Ruby Princess Cruise Review by happyonaship: Ruby Princess meets expectations
Overall Member Rating
Ruby Princess meets expectations
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
After having cruised on a no-name line (first cruise), RCI and NCL, we were looking for a cruise that gave us good value. Because we do not seek the cheapest rate - our minimum requirement is a balcony - we want our money to go as far as possible.
Our second requirement is that we are able to have dinner by ourselves, just the two of us. We found when we cruised with RCI several years ago that there was no option for that. Now they have introduced an any time dining option. We chose NCL because we felt that we could dine as we wished, but actually found that if we wanted top quality food, we had to pay a premium. On one cruise, our concierge even joked that if we tried the main dining room once, we would never return to it. We read reviews complaining about NCL food - our complaint was different - we always had great dinners, but we had to pay extra. When we did the math, we were dismayed. With what we paid for a suite, we should not have had to pay extra for dinner every More night.
We were delighted, therefore, that Princess easily allowed us Traditional Dining at a table for two. Then, when we experienced it, we were even more delighted. The quality, imagination and variety of food was excellent. It was difficult to find a night to try the premium restaurants, but when we did, we found Sabatini's even more incredible than the main dining room. Crown Grill was good too.
One thing that no one mentions about the food on Princess is the fact that there are such healthy choices for dinner every night. I practically stayed with Lotus Spa choices - which were great - and I did not come home ten pounds heavier than when I left.
The ship was more elegant and formal than NCL or RCI. I feel that Princess has managed a wonderful balance between mainstream appeal and refinement. It was very comfortable to be on the ship, whether you were casual or dressed up for a special night.
What could be improved? The Internet! There was no WiFi available in my room and I could not access it on my laptop even in public spaces. Based on my previous shipboard experience, I overspent on the Internet package. Accessing the Internet was so constrained and difficult, we did not come close to using up our time.
Also, coffee and orange juice in the buffet could be better. The coffee is not as horrible as some reviews say, but NCL does have espresso machines in the buffet - stocked with Lavazza beans! That is a food tip Princess could take from its competitor. The orange juice is also not up to the standard of the rest of the food on board.
Best parts? The jazz piano of Ron Coleman in the Adagio Lounge every night before dinner. He is a sophisticated interpreter of standards and it was a joy to have a pre-dinner aperitif listening to him. Also, Hutch - the Port lecturer - gave excellent information that allowed people to get a lot out of going ashore without an excursion.
By the way, the ship did offer a GLBT Get-Together every day at 5:15 p.m. My partner and I were the only passengers the first night. We were welcomed warmly by ship crew. We tried two more times, but no other passengers showed up. Kudos to Princess for persevering. We look forward, in the future, to meeting more GLBT cruisers on Princess.
All in all, excellent value for the money. Our cabin steward Marlon was efficient and thoughtful and our waiters, Edgar and Marjoe were highly professional and made dinners in the main dining room a "special" enough experience that we did not feel "forced" to use premium dining rooms. When we did go to the premium dining rooms it was for an even more special experience and we were delighted with them.
Would we cruise Princess again? Yes. Hopefully again and again. Less
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Cabin review: AAD423
The cabin was really great - it had plenty of space, lots of storage. We were worried about how exposed the large balcony was, but that did not prove to be a problem, either for privacy or for shade. We were able to spend quite a bit of time out there, only driven indoors on a few occasion due to smokers on their balconies. That will change, however, with Princess's new smoking policy. Only problem was the bed was too soft. We will request a firmer mattress in future. I think it will be better if they simply remove the pad on top of the mattress.
Port and Shore Excursions
Another drawback, though this was hardly the fault of the excursion company, was that the crowds were so thick at Topkapi Palace we were unable to see many of the exhibits and ended up finding a shady spot to sit and wait to leave. The carpet making display was, as others have noted, a waste of time.
However, Princess did arrange a shuttle from the Bazaar back to the ship so that passengers really did not have to go to the carpet making display or spend the allotted two hours in the bazaar. That was much appreciated.
We would love to go back to Istanbul, but to see more of the city that tourists do not go to.
Like many Greek and Roman ruins, there are remains of colonnaded streets, an Agora (theater-like space for public meetings), theater and private dwellings and stores. In Delos, what is impressive is the size and extensiveness of the place - the town at its height was home to 30,000 people. You get to see a lot, even in a couple of hours, and are able to really get a sense of what this place must have been like.
One highlight - the famous lion statues along one street. There may have been up to 16 of these - six remain. Even now, they give the town a sense of majesty and marvel - it was a sacred place, after all - the birthplace of gods.
I heartily recommend this port and a tour of Delos.
Our initial excursion - to Pompeii and the National Archaeological Museum was cancelled due to insufficient interest and so we chose a boat cruise to Amalfi and a tour of Pompeii. The cruise to Amalfi was fine - the coast and towns are very beautiful. In Amalfi itself we were simply given free time. There is really nothing much to see - and not much to buy. It is a beautiful resort town. A walk around with some commentary would have been better than free time.
We returned to the area of Pompeii and had lunch, truly some of the worst food I have ever had in Italy. It was really pretty shocking - replete with a deafening strolling musician/singer. Naples is known for pizza - a slice of good pizza would have been far better than the cannelloni, with its sauce that was not much different in taste than the bottled kind you get in North American supermarkets and the overcooked chicken (same sauce).
Pompeii is really worth seeing at least once. Again, it is pretty extensive and a really famous location. There are still a lot of artifacts that give you a good sense of what it was to live in a Roman town in the first century AD. The tour guide, who had not been too remarkable up this point, did provide an interesting commentary.
Somewhere in there was a trip to a cameo factory where we watched a short video on the making of cameos and watched an artisan at work for a couple of minutes. It was not uninteresting, but really does feel forced on you as a pitch to buy what are actually probably not badly priced cameos. But cameos are a very expensive item to begin with.
Altogether Pompeii is worth seeing. Really, though, if you can speak a bit of Italian and take the requisite precautions regarding the pickpockets and thieves that Naples is known for, you can probably do Pompeii on your own. Next time, we also want to see Herculaneum and the National Museum of Archeology. And we'll spring for our own lunch.
Mind you, if you have never been to Rome, then you have to head into town for the Colosseum, Vatican and incredible public places like the Piazza Navona and Campo dei Fiori.
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