Pier 27, San Francisco, CA (10/27/2017) – “I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky. And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.”- John Masefield
Our latest Livin’ the Dream participant, Mr. Barry H., told us his dream was to go on a cruise. Of course, anyone would think it would be too costly to go on a full cruise, and they would be right. However, we found out through the grape vine about a program sponsored by Princess Cruise lines called The Bon Voyage Experience:
The Bon Voyage Experience is an innovative new program harkening back to the nostalgic tradition from the early days of cruising, allowing guests the opportunity to invite family and friends aboard the ship on embarkation day. The program also allows cruisers new to Princess to see the inside of a Princess ship and experience the excitement of cruising first-hand.
Guests spend up to four hours onboard before the ship sets sail, where they’ll enjoy a four- course dining room lunch (including wine), a guided ship tour, and a souvenir photo!
That sounded like it would fit the bill perfectly. Our first attempt to join the Bon Voyage Experience fell flat when we learned that participants need to have valid State-issued identification cards or passports to be able to pass through Customs and board the ship. It was only a brief setback, however, as several families scrambled to get new California Senior Citizen ID cards before the next month’s cruise dates.
We decided to stay on the safe side of things and limit our crew to a small number, as we didn’t know what to expect and we wanted our experience to be a good one. Joining us on the cruise experience was the Generations Program Director, Brittany Karlinski, and the Director of Sales and Marketing, Valdete Lane.
On the day of the cruise, we arrived at Pier 27 at 10:30, and began the long process of boarding. First, we entered the lower lobby of the James R. Herman cruise terminal and checked in at the first security checkpoint. After our IDs were checked, we were cleared to proceed to the second floor, where we negotiated a TSA-style metal detector checkpoint. We were then sent to another part of the terminal, where we completed health questionnaires, and entered yet another line to get our boarding passes. Security was nothing if not thorough, and we had our IDs scrutinized yet again before we were issued credit card-style boarding passes. After a few minutes waiting in the terminal, the Bon Voyage Experience participants were allowed to board first.
As we made our way toward the walkway to the ship, we paused at one of several green screens set up to take souvenir photographs. There we smiled for the camera and continued our trek up the walkway to the short gangway of the Coral Princess.
Our first step aboard the vessel was another security checkpoint where our IDs and boarding passes were rechecked; we had our photos taken for security, and were only then allowed to enter the ship’s interior spaces.
Upon entering, we found we were on the 7th deck. By then it was close to noon, and we needed to make our way to the 5th deck to the Bordeaux Dining Room. The doors were just opening as we arrived, and we were immediately shown to our seats, near a window (porthole) overlooking the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island.
We were introduced to our wait staff and presented with our menus. Our four-course lunch included four choices for appetizers, Burgers or Spaghetti, three main course choices (fish, chicken or beef), and four dessert items to choose from. Our lunch also included a glass of wine (which we declined) or other beverage. The presentation was beautiful, and everything was delicious.
Once lunch concluded and we headed out for a little exploration. We stopped in the Atrium to listen to live music and sing along to a few songs. Then we headed aft to the photo gallery to pick up our complimentary photos from the morning. By this time, lunch and a lot of walking were starting to catch up to us, so with pictures in hand, we decided to make our way back up to the 7th deck and disembark.
The trek to get off the ship was more difficult than boarding, as we were now swimming against the tide of passengers boarding the ship before sailing at the now rapidly approaching four o’clock. Once we hit the second floor of the cruise terminal, it was smooth sailing back to our bus and from there back to Kentfield.
The success of our trip was evidenced by the happy faces of our residents, and the big “Thank You” from Barry as he returned from his “Livin’ the Dream” experience.
Livin’ The Dream is a signature Vibrant Life® program, one of many that help our Alzheimer’s and Dementia-care residents stay connected to their dreams as well as to the community.
For more information on the programs available at WindChime of Marin, or to make an appointment for a tour, please call (415)233-6809.