103 Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) to Caribbean - Western Princess Ruby Princess Cruise Reviews

PERSONAL My wife and I are 56 and 63 respectively. However, we are more active than people 10-20 years younger. We had previously been on 3 RCI large ships and the Celebrity Summit. We sailed with another couple who are old friends and who ... Read More
PERSONAL My wife and I are 56 and 63 respectively. However, we are more active than people 10-20 years younger. We had previously been on 3 RCI large ships and the Celebrity Summit. We sailed with another couple who are old friends and who had sailed with us twice before out of San Juan. TRAVEL TO PORT OF EMBARKATION We drove from Atlanta the day before sailing and arrived early evening. HOTEL INFO We stayed at the LaQuinta/Airport. It was the perfect place for our needs. It was near the Oakwood Mall which had everything we could have possibly wanted. The room was nice, clean and ready when we arrived. We asked for a room with a water(lake)/pool view which was nice. The hotel had a decent breakfast the next morning at no charge. A real plus for us was the hotel provided a free shuttle to the port only and allowed us to leave our car there at no charge for the week. We drove down to Billys Stone Crab on Ocean Drive in Hollywood for a delightful dinner upstairs with a great view of the inland waterway. It's a very good restaurant and surprising nice considering the understated outside appearance. EMBARKATION Boarding went very smooth. We arrived about 200PM and were quickly through the boarding process. STATEROOM Our room was ready when we arrived. It provided lots of closet storage and the most comfortable bed we have ever had on a cruise. Our steward was attentive and brought us extra towels and robes as requested. SHIP INFO The ship was very nice and we found it very clean. However, we found it confusing to get around. The design is strange and it seemed we often were lost. In this we were not alone as others on the elevators also commented the same sentiment. DINING The location of the main dining room was on the back side of anytime dining so if you were on that floor you had to go up, across and then back down to get to the main dining room. It was nice but fairly ordinary and came up short compared to the stately dining rooms on RCI's large ships. The food was satisfactory on the whole in the main dining room. However, the buffet was just okay. The morning buffets were lacking. No one seemed to want the scrambled powdered eggs and often there was a line waiting for them to bring out a single half-cooked fried egg at a time. Finally the morning we got off the ship the buffet was outstanding with a delicious variety of quiches and even eggs florentine. ACTIVITIES We really didn't do much except veg out. The MUTS was great for the playoff football games but otherwise was annoying to us. Fortunately there was another pool that had an occasional single steel drum guy. We enjoyed him. STAFF AND SERVICE We found the staff attentive. Strangely our head waiter apologized to us in advance the first night that he had a lot of tables to cover. But all in all he and the assistant did a good job. We were not satisfied with several entrees and they were quickly replaced without question. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment was the best part of the cruise. The song and dance group was Broadway level talent. We saw several excellent comedians and a terrific impressionist. Anyone going on this ship should not miss the entertainment. It was the best of any cruise we have taken. SHORE EXCURSIONS OCHO RIOS We were disappointed that our snorkel/catamaran trip was cancelled. As far as we are concerned there is nothing to do there other than go to Margaritaville which is always fun. There is way too much hype on Dunns River Falls. We have been there and it's much ado about nothing. We heard there is talk of dropping this port. We even received a note the night before telling us to be careful ashore and put our money in several pockets. That says it all. CAYMANS Going to Stingray City is a must. We had been before. This time we went with Moby Dick. It was fun and included a short snorkel stop which was worth getting wet. COZUMEL We normally like to go down to Chakanaab but the weather was windy and not a good beach day so we rented a cab to take us around the island, stopping at Planacar for lunch/drinks and then around to the back side for drinks at Coconuts. Both fun places. We finished up downtown at Palmeras which is a favorite of mine for drinking and people watching on the corner. It is near shopping for the ladies. PRINCESS CAYS This stop was a pleasant surprise. We enjoyed the beach day. The food provided ashore was awful. But the beach and all was nicer than RCI's Labadee when we were there 4 years ago. DISEMBARKATION We elected to do the carry our on bags program and it worked well for us. We were off early and on our way since we had a long drive to Atlanta in front of us. SUMMARY We would definitely go on Princess again but given the same itinerary would prefer RCI. RCI's food/dining was preferably in ambience as well as food selection over all. We also like the SkyBars on the RCI ships and the sailaways were more fun. It was a lot of fun and would recommend the trip for someone who hasn't done the Westere Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
The Ruby Princess....WOW!!! Princess Cruise Lines are an exceptional bunch. The ports of call were beautiful, the ship remarkable, and the service was excellent!! I didn't want this dream vacation to end!! The food was out of this ... Read More
The Ruby Princess....WOW!!! Princess Cruise Lines are an exceptional bunch. The ports of call were beautiful, the ship remarkable, and the service was excellent!! I didn't want this dream vacation to end!! The food was out of this world!!! From the abundant buffet items at Caribe Cafe and Horizon Court, the daily variety and quality of Davinci's and Michelangelo's, to the exceptional tastes of the Crown Grille and Sabatini's, there is always something available for your liking. If you don't try the prawns or veal at Michelangelo's...shame on you!! My dining experiences were well divided among all the restaurants and none of them failed to please. Our steward, Jesus, was very attentive to our needs. He always greeted us with a smile, sent us off with a positive sentiment such as "have a good evening", and was always available and helpful for any request or questions we may have had. Jesus always seemed to be there when we left are cabin. Upon our return we would find clean towels, our room tidied, or the arrival of fresh fruit without request. I wondered if he ever did sleep... The variety of clubs, activities, shows, and performances are numerous. We just didn't have time to do it all. A day at the spa was pure relaxation. The fitness center was immaculate and very functional. All equipment is available. The whole ship in fact was immaculate...quite a task I am sure for all the staff!! Everyone is so helpful as well... every time I had a "lost" look on my face, (at least twice a day), it seemed as though someone was always willing to help me find my way around. Thanks to everyone in that crew who contributed in making this the best vacation I ever had!!! I liked the crowd on our ship!!! Skywalkers seemed to attract the same group each night...the dance crowd!!! The DJ was awesome...he even played some "old school jams" for those of us who could appreciate them... I gave it my best each night I was there. A good night of sleep always seemed to follow... I would definitely sail with Princess again...hopefully a 10 day trip in the near future!! I am sure I will not be disappointed... Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
I took the Ruby Princess to the Western Caribbean on January 31st and what a wonderful week I had. With one of us flying in from Boston and the other from Indiana we went down a day early just to give us plenty of time to get to Florida ... Read More
