To give you a gauge as to our preferences, we are a couple in our mid 50's -- very active and on this cruise we were with two other couples. Although we were on the cruise together, we operate independently of each other including at dinner. All three couples used Anytime Dining -- sometimes just the two of us, sometimes as two couples, and on formal evenings everyone ate together.
Embarkation was a breeze -- arrived at around 11 and were on board by 12. The only disappointment was that when we arrived, we were informed that this cruise would not stop at Grand Turks due to gastrointestinal problems experienced by the last cruise that stopped there. Instead we were going to Nassau and the rest of the port days were rearranged.
For those of you who were wondering about the new alcohol policy -- we never had a problem. We brought on four bottles of wine and a case of beer with no questions asked. The other couples did the same. It was in our carryon and we consumed it in our rooms during our social afternoon get togethers. We didn't bother but one of the other couples brought a six pack of beer on at each port -- no issue when they brought it on board. Apparently from the Princess Board, this has now changed.
The entire ship's staff was very friendly, with the Matre D' (Nicola Furlan) and his right hand Francisco, making everyone's experience personal and over the top. This was a back to back cruise, the first week on the Caribbean Princess and the second week on the Ruby. The first week on the Caribbean Princess the Matre D' (Mario taking over from Joachim) listened to each person's individual request and then denied them all -- with the worst being a couple celebrating their 40th Anniversary asking if they could reserve a table for two the evening of their anniversary. They were bluntly told that they would have to take their chances the evening of their anniversary!!! In contrast, on the Ruby we again decided to see the Matre D' in an attempt to book a table for the six of us on the formal evenings. This was both a request and to see if Princess had changed that much in the past six months (from our experience the previous week on the Caribbean where they would not entertain dining requests like they have in the past). Nicola set our mind at ease -- not only reserving our table for the formal evenings but also giving us individual tables the other evenings (to be fair -- we go after 8:00 pm when tables are usually easier to get -- but it was nice to have the reservations). Each evening when we arrived we were warmly greeted by Francisco and most evenings he sent over a non-menu appetizer as well.
The main dining rooms had very good food, yet in comparison with the food on the Caribbean Princess some of the dishes lacked flavour. This included the pizza up on the Lido -- while the Caribbean Princess pizza was the best of any we have had, this was just pizza. Conversely, the Trident Grill was much better on the Ruby -- the chefs and servers always willing to please and the food cooked just right.
Horizon Court food was very good when we tried it -- usually just for breakfast.
The Ship Itself
The ship is well maintained and the crew is continually sanding, varnishing, painting or repairing anything that requires maintenance.
We had a Mini-Suite on Dolphin, while the other couples were in balcony rooms on Lido and Baja. It is great to have the extra room in the Mini-Suite. They still have the blue matting on the balconies which we prefer. The balcony furniture had not been changed to the new stuff -- thus we still had four chairs (two reclining chairs) -- and we prefer the older furniture.
Inside the couch was new and the mattresses had the big mattress pads that are now common - firm but still comfortable.
Our room steward was good -- he did everything we asked but nothing more.
Common areas of the Ship
Again well maintained and functional. We appreciate the folio machines beside the front desk -- great way to see your charges without having to stand in line.
The International Cafe is the full deal, serving everything including gelato. I stopped there each morning and it was common to choose something from the display case and be served a piping hot version direct from the oven (this was great).
The open decks had lots of chairs -- we never had a problem finding chairs when we went up -- usually around noon after going to the gym. The pool with MUTS has the padded loungers. The other main pool just has the web loungers but they are still very comfortable.
Bar staff -- some of the best we have had on the ships -- friendly and they listened to what you wanted. There is no longer a happy hour except for the specialty drink during the Platinum/Elite get togethers in Skywalkers each evening. Instead they have gone to the punch card that goes into a draw for paying your bar bill. Not much of a perk for anyone............
We didn't go to any production shows and were disappointed that the entertainment really lacked comediennes/etc. The bands other than the house orchestra were AWFUL........ Off key to the point where it became a running joke between our group. On the other hand the DJ seemed to play to the crowd and the house orchestra was great . This was the second week that this occurred -- the hired bands were not what we have experienced in the past and there definitely was a lack of comedy (other than the off key singers.......).
MUTS was a bust -- they would play the first run movies in the Princess Theatre but not on MUTS??? Not sure why this has been changed.
The gym is functional -- there are lots of free weights, 24 treadmills, I believe 8 elliptical machines, and about the same number of bikes. They also have a large group of bikes for a spin class.
This is one of the Elite perks but can also be utilized for a fee. When you look at dry-cleaning services at home -- the ship pretty much charges the same. Good deal if you need something cleaned. Originally we were hesitant to use this perk as we were not sure how much care they would take with our clothes. That concern was put to rest very quickly. Our clothes came back on hangers and in tip top shape. If you want to do your own, there are self-serve laundry rooms on a lot of the floors if you need them.
Overall Cruise Impression
These two weeks were our first 7 day cruises in a while (usually take 11 to 14 day ones) and although it was Spring Break and there were a ton of kids on board -- it really didn't seem to change that much. Some common areas may have had more people and the pools seemed to be overflowing, but for the most part everyone was very well behaved and considerate of everyone else.
We were extremely pleased to see that the lack of service by the Caribbean Princess Matre D' was not the norm. That would have made us question whether we should try other lines again. Instead, Nicola and Francisco ensured our loyalty to Princess.