First time cruising on the Princess line so I decided to go with my friend on their newest ship, the Ruby Princess. This was my lucky 13th cruise. Here are a few of my impressions:
Embarkation: Total chaos. Neither definable lines nor instructions issued by Princess port personnel. My friend decided rather than join the mass of people, we would sit down until the terminal was almost empty then get on board -- finally around 3:30 PM (we arrived at the terminal at 1:00 PM thinking there wouldn't be a crowd). We both concluded this was a one off situation and were pleased that Princess acted speedily to sanitize the ship.
Cabin: Was located on the Emerald deck forward. For being an "obstructed view", there was IMO no obstruction -- window view was beautiful. Cabin steward, Georgy, was attentive and kept the ice bucket filled plus the extra towels requested were available.
Dining: Horizon/Caribe buffet - who designed this area? Considering the number of passengers, they were the smallest buffet areas I ever encountered and people were frequently bumping into each other. In addition, for some odd reason they ran out of silverware and napkins frequently and by the time they appeared, the food was cold! I did like being served as it cut down on any potential disease but I did not return to the buffet area until almost the end of the cruise.
MDR (Da Vinci) good service and good food. Had very nice tablemates. I loved the English Pub fish and chips and the International Cafe for a great sandwich and cappuccino. I tried the beignets and they were great! I did go to the MDR again for lunch a couple of times and again the service/food was good. I have to agree -- the pizza was wonderful!
Entertainment: The best assistant cruise directors ever. The Cruise Director, Sam, has a good staff. Dave, Aris, Angela and Tatum were always courteous and patient, especially when I tried the line dancing and the trivia contests. The deck party was really good. I don't remember the name of the singer, but she had a fantastic voice. The stage productions were very entertaining and I liked the way the theater was designed because it cut down on interruptions from the bar service.
What's the point of the Sanctuary? There were lots of areas around the ship that were quiet where you could sit down and read a book, nap, etc. The Wheelhouse bar had an area to the side that was comfortable and quiet. Most of the decks had chairs and depending on the side of the ship, not too windy.
Ports: Princess Cay was enjoyable. St Maarten was the best for the ocean and beer. St Thomas -- just walked around then went back to the ship. The Captain made a good call in diverting to the next port, Nassau, rather than stopping at Grand Turk due to reports of food and/or water contamination. I got the chance to visit the Atlantis resort again and loved the aquariums. I haven't visited Nassau for over 5 years and I was amazed at how big the straw market has grown. Same touristy stuff just more of it. Liked the Kalik beer.
Just a note: my friend was a past passenger, her 4th cruise on Princess, thus she attended the Past Passenger party. She told me she received a voucher for one free drink and no hors d'oeuvres were served. Huh? I've been to past passenger parties on the other cruise lines and there were choices of beverages plus the goodies.
Debarkation: Thankfully, my friend suggested self-debarkation and it was the 1st time I got off a ship so rapidly. All went very smoothly and we were off the ship and out of the terminal in record time. Beats searching for your luggage in the hanger-type terminal.
Overall, I would give Princess another try. All the staff I met were friendly and helpful. The Ruby Princess gave me a workout going from one venue to another but considering the size of the ship it was easy to find your way. As most of us have said before, any day at sea beats the daily grind at work.