I took the Ruby Princess to the Western Caribbean on January 31st and what a wonderful week I had. With one of us flying in from Boston and the other from Indiana we went down a day early just to give us plenty of time to get to Florida if there was any snow in either city. Luckily all went well and we were both there on time. We spent the night at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood which I have stayed at several times before and really enjoy. There we met a couple from Cruise Critic for lunch which we had arranged ahead of time and we hit it off so well that we ended up spending the day together and having dinner there as well. Actually we spent the majority of our week aboard together and I already miss them. Saturday we got to the ship at 11:40am and being platinum with Princess we were able to board right away. There weren't any lines at all seeing how they were in between calling numbers for the next group. But to anyone else who is taking this cruise; before we told the people outside in the line that we were platinum we were given number 24 as a group number for boarding the ship. After we had checked in and gotten our cruise cards/keys we heard them call out group #2 - so we would have had a VERY long wait. If you are not big on lines or sitting around then you would probably be better off to show up later in the afternoon. I had previously sailed on the Crown Princess and the Ruby is laid out exactly the same so from the minute I was onboard I knew where everything was. We went right away to sign up for the Ultimate Ship's Tour and were the first two on the list. But we were told that it was now being done by a lottery system and we would find out later in the week if we were picked. Luckily for us we did get chosen - I believe we got our letter telling us that we had been and when it was on Tuesday. For those of you who are sun-worshippers this tour is done only on days at sea and it's in the middle of the day so it would cut into your tanning time. For our cruise the weather wasn't the best so it turned out just fine that we had the tour from 2:00 - 5:00 that day. I don't want to skip around too much but the tour was FANTASTIC!!! It was better than I thought it would be and you really do get to see all different places on the ship as well as meet some great people. It seemed to me that in each department/area we went to we were met by the 'head' of that department which I thought showed excellent planning. From the chief doctor in the hospital area to the staff captain when we went up to the funnels, etc. it was very well organized and arranged. Each department has a little 'gift' for you except the hospital - what are they going to give us; band-aids? We didn't have to worry about carrying our presents around as they were all delivered to our cabin that night and the next day. The majority of them were pictures in the various areas but we did get the nice fluffy robes and a chefs jacket. Please beware that if your suitcase is filled when you get to the Ruby and you are going to take this tour you will need more room going home. That robe takes up a lot of space! Everyone else seems to have commented on how wonderful and beautiful the Ruby is so I won't go into the decor except to say that I agree. Being a new ship everything still sparkles. And she is very typical of many Princess ships with the Wheelhouse, etc. I was a little disappointed in the shops - not that I am a big shopper but I didn't think the selection they were offering on the Ruby was on par with that on other ships. Still, not a big deal at all. The food on the Ruby was exactly what I have come to expect from Princess. I didn't really note much of a difference or change in the menus from my last Princess cruise a year ago other than the addition of the 'home style' entrees each night. (Or whatever they called them.) They now have an entree each evening in the dining room which is considered more of a comfort food like meatloaf, pot roast, etc. I didn't try any of them; nor did anyone at our table, but it's nice to see them trying to add things and accommodate more tastes. Their fettuccini alfredo is still wonderful and you can order it either as an appetizer or an entree. In the Caribe Cafe I was disappointed to not see a sign anywhere telling us what the theme there would be each night. On the Crown there was a large sign posted as well as having it in the Patter each day but on the Ruby if you wanted to know you either had to just go up there and look when it opened or try and find somebody during the day who could tell you. We ate at the Crown Grill twice and enjoyed both meals. We did not go to Sabatini's as it does not appeal to me being a picky eater. I also didn't try the pub lunch in the Wheelhouse but the other three did and they all enjoyed it. In Jamaica we signed up through Princess for the Mystic Mountain bobsledding and zip-lining tour. I was shocked when we got to the mountain and looked at their price list to learn that it was actually cheaper to take the ships tour then to go on your own let alone the fact that the ships tour also included transportation both ways. The four of us all had a wonderful time there and would happily go back! The bobsledding was a lot of fun and we enjoyed it so much we bought 'additional' rides. You can either have your own bobsled or you can have two of them joined together but keep in mind that the person in the sled in front has all the control while the one in back is simply 'along for the ride.' Then we went over to do the zip-lining and we were fortunate enough that there were only the four of us at that time so we got kind of a private 'zip-line' group with just us and the two guides. There are 5 zip-lines in total and a 'surprise' along the way. All of Mystic Mountain was just perfect and everyone we met was very friendly and willing to do just about anything they could to make their guests happy. I also enjoyed not having anyone trying to sell me anything, offer to braid my hair, etc. There is a pool and waterslide at the top of the mountain that we were welcome to use however by the time we got through with the other things the clouds had rolled in so we headed back toward the ship for some quick shopping then meeting other friends at Margaritaville. The other stops were exactly what I have come to expect from them; this was my 11th or 12th time cruising the Western Caribbean itinerary so I have pretty much done those things that interest me on each island. (Mystic Mountain is new so I had to try that.) The weather for the week was pretty cool and cloudy so when we got to Princess Cays we chose to simply stay on the ship: sitting on the beach getting cold was not my idea of fun. No complaints though - the cruise ship can not control the weather and we still had a wonderful week. We were on the ship for the Superbowl which was shown both on MUTS and in Club Fusion. As I said we had cool weather that week so we opted to see the game from Club Fusion. Princess did not do one of those 'pick a square' things which other lines will do for the Superbowl but they did set out a little buffet with football snacks, etc. They offered pizza, popcorn and chips with salsa. Every-so-often they would also have people come into the room bringing trays of pigs in a blanket around to the tables as well. I did go up and check at MUTS at one point and they were offering the same food up there. As it happened the Superbowl hit on formal night so there was quite a variety of outfits on board that evening. We skipped dinner in the dining room to watch the game so you could enjoy the snacks they had put out or head up to the buffet, grill or pizza place and bring food back to eat. I did not care for the layout of the Patter at all!! I, along with many others I spoke with, found it terribly difficult to follow and tell what was going on each evening. It's the 'usual' style for daily activities but after about 6:00pm it just stops and you have to look at the different ad-like things on the opposite page to see what's going on each night. It's easy to miss something and they are not in any sort of order so you have to figure what you want to see, when your dinner is, what conflicts with what or is being done twice that evening, etc. to try and 'make a plan' for the night. I much prefer to have a list with times, etc. that is easy to read and follow! And I wish they would also print a smaller insert-like version as both Carnival and Royal Caribbean do which is convenient to bring along with you everywhere so you can keep track of everything, the times, and locations. Like I said this was a great cruise and we really enjoyed our week on the Ruby. The little things I have mentioned not liking, etc. are all minor and certainly did not ruin or mar the vacation at all!! We had a wonderful group for our Cruise Critic get-together in Adagio on our first day at sea and it was great to keep running into them all as the week progressed to see what everyone was up to, had done that day, etc. The only real negative was that it was over so quickly - then again, aren't they all? Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Arrived the day before, meeting my friend at the airport since we were traveling from two different cities. Elected to arrange for a car service rather than rely on taxis and ABC Limos provided their usual efficient service. (Have used ... Read More
