DW and I are avid cruisers. This was our fifth cruise in a row on Princess. It was also the third time we did this Western Mediterranean Trans Atlantic itinerary and our first cruise at platinum level. We really love the six sea days at the end of the cruise.
I spent the previous eighteen months planning this cruise with many other roll call members. Our group was known at the Red Hot Rubies. We had an absolutely fantastic roll call that was very informative and a great way to get to know other roll call members.
For our pre cruise stay we flew to Venice and spent two days at the Locanda Orseolo hotel. The Locanda Orseolo is a wonderful boutique hotel. Absolutely outstanding staff that did everything possible to ensure we enjoyed our stay. During our two stay in Venice we walked around, had some great food and wine and took in a Gondola ride. Venice is a truly magical city. As many say you don't need a map, just get lost. A truly magical moment was watching the Ruby Princess sailing down the Grand Canal when she arrived in Venice.
The day of embarkation arrived and a wonderful roll call member had arranged shared water taxis to the Ruby for everyone in our hotel. The entire hotel was taken up by roll call members. When we arrived at the dock we made our way to the cruise terminal. The actual embarkation was a total nightmare. Very unorganized with arranging the priority embarkation status of suite, elite, and platinum members. I was told by terminal employees that there were so many priority embarkation cruisers they ran out of priority boarding cards. Their chosen solution was to give out high numbered cards and treat them as priority cards. Needless to say this caused confusion when people I saw with lowered number cards thinking they should be boarding first.
We had AC mini cabin D732. This cabin is at the aft port side end of the dolphin deck. The balcony of this cabin has a larger balcony as it partially wraps towards the very aft portion of the ship. Our cabin steward James from the Philippines was great. He always had a smile on his face and did his best to ensure all our needs were attended to and our cabin was always clean.
The Ruby is a fantastic ship. All areas were spotless and the entire crew always had smiles on their faces while doing everything under the sun for their passengers. Our cruise director Sam and her assistant Eric did a good job as well. Sam however lost her voice towards the end of the cruise.
We enjoyed late seating traditional dining in the Botticelli dining room. Our table wait staff did a great job to make sure we enjoyed our dining experience. I found the food to be good to very good. Never saw our head waiter so I can't comment on him. Only saw Generoso (matri di) a couple of times at the desk upon entrance into the dining room and never saw him walking the floor. We also enjoyed dinner in Sabatinis and the Crown Grill. The service in both venues was great. The food in both was also very good. I personally like the reformatted menu in Sabatinis. I found it didn't take as long to finish dinner nor was I as full as during previous dining experiences. I found food in the Horizon court to be very good. This was a great improvement over my experience on the Golden this past February. I also enjoyed some great pizza and burgers on the lido deck. In addition, I also enjoyed the pub lunch in the wheelhouse bar. The international cafe had some tasty treats that I enjoyed over the entire cruise. My one negative comment about the IC was that in the morning it took a great deal of time to get a cup of coffee.
The entertainment on the Ruby was acceptable. Even though we enjoyed the production show Once Upon a Dream, I think that since it's been running for the past two years it's time to rotate it out. We also enjoyed another show called Ballroom (sorry I can't remember the second part of the name). We also saw a comedian in the explorer's lounge that was not very funny. I did have a run in with a seat saver that ended up with her yelling at me. The Piazza had some great music entertainers.
Other than the showroom and lounge entertainment, there was a great deal of activities on the Ruby to keep you busy. Our fantastic roll call also had a great meet and greet that was well attended. We also had a great roll call Halloween party in Skywalkers as well as a luncheon.
We enjoyed private excursions in Naples, Rome, and Florence. In Naples I had arranged for three vans to tour Sorento, the Amalfi Coast, and Positano. Our entire group had lunch near Positano at a restaurant called La Tagliata. The lunch was out of this world good. In Florence (Livorno) I had arranged for one van to tour Siena and the Chianti region. We also had lunch at a great little restaurant. In Rome (Civitavecchia) we participated in an excursion wherein we visited Assisi and Orvieto. I took tons of pictures. We skipped Canne because it was raining heavily and I had come down with the sniffles. In Barcelona we took the Princess shuttle and just walked around Las Rambles. In Lisbon we just walked around a little but it was hard to find stuff as we were docked in a different area than our stop in 2009. In Ponta Delgada we just walked around a bit and stocked up on supplies for the six day crossing.
One downer for the entire cruise was the weather. On our two previous crossings we left the first part of October and enjoyed terrific weather the whole cruise. This crossing left on the 19 of October. Our sail away was quite windy and cold. It also rained heavily when we stopped in Canne France. The seas were also quite rough on a number of days. During our six days crossing the Atlantic Ocean we only had one real quality day of sunshine and smooth seas. In the future I will definitely take the time of year into account when choosing another transatlantic itinerary.
All in all it was a great cruise. The best part of it was meeting and having memorable times with the greatest roll call members out there.