Pre Cruise: We arrived at Miami airport and noticed that people were moving through Immigration much quicker than last year, which will have pleased many people. Once outside we found the company rep with which our transfer had been booked, we waited around 20 minutes or so for a mini bus and shared the trip with two other people down to Biscayne Bay.
On arrival at the Intercontinental hotel our details were taken very quickly and our room cards issued, we had a room on the 12th floor with great views of Biscayne bay, Bay side park and the Cruise port.
We enjoyed Bayside Park and the shopping area as well as the free live music on both nights of our stay. On the second day of our stay we had decided in advance that we would take the Metro mover (Free) to the Government Centre then the Metro train ($5pp day pass) to the Tri rail station and the Tri rail train ($8.50pp return) to Fort Lauderdale, the trip took around One hour and Thirty minutes or thereabouts. We had also printed out a route map and chose to walk from the Tri rail station to the mooring place for the Carrie B trip boat just off Las Olas Boulevard at North New River Drive near SE 5th Avenue which was around Two and a Half miles or so and took 50 minutes.
The Carrie B travels down the river to the Intercoastal waterway on its way to the Port area past many of the houses owned by the Rich and sometimes Famous plus any cruise ships in the port and that day included Oasis of the seas, the commentary given by the Captain is very informative. Prices are $19.95 pp for Adults and $12.95pp for Children plus Tax. The trip takes around One and a Half Hours. Following our trip on the boat we then headed back to the Tri rail station and back to Miami.
On Saturday morning we came across a Charity event while out taking photographs close by the hotel, the event was in the process of being set up and included sports cars such as Bugatti Veyrons, Spyker, Koenigsegg, and Ferrari and also included Bentley, Rolls Royce and what looked like a Formula 1 car.
Embarkation: We were collected at the hotel by car (Go airport shuttle) and transferred to Port Everglades and passed the Oasis of the seas on our way, we were on the ship and in our room in around Twenty minutes of arriving at the port. We had booked the same room as our last cruise on the Ruby that was a Suite on Lido deck which is at the Front Port side just behind the Bridge.
Having left our carry on cases in the room we went off to Horizon court / Cafe Caribe to eat, there was quite a crowd in both areas so we ended up outside which was also quite busy.
Cabin: Being already familiar with our room from the previous year we noticed that Princess had made a minor cutback in the size of the flower display, our room steward Sasha from the Ukraine was great the whole cruise as was his fellow country woman last year Eleaonora.
The Ship: Overall still looked in very good condition as you would expect as it was just Twelve months old and all the public areas appeared to have been well kept and cared for and the missing Glass door on Lido deck on the Port side had been replaced. One thing we did notice this time was that Princess have now allowed those who smoke to sit right up to the doors of the Lido deck Corridor/ Hallway, that meant the smoke could be smelled from the Elevator area opening to the Hallway down to the exit doors. Just glad we didn't have a cabin in that area.
Food: As many people have said previously it is Subjective and not everyone likes the same food, for us the food in the main Dining room in quality has gone down and it was somewhat disappointing to see the Menu had changed very little if any since the last cruise last year. Breakfast in the Buffet again was also for us disappointing and we were glad that we also had the option of going to Sabatini`s as well. Evening food in the Horizon court and Cafe Caribe appeared to be better than that in the main Dining room and with more choice. Overall we would say the food was still a good standard but lacking at times in the Dining room.
Fellow cruisers: Two meetings had been arranged for our CC group, one at 3pm prior to the muster drill arranged by Jane and attended by around 30+ people while the second was held on the first sea day in Skywalkers at 11am and had been arranged by Loretta. There appeared to be 40+ people there and Captain Tony Yeomans, his second in command Gavin Pears and other members of his staff, attended it. There was also a Gift exchange in which around 25 people took part followed by a cabin crawl and slot tournament in the Casino.
PORTS. First stop Princess Cays where we had decided to walk to Lighthouse point at the end of Eleuthera via the various Beaches, which took around One hour and 50 minutes including taking, photographs. The walk is around 3 miles each way.
Second stop was Crown bay St Thomas where we took a taxi to Havensight and then took the Skyride to Paradise point where we enjoyed the view and a drink of the now famous Bailey`s Bushwacker. After wandering around the shops there we followed the walkway by the Marina around the bay to Charlotte Amalie and the many Jewellery shops, eventually we found a ring that we had planned to buy for our Engagement. Being such a nice day even though the temperature was around 88 degrees or so we decided to walk back to Crown Bay and the ship.
Third stop was Dominica where we had arranged to go Whale watching with four other people who we had cruised with last year and Leslie had arranged the trip. There were around 16 people in total on the boat Captained by Jerry Daway of Islandstyle cruises, the trip lasted around 3 Hours and the Whales or Jerry didn't disappoint those onboard who all had a great trip.
Fourth Stop was St Georges Grenada where we had decided beforehand to visit Fort George having read about the coup there on the Internet, our guide showed us around the Fort and went through its coloured history. One building houses the shoe repair shop for the police while in another building they make and repair the police uniforms, the main Headquarters for the police is also housed in the Fort. After leaving the Fort we headed through the Tunnel under the Fort to the bay at the back before making our way to the Market looking for various spices.
Fifth stop was Bonaire where we had planned to do very little apart from wander around the small town before going back to the ship to use the Sanctuary pool and the Spa and a few hours sunbathing.
Final stop was Aruba and again we had planned to look around the town and see what the many shops had to offer other than the usual Tourist ones. At the back of the Main tourist route is a long street where there are many decent clothes and shoe shops, at one called the Saint after the 70`s TV series with Roger Moore my other half found a Dress that she had been searching for in the UK for weeks prior to the cruise and at around half the cost. We spotted a notice in one sports shop window that said " Buy one shoe get one free" great sense of humour in that store.
The Bridge: My other half Kerry had managed to arrange a trip to the Bridge for us along with our 4 fellow cruisers from last year Gord, Loretta, Leslie and Melody. During the tour we had the chance to see the Island Princess heading towards us from a few miles off and then pass by the Port side at around One mile away.
Disembarkation: Went quite smooth until people were joining the queues and appeared to be trying to make their own lines until they were told by a steward to join the correct lines. Our transfer back to Miami was once again with Go airport shuttle, booking in at Miami went well apart from having a bottle of sauce from the gift exchange taken off us but rules are rules.
In General the service that we received all around the ship was very good and can only recall one night in the main Dining room Da Vinci where the service was a little shall we say under par. We did notice that there appeared to be more cruisers this year that had decided not to attend the Formal nights. One downside that was also commented on by other people was the holding of the Captains Cocktail party in the Atrium! Which meant other guests could just wander in and out to get to the shops and guest services. This to many was a Big failure and unless you managed to get a space at the Front of the stairway or the Balconies you may have well not bothered with it, at Dinner that evening we sat with Two lovely ladies from Scotland who also said they were disappointed with the way it had been arranged.
Overall we again enjoyed our cruise despite the same menu from last year, because Ruby was our first ever cruise last year maybe it was a little too much for us to expect that things would not have changed. The Crew were once again wonderful and with the odd exception (we all have our bad days) were always smiling and friendly.