The Cruise was fabulous, but two days is not enough. Had a balcony on the Aloha (12th) Deck, with a great view. Staterooms are the same as the other Grand Class ships, as is the basic layout of pools, lounges, restaurants and shops, for the most part. Princess has added another buffet station (Cafe Caribe)on the later (I think Crown and after) ships. The biggest difference is in the "Piazza", the main lobby/atrium area. It is now used for a variety of "street entertainers", which on this two day cruise included a Doo Wop Group from New York that were great, and a Juggler/Unicyclist/Comedian who was fabulous, as well as the usual pianist and chamber music type stuff. Around the edge of the piazza they have a coffee bar, a patisserie with fresh bakery goodies as well as salads and sandwiches, a wine and cheese bar, and the best sushi bar at sea I have seen. The second day I stopped in for sushi 3 times. There is also the new More
"Sanctuary", an adults only retreat with it's own pool, steam and sauna rooms, dedicated Serenity Stewards to bring special drinks and snacks, etc. I am told it was great, though I just walked thru. When you only have one full day, you can't get too laid back.
So, I arrived at FLL at 10:30, after a red-eye from Vegas, got on a bus and was at the Port in 10 minutes, checked in and in my stateroom 15 minutes after that. Unpacked and went upstairs to the buffet for a little lunch. Muster Drill was at 2:30, after that a quick dip in the jacuzzi, while watching "Casablanca" on the MUTS, and then it was time to dress.
Went down to the piazza for coffee, then up to the pool deck for the cocktail party kickoff. Roses everywhere, Ruby Red Everything. The festivities were kicked off by the President of the line, followed by Gavin McLeod, and then, of all things - A wedding. Right there on the boat, with Gavin McLeod giving away the bride, and Trista and Ryan as attendants. If I was the least bit romantic, I probably would have swooned. And then Trista and Ryan did the formal Naming Ceremony bit, and that was cool.
So, a little later I wandered down for dinner, and was seated with a really great bunch. The Vice-President of Finance, the Fleet Benefits coordinator (or something like that, he dealt with employee issues of all sorts), and the Compliance Director (who dealt with all the regulatory stuff for all the countries Princess does business in). As well there were four other Travel Agents, two young ladies from Dayton, and two from Tampa. During dinner the Vice President for Entertainment came by, a really witty Brit who has been with Princess for 30 years. He was dressed in a ruby velvet tailcoat with rhinestones, and was cracking jokes with everyone at the table. Not til the next day, when I saw him in a nice blue blazer and slacks did I really believe he was the vice president of anything. Dinner was great. Lobster like they used to do it, great pasta dish, a desert that was so good I don't remember what all was in it. The SailAway was delayed, (In fact we didn't leave the dock til sometime after 11pm, and no one ever explained why, but it's a new ship, so it could have been anything) so I went on down to the lounge.
The big show was an ABBA tribute band, that were quite good actually. Almost made me think I liked ABBA. After the show, and a quick stop in the Casino, it was off to bed for me, as I had been going since my 1 am flight from Vegas.
The next day I breakfasted at the buffet, eating outside on the fantail, one of my favorite cruise rituals. That view and the fresh ocean breeze makes even buffet eggs taste great. After breakfast I attended a Sales seminar, then made my first sushi stop of the day. Back to the room for a quick nap, and then a couple of hours of just walking around checking out all the lounges and such, as well as the entertainment in the piazza. I just missed the Pub Lunch, another new Princess Cruises innovation (copying from their Cunard Line, I am sure), so I consoled myself with a little more sushi.
Then it was time for the Gavin McLeod tribute - a little documentary on his life and career, followed by a Q and A. Lot's of fun, and I did get a chance to get a picture and chat with him a bit afterwards. Following that a trip to the casino, to recover my previous nights losses - almost, but not quite. Then just sat by the pool and relaxed for a while, until time to get dressed for dinner. My tablemates from the night before had arranged to meet at 7. Of course, I had to stop for some sushi on the way in.
Another fab meal, with crab legs and a perfect, tender beef tournedos. The dessert was a chocolate cake funnel-like thing filled with chocolate syrup, topped with white and dark chocolate decoration, and a deep-fried chocolate truffle on the side. I don't even like chocolate all that much, and it was to die for. We were also visited mid-meal by the Executive Chef for Princess, a guy with an obvious passion for both food and ships.
After dinner there was a "Rock Show" with the band Shockwave. Really quite a production, with lasers and strobes and fog machines, etc, which brought to mind a lot of concerts I went to back in the 70's and 80's. And then off to bed. Well, actually, the balcony for an hour of just sitting and feeling content, then bed.
Then up in the morning, another buffet breakfast on the fantail, and off to Ft. Lauderdale. I had 7 hours to kill before my flight, so I grabbed a cab to AIA and Las Olas, and wandered around for a few hours, and a nice lunch - then to the Airport and home.
All in all, a great couple of days. And I look forward to doing a full 7 day on the Ruby Princess, hopefully this summer. Less