My wife and I decided to take a cruise for her 50th birthday after shopping some options for February. We decided on Princess and the Ruby Princess. We have been cruising on Celebrity line for several trips to the Caribbean and enjoyed the Aqua Spa class. We had heard great things about Princess and the ports looked attractive. We felt the price for a Jr Suite seemed excellent as well. After some research we learned the Jr suite do not have covered balconies. The room is larger, but when you are out on the balcony the room above can look down on you. We just could not enjoy the outside space with the prospect of another passenger standing at the rail looking at us. So we decided to try an aft cabin.
Embarking onto the ship was simple there were no lines as we were almost at last call to board. The ship was smaller than we had been used to but we were paying a bit less than our normal vacation. We arrived at a difficult time to get any food as the muster drills were to start. We went to our cabin B754 aft to find it clean and ready. The Stuart had laid a cover over the bed to allow suitcases to be placed on the bed. The room was much smaller than we were used to, no couch just one chair placed almost in the way of the door to balcony and completely in the way of mini fridge. The bathroom was clean, but the shower tiny and tended to rain water onto the floor if your not careful.
I had read many reviews regarding the odors that some passengers encountered aft of the ship. We were willing to keep an open mind on this. Well, there is definitely a smell that comes from a rear vent apparently connected to the kitchen, all day and night there is the smell of food on balcony. We were ok with it not too strong but ... Some people complained that it smelled like garbage. All in the individual's nose, I guess. We had never sailed in an aft cabin before I was no too sure of the amount of vibration from the props. We were on the 11th deck and you could hear and feel them.
The food on the ship was at best average in most venues buffet was too limited and crowded as they were managing how much space was open to sit at. No real great variety and not able to keep tables clean and available at rate of use. I would say good for lunch or snack for most part. We had dinner at the steak house best food we had while on the ship. Dining room anytime was always a wait or forced to share tables, food was ok , service good.
The best thing we invested in was the use of the Sanctuary deck area located above the spa. Our room paperwork stated the rent at $10 for half day and $20 full day pp. When we went to book the rate was $20 half $40 full. We were also told 75 percent of the chairs were pre booked and balance we would have to return at 7am to wait and see what was left. So the next morning I arrived prior to 7am to wait. I was greeted by 4 other passengers with the same thing in mind. We all were in luck we got to give them more of our money to receive what is free on some ships. The experience was good worth the extra considering the limited space and shaded areas on deck, especially on sea days.
After consideration of costs and added charges for spa, and some basic things we enjoyed on the other cruise line. Our great price was not as good as we thought for a quick get away. I am not sure why Princess which has had a good reputation would let things slip in areas that seem to matter to many passengers.
I can not say it was a terrible cruise, just not what were have become accustom to on Celebrity, but also not as expensive. Good value for quick get away not for us on primary vacation. We may not return to Princess unless new ships are more competitive with other lines.