I always enjoy reading cruise reviews before and after we sail and this time has been no exception. It is interesting, especially, to see how our experience differs from others who travelled the same week as we did. We arrived in FLL two days ahead of sailing to avoid possible bad weather in Canada. This year we stayed at The Westin on the beach, using Aeroplan points and it is a lovely hotel. At 11:00 a.m. on Sunday we took a taxi to the port and arrived there at 11:20. There was already a lineup but they didn't start letting people go through security until 12:00. Thankfully we spent most of that time outside and there was a nice breeze. Check-in didn't take long and we were able to go directly to our stateroom. We were sitting down eating lunch at the Horizon Court at 12:40.
It is a beautiful ship, and unlike a previous writer, we never felt claustrophobic at all. We had a balcony room on the Lido Deck and while that is on Deck 15 we never had rough seas (maximum 5 feet) so the motion of the ship was mostly very little. The cabin did seem somewhat small to me but I think that has to do with the way the room is laid out. By the way, if you use shower gel, bring your own. It is apparently only provided to suites. They do provide shampoo, conditioner, lotion and good sized bars of soap. There were also abour 40 coat hangers and loads of space to hang clothes. There is a safe in a cupboard right beside the bathroom with plenty of room to put other things, plus there is space to put things in two night stands and a cupboard under the desk. If you don't have enough space, you've brought too much stuff.
Unfortunately we had noisy neighbours to the forward side of us. They spent a lot of time on their balcony and they had their balcony divider opened so they could visit with family in the room next to them. They talked loud and it made it quite difficult to enjoy reading a book on our balcony. They were travelling with others as well and sometimes there were 5 or 6 people out there. We heard the people on the other side of us too but they were not loud and were not constantly talking like these other people were. That was one of the downers of our trip. We book a balcony so we can get away from the noisy pool area when we want quiet.
Just so you know, the balconies on Decks 9 and 10 have larger balconies that hold four chairs and a table, while those on Decks 11, 12, 14 and 15 are smaller and just hold two chairs and a small table to put your book or drinks on.
We found the crew to be very friendly, always saying hello. We ran into the Commodore before we even left port and he stopped and talked to us for a minute. I was impressed because I'm sure he had more important things to do.
We enjoyed all the ports. We had been to St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Grand Turk before and we enjoyed beach time at all of them on this cruise. Princess Cays is nice but Half Moon Cay has it beat hands down. Watch out for rocks and coral in the water. The lunch that was provided was very tasty.
The food on the Ruby was what I will call hit and miss. Some things were very good - the shrimp and lobster for example, some things were just OK and the perch was very fishy. Don't order it. I keep a diary of every cruise we take and on reading past notes about the food on Holland America, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean I see lots of use of words like "delicious, wonderful meal", etc., I only used it once or twice on this cruise. You will not find escargot on the menu and I love it. I asked twice (as previous writers suggested) and the waiter said he would check but neither of them ever got back to me. On Celebrity, when we were in the Meditteranean 1 1/2 years ago, it was on the menu every night. We had to ask twice every night for lemon for our water. My husband did enjoy the appetizer sized pastas that were available every evening. Your waiter will tell you about that. I must say that the food always arrived hot at the dinner table.
The Buffet was OK. The plates were always hot, which was great for keeping your food warm. It had the usual breakfast items and lunch was good, but did not have the variety available on H.A., Celebrity or R.C.I. There is Afternoon Tea every afternoon at 3:30 and we had fully intended to go but just never got there. They do have very good guacamole, salsa and chips available around 4:00 in the buffet and I brought that back to the room on a couple of days.
The International Cafe has fabulous chicken salad and shrimp salad. We stopped by twice after being in port and took some back to enjoy in our room. Ask for rolls to go with it if you want. They also have a Greek Salad and I think a roasted vegetable salad, neither of which we tried. They also have some nice desserts there. All of that is no charge. What you do pay for there is ice cream/gelato/sorbet and coffee/specialty coffee, unless you have a coffee card. In the morning they have pastries, muffins, yogurt parfaits, small bowls of muslix and other items.
We really liked their pizza. It has a very very thin crust and we liked the tomato "sauce" that they used. It has a very light flavour, not overpowering. Every day they have cheese, pepperoni and a special of the day. It is available well into the evening.
We also got caught up in the "excitement" of the rescue at sea. It was 11:10 p.m. when the Commodore (he got promoted from Captain a while ago) came over the P.A. announcing that we had changed course and were going to assist what was a trimaran. From our balcony we could see two red lights and every minute or so there was a white light that flashed three times way off in the distance. Once our ship pulled around to assist on the port side we ran up to Deck 16 and watched the rescue from there. It was not an easy task for the three crew members from our ship but eventually they got the three French nationals on the rescue boat along with their belongings and everyone on deck clapped and cheered. Such drama on the high seas. Thankfully the seas weren't high.
We enjoyed the entertainment each night in the main theatre. We don't expect to see Broadway musicals on a cruise ship. These kids are just starting out in their musical careers. One of the singers had what I call somewhat of a "hard" voice but the others had lovely voices. We really enjoyed the magician as well. The only night we didn't go was when one of the fellows who played the piano and sang in the one of the bars was entertaining. We had sat and listened to him in the piano bar on two occasions and didn't really enjoy him. He talked too much and tried too hard to sound like the original artists, but it didn't work in our minds.
Ron Goodman was an excellent cruise director. He doesn't try to be the star of the week, just does his job.
Overall we had a wonderful trip. I relaxed and read a book when it was quiet on our balcony, got some Vitamin D out on deck, and enjoyed walking around outside on the Promenade Deck. By the way, one thing most people don't know is that you can go out a door at the very front of Deck 15 and it takes you over the top of the bridge. Wonderful place to go when you pull into port. Just don't go out there when it's a day at sea. Too windy!