Arrived the day before, meeting my friend at the airport since we were traveling from two different cities. Elected to arrange for a car service rather than rely on taxis and ABC Limos provided their usual efficient service. (Have used twice before and have been happy each time.) Embarkation: Arrived at the port around 11:15 and were directed to the Elite waiting area. Were through all the check-in processes and on board by noon. Comparison: I liked the NCL boarding better as there was a separate lounge for Suite and Latitudes members. However, the process was very efficient and we were allowed to go directly to our cabin unlike other cruise lines that have a set 'cabin available' time. Suite: Nicely decorated in muted colors. Comfy sofa, dining height coffee table and a side chair. Heavy curtain that can be pulled between the living area and the bedroom area. Bathroom - VERY nice with two separate areas. Tub and roomy, glass-doored shower in one, lavatory and toilet in the other. VERY convenient for two friends traveling together. My companion and I are very good friends, but we didn't want to (and didn't HAVE to) share everything. Balcony: The balcony was WONDERFUL and my favorite place to hang out in the early morning and in the afternoons. I enjoyed listening to the sound of the wake and watching the sun come up/go down. HUGE space with plenty of room for the dining table (wood) and four chairs (blue striped chair pads) AND the two loungers and two coffee tables. We put one of them behind the beam that's on the far right side and were able to leave a book/sunglasses there all day, There was almost always a pleasant breeze, but it was rarely what I would call windy. We were on the Dolphin deck so did not hear anything from Club Fusion (two decks below) or from the pool (three(?) decks above.) The area is completely covered so was shady most of the time. In the evenings it was usually in full sun. If you're a sun-lover, probably not the best choice of cabins for you. If you're very fair (like me), it might just be perfect! Storage: Plenty for the two of us and neither is a light packer. Suitcases fit easily under the two beds. Our cabin steward said that this was the first time one of his suites had been arranged with the twin beds rather than the single larger bed. There was enough room to easily move about, but the space between the left bed and the sliding door was a little tight. (No complaint - you just need to be a little graceful if you get out of bed on that side.) NICE TOUCH: Two separate climate controls for the two areas. Turns out that my traveling companion likes the air conditioning set at 'hang beef' while I was taking this cruise to get warm after an extreme cold spell here in Atlanta. Solution: I took the living area at night, sleeping on the sofa with the sliding door open to enjoy hearing the ocean. She had the bedroom pleasantly chilled to her liking. With the drape pulled between the two areas, this worked out well for both of us. Suite Amenities: Our cabin steward Jojo came by to introduce himself and brought two glasses of champagne a few minutes later. There was a gorgeous, large, arrangement of flowers on the coffee table. The mini bar was stocked with various min-bottles (gin, vodka, whiskey and brandy) and the fridge had two bottles of water, two bottles of Perrier, two Cokes and two Sprites as well as two beers and two tonics. (We traded out the Sprite, tonic and beer for Cokes.) A bottle of fragrance had leaked in my suitcase, so I was thrilled to have access to free laundry service for the one garment that was affected. There was no rush to get it back so it came back on Monday and was hanging on the entertainment center when we returned in the afternoon. CanapEs: Arrived without being requested on Saturday and Sunday. Nothing on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. On Thursday I finally read the binder on the desk and found out that I should have been requesting via a hang tag on the door. (There were no hang tags). On Thursday, again arrived without being requested. (?????) Robes - my gosh, I wish I'd brought an extra suitcase as I would have purchased one to take home. VERY thick terry cloth and wonderful to wrap up in to enjoy breakfast on the balcony. The products in the bathroom were nice - eucalyptus scented shampoos/soaps/lotions and several of each. Plenty for two women for the week without requesting refills. Room Service: Jojo left the daily menus in the room and we could order from them for lunch or for dinner. My companion did order appetizers one evening while waiting for me to finish in the spa and reported that the order was delivered in a timely, accurate, fashion and was very tasty. For the most part, the only thing we requested from room service was a pitcher of iced tea in the afternoons, and coffee/croissants/fruit in the mornings. HINT: If you order similar items, be very specific. Unless you request it, croissants don't come with butter or jam, but once we figured that out, we were good to go. Dining: Compared to previous cruises (HAL/NCL), the food was very good. We had Anytime dining and elected to share tables. We never had to wait for more than a couple of minutes in the 7:30 - 8:00 time-frame. We did the Crowne Grille on the first formal night and completely enjoyed the experience. The food was tasty, service was good, and ambiance very pleasant. The experience was heightened when the Maitre d' Hotel came by to tell us we had been selected for the Chef's Table. Chef's Table: In a single word - AMAZING! Started with appetizers and champagne in the galley with the Chef and the Maitre d' Hotel. Both obviously are very proud of the ship, their staff's and their role in providing quality meals for the passengers. The dinner was wonderful and the dessert was served on dishes made of sugar. We were both so thrilled to be selected and enjoyed a memorable experience! Sabatini's: (Breakfast) - What a nice touch! We truly enjoyed our mornings there. Service was consistently excellent and the Eggs Benedict - tasty! Ah, that every day at home could start with fresh pastries and Mimosas! Buffet: We ate lunches in the Horizon Court most days and always found something that was tasty. My friend raved about the beet and corn salad and I could have foundered on the rolls. We had little problem finding a table, nearly always sharing with others. We enjoyed meeting new people and heard some wonderful stories in the process. Shows: I enjoyed the Broadway review, attending the last show available on this cruise (10:30 show). Talented performers, nicely paced show. Missed out on 'Once Upon a Dream", but would have like to see it. Spa/Sanctuary: My companion elected to indulge in total relaxation for this trip and the Sanctuary met her every need in that respect. We reserved two chairs for the entire cruise and the staff was attentive without being annoying. She enjoyed the smoothies and cold beverages that were available there. I didn't use the facility as much as I hoped as I went ashore at each of the ports and tended to gravitate to the wonderful cabin balcony for downtime. We each had two 'spa' days and found the services to be very good. Particularly nice was the lack of high pressure sales pitches for product. (Probably the reason we went back for the 2nd treatments!) Ports: Generally, I thought that the time in port seemed shorter than on previous cruises with boarding time in 3:30-4:00 p.m. range, except for Cozumel (5:30, I think). Ocho Rios - Snorkel Catamaran. Interestingly, we were never out of sight of the ship. The snorkeling was nice despite off and on rain and cloudy skies. Was not thrilled with being pressured to purchase 'hand made' trinkets or hair braids. but overall an enjoyable excursion. I thought I would do some shopping after the excursion, but after being approached outside the gate and asked if I wanted to buy some smoke, I elected to head back to the ship. (I was by myself and just felt a little uncomfortable.) Grand Cayman - no excursion booked, but enjoyed just wandering in and out of the shops. Cozumel - REALLY enjoyed this port as there was a nice little restaurant serving Mexican food right on the beach. Thought the guacamole was tasty, enjoyed the gazpacho and then moved to a beach chair under the palm trees for a large, tasty, margarita and some time with my book, iPod and camera. Princess Cay: Had arranged for a bungalow but was disappointed in amenities for price. We did get priority tendering, arriving on the island around 9:45 a.m. We had bungalow 13 (I think). It came complete with several lounges (two on the porch, four outside on the railing) and convenient access to the snorkeling area. Unlike previous cruises (per reports on Princess Boards), there was no golf cart in sight on arrival (but we did have for the return trip which was helpful as my friend has some mobility issues.) There were beach towels available in the bungalow as well as a round dining table and four chairs in the air-conditioned space. No water/food service provided. The walk to the buffet area/restrooms was not bad. We had two floating chairs reserved, but the water was pretty choppy and we didn't collect them. Last tender was posted as being at 3:00, so we headed back around 2:00 to avoid long lines. Were on the tender after about a 20 minute wait. Bottom line: Don't know that I would do a bungalow again. There were plenty of pleasant spots to relax in the shade or in the sun. Would probably have used more of the water toys if they hadn't been so far from our 'home base' bungalow. Reading back over this, it seems that I have a lot of gripes - NOT the case. The cruise was lovely. The staff consistently friendly and helpful. We started our cruise with cocktails in the Explorer's Lounge, watching the sun set over Miami. So nice! Watching Mama Mia on the MUTS screen was a fun experience (complete with warm lap robes against the chill, popcorn, and TWIZZLERS! (Yes, they had Junior Mints!) The coffee bar provided pleasant pre/post dinner java fixes. For being such a large ship, there were numerous cozy corners to enjoy quiet conversations with friends. Bottom line: The Ruby Princess is a lovely vessel, the staff was wonderful, the food was plentiful and tasty. I feel that we definitely got our money's worth and would not hesitate to sail on her again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
