July 26, 2013 ~ The day finally arrived!
Our long-awaited weekend in San Francisco was about to begin, followed by a 10-night round-trip cruise aboard the Grand Princess to Alaska's inside passage, with stops at Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria, Canada. The icing on the cake would be beautiful Glacier Bay! Once again, David and I would be joined by my brother, Norm and wife, Dana.
We found them to be great cruise buddies last summer sailing around the British Isles - their very first cruise - and we invited them along again on this Alaska cruise. Packing for Alaska was a challenge, as we needed to be prepared for cold, hot, rain, sun and everything in between. The luggage weighed in a few pounds shy of the limit, so we were good to go.
David is a fan of warm tropical destinations, and every time I raised the subject of Alaska, he resisted, saying that Alaska cruises were for old, retired people. While I don't consider ourselves to be knocking on the door of the retirement home just yet, we are creeping close to that age and, frankly, I would like to enjoy the Alaska outdoors before I'm in a wheelchair! David was still reluctant, and it was my job to make him a believer. Three days in San Francisco and a repeat cruise aboard our first-ever cruise ship were the bones I threw to him, and he finally bit.
Our adventure started off with just one slight glitch. It was 5:00 a.m.; we were packed, ready and.... waiting. Waiting for the pricey but ever-so-convenient transport we hired to take us to Logan. A call to the company revealed a mix-up in the times. It seems that when I changed our 5:30 a.m. pickup time to 5:00 a.m., they forgot to inform the driver. It was all good, though. The driver arrived within 20 minutes, we were finally on our way, and arrived exactly two hours ahead of the flight. As it turns out, Virgin America at Logan had the shortest check-in I've ever seen. We literally walked in the terminal, stepped up to the desk to check in, took a short few steps to the security check point, and made our way around the corner to the gate waiting area. No lines, no waiting!
Our 6.5-hour non-stop flight went smoothly, and our driver, Mike, of Pleasant Limo, met us on arrival. For a very reasonable rate, he greeted us in baggage claim holding a sign with our name. He was friendly and polite, and drove us safely to our hotel. Best of all, he was on time!
We chose the Tuscan Inn and Fisherman's Wharf area of San Francisco for a 3-night pre-cruise stay.
Summer prices for hotels in this area are steep, but with my magic fingers, an iPad and a Hotwire App, I was able to find a lower rate - still pricey, but lower than anything else in that neighborhood. Upon arrival, the friendly desk staff warmly welcomed us. The lobby is nicely decorated, and the complimentary wine reception held at 5:00 p.m. for all guests was a nice touch.
The room was a wee bit smaller than what I expected, but it was clean and cozy, with a very comfy queen bed. I liked the fact that the windows were dressed in white shutters rather than drapes, which added a feeling of space. The room was located inside, facing a quiet courtyard of plants and greenery, - something to consider if you don't like street noise. Complimentary morning coffee was available every morning in the lobby, and breakfast, lunch and dinner were served at the adjacent Pescatore restaurant.
We had drinks at Pescatore on the day of our arrival, and the crab cake I ordered was very good. However, breakfast the next morning was another story. While my raisin cinnamon French toast was good, my husband's eggs were overlooked, my sister-in-law's were runny, and the cream was bad, turning our cups of coffee into something that looked pretty ugly. A second attempt at coffee with fresh cream failed, so we gave up on the cup 'o Joe. That was our first and last meal at Pescatore.
We spent the rest of the day checking out Fisherman's Wharf, and had dinner outside at Alioto's. We had a covered patio table with an overhead heater, which came in handy on this cold, cloudy and blustery day in San Francisco. We found the seafood to be okay, but not nearly as good as what's found here in New England. It certainly was, however, a great place to rest and people watch.
One of the coolest things we saw was the vintage antique arcade. What a blast to the past! We thoroughly enjoyed the ride down memory lane to all the old animated coin-operated figures and games. "Laughing Sal", which I had only seen in movies, was especially a hoot!
By the time we finished, it was only 7:00 pm and the Wharf was hopping. Since our body clocks were still on East Coast time, we were all exhausted and went back to the hotel to rest up for another day.
This is just a taste of what we experienced on our recent Alaska cruise. For the full report, READ MY FULL REVIEW.
Check out my "Best of Alaska" Photos