We just returned from the 3 night Ruby Princess Cruise to the Bahamas. The weather was not good, but the cruise was great! It was just me (Larry) and my DD, (Lindsay), who was on her winter break from Grad School at FAU. She's in her 20s and I'm in the second half of my 50s. This was my 20th cruise and 10th cruise on Princess. This was Lindsay's 5th cruise and 1st on Princess.
The weather in Ft. Lauderdale was ominous with big black clouds and periods of hard rain. The embarkation process was quick and easy. We parked the car around 11am. There was no line at all to enter the terminal and we were through security within minutes. I Platinum level and we were seated in a waiting room for Elite and Platinum members. The wait was about 15 minutes and then we were allowed to proceed to registration. Registration took less than 5 minutes and we were on the ship by 11:45am! Princess has always had a great embarkation process.
We found the way to our cabin which was an aft/starboard inside cabin on the Aloha deck. Since it was only a 3 day cruise we carried our luggage on with us and we couldn't even fill half the drawers and closet with our clothes! Our cabin steward met us in the room. I asked to have 2 extra pool towels each day and for 2 bathrobes which he placed in the room by the time we got back from lunch.
I had been on the Emerald Princess (identical twin of the Ruby) twice before and know the layout of the ship very well; so I gave Lindsay a full tour of the ship. For those of you that have not been on the Ruby, Emerald or Crown Princess, they are very impressive ships. I pointed out my favorite places like the International Cafe, Piazza and the aft adult pool area. I love the fact that the layout of the ship is somewhat confusing as I continue to discover new things every time I sail.
We had lunch in the Horizon Court buffet which was excellent. I had a salad that was crispy and fresh, sliced turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy. The turkey and mashed potatoes were warm and delicious. I then discovered something new to me on Princess, which is Free Ice Cream!! They now have free soft serve ice cream at the ice cream kiosk next to the Pizza Kiosk. Very yummy!
The rain stopped for a while, so we changed into our bathing suits and enjoyed the Aft Pool Jacuzzi for a while. The heavens opened up around 3:30pm and they moved the Sail-away party from the Neptune Pool to Club Fusion. The rains subsided a little when we sailed away, so we enjoyed sail-away on aft pool deck.
Prior to dinner we went to the Cafe Caribe for the Seafood extravaganza buffet. As always Princess came through with a sea food spread of delicious shrimp and large lobster claws. We shared a plate and then went to the Monticello Dining room for dinner. I love to meet new people, so we opted to share a table and met some interesting tablemates. The food and service in the dining room was excellent. For dinner I had the porticini (sp) mushroom soup and the prime rib. Princesses' Porticini mushroom soup is one of the best mushroom soups I've ever had. I always order it and as I always I was not disappointed. The prime rib was cooked to perfection, cooked medium rare as I like it. I am an ice cream aficionado and order a different kind of ice cream each night. I had hazelnut ice cream this night and it was very good! I can't remember everything Lindsay had for dinner, but she definitely enjoyed her meal. Our waiter was very friendly and efficient. We had a different waiter each night and all of them were very friendly and efficient. We were in and out of the dining room each night within an hour and had plenty of time to make it to all the evening shows and events.
After dinner we went to the Princess lounge for the welcome show. The Princess singers and dancers were one of the best dance troupes I've seen on Princess. They also had a one of the funniest comedians I've ever seen. His name is Troy Thirdgill and I highly recommend him if he performs on your cruise.
We then enjoyed the Karaoke event in club fusion where there were both excellent singers and not so excellent singers. We ended the night by going out on deck to see what movie they were showing on MUTTS. It was raining fairly hard, but there were some die hard people watching and enjoying the movie under the sheltered part of the deck. The movie was The Time Travelers Wife.
It was off to bed for us and a good night's sleep as the ship gently rocked back and forth.
Friday was a great sea day! I am an early riser, so I hit the gym around 7am and worked out for about an hour. They have a great gym on board with lots of weight machines, elliptical machines and treadmills. They had a yoga class going while I was there with about 40 people. After the gym I went down to the International cafe and got a latte using my frequent coffee card. It you love coffee, especially specialty coffee drinks, Princess has a great deal. You can buy a coffee card that allows you to have 15 specialty drinks for $27. That's less than $2 for any specialty drink like Lattes, Cappuccinos, espressos, etc. You can also get unlimited free coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc. with the card. I then went to the Cafe Caribe buffet for breakfast.
