Beautiful ship with a port intensive 12 days - only one day at sea. The itinerary however was difficult to accomplish- too much each day we found out due to the weather constraints of heat and then more heat. Even with starting out each day early, the hot weather usually slowed us down a bit in our perhaps overly ambitious desire to see as much as possible. Our eight year old did her best the last 2 days of the cruise in Capri/ Naples and then Rome because the cooler air prevailed. Our total experience was weighed against however 2 other recent cruises in the past 16 months- one in the Caribbean, the other Alaska- both on the NCL Jewel and NCL Pearl respectively. I will use bullet type points as my best method of summary.
Venice Hotel: Flew Delta, DFW to Atlanta to Venice; Antony Hotel (Airport): 3 or 4 star - worked great for us due to flight/ jet lag - helpful staff-
Embarkation: taxi next day to port- Princess was like precision clockwork.
Cabin: very nice size interior- rarely in room except to sleep.
Activities: Well equipped ship - daughter enjoyed swimming, miniature golf every sail away, bingo with me (Dad), ping pong, (when Princess rarely had the tables set up for use).
Service: the usual quirks of great and not so great- but so was NCL. Juan our Cabin Steward was superb. The Captain decided to wake the entire (every cabin intercom) vessel at 3am around the 3rd night at sea with a 45 second non emergency search for an employee. Princess at the gangplank gave me incorrect info in Athens on which pier terminal would be open after our DIY trip. Seemed the gate was locked at 1pm costing us a 13 Euro taxi go around and a family squabble. Many crew members had no idea where a lot of features were on the ship like the ping pong, etc. I had a similar experience on other ships, but this seemed worse. How can you work on a boat and not know where the features are that passengers want? Entertainment: Weak compared to NCL. It had an understandable European bent to it. Movies under the stars was nice sometimes- other times annoying the areas around it. Classical Gypsy style group playing on Promenade lobby was excellent however.
Dining: Very good and sometimes great. Dining rooms were nice in ambiance, but I give Norwegian Cruise Lines the nod here with a superior buffet for breakfast especially and better overall food, in particular meats, salads and fruits. Specialty restaurants were limited. We ate ashore some also. Daughter missed hand dip NCL ice cream vs. bland soft serve.
Children clubs: it appears Princess does not attract many children - they had programs but it always appeared empty. The teen center had a few every time we went by there. We always went ashore as a family.
Disembarkation at 7:30 was flawless, Romepickup.com limo took us to our Hotel 'Sant Anna in Vatican Roma area on time. Rome was cool and inviting.
Summary: This was a port intensive trip (we did a lot on our own as we had studied quite a bit months before the trip and visited each port) which I will review OUR experiences separate, so the ship was somewhat secondary. It was very hot 10 of the 12 days but the itinerary Princess set up was why we chose the Ruby. All said and done, it is hard to believe that cruisers in the know choose them over the newer NCL ships where service, food and entertainment were a tad better in my opinion. The Ruby Princess is overall a good experience.