Arrived the day before, meeting my friend at the airport since we were traveling from two different cities. Elected to arrange for a car service rather than rely on taxis and ABC Limos provided their usual efficient service. (Have used twice before and have been happy each time.)
Embarkation: Arrived at the port around 11:15 and were directed to the Elite waiting area. Were through all the check-in processes and on board by noon. Comparison: I liked the NCL boarding better as there was a separate lounge for Suite and Latitudes members. However, the process was very efficient and we were allowed to go directly to our cabin unlike other cruise lines that have a set 'cabin available' time.
Suite: Nicely decorated in muted colors. Comfy sofa, dining height coffee table and a side chair. Heavy curtain that can be pulled between the living area and the bedroom area. Bathroom - VERY nice with two separate areas. Tub and roomy, glass-doored shower in one, lavatory and toilet in the other. VERY convenient for two friends traveling together. My companion and I are very good friends, but we didn't want to (and didn't HAVE to) share everything.
Balcony: The balcony was WONDERFUL and my favorite place to hang out in the early morning and in the afternoons. I enjoyed listening to the sound of the wake and watching the sun come up/go down. HUGE space with plenty of room for the dining table (wood) and four chairs (blue striped chair pads) AND the two loungers and two coffee tables. We put one of them behind the beam that's on the far right side and were able to leave a book/sunglasses there all day, There was almost always a pleasant breeze, but it was rarely what I would call windy. We were on the Dolphin deck so did not hear anything from Club Fusion (two decks below) or from the pool (three(?) decks above.) The area is completely covered so was shady most of the time. In the evenings it was usually in full sun. If you're a sun-lover, probably not the best choice of cabins for you. If you're very fair (like me), it might just be perfect!
Storage: Plenty for the two of us and neither is a light packer. Suitcases fit easily under the two beds. Our cabin steward said that this was the first time one of his suites had been arranged with the twin beds rather than the single larger bed. There was enough room to easily move about, but the space between the left bed and the sliding door was a little tight. (No complaint - you just need to be a little graceful if you get out of bed on that side.)
NICE TOUCH: Two separate climate controls for the two areas. Turns out that my traveling companion likes the air conditioning set at 'hang beef' while I was taking this cruise to get warm after an extreme cold spell here in Atlanta. Solution: I took the living area at night, sleeping on the sofa with the sliding door open to enjoy hearing the ocean. She had the bedroom pleasantly chilled to her liking. With the drape pulled between the two areas, this worked out well for both of us.
Suite Amenities: Our cabin steward Jojo came by to introduce himself and brought two glasses of champagne a few minutes later. There was a gorgeous, large, arrangement of flowers on the coffee table. The mini bar was stocked with various min-bottles (gin, vodka, whiskey and brandy) and the fridge had two bottles of water, two bottles of Perrier, two Cokes and two Sprites as well as two beers and two tonics. (We traded out the Sprite, tonic and beer for Cokes.) A bottle of fragrance had leaked in my suitcase, so I was thrilled to have access to free laundry service for the one garment that was affected. There was no rush to get it back so it came back on Monday and was hanging on the entertainment center when we returned in the afternoon. CanapEs: Arrived without being requested on Saturday and Sunday. Nothing on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. On Thursday I finally read the binder on the desk and found out that I should have been requesting via a hang tag on the door. (There were no hang tags). On Thursday, again arrived without being requested. (?????) Robes - my gosh, I wish I'd brought an extra suitcase as I would have purchased one to take home. VERY thick terry cloth and wonderful to wrap up in to enjoy breakfast on the balcony. The products in the bathroom were nice - eucalyptus scented shampoos/soaps/lotions and several of each. Plenty for two women for the week without requesting refills.
Room Service: Jojo left the daily menus in the room and we could order from them for lunch or for dinner. My companion did order appetizers one evening while waiting for me to finish in the spa and reported that the order was delivered in a timely, accurate, fashion and was very tasty. For the most part, the only thing we requested from room service was a pitcher of iced tea in the afternoons, and coffee/croissants/fruit in the mornings. HINT: If you order similar items, be very specific. Unless you request it, croissants don't come with butter or jam, but once we figured that out, we were good to go.
Dining: Compared to previous cruises (HAL/NCL), the food was very good. We had Anytime dining and elected to share tables. We never had to wait for more than a couple of minutes in the 7:30 - 8:00 time-frame. We did the Crowne Grille on the first formal night and completely enjoyed the experience. The food was tasty, service was good, and ambiance very pleasant. The experience was heightened when the Maitre d' Hotel came by to tell us we had been selected for the Chef's Table.