We flew into FLL and landed @ 12:30 pm. We booked the airline transfer offered by Princess and were on the bus by 1pm. Arrived at the pier by 1:20, had cruise cards in hand and walked aboard the ship by 1:50. This was remarkable as many of ... Read More
We flew into FLL and landed @ 12:30 pm. We booked the airline transfer offered by Princess and were on the bus by 1pm. Arrived at the pier by 1:20, had cruise cards in hand and walked aboard the ship by 1:50. This was remarkable as many of the stories on CC had me a little concerned. (it does matter to arrive after 1pm as early birds waited longer than most.) ROOM-The room was a balcony on the Baja deck (11) and found it to be quite comfortable and decorated nicely. Our steward, Dragos (Dragosh) was remarkable and made us want for nothing. Extra touches and everything provided when asked. Superb performance by Dragos! I highly recommend a balcony to any first time or regular cruisers. When you find there are no loungers available by the pool, (used up early) simply retreat to your balcony and relax with your private ocean view. (drink in hand of course)We saw dark dolphins jumping near the bow on Sunday morning and all of our balcony buddies were out each morning with us trying to catch another glimpse. FOOD-Not sure what I expected after reading the varying reviews on CC, but I was pleased with the selections. We had first seating and enjoyed great conversation (and laughs) with our table mates. Our waiter was Lucasz from Poland and assistant waiter Prawith from the Philippines. Both did a great job. Lucasz was quick with a joke and banter and Prawith was very polite and knew all our names by the second night. If you ordered a coke he had it without asking the next. Most of the food was very good, though some selections were not up to par. I find this no different than when you go out to eat in any nice eatery back home. No reflection of the galley on the Ruby. If I didn't like it, I was brought something different without any reservations. Lunch in the dining room was nearly empty and service and quality was as good as dinner service. The buffets were good but not excellent. Good choices but as reviewed many times, not set up well. My wife and I too found ourselves walking in what seemed like a circle trying to fill our plates. (oh but fill them we did as my belt is using holes it hadn't used before) Free ice cream, pizza, hamburgers, hotdogs etc. and of course bars galore! Service throughout the cruise was great. Found only a couple of time where the servers in any area were less than gracious. But we didn't care. We just walked away, looked out into the ocean and realized we were still in heaven. Assistant Cruise director Martin and Senior Asst. CD Gavin were funny and welcoming every minute of the day. Their energy levels were through the roof and to see a grown man in a black lace bra is priceless. (go see the Majority Rules Show) I highly recommend ANYTHING that either of them are hosting. GREAT FUN. Your face will hurt. Comedy show were okay, however one guy (can remember his name) had me laughing more than I have in 10 years. Didn't see any of the theater shows but heard they were great. Get there 1/2hr early if you want any type of good seating or seating at all from what I heard. Piazza entertainers were great. From classical music, to a muscle bound guy spinning a giant cube. The shops and lounges in the Piazza were awesome. The odd smell that many have mentioned in the piazza was, (my wife and I tracked it down) was the sushi offered at Vines. Go figure that raw fish would smell so wonderful. Casino was okay, if you go in the evening expect to be at a table whether you want to or not. The slots and video poker are usually booked solid. Band (Rock the Boat) was of good quality and the Caribbean musician was great. All in all, the Ruby was a beautifully decorated ship and around every corner was something new. Cafe Caribe (buffet) is open when the Horizon Court is closed during dinner so if you don't want to go to the main dining room it is open. Debarkation went very smooth. (MARK YOUR LUGGAGE WITH BRIGHT NEON PAINT!!!!!!!!!!)Finding it can be difficult as you are with 1,00 others with the same bag.......All was good until we realized 8 other ships were at port from FLL to Miami. We were dropped off at FLL airport by 9am (with EVERYONE ELSE FROM THESE SHIPS) and our flight left @ 3:30 pm. Airlines will not handle your bags until 4 hours or less to flight time. This left hordes of us sitting in the terminal waiting for that all elusive 4th hour! Note to self, "Stay a couple of days in Florida following the cruise next time. P.S. the Port of call review wouldn't let me pick Princess cays island. So if it doesn't post, it was cool too. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
This was our third cruise, 2nd on Princess - first trip to the Caribbean. Embarkation: As everyone else has reported, embarkation was smooth and painless. Getting to the port from the airport was a bit hectic. We had returned a rental ... Read More
This was our third cruise, 2nd on Princess - first trip to the Caribbean. Embarkation: As everyone else has reported, embarkation was smooth and painless. Getting to the port from the airport was a bit hectic. We had returned a rental car (came into Ft Lauderdale a couple of days early) to the airport and caught the free bus shuttle to the port. We were in a mass of humanity with people getting off the shuttles (from ships returning) and people trying to get on the shuttles to leave. There were a fair number of pushy people. We just stayed in the background, enjoyed the free "show' and got onboard the bus without any problem. Our first time on a new ship and one this big. It was quite beautiful, fresh, clean, open, etc. I never did get the layout figured out but there are a lot of maps around to help see which way to go. We didn't watch a movie on the MUTS (Movie theatre under the stars) but had the best time watching the Steeler v San Diego Football game with other fans and a couple buckets of beer. We were on Caribe deck (deck 10) C630. Nice room, well laid out, huge balcony. Folks up above can see down on the outer part of the deck but there is a covered, more private portion. We could also see below on our neighbor's deck. The only complaint, and it is slight, was that the room is directly across from the door where luggage is taken in and out. A bit noisy on our last night, but it didn't go on too late. Rodgie our room steward was great. Food; We thought the food was wonderful. We ate in the dining room most nights, anytime dining. Never had to wait, always shared a table. We ate on deck a couple of evenings at the pizza area. Pizza wasn't spectacular but better than some. We ate it twice so wasn't too bad. We thought the lunch buffet was very good. We ate lunch there everyday. Great assortment of foods and the highest quality of any of our cruises. My husband ate the breakfast buffet every morning, I did a couple of times. No complaints from us there either. Yes...I do believe the scrambled eggs were powdered but I thought they tasted fine and they were putting out fried eggs too. Excursions: We did an excursion at each port. On Jamaica we took the "spirit of Jamaica" tour. It was very good. Our tour guide (in addition to the min-bus driver) was very knowledgeable and we learned a lot about Jamaica and it's history. It was not recommended for us to go around alone on the Island. Even our guide told us she would drop us at the ship and that she wasn't responsible for us if we didn't get right back onboard. I would recommend this tour to anyone interested in the history of Jamaica and it gives you a chance to see different areas. We also made a couple of shopping stops. In Grand Cayman, we took the "Highlights" tour. It was very disappointing. The mini-bus driver was also the tour guide. He gave us some information but not very much. We were driven to the Tortuga Rum Factory. I expected to be taken to the actual factory for a tour but instead it was an outlet store. Next was a drive out past 7 mile beach to an area called "Hell" where there are interesting rock formations. The tour guide (driver) gave little info on this area, it was a quick stop to look at the formations and visit the gift shop. Then we were driven back. Not worth the money at all. