This transatlantic cruise on the beautiful Ruby Princess was our 6th cruise on Princess, but was our first transatlantic experience. I must say, that after 14 days on the ship I still was not ready to get off. My husband and I were traveling with two of our lady friends, one of whom is in a wheelchair. Our pre-cruise hotel was the Hampton Inn and Suites, North Cruise Port. We have stayed here two other times, mostly because of the location and the excellent free shuttle service. Though this hotel is well managed, it is getting a bit tired and could use some updating. However, it is right next to a McDonald's, Wendy's, a strip mall with a Big Lots and a Dollar Store and a couple of small bars. It is also about a block from the Old Heidelberg restaurant which has excellent, authentic German food.
Our embarkation was the easiest we've ever experienced, mainly because we are now Princess Platinum Captain's Circle Members. And, they allowed our two friends to board with us which was a big help. My husband and I booked a mini-suite and the two ladies had a wheelchair accessible room. Both rooms were ready as we boarded at noon. Our luggage was delivered shortly after. Our Steward, Rosendo, greeted us promptly and had our names right and used them every meeting thereafter! He always managed to find the times we were not in the room to refresh or clean our room and was so good about answering any questions we had. Our mini-suite on the Dolphin Deck forward had the larger bathroom with the tub/shower combo, which is nice. We had a flat-screen TV facing our bed and then another which faced the couch and chair in the room. Our closet and storage cabinet were the same as you'd find in a regular stateroom but we've always found them adequate. The safe is always nice to have. Everything in our room worked properly.
We chose the Traditional Dining option in the DaVinci Dining room. We like the early dining time so that we always have the option of going to the early or the later shows in the theater. We always had plenty of time to eat our dinner and then find good seats in the theater. Our waiter was one of the highlights of the cruise. His name is Sergio and he is professional, very, very fun, and knows the food choices so well that we often took his recommendations. From the start, he called each of us by name and took the time to really get to know us. His junior waiter was Alberto who was equally fun and professional and very quick with whatever we needed. He also made a fabulous Monte Cristo after- dinner coffee! We found the food choices plentiful and excellent for all the 14 days. The Executive Chef was fabulous. If you get the chance on a Princess Cruise, be sure to attend the Chef's cooking show and tour of the galley.
We thought that we would spend the first 8 sea days relaxing and getting ready for the busy port days once we'd get to Europe. There was a "problem" with this. The "problem" was that the Cruise Director, Dan Stein, and his Assistant Cruise Directors had so many fun and diverse activities that we were so busy we didn't have time to relax. However, we had the time of our lives having fun! We also joined the Princess Pop Choir under the most fun direction of Assistant Cruise Director David Craven. We ended up with a choir of 50 people and we had an absolutely hilarious and fun time learning David's crazy choreography. Needless to say, some of it was like aerobic exercise, but everyone was able to participate...even the two singers in wheelchairs. We had enough time to really make some great friendships during our rehearsals.
The entertainment and shows in the lounges, beside the pools, in the theater and in the Piazza were by far the best we've had in all our previous cruises. We loved the string quartet, the comedians, the singers and dancers, the juggler, the magician, and the piano players. The cruise staff could not possibly have had more than 2 hours sleep per night! The Liar's Club was another highlight! And, as always, the International Crew Talent night was amazing and fantastic! Bar service was always excellent as well.
We felt the information and help we got at the Tour Desk was perfect. Honestly, we have no complaints (not even any teeny ones) about this cruise. Our disembarkation in Rome was so easy and not stressful. The Civitaveccia Port is smaller than Ft. Lauderdale and that made a difference.