Chef's Table: In a single word - AMAZING! Started with appetizers and champagne in the galley with the Chef and the Maitre d' Hotel. Both obviously are very proud of the ship, their staff's and their role in providing quality meals for the passengers. The dinner was wonderful and the dessert was served on dishes made of sugar. We were both so thrilled to be selected and enjoyed a memorable experience!
Sabatini's: (Breakfast) - What a nice touch! We truly enjoyed our mornings there. Service was consistently excellent and the Eggs Benedict - tasty! Ah, that every day at home could start with fresh pastries and Mimosas!
Buffet: We ate lunches in the Horizon Court most days and always found something that was tasty. My friend raved about the beet and corn salad and I could have foundered on the rolls. We had little problem finding a table, nearly always sharing with others. We enjoyed meeting new people and heard some wonderful stories in the process.
Shows: I enjoyed the Broadway review, attending the last show available on this cruise (10:30 show). Talented performers, nicely paced show. Missed out on 'Once Upon a Dream", but would have like to see it.
Spa/Sanctuary: My companion elected to indulge in total relaxation for this trip and the Sanctuary met her every need in that respect. We reserved two chairs for the entire cruise and the staff was attentive without being annoying. She enjoyed the smoothies and cold beverages that were available there. I didn't use the facility as much as I hoped as I went ashore at each of the ports and tended to gravitate to the wonderful cabin balcony for downtime. We each had two 'spa' days and found the services to be very good. Particularly nice was the lack of high pressure sales pitches for product. (Probably the reason we went back for the 2nd treatments!)
Ports: Generally, I thought that the time in port seemed shorter than on previous cruises with boarding time in 3:30-4:00 p.m. range, except for Cozumel (5:30, I think). Ocho Rios - Snorkel Catamaran. Interestingly, we were never out of sight of the ship. The snorkeling was nice despite off and on rain and cloudy skies. Was not thrilled with being pressured to purchase 'hand made' trinkets or hair braids. but overall an enjoyable excursion. I thought I would do some shopping after the excursion, but after being approached outside the gate and asked if I wanted to buy some smoke, I elected to head back to the ship. (I was by myself and just felt a little uncomfortable.) Grand Cayman - no excursion booked, but enjoyed just wandering in and out of the shops. Cozumel - REALLY enjoyed this port as there was a nice little restaurant serving Mexican food right on the beach. Thought the guacamole was tasty, enjoyed the gazpacho and then moved to a beach chair under the palm trees for a large, tasty, margarita and some time with my book, iPod and camera.
Princess Cay: Had arranged for a bungalow but was disappointed in amenities for price. We did get priority tendering, arriving on the island around 9:45 a.m. We had bungalow 13 (I think). It came complete with several lounges (two on the porch, four outside on the railing) and convenient access to the snorkeling area. Unlike previous cruises (per reports on Princess Boards), there was no golf cart in sight on arrival (but we did have for the return trip which was helpful as my friend has some mobility issues.) There were beach towels available in the bungalow as well as a round dining table and four chairs in the air-conditioned space. No water/food service provided. The walk to the buffet area/restrooms was not bad. We had two floating chairs reserved, but the water was pretty choppy and we didn't collect them. Last tender was posted as being at 3:00, so we headed back around 2:00 to avoid long lines. Were on the tender after about a 20 minute wait. Bottom line: Don't know that I would do a bungalow again. There were plenty of pleasant spots to relax in the shade or in the sun. Would probably have used more of the water toys if they hadn't been so far from our 'home base' bungalow.
Reading back over this, it seems that I have a lot of gripes - NOT the case. The cruise was lovely. The staff consistently friendly and helpful. We started our cruise with cocktails in the Explorer's Lounge, watching the sun set over Miami. So nice! Watching Mama Mia on the MUTS screen was a fun experience (complete with warm lap robes against the chill, popcorn, and TWIZZLERS! (Yes, they had Junior Mints!) The coffee bar provided pleasant pre/post dinner java fixes. For being such a large ship, there were numerous cozy corners to enjoy quiet conversations with friends.
Bottom line: The Ruby Princess is a lovely vessel, the staff was wonderful, the food was plentiful and tasty. I feel that we definitely got our money's worth and would not hesitate to sail on her again.