Seasoned cruisers, we brought two other couples with us for a warm getaway to the Caribbean. The Ruby Princess is a beautiful ship and we all thoroughly enjoyed our cruise. Here are some highlights:
Embarkation: I dropped the other couple off at Port Everglades before I returned our rental car, so they could board and enjoy the ship. At 1:00 there was quite a line waiting to check in; it took them about 45 minutes before reaching the ship. I returned the Thrifty rental car and took their free shuttle to the ship, arriving at about 2:15. There was no line at all, and we were onboard within about 5 minutes.
Sailaway: Reading the various boards about this ship, I knew about the "secret" door at the front of the Lido deck leading to the deck just above the bridge, where we watched sailaway with about 20 other passengers. People on the deck above kept asking us "How did you get there?" It was uncrowded and very easy to go from one side of the ship to the other as we sailed out of the port.
Excursions: In St. Maartin we chose the America's Cup yacht race excursion, booked through Princess, and it was by far the best shore excursion we've ever been on! Also look up the Yoda Guy in Phillipsburg; he's the guy who designed the Yoda character in the Star Wars movies, and he has a studio in Phillipsburg where he showcases his artwork. It's free, and kitchy, and fun to see!
St. Thomas is always fun no matter what happens. The day we were there, we'd planned to take the ferry to St. Johns and the excursion to Trunk Bay. However, we were notified onboard that the ferry was broken so that excursion was canceled.
We had to skip Turks & Caicos because of high winds; disappointing, as the beach next to the dock area looked inviting. But the wind was blowing strongly and it would have been unsafe to try to dock there. Good call, Captain! No Costa Concordia situation here!
Food: We found the food to be quite good, and the food service to be excellent. Roger and Jeffrey took very good care of us. We did not go to any of the specialty restaurants, figuring that the food in the DaVinci dining room was plenty good enough for us.
Entertainment: The song and dance shows were professionally executed. Once Upon A Dream is a bit surreal and reminded me of Alice in Wonderland; they have some great special visual effects.
Most enjoyable were Ladonna and Allen in the Wheelhouse Bar. They sang songs from the 60's and 70's, and Ladonna is a bundle of energy. We enjoyed their music for many nights, usually after one of the shows in the Princess Theater.
Movies Under the Stars never disappoints. It was a bit loud for us some nights. We especially enjoyed watching the NFL divisional championship games, as did many other passengers.
Room: we booked a mini-suite and were the gathering spot for the two other couples traveling with us; they had a balcony room and an outside cabin. The mini-suite offers a large sofa which was perfect for the 6 of us to sit and talk. Our room steward Cheody kept everything in order and was quite responsive to our requests.
Disembarkation: We made use of the EZ-Check service so our suitcases were placed in the hallway on the last night of the cruise and Princess took care of carting them to the airport and checking them in. There was quite a line at the Ft. Lauderdale airport so we were glad we used this (paid) service. Disembarkation was smooth, as we waited for about 30 minutes in the Michelangelo dining room before being allowed to leave the ship -- which took about 2 minutes once our group was called. We took a taxi to the airport; it's only about $15 and you don't have to wait for a bus to fill up with other passengers. We did have to wait about 15 minutes for a taxi to arrive; I don't understand why taxis aren't more available at 8:45 on a Saturday morning.
We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise, and all three couples put down a Future Cruise Deposit for another round. We'd gladly cruise on the Ruby Princess again. The ship is beautiful and the service attentive. A good use of a warm week's time in the middle of the winter for us Midwesterners!