One thing that I was hoping that Anthony and his minions would have accomplished was an improvement in the breakfast buffet at the hotel. The buffet consisted of cold cereal, frozen waffles and pancakes (Eggo and Krusteaz brand, at least), a jar of Nutella, and a jar of Peanut Butter. There was no decaf coffee. No fruit and no sweets. A step below Spartan. Where is the automated fresh pancake maker I saw on the show – FX I guess.
Before we left, I had to document the supposed improvements at the Citigarden Hotel – the new Garden and remodeled Room 137.
The New Garden in the Morning Fog
New Room 137
Getting to the ship did require some planning.
Step 1 – take the free hotel shuttle to SFO (we took the 10:14 AM shuttle, which left right on time).
Step 2 – Go to baggage claim in Terminal 3 and call Airport Express for a pickup.
Step 3 – meet the Shuttle at Courtyard 1 just passed Terminal 3.
Step 4 – Take the shuttle to Pier 27 to catch the ship.
It all worked according to plan ($18 pp). We saw the Star Princess as we turned onto the street fronting the Cruise Terminal. Pier 27 looks like a new terminal – we last boarded a ship here at Pier 35. What we didn’t expect was the horrible traffic. It literally took a half an hour to go the one block needed to turn into the loading curb for the terminal. Something was going on – there were people with suitcases grabbing cabs to leave the terminal.
As we got out of the shuttle, a Princess representative told us that checking and boarding would be delayed for about two hours since the Star Princess arrived two hours late due to heavy fog. Most of the people hanging around the garden area of the terminal had just gotten off and were waiting for their transportation – hence the nasty traffic.
Fortunately, we were able to drop our bags once we found our cabin number. We were assigned Cabin 6115 and since there was no letter in front of the number, I knew what that meant. I was a little disappointed and overreacted a bit at the new information (probably intensified by the lack of sleep the night before).
We still had over two hours to kill. To make things just a bit more complicated, I was still pulling my computer bag and we would have to find lunch at the pier area.
We walked the half mile or so to Pier 39 – the entertainment and dining venue along the waterfront. After checking out a number of restaurants, we settled on a smaller eatery – I had fish and chips and Ellen had a tuna sandwich - the food was so-so but the bill was still over $20. Also, I was still hungry so we walked across the path to Boudins. I couldn’t find a roll small enough so the clerk gave me a roll to “taste” – just the right size and very good.
Carousel at Pier 39
Close to 2:00 PM, we returned to Pier 37 and were greeted by a line of passengers that snaked around the park area. We inquired where we needed to go since we had only our boarding letter. Let’s just say that Ellen worked her Jedi Mind Trick on several people and we were escorted to the check in line and then onto the ship.
As we got on, we ran into Assistant Cruise Director, Christopher, who showed us to our cabin – Deck 6 Forward behind the door. Our keys didn’t work because these cabins have a separate room key which we pitched at check-in thinking it was not needed.
We all went down to the Cruise Director’s Office to figure out our keys. While waiting for replacement keys, we found out that the Cruise Director is Dave Cole; The Deputy CD is John Loney and the two Assistant CDs are Alex and Christopher. Everyone is friendly and helpful.
We went back to the room and found that the last occupant had left some stuff and the room had not been cleaned. Rather that go through all of the details, eventually everything related to the room was fixed by either Guest Services or Entertainment Management.
We spent some time on Deck 15 Aft – this ship is configured differently than its near twin, the Golden Princess, in that there are fewer places to sit on the back deck.
View from Deck 15 Aft
The lifeboat drill was also delayed for about an hour. We had a chance to meet the other speaker – Sharron Faff, who is the Naturalist on board. CD Dave also does lectures on Hawaiian Culture. We also ran into our old shipmates – Kimo and Lokelani (the Hawaiian Duo).
We had dinner in the Horizon Court. Available were mushroom soup, salads, and veggie spring rolls – I also tried some of the pizza. The food was OK.
The Welcome Aboard Show featured the Dancers, one of the singers, and Comedian Impressionist – Mark Wilson.
The Star Princess departed five hours late at 10:30 PM giving us a chance to get a night time shot of Coit Tower. We didn’t go out on deck to see the ship pass under the Golden Gate Bridge – it was simply too late.