We sailed on the Ruby Sept.18-Oct.5, 2013...Venice to Rome. We are experienced cruisers, having sailed on several cruise lines, to many ports of call but this was our first trip to Europe.
The Ruby is a beautiful ship, well taken care of, with a terrific crew. All staff seemed genuinely happy in their jobs. We did not find the usual "upsell" push (for casino, coffee,soda cards etc) that we have experienced in the past...I actually had to search out the coffee card. This was a pleasant surprise and Princess seems to have listened to others who have complained in the past.
The major design flaw with this series of ships is that sometimes "you just cant get there from here"! You may find yourselves riding elevators or climbing stair to get to another floor that actually goes through to the floor/area that you need to get to!
Our balcony room was the usual size room and the usual tiny bathroom. However the space was adequate and with the balcony we never felt "closed in". Our room steward kept everything clean and tidy and seemed to anticipate things we didnt even know we needed yet! We used the ship laundry service 3 times and she had our laundry sent out and returned in less than 24 hours. Room service was polite and prompt.
The entertainment was the usual at sea fare with comedians, singers, dancers etc with one of the highlights being the performance form the string section of the Venice Orchestra.
Ports of call were what sold us on this cruise. VERY port intensive so be prepared. We took mostly organized Princess tours and a few beach days on our own in the Greek Islands. Pompei and the Amalfi coast were highlight.
Our biggest disappointments were the shore excursion desk and the dining room food and service. The staff of the shore excursion desk either knew what they were doing or they didnt. Princess seriously needs to consider staffing the desk ONLY with staff that have travelled to the ports and experienced the tours they offer. I realize not all staff can go on all the tours but between the entire excursion staff there should be SOMEONE that can answer specific questions. I was constantly having to wait for a supervisor or waiting for a phone call back to get answers. Frustrating.
This was the first time we have done anytime dining. We usually have second seating traditional dining. We found that the traditional dining just did not fit with the entertainment and the early morning shore excursions. The service at anytime dining is definately different. The waiters see so many different cruisers over 2 weeks,that they cant possibly give the personal attention given to those on traditional dining. We missed this aspect of the dining option. We always felt rushed so the next guest could be seated.
The food overall was a disappointment. The Horizon Court is a zoo at all times and food quality was average. In the dining room, there is so much on the "always available" list that there is little left for the chef to come up with. Whenever there was a new item on the menu it was never what we expected when we ordered it. The repeat in the menu during the second week was "cheating" and not what one would expect from Princess.
Princess is still our favourite cruise line and we will sail them again.