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. After the tour we walked around the city ourselves. It was very safe, lots of shopping. In Cozumel we took the snorkeling tour to Palancar reef. The weather was bad - windy, drizzling, high seas. We were told before the tour we could back out with a full refund if we wanted but we chose to go on. We were on a catamaran. It was quite rocky with the high seas, but actually quite exhilarating to me. No on on board complained (there were about 15 of us). The ride to the reef is about 45 minutes. When there, we were instructed how to snorkel, use the equipment, call for help, etc. Then we jumped in and had a wonderful time. With the overcast skies we saw tons of fish. Also saw a couple of sharks, turtle, lobster, crab, beautiful coral. It was very nice. The crew was excellent - helpful to those of us not very skilled, and very helpful to a few that were very scared and their first time. Everyone had a great time. Ride back was still choppy but we were treated to free cervesa and tequila. I would highly recommend this trip. There was shopping at the pier where we bought some jewelry before getting back on board the ship. Princess Cays - Again...rainy, drizzle, windy, cold. We got off the ship, walked on the beach a while, looked in some of the gift shops, then got back onboard as it was getting too chilly. It was too bad the weather didn't cooperate because it seemed like a great place to have a fun beach day. Entertainment: We saw one of the shows with the Princess entertainers (Broadway theme). The show was very good. We went to three comedian shows. They were also very good. We did have to go to the theatre early to get seats. Disembarkation: This part of the trip was the most crazy. Getting off the ship went smooth. Once off we were among thousands of people all trying to get to the airport or someplace else. We tried to get to the airport via the free shuttle (takes you to the rental car area of the terminal) but too many people were trying to do that and most people were just plain rude. The taxi lines were long. Decided to retrace our steps to where we got off the boat. We were flying on Southwest and they offered to take our bags and check us in....like curbside check in but at the ship. It cost us $10 per bag (we had 3). We got our boarding passes printed, checked the bags, then just went and chilled til we could get a taxi. What a good decision because when we got to the airport there were more people than I have ever seen. The line from the SW airlines desks went out the door, down the sidewalk. Later I heard one woman say it took them 2 hrs to get to the check in desk. This was also good for us as our plane didn't leave til 4pm and you can't check in at the airport sooner than 4 hrs before your flight so we would have been stuck with our luggage and no place to hang out waiting. We heard later that 6 or more ships put in that day and everyone was trying to leave. I don't know if I'd take a cruise out of Ft Lauderdale again, or if I did, we certainly wouldn't try to leave on the same day all those ships came in. It was just too many people. Overall: The weather for this cruise was marginal. Great first couple of days out but then turned windy, cold, rainy for the rest. It put a bit of a damper on the trip but not much anyone can do about the weather. I would recommend Princess Cruiseline anytime and we have already signed up for another one. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
We just returned from a cruise on the new Ruby. We are experienced cruisers, having traveled several times on other lines, this was our first Princess Cruise. I won't spend a lot of time on the ship, because it is brand new, and it ... Read More
We just returned from a cruise on the new Ruby. We are experienced cruisers, having traveled several times on other lines, this was our first Princess Cruise. I won't spend a lot of time on the ship, because it is brand new, and it is beautiful as you expect. We thought the rooms were very well laid out, and very convenient to use. We had the balcony upgrade category on deck 10. Be aware, everyone above you can look right down on your balcony on this ship, as I believe is true on other Princess ships as well. Embarkation was the best ever, we were through the line in 30 minutes tops. The cabin steward immediately came to our room and introduced himself as soon as we arrived. We are generally very easy going and go with the flow whenever we travel, so the criticism in this review we think is well deserved. We also talked to many people that we met on board, and everyone had the same complaints, so Princess needs to pay attention to this. One other thing before I go on - we had reservations about traveling Princess because we heard it is an 'older' crowd. We are in the 45 to 50 age range, and we felt that at least half the people on board were younger. As a matter of fact we saw very few people that were older - they seemed to be either 20s to 30s or our age range. Service on board was very good, but fairly 'cold'. If you like to cruise and get to know your cabin steward and other service personnel, this did not happen on this cruise. We met the cabin steward when we checked in, then we paged him the next day because we wanted four towels in our room instead of two. We had to ask twice, and after that we always had four towels, but we literally never saw him again. We thought he was avoiding us because we asked for more towels, and on previous cruises we have gotten friendly with the cabin workers, not this time. The same could be said for service all over the ship. We did traditional dining at 8:15. The waiter was very friendly, but the service from the kitchen was awful. We wasted so much time just waiting for food to be brought out it was ridiculous. Frequently, we wanted to see a show or participate in an activity after dinner and we were late. We thought the shows that we did see were excellent by other cruise standards, this was a plus on the ship. We also found that while this was one of the dullest crowds we've ever cruised with. Frequently, we would go to one of the clubs, casino, bars, etc at 10:00 PM and there would be at the most 50 people there. SO, if you are cruising this ship, do not worry about the age range, but if you want to be social and dance and meet people on the ship - forget it - they all seemed to go to bed by 10:00 PM. This seemed to be the perfect cruise for honeymooners that would like to be alone, or people that just want to cruise and not be social. But the worst thing of all was the food. We kept hoping it would get better. We did not eat in any of the speciality restaurants, and stuck with the traditional dining, buffet, etc. The room service, pizza, burgers, were about par with all other lines. However, the lunch buffets and dinner options were horrible. The desserts were horrible. I cannot stress enough how bad the food was. We kept waiting for it to get better. We talked to everyone we met, and they all agreed. I don't know if Princess is pushing for people to pay extra to eat in the speciality restaurants or not, but if you are a person that does not want to pay extra and expects the typical 'great food, we're gaining weight, we need to stop eating' kind of cruise, skip this cruise line. We are two individuals with totally different eating preferences, and neither one of us could find anything we liked. Everything was just mediocre. We were so glad to get off the ship and looked forward to getting something decent to eat. In summary, we will never cruise Princess again because of the food. We aren't sure if this is true across the board for Princess, but we're not taking another chance. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Saturday, March 24, 2009 Embarkation Day We arrived at the Pier around noon and within an hour, we were in our room and ready for our first cocktail. I thought the check-in process was really good. As soon as we got on board, we signed up ... Read More
Saturday, March 24, 2009 Embarkation Day We arrived at the Pier around noon and within an hour, we were in our room and ready for our first cocktail. I thought the check-in process was really good. As soon as we got on board, we signed up for the Ultimate Ship Tour which would cost $150/person. More to come later in my review of this great tour. Our state room was on the Baja Deck. After sailing twice in mini-suites, you begin to miss the extra large bathroom and state room, but overall the state room was very comfortable. Extra points for the large closet they provide. Sunday, March 25, 2009 Day At Sea Our first day at sea started off sunny, with clouds/rain moving in around mid afternoon. But by then I had already had enough sun. The gym was nice, but if your tall, your head might be hitting the ceiling if you use some of the cardio equipment. We also signed up for the use of the Lotus Spa which is underneath the gym. It cost $99/person or $150/couple. Everyday we used the Spa. It was a nice retreat mid-afternoon to go relax and take in the aroma therapy steam room. Tonight is also Formal Night. Being that the ship was sold out, it made for it being very crowded around all the photo stations. Tonight was also one of the big stage production in the Princess Theatre. We took in the late show and I would say it was one of the better shows that I have seen on a cruise ship. Monday, March 26, 2009 Ocho Rios, Jamaica We opted for no excursion here. We did leave the ship and do some shopping at the new shopping area they have built and took in a few drinks