We are a couple in our late 50's who traveled to meet our daughter ( who resides in Vietnam) half way around the world ( Venice) to celebrate her birthday, take our first ever cruise ( hers too) and enjoy the Greek Isles and the Mediterranean. She has always wanted to see the Greek Isles and it has also been a dream of mine. My hubby as he says came along for the ride. And what a ride. We flew the 11 hrs from Atlanta to Venice by way of Amsterdam. We spent an extra day and night in Venice and enjoyed getting lost among the various nooks, crannies and canals. We did independent walking tours of the city, the Doge's Palace, the Bridge of Sighs and of course just enjoyed St Marks' Square. The Basilica was closed so we did not go in but we just enjoyed soaking up the experience of being in this magical city. We stayed at the Duodo Palace Hotel which was closer to St Mark's Square than where the ship was docked. This was great for exploring Venice proper but a downside in getting to the Ruby Princess. When I say downside water taxi's are not cheap!! But we were lucky enough to share with another couple. They are also like most taxi's anywhere else except they are on water...it was a fast and raucous ride to the ship! Talk about getting sea legs fast!
On arrival at the port, bags were taken and we did not see them again until they were at our cabin door.
Embarkation was a breeze.The usual photo op then we were on Ruby. What a beautiful ship! We were like kids in a candy store wondering where to look or go next. Staff were everywhere, smiling and guiding us to our cabins and other places as we wandered our new home for 12 days. Our Cabin Steward Rommel was professional and friendly and always made sure that our needs were met. For our daughter's birthday he made a towel monkey ( yes she is an adult but there is something about those little animals, stuffed, towel or otherwise!)and he made our home away from home perfect!
C252 was perfect for an inside cabin. Enough room for the three of us and despite all I read here the beds were perfect for us. One thing that I read here that was great was to keep the TV on on the ships bridge cam at night. That way you get the sense of day and night and with it reflecting in the mirror it appears almost as a window..something I hear Disney has incorporated in their inside cabins.
My hubby was jet lagged and Venice lagged ( after walking the city over and over again)so he slept in after a quick view of Ruby. My daughter and I went to our first Traditional time dining experience and I can tell you the food was great the entire time ( okay one dish I did not particularly find appealing was the veal scallopini..)and yes we did indulge!!Our first meal was when we embarked after lunch closed in the MDR but HC was pretty decent and in general my hubby liked the buffet. Because of the port intensity of this cruise HC saw us for breakfast for most mornings and the fare was good. After awhile however I was getting a bit tired of eggs. One thing I can attest to is that Chef Joel Descrito is the best! He made a curry dish ( Curry chicken one night then curry lamb the next) that my hubby requested that made me wonder how I was ever to prepare these dishes again for my husband to enjoy after eating the ones that Chef Joel created. Scrumptious!!
The ports were fascinating. We were not fans of Corfu or Rhodes per se. Our Dubrovnik excursion was not what we signed up for in that the guide took us almost to Montenegro, did not have lunch in an all day tour ( we signed up for 1/2 day so something went awry somewhere) did not get to climb the wall around the city,but the brandy tasting and Cavat was interesting. Not complaining just a bit perplexing. Efes ( Epheseus) was breathtaking and the Amalfi Coast ( Naples) awe inspiring and beautiful. Oh and the sail away from Venice..heart stopping and soul stirring to say the least!
Lisa Ball was our CD and she and the assistant CD Eric really tried to drum up the entertaining spirit of the passengers. I think in my humble opinion that they did a good job or maybe it was the group that was sailing, I saw many participating in the activities and lots playing cards and table games, laughing and having a good time or relaxing with electronic readers poolside or on the promenade.
All staff were professional and friendly and I felt that anything we needed they would try to obtain.
Okay, so I fell for the first timers gotta have some of those $19-$25 pictures. Hubby liked the casino and we had wine at dinner almost every night, and my daughter and I just had to have that massage with the stones of course! And yes we did the Chef's Table. I've got to say with Generoso( love that man!) being so gracious and Chef Joel providing a wonderful meal not to mention great table mates..it was worth every dime even though the pricing has increased.
Sadly we had to disembark. That process was even more of a breeze than embarkation. I thought for sure it would take more time and so we had hired a taxi for 10am and I put us down for disembarkation at 0900 thinking for sure we would have to spend time looking for our luggage, getting to the pick up area etc. Nope we were out of there in 10 minutes flat and waited for our taxi!!
We stayed in Rome at the River Palace ( centrally located near the Villa Borghese gardens and the Piazza Popolo)for two nights and did our own tours of the city, the Vatican etc. The weather was phenomenal all along until Rome where it did rain that first day and was partly cloudy and cool but the Trevi Fountain ( heck all of Rome) at night was breathtaking and yes we did throw our coins in the Fountain and the Spanish steps were not as hard to go up or down as I thought ( after Santorini and Fira's 562 stairs anything else is easy!!).
Our favorites besides Venice was Mykonos, Santorini and the Amalfi Coast.
We loved our Princess experience. We chose this on a whim because our daughter's nick name is Princess and what better way for a Princess to celebrate her birthday but on a Princess ship?Well the fairy tale came true and it was sheer delight. Thanks Princess...you will see us again.