I try to be healthy on the cruise and hence I had oatmeal along with some fresh fruit, but I did cheat a little and ate one piece of bacon. It was all warm and delicious! If you want more, the buffet has a full variety of scrambled eggs, sunny side up eggs, omelets cooked to order, bacon, ham, sausage, French toast, waffles, bagels, lox, various rolls, breads and pastries, etc. I find all the food to be hot and perhaps the reason some people seem to find the food cold is because they load so much food on their plate, it can't all stay warm before they eat it all! :rolleyes:
I then went outside to find a place to sunbathe and read my book. It was overcast most of the day, but the sun did peak through many times; enough to give us both a little sun burn! The temperature was a perfect 80 degrees most of the day. We sunbathed at the Aft Pool deck on starboard side railing right at the back of the ship. It's one of my favorite places on the ship as it is very quiet and it's just you and the ocean! We went in the aft Jacuzzi several times as well. The lunch special in the Cafe Caribe was Mexican and Lindsay had a Taco salad that she said was delicious. As much as I try to eat healthy, cruising brings out the worst in me and I thoroughly enjoyed a delicious cheeseburger and fries from the grill located by the Neptune Pool. Later I had to get my free ice cream cone which really hit the spot. There were dozens of activities both inside and outside during the day, but we were more than content to sit outside and read almost all day.
We went to dinner around 7pm in the Da Vinci Dining Room and again sat with some very interesting people and enjoyed our meal with them. Again the food and service were excellent. I had a shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad and Lamb Chops. I always get the Caesar salad mainly because they only give you a very small portion which does not fill me up. A lot of people complain about the small portion and I'm not sure why. If they want a larger portion, all they have to do is ask for a larger portion, but it seems some people would rather complain. Princess serves a delicious shrimp cocktail and the lamp chops were cooked to perfection and were to die for! It was butter toffee ice cream for dessert which I thoroughly enjoyed. Lindsay had a tossed salad and chose the Chilean Sea Bass for her entre, which she loved.
After dinner we went to the Princess Theater to see the Production show called "Once Upon a Dream." The show was fantastic. It featured the Princess Singers and Dancers and used a cool new technology where the side and rear backdrops were all done with multi-dimensional video projection. It's the first time I've seen this technology and it was really cool. After the show we went to the Explorers Lounge to see the comedian Troy Thirdgill. His full show was hilarious and everyone in the crowd was howling with laughter. We really loved his show.
After his show, we went to the Grand Piazza for the "New Year's party event. They had a live band playing dance music and the crowd danced the night away. Everyone is given steamers and at midnight everyone throws their streamers. It's a blast of a party and I've attended many on past Princess ships. By now we were totally exhausted from a wonderful day at sea and made our way to the cabin for another nights relaxing sleep.
I was up at 6:30am on Saturday and decided to skip the morning exercise routine as I wanted to be one of the first to take the tender to Princess Cay. Lindsay and I had our usual fare for breakfast in the Cafe Caribe and afterwards made our way to pick up our backpacks from the room to take on the tender. As we left the room with our backpacks, the Captain came on the loud speaker to announce that due to rough seas and high winds, we would be unable to safely tender over to the Island. I had a feeling this was going to happen as it was very over cast and it was windy on deck. If you've heard the expression of turning a lemon into lemonade, that's exactly what Lindsay and I did. While the weather was quite windy and overcast, we found an area by the aft pool that was somewhat isolated from the wind and spent half of the day lounging and reading our books. As the hours went by, the weather conditions improved, but as the sun peaked out more and more the temperature dropped. By mid afternoon, it couldn't have been more than 70 degrees. We decided to go inside for lunch and very much enjoyed fish and chips in a traditional pub lunch that they serve at the Wheelhouse bar. The fish and chips were almost as good as I have had in Alaska! I decided to splurge when we went back on deck and had a delicious piece of Pizza from the pizza grill. Again, Princess has some of the best pizza I've ever had. It may not be as good as NY Pizza, but I live in Orlando and it's definitely as good as or better than anywhere in Orlando! If that wasn't enough, I had to then have my ice cream cone on top of that! My dd just shakes her head at my lack of will power!:o
We went back to the room to watch a movie on the TV. I was browsing through the Princess Patters guide where I saw that they had afternoon tea in one of the dining rooms. My wife always goes to the afternoon teas and I have never gone with her. So we decided to try it out. I never knew what I was missing! We were seated with other people and enjoyed their company while we dined on little sandwiches, cookies and cakes and of course, tea. The icing on cake was when they served us scones with whipped butter and jam. It was so delicious!! Having filled myself with all this food, it was very easy to fall asleep and take a great nap until it was time for dinner! Once again we ate in the Monticello Dining Room and joined other interesting folks to share our dinner. It was Italian night, of which I am not a big fan, but I made some good choices and enjoyed my dinner very much. I had a shrimp cocktail appetizer along with a Caesar salad and finished it off with the Pot Roast entre. The pot roast was hot, juicy and delicious (just like mama made)! Lindsay had the Shrimp Fra Diablo, which she said was not too spicy and tasted delicious. They had two different gelatos for the ice cream dessert. Not knowing which one to get, Lindsay and I shared them both and they were both excellent!