at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. Overall the new shopping area was very nice compared to when I was here before. Tuesday, March 27, 2009 Cayman Islands Another sunny beautiful day. There are 4 other cruise ships here today. Again we opted for no excursion and instead just check out the local shopping. All ships are tendered here, so after a short boat ride you arrive right near all the shopping. Wednesday, March 27, 2009 Cozumel More sun yet again. Who's complaining? Not me. In Cozumel we went on a snorkel tour along the barrier reef. Group size was round 25-30. After a nice relaxing hour boat ride, we all were off the boat and snorkeling above tons of coral and fish. After an hour of drifting along, we boarded the boat and headed back. Lots of free rum punch for everyone. After returning to the pier, we took in more shopping. This is my time back to Cozumel, since hurricane Wilma destroyed many of the piers and shopping. They have done a very nice job of rebuilding. Thursday, March 28, 2009 Day at Sea We were notified on Tuesday that we were picked to go on the Ultimate Ship Tour. So after taking in some more sun, we headed to our meeting area at 2pm. The tour would last 3 hours and comfortable shoes were recommend to wear. The following is what we all got to enjoy: The Ultimate Ship Tour of the Ruby Princess Tour stop #1 - Princess Theatre: We got behind the scenes tour of the stage, lighting, dressing areas, and demo of how the stage production shows work. As a group we got our photo taken on stage. Tour stop #2 - Kitchen: We entered into the kitchen galley and got a full tour by the Head Chef. This tour is much larger then what you normal get on the galley tour. We were also treated to Champaign and sweets. After all the questions, we were informed that our very own Princess's Chef Jacket would be delivered to our state rooms. Tour stop #3 - Food Storage: Below one deck under the kitchen is where all the food is delivered onto the ship, stored, and prepared before it ever gets moved up to the kitchen. Tour stop #4 - Photo and Print Rooms: We were given the tour where all those photos that are taken throughout the cruise are developed. As well as how the Princess Patter is created and printed daily. At the conclusion of this tour, we were informed that our very own Princess Stationary would be printed and delivered to our state rooms. Tour stop #5 - Besides the main Bridge Deck, there is a 2nd operation room that can control the ship. In here we were given a tour of all the controls and monitors which can control the ship from below. A 2nd group photo was taken here along with one of the officers of the ship. Tour stop #6 - Doctors Office: If you ever wanted to know where to go when you get sick onboard. Here it is. Quite impressive doctors office then what I would have expected. Tour stop #7 - Laundry Room: With 3000 passengers and 2000+ crew, you can only imagine how they get all the laundry cleaned. This was quite impressive to see this operation and how large an area on the ship it takes up. At the conclusion of this tour, we all would be receiving and plush Princess Bath Robe delivered to our state rooms. Very nice! Tour stop #8 - Ship Flume: You know those large exhaust stacks that rise up above the ship? This is where we got to go. Up some ladders we went, we got an up close look at where all the air and fumes from the engine room go. A 3rd group photo was taken at this location. Tour stop #9 - The Bridge: the best for last! We got to meet the Captain of the Ruby Princess, as well as many other officers at work. A full tour of the Bridge was given showing off all the monitors and controls. A 4th and 5th photo was taken with one Group Photo with the Captain and a Single Photo with the Captain. At the conclusion, we were given beverages and snacks to have while taking in the impressive view from the Bridge. Tonight was also Formal Night and again became very crowded around all those photo areas. Tonight was also the new production in the Princess Theatre "Once upon a Dream". Again I was very impressed and thought these production shows on this Ship have been some of the best I have seen. Friday, March 30, 2009 Princess Cays We in our group decided to stay on the ship today and just relax in the sun and enjoy our final day. Saturday, March 31, 2009 Disembarkation We opted to carry our own luggage off. At 7:15 am we were to meet in Club Fusion and by 8 am we were walking off to our taxi to the airport and saying goodbye to the Ruby as it got smaller and smaller in the distance. FOOD: I've read some CC reviews on how bad the food was, but in my opinion I felt the main dining sitting had always the best choices, as they should. The buffet type areas were just on average. Sometimes I felt the choices were odd, but with so many options on the ship, you could always find something to satisfy your taste buds. My only recommendation to Princess would be to remove the omelet station from the buffet area, as it crowds up very much in the morning and relocated to the grill where you make burgers in the afternoon. This could relieve the congestion in that area during breakfast. PIAZZA: Make sure you look at the Princess Patter and note the times that they have performances here. If I didn't know, I would have never known those shows were taking place. Overall I had another great cruise aboard the new RUBY PRINCESS and can't wait to cruise again with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
The Ruby Princess is a beautiful ship with understated elegance. It definitely does not have the wow factor as the larger RCI ships. Our overall impression was that this was an older crowd than other cruises I have taken. It worked ... Read More
The Ruby Princess is a beautiful ship with understated elegance. It definitely does not have the wow factor as the larger RCI ships. Our overall impression was that this was an older crowd than other cruises I have taken. It worked out fine for us as we are 63 and 52 years young. Embarkation - We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Ft. Lauderdale and Cruise Port on Friday night and paid $130 on priceline. This worked out nicely for us. We grabbed a taxi from the airport and were able to check in at 3:00 pm. We were within walking distance to a seafood restaurant for dinner. The next morning we took the complimentary 10:00 am shuttle to the cruise port. We arrived at 10:30 am and were in group #1 to board the ship. The called our number at 11:45 and checkin was a breeze and straight on the ship and our room was ready. I started dialing the dine line to try to sign up for the chef's table. At first the calls did not go thru to a live person but after several attempts on the alternative dining option I was able to reach someone and she was able to take my request. I asked what the chances were and she said I was the first to be put on the list. I had a confirmed first seating on my paperwork before boarding but my ship card listed us as having anytime dining which I did not want. I had to see the maitre'd who was available at 3:00 pm. I waited about 45 minutes and was able to get our seating changed back to 1st seating right before the muster drill started. A lady I talked to while waiting said she had gotten through to request the chef's table at 1:00 pm to be told they were not taking any more requests. I later learned there had been over 300 requests. Day 1 - At sea - We saw the welcome aboard show and enjoyed it and also tried our hand at the slots in the casino - sorry to say did not win much. day 2 - Ocho Rios - We took the ship's excursion to Dunn's River Falls and the Shaw Garden tour. The tour was fun and well organized. I think Princess does a top notch job in getting people on and off the ship smoothly. Day 3 - Grand Cayman - The ship excursion today was the two person mini boats to see the stingrays and snorkeling. Enjoyed our guide and holding the stingrays. Chef's Table - Quite an experience and one I would highly recommend - The food and service was great with everyone going out of their way to make the experience wonderful and definitely worth the $75 per person price. Day 4 - Cozumel - The weather was cold & drizzling rain but our excursion went as planned. Today was a two person dune buggy into the jungle to see caverns and an underground cave. Wear old clothes as you will get dirty - today it was mud but lots of fun. Day 5 - At Sea - Thank goodness - We need a day to relax. We did not try any of the other dining options. We did eat fish and chips in the Wheelhouse Bar for lunch one day and really enjoyed it. Overall I would have to say the food on this was not all that good. If fact overall all it was my least favorite - under Carnival, RCI, and Disney and the buffet in the Horizon Court was nothing to be impressed by either. Don't get me wrong we found things to eat and did not go hungry - just nothing special. The food was also inconsistent - my partner's lobster was great and mine was inedible for instance. Definitely did not ruin our cruise and the wait staff was more than happy to bring more if you requested. I enjoying trying different cruise lines. This was my first Princess cruise and would definitely use them again but am not a converted Princess only cruiser. I probably will try NCL and Celebrity next just to see what they are like. Disembarkation - We had a late flight out so we did the Everglades and Airboat ride and Flamingo Garden tour that finished at the airport. Got to the dining room to wait at 8:10 am and were off the boat about 8:30. Again Princess does a great job with this. Other notes - I enjoyed the MUTS and saw Momma Mia even though it was windy and chilly. If you would like a link to my Shutterfly Pictures and have an questions you can E-mail me a Talulah40@aol.com and just put Ruby Princess in your subject line. Overall a great trip and can't wait for the next one - planning already. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
