This will be my review of our 6/9 - 6/21 cruise on the Ruby Princess, Grand Mediterranean, Barcelona to Venice. We flew into Barcelona from Indiana - 6 of us - arriving on the 8th. We loved, loved, loved, Barcelona, stayed at Le Meridian on La Rambla - perfect location, lovely hotel. So excited to see our new ship, and our first time on a Princess. We are Emerald on Royal Caribbean, and sailed on the Celebrity Solstice also.
Embarkation was a breeze. I believe everyone has this down to a science, and Princess is no exception. The beauty of the Ruby blew us away, lovely ship, well-maintained, she still looks brand new. Our stateroom was on Baja deck - 630. I was told that we would find it small, we really didn't. Loved the layout of the closet....the balcony, though small, was very pretty with the blue floor. Wished for glass doors on the shower, but can't have everything! Our traveling companions were on the same deck, so it was very nice to "meet in the hall" the whole trip.
We had done the Med before, our friends had not....we warned them that we wouldn't be able to enjoy the ship as much as in the Caribbean because of being so port intensive. After long days of sightseeing you are just ready to have dinner and crash!
As we were exploring we were handed the card for the scavenger hunt. Look for locations all over the ship, get a stamp - when completed you could enter a contest for prizes. Thought it a brilliant idea, good way to get acclimated to the ship quickly. At the Horizon we bought the coffee card (after reading lots of discussions on Cruise Critic about the coffee). The young woman selling the card gave it to us, but wrote on our receipt that we had to go to International Cafe to pick up our thermos. Hey, we needed that stamp so away we went. Oh my.... as we arrived we handed our receipt and asked for our thermos. Wow! Never in all my years of cruising have I been treated so rudely. The manager said she would not give us the thermos, it would confuse their inventory, and we would have to go back up to deck 15 (from 5) and check at the bar and see if they had them....evidently they might, ......or might not. I explained to her that I was looking at the huge stack of mugs behind her, her inventory problem was not really the passengers issue, and we were given a receipt and asked to get them from her. No voices were raised, it was very civil on our side, but the mug was finally almost thrown at me. (The other employee in the cafe at the time was rolling his eyes, btw!!) Not a great introduction to the ship...but one bad apple, yada, yada, yada. Our next stop was the Lotus Spa.....relaxing, right? Our other friends just happened to be there already, and were on the other side of the doors changing an appointment. We started through to meet them and were told we absolutely could NOT enter! Really? There were no crowds, we were trying to stay together, but we were evidently supposed to stay put for a sales pitch. Again, so rude, and so unnecessary....Luckily we met Max at the bar, got a great drink, realized that we would not have rude mean-spirited people everywhere on the ship, and enjoyed the rest of the "hunt". (My husband won a prize, free massage at the Lotus Spa, which I truly enjoyed - and was billed for!!! ....but Princess says it will be taken off).
Met our waitress, Clara, and really enjoyed our two weeks with her. She did a great job, great sense of humor, and very competent. Didn't see much of the head waiter, can't tell you his name, stopped by our table twice in twelve days. Thought Rooster was a good name, so that is what we called him. The assistant was not much help either. We were happy that Clara was as efficient as she was. On our previous cruises it seemed that assistant waiters did a lot more, don't know if it was a Princess thing, or just this assistant.
Since we were on a 12 day'er we went to both specialty restaurants, and had lunch at the Wheelhouse. Loved the fish and chips lunch, it was a great break from the norm. Sabbatini's was first on our agenda. Had a great start to our dinner, liked the waitress, beautiful surroundings...then...the basketball game started above our heads. It did not stop - the pounding, the noise, and the aggravation was terrible! Who designed this ship??!!! The wait staff acted like they were supposed to brush it off..."oh, yes, the kid's area is up there...". Believe me - it was more than annoying. Food was good, but ambiance not so much!
Crown Grill was next. Lovely room - and no fault of Princess, an obnoxious passenger was in our area. Demanded to be moved, loud and disruptive, which put our waiter in a bad mood, mumbling and grumbling under his breathe the whole dinner.
Overall I believe the food was better on this ship than any other we have sailed. Loved the soufflEs for dessert, thought the entrees were better thought out. We did have a couple of strange combinations of entrees, but overall I enjoyed my meals.
Okay - coffee..really Princess - what are you thinking? I love my morning coffee, I love my coffee after dinner..when we bought the coffee card we did not know that only one location - on the entire ship - for 3000 people - would have brewed coffee. Seriously?? What if you only had beer in one location????!!! I know it is a small thing...but a daily irritant. I did not feel all that elegant walking around in my full length gown with my insulated mug in hand. I even paid extra over my thousands for the cruise to have normal coffee. There has to be a better answer than this.
We did not really see shows....too tired. We did absolutely love the comedy team on the ship. Don't know their names, if they performed anywhere but "traveling" around. The day we saw them they were in the cafe dressed as explorers looking for Antarctica. They were hysterical. We all loved them, and kept looking for them, asking where they were, but never saw them again.
Did go to a couple of parties, including the White Hot party on deck. Love the band, they are just awesome.....all the music on the ship was excellent, and very well done. I felt sorry that more people could not enjoy them because if the itinerary we were on...
Okay - back to the White Hot party. The entire staff - Lisa Ball and her group were on the pool deck, dancing, teaching, etc. A passenger jumped up and joined them. As soon as that happened I knew (and I am not staff) that there would be trouble. They let her stay, don't know why...dancing in her 5" heels and she fell in the pool...hmmmmm..not a big surprise. She was fished out, (fell in the net, so not too wet), she decided to show off her attributes by removing her shirt and bra, and fought off anyone trying to cover her. Entertaining? To some I am sure, but there were children there, and I felt if I knew it was going to escalate I am sure the staff should have known also. Very poor judgment on this one. (My husband might argue this point, however..)
I am not going to review each port, we arranged our own excursions, had really, really great ones, which I will recommend under each individual port on Cruise Critic. We had lovely weather, smooth seas, great companionship, couldn't ask for more.
We had an early flight, so we carried off our own luggage, found a driver, and had a safe trip home. We will probably continue to do our own disembarking, made it very easy.
Overall we had a lovely cruise. A couple of sticking points for Princess, but all in all a beautiful ship.