Pros: Sabatini's, Crown Grill, Sanctuary, Muster Drill
Cons: Passenger Services Desk, Main Dining Rooms, Piazza, MUTS, Port Info
This was our second time on Princess, but the first time on Ruby. We liked the design of the Diamond Princess more than Ruby, however it was certainly adequate. Overall we prefer to cruise on Celebrity Solstice class ships in Aquaclass which are superior in every category with food in the Specialty restaurants being a tie with Princess. Prior to our sailing on the Ruby we set our expectations accordingly. The Ruby had the itinerary we wanted plus we could use a ship credit from 2009 and the November 2011 birthday credit. We had also decided to disembark in Grand Turk prior to the sailing to spend a few days on Providenciales, which is 75 miles from Grand Turk.
Ship Quality: The Ruby is a nice ship but it has a few drawbacks. We did not like the aft area of the ship where the terrace pool is located. It is small and does not offer shade. In comparison the aft pool on the Diamond is amazing. They layout of the ship is well done and the decor is mostly pleasing. The decor in Sabatini's and Crown Grill were both well done. The ship was clean but they lacked enough Purell dispensers around the ship. There was nothing in the Internet area to wipe hands or the computer keyboard. Muts was annoying and detracted from our enjoyment sitting by the pool.
Dining/Food Quality: The specialty restaurants were excellent. We ate at Sabatini's twice and the Crown Grill once. The food at Sabatini's was sophisticated and it is uncommon to find langostines or lobster on the Italian menus on other cruise lines. The mussel pot in the Crown Grill was unexpectantly good. The shrimp salad at the International Cafe after our embarkation was yummy but we never found a need to go back for more. The food in the Michealangelo Dining room was only fair. We ate there twice and each time asked for a table for 2 but were told nothing was available. The second time we planned to leave and were then given a pager, waited 5 minutes and got a table for 2.
Stateroom Quality: Stateoom was adequate in size and amenities but as stated above it was inferior to Solstice class ships. Our Steward Rogelio was excellent and tried hard. I dislike the duvet that Princess uses but forgot I could request a top sheet. I did get 2 blankets. The outlets in the room were hard to use as the sockets are too close and you need to charge one item at a time. Shower is small but worked fine. A glass door would have been preferable to the clingy curtain.
Ship Staff: This is where Princess went off the rails for us. I booked the cruise to celebrate my birthday but there was no acknowlegement of the event either on the door or at the restaurant. I mentioned this to the front desk and they said they would rectify it but nothing happened. I completed the comment card the morning before our arrival in Grand Turk. I got a call an hour later from Carlo that he wanted to "work with me". When I met with him he said he would take action (place blame with someone else for the missed bday) but that he could not get back that date. I did not expect much, perhaps a credit for some Internet minutes or $20 for the speciality restaurant as a gesture of good faith. However, I left the Passenger Services desk feeling insulted and worse than when I arrived there. On the way back to our stateroom, Tony the head of housekeeping and and officer overhead us rehash what had just occurred. Tony could not have been nicer and offered us bathrooms to take with us which we kindly declined but at least he tried and was very willing to listen and help if he could.
Entertainment/Activities: The shows were inspiring. We stayed half way thru in the theater. Steve Moris is enjoyable but once you have seen his show that is enough. They used the Piazza quite a bit and that made talking to the people at the Passenger Services desk challenging. It was quite hard to hear. Noise on the ship was a persitant problem. Sitting by the pool with MUTS was irritating and intrusive. Fortunately we were able to use the Sanctuary twice although sign up was not easy. The Passenger Services Desk said "just call them" however the process was different. On one day we tried to sign up and were told they did not know how many chairs were available because people had reserved the day before. The second time we were more successful but the sign up would be better if you could do it online per day.
Lastly I wanted to mention the excellent job Princess does with Muster Drill. It is quite impressive and should we have the misfortune to abandon ship I felt well prepared "walk do not jump off the ship". An area that Princess could improve on for their Caribbean sailings is info on the islands. I have been traveling to the Caribbean since I was six years old. Forty years later the Islands have changed, some for the good and some are struggling. The lack of information on the ports was disappointing. I am mainly refering to the geography and history of the islands (not where to shop!).