After cruising on Carnival for our last 3 cruises I decided to try something new and give Princess and try. We had a very specific time frame to work with since we were going over spring break with our 3 teenage sons. We also took my parents along. Most of the Carnival ships that fit our time frame were ones we'd already been on so Princess was a good fit with me wanting a change and not sailing on the same ship/itinerary as before.
The Ruby Princess was the ship that best fit our needs and schedule. Although we'd already been to 3 of the 4 ports, my parents had not been to Grand Turk so I chose this itinerary mainly for them. As it turned out, the night before we were to leave, I received an e-mail from Princess saying that they were canceling our stop at Grand Turk due to suspected illnesses caused by either food or water consumed by passengers on earlier cruises. They were instead sending us to Nassau. This was a big disappointment since I specifically chose this itinerary for my parent's benefit. Oh well, I completely understand and appreciate Princess' desire to protect their passengers.
The Ruby is a very nice ship and except for the salt coated balcony glass and windows, the ship was very clean throughout. We had 3 mini-suites on the Dolphin deck aft, that I booked specifically to be close to the self-serve laundromat. With 3 boys, I do a lot of laundry and it was a super convenience to be right across the hall from the laundromat!
The food was very good and met our expectations. My boys said they liked Carnival better for the simple fact they offered Chocolate melt cake that Princess does not! Our waiter and Jr. waiter worked extremely hard and my only complaint here is that it didn't appear there was enough help in the dining rooms. With just the 2 of them, they could not keep up with all their tables and I felt so bad for them because it was impossible to do it all. Carnival definitely had more dining room staff. In spite of their busyness, they did a fantastic job and treated us like family.
The buffet area in the Horizon Court is a bit small for such a large ship. Depending on what time you ate, sometimes it was super crowded and people were bumping into each other or there was no one there and it was a pleasant experience! Again, the food here was always very good and plentiful! The fact that staff comes to your table after you sit down with juice, coffee, etc. was a nice touch. On Carnival, you had to get your own drinks all the time.
The entertainment was very good. We had a ventriloquist one night and a magician/illusionist another. Neither one of those is something I would pay money to go see, but I'm glad I went and saw these two entertainers as they were both very good.
Embarkation was a bit slow but the lines moved steadily nonetheless. Debarkation was a total mess though. On Easter Sunday, there were only 2 customs officials to check off more than 3500 passengers on one ship. It took forever and I'm so glad our flight wasn't until 3:30 that afternoon or we would've been in big trouble! The porter that helped us with our luggage said it's mainly a problem with Princess since he works the other cruise companies as well and they don't seem to have the difficulty getting people off in a timely manner. After 7 cruises, it was definitely the worst debarkation I've experienced.
In conclusion, I would go on Princess again. It was a bit more "toned down" from the constant partying and entertainment of Carnival. The ship decor is very tasteful and not the loud, bright colors that are found on many of the newer ships. There was plenty to do, if you wanted to, and always something going on. I would recommend Princess to my friends and family!