Normally, after returning from a cruise, I don't submit a review since everyone always has their own opinions, likes and dislikes about their vacations aboard a cruise ship that not everyone would agree with since we have have our own expectations but after returning from a wonderful vacation aboard the Ruby Princess, I have felt an obligation to Princess to let others know how truly beautiful the ship is.
My husband and I booked Ruby Princess to celebrate our 22 years of marriage. Before we ever took our first cruise, I knew it would be hard to sell going afloat for a few days on a ship since we both were prior Navy and my husband spent 7 months out at sea several times during his enlistment. Once we took our first cruise, he had a different outlook.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale early in the morning from Atlanta and met with Princess representatives at the baggage claim. They were easy to recognize because they had warm, welcoming smiles on their faces, holding Princess Cruise Lines signs in their hands and directing all of us giddy passengers ready for relaxation. We waited in the assigned area until a certain number of passengers were there and then we boarded a large bus to the pier. I must say, I am always hesitant about the boarding process once arriving at the pier because there are passengers leaving and passenger arriving all at the same time but once we arrived, the worries just disappeared. We never touched our luggage once it was placed on the bus at the airport again until it arrived in our stateroom. When we arrived at the pier, we were escorted to the waiting area and given a number which would be called when it was time to board the ship. The wait was not long at all and people watching made the time go by fast. It was almost amusing. I saw people check and recheck their documents a million times in just the few minutes we sat. They also opened their wallets counting money and recounting it then count it again. Maybe it was just to see it one more time before it got sucked out of their wallets with all the spending that was about to happen. Anyways, we checked in at the lines designated for the deck you were on. Within five minutes after getting in the line for deck 8, we were inside the Ruby Princess by noon.
The atrium which they call the Piazza style was so beautiful. The colors and architectural design made your jaws drop. We stood there for a few minutes in ah. The have the International Cafe there that is the hot spot. The specialty coffee and teas were a treat but the best thing of all was that they had sandwiches, desserts, and breakfast items you could get when ever you wanted. And it was FREE. We spent several hours in the Piazza during the cruise relaxing and watching entertainment. The layout of the Piazza was very well thought out and had easy access to all your needs. We then headed for our room since we have sailed on several cruises to check it out. This is the first time we had a mini-suite and I must tell you, it was truly worth every cent we spent. I loved all the room that it had and the bathroom was way more than I imagined and according to my husband, I have a vivid imagination. To have a large tub and shower was a plus. The only thing that was a small drawback was that there was not really alot of room for our toiletries. Some other cruise ships have a cabinet that opens up to place alot of your items but this bathroom didn't but not a big issue, we made due. We felt having the tub and shower made up for it.
The colors in the room we found very relaxing and warm. Within a few minutes of arriving in our room we were greeted by our cabin steward. He had this huge smile on his face like we were friends who hadn't seen each other in years. He spent time going over everything about the room, the room service and mustering for the fire drill. When he left, we knew we were going to be in good hands with him. We sat in our room and balcony going over all information from the patter, the ports we were going to and all other information Princess Cruise lines provided upon our arrival. Our cabin steward knocked on the door and handed us two glass of champagne telling us to have wonderful memories for the next 7 days and left. How little did he know he wasn't lying.
The drill that is required took place with little to no problems. Princess still makes you take your life vest with you unlike other cruise lines which really don't bother us. Like so many other passengers who have traveled several times already, we understand the purpose of the drill and have succumbed to the few minutes of required herding passengers down the stairs to a designated area, listening to the emergency announcements before we set sail and hearing some of the whistles being blown that are secured to our life vest that some passengers just can't resist blowing. Yup, you know who you are!
As the ship left Ft. Lauderdale, it was sprinkling ever so slightly on the lido deck but as we floated out to sea, we couldn't tell you if it was still raining or not as we had already been mesmerized by the sounds of the ocean.
The first morning we went to breakfast at the buffet. Can't tell you what it looked like after that because we never saw it again. It was very cramped and small and everyone was jammed into this little area trying to get their food. With so many people on the ship, I would of like to have seen Princess designed the buffet area a little different. A passenger was already yelling at one of the cooks about the food, about the service line, about this about that, I just looked at him in shock that we had only been aboard not even a day and already he could not contain himself from shouting at someone who had absolutely no control over the design of the eating area or how the passenger didn't like the way the food tasted.But the whole time he was complaining, he was loading food on his plate like it was his last meal. If he kept talking to the employee the way he was, it could of been his last meal. I laughed all the way to the table. If I had been that employee,I would of suggested the passenger keep his life vest around his neck the whole trip. We chose to eat in the dining area for breakfast after that day and had a delicious breakfast served to us by the wait staff. When we entered the dining area for breakfast, the staff was lined up on each side of the door greeting us with warm smiles. One day we had breakfast served in our room. We sat on the balcony and read and relaxed before heading to points of interest on the ship that day. We had traditional dining which we love. Our waiter and assistant waiter were fantastic. By the second day, they knew exactly what we liked and had our bottle of wine ready and waiting for us. Throughout the whole cruise when we arrived at dinner, they greeted us with huge smiles anxious to hear about our day. The food was some of the best we have ever had on any ship. By the end of the meal, dessert and coffee, I don't know how I even moved.
Entertainment was top notch. We always love the entertainment no matter what it is. One of the comedians made fun of me throughout one of his shows (since I am a police officer). My husband had this look on his face of sheer terror thinking I would not take the jokes well. I truly believed he was thinking silently to himself if we had enough money to bail me out but when he saw me laughing so hard, he relaxed alittle more.
We did pre-order room service prior to our cruise. They have your vouchers in your room upon your arrival. All you have to do is tell them which day and time you want them available and it is there waiting for you. The champagne breakfast was the best. You have no idea how much food they bring to you. I would recommend this special treat to anyone. We chose to get it on the last day at sea and it was the perfect time.
Overall, the Ruby Princess ship is absolutely beautiful!!! The employees were so incredibly friendly, helpful and professional. We loved the pool in the aft of the ship. It was the best place to sunbath, relax, and be when the ship pulled out from ports. We looked at the Sanctuary when we arrived to see if it was worth all the money they charge but after some thought, we thought spending our money on other things was a better choice. Although I could see where some passengers would like having the choice to be pampered just a little bit more and there is certainly nothing wrong with that, after all you are on vacation.
We always go to the art shows (free champagne)and sit for awhile enjoying the bidding and purchasing of paintings. We even bought two painting this time around and my husband won a picture in their raffle which we got to choose one from a selection. (It was only free until I got home and had it framed, then it became more expensive then the ones I bought at the auction).
MUTS: Now that is what I am talking about. We absolutely loved the movies under the stars. Princess puts red chair covers over the lounge chairs at night and hands out warm wool blankets to cover up with while they walk around giving passengers popcorn, cookies and milk. They will even go get you pizza if you ask for it(which I did). The movies were excellent, the concerts were by some of the best groups around. We love the movies under the stars concept. Arrive early and get a good seat!!
The cruise director, Lisa was not impressive to us but we don't pay any attention to them in the first place. I know it has to be a hard job and one that I could never do so my hats off to her for doing what she does.
For those of you who are about to board the Ruby Princess for the first time, you will not be disappointed. The ship is beautiful and big. Take time to experience all of it. It's not always the crowded areas that will attract your attention, but the smaller personal spaces you find with those who travel with you that will leave the lasting impressions. May you have a safe trip, fond memories, and calm seas.