As the title states we've just returned from the first Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Ruby Princess of the Fall 2011 season. The quick summary is that this cruise really exceeded my expectations in many ways. For those interested in more details, read on, for those who just want the quick and dirty, there you go.
Some background on us, we are a 40's couple and this was our first cruise as Elite CC passengers and our first on the Ruby. We have been on her sister ships so were very familiar with her layout. We were cruising with another couple also in their 40's who we have vacationed with several times before. They had been on the Ruby 2 yrs ago and last year sailed on the Celebrity Silhouette.
The Ruby Princess celebrated her third birthday during our cruise and she is really in tip top shape. We found nothing to complain about in terms of her finishings. Her Piazza is beautiful and there are more details that add to her beauty in the Piazza than on her sister ships. Most people would say that she is identical to the Crown and Emerald, but to those with an eye to detail, there are some differences in decorations that I appreciated.
People often ask about the mattresses and I have to say that they mattresses were very comfortable, firm and comfortable. Our inside cabin did have what appeared to be a pillow top mattress, this without the egg crate foam addition. I was quite surprised to find this because I don't recall this in any previous Princess cabin that I have had. Regarding the cabin amenities, we really enjoyed the Elite mini bar set up which we were able to switch out to a bottle of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay by just a quick call to room service. However, that being said, the mini bar set up is worth more money that the bottle of wine so if you do like liquor, keep the standard set up. You can get them to switch up the combination of liquors to whatever else they have available in the mini bottle sizes though.
I'm always note that people want to know what the food is like onboard. I ate all my dinners in the anytime dining room, Michelangelo. Most of my breakfasts and lunches were at the International Cafe and one time at Vines. I have very very impressed with the food on this cruise, this is one area that they exceeded my expectations. On one of our recent cruises on the Caribbean Princess, I found the food to be excessively salty and was worried that perhaps Princess chefs were making up for less flavour by increasing the salt. The food on the Ruby tells me that isn't the case. The food was rarely over salted, yet was flavourful and fresh. I eat mostly seafood at dinner and not one of the dishes was poor, all were very good to excellent, mostly excellent. Our friends with us commented that they found the food to exceed what they had on their Celebrity Silhouette cruise last winter. This I was very surprised about because they are very picky and I had always heard that Celebrity's food was better than that of Princess. I do realize that food is very subjective though and others might not agree. The sushi in Vines is available with purchase of a glass of wine there. One night while we were waiting for a table in the dinning room, it was formal night and we didn't make a reservation, we went to Vines for a glass of wine and a pre dinner sushi. However, as soon as our wine was opened, out pager went off so we had to leave without having our sushi which we were disappointed in. However, the next day for lunch we went to Vines and they were more than happy to give the four of us sushi to make up for our not having it the night before. The International Cafe is such a great place for a quick or not so quick coffee/tea and breakfast or dinner. We loved the egg/bacon/cheese sandwiches for breakfast and had one almost every day along with a cappuccino. Lunch there was always a combo of a sandwich and salads and always great as it has been on the other ships.
Oh I should mention the crew on this ship. The crew were outstanding, EVERYONE was super friendly and practically no one would pass you in the hallways of the ship without saying good morning or how are you. I think this must come from the top down as the Captain Giuseppe Romano who is also the Commodore of the fleet was very very often seen out and about shaking hands and chatting. He stopped more than once, initiating chats with me rather than the other way around. The Maitre'D Generoso was another Officer of the ship who was the same. He was always out and about stopping to say hello and finding out how your day was going and trying to see if there was anything that he could do to make your cruise better. I was very impressed by this wonderful friendliness as it really made me feel welcome and valued as a passenger. I was even impressed with the people at the Passenger Services Desk as they are often grumpy, I don't know why. But even they were friendly and when I went there to ask a question, they even inquired if there was anything else that they could do to make my cruise more enjoyable.
Anyhow, I really don't have any complaints with the Ruby or the crew. I had a wonderful time and cannot wait to cruise again in Jan/Feb 2012 on the Crown and Grand. I wouldn't hesitate to sail on the Ruby Princess again, it was really an outstanding cruise and enjoyable in so many ways. I can try to answer questions if anyone has any. I didn't comment on the itinerary because it is the usual eastern route.