Just returned after 12 days in the Med on board the Ruby Princess, it is my second time with this line after doing the Panama relocation on the Sea Princess. I read the reviews about the Ruby and I did have concerns about her size and the number of Passengers. I also read a lot of negative reviews about service, food etc, which I guess is down to individual taste.
Ok so here is my view of this ship and this cruise of the Med & Greek islands departing from Rome 5th Nov 2013.
Rome, we decided to spend a couple of days prior to the cruise in Rome, there is a lot to see and it really is worth it, on the day of embarkation we took a train around 12:00 from Rome to the Port, so easy and not expensive at all. The train wasn't busy and had no issues with space for our Luggage either, a 10 minute walk to the Port entrance and the free shuttle to the ship. Check- in queue was no more than 20 minutes and very organised, probably in our room within 30 minutes of arriving.
The room was more than adequate for two of us, (B214) all the amenities we needed, the Balcony was very welcoming & worth the extra in my opinion, no real noise or vibrations apart from docking.
Naples, we chose to do our own tour and chose ‘SeeAmalficoast’, our tour was to Sorrento, Amalfi Coast and Positano for Lunch before an afternoon in Pompeii. Great trip and one of the highlights of the cruise, we were fortunate to have the owner Carmine, so enthusiastic and really a nice tour with some surprises thrown in to enjoy the day even more. Sadly on our return we heard the pick pockets had been at the Port and a couple of fellow travellers were targeted twice once in the taxi queue and once on the train/metro to Naples, never nice to hear.
Days at Sea, we had 2 scheduled for the cruise but also had a 3rd unplanned sea day due to bad weather. The only bad day on the whole cruise in fact considering it was November I was pleasantly surprised by how warm it was up to 26c in some places and made the trip even more enjoyable.
Santorini, Very nice very picturesque, but you need to be smart here or you will be queuing for ages, we planned in advance with the help of a very good port guide http://tomsportguides.com very useful and saved us a lot of time and money too on this cruise. We followed Tom’s advice and even his GPS Co-ordinates and seemed to have the island to ourselves, by starting at the opposite end of the island to the cruise tours, we enjoyed so much more and even lunch on the black beach. Ok all good so far and with the car safely returned, it was time to return to the ship. Oh boy it is November, it is not the summer and the queue for the cable car was half way around the town. I am not patient, so it was the long walk down the hill with the donkey’s for us, very enjoyable but not advised for those not so steady on their feet or those who may have enjoyed the wine tasting a little too much.
There were a number of other ports of call on this itinerary, too many to review and better left to the experts. The itinerary meant there were lots of ancient sites to see which were all very interesting, but you did get the feeling of same monument different town. Mykonos was a welcome break to the walking up and down ancient sites.
So back to the Ruby Princess, having found our bearings and got past all the first day sales pushes of drinks etc, (which to be fair wasn’t really pushed on to you so much). We started to get to know some of the staff who looked after us and got to know our habits, it is these amazing people who make the difference, they work very hard and are always polite. We booked the anytime dining plan for maximum flexibility our longest wait in-line was 5 minutes for a table. We also used many of the other restaurants on board too, all of which we couldn’t complain about. Maybe it is because we did not partake in ‘the eat as much as you can’ races which is still a favourite pastime on board (yes, it still goes on).
The bar service is where the money can easily be spent if you choose, however this itinerary was very busy so I guess not so many late nights, the entertainment on-board was very well organised and apart from one act early in the cruise all thoroughly entertaining. It is never easy to keep everyone happy, but I honestly do think Princess go out of their way to try and do just that.
It may sound as though I am in the Princess fan club it is not about that, I have some issues that I need to resolve with them as I could have anywhere. I go on holiday to do as much or as little as I choose, to see new sights and meet new people and make the most of my holidays, Princess allows me to do that. There is no need to find fault in areas we would normally ignore in our normal everyday lives just because we are on holiday or on a cruise ship. I can only speak for myself when I say I believe I get value for money with Princess, I am always treated with respect and made to feel welcome without feeling the staff are being false, the food is very good and the rooms are more than adequate, add in the excellent entertainment team led by very funny and genuine Dan Styne and the rest is up to you to make it what you want.
In closing, it would be wrong not to mention the Venice sail in, OMG! Amazing I know 2014 maybe the last year for large Cruise ships, but I really didn’t expect to feel the way I did, the music played by the ship (Andrea Bocelli) and the elegance this mighty ship arrives into Venice in the morning is something special, well done Princess!!
Disembarkation in Venice, was well organised and managed well our luggage was collected the evening before and we took advantage of the last luggage sweep just before Midnight so we had nothing to carry the next day. We were going to the Train Station so knowing how difficult it can be with the various steps etc and then paying to store the luggage at the station, we chose the transfer option and they store the luggage for you, less stress and less work.
Overall, great job by Princess especially organising such good weather too!