This was our 4th Princess cruise, and 10th cruise overall. We selected this cruise mainly for the ports, but also for the new ship. We were on the June 9 sailing from Venice to Civitavecchia. We had an amazing time.
Venice - We had been to Venice before, but took the opportunity to spend another 3 days (including Embarkation day) in this fantastic city. We stayed at the Hotel Becher. It was great. The room was quite spacious. It was close enough to the Piazza San Marco, but far enough away. The staff took excellent care of us.
Cabin - We had in a balcony stateroom on Deck 10 (Caribe). As other passengers have noted, our balcony was quite large. The size of the cabin was what we expected. The bed was very comfortable. We had read that Princess had upgraded its bedding and we were pleasantly surprised.
Dining - We found the food to be among the best we have had on Princess. The hot food was hot and the cold food was cold. The menus have been revamped and there was a lot of variety, particularly on the dinner menus. Everything tasted very good. We ate breakfast in the Horizon Court or Caribe Cafe. We were able to order freshly made omlettes at the Horizon Court. This was a welcome service, as the powdered eggs were tasteless. There was also a waffle station in the section where they served pizza for lunch. We never had a problem finding a place to sit. The servers were very attentive and brought coffee, tea and juice quickly. We ate dinner in the Da Vinci dining room. Much to our surprise and delight, we recognized Godwin, the head waiter. He was also on the Coral Princess when we sailed the Panama Canal 5 years ago. He recognized us too and took very good care of us. We sat in the same general section each night and had the same waiter/bus person, Joey and Maila. Joey was outstanding. He remembered what we liked to drink and made great suggestions on the food. We also went to Sabatini's one night. As with prior Princess cruises, the food was excellent.
Entertainment - There were 3 production shows. We saw two and were pleased. As other passengers have noted, they also had comedians. Two were good. The one with the Duck puppet was awful. The bands in the lounges were good. The piano player in Crooner's was terrible.
Bars - The staffs in Adagio and Crooner's were excellent. They were very friendly and attentive. We did not go to Vine's. After looking at the tasting menus, we saw wines we can get at home, and didn't see the need to pay Princess's prices for them.
Service - As mentioned above, the dining room service was top notch. Our cabin steward, Rolando was also very good. He cleaned our cabin promptly. When we asked for things like robes and ice, he brought them quickly.
Another passenger commented at how poor the service at the Purser's Desk was. We agree with that. We were on a 2:00 p.m. flight home from Rome. We got our disembarkation information and noticed that they put us on a 5:30 am shuttle. We stood on a long line, questioned it and they changed it to 7:15 am. However, that shuttle was not scheduled to stop at the international terminal. We returned to the Desk and stood on line for another 20 minutes. We were directed to Paul, a supervisor, and explained that the person who changed our reservation had made an error. Paul told us that it was not his problem or mistake, but was instead, ours. After we asked to speak with a manager, he calmed down and explained that the latest shuttle he could put us on was at 6:15 am. We had no choice, so we went along with it. We got to the airport at 8:00 and had to sit there for 6 hours. We were very disappointed in the lack of courtesy and respect. Everyone else on the ship provided such excellent customer service.
Ports - This itinerary was very port intensive. We knew that going in, and really enjoyed each one.
Dubrovnik - We took a taxi into town and walked the wall. We got there early and beat most of the crowds. We then took the ferry to Cavtat and had lunch at a lovely restaurant. The day were in Dubrovnik was a local holiday, so a lot of the shops were closed. After lunch, we took the ferry back to town and went back to the ship.
Corfu - We didn't pre-arrange anything. After getting off the ship, we hired a taxi driver, George, for a 4-hour tour around the island (e-mail email@example.com). Since we were by ourselves, we were able to stay ahead of the crowds everywhere. We went to the Paleokastritsa, monastery, and Achillion Palace. He stopped at a local bakery where he gets pastries, and suggested some treats for us. They were incredible. Our last stop was Pontikonissi. We got some great photos of the beautiful view. We headed back to Corfu Town and George arranged for us to have lunch at a local, authentic Greek restaurant. The food and service were wonderful. We would highly recommend George.
Katakolon - We did the ship's tour to Olympia. The guide was very good. We're not huge fans of large groups. We did the ship's tour because it was the easiest option. There wasn't much else to do in this port, so we spent the afternoon getting some sun on the ship
Athens - We arranged a private tour with Jordan Daioglou (www.athens-tours.gr or www.greece-tours.gr; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). He met us at the pier and we saw all of the wonderful sites in the city. We beat the crowds everywhere. He arranged for us to have lunch at a local restaurant overlooking the Acropolis, which was excellent. We ended up talking with several other passengers, who also had a private tour through Princess. They paid up to 4 times what we did for the same thing. We would highly recommend Jordan. He is knowledgeable, entertaining and accommodating.
Mykonos - We took the public bus to Paradise Beach. We rented chairs and an umbrella and had a great Greek lunch. We were there early in the day, so things were quiet. Apparently, things don't get rocking there until late in the afternoon and evening.
Kusadasi - We arranged a tour to Ephesus (and the House of the Virgin Mary and Church of St. Jean) with 2 other people with EKOL Travel (www.ekoltravel.com). Our guide, Berkant, was great. It was terrific being in a small group. While Ephesus was crowded, we didn't feel rushed. We also saw the Terrace Houses, which was totally worth it. We would definitely recommend EKOL.
Rhodes - We wandered through the old city on our own. We went to the Palace of the Grand Masters and walked the Street of the Knights. After climbing the Bell Tower, we asked one of the employees for a restaurant recommendation. She sent us to Mamma Mika, which was outstanding.
Santorini - We connected with another couple on the tender from the ship. We took the cable car up, walked to the taxi station and hired a driver to take us around the island. The drive lasted 90 minutes and we ended in Oia. We walked around, and had lunch at a little taverna. We then took the bus back to Fira and walked around some more. We contemplated taking a donkey ride down to the tender. It was quite a hot day and we saw donkeys slipping all over the place. We walked down instead and were happy with our decision.
Naples - As others have said, Naples itself is not a great place. We arranged a private tour with 6 other people and DriveAmalfi (e-mail email@example.com). Our guide, Salvatore, met us at the pier and we immediately headed down the Amalfi Coast. We drove through Sorrento, Positano, Ravello and Amalfi, stopping along the way for photo opps. Salvatore lives in Amalfi and has an amazing passion for the beauty and history of the whole area. He arranged for us to have lunch at a wonderful restaurant in a small village overlooking the coast. The view, food and service were indescribably wonderful. After lunch, we went to Pompeii, where Salvatore arranged a private guide, Allesandro, to take us around the site. He was fantastic. While we didn't have a lot of time at Pompeii, he made sure we saw the main highlights. We would highly recommend both.
Closing comments - The Ruby Princess is a wonderful ship. It has many amenities, which we weren't able to take advantage of, as we only had 2 days at sea. We loved the itinerary. We had become huge fans of private tours and will try to see other ports like that in the future.