We had great flying weather and arrived in Fort Lauderdale early -- great hotel, DoubleTree Galleria, would highly recommend it. Of course it was chilly in Florida and this did not bode well for the remainder of our vacation - we had poor weather all but 1 or 2 days. Princess Cays was cancelled altogether due to weather and our excursion in St Maarten was also cancelled -- of course we were not charged for those booked excursions.
We were not entirely satisfied with the Ruby Princess - after a thorough ranking of all elements, it is about a 6 in our books. It is a bunch of small things that would deter us from a Princess cruise in the future, not any one bad thing:
Embarkation: 10 - so easy and organized and very fast
Cabin: 6 - seemed smaller, no sofa which we really missed, no storage around the vanity mirror which I disliked, not enough lighting in the cabin, poor shower with not enough space for any toiletries and a fixed head rather than a wand shower head, but the water temperature and pressure were good, also shower curtain instead of door, tiny tiny bathroom, and the most uncomfortable bed and pillow I have ever had on a ship, was very clean so good marks for that, HUGE closet though which was the best part of the cabin. The attendant was excellent but we sort of missed that we didn't get even one towel animal :) I guess they don't do them on Princess.
Dining: 5 - other than the specialty restaurant Crown Grill which was truly wonderful on New Year's Eve, we had no memorable meal; food was nothing special in fact I can't remember ordering grilled chicken so many times on a ship because nothing else really appealed to me; very few interesting soups and the ones I did get were just ok; there was no wine package except a ridiculously priced one; breakfast was good, same everyday but what else can it be; the late night buffet was also ok; what we really missed was having good service in the dining room - the waiters made no effort to engage us or entertain us like on HAL and RCCL - we never even met the head waiter, just an assistant who inquired about my shellfish allergy but I never saw him again. The dining room was just a low-ceilinged room and so you didn't get that grand feeling when going to dinner like on HAL and RCCL. And I have to say the coffee was the WORST I have ever tasted ANYWHERE --- except of course if you paid $24 for a coffee card to get "premium coffee" for the week - which I did - BUT, you had to line up at the one and only cafe on the ship that served the premium coffee! That was absurd - we suggested they just charge everyone a bit more for the cruise and just serve decent coffee. Like I said, all small things, nothing that was a problem or big deal. We didn't leave hungry or anything!
Entertainment: 5 - this was shocking, the production shows were truly second rate. The principle singers tried to out-sing each other so all you heard was screeching and the dancers weren't that good either. It was kind of comical how bad the shows were, no grand stage sets or anything memorable. It was the first cruise we didn't bother going to every show. There was only one comedian one time in the week, and he was very good. There was an illusionist 2 times which was also very good. I'm not sure if we're turning into entertainment snobs now that we have many to compare but we were disappointed in the production shows relative to our expectations.
Onboard Entertainment: 5 - sorely lacking compared to RCCL -- we at times could not find anything to do -- we don't gamble so casino is n/a. There was a female cruise director which my experience is they are never as good as a male for some reason - she wasn't funny or engaging at all. The other assistant cruise staff were pretty lame - which was a weird experience for us, we've never felt that way before and thought they would be better trained to be more energetic and entertaining. Very few pool games, no family games even though there were hundreds of teens onboard. We thought it very cheap that there was not free champagne at midnight on New Year's Eve! They were charging $6.85 for a teeny bottle but no free champagne as we've had on every other new year's eve cruise. The new year's eve celebration was fun they gave out free hats and streamers and they did a big balloon drop in the atrium. Movies Under the Stars is a nice feature, very comfy loungers and blankets provided, and I think Princess must think the Movies is a big entertainment feature and therefore they don't try very hard to provide alternate entertainment - but if you weren't interested in the movie they were playing, you were pretty much out of options.
Disembarkation: 10 - we paid $20 each for EZ Check which meant they took our luggage from outside our cabin and we didn't have to touch it again until we landed in Buffalo; great service! They even printed our boarding passes as part of that package. And we got off the ship quickly with no wait time.
Ship Layout: can't really rate it except to say it is very choppy with an awkward design with the shops on each floor of the atrium rather than all together. Also, the pool chairs were in short supply - not many people actually sitting in them but they were all saved by 9 am on the first sea day with a book or towel - we literally could not find one except for the last day and that is only because DH got up at 7am and reserved them; we usually don't like to do that but they did not have any "do not reserve" rules in place so it was a matter of 'if you can't beat em join em' and we sat by the pool for the first time on the last day of the cruise. Truth be told, it was overcast most days so really didn't matter to us.
The biggest negative about this ship was the ride! The poor stability of the ship....I have not been on a rougher cruise since the Baltic cruise! We wonder if they don't have good enough stabilizers or just didn't utilize them properly but it was constant and got to be very annoying - more like riding on a swaying train rather than a ship - I'm sure weather played a part but it seemed a bit much for such a large ship.
As usual, we did have a good time and lots of laughs thanks to the good company we spent the week with so it was a good week regardless.