Ruby Princess Cruise Review by Annalise: FIRST TIME ON PRINCESS
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FIRST TIME ON PRINCESS
Let me start by saying we are loyal Crystal cruisers but Princess' itinerary attracted us, so we thought we'd give it a try. To compare Princess to Crystal would in no way be fair, so I'll try to be objective as possible.
EMBARKATION: As easy as it gets. We got there early and once we checked in,we sat in a waiting area. Ruby Princess is a gigantic ship and with 3,080 passengers, we sailed full. Most of the nationalities were U.K., Spanish, Australian, Canadian and American along with a small contingent from the Phillipines. There were only 16 children on board and we hardly saw them.
At 1:00 pm, we were allowed to board.
CABIN: Our cabin was extremely small. One side of queen bed was pushed against the wall and we had a narrow L-shape to walk around. Cabin was divided by a long closet with shelf and hangers. Another narrow closet housed a cranky safe. Shower was very tiny. We shared one sink and a wide countertop. TV transmitted enough channels to More satisfaction. Our steward, JORDAN, was really, really good. Although our requests were small, he made sure they were met and always wanted to do more. Great job, Jordan!!!
FOOD: Food was good, not gourmet. We ate breakfast and lunch on top deck at Horizon court and we never felt cramped or crowded. On the days when excursions forced us to eat early, other couples at tables willingly let us share their table. We had anytime dining and I found that the desserts in the dining room were much better than Horizon Court. Horizon court offered many puddings, mousses (blech!), and always a fresh selection of fruits. Fabulous Fabbio is the maitre d' of the DaVinci dining room. He is very concerned about the quality of the service. If you have any complaints regarding DaVince, see Fabbio & he will resolve it right away. Trident Grill always served up hotdogs, hamburgers and fries. Pizza bar was pretty good. Soft serve ice cream was cold and tasteless.
FORMAL NIGHTS: Ladies unless you already have formal eveningwear,don't go crazy for formal night. A nice pair of black slacks and pretty top will do the job and lighten your load. That's what most women wore, myself included. Most men wore a jacket and tie. I saw three tuxedos.
SABITINI'S: Definately worth the cover charge. Husband & I had lobster 3 ways which was delicious and they also gave us a small portion of spaghetti with clams. Everything was good, the waiters were very attentive and the food was out of this world.
ENTERTAINMENT: We both agree that Ruby has the best entertainment.I'd rather gamble than see shows so the first night he dragged me kicking and screaming. I was so impressed by the talent, I went almost every night. The dancers kicked and flipped and did things I didn't know were possible. Also the singers were very good. One night they had a second rate magician who was so lousy, I walked out. Don't miss the crew's talent show night. It was the best!!! Also, a salute to Broadway and Once Upon a Dream were beautiful. Each show is approx. 45 mins., so just as I was beginning to get antsy, it ended. Also DUO CLAUDIO perform mid-court around 8:00. They are acrobats that are so daring, you got to see them to believe it. Social director is Sam Hawkins from England. She bubbled over with cheeriness and enthusiasm. She did her job well.
BEST THINGS: The Serenity Pool way up top prohibits children. It is a wonderful escape. I used it several times. Movies under the Stars is a delight. They give out blankets and we snuggled under the stars to watch the giant screen. Waiters come around with popcorn, pizza and ice cream. Another stroke of genius. If you go for a massage, ask for TASHA. She was absolutely amazing and did in one session what my chiropracter couldn't do in four. She's a petite woman with magic hands. I wanted to take her home with me. The Lotus Spa was beautiful. Unfortunately I didn't find that out until the trip was almost over.
WORST THINGS: Didn't like the constant hawking of specialty drinks and photographers trying to get us to buy. One night our waiter asked us three times if we wanted the specialty drink! It became annoying. Also, next time I will do more research on cabins before I book. Now we realize that it would have been worth the extra $$$ to upgrade, but being first time Princess cruisers, we didn't know.
Overall, I'd say Princess does a pretty good job of juggling 3,000 passengers and keeping things running smoothly. We didn't have any ugly situations or run-ins with rude passengers. The staff we encountered were courteous and friendly. They responded to our every request. In conclusion, we would definately sail Princess again if the itinerary were good. Less
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Cabin review: Ruby Princess Oceanview Obstructed Emerald Deck P210
Plaza Deck cabins are extremly small with bed pushed against one wall and nightstand at other side. Small desk at end of bed had an outlet for blowdryer and housed a mini fridge. Small flat screen TV on shelf above. Long closet divides bath from sleeping area. Shower was very small but water pressure was good. Single sink in the middle of counter and 3 small shelves holds stuff.
