This was our first time on the Ruby, and my fiance's first time sailing with Princess, also his first time being to the Caribbean at all. I used to work for Princess on ships about 10 years ago, and am a travel agent so cruising is not new to me, we also approach every holiday with an open mind so we get the best experience possible. We did a 9 day "Caribbean Sampler" which was a 4 night, and 5 night back to back. Everything was smooth transitioning between them, the only drawback was that they moved our table at dinner at the start of the second cruise, we enjoyed the company of another couple we met at dinner on the first half, so we got it switched and were back with them again, no issues. The menu did repeat again on the second half as it was a "new" sailing, but again, no issues. Some people were disappointed that there was no lobster for the "surf and turf" night (They said it's only available on full 7 night sailings, not back to back's. Understandable.) but I don't eat sea food, so it didn't impact me at all, just thought I'd mention it.
The Ruby is a beautiful ship, some people state that she's showing her age and looking run down, but I didn't notice any paint peeling or rust spots or shaggy looking carpet. There were "Wet Varnish" and "Wet Paint" signs up everywhere for the first sea day, so obviously they're keeping up with the maintenance, but this is standard. I had previously sailed on the Crown Princess which was the same layout, so I found it easy to navigate, however Princess ships are a bit of a funny layout when it comes to the dining rooms, with the Botticelli being only accessible from one set of elevators at the back, this always seems to cause some confusion, but once you know where it is, it's not an issue.
We had an "Obstructed Oceanview" stateroom on Emerald deck (deck 8), we were expecting a full obstruction of the window which is what it says online, however it was not obstructed at all. We had cabin E416, and it was in right in the middle, so there was a good gap between the lifeboats outside so we had a full view, while paying for an obstruction, excellent value! The cabin was a good size for the amount of time spent in there. The bed seemed a bit hard at first, but it was actually quite comfortable. We love the closet/storage space between the bathroom and bedroom spaces on Princess ships, it's very convenient to not have large wardrobes with doors what swing into the already small space. We were right by the mid-ship elevators and heard no noise at all. On this ship, Deck 7 is the one that spans the length of the ship where everything is pretty much located, so being only one deck above was a perfect location.
The staff was great! Our cabin steward Pisces was amazing! We joked that he was a ninja, because we would leave the room for half an hour, and come back and it would be cleaned already even though we hardly ever saw him. When we did see him, he always greeted us with a smile, and was friendly. Our waiter at dinner for the first half was very quiet and didn't really talk about the menu, or what he recommended. The night of the "baked Alaska" parade, he didn't even tell us that it was available to order since it wasn't on the regular menu. For the second half, our waiter Andrii was amazing, he greeted us with a smile, made recommendations every night and remembered our preferences. Like night and day compared to the previous waiter. Even though the menu was repeated after the first sailing, we enjoyed the food, and had no issues at all.
The pizza is fantastic, always has been, and I'm sure it will continue this way. The grill was also great. I didn't notice many people getting the chicken burger, but it's my favorite. It's a whole grilled chicken breast, not just a chopped up chicken patty, delicious. The buffet always had good options for breakfast and lunch, we didn't try it out for dinner.
We did our shore excursions through Princess and for the most part were satisfied. We did the Atlantis Discovery tour and it was disappointing. For $50pp we got to see the public areas of the hotel that we could have seen for free. The only thing we got to see that was "exclusive" was one aquarium. We spoke with other people who paid about $20 round trip for a taxi and wandered around alone for free and saw all the same stuff. The port area of Nassau is a horrible place. I've been to Nassau before, and the rest of it is beautiful, this area needs to be re-evaluated. People hounding you every step for a taxi, excursion, water, hair braiding, you name it. When you say no they were nice, and didn't keep pressing, but the next step someone else was right in your face. We'll stay on the ship next time if Nassau is on the itinerary, or we'll avoid it on an itinerary completely. There were also about 6 ships in port with us, which I'm sure ads to the chaos but isn't a reflection of Princess or the Ruby.
I will say that I was disappointed by how "formal nights" are handled now. On the first one there was a gentleman at the table next to us wearing jeans, a Hawaiian shirt and sneakers, and nobody said anything to him. Gone are the days where the formal dress code is strictly enforced. I know some people hate dressing up while on vacation, but we enjoy it and will continue to do it.
It was nice to see that things with Princess have just continued to be excellent over the years and that they aren't trying to mimic other lines with their endless "showy" activities, water slides, and surplus of flashy attractions. We actually came back relaxed, which is the point.