Ruby Princess Cruise Review by Bayshoreman: Excuse Me!
Overall Member Rating
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Breakfast, lunch and late-night buffet were sporadically good, bad and okay depending on the dish served, e.g. moist, hand sliced roasted turkey was outstanding but cold quiche just didn't do it. Poolside pizza was great. Hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst at the poolside grill were so-so. Our group of eight ate dinner at the Crown Grill our first night and Sabatini's the second night and both restaurants were very good.
On our third night we did "anytime seating" for 7 PM in the Da Vinci dinning room and the food was horrendous! My fish and chips (this and quesadillas were actually two of the five or so entrees on the dinner menu) were heat-light warm but both fish and fries were soggy, unappetizing to even look at and equally inedible. I would have changed it out for something else but with the exception of one of our group, the rest of the servings were of equal unappeal. Most of us proceeded to the dinner buffet later were they did actually serve More some decent food.
While I relate this terrible culinary experience, please note that our table waiter and the other serving staff at our table were wonderful. Also, by sheer coincidence, we went to the wine tasting earlier in the day ($25 and really a good bargain!) and one of the best presenters (very knowledgeable and quite funny with some self-deprecating Indian humor) turned out to be our Head Waiter. We complemented him on his wine presentation and added how much we enjoy Indian food and suggested that we would have preferred that over anything that was served on the menu that evening. To our total and complete amazement he said that he would make a special Indian dinner for us next evening.
That next evening, we showed up at our 7 PM scheduled time and he had prepared for us some of the best Indian food we ever had (and we've had much!).
Ruby Princess is beautifully decorated and spotlessly clean. However, if you consider yourself to be a mannerly person, be prepared to repeat the phrase "Excuse me" endlessly. The pool deck (Deck 15) has numerous choke points on both port and starboard passageways because of the seating arrangements and the angled support struts spanning the support pillars and the ceiling. The result often only allows one person to pass at a time causing you to wait on someone going the opposite direction or vice versa.
Ditto this on the Promenade Deck. The width of the outside deck is the smallest I've seen on any ship I've been on even though the ship is 113,000 tons! There is not enough room for lounge chairs and fast walking, strolling, running is especially challenging both because of the narrowness and the lack of direction sign, e.g. counter clockwise.
As to room size, we had a balcony room on the Deck 14 and as the one good comedian on the cruise pointed out "Princess designed the room so that should you slip and fall in the shower, you will land right on the bed."
The staff was well experienced and could not have been more helpful and courteous. This is certainly desirable to have on any cruise experience but the one downside is that there was no notable enforcement of pool area rules. For example, in both amidships pools, kids were running around and jumping into the pools (even having "cannonball" contests); people "claiming" poolside lounge chairs with their towels then leaving for hours at a time (printed rules state that if chairs are left vacant for more than 15 minutes towels will be removed); children under 16 are not allowed in the first three rows of Theater Under the Stars but there they are!
In looking at some of the bios of the cruise management and in talking to many of the service staff in the bars, restaurants, etc., I got the distinct impression that the current Ruby Princess crew is basically a "core" start-up crew that Princess uses to operate their newly launched ships while eventually training a new crew to take over once all the kinks are worked out.
Scenic Island, beautiful water, great layout. Virtually no place to rinse sand off your feet and other articles/footwear (at least the side we were on) so people were using the drinking water containers instead. Restrooms are third world. There was nothing in the pre-arrival room flyer (that we could find) nor were there any noticeable signs when you arrive at the island (by tender) that the food service is only from 11 AM to 1 PM. There is a sign posted on the buffet hut but we went directly to find beach chairs and as a result would have missed getting any food at all had not the people next to us said we better get up there before they close!
After eight previous cruises, this is the first time that we've really feel we were being "nickeled and dimed" to death. There were many "extra" charges, e.g. ice cream, upgraded lounge chairs in the "Sanctuary" section, beach cabana, etc. The prices were generally reasonable but still irritating to have to keep paying for the extras.
Lastly, I don't know whether this was because I hadn't noticed it on prior Princess Cruises or because of the nickel and diming but I made an interesting observation about how they made their alcoholic drinks...every bartender that I saw poured the alcohol into the shot glass away from the drink glass as opposed to over the glass as is the custom in most USA bars that measure drinks. As a result the bartender pours a less-then-shot into the shot glass to prevent spillovers as they bring it over to the glass. It may seem as a minor or trivial point but I consider that a bit too frugal on Princess's part especially when the passenger is being shorted.
The $12.95 ship model (which we collect on all the cruise ships we've been on) is both small and tacky (think the Dollar Store bargain bin). Less
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