Ruby Princess May 28, 2011 from Venice to Barcelona, 12 nights
My husband, 59, our son, 16 and I, 57, all frequent cruisers, second time on Princess. Cabin E420, outside. We were accompanied by four other adults.
Arrived at Venice airport the day of the cruise and used the ATM to get euro. Paid 5 euro to take the bus to Venice and paid 1 euro to take the People Mover to near the Ruby Princess. After getting off the People Mover, it's a bit of a walk on semi-rough ground to get to the ship. I first had to drop my checked baggage at a white tent and then walk over to the embarkation building. Once inside, it was a very easy process to get on the ship, probably the easiest ever, no lines.
Got on board around 5pm and the stateroom was ready. On my bed were our tour tickets and a boat ticket for each of us that we could use that day to go between the ship and St. Mark's square. We could use it all day and it costs $15 each. If these tickets were not used, we were to return them to the Guest Services for full credit. If we had gotten on board earlier, we would have used them for our sightseeing.
My brother and his wife arrived early that day by train and when they exited the train station, there was a Ruby Princess man there collecting luggage and taking it to the ship for $5 each. Saved them the trouble of storing the luggage and gathering it later and getting it to the ship. That was a good and unexpected perk.
We met with the other four members of our group on board. We all ate with Anytime Dining and had dinner that night in the Michelangelo or DaVinci dining room. We ate there almost all dinners and breakfasts and some lunches. We made reservations on the first formal night only. Only one night did we have to wait about 30 minutes. All other times we just walked in and were seated immediately.
We sailed away the next morning and had the lifeboat drill with no problems. We then had two days at sea. There were lots of activities and they were varied.
Our son was one of very few teens on board. The few times he went to the teen center, he was the only one there. There were a variety of events but he mostly played the video games. We had one more day at sea before Naples.
Our cabin was an outside with obstructed view but the lifeboat was very low and we had a good view out the window. Our steward was very good and the cabin was always tidy.
I sent two tux shirts out to be ironed and they came back on time for the first formal night. I used the self-serve laundry four times. There were four washers and dryers on our floor. Sometimes I had to wait to use them and sometimes not. The change machine was empty twice. I got change in the casino and the casino didn't seem pleased about that. I found out later that I could have called Guest Services from the laundry and they would have sent someone there to help me. I brought my own soap but they also sold it for $1.25. Wash and dry were each $2. Washing took almost one hour. There were four ironing boards and irons. I say remove two ironing boards and put in one more washer and dryer. I never saw even two irons being used at the same time.
Food was usually very good. I wasn't excited about the turkey pot pie as it was bland and warm. One of the steaks my son ordered was very tough and stringy. The lobster was very good.
The shows in the Princess Theater were very nice, there was always plenty of room there. We took the behind the scene tour of the theater.
There was a cooking demo with the Executive Chef and the Maitre D. Then we had a tour of the kitchen.
We took ship tours of Delos which is at the Mykonos port and Effeses. We took private tours in Athens, Istanbul and Rome. We stayed in Livorno and Monte Carlo and walked around. The tours we took with Princess were very nice.
When we disembarked in Barcelona, we took a cab to our hotel, the TRYP Apolo. The cost was less than 12 eruo for three people and three bags in the trunk. The hotel was not very far away. We were happy with the hotel room but would skip the optional breakfast next time. The clerks were a bit heavy on trying to sell us tours. The location was nice for walking to Las Ramblas. The next day we took the subway and aerobus to the airport. It was drizzling and the elevators to the subway were ALL broken. Total per person was less than 7 euro. If you can handle your own bags, this is a good way to get to the airport. There is one drop off at the Barcelona Airport so no need to figure out the terminal. Our friends took a taxi for two people for 32 euro to the airport earlier in the day.
We all found Barcelona to be a lovely city. All drivers stopped to let us cross streets. We were warned about pickpockets but felt safe in that regards. We did take precautions. However, a woman appeared to try and take my brother's suitcase when we were getting off the aerobus at the airport. After my brother stopped her, she got off the bus without any luggage. Why would she be taking his suitcase if she didn't have one to begin with unless she was stealing it. On the subway, three teenage girls were pushed off the subway when someone accused them of being pickpockets.
Port information that I think should be different. Most problems with ports is getting out of the port if not taking a Princess tour. Rome's port had a free shuttle to the port entrance since our ship docked so far away. It should start earlier in the morning. We had a private tour and needed to make the train to get us to St. Peter's. We made it but barely. From the port entrance, we still had a bit of a walk and got our tickets with minutest to spare. The problem with Livorno is similar. Walking through the port is not allowed because of large equipment moving around. A shuttle into town is 5 euro for unlimited rides all day. There was also a direct shuttle to the train station. That one started much later then it should have. I recommend two in the morning, one soon after docking. Instead, there was just one to the station and it was barely in time to get tickets and onto the train in time.
Crowds were overwhelming in Athens and Rome, something has to be done.
We celebrated our 25th anniversary on the cruise. Princess provided a door sign and balloons and a cake at dinner. It was very nice.
Disembarkation was a breeze. We chose self-serve and just walked off with all of our luggage. Taxis were plentiful at the Barcelona port and we were soon at our hotel.