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Trip Report Cruise to Mexican Riviera, RT from SF on Grand Princess.

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Let me tell you right away, we didn’t see much of the Mexican Riviera as we both don’t tolerate well the temperature of 32C/89F.

Embarkation from pier 35: as always, there was a note posted on the pier’s door that they will start at 1 pm. Of course, nobody paid attention to it, and tried to get in early. No, they won’t let anyone in. Oh, disabled are allowed in. On another thought, everyone is allowed in. Complete chaos, and inside it was no better.

I think we were in by 1 pm, and surprise: all cabins were ready. Very soon after that we got our luggage. Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge was really nice, especially when we passed the bridge. At the muster drill we had to put on the life vests, it was not just a lecture like it was on other ships.

We had 3 days at sea going to Mexico, and 2 days coming back. As always, the days were somewhat boring till late afternoon when better activities kicked in, and sometimes it was difficult to choose which music to listen to, which show to attend. I just wish the activities would be better spaced out during the day.

Our stops were Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. We didn’t go on tours, walked around a little in the unbearable heat, and back to the ship. Some passengers didn’t even bother going off shore. We wanted souvenirs :)

While making the cruise reservation, I marked off “celebrating special event” as our 40th wedding anniversary was on the last day of the cruise. At the end of a dinner they brought a small cake with a burning candle and a greeting card “from the captain”. Of course there was a loud song. The next day we received a coupon for a “gift” at dinner – ha, the coupon was a day late! But we also woke up to the decoration on the door – happy anniversary poster and balloons. Sweet!

The ocean was quiet, not much movement. Our bed was positioned across the cabin, along the ship, so at night we were slightly rocked to sleep like babies. My husband enjoyed the chocolates on the pillow at night. The bed was rock hard. Before the cruise I had a serious case of sciatica, and the doc told me to sleep on a firm mattress. This was our opportunity to try it out. After 3 nights we gave up and asked for egg crate (foam topper). Much, much better!

Our cabin had obstructed view window – by the time I got vacation time approved this was the only choice. Lifeboats outside blocked only the lower half of the windows which was really nice, giving us some view, even allowing sunset photos. Once I was getting ready to go somewhere, getting dressed facing the window when I saw an employee climbing along the boats. Got up and shut the blinds. Another time we came to the cabin after breakfast, and they were painting outside. Even my husband, who does not have sensitivity to the smell of paint, felt the smell. Are we supposed to smell the paint outside a waterproof window? 2-3 hours later we came back, the smell was gone.

The food choices were mostly good. We didn’t go to any pay restaurants, but out of included tried probably each one except Belgian waffles stand. Posters on Cruise Critic raved about pizza, we tried Alfredo’s pizzeria: burnt bottom and raw-tasting veggies listed as grilled did not amuse us. Across from the buffet was another pizzeria, that pizza was really good! But that’s all they served: pizza and water, so getting pizza and walking across to the buffet to get a salad worked out much better.

We liked the afternoon tea, but went there only twice as it was at the same time as music and cookies and milk in the piazza.

By the door of the main dining room there is a bowl with mints. The name on the wrapper is “bye polar” – is this politically correct? Or is it after cruises to Alaska, meaning bye polar bears?

We had fixed dinner time at a table for 6. One woman would order 2 appetizers and eat half of each, main dish that she would barely touch, and eat half of her dessert. Don’t adults know how much they will eat, and order accordingly? I just don’t understand the purpose of wasting food.

Entertainment was as expected; show up early to get seats at the evening shows. Music choices in the bars from bad to good, movies “under the starts” starting from 10 am in the sun. On the last evening “Woman in Gold” on the cabin TV – a really good movie about the Holocaust, need Kleenex type of movie, what a way to finish vacation!

The layout of the Grand Princess is nice, easy to find anything you need. Most of restaurants, bars, shops are in the middle of the ship. Too bad one elevator was out of service, and during the peak times it was real pain to get in. Some passengers, when they needed to go up, took the elevators down, after that up – that’s a shame!

Disembarkation was more or less orderly with the exception of total confusion in finding luggage. Posters on Cruise Critic were saying, we will love the new pier 27 – I didn’t see any difference from the old pier 35, the only exception was the visible police presence. Maybe the difference is in the embarkation.

We learned to like the lazy days at sea – maybe next time we take the 2-week cruise to Hawaii that takes 5 days to get there.

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