This was our 7th and 8th cruise, 6 with Princess and one each with Celebrity and Holland America. Princess offered this Caribbean cruise as a 9-day package but as 4-day Western Caribbean and a 5-day Eastern Caribbean voyage. We sailed Feb 20 to Mar 1 out of Fort Lauderdale. This cruise was booked because of the great deal we got and not having been any of the islands except for Princess Cays
We stayed at the Best Western hotel on State 84 the day before the cruise which is a convenient location as it is only 10 minutes to the cruise port. The hotel offered a shuttle at 10:30 and 11:30 which we declined as Princess asks you to arrive after 2 pm for a faster embarkation process. We took a taxi and arrived around 1:30 pm and were on board in record time. Our bags arrived outside the stateroom in plenty of time to unpack and make a tour of the ship. We had sailed on the Emerald Princess a few years ago and found the Ruby Princess very familiar so getting around was easy. Since this was two separate cruises we obtained Platinum status after the 4-day cruise which made the 5-day cruise more enjoyable with a few perks.
The Princess Patter true to form arrived each night explaining the activities, including drink of the day, port and weather information. The was enough to select a variety of options or do nothing and lay by the 4 pools. This holiday was selected so we could relax and get away from the snow and cold temperatures.
The service on the Ruby Princess was very good, from the cabin steward to the bar tenders to the waiters in the restaurants. We experienced friendly staff and always with a smile and a hello.
The schedule for the 4-day cruise was a day at sea, Grand Cayman Island, day at sea. We booked an excursion through the ship on Grand Cayman. A short tender had us at the cruise port/duty free area. We visited a turtle farm, rum cake factory and Hell. We found it rushed and had only 15 minutes at each stop. The rum cake factory consisted of sampling rum and cake but no tour of the plant. We found the tour disappointing. But enjoyed seeing the beautiful island. We did not see any garbage along the streets.
The schedule for the 5-day cruise was Ft Lauderdale, Nassau, Princess Cays, Turks & Caicos, day at sea. We walked around Nassau and shopped and visited the local area. We did not take an excursion. We had lunch at Senior Frogs on the balcony overlooking the water and could see the 5 cruise ships that were in port that day. It make for a busy downtown. We took the tender into Princess Cays, having been there 3 times we knew what to expect. This was a great beach day. The water was warm and inviting. There appeared to be a lot more large rocks in the sand on this visit. We took a ship excursion on Grand Turk just to see the island. We stopped at an area on the beach for picture taken near a haunted house, then arrived at a St Mary's Pro-Cathedral church with red shutters, next was the salt flats quarry which consisted of a gift shop and then onto Governor's beach which was beautiful.
We decided on traditional dining and booked the 6 pm sitting with a table of 10. Our dinner guests were a great mix. We had 8 Canadians and 2 Americans at the table which was interesting as the winter Olympics were on and the Canadian men and women hockey teams had won gold. Our two waiters were very good and soon began to recognize patterns. The only complaints was they use the same menu from the 4-day cruise onto the 5-day cruise. We had a few meals in the dining room for breakfast with one room service and the remainder at the buffet. We tried the pizza twice and it was great. The selections were very good in the traditional dining room and buffet. We did not try the pool grill which serviced burgers, fries and hot dogs but it must have been acceptable according to the long lines.
Princess recycled the entertainment along with the menu. The Princess singers and dancers performed two nights, a comedian and illusionist one night each. Princess really messed with the comedian as he put on an adult only show 10:30 pm in the Club Fusion which was so full people were sitting on the floor, the stage and folding chairs. He was so popular they should have had him perform in the Princess theatre after the 8:30 pm show, not sure what the reason was. I was disappointed with the scheduling of the poker tournament. The tournament was held at 10:30 am on sea days and 7 pm after port days. Normally they are held 1 pm and 10 pm after the meal hours shows. As a result I didn't play and on the last sea day the tournament was $100 not the usual $60.
Disembarkation was more difficult than it should have been and the opposite to embarkation. We had opted for carrying our own bags and walking off the ship to reach our privately scheduled transfer to the airport. Since we were now Platinum status we were invited to gather in the Club Fusion for an 8:30 am departure as we had to be out of the cabin by 8 am. The woman who was in 'charge' and the rudest person all 9 days that we had met. The process was 30 minutes behind schedule and it appeared the colours being processed were not to schedule leaving many people upset. Eventually we grabbed out luggage, scanned out cards and walked off. Once we were given the proper direction, we found our transport.
Summary: this cruise ended up being exactly what we wanted. Relaxation, do what we wanted to do and of course enjoying the beautiful warm sunny weather. The weather at sea was very calm, probably the calmest during our 8 cruises. Princess seems to have stepped up their service and little details have been noted.