My adult son and I traveled aboard the Ruby Princess last week from Port Everglades to Princess Cays and Grand Turk, returning to Port Everglades on Saturday. The ship, the itinerary, the timing...all were exactly as advertised and exactly what we wanted.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday and spent the night at the W Hotel on the beach...it was adequate in terms of room and location, but lacking in service. We checked out Monday morning and took a cab to the cruise port where we easily boarded the ship...no waiting, no hassles. Embarkation was hassle free and quick. We had left our large suitcases with the porters who met our cab, so we dropped our small bags in our room (more about that later) and had a lovely lunch in the Horizon cafe. Then we began exploring the ship.
The ship is lovely - beautifully decorated and delightfully clean. It took us a little while to figure out where the attractions were, as they're a bit spread out. Eventually we found the spa, the theater, the restaurants, the late-night lounge and the various bars/entertainment venues. Nice surprises were the two small pools...one inside the spa area for adults only but available to all adults, not just spa guests. That area also led to The Sanctuary which I loved for its comfort, service and shaded lounge chairs. The other small pool is on the rear of the ship just outside the buffet...we often took our breakfast or lunch out there and ate al fresco.
Now to our cabin...we had selected a balcony cabin on the rear of the ship (C753) and it was exactly what we expected...large enough for two of us and with a larger-than-average very private covered balcony with great views of the ship's wake. The bathroom was quite small (especially the shower) but we knew in advance and were prepared for it. Our cabin steward, Romeo, was practically psychic in caring for us...he seemed to know exactly when we'd be out and what we'd need upon our return. Even if we left for just a few minutes, on return he would have been in to refresh towels, neaten our clothing and replace ice in our ice bucket.
We were never bored and in every venue we found the service to be friendly and quick. We played several rounds (and types) of trivia; listened to various musicians and attended most of the evening shows in the Princess Theater. We had fun and there's a 33-year difference in our ages, so I'd recommend this cruise for any adult.
We used tenders to get to Princess Cays, and since we didn't leave the ship until about noon, we needed no ticket...just walked right onto a tender and were ashore in a very few minutes. We had reserved a clamshell for the beach, and had to do a bit of walking to find one that was available but once settled we enjoyed the visit very much...it was a perfect day of sun and moderate temperature (about 75-80 F) so we read, walked the beach and enjoyed the drinks service in our clamshell. The return to the ship by tender was also uncomplicated - no waiting. Some people complained about the rolling of the tender in the rather large swells and maybe they should stay ashore instead of cruising!
Our days at sea were marked by perfect weather and gracious service. The other port, Grand Turk, was a short walk down the pier...we did not book an excursion choosing instead to take advantage of all the amenities available at Margaritaville...huge, clean pool with lounge chairs, beach with chairs, restaurant and friendly drinks service. The only negative here was the relatively high price of the adult beverages...two regular margaritas cost $25 with tip.
We chose to dine each evening in the dining room and had signed up for anytime dining. We missed the memo that assigned us to the Michelangelo Dining Room and showed up at Botticelli's the first two nights where the Maitre D'Hotel graciously found a table for us without telling us we were in the wrong place! In fact, he was SO pleasant and accommodating we greatly enjoyed meeting him later outside the restaurant. By the third night, we found out about the anytime dining room (Michelangelo's) and met some lovely fellow travelers while enjoying our leisurely dinners.
When the final morning came, as it inevitably does, we prepared to leave the Ruby Princess with great sadness. As directed, we vacated our cabin, wandered up to the Lido Deck for a cup of coffee then moved to the assigned lounge to wait for our color to be called. When it was called, we walked down one deck to the gangway, immediately found our luggage and moved through customs and out to the bus that took us to the airport with barely a pause. It was probably the most well-organized debarkation I've ever experienced.
This was my fifth cruise with Princess, and I've also sailed with many of her competitors. I will be sailing with Princess again when the itinerary, price and timing are right. No complaints and lots of compliments for the ship, the crew and all the details.