When I booked the Pacific Coastal cruise, I was especially excited to be sailing in and out of San Francisco. I’ve visited San Fran by land several times, and sailing in and out of ports has always been one of my favorite parts of cruising. I thought this would be a perfect combination of the two, and I was not disappointed!
Our arrival time in San Francisco was listed at 8 am, and so I woke up pretty early (around 6) to make sure I was awake. Wouldn’t you know it – I was met by the famous San Francisco fog, so thick I could hardly see past the edge of my balcony. I puttered around the room for a while waiting for the hubby to get up, but finally decided I didn’t want to wait any longer. I headed up to the Viking Crown Lounge on the top deck for the best view.
By this time, it was about 7 am. It was pretty light, but still very foggy. I sat down by a window and took a few pictures of the fog and all the people waiting on the front of the ship. Suddenly, and very quickly, the Golden Gate Bridge began to emerge from the fog. I took a few photos and a video as we passed under the bridge. A crew member who had been washing the windows next to me sat down and we watched as the ship sailed under the bridge. It was a pretty impressive sight, even in the fog!
Throughout the rest of our sail in to the port, the fog came and went. My husband joined me on deck and we took some great pictures of Alcatraz and, eventually, the city itself. We finally pulled into port around 8 am and I found that I had a great view from our balcony, even though the fog continued to obscure parts of the city.
Our sail away the next afternoon, in contrast, couldn’t have been more clear. It was also incredibly windy! The hubby and I were lucky to station ourselves just behind a wind screen and got some great pictures as we sailed past Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge. I had gotten some advice from a friend to always hold my phone-camera sideways when shooting video and managed to get a pretty sweet video of us passing under the Golden Gate.
You can view my pictures of the sail in and out of San Francisco on my Facebook page. I’m really looking forward to having San Francisco on my itinerary again!
For all the many cruises I’ve been on over the years, this cruise featured my first overnight port. Based on our experience, I can definitely say that it won’t be my last!
It didn’t hurt that our overnight was in San Francisco, one of my favorite cites in the country. It’s also the home to one of my friends since high school and close to where my brother lives. Our overnight port allowed us to make time separately to see both of them without having to carefully (over)coordinate our plans.
On the night before we arrived into San Francisco, we were seated at a table with a couple of frequent cruisers, one of whom mentioned how great overnight ports could be. The best part, he said, was how free you felt because you didn’t have to worry about losing track of time and missing the ship. This seemed a little overly dramatic to me.
But as it turns out, he was right! Upon arriving in San Francisco, we got off the ship around noon and wandered around the city for several hours before meeting my high school friend at his house for dinner. We enjoyed a leisurely dinner and called a car from Lyft around 10:30 pm to take us back to the cruise ship. (If driving in San Francisco, it’s best to do it at times when the city’s notoriously bad traffic is at a minimum, and late on a Monday night is definitely one of those times!)
I loved our overnight port in San Francisco, and I would definitely choose an itinerary with an overnight stop again. It allowed us to take both daytime and nighttime pictures of the fabulous view from our balcony (pictured above and below), but most of all it gave us the peace of mind to enjoy our visit without the worry of missing the ship that so often lies beneath the surface on every port day.
As a cruise nerd who likes to try new things, I’ve been wanting to try a Pacific Coastal cruise for years. It doesn’t hurt that I lived for four years in Eugene, OR attending grad school at the University of Oregon for my Ph.D. I love the Pacific Northwest, and these cruises primarily run during the month of September – after the Alaska cruise season ends and one of the most beautiful times of year in the PNW.
There was only one problem: In my (actual nerd) day job as a college professor, I was always teaching during the times that these cruises were offered. So when I decided to take a year off teaching to start this blog, the Pacific Coast cruise was on the top of my list.
For some reason, these cruises are often not quite as popular as those in areas such as Alaska and the Caribbean. As a result, you can often find fairly cheap cruise fares on these itineraries. If you’re living near to Seattle or can fly there relatively cheaply, this one might be a good cruise to book last-minute and get a deal. (If you’re doing this, I recommend that you keep an eye on the second week of these itineraries. In the week before our cruise, the ship had done its last Alaska route, and many of the people I had talked to did a back-to-back in order to get both itineraries. On another note, the next time I’m not teaching in September, I’m totally planning to do this back-to-back!)
Overall, I can’t recommend the Pacific Coastal cruise we took highly enough. Our itinerary featured 2 sea days, on days 3 and 6, which were perfectly spaced out. We had an overnight in San Francisco that was just fantastic, including one of the more memorable sail aways where we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge. There were a couple of downsides to our itinerary – our ship seemed way too large for the small port of Astoria, and we hit some rough seas due to weather on our way back up the coast – but they were vastly overwhelmed by the advantages of this unusual itinerary.