On the Cruise….



            Geoff and I met up at  the Oakland, California, airport on Wednesday, October 3, to begin our adventure. From there we drove to San Francisco and checked into the Cow Hollow Inn on Lombard Street in the northern area of the city. The Inn is no special place other than its name, but who can resist being able to brag about spending the night in Cow Hollow?

            Thursday was kind of a wander around and figure out where things/places were. We made a trip back into Oakland to do some shopping then back to San Francisco. Lunch, obviously, had to be on Fisherman’s Wharf. We were after all tourists. From there we explored the Marina Green. All together the pedometer on my watch registered a bit over two miles. Some of the aircraft scheduled for Friday’s airshow were buzzing about.

            While we knew something related to the America Cup sailing races was scheduled, neither of us realized how big the event was. Dozens of tent pavilions populated a large part of the green associated with the San Francisco Yacht Club. Lots of stuff there to do and see.

            WOW! What a day the next one was. We started off with breakfast in Mel’s Drive In, a diner straight out of the 60s, then headed for Pier 80 on San Francisco’s famous Embarcadero.


[A note before I go farther into the narrative — for technical reasons, I am composing this on my laptop to upload onto the blog when we reach Hilo, Hawai’i and won’t be able to imbed photos within the text as I’ve done before. I’m going to add them at the end, hopefully with captions.]


            At Pier 80 we toured first a Coast Guard Cutter, USS Sherman, then the USS Spruance a US Navy destroyer. The Sherman sports 20 “victory” stickers on the side of the bridge for the amount of cocaine the ship has interdicted. According to our ship guide the ship has also participated in a number of rescues as far north as the Bering Sea off Alaska.

            Spruance, well this particular Spruance, is fresh out of its sea trials and scheduled for its first deployment in a few months. One fascinating part of the tour took us into the Combat Information Center, CIC. That surprised me. I expected it to be strictly off-limits, in fact, operational even in port.

            From there we headed back to the Marina Green to watch practice for the next day’s airshow. Highlights were: Sean B. Tucker and his amazing aerobatics and the precision flying of the Blue Angels. The flying demonstration of the F-22 Raptor is certainly worth mentioning.

            Shortly after the airplanes were done, the America Cup racers came whizzing by. Whizzing? Sailboats? Yep, these 45-foot catamarans were, at least to me, surprisingly quick on the water. Best of all, with their shallow draft they race close enough to see facial details of the crew.

            Altogether eleven boats were on the water. First, they did match races on a one-on-one basis. When that was finished all eleven gathered for what they callled “fleet” racing.

            I haven’t had a chance to check it out but someone said I should search on You-Tube for America Cup racing, particularly for some of the capsizing videos.


            Saturday was boarding day for the Star Princess. Since we weren’t scheduled to go aboard until 12:30 or later, we headed back down the Embarcadero to tour an aircraft carrier. That turned out to be a bust. The line of people stretched for more than a half-mile… and it was NOT single file. I opted to not punish my knee and hip. Good plan because later on we noted one particular group that we could identify by their dress, had moved maybe 200 feet in an hour.

            I wasn’t a complete bust. It so happened that the Cup racers docking and maintenance hangars were right nearby so we spent an hour or so gawking at the boats and chatting up one of the volunteer workers who gave us great insights. Got some good pix of hauling one of the US boats out of the water an stepping the mast.

            When it was time to head back to board the cruise ship, we decided to drive up the Embarcadero in spite of warnings and advice about the horrendous traffic we’d encounter. To say the traffic was bad is an understatement. I drove the 3.75 miles in right about 1.5 hours. According to the Fusion’s performance computer, I used enough fuel to take me more than 150 miles at the car’s average mileage. A couple of times Geoff got out of the car and walked over to take some pictures or buy some snacks. Each time, he had to wait a few minutes for me to catch up with him.

            But eventually we made it. I left the car in the parking garage at ten minutes after one PM. Checking in to the ship was a breeze and we were in our cabin in probably, well even less than a half-hour. On the way out after we left the pier, I got a few pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge.

            Life aboard the ship is pretty much the same each day. Geoff isn’t a breakfast fan so I usually order something from room service like coffee, cereal with banana and milk or maybe indulge in a Princess Cruise knock-off of the Egg McMuffin. So far out of the four mornings I spent two in the fitness center for an hour. During the day, Geoff and I usually team up with three or four other travelers for a round of trivia(L PURSUIT).

            Geoff gets more involved in shipboard activities that I. I do some reading, take an afternoon nap, walk around…, pretty much just relaxercising.

            The food is as always reported, excellent. Before I left home, I made a pact with myself not to lose [too much] ground on my weight reduction goals. When the ship is pitching and rolling even a little bit, it is close to impossible to get an accurate reading on the scales, so I don’t know for sure. One thing in my favor: before I left home I put in a ‘dietary request’ to the ship for low-fat meals. I LOVE IT! The proteins all come grilled sans butter. Instead of creamy sauces, I get steamed veggies. For example this evening I had broccoli, carrots, summer and zuchinni squashes, and a couple of potato wedges with my salmon. I keep trying to tell the waiters I want small portions, but I’m getting the point across so I usually leave almost a full meal on my plate when I’m done.

            In the morning we dock for our first island adventure. When time and the internet is available, I’ll post some details. Meanwhile here are [I hope] some photos.