I hardly know where to start except to say that this was the best vacation I have ever taken. The Ruby Princess is a beautiful ship and the Greek Isles were amazing. Our cruise started in Venice and ended in Civitavecchia and went to 11 ports over the course of our 12 day cruise. The only black mark on the whole trip was the result of Princess Air. Because I am very tall I had requested a bulkhead seat or an exit aisle seat. They said it was taken care of... yeah. On the flight over DW and I were in the center section of a 747 in the last row of economy. The seats in the last row do not recline, however the seats in from of those seats do. The head of the passenger in front of me was practically in my lap and I had no way to relax or recline, much less sleep. The stewardess took pity on me and let me sit in her jump seat, which was far less cramped but just as uncomfortable. Without a doubt the most miserable flight I have ever been on. That being said, the rest of the trip was spectacular.
Food: We generally ate breakfast on the Lido deck, lunch in port and dinner in the Boticelli Dining room. The food was great both the portions and quality. A breakfast note for those that like omelets; the square center section in the kitchen on the Lido deck is where the cooks work on the griddle. Ask one of the kitchen staff behind the counter and they will relay your order to the cooks and call you when it is ready. We also spent time most every evening at Vines, the wine bar. In addition to an extensive wine list they also serve sushi, cheeses and other appetizers that were delicious.
Cabin: We were in a balcony stateroom. The cabin was comparable to those on other ships however there was one misleading aspect of the Princess web site. The website showed the cabin having a very large balcony that was the width of the cabin itself but was square in shape and large enough for four patio chairs and a small table. We were on Deck 11 (Baja) and that was NOT the size of our balcony, which was only half the size they pictured on the web site. The decks below ours had the balcony stateroom with the larger balcony. The layout of this closet in this cabin was great as we had ample space for clothes, shoes, luggage, etc. The bathroom was a typical cruise ship bathroom with an undersized phone booth for a shower.
Weather: We had no rain on this trip until the last day in Civitavecchia. It was sunny every day with the hottest day being Athens and that was only 84 degrees with low humidity and cool breezes blowing up from the sea. Santorini was very windy. We asked one of the locals if it was always that windy and they said, “No, sometimes its worse”.
Ship: The ship was fantastic. The public decks were laid out well and were very spacious. On my early morning walks around the ship crew were every where meticulously cleaning and maintaining the ship.
Crew: Without exception the crew on this cruise were great. Very friendly and would bend over backwards to serve the passengers.
Chair Hogs: We only had one sea day on this trip and the chair hogs were out in force. I was strolling the deck at 7:30 AM the morning of our only sea day and while there was only 2 people in the MUTS pool at that time, there were hats, towels, shoes, and books on a couple of dozen chairs. Again it was 7:30 in the morning...
Shows: The entertainment on this cruise was exceptional. I detest the Vegas style revues that seem to dominate cruise entertainment, but the shows in the Princess Theater were great.
Movies Under The Stars (MUTS): We went to two movies on this trip. One was the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The wind was so loud that evening we were having trouble hearing the audio and left 30 minutes into the movie. The other movie was Mama Mia. What a hoot to be watching a movie set in the Greek Isles on a cruise of the Greek Isles.
Dirty Banana: This is a frou frou tropical drink, but is it ever great. It was the ‘drink of the day’ on day and once we discovered it we ordered it regularly at the pool. The rest of the time we consumed either wine or martinis.
Ports: Venice was amazing. We of course went to St Marks Square, the Rialto Bridge and dined at a sidewalk café on the Grand Canal. The day of our sail away we went down the Canal Della Guidecca with an incredible view of the city while the PA system on the ship is playing Time To Say Goodbye by Andrea Bocelli. Magical… Dubrovnik is an undiscovered gem. To a person all of the people in our group (6) said they would move there in a heartbeat. We walked the wall, dined at a restaurant by the harbor, and took boat tour around the city and the island just offshore. Corfu Greece was a bit of a letdown and in light of the port intensive nature of our itinerary we should have used that day as an extra “sea day” and stayed on the ship. Katakolon was fantastic. We took taxis to Olympia for the morning taking in the ruins and the museum at that site, and then returned to shop and dine in Katakolon in the afternoon. In Athens we caught taxis to the Acropolis and spent the day poking around the ruins. We also dined at a fantastic Greek restaurant in the Plaka called Scholario. The food is family style Greek and it and the Mythos beer were great. In Mykonos we rented ATV’s and cruised around the island stopping at a couple of different beaches and we had lunch at a restaurant near Little Venice. In Kusadasi we took the only excursion on this, which was to Ephesus. What an incredible place. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the ruins there. In Rhodes we wandered through the old city, had lunch in the new city and went to the beach near the cruise terminal. On Santorini we explored the town of Fira on foot and made our way partway up to Oia. We stopped at a great café for lunch called Café Vallas. After the lunch and the beer we passed on making the rest of the journey up to Oia and headed back into Fira. Our next port was Naples. Honestly I don’t know why Princess chose this as a port. It is the ugliest, dirtiest city I have been to in quite some time. Judging from the sidewalks of the city everyone in Naples smokes, as the streets were littered with cigarette butts and trash. We took the train from Naples to Sorrento and spent most of our time there. The train however turned out to be an antiquated subway with no A/C that was hot and smelly. Because of the 30+ stops we made the trip took a little over an hour. The plan was to attempt to do Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi on our own, but the logistics of doing this on your own are too great a hurdle to overcome. Save yourself the grief, go ahead and spend the money for the ship’s tour. Once we realized we did not have the time to do Positano and Amalfi our fall back plan was to take a hydrofoil out to Capri and then another one from Capri back to Naples.
Once again this was the best vacation I have ever taken and I would go again without hesitation…