Cloudy – 70F (eventually 93F)

Total Round Trip: 5281 Nautical Miles (6073 Land Miles)

Last night was the smoothest and quietest night on the second half of this cruise.  However, I still didn’t get any sleep – I think the coffee at dinner was not decaf. 

The Hawaiian Islands were, of course, beautiful, but the most gorgeous day of the voyage took place on our return – it is absolutely beautiful in San Francisco…in fact, the town is under a heat advisory (expected temperature of 93F).

20140513_sf here we are (Small)

I Left My Ship in San Francisco

20140513_sunrise east bay (Small)

Bay Bridge and East Bay

20140513_dockmate (Small)

Our Old Friend, the Celebrity Century

Our meeting time in the Michelangelo Dining Room is 9:55 AM so we are not rushed at all during this debarkation.  I even brought breakfast back to the room for Ellen.  The Horizon Court was not overly crowded making for a peaceful and relaxing finish to the cruise.  Princess does a nice job on debarkation day.

I checked on our flights using my AA App and checked us both in – green and go per the App.

Debarkation went pretty quickly because we did not go through immigration (we turned in our immigration cards ahead of time and somehow all the passengers passed through a virtual immigration check).  After checking out the price of a cab ride ($50 plus tip), I called the Airport Express Shuttle ($36 plus tip).  It took a while and there were some glitches but the van did show up at Pier 35 and about 45 minutes later we were at the airport.

When we got to the American Airlines Priority Line for check-in, we noticed that it was taking a lot longer to check people in and some people just walked away.  After a while, the problem surfaced – there had been a fire in the control tower in Chicago and all flights to ORD were on hold.

We finally got to the counter and the fire issue was confirmed – the agent wanted to rebook us on a flight tomorrow at 9:20 AM.  We were about to do that when she asked us to wait while she checked on something.  She came back and printed out our boarding passes with our original flight only being delayed five minutes (now 2:00 PM).  She did suggest we gate check our bags in case the flight was cancelled.

That’s what we did – Ellen went through TSA pre-check and I went through priority check-in.  My line was very short and I did have to do the shoes and belt thing but it still didn’t take very long. The soft X-ray scanner didn’t pick up the extra metal in my convertible pants – that usually gets me a pat down – not today.

We had lunch (including a $2.99 diet coke and $2.60 potato chips – TGIF skins actually and really good) in the seating area near our gate.  When we got to our gate, I checked the AA App – it now had a departure of 3:00 PM but it also said “Cancelled” in red letters.  To be on the safe side, I called AAdvantage on my mobile and the agent confirmed the cancellation and said she had already re-booked us on a 6 AM flight tomorrow to ORD.  I told her that wouldn’t work and we eventually got on a flight leaving at 1:00 PM (stopping at DFW).  All direct flights were full and this was the earliest flight.  She told me that we had exit rows on both flights and I would get a confirmation e-mail within the hour.

Checking Expedia, I found a hotel in South San Francisco - “The CitiGarden Hotel” - quoting queen rooms for $79 (no misprint).  Ellen called them directly and booked the room.  This hotel also has a shared complimentary airport shuttle and an included breakfast.  We caught the shuttle in about 10 minutes and a short ride later we were checked in.

The hotel is actually pretty nice for the price – there are lots of rooms surrounding a massive courtyard and pool. 

CitiGarden Hotel

CitiGarden Hotel – Pool and Grounds

Some guests were barbecuing their dinner while we spent some time at the pool.

I got the e-mail from American and we were not in exit rows on flight 1 and had no seats on flight 2.  I called them but the hold time was 40 minutes so I opted for a call back.  I missed the call back (phone went to vibrate without telling me) but about 10 minutes later, American called back.  I got the seat situation straightened out so now we are set to depart at 1:00 PM tomorrow.

We had some of the food we didn’t finish at lunch for dinner and got out and walked into the downtown area (hot and uphill). 

We are now relaxing in our room.  So far so good.

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