This is my Partners' 20th cruise and my 19th and our fourth on Princess. It was also our first Christmas cruise and the Ruby was excellent choice.
Embarkation was fast and easy though Port Everglades though employees could use some customer service training, as they were rude and acted as if they were herding cattle rather than guiding passengers. The Princess Representatives were courteous and efficient; we boarded the ship within 20 minutes.
The ship was beautifully decorated for the holidays and lovely holiday music played throughout the ship. The piazza was magnificent.
We went to see our cabin on the Lido deck which was a spacious inside handicapped cabin with a large bathroom. We also met our Cabin Steward, Angie who was wonderful throughout the entire cruise.
The service overall was very good to excellent. There were some wonderful standouts on the ship and they were rewarded accordingly, beyond the daily automatic tips. We also brought Christmas stockings for our Waiter, Asst. Waiter and Cabin Steward with wrapped phone cards and included goodies. We wrote their names with glitter pens and they were extremely surprised and thankful, as we know they are a long way from home and families.
The Botticelli Dining Room (traditional dining) was excellent. We were fortunate to have a cohesive, congenial table of 10 (Table 73) in a great location with Peter as our Waiter and Mauricio as our Assistant Waiter. Peter and Mauricio did an excellent job and were happy to bring you whatever you wanted. We are generally late eaters and do not like to rush, so we had the late seating. The food in the dining room was very good to excellent. They had Prime Rib, Medallions of Beef, Lobster Tails, Rack of lamb, as well as fish and chicken dishes etc... Don't miss out on the Fettuccini Alfredo or the Pasta with the fresh clams - both excellent. One disappointment was the preparation of the Veal Marsala.
If you are going to make a reservation for Crown Grill or Sabatini's the specialty restaurants - do it on Wednesday, as this was our personal least favorite night in the dining room (Caribbean Night). We dined in Crown Grill that night. The food was excellent. I had Lobster Pate and Mussels in white wine and garlic sauce as appetizers . My Partner was disappointed in the Black and Blue Onion Soup (the blue cheese was overpowering). We both had Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail as our entrees. We both chose the dessert sampler and recommend it.
The food was excellent and is very nice for a special evening or occasion. The service was a bit off, as our waiter had a large table assigned to him and the Matre'D George worked very hard to assist our waiter Nestor with his smaller tables. In our opinion, another waiter should have been assigned to handle the smaller tables, as some of the areas had empty tables at that time. This did not spoil this wonderful evening.
The buffet was generally good to very good though it lacked a bit of originality, as on other lines. We never went away hungry mind you -- it would be nice to see some variety; pizza and burgers at the outside grills were very good.
Many of the shows were scheduled as pre-dinner shows and we only had the opportunity to see two, as we do not like to rush before dinner. One after-dinner dance production show was postponed due to rough seas and made into a pre-dinner show which we did not see.
The Band "Temperature" at the Pool was wonderful and were all over the ship -best band we have seen in a while; female lead singer was excellent.
Many activities were organized in the Piazza - Christmas carolling with a real snow making machine going, Santa Claus visiting, the reading of The Night Before Christmas by Lisa Ball, Cruise Director who was very charming, the Champagne Fountain event, etc... The highlight of the Officers (and the most visible)was Captain Tony Yeomans; he was very sociable and so funny. We had the honor to meet him at one of our Cruise Critic members wedding (Lydia and Tim) aboard, in which we were witnesses. He told many jokes at the Captain's Circle get together and he had his lovely family with him who were aboard for this trip.
There were several other venues for entertainment-- the Crooners Bar was a wonderful Martini Bar in a great spot; JoJo and Camilo are the fantastic bartenders at the Martini bar - see Camilo pour 7 drinks at once; JoJo is up to pouring 4 at once at the time of this writing... We hope to see 7 poured by JoJo, if we return in March.
The Skywalkers lounge was active every night and David did a great job managing it. At the Bar -- Chada did a great job mixing drinks and Joel did a great job entertaining and dancing - when not mixing drinks. The DJ played a variety of music and all appeared to be pleased.
Other lounges had piano players and smaller ensembles which was very nice.
Casino staff was very nice and personable. Black Jack tables were busy and amounts to play were generally $5 - $10 per hand. They also had Three Card Poker, Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride, Dice, etc.. I didn't win, but had fun losing - my Partner enjoyed the slots and won a bit (which offset my losses).
Princess Cay - first time Ruby stopped in weeks due to rough seas - we stayed aboard as weather and water was cool;
St. Maarten - Best place for shopping in the Caribbean. We visited all of our favorite jewelers and picked up our regular liquor supply and had a great time, as we know several of the vendors. We even played a little in the Casino on shore and won. We were happy campers;
St. Thomas - Our favorite shore excursion to St. John for snorkeling at Trunk Bay was cancelled the night before due to the roughness of the water - so we regrouped and went to Emerald Beach. It is the closest beach to Crown Bay $4PP each way) and we had a wonderful day. We rented two lounges for $12 and had facilities and clean restrooms available;
Grand Turk - We really loved Margaritaville and the snorkel excursion we went on the last time we were there, but again the weather was dicey this time. It was initially raining and cloudy and cool. We enjoyed the day on the ship and the weather improved late in the day.
Overall it was a wonderful trip and I would recommend the Ruby Princess. The layout of the ship is very good (much better than Golden/Grand). Though 700 children were aboard, they were hardly noticeable and well behaved.
The Captain and his staff were very personable and visible the entire cruise.
Overall it was a wonderful trip and I would recommend Princess.
We were disappointed that most of the Cruise Critic members did not show up for the sail away party. Only four showed up for the Slot Pull. The last cruise, we had around 45-50 at sail away and a large turnout for the slot pull. The wedding of Lydia and Tim (weluv2cruise2007) was wonderful and a truly different experience. Thank you for letting us be part of your important day.
Debarkation was smooth and we were off the ship quickly. We look forward to a possible return to the Ruby in March and hopefully the weather will be more cooperative the next time around.