My husband and I were enjoying our second cruise, a babymoon actually on the Ruby Princess. It was by far the most beautifully decorated ship I have been on and this compares to Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Carnival ships. We had ... Read More
My husband and I were enjoying our second cruise, a babymoon actually on the Ruby Princess. It was by far the most beautifully decorated ship I have been on and this compares to Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Carnival ships. We had previously taken a honeymoon cruise on the Royal Caribbean to Eastern Caribbean and enjoyed our experience tremendously. We were expecting more "Love" from the brand new Ruby "Love Boat" that Princess was famous for. First of all, we booked a mini suite category. We felt that this line, in comparison to other cruises, seemed to charge for all the amenities we typically receive for free on other ships. We had to pay for ice cream at the pool, appetizers before dinner in the lobby, pizza delivery from room service and $12 for a cheese board/fruit platter from room service! The excursions were overpriced compared to other cruise lines. "Anytime dining" is not a good idea if you want to eat anytime other than 6pm or 8pm. When we would show up at 7pm, we received a pager and then had to wait for a table for 15-40 minutes. You can call ahead in the morning to make a reservation, but we found out they only take about 20% of the restaurant as a reservation and only before 4pm. If you make a reservation, you get a table right away. You will have a different waiter staff each night, which made it difficult to receive any special attention or friendly "get to know" atmosphere we enjoy on other ships. Next time we would do the late seating. I highly recommend the specialty Italian restaurant. It is worth the $20 supplement. The food in the dining room for dinner was just OK. Not as good as Royal or Holland. Menu is a little boring and tasteless. Our room was beautiful, although smaller than the mini suite on Royal Caribbean. Room service menu was not very good and we felt that suite passengers should be offered a different menu to choose from, other than free sandwiches. The room attendant was friendly and probably the best cruise staff we met on board as far as attention and helpfulness. Our room was decorated nicely outside for our anniversary and my birthday. We also enjoyed receiving special cards to give to the head waiter at the restaurant to notify that it was a special occasion. They brought us a special dessert each time we notified. Tendering on two ports (Princess Cay and Grand Cayman) was not a great experience at all. We had long lines to wait in on the return to ship from port and watched as other cruise lines were handing out water and snacks to their passengers. Also, we felt that we had to get on the ship much earlier in each port than necessary. We would have enjoyed staying longer in each port, rather than on board by 4pm. The activities on board were not much to be desired. We were comparing to all the fun activities on the Royal Caribbean, with rock climbing and ice skating. The Ruby should have more focus on the education programs and add another cooking demonstration, which was the best demo I have seen on any ship. I highly recommend it and the cookbook for purchase is reasonable $28 and you can have it personally signed by the Exec. Chef. The shows at night were fair. The second evening show, Broadway Review, was the best. All the others we were not that impressed. They had a guest singer from Vegas that was excellent, but he is not normally on the ship. Compared to Royal, it was a 4 and Royal entertainment an 8 out of 10. So, in conclusion, bring back the LOVE. Please stop charging for ice cream! Where was someone like Issac at the pool? The pool drink attendants need to smile and enjoy their job. What is better than serving drinks under the sun! Make it a more personal experience for the guests, especially if you are paying suite pricing. Ruby needs to hire a different Cruise Director. By the end of the trip, we had to turn her off our TV screen. Best things on board: Movies Under the Stars (need less sports and more movies) Cooking Demonstration and Ship Kitchen Tour Decoration of the ship, live musicians playing in the lobby upon check in. Ports of call were excellent, but you'll need to book excursions. Least favorite things: Lots of little charges everywhere. Cost of fruit drinks without alcohol. Entertainment and getting turned away because all the seats were filled! Bingo prices. Art Auction not as great as Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Let me start by saying I was not expecting a great cruise with it being only the 5Th sailing of this new ship. I was figuring that the staff would be still working to get familiarized with the ship and each other. Our vacation started with ... Read More
Let me start by saying I was not expecting a great cruise with it being only the 5Th sailing of this new ship. I was figuring that the staff would be still working to get familiarized with the ship and each other. Our vacation started with a drive down from North Carolina to Ft. Myers, FL. 4 days prior to the sailing for us to be with my Mom on her 90Th Birthday. Saturday, Dec. 6th, we met up with the 2 other couples traveling with us and left to go to the port at about 12:00 noon. We arrived at the terminal at 2:00pm to find no lines and at 2:30pm found us in the Horizon Court having an afternoon snack and our first drink of many! Boarding was such a breeze! I found the food in the buffet just OK. To me the buffet food was never hot!, just warm. The scrambled egg did not taste fresh! When having breakfast at the buffet my wife and I would always go to the omelet station for fresh hot eggs. The Dining Room food was excellent always hot and cooked exactly to order. I was a little disappointed when we only got 1 small lobster tail and two large prawns on formal night, this problem was easily solved by asking for 2 more lobster tails which were brought out immediately! Our group of six signed up for the Chef's Table once we were on board the ship. We were notified a day later that our group was chosen to join six other people for this event. It costs $75PP, but is well worth it. You start by meeting Maitre d'Hotel Generoso Mazzone outside of the dining room, where you are given a lab coat and then escorted through the dining room into the galley where you are introduced to the Executive Chef Michele Cozzoli. Chef Michele then explains the workings of the galley while you are served with 4 to 5 appetizers with champagne. Upon the conclusion of the galley tour, you are escorted back through the dining room to your special Chef's Table that is decorated with a lovely floral arrangement with candles. You are served a complete dinner with two different selections of wines to complement the special meal that is created for the table. The only entertainment that we took in was the group "Exotique" in the Explorer's Lounge and "Spank" a Doo-Wop group that performed in the Piazza. Both of these groups were excellent! The ship itself is beautiful and well designed. Gone is the long walkway to Sky Walkers disco, and the shading of this walkway onto the deck below. Sabitini's is aft with windows looking out to sea with a terrace and fountains. Compliments to Princess Cruise Line for creating such a beautiful ship and exceptional staff! Ruby Princess is scheduled to do a 10-day Southern Caribbean itinerary in 2009 and our group is planning on sailing with her again on this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
ARRIVAL/BOARDING: On December 5 we flew from the West Coast to Ft. Lauderdale via Dallas. We stayed the night at the Holiday Inn Express on the 17th Street Causeway. Cost with coupon was $118 but next November noticed it is $208. ... Read More
