My husband (31) and I (30) went on our first Princess cruise on the Ruby 10/24/10 Eastern Caribbean sailing. This was my 5th cruise and my husband's 4th cruise. Our previous cruises were all on Royal Caribbean.
Pre-cruise - We flew into FLL on Saturday, arriving around 2pm. While waiting for our luggage, we noticed bags with Oasis tags. That is cutting it close since the Oasis was setting sail at 5pm. That is why we always fly in the day prior. We stayed at the Hyatt Place North. Nice hotel with free airport and cruiseport shuttles, as well as free breakfast. We ate dinner at Five Guys. The burgers were good and we split an order of fries with cajun seasoning. We also split dessert and had a couple of drinks at Duffy's since it was 2 for 1.
Embarkation - We took the 10:30 shuttle to the port. After arriving, we were informed that check-in would start at 1pm due to a customs delay. We sat with several couples from our roll call and got to know each other. Check-in started around noon. It was very quick as we boarded the ship at 12:10pm.
Stateroom - We had an interior on deck 9 at the front of the ship. We found it to be big enough for the 2 of us. There was plenty of closet, shelf, and cabinet space. Mary, our stateroom attendant, was very friendly and attentive. Due to the direction our beds faced, we felt quite a bit of movement when the ship rolled or pitched. We smelled some smoke in the hallway and in our cabin towards the end of the week.
Food - We usually had the buffet for breakfast. My husband enjoyed the omelets and I liked the waffles out by the pool. On the first sea day, we went to Wheelhouse Bar for the English Pub Lunch. My husband had Bangers & Mash and I had Fish & Chips. They were very good. The rest of the week, we hit the grill for burgers, hot dogs, and fries at lunch time or for a snack after being in port. We were signed up for traditional First Seating, but changed to Anytime Dining. We were used to the dining rooms on Royal Caribbean being multi-leveled and found the dining rooms on the Ruby to be a bit difficult to access. Service and food wasn't as great as on previous cruises. However, we always found something to eat and enjoyed our tablemates.
Ultimate Drink Card - We purchased this and enjoyed all the soda, milkshakes, and virgin strawberry daquiris and pina coladas we could drink. It was well worth the $63 plus 15% gratuity. There were only a couple times that we were only able to get one drink at a time.
Entertainment - We only saw the opening show. We really enjoyed listening to Bert Stratton in Crooner's Bar and his show in Explorer's Lounge on the last night. Comedian Bobby Collins was very entertaining.
Aft Pool - This was our favorite spot on the ship. The water was a little cool the first day as it has rained and was a windy. We spent both of our sea days here and headed there after all our ports as well. It was a fun place to be during sailaway and to watch the sunset.
Culinary Demonstration - We really enjoyed the culinary demonstration and learned a couple new recipes. We also enjoyed getting to walk through the galley and watching some of the kitchen staff preparing for lunch service. They had decorated pumpkins for Halloween and had them on display.
Crew - Tim, Alex, and Lindsey from the cruise director's staff were fantastic. Tatiana and Mabel were awesome in Adagio.
Service - We felt that the service left a little to be desired and that the crew was a little off most of the week.
Comparisons - Overall, we felt that Royal Caribbean had a better overall package for what we are looking for. However, we would like to try Princess again to get another perspective as we were on the first cruise after the Ruby came off of a transatlantic and spending the summer in the Mediterranean.
Disembarkation: We did express walk-off. This was by far the best experience we have had for all the cruises. We walked off, cleared customs, and were at the airport within 20 minutes.