So... not a first time cruiser, I had high expectations. Some were met on the Ruby... some weren't.
Embarkation was a breeze. We were on the ship in no time without a long wait. Our luggage was at our room waiting for us. We had a balcony and were quite happy with the room and our view.
We had "Anytime Dining" and were travelling with family & friends. 8 of us. The first night we had dinner in the Da Vinci Dining Room. Service was terribly SLOW. It seemed to take forever to get anything. Meals were ok. The dinner was disappointing. We had planned to eat at the same table each night but after the experience we decided to try Michaelangelo Dining Room the following night. Dean was our server. And what a change! Our meal became fun and lively with first-class service. Dean gave us tips on what too see in the following port, how to get around, and was just a blast. He truly turned our dining experience around. We made reservations every night at his table. That sort of changed our "anytime dining" plan. But we realized how important it is to have an engaging server who became a part of our cruise.
If you're looking for a relaxing cruise where you lay around poolside, spend time in a casino, and go to entertainment, this is NOT the cruise for you. If you plan to see the sights in the ports of call, you'll be on the go!
Our first stop was at Monte Carlo. Getting off the ship was a pain! We were tendered. Announcements instructed everyone not to try to get off at once so we waited about an hour. Then when we went down to the tenders, we were given numbers and told to wait in the dining room. About an hour later we were taken to the tender. Waited there. Got on... and then had to wait rocking around in the water for boats ahead of us. It took 2 hours to get off the ship! AND it was NO FUN!
From then on out we tried to be the first in line getting off the ship and never had another problem. That was the only time we tendered.
We didn't do any of the excursions with Princess.
Civitaveccia to Rome train was very easy. Anyone would be able to do it. It only took 50 minutes. Just get off at the San Petro station and it's about a 5 minute walk to St. Peter's.
We also took the train to Florence. That was a little more difficult but not much. You just buy a bus shuttle ticket to the train station and then take the train to Florence (and to Pisa if you wish). The ship tries to scare you into taking their excursions saying if you miss the ship they'll leave you behind unless you're on one of their trips. My family took their excursions and we'd meet at the destinations. We never had a problem getting to and from the ship. In fact in Rome, my family had to wait a half hour in the rain for their bus from the ship excursion while we hopped a train with no problem and didn't spend anytime in the rain.
Overall the trip was fine. Our steward was friendly and our room was always immaculate. No animal towels or fun stuff like when we've sailed in the Caribbean. After our last cruise we were ready to go on another. After this one it will be a long time before we cruise again. Just not a relaxing trip. Long lines for food... crowded at buffet all the time. Exhausting. But a good time with family.