My husband and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary with a cruise that began on Sept. 9 in Rome. The itinerary was very good and we have sailed with Princess about 5 times now, the last being just 6 months ago when we sailed on the Coral Princess through the Panama Canal. I liked the Ruby much better than the Panama canal trip with the Coral. The ship was big enough to have the amenities we like and not so big that we feel we have to trudge miles to get anywhere. We stayed on the 11th floor and felt we were close enough to the pools and Horizon Court and everything seemed quite easy to find except the Boticelli dining room, which is on deck 6, in the mid-ship area.
The food was actually better on this ship than it was in Panama but I do think overall, Princess has gone down in quality quite a bit since we first started cruising 15 years ago. The familiar icons of the dining room such as the flambe' cherries jubilee and Baked Alaska parade, singing waiters for Italian night, etc. are shadows of how things were. Some changes are good, we actually like smaller portions and I think Princess is trying to be flexible by allowing 1 bottle of wine per person to be brought in each port stop. We carried in wine and beer almost each time we stopped and security never even glanced at them. Often we paid a corkage fee to have wine in the dining room but sometimes we asked for wine glasses and drank it somewhere on the ship.
The excursions have gone up quite a bit in price and they still have the same format, spend 1 hour sitting in the theater or someplace waiting for your tour to be called and ending with shopping at some place that Princess picks for you to shop. Wasted time in my mind and Europe has great opportunities for self-guided tours. Check out Rick Steves' website for Mediterranean cruise ship port guidebook and free apps you where you can download tours for your iphone or ipad/ipod. They were fabulous, and no heavy foreign accents to wade through. My husband has hearing issues and we did the Sorrento/Pompeii tour and it was really hard to understand our tour guide. Also, we had some very elderly, slower people on the tour even though it had a 'strenuous' emblem but they still came. Really read the tour materials to get the most out of your tour.
We loved Dubrovnik, Athens, and Corfu. Corfu had a city bus in the parking lot that you could take into town and back, Athens had a bus stand across from the terminal we took to the metro, went to the Acropolis (couple of ways to do it, ask in the cruise terminal), we shared a cab in Dubrovnik and there were Ephesus tours advertised in the cruise terminal in Kusadasi that were half of the ship's cost. Venice had a vaporetto (water bus) stop at the cruise terminal ( it only takes Euros ) or take the People Mover over to the train station and walk to the Vaporetto stop. The Princess ticket for the water shuttle didn't go down the Grand Canal, it went outside, by the cruise ship entrance so if you took that, you missed a chance to see the canal. Some of it took a bit to figure out but not too bad. Since you only have a few hours in Athens, check out the Acropolis museum, it is new and much closer than the other museums. Overall, we loved the trip, we probably will give Princess another try since we just hit Platinum after this cruise but we are interested in checking out other lines. Enjoy!