Let me explain my cruise history. I have been cruising since 1981. I have about two dozen cruises under my belt. I am a Platinum member with Princess and my husband just became Platinum after our latest cruise seven day cruise that ended today, December 2, 2012. Therefore, I want to give Princess the benefit of the doubt; after all, I love the perks I have being Platinum. I have eight cruises with Princess and he has five.
We chose to go on the Ruby Princess because it is the newest of the Princess ships. We've been on the same Princess itinerary that goes to the Caribbean on the Emerald Princess before so that was not a consideration. However, the ship was a disappointment. Well, I should say, some of the things that happened on the ship were a disappointment. The ship is like all the other Princess ships so it is beautiful and very elegant, in my opinion. We had a balcony room. Our priorities for the trip were food quality and entertainment, especially dancing. If they were great we would have been happy to just stay on the ship.
My husband and I went to the dining room only three nights out of seven. I never had a waiter take away my tea glass and never ask again about refilling it or not bringing me something I asked for. Meanwhile, the food was mediocre and under seasoned. The waiter didn't come by and ask how the food was. It felt like something was going on behind the scenes. They seemed very stressed which is not a pleasant dining experience. I should add that our dinner assignment was 5:30 pm which we agreed to in order to get a separate table for two. So, you see, we were the very first persons in the dining room in the evening. They should not have been so stressed.
We opted to go to the Crown Grille and Sabatini's for three of the nights for the extra charges. The Crown Grille is $25 per person and Sabatini's is $20 each. The first nights of the Crown Grille and Sabatini's were very good. The second night at the Crown Grille, which was the last night of our seven day cruise, was not so good. The scallop appetizer, while served on a hot plate, was lukewarm and rubbery. I was asked by the waiter if I was familiar with the appetizer when I told him what I thought of the scallops. Hey, I've been around awhile. I even know how to cook scallops. We waited a long time for our appetizer and soup course plates to be removed. It was an hour before we got the main course. Then my filet mignon was rare rather than medium. The waiter showed up later to ask how the meat was after I had eaten some sides and some of my husband's filet since his was supposed to be cooked well done but was really the medium I had requested. Most of my meat was on the plate in a pool of red. I was offered a replacement but who wants to wait for a new one to be cooked when their mate is done eating?
Partway through the cruise we got the inevitable announcement of the norovirus outbreak aboard ship. Then there was the lockdown against the passengers touching anything dealing with food while the crew dispensed everything with latex gloved hands. I watched the crew doing the dispensing. I saw crew members sneeze and cough into their hands while they continued to dispense food and drink to passengers. One food service manager sneezed into his hands, rubbed them together and proceeded to give his crew instructions on how to be sanitary. Also, this crew pick up all the dirty plates in the buffet area and hand out drinks with the same unwashed hands. Maybe it should be called, "How to Pass on Disease 101." Management needs to emphasize to the crew that the passengers are watching, especially when they treat us like we are "disease ridden." (I just looked at past reviews. Surprise! The illness was already recently aboard. http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=111483, http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=110634
I'm not from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) but is it not possible that all the norovirus aboard cruise ships is being perpetuated by the crew members who have the bug and pass it on to the newest passengers? The announcement we received during the cruise was that North American passengers probably brought it aboard. Would they ever admit that it was on board before we ever sailed? . I have never gotten the norovirus although it has been on virtually all the cruises I have taken.
The entertainment was the usual dancing Vegas type revues we didn't bother to go to. The dance bands were lounge types. Volume, the band who was listed in the Patter as a dance band, lived up to their name. Their volume was so loud we couldn't stand to be in the same room with them. I didn't see anyone dancing when they played during the cruise although I passed by where the were performing often.
The comedian was hilarious. The second night he performed, people were willing to sit on the floor to see him again. There was not an empty seat in the house. This should be a good lesson for future bookings. Lose the High School Vegas type acts and hire truly talented people. Pool all that money spent on people, props and costumes and pay someone people would like to see. There are too many talented people out there to spend so much money on Broadway hopefuls.
I have loved Princess but I'll do research next time about the ship. They have our deposit for a future cruise. It is refundable.