By Kimberly Karis, Cruise Critic contributor
Ruby Princess, sister ship to Emerald Princess and Crown Princess, is not an innovator. The ship has all the most popular Princess features -- such as the three-deck Piazza with its on-site bakery and whimsical entertainment -- of its nearly identical siblings, as well as many of those found on older ships, including the Sanctuary sun deck for adults and specialty eateries Sabatini's and Crown Grill.
But although there aren't too many surprises on this newest ship, there are some gentle improvements and enhancements. On Ruby, Princess has expanded the appeal of the Wheelhouse Bar, its pub-like venue, to include casual, English-inspired lunches. Suite passengers now have the option to enjoy intimate breakfasts in Sabatini's, and the new Ultimate Ship Tour affords passengers the opportunity to explore areas of the ship that are normally never seen, like the engine control room, the funnel, the photo lab and the bridge. Expanded ScholarShip@Sea programs like Mixology@Sea, which allows people to experiment with their bartending skills, and Navigation@Sea, where the ins and outs of navigating a cruise ship are taught, enrich the onboard experience. And audience-participation events, like The Wake Up Show, a morning show of sorts at sea that's broadcast shipwide, and Oceans of Talent, where passengers display their own talents, are being introduced to the already extensive array of onboard activities for passengers.
What lies beneath the surface of some of the more celebrated aspects of Ruby Princess and its fleetmates is a staff of more than 1,200 crewmembers, dedicated to providing an excellent experience for passengers. I specifically recall embarkation day at the Trident Grill: I began walking away with my plates, but without any silverware. Upon turning around, without having to ask, a crewmember saw me eye what I needed and promptly handed me just that.
Ruby Princess Fellow Passengers
The passenger base is mostly couples of all age groups, both young and more mature. Children tend to make up a small portion of the demographic -- usually less than 10 percent. One loyal Princess couple mentioned that they liked sailing with the line as a family because the facilities for children are more than adequate but subtle enough that the adult experience onboard isn't lost. So, naturally, Ruby Princess is a good choice for multi-generational groups, too. On this Western Caribbean itinerary, North Americans made up the majority of passengers, but there were folks from England and other countries, as well. For Mediterranean itineraries, there will be a rise in the number of Europeans traveling, but the core demographic is still North American.
Ruby Princess Dress Code
On seven-night itineraries, Ruby Princess hosts two formal nights. Most women do without the glitz and glamour of formal evening gowns, instead opting for tasteful cocktail dresses or fit-for-a-special-occasion pants suits. Men mostly dress up in ties and jackets, but some do go all out with tuxedos, which can be rented onboard. Daytime wear varies, depending on where you are. Outdoors, you'll find comfortable clothing -- shorts, T-shirts and such -- suited for a day in the sun, but indoors and during meals, passengers donned the type of resort-casual clothing you'd see at land-based vacation spots. A good casual bet is a nice pair of slacks, a button-down shirt or blouse and, for women, a bit of jewelry to dress up the outfit.
Ruby Princess Gratuity
Gratuities, which are automatically charged to onboard accounts, are $11.50 per person (including children), per day, for passengers staying in standard accommodations and $12 for passengers staying in mini-suite and suites. A 15 percent gratuity is added to beverage purchases onboard, including wine at dinner. Spa and casino staff members do not share in the gratuity charges -- if you use these services, tips are advised.
A recent four-night quickie cruise on the Ruby proved to be relaxing and on par with our other recent Princess experiences. Of course, much has changed since our first Princess cruise in 1992.
The ship was clean and in good repair. Our ...continue
On a lucky Friday my wife & I made it to Midway a day before embarking for the five day to Cozumel and Grand Cayman for a well-deserved (but brief) respite from a horrid Chicago winter. I will not mention the lodgings we stayed at, but in ...continue
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We wanted to go on a 14 day cruise but could only find one. This was an older Holland America from Tampa. We passed on that one. That left back to back 7 day cruises that would come back up to Fort Lauderdale. We wind up on Ruby on 3 consecutive ...continue