Princess Cruise Live Blog (Day 2): A Busy Day in One of America’s Prettiest Cities

Note: I am currently sailing on my first Princess cruise ever aboard Discovery Princess on a 4-day trip from Los Angeles to Mexico. During these daily updates I’ll provide details on the experience and share what it’s like.

You can read other days here:

View of San Diego from Balboa Park
Today saw the ship dock in San Diego, where we got to experience what I think is one of the prettiest cities in the country.

When I booked this cruise, it was not only to experience Princess for the first time, but the itinerary had San Diego as a port of call. I’ve never visited San Diego before, but everyone I know that has been seems to rave about it. Now I understand why.

This cruise featured a long day in port, arriving at 8:00 a.m. and not having all aboard until 9:30 at night. In other words, this wouldn’t be a stop where you have to cram everything into a few hours. You have just about a complete day to explore, and we took advantage.

In fact, the ship actually arrived in San Diego even earlier — around 5:00 a.m. — as there was a lifeboat drill scheduled before passengers were allowed off the ship. And because my body is still operating in a different time zone, it means I woke up right around the time we got to port and when it was still dark out.

I opened up the curtains only to be greeted by the neon red, white, and blue lights of the USS Midway just a couple of docks over. The retired aircraft carrier is a floating museum right near where the cruise ship docks making it a popular spot for cruise passengers to visit. It might be one of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen out of my balcony!

Docked right next to the cruise terminals is the USS Midway, which is now a floating museum. You can now go tour the ship, complete with aircraft on the top deck.

As for us, once passengers were allowed to debark, we started to explore on our own. First, we walked the waterfront. San Diego has an embarcadero area where the cruise ships dock and the Midway is ported. There are vendors, some great views of the water and nearby Coronado Island, as well as downtown San Diego.

Turning downtown, we headed to a small local coffee shop where we got something to drink while sitting outside and taking in the famous San Diego sunshine. With so much time in port, it was nice to be able to sit and relax without feeling rushed.

And while it was a hazy sunshine nearly all day and started off cool, it turned warm and bright. When people say San Diego has perfect weather, I think this is what they are talking about. 

Coffee over, we caught an Uber over to one of the most famous spots in the city, Balboa Park. This massive park in the center of town is simply a world-class gem. Not only is it a large area with lots of trails, trees, and greenery, but it’s also the museum center. Here you’ll find the San Diego Zoo, the Museum of Natural History, and the one we decided to visit — the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

There’s a $25 entry fee to the museum, which frankly, I thought was a bit steep. Still, there are a number of interesting exhibits if you’re someone like me that is fascinated with flight.

After walking the waterfront and a cup of coffee, we headed over to Balboa Park and the San Diego Air & Space Museum. It features the command module from Apollo 9, along with lots of other interesting artifacts.

Exhibits range from the beginning of flight until today. There’s an F-18 from the Blue Angels on display, a number of other military jets and civil aviation items. I found the most fascinating to be the area dedicated to space, which had a number of artifacts, including the actual Apollo 9 command module, a moon rock brought back from Apollo 17, and a number of other neat things from the space race era.

In total, the entire tour took about roughly an hour. From there we hopped a tram over to El Prado — a main promenade through the center of the park lined by museums and beautiful architecture. This area is just completely stunning and on par with any sort of public park you’d see anywhere in the world. To me, it’s a must-see if you’re in San Diego.

Balboa Park might be the most gorgeous park I’ve ever experienced. Walking “El Prado” is a must, which is lined with museums and gorgeous architecture.

From there, we walked through the rest of the park toward a spot called Oscar’s, which specializes in fish tacos. I’ve always considered the dish to be a staple for San Diego, and was suggested this place by someone who used to live in the city. And while they said I had to try the grilled octopus taco… I just couldn’t do it.

Instead, I opted for a fish taco and a couple of different types of shrimp tacos, which hit the spot. Filling, but not too heavy to where you have to roll yourself home to take a nap.

For lunch we grabbed Oscar’s, and while I couldn’t bring myself to try their famous octopus taco, the fish and shrimp tacos hit the spot.

Following the late lunch, we caught a ride over to Resident Brewing Company located in downtown. It’s a combined location with another bar, unpretentious, and open and airy thanks to the city’s great weather. In all, it’s a great spot to sit and hang out, enjoy the weather, have a tasty beverage, and all within about a 10-minute walk of the ship.

The highlight, however, came in the bathroom (yes, really). As we are leaving, I walk into the men’s room and lining the top of the wall is wallpaper that’s nothing but wrestlers from what I consider the “golden age” of the sport. Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, Andre the Giant… they are all there. (Not sure what’s in the ladies room!).

Ohhhh yeahhh! As a kid during the Macho Man and Hulk Hogan years, seeing this wallpaper just made my day.

We made it back to the ship in the late afternoon, and frankly, needed some downtime after being out and about all day. In total, I figure we walked about five miles all around the city.

But downtime turned out to be a little more than expected when an afternoon nap stretched well into dinner time. With a number of things we wanted to see during the evening, we changed plans from eating in the dining room and just grabbed a quick bite from the buffet before heading to see the first show of the night — a magician performing on the ship.

Arriving right at showtime, the large lounge he was performing in was absolutely packed and literally standing room only. After a long day of being on our feet out in port, we only lasted about 15 minutes of the show before heading out to listen to some live music (a great mariachi band… no seriously, I couldn’t believe how good they were), a fun gameshow that pitted one side of the room against another, and then some trivia while having a few drinks.

One thing I haven’t mentioned is that this is an ’80s themed cruise. And while it’s not a full ship charter that revolves around everything ’80s, there are some events put on with that focus. But more than that there are a decent number of people dressed up in neon, wild wigs, spandex, and leg warmers.

Last night, the dressing up added a fun layer of energy everywhere around the ship and led to some fantastic people watching.

Interesting Observations

  • For this cruise I bought the Princess Plus offer that includes the drink package, gratuities, and wi-fi. It’s nice just walking up and getting a drink and not worrying about the price. But looking at menus, I’m actually noticing that the drinks are (relatively) inexpensive. My favorite drink — a mojito — is priced at $7.50. That’s normally around $12 on many cruise lines.
  • Pickleball has officially taken over cruising. It went from being nowhere to now every trip has the sport court in the morning dedicated to the game. I have yet to play but might have to change that soon.
  • Internet on the ship seems to be a major issue. Yesterday we were in port so I was able to just use cell service for what I needed. But when trying to use the ship’s wi-fi, it was painfully slow… and not just “cruise ship” slow. Hopefully it will improve.

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