After dinner we went to the Princess Theater for the evening's main show which was a man and wife Illusionist team,Tony Laffan and Kasey-Laura. I'm not a big fan of magic or illusionists, but they were very good. The illusions they performed were mind boggling and I'm glad we went to their show.
Afterwards we went to the Explorers Lounge for the Liar's Club Game Show. It was entertaining and hilarious as a couple of words were, "BALDERSNATCH" and "COCKSHY". You can use your imagination as to how a couple of the "celebrity" players defined those words! :eek:
As it was our last night on the ship (way too short), we made our way to the cabin and packed our bags so we would be ready for our 7:25 am walk off departure in the morning. Before we went to the cabin, I went to the purser's desk to pay cash for our bill. As neither of us drinks, our bill came to a whopping total of $27. I own 100 shares of Carnival Stock, so I received $50 OBC and to my delight Princess credited our account by another $15 per person for not stopping at Princess Cays. My only expenditures were for a coffee card and sun screen I purchased on board. Princess also posts $10.50per person per night for tips which makes the tipping process very simple. I do usually tip some of the staff extra especially if they go out of their way and go over and beyond.
We awoke bright and early at 6:15am on Sunday. We dressed and went to the Cafe Caribe for our final breakfast of Cereal and fruit. We then picked up our luggage out of the room and went to our pre-disembark area in the casino. We got there at about 7:10 and were received our notice at 7:30 that we could disembark the ship. As we never made it to land, we did not have to go through customs and were in our car within 5 minutes. I dropped off my daughter at her apartment in Boca at 8:30 and was home in Orlando by 11:30am! Just as Princess excels in their embarkation process, I don't think they are second to anyone on their disembarkation process.
In conclusion, I rarely write reviews of cruises any longer, but due to some of the negative reviews floating around about this cruise, I wanted to give another perspective. I really don't mean to take away anything from people that do have negative experiences on a cruise, especially when they are serious. But sometimes people make a little more out of the negative experience that it deserves. Was our cruise perfect? No. On the first cruise day, I ruined my coffee card in the Jacuzzi. I went to the International Cafe to see if they would replace it and I was told rudely that they could not replace it. Did I get mad and upset? No, I called the Food and Beverage Manager and politely told him about the card and he did replace it for me. Even if he had not replaced it, would it have done me any good to get upset? No, I would have ruined the cruise for me and my daughter. Losing a $27 card is hardly enough to ruin an entire cruise and a horrible reason to not cruise on that cruise line again (as some would surely do)! Also, as this was one of very few 3 night cruises that Princess offers and the total cost for the entire cruise for my daughter and I was less than $400, I didn't have sky high expectations. I am pleased to say that Princess totally exceeded all my expectations by a wide margin. Four years ago, my daughter and I sailed on a 4 night cruise on the Imagination ship and Carnival's food, service and entertainment far exceeded my expectations for that cruise as well. As usual others found something to complain about in their cc reviews.
Cruising is not for everyone. For those of you expecting 5 star meals on a cruise ship, you'd be wise to go on a land trip where there are 5 star quality restaurants or on a very high end very expensive cruise line like Crystal; for those of you expecting Broadway quality shows on a cruise ship, you might want to go to NYC or London to get that kind of quality and for those of you looking for the comfort of a Heavenly Bed, you should consider a land trip and stay in a Hotel that offers that type of bedding. For those of you that are generally happy people that enjoy the true gifts of life, I think you will find a cruise on any cruise line to be a fantastic vacation!
Just my 2 cents...Happy Cruising!:)