We arrived the day before departure and stayed at the Marriot North in Ft Lauderdale . The rate is reasonable and the hotel is very nice and is geared to Cruisers on Weekends . We used the transfer bus from Princess from the airport to the hotel and then the next day to the ship . The Princess reps were well organized and we like the ease of this feature.
Embarkation is a breeze at this port and we were quickly on board the ship . The Ruby is the familiar Princess design and it is beautiful . Every public area is spotless and even though it is only 6 months old, the crew was doing constant maintenance.
From the Cruise Director, James, and his assistants, to the room stewards, the wait staff in all dining areas, and ,yes, even the Pursers' desk staffall were pleasant and friendly and helpful. The tour desk is well situated and that staff was very informative and readily answered questions . The Port Speaker was available too and provided suggestions for those folks who were going to do independent shore visits .
The Piazza on deck 5 was a comfortable place to relax and the entertainment was enjoyable and quite varied from a string quartet , pianists, acrobats, jugglers , etc, and even the 4 singers from the Production shows did an informal concert one afternoon .
The Entertainment in the main lounges was well done. At sea, the show band played for dancing in the afternoons which was a nice touch . The 4 production shows we attended in the Princess Theatre were very good . The latest technology and outstanding costumes added an extra enhancement to the very talented singers and dancers. The new "Once Upon a Dream " was truly amazing . Not to be missed is the Crew Talent show . They had excellent voices and showmanship. And the traditional skit "If I Were Not Upon The Sea " was hilarious.
There were many activities available during the sea days including interesting presentations by a motivational speaker, a financial advisor and the Chief Navigational Officer. The Port Talks were very well done also . Since the library is small , they encouraged passengers to go up to Skywalkers at the top deck,astern, and make use of its comfortable chairs and expanse of windows to do reading and relax.
Our Balcony cabin on the Baja deck was as nice as usual but this time even better . For our 50th wedding anniversary, our family surprised us with a gift of the Ultimate Balcony Dinner. This truly was an Ultimate dining experience, starting with cocktails, champagne,canapes,salads, followed by two enormous lobster tails or a large steak to the special desserts . Along with this comes a floral centerpiece, a 5 by 7 picture taken by the ship's photographer. All of this is served to you by a waiter and his assistant with the white table clothes and crystal ,etc . Check out the blue book on the desk in your cabin for details and the menu and definitely try it.
Food Comments . We have to say that the food on this voyage was the best we have had on Princess and that goes for the Dining rooms as well as the buffets,. We have seen the menus and portion size change over the years to reflect changing tastes of passengers and nutrition and environmental concerns as well as a more casual approach to eating out. If you are seeking fine dining than the optional dining rooms for a fee will provide you with that . We ate breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Court or Club Caribe. They have the usual breakfast type items ( skip the scrambled eggs though ) with a lot of good fruit and they do give you the chance to expand your horizons with different items . For example, one morning there were 5 types of smoked fish another time several sausages including English bangers , and mushroom ragout and even baked beans .
Cafe Caribe is a great place for lunch and dinner . They have different themes ranging from American BBQ to Oriental and Sushi to Curry dishes,etc. In the evening, they served most of the items that were on the Dining room list that night but also have some special theme nights such as a Bavarian Bier Fest . That was complete with German beer , many types of sausages and even a roasted young pig which the chef would slice for you , Then at 11:30 , they switch to their all night buffet with pizza, rotisserie chicken, sub sandwiches and good desserts and of course peanut butter cookies, We made that our stop every night after the entertainment for our Midnight snack.
Another well kept secret are the freshly baked cookies and milk served on Deck 5 in the piazza about 3:30 each day The International Cafe there has a very nice selection of pastries, small sandwiches along with salads . And for a $ 1.50. you can try 3 scoops of the gelato which is also good . Around the corner is a coffee bar for those of you who need your speciality drinks (for a small Fee )
The other secret is that from 3 to 5 , the Horizon Court serves free ice cream sundaes and also makes waffles with all the toppings .
Our special traveling companion, our Brother in law , suffered a back problem the second day at sea with a strong back spasm which caused him to be prone on the floor and had to be taken down to the Medical Center via a stretcher . He found the Doctor and Nurses to be very professional and they were able to help him during several followup visits. The facility is quite complete and it is reassuring that such a service is available in case of such events ,. And, the staff in the Horizon court were very attentive during the incident and when they saw him during the following days, keep inquiring about his health . He did recover by the time we got to land and was able to do his shore excursions,
We were scheduled to stop at Monte Carlo as our last port but that morning as we arrived, strong winds came up and it was impossible to put the Tenders out to get to shore . The Captain wisely would not chance the safety of the passengers or the crew . This is out of everyones control and can happen on any type of vacation
We took a 15 day Transatlantic cruise last year and that was great too . We would now like to try the repositioning trip in the Fall from Europe visiting Iceland and Greenland etc.
We would definitely sail on the Ruby again .,