This was our second Med - Trans Atlantic cruise, third cruise in a row on Princess, and tenth cruise. DW and I are in our 50's. We did this cruise to celebrate her retirement. I unfortunately still have to work. We had originally booked a northern route T/A but switched to this itinerary due to scheduling conflicts at work. An added bonus at work on switching was we sailed with several couples from last year's Med - Trans Atlantic on the Emerald. For our pre-embarkation stay we flew to Paris for two days. In Paris we saw the sights. We also had dinner in the Eiffel Tower, took a Seine river cruise, and saw a Moulin Rouge show. Paris is truly a magical city and we really wish we had an extra day or two to spend there. Our flight to Venice from Paris was short and uneventful. We were met by a Princess rep at the airport and quickly ushered to a shuttle bus for our short ride to the dock. The Princess rep was very helpful. One thing I found at the airport in Venice was the exchange rate for Euros was much better than what I paid at the airport in Los Angeles. Embarkation was a breeze. Since we arrived around 1530 hours (local time) there were no lines. We basically walked right on the ship. One thing I noticed about boarding was there seemed to be, in my opinion, more crew members to assist passengers in finding their way to their accommodations.
The Ruby Princess was a truly magnificent ship. The ship was clean in every respect. The crew was outstanding and always had smiles on their faces. They always seemed willing to go the extra mile to assist passengers. The captain (Tony Yeomans) was always visible and very approachable. Twice DW and I rode an elevator with him and enjoyed pleasant conversations on both occasions. The Cruise director James ) was very professional as well and seemed to do a good job keeping us entertained.
DW and I were cruising with a large contingent of fellow cruise critic members. Our group was known as the "ruby Stars." Our meet and greet was well attended. The captain and several other ships' company showed up. We also had several other events that were also well attended.
As far as dining goes, we had second seating traditional in the Botticelli dining room. The Botticelli was a very nice venue. Our waiter Gabriel and his assistant did an acceptable job in making sure we enjoyed our dining experience. The food was very good to excellent. I did however send two main courses back because they seemed a bit cold to suite my taste. We enjoyed Sabatini's and the Crown Grill. Both were very good but not great. We also enjoyed Ultimate Balcony Dining and found it to be outstanding. The lobster tail was the biggest I've ever seen. I enjoyed the suite perk of breakfast at Sabatini's. It was a very nice experience and the food was quite good. The mimosas were a great way to start the day. Food in the horizon court and Cafe Caribe was your typical buffet food. Nothing great but there was a good variety to choose from. I did note that Cafe Caribe was always crowded during dinner time. The choices offered seemed to be very tempting. The International Cafe was good and Vines served good sushi & Tapas. The Trident grill served great hamburgers and hot dogs. Pizza on the pool deck was also a great way to add on the extra weight.
We had a PH suite (R408) and enjoyed all the perks that came with being a suite passenger. Our cabin steward Angelito was very good and did his best to ensure we enjoyed our stateroom. My only negative outlook regarding the suite was the size of the balcony. It is very narrow and with the upgraded wood furniture it seemed rather cramped.
As far as onboard entertainment goes, we saw two production shows that were quite good. Several of the princess singers were great. We also enjoyed a couple of shows in the Explorer's lounge that were also quite good. During the cruise there was a variety of entertainment in the Piazza. All were quite good.
The fitness center had a wide variety of equipment and was always well utilized by passengers. I only had to wait once for a treadmill. I also visited the thermal suite and noted the temps of the steam rooms varied and sometimes seemed not hot enough. I also noted this in the steam and sauna rooms in the men's locker room.
DW made very good use of the salon and massages services and enjoyed all the treatments she received. She told me all staff members were friendly and very professional. Yes she did purchase some products after the usual sales pitch but we all know it's coming before we go there. The boutiques were staffed by friendly and professional crew members who were very helpful. I thought the selections in the various shops were good with the exception of the souvenir shop that had set out Caribbean items shortly after we left Venice.
DW and I did several private excursions with other CC members that were all very nice. The highlight of the excursions for me was standing inside the Coliseum in Rome; truly a memorable experience. We also did two ship sponsored excursions that were very well run.
During the six day crossing there were many things to do. It was also nice to just relax and recover from the port intensive portion of the cruise. Overall, the cruise was a great experience. I would not hesitate to sail with Princess again nor would I hesitate to recommend the line to a friend. I may not however choose this itinerary again as it has been cut to 16 days with the removal of Florence and Lisbon as ports of call.