Port and Shore Excursions
We experienced Barcelona after the cruise when we returned from Venice. The smart people arrived a few days before the cruise which helped with jetlag. However, Barcelona is a richly cultural, artfilled city dominated by the most unique architecture in the world. Antonio Gaudi's influence is everywhere as is Picasso. The absolutely best introduction to this complex city is to take the Bus Turistic with it's 3 colored routes. You can buy tickets at your hotel at a discount. Each route takes about 2 - 2 1/2 hours and they give you earbuds to follow the narration at each stop. I think the narration was in 7 languages. At anytime, you can hop on/off the bus. We saw the first two longest routes but I got separated from my group for the last leg. Actually, it was okay since I was getting bored & needed some serious retail therapy. The Barcelonians are very friendly people who are fiercely proud of their city. We had no run-ins with pickpockets, but just in case, I kept my money in my front pocket and my pocket safety pinned shut.
Lucca Walking Tour
A short bus ride took us back into time to the medieval town of Lucca. Still surrounded by its original protective wall, Lucca is filled with narrow streets, old churches and it is the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini. We had already been to Florence several times, so we thought this would be a nice change and it was. The tone of the tour was slow, easy walking along level streets. At the end, we were allotted 45 mins. of free time.
The Blue Mosque was unbelievable. Ladies must have shoulders & knees covered & they're not kidding! We were surrounded by blue tiles of swirls,flowers,tulips tinted by sun through the stained glass. It will probably be the only time you see something as unique as this.
Surprisingly I loved Istanbul. I was not expecting to see this modern, bustling city. Our guide, Sertan, was very informative. We saw a demonstration of how Turkish rugs are handmade.The weaving is done by hand and passed on through generations. Final stop was the Grand Bazaar which has been very modernized. Glass storefronts down endless corridors sold jewelry, leather,clothing,hooka pipes and boxed candy called Turkish Delight. Sheer size of bazaar was intimidating to say the least.Lots of sellers in the streets trying to get you to buy anything and everything.
Onto Hagia Sophia monastery which was also nice, but not as nice as Blue Mosque.
Basilica of St. John
A grouping of ruins that had no rhyme or reason. To me, it was a waste of time.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT TAKE EPHESUS IF YOU HAVE ANY DIFFICULTY WALKING. We were misled by description that said it's a gentle downsloping walk. Well, it's not. Large uneven stones filled with potholes make walking downright dangerous and if it's raining, stay on the bus! Passengers who were not in shape returned to bus huffing & puffing! Actually, Ephesus had better ruins than Pompeii, but if you've seen Pompeii, be happy and skip Ephesus. Even our tourguide admitted that she has seen some pretty bad falls.
House of the Virgin Mary
As Catholics, this place had a certain reverence for us. Her final living place was small and simple. Takes less than 2 minutes to walk through. Outside people leave written prayers and requests in a nearby wall.
Grasse Perfume Factory
This was fun as we toured the factory and saw how they made perfumes, soaps and oils. Upstairs was their store where I bought a large cake of olive oil soap. I am using it now and it's very rich and leaves my skin nice and smooth.
Menton is a small,vacation village by the sea. The bus dropped us off to do some shopping, but we did very little. We found a store going out of business and my husband bought a Monaco tee for a fraction of the price. Lots of little shops & stores selling junk.
Nice & Eze
I didn't realize that the ship was docked in Monaco for such a short period of time. It arrived at 11:00 & our excursion started at 1:00 pm. We drove up & down the Cote D'Azure and took in the lovely vistas. Unfortunately our tourguide (LoLo) did NOT have a good command of English. She was hard to understand. The tour left us no time to explore Monte Carlo which was a real shame. Nice was beautiful, more beautiful cityscape than Monte Carlo.
Unfortunately we never made it to Mykonos because the winds were just too strong that day. About 10:00 am the captain made the announcement. We had booked a trip to the beach and Ruby credited everyone back their money. I wasn't too upset since I was tired and could've use a restful day at sea.
Despite the many times we have visited Italy, we have never been to Capri, so we made it a point to see it this time. We took a ferry to Capri and a public bus up to Anacapri. The winding road up with it's hairpin turns was scary. No wonder they call it The Mama Mia Road. Anacapri was teaming with tourists. We took the chairlift up to Mt. Solero which is a MUST. Unbelievable views of the Bay of Naples, i Folgana and Anacapri! We did not like Villa San Michele. It was underwhelming, but we found Chiesa San Michele with its beautiful tile floor. For 2 euro,it's the best bargain in Anacapri. Off in a separate room were small figurines of people doing everyday chores. The detail was fantastic as they depicted a butcher, fish monger, laundresses and just everyday people. Back in the main plaza, many retailers sell lemon scented everything, tee's and the usual tourist stuff. Took bus back down MaMa Mia and went back to ship. I would've liked Anacapri more if it hadn't been so crowded but there were many people packed into small spaces.
We felt we would rather take the nearby train into Rome and explore on our own which is what we did. It was very easy and we took a taxi to the four things we wanted to see. By 4 o'clock, we were back on the train returning to the ship. By the way, should you decide to do same, buy first class tickets whenever possible. They're a little more but you get a lot more comfortable seats.
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