I like many others enjoy reading the comments of others, especially prior to a planned cruise. It's a great way to get ideas for tour excursions/activities or to see how your experience compared to another's when the cruise is over.
We, along with friends arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on the 28Th of January and stayed at the Marriott Courtyard, Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Being this was our first time to Ft. Lauderdale, we decided to book a hotel near the airport. We used Marriott Reward Points, so there was no cost for the hotel. The hotel is a short shuttle ride (Hotel provided) from the airport and the hotel also offers complimentary shuttle service to Port Everglades the morning of the cruise. The hotel was comfortable and provided most amenities a Marriott property has to offer. On the downside, we decided to explore the area via a Water Taxi, the nearest point was approximately 15 minutes away and a $25 taxi ride. We decided we will stay closer to Port Everglades on any future cruises.
This was our second time sailing on the Ruby Princess; the first time being a Mediterranean Cruise in 2010 and we were not disappointed the second time around. Let me say upfront that the Norovirus outbreak had very little impact on a great cruise. Our group of 6 are very easy going people and it takes a lot more than a few inconveniences to sway our fun.
We had a balcony room on the Aloha Deck (12), Room 607. We stayed on the Aloha Deck on our first Ruby Princess cruise and enjoyed the location; thus leading to us re-booking for this cruise. Although the water was occasionally rough, it didn't impact us. There is ample storage space in the cabin, but the cabins are a little smaller than other cruise lines. The balcony is ample size for two people and we were able to open the dividers as our friends had a balcony room next to us. We we're located between two lobbies, so there was very little noise.
Our cabin steward was very good, but not very interactive with us...but that was okay with us; the room was always ready for our use when we returned from an excursion or after spending time on the ship.
We ate most meals in the Da Vinci Dining Room and I will say it was Outstanding, not one bad meal and a great selection. Our table hostess was training two new wait staff and occasionally lacked patience with them, but she provided us superb service. She consistently brought us additional entries, appetizers, and deserts to taste test; we had more food than 6 people could eat; simply outstanding. Since the Norvirus had hit the ship, the wait staff had to serve all bread, butter, salt, pepper, etc. Now this could be an irritant to some, but we just took it it stride and enjoyed the extra attention. We only ate at the buffet for breakfast and the food was good, but service was a little slower as the wait staff had to serve all passengers. This created a backlog at times, but nothing earth-shattering. We also took advantage of the sea days and had Fish & Chips at the Wheelhouse Bar. This was one good meal for those who have never tried it; I highly recommend it. Since we spend a lot of time by the pool, we love the convenience of the pizza, hamburger grill, and ice cream being so close. Movies Under the Stars never disappoints.
We enjoyed all the ports and will eventually make a return visit to St Maarten and St Thomas. We decided any return visit to Grand Turk will be a Beach Day; I was surprised to see two in-ground swimming pools there and Margarita Ville looks to be a blast, although we didn't partake this time around.
The entertainment was good; we enjoyed the two comedians and the Broadway style shows.
Pippa the Future Cruise Representative is very sweet and we did purchase two future cruise credits.
Overall, a Great Trip; no complaints and no regrets, other than the cruise had to end...LOL