The welcome at Venice airport and transfer to the pre-cruise hotel (Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal) was flawless. Bus and water taxi were waiting, luggage handled. Andvantage of this hotel is mainly the fact that you walk off the water taxi directly into the hotel.
Since we spent two days in Venice on the pre-cruise, sitting in the port for another day and a half was not exciting but gave us the opportunity to go through the ship. Ruby is a huge, new addition to Princess.
Dining, activity, shopping, service ... was not much different from the previous Princess cruises. What was new to us was: - Anytime dining (good but often with lineups) - Sabatini Restaurant ($20 pp. extra) - good but not better then any upscale Italian place in Toronto - Tipping as the part of the price - I find this quite offending - the text justifying this is presumptuous. It is simply an addition to the price. Every time you get a drink and sign, there is a prominent space called Gratuit - Constant and sometime impertinent push of various discount cards - for coffee, beer, wine ...
Organization of port tours was flawless as always. We found it annoying that in Istanbul the first stop was a Sales presentation of carpets. Also, the guide was insisting on giving us education in modern Islam but that you listen to or not by choice.
The worst part of the trip was the post-cruise (Barcelona) disembarkation and hotel (Merridian) check in. We had to physically load our luggage into a truck (and there was about 60 of us. Then, in the hotel there was a huge lineup for check-in handled by 3 people whose computers did not work all that well. However, the hotel is great, rooms smashing, and in a good, central location.