This was the sixth cruise for my Husband (51) and myself (45). We have sailed with NCL-Sun and Spirit, HAL-Noordam, Royal Caribbean-Explorer of the Seas, and once before with Princess-Caribbean Princess. We have never been on a "bad" cruise. You will find some of the same themes in this review as in others but with a different perspective. Keep in mind, this is my opinion and all opinions are subjective and most cruises are what YOU make of them...
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale a day before embarkation and stayed at the Renaissance. The hotel was very nice, clean and convenient. Anything you might need before embarkation was obtainable within walking distance - supermarket, liquor store (although a bit pricey), nail salon. We had the best burgers as a late lunch at Chuck's Steakhouse just up the block and we really enjoyed walking along the bridge.
Embarkation was very efficient (just don't ask to use an end of a "security" table to fill out your health questionnaire!). We arrived at the pier at 12:30pm and we were in our cabin by 12:50pm. The balcony cabin was nice and well kept with soft, light colors. Storage is good; big closet and suitcases fit under the bed...but Princess has some of the smallest bathrooms and tiniest showers at sea! It didn't seem quite as bad as it was when I was on Caribbean Princess but maybe that was because I got used to it and knew what to expect. Our Room Steward did a good job, I could barely understand a word he said but he did what was necessary, fulfilled our additional requests, and kept the room clean. For me that's all that counts. There were no issues regarding cigarette smoke from the balcony (thank goodness!) but the tiered balcony style of the ship can be a bit of a concern...There are some passengers who prefer to sunbathe in the nude on the edge of their balcony. This can be a bit uncomfortable for other passengers whose balcony overlooks the balcony of the nude sunbather. While you can step back or sit down to avoid the "view," if you want to people watch the pier or are interested in the goings on while the ship docks or sails away it can be rather distracting. The ship itself is lovely. It is a bit confusing to navigate but really, how lost can you get? We enjoyed the Piazza immensely, it is a very pretty area and truly the heart of the ship. The music here was the best! I am sorry to say I never caught the name of the Violinist and the group he played with but they were truly wonderful. It was such a pleasure to sit and listen in the evening while enjoying gelato ($1.50 for three generous scoops) and coffee from the International Cafe. The purchase of the coffee card is well worth it if you like your coffee. Thanks to Henri and Alex at the coffee bar I enjoyed my cappuccino every morning and again some afternoons! The only thing I will add here is any time spent in the Piazza/Cafe area seemed to be an invitation for crew members to try to sell you something - ie: wine tasting - they kept at it until I finally gave in and I did not enjoy the experience at all, neither the hard sell nor the wine tasting event! Maybe I should have just told them I purchased it already from someone else? You can bet I will be better prepared next time.
We found the food on board to be some of the best we have had at sea. I need to add though that we only ate in the dining room once, once at Crown Grille, breakfast most mornings was gotten from the International Cafe and lunch only if we were onboard at lunchtime. We had dinner most nights at the buffet in the Cafe Caribe, casual, laid back, and ready when we were with plenty to choose from to suit our tastes. The "curry" night was great. I love that type of food and I don't get to eat it often enough because Hubby doesn't care for it so this was a real treat for me and there was still plenty of other dishes for Hubby to choose from. For me the pizza on board was just so-so and believe it or not I never tried the soft ice cream served on the pool deck (I'm still wondering how that happened too...), the pub lunch was very good and the food and service at Crown Grille was excellent (go with the porterhouse). Actually the service at all meals was fine. While we had no real issues with the food, the service, or the dining areas the Horizon Court can be a little muddled at times.
We went to the first production show "Once Upon a Dream (?)" and I am sorry to say it was just awful. Except for one female singer with a good strong voice (and this was not the showcase for it) this performance was almost unbearable to watch. In my opinion the choreographer/producer needs to be replaced! We did not go to another show. We caught a piece of one comedy show from the outside of the bar near Crown Grille which everyone seemed to be enjoying, but it isn't really our thing so we didn't stay long. Once again, the musical entertainment in the Piazza was exceptional.
Our ports included St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, and St. Thomas along with Princess Cays. I have completed the Ports review as well for additional information. There were no issues with the ship docking in any port and it was a lot of fun when we were docked next to Caribbean Princess in St. Kitts. Caribbean Princess had docked first and then left first while many people out on their balconies waved and yelled "good bye" and "bon voyage" and the Ruby blew her horn to serenade as she sailed away.
I was quite impressed that the Captain, Maitre-d, and the Cruise Director attended our CC Meet and Greet held during the morning of our first sea day. It was a great pleasure for me to see and meet them there. Other M&G's I have been to on other ships were not attended by any members of the crew let alone the elite group we had attend on the Ruby.
We elected to do the "walk-off" debarkation and that worked well for us, even with the large amount of luggage we had (4 bags and one rolling tote). We were in the designated area on board the ship at 7am and we were sitting at the gate for our flight from the Fort Lauderdale airport at 8:05am. Very smooth...
Overall we had a wonderful time, met some really terrific people, and truly enjoyed the ship. We would sail Ruby again but as my husband has informed me he will not fly in an airplane again this may not be possible unless the ship relocates to New York or at least to somewhere in the Northeast. We are scheduled to sail on the Caribbean Princess for the second time out of Brooklyn, NY in June. So if you are wondering if I would sail with Princess again? the answer is definitely YES!