For the past several years, we've opted to cruise for New Year's. Usually it's been a 3 to 4 night cruise, this time we opted for 7 days. Although it was a great getaway, I have a few comments to share if you plan to go next year to be aware of.
Let me start by saying, I have 2 sons, so it's not that I don't like kids, I just don't like spoiled rotten kids. I like Princess because it's usually a cruise line with mostly adult travelers and even when there have been children, it's usually not a problem. This time around, we were not happy with the amount of children running around EVERYWHERE. What do I mean by everywhere, I am referring to kids going to the middle of stage during performances at the clubs. Parents just did nothing to prevent this from happening. This happened a couple of times and then during the production shows the kids were just plain obnoxious and the parents thought their behavior was funny! Did this spoil our week, absolutely not, but it did disappoint me to see parents being so unconcerned of others. Therefore, if you are going during vacation times: Spring Break, Summer, Christmas or New Years, know you will definitely have more kids than usual.
Now to Ruby Princess -- the service level has decreased a little in the Restaurant, although the cabin steward and others were great. We were in the Botticelli Restaurant and we had to wait for services that are usually pretty standard, like refilling your water glass. The food was very good and there is really no need to pay for the specialty restaurants.
What I find is that most cruise lines, including Princess and with the exception of Disney, are trying to nickel and dime you for things that are a little silly. What I mean is you have a "coffee" card for specialty coffees, for example, for a cappuccino at dinner, which previously was included. You pay and get 15 coffees. I find that a little silly and unnecessary. The Coke cards are expected and reasonable around $4/day/person and the smoothie card $7/day/person. We purchased the smoothie card for my husband. Looking back on it, how many smoothies can you have a day? To me, it was not worth it. Back to nickle and dime you: In the Piazza they have an area with fine pastries and nice snacks and salads at no cost which was extremely nice, especially when we arrived from the tours and don't really want to eat something too heavy but something to munch on until dinner. Then, you find a sign right next to this, $1.50/scoop for ice cream, which I find ridiculous!
We opted for the second seating, which is the way I always go. Nevertheless, I found out waiting to disembark, that even if you choose anytime dining you can arrange a reservation at the same time every day and if you like your waiter, you can request that they serve you. I have to give them a kudos, they have made more table for 2 persons available, which is great if that's what you prefer. Fabio, the Matre'd at the Botticelli, was wonderful.
Overall, we had a great time. Would I do this cruise again? Absolutely, but this time around, we will be better mentally prepared of what to expect and what to and what not do.
Shopping, we found the best prices for tablecloths and jewelry in St. Maarten, don't wait until St. Thomas, I found the things more there more expensive. I didn't check the price for the liquor to compare, and we bought the liquor at St. Thomas.
I felt very safe everywhere, which was great.
St Maarten, $7/person to get to downtown, roundtrip unlimited times
St Thomas $4/person from pier to downtown, worth it
Grand Turk none needed all is right there for beach
Princess Cay none needed either Coke card does not work at the beach, but the cruise card does work to charge you for whatever you drink (water, soda or liquor) at the same price as in the ship. No cash is accepted for drinks only cruise card.