Embarkation: We arrived a day earlier to help avoid any delays that could potentially prevent us from getting on the ship on time. For my partner and I this was cruise number 18 and yet with every cruise it's an incredible, exciting and invigorating experience! We checked into the Hilton "at the airport" and found ourselves in an incredible room for only $70.00, booked through the internet. In the morning we ate at the restaurant "buffet" $15.00pp and we were off to the port via a private shuttle from the hotel $9.00 pp + tip. The Princess employee that had us get in line didn't know what "Priority embarkation" was and had no training before starting his new job, there was some confusion and chaos getting everyone checked in but all and all we got through it within a reasonable amount of time.
Upon boarding I was very pleased with the overall look of the ship, it really was more rooms and activities than I could do or experience in a mere seven days. The stained glass chandelier at the top of the Piazza is gorgeous with a large circular boarder of tacky cheesy lights surrounding it like "Princess meets Carnival" or "Princess meets Las Vegas" or "we tried too hard, didn't know when to stop and this is what we came up with". The Ruby also has English bars with fish & chips + bangers n mash, miniature golf, many huge spacious lounges each with a huge stage for performances, Piazza with multiple street entertainers, gelato station, bakery stations, candy station, large Casino, martini bars, Grand Piano aglow with ruby lights, the Piazza has an energy all it's own. Our room (room and balcony) had the new car smell and was very nice with brand new everything. The sink did break on the 5th day of the cruise and the repairmen did not have the part to fix it so when used….. the soapy dirty water poured all over the floor, we tried to use the shower instead. The rooms have flat screen TV's, refrigerators, safes, also there is plenty of room for your empty luggage under the beds and plenty of spare blankets under the beds as well. The whirlpools in the back of the ship are seldom in use and very clean, there is also a crazy looking pool in the rear of the ship that is next to the whirlpool and looks with a large tin can sunk into the floor. Down one level from there are two large fountains with "ruby" lighting and then down another level is the adult's pool that is cold square and deep with a large bar just a few feet away.
Lido: The Lido experience was just OK at best. We had to get our food but the food grouping were not grouped. For example, find a pancake and then walk around looking for the butter and then walk around looking for the syrup and then get the rest of your food and good luck finding a table, walk again to get your beverages and then before you eat you have to hunt down silverware.
Divinci Room for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner: However the sit down breakfast was excellent, fantastic and incredible in both terms of quality and service. Hot chocolate (no extra charge) came in huge stainless steel decanters, fresh papaya, mango, eggs benedict, and whatever you expect for breakfast was on the menu. Lunch was great and dinner was spectacular with Alaskan Crab, Lobster, Filet Mignon, Beef Wellington, great salads, various fish, shell fish, wonderful appetizers, and fantastic deserts. My favorite was the fruit sorbets (Mandarin and Lemon Cello) they were like Italian Ice and indescribably excellent. The rhubarb sorbet was actually strawberry ice cream and the blueberry was ok.
One small tip: If you order coffee and want cream then you have to say "I want cream not milk" or you get skim milk with your coffee and it's not the same and Princess should know better than to pinch pennies by passing off skim milk as cream in its creamers.
Anytime dinning option: Not really "anytime" dinning when every night we had to grab a pager that lights up when your table is ready, we had to wait an hour or more every night. Next cruise we will opt for the assigned 1st or second dinner seating.
1st stop: Cozumel, we went to Chankanaab Park, $10.00 taxi, $16.00pp admittance and it's an incredible place to spend the day with a fantastic restaurant, coral reefs for snorkeling, white sandy beaches, tropical gardens, ponds, shops, and waiters bringing you anything you desire while you sizzle in the sun or under an umbrella. I slathered on the sunblock, grabbed a white plastic bed, dragged it away from the chatty neighbors and under a tree to then fell asleep to the sound of the ocean breezes blowing the palm trees and the ocean waves splashing against the shore. There is also a raft that you can swim out to and rest, the raft is in the middle of some excellent snorkeling also and (during my experience here) one 5 foot long barracuda I would have rather not met. The barracuda are not dangerous but they look ominous and give me the heeby geebies, when I snorkel I look but don't touch anything and always keep a few feet between myself and the coral when there are waves to keep from being pushed into the coral and rocks.
2nd stop: Grand Cayman, a wealthy island with little to do unless you go to the Sting Ray tour as I have many times in the past. Our tour was cancelled so we had to walk to the other end of the ship, grab a ticket for the tender to shore and to be honest the whole tender process took many hours and I can totally understand why people often opt to just stay on the ship and skip this port altogether. Once on shore in Grand Cayman I walked left and a mile down was a restaurant "Casanova's by the sea" and ate lunch (lunch special $15.00pp. The food here is excellent, it's never crowded, and the views are spectacular, eating inside or outside is up to you. I then ventured to a grocery store and purchased a few new foods I can't get at home and then back to the ship.
3rd stop: Jamaica, hot and sunny the heat and humidity sucks the energy from you as you walk about. I visited turtle park and it's was still under construction with a few ponds and Japanese red and orange carp swimming in dingy water. Employee were trimming the trees everywhere with 3 foot hatchets. There were many Jamaicans lining the sidewalks offering various "items and services", this was making if difficult to get around and yet it was nice meeting and chatting with them also. Finally I fed some cereal to the chickens running around and went back to the ship. If you want to have a great time in Jamaica and can climb slippery steep rocks, the Dunn River Falls or the river tubing tours are the best. I bought a handsome tropical shirt during this visit to Jamaica and when I washed the shirt in the ships (on board Laundromat) the shirt fell apart and every seam became un-sewn and detached.
4th stop: Private Island: The BBQ is just OK at best and the beaches are very nice with the best snorkeling I have ever experienced. They do sell fish food at the private beach or some passengers brought breakfast cereal to feed the fish to experience a fireworks display of color under the water as schools of martins, parrot fish, trumpet fish, angel fish, snapper, ETC swirl about you getting within millimeters of you but never touching. Some snorkelers were holding bread rolls under the water and watching the fish eat out of their hand. This is excellent snorkeling with out the boring safety lecture, cumbersome life jackets, or tour fees. If you don't have your own snorkeling equipment at the Private island or Chankanaab Park in Cozumel you can always rent it for a nominal fee. The snorkeling area at the private island is indicated on the map they will hand you when you board the ship's tender for transport to the island….also to get to the snorkeling area take a right off the dock when you disembark the tender and walk down about ¼ mile looking for the brown wooden pier that has a hut at the end with a red roof, snorkeling equipment and fish food is near by this spot.
Conclusion: In many passengers' opinion including mine, this Ruby ship is in the same class as Celebrity. This is a remarkable Princess ship and yet all of the Princess ships are very nice with the Ruby being very similar to the others plus a few purple lights for the "Ruby effect". The colors are "muted", relaxed and the ship is decorated with impeccable taste. For every group occupying a cabin, Princess gave a keepsake gift for our cruise since it was the first 7 day cruise ever. The keepsake gift was a candle holder by Kosta Boda of Sweden, this was a very nice ruby colored infused glass candle holder. Princess really did an outstanding and over all excellent job with this new ship, and just as any day on vacation is an excellent day………. any day on a beautiful Princess ship promises to be an excellent day also.