We drove down early from Michigan to Florida planning to have a few days to adjust to non-freezing temperatures - big surprise this year as Florida was freezing! As usual we parked our car at Air and Sea and their van dropped us off at the pier around 11:30 am where we were directed to the "preferred line" and the guy apparently in charge told us to "stand up against the wall." It was a rather ominous start as we stood there for about 45 minutes (being cautious not to get too far away from the wall) - the delay supposedly because of "coast guard inspection." But once in the terminal we went directly through TSA and off to short check-in lines and onboard in 15 minutes. We had tried a guarantee reservation for this sailing and received a specific room assignment a few days after booking. That initial room assignment never changed. So for the first time ever booking a guarantee reservation we ended up in the same category we booked and the initial cabin we were assigned. It was not a bad cabin except we were over the Princess Theatre and rehearsals and shows would "rock" our cabin (more on that later). Although we were in a "fully obstructed" cabin (E207 GG category) we actually had a nice view as the window looks out over a large platform between two lifeboats.
We had done this itinerary last year on the Emerald - actually did a B2B both Eastern and Southern. This time we just did the Southern as we are doing the Grand 14 day Caribbean Collection in Feb. We've been to all these islands before and have done most of the shore excursions so we expected to enjoy quiet times, sea breezes, reading good books, wandering around towns a bit, and getting some sun and warmth. There is a lot of information on these islands elsewhere on cruise critic and our roll call was a wealth of information on private tours.
The Ruby is a beautiful ship, very similar to the Emerald and the Crown. It has all the advantages of the Crown class ships as well as the disadvantages. If you are not aware of the advantages and disadvantages of this class of Princess ships just read a few reviews and you will soon realize that larger size means only a bit more room but a deck more of passengers than Grand class ships so at times it is very crowded. Just imagine how crowded it can be when 3000 passengers try to go to the same show at the same time or on beautiful sea days when everyone wants to get some sun. We found it useful to eat a little later for all meals and to avoid the first showing of any entertainment program. Still there were some guest entertainers who performed in the Explorer's Lounge we did not see as there wasn't even standing room available. Princess tries to fix the problem of limited seating by offering the same shows multiple times on multiple days.
The Ruby has new production shows - Broadway Ballroom, Stardust, and Once Upon A Dream. Now everyone has their own personal preferences so I'd suggest you see them and make up your own mind. Every once in a while Princess produces some really strange shows - and I'll leave it at that. There were also the typical guest performers -comedian, illusionist, hypnotist, magician, etc. The one we really enjoyed was comedian Dan Riley.
Food on the Ruby is very good to excellent and service as well. We usually like to have a table for two for dinner - a romantic interlude if you will - but the Ruby has mostly those bench type rows of seating for two where you end up sitting physically closer to the person at the next table on either side of you than you do to the person across the table from you! Depending on who is sitting next to you that can be either good or bad - but we often end up chatting with those next to us and have found it is even more conducive to discussion than sitting at a table for six or more. We split our dinners between the dining room and the Cafe Caribe buffet because Cafe Caribe has a different food theme each night and can be really good - plus no need to dress up or wait for a table!
We tried the "Exclusive Elite Lounge" the first night but found it is actually not exclusive for Elites but is a "Platinum and up" roped off section of SkyWalker's with some not too special hors d'oeuvres - salsa and chips is not our idea of "special."
All in all it was a good cruise but there was one major exception - major noise pollution!
Apparently the Ruby is known for being extremely loud. Maybe the CDs think louder is better, maybe the officers in charge never experience how loud the "music" or MUTS is, who knows? But the pool "music" is very loud and can be heard even in The Sanctuary which is supposed to be a "sanctuary." The thunderous bass at MUTS made it difficult to understand the dialogue and even made the speakers shake. The piercing audio in the Princess Theatre hurt our ears and the loud bass made our cabin fixtures (E207) shake during rehearsal and performances. According to the experts noise levels over 80 decibels are considered dangerous but I would imagine the noise levels on the Ruby are more like those experienced at rock concerts (115 dB). Or in other words, entertainment on the Ruby could be deafening and should come with a warning!
So - if you like loud music and don't mind potential hearing damage sailing on the Ruby could be a great experience for you. But if you are looking for peace and quiet don't book a forward cabin on Emerald deck, get your tanning done before the band starts, forget MUTS and watch the movies in your cabin, carry ear plugs so you can protect your hearing - or perhaps just forget about sailing on the Ruby. There are many other Princess ships that provide a much more enjoyable entertainment experience...