On February 4Th we flew from upstate NY to Ft. Lauderdale, FL and stayed the night at the Ramada Inn which was about 10 minutes from Port Everglades. Our motel provided transportation both to and from our ship at a minimal cost. Being winter we felt getting there a day earlier would lessen the stress of getting there in time in case of a snowstorm. Due to the Norovirus, our boarding the Ruby Princess was delayed as they were thoroughly cleaning the ship. We registered and waited in the convention center which was no big deal. Everything was very organized and boarding went very smoothly.
I want to commend the staff of the Ruby as NO ONE became ill on our voyage from this virus due to their diligent work of keeping everything clean. Each dining area had a hand sanitizer station which was required for anyone entering to use, someone was standing right there to make sure of this. Our food was served to us at the buffet to deter germs also.
The food was delicious! A new menu as well as a standard menu was available every night in our assigned Botticelli dining room. Our wait staff, Edwin & Rainier went above and beyond when it came to making our dining a pleasurable experience. They did this even though we had the late dinner seating of 8:15. We would always stop at the Crooners lounge for a nightcap. Frankie was our favorite waiter there - he remembered you and what you liked to drink and got it ready for you right away. He was very personable also. While there we would listen to piano music with Bert Stratton - he was wonderful plus he kept us laughing with his humor.
Our favorite port was Grand Turk - absolutely gorgeous! We booked an excursion through our travel agent to a private resort, it was like being in paradise! Lunch was included and was just delicious. We hated leaving there.
In St. Thomas there were taxi drivers with 27 passenger vehicles ready to take you on a 2+ hour tour for only $25 each, this was less then the cost of the ship's excursion and much, much better then the one in St. Maarten. The one we used was Martin Celetine's taxi service. The driver was very knowledgeable about the island and brought us all the way to the top of the island for spectacular views. He was very accommodating, when the tour ended, some people wanted to shop, some wanted to go to the beach and some back to the ship. He brought everyone to where they wanted to be. He gave a time of where to be for pick up after shopping and then went to the beach to pick up the others to bring back to the ship and did not charge us extra.
Every evening a newsletter was put on your door letting you know of every activity available the next day. This was wonderful as you could plan your day and not miss out on anything you wanted to do. It had everything from beginners Zumba, pool games, Trivia, art auctions, shows & more.
Disembarkation was made smooth by needing to have our bags packed and outside our door by 11:00 p.m. the night before. We left out what was needed in the morning and just packed that up in our carry on luggage. Also, we were given different colored tags and numbers and reported to one of the lounges at the assigned time.They kept the breakfast buffet open until 9 a.m. so everyone could have breakfast who wanted it. We had pre-booked a ride to the airport at the Ft. Lauderdale motel we stayed at, we were given stickers to wear so they could find us. If you have time when your cruise ends I would recommend staying in Ft. Lauderdale one more day as the airport was ridiculously crowded due to the fact that at least 5 ships docked that day - there was not one seat to be found in the airport!
We can't wait to go on our next cruise, we really hated to see it end. We had a fabulous time!