Princess Christmas Cruise, December 2016: Ruby Princess Cruise Review by Woodinville
Overall Member Rating
Princess Christmas Cruise, December 2016
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: Los Angeles
We traveled as a couple, and would rate this cruise as our most enjoyable - Princess exceeded our expectations on a 100% full ship. The normal Princess demographic was skewed due to the voyage being a Christmas Cruise - many families traveling. Never felt crowded during the voyage.
Ship is in overall good-to-excellent condition. Cleanliness in each locale.
Embarkation: Prior cruise had a norovirus outbreak, so the ship went into a thorough cleansing between cruises. This delayed boarding by 2.5 hours ... kudos to Princess for the over communication and for the staggering of boarding times. From arrival at port to setting foot on ship was 20 mins.
Cabin: see cabin comments -- only minor complaint, is wifi signal in D412 is weak.
Dining: Used the new concept "Club Class Dining" -- the area set aside is the starboard (left) side of the DaVinci Dining Room. More Hostess met, head waiter created daily specialities on portable work station, and 2-3 teams of waiters were dedicated to the Club Class experience. So enjoyable was the experience, we took all our dinners in the dining room.
Poolside grill, ice cream and pizza were great. Wish they also had a veggie tray for a healthier option ... but into the Horizon and create your own.
Bars: We participated in the AIBP (all inclusive beverage package) and it worked for us, we used the worksheet found on the Princess Board to determine efficacy of use. We also carried on bottles of our preferred Chardonnay and paid corkage (glad we did as the choice was limited). Vines, Crooners, Explorer lounge and pool bars were visited and staffed adequately. About 90% of the serving team was highly motivated, a few were just unhappy.
Pools: When ship is 100% full the pools will be too ...
If you are adults - go forward to the deck 15 pool adjacent to the SANCTUARY ... it is an adult only pool with about 12 loungers about it and a tiered sitting area ... right above is the sundeck (deck 16) which was always wide open. Downside - no drink service at this pool, so bring yours with you.
Princess Theater: Shows were good and every seat in house taken for the two shows we attended.
Piazza: Los Brilliantes were wonderful they played every Mexican ballad and love song the audience could throw at them and every performance had people at all three levels of the Piazza enjoying their music and the dance floor full
Crooners: Alex Howland was the pianist/vocalist -- he was entertaining and we regularly attended his evenings.
MUTS: Good selection of current films and then some sports events during the day.
Christmas onboard: The ship is well decorated, and you feel in the festive spirit. Crew hosted Christmas Caroling was a delight.
Spa: Used the services twice (massage) and concluded that the service was not worth the expense and will forego next time. The pseudo-medical evaluation to upsell product and services was especially troublesome.
Cabo San Lucas --- arrival is timed for mid-day - all are tendered into shore. The marina area is a short walk away from the port, or an inexpensive cab ride. Cabs in Cabo are predominately white-vans. If desired to see those areas outside of Cabo San Lucas proper, recommend a ship-shore excursion as the possibility of arriving back at port on time from Todos Santos or San Jose del Cabo is real. Fair warning: Embarkation is done by ticket ... so if you want to go ashore in an expeditious manner, either do an excursion (they bump the general queue or get to the staging area early - according to the crew member handing out tickets, the wait could be multiple hours.
Mazatlan --- arrival is early morning. Once exited the port building, mini-cabs (open air golf-cart like VWs) are waiting -- these are the Mazatlan cabs. In the past we have hired a driver for the day for US$40. This time we visited Stone Island on our own. Exit the port building to the street - turn left - walk to the end - see sign saying "Embarcadero Playa Sur" and cross street walk down dirt road to yellow building buy ticket 30 pesos (this is the water taxi ticket building). Take water taxi to Stone Island ... keep ticket safe (you need it to return). Go ashore walk straight ahead down a path and you drop on the beach - 22km of sand. Safe swimming ... many eating establishments along the beach. We ate at Leyts a good distance down the beach -- two main plates, drinks etc, was less than $30. A great way to chill at the beach (and if you have kids, let them safely run).
Puerto Vallarta -- arrival is early morning. Cruise terminal is in between the Hotel Zone and the Marina District ... White cabs inside the port enclave are more expensive than the yellow cabs outside the enclave. In every instance negotiate price to destination prior to getting inside. Cost to the Melacon (beach front walking street) is about $10. We did this, lunched on the second-deck of Oceana Pub Restaurant with a view of the ocean and walking street.
Manzanillo -- arrival is early morning. Port is an industrial port. Worth being awake when arriving as fisherman were observed throwing their nets and hauling in their catch as the Ruby slid into port. Took a shore excursion(see below). Prior we exited port and walked about the the shore line and visited some of the stores nearby. The city proper is a good distance away. Cabs are avail outside the port and willing to be hired for the day to take you for a drive about or to a pristine beach.
Shore Excursions: Only one - Manzanillo 280A - Beach Resort - the shore excursion took you to the Tresero Hotel about a 30 min ride from port - not a particularly scenic ride. Upon arrival, hotel handed you a towel and bottle of water and cut you loose. Sadly the hotel facilities were at greater than 100% occupancy and there was no way they could accommodate the influx from Princess. Tresero is a 3-star (at best) facility. The beach is adequate, with plenty of space to throw down a towel. Upon return to ship, a complaint to Excursion Staff resulted in 100% refund.
Sea Days --- lazy days ... why we cruise.
Disembarkation: Was 20 mins from exiting the ship, collecting our luggage, processing customs/immigration and getting a cab. Room vacating at 0830 and then waiting to 1030 to disembark was a bit of a inconvenience, but understandable. Grab breakfast early!
Princess exceeded our expectations and we will be sailing with Princess again! Less
Cabin review: M1D412 Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin was standard mini-suite, midships now being sold as "Club Class" Bed comfortable and extra pillows avail upon request. More than ample storage. Power outlets are located next to the desk/vanity and behind the twin televisions Coffee table and single desk and single armchair in room. We travel with small tablecloths to cover the "standard" and personalize 36" square more than adequate for both coffee table and balcony table. Bathroom is adequate and tub shower combo works great. Three shelf storage and under sink storage. More than adequate towels. Liquid soap and shampoo/conditioner dispenser in bath, bar soap for the sink provided. One tube of "hand lotion" We bring a "air freshener" plug in for the bath, and it always keeps the room fresh smelling.Read All Mini-Suite with Balcony (M1) Reviews >>