Just took a 20th Anniversary Cruise on the Princess Ruby and wanted to give my take on the cruise. Overall, a great vacation for my wife and myself, with many great things a very few items that Princess can improve on. Took the cruise over the week of Thanksgiving, so there were probably more kids than usual, but frankly the number of families was quite low.
Embarkation: Very easy and got a great UPGRADE on our cabin, from P301 (5th floor) to A210 (12th floor) with a balcony! Not sure why we got the upgrade. I did communicate that we were on our 20th Anniversary and I purchased the cruise through Costco, so something flagged them to give us a pretty good upgrade.
Cabin: Once you get a balcony, you will never get another cabin without one. Bed and pillows were comfortable. Hairdryer at desk with large mirror that my wife used to get ready each day. TV gets ESPN along with some other chanels as well. Each night the steward would tidy up the room, replace towels and leave beach / deck towels for the next day.
Food Dining: This is the one area where Princess can improve! We did the ANYTIME Dining and it worked out really well. There are two restaurants that are available (Michelangelo and Di Vinci) and both serve the exact same thing with the exact same dÃ©cor. All the food looked good -â€“ but frankly it lacked flavor. They really seemed to "water down" the taste as to not make anything too spicy. It just wasn't that appetizing to eat as it lacked flavor. This was true of side dishes and desserts as well. Everything was BLAND. REALLY DISAPOINTING.
- We ate one night at the Crown Grill -â€“ it was a different type of setting but same thing on the food. Not really that good in terms of flavor and the Chilean Sea Bass my wife ordered was mushy. Also, the service was not that great either, so not sure why we should pay the extra $25.00 per person for bland food and slow service.
- The Pizza Place was by far the best food -â€“ most likely because there actually was FLAVOR and SPICES. This was just off one of the main pools and consistently had a line, although it moved fairly quickly. ALSO, in the morning this was a Belgian Waffle Stand and a great place to start your breakfast.
- Horizons: Buffet for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. We ate here two or three nights and it was better than the restaurants -â€“ you could figure out what you liked and then get seconds. The deserts were pretty bland though. I went here most mornings to get breakfast and brought it back to the room so we could eat on the balcony.
- International CafÃ©: Very Good option for snacks and food and coffee drinks were good. We did buy a coffee card and used it for lattÃ©s and espressos.
- Vine Bar: Nice place for a drink, nothing spectacular. They also had sushi there but we are not fans so really can't comment on that.
The ship was very clean and well run. Also, much less of the up selling that can be on other cruises. The central Atrium was a good design concept.
Stage Shows were OK at best.
Movies Under the Stars is a great concept. They did show the Sunday NFL Games and the Thursday Thanksgiving NFL Games, which was really nice. The movies could be loud, so it was hard if you were trying to read a book.
The other pools were more quiet if that is what you are looking for. We spent most of our time on the deck near the spa area -â€“ just seemed more quiet but I'm sure the other locations were good.
Gym: Gym was good but a little small. They have a bunch of treadmills but only a few elliptical machines. The ceiling was quite low and at 6', my head was almost hitting it. Also, you may need to lower the shade if the sun is right on you as it is hard to watch the TV. Finally, there is a small water fountain and the water is WARM! They need a water cooler with refreshing water -â€“ not warm water.
Lotus Spa: We had two massages, both on the "at sea days". A couple's massage and then two separate Hot Stone Massages. These were OK and a bit expensive, but you only have your 20th Anniversary once so we spent the money.
De-embarkation: We did the walk off in the early morning and got right off and got a cab to the airport. Cab fare ran $15.00. They stage you in groups to do the walk-off, but no one checks so just go with the first group and you are good.
Princess Cays: Nice place but bring SWIM SHOES as there are rocks in the water. Kind of hard to get lounge chairs, you may need to find a couple of single chairs and drag them together. Really nice way to start the trip, hang out at the beach and enjoy a drink. Food once again was really bland and served buffet style.
St Maartin: Had the best meal there as there was some SPICE in the food. We just walked off the boat and walked around the town. There are several beaches in walking distance and I would do that option as well -â€“ you probably need to rent the lounge chairs and umbrellas, but the cost was probably worth it.
St. Thomas: Once again -â€“ we walked off the boat and took a cab into the town. Did some shopping and then walked up to Blue Beards Castle, which is now a hotel. We then joined a group on a private taxi tour, which was OK. I would not recommend it unless you really enjoy doing that sort of thing. The guy was very knowledgeable of the island and gave a nice tour, just not our thing.
Turks and Cacaos was very nice. We took the $49.00 Snorkeling Tour (Tour 850). No meal, no tour, no beach -â€“ just a boat and they took you to two spots for a total time of about 3 hours. Had a great time and all was good.
In the end we enjoyed the cruise but we were really disappointed with the food.