ARRIVAL/BOARDING: On December 5 we flew from the West Coast to Ft. Lauderdale via Dallas. We stayed the night at the Holiday Inn Express on the 17th Street Causeway. Cost with coupon was $118 but next November noticed it is $208. Although the hotel has a shuttle from the airport, when we called (note that you can't contact this hotel from the phones at the airport baggage claim area) we were told the next shuttle was already full and to take a taxi and we would be reimbursed. Another couple was staying at the same hotel, so we piled into a taxi. Check-in was smooth and the room nice except for the noisy fan on the air conditioner that we needed to have on all night. A nice breakfast was available in the morning, with hot and cold items including rolls, toast, biscuits and gravy, cheese omelettes, fruit, yogurt, juice, cereal, and coffee. When checking in, we discovered the hotel had a shuttle to the port for $15 each but elected to take a taxi, which was $12 including tip. In the morning we found there were a lot of people in the hotel also going on cruises, so the elevator was very slow as people and their luggage moved out. In the morning I walked east onto the causeway bridge and saw the new Ruby Princess waiting - a nice sight! The hotel is across from a small shopping mall with a Dollar Tree, a nearby liquor store, and several restaurants. To the west there is another shopping area with a Publix grocery store, Total Wine, and Payless Shoes. Total Wine is a HUGE wine and liquor store; we stocked up there on bottled water and wine. We arrived at the port about 11 a.m. and was sure to tip the porter who took our luggage from the taxi. Going inside, we were given a number (4) for our group. After about a half hour, our number was called and we checked in. We were on the ship right a noon. From reading postings on Cruise Critic we expected one of the dining rooms to be open for lunch, but none were, so after going to our cabin we went to the Horizon/Caribe buffet. Two of our three bags arrived at our cabin when we were at the 4 p.m. muster drill; the last arrived about an hour later. CABIN: We were very pleased with our aft cabin except for the low water pressure in the bathroom sink (couldn't rinse off a toothbrush or razor very well), high level of chorine in the water, and creaking walls, probably unique to aft cabins and being a new ship. I was wary of taking an aft cabin but it was among the few balcony cabins available when we booked the cruise in February. I did quite a bit of research, finding that some aft cabins in the middle are by a vent exhaust and some have large beams on the balcony. Our balcony had four chairs (two could be reclined a bit) and a very small table. There often was the smell of food, likely from the vent. It was spooky looking straight down to the water and wake; the latter was fairly loud when we were moving but ended up being white noise. The balcony was fully covered and very private - only by looking around the partitions could any of our neighbors see into our balcony. We were very disappointed that we could not get the balcony breakfast in our cabin; why some but not others? Our steward was great. He brought us bathrobes on request and even suggested that we could avoid corkage in the dining rooms by bringing us glasses and us opening up the bottle in our room before going to dinner. We did that on our last night, but don't expect a wine bucket or the waiter to fill your glasses. We saw him more than we saw any steward on past cruises, and he always had our cabin made up when we returned. As with other cruises on Princess, the cabin refrigerator doesn't cool very well or consistently. We tried to keep the door open to help air circulate, but our steward always closed it when we were out. On Thursday night when the waves were highest, our cabin creaked every few seconds; earplugs and shoving pieces of paper between the wall and ceiling by the bed and closet to eliminate the creaks didn't help. And we had very noisy neighbors whom we heard (conversations and television) through the cabin walls and on the balcony. The noise seemed to go through our bed; even earplugs didn't help. They always slammed the cabin and balcony doors. And they smoked, so we had to close our balcony door whenever they were out on their balcony. We often smelled cigarette smoke in the hallways, and one day an entire hallway reeked of cigar smoke. Something needs to be done about this - make decks smoking/nonsmoking so passengers can enjoy their rooms and balconies without breathing smoke. When in our cabin we often missed announcements of the PA system because they go out only in the hallways and on a certain television channel and you have to open your door to hear what is being said. It would be nice if announcements were repeated with visuals that remained on a television channel. SHIP: It was great being on a new ship; this was just the fifth cruise for the Ruby, though we were surprised to already see rust on the hull through paint. Once we got on the ship and had lunch we tried to find a hot tub, but only one by the pool was open. What's the reason for this?! We liked the atrium's new features, Vines and the International Cafe, though with all the other food and beverage options additional ones aren't really needed. One evening before dinner we had a glass of wine at Vines. I thought my $11 grand cru Chablis was a bit corked and my wife agreed, but I said nothing as the waiters didn't speak the best English and might not have understood. We were told prosciuto and raclette were served with the wine, but because we don't eat meat we declined the ham and because it was a formal night the raclette was not served (something to do with part of it being "strong" in flavor). We love cheese, so we were disappointed not to have that and thought it was unfair that some things were available at some times and not at others, even when paying over $20 for two glasses of wine. We did each have three pieces from the seafood/sushi bar, for $1 a piece, which was reasonable. We couldn't quite figure out the International Cafe; some things such as the chocolate fondue and bags of cookies carry a charge that is posted, while others such as single cookies are free. The display case has some savory items (lamb chops, shrimp, tomato/mozzarella skewers) in addition to full cakes and other desserts. I think better communication on this feature is sorely needed, as few passengers seemed to venture near it; either charge for everything or offer it all gratis. I used the Internet Cafe once. It has different plans starting at $55, a bit steep, so I opted for the 75 cents per minute option, though it requires a $4 setup fee. So it was $10 for eight minutes. It would be nice if the daily Patters contained more useful and organized information rather than puzzles and errors ("success," "it's" rather than "its," and "innovative"). We take cruises around this time to avoid kids, but there's always some, usually home schooled. There were few children on this cruise; the only direct encounter was with two groups totaling five one day on the mini golf course. A sign says kids under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult, but of course there's no one to enforce this rule. One group of three kids ahead was sharing a club, so it took forever to get through the first hole (I ultimately moved in front) and a kid in the other group was hitting his club hard on the course until I told him to stop. FOOD: The food was better than our previous cruise in March 2007 to the Mexican Riviera - even for the same dishes such as the shrimp scampi [sic] fra diavolo. But we find the food on Princess to be bland, even those dishes marked spicy such as the shrimp. We understand some passengers just can't take the seasoning, but if it's labeled spicy on the menu it should have some spice to it. A goat cheese souffle offered as an appetizer one night was the best thing we had in the dining room. Most of the desserts - even a mud pie - contained gelatin, no doubt to hold up longer, but it makes for some odd results. Dinner at the last formal night featured a lobster and shrimp entree; the shrimp came out on top; they were about as large as the lobster but tender and less dry. One night we decided to pass up the blah dinner menu and go to the Crown Grill, which carries an extra charge of $25 per person. It never seemed full, likely a victim of the economy. This was the best meal of the entire week. The food had flavor and the service was impeccable. After we looked toward the open kitchen the maitre'd came over and asked if we would like a closer look, so we went over and complimented the chefs. My Brazilian lobster, which carries an additional $9 surcharge, was OK but nothing wonderful (I've finally realized lobster isn't all that great), but the appetizer, salad, side dishes, and dessert were fabulous. We'd have gone a second time if not for the scooter incident (see below). Two mornings we had room service breakfast; the menu hasn't changed in years - just cold cereal, tea, coffee, juice, rolls, and fruit. It was always delivered within the requested half hour slot, but never had the correct amount of what we ordered: milk was delivered one day and another day a second yogurt came even though we didn't order either. The Horizon/Caribe buffet failed to impress, with too much repetition during the week and some plain weird items. For example, there was baked beans one breakfast and lunch the same day, pizza and other breads that no one seemed interested in for breakfast. The scrambled eggs seemed to be from powder, with a strange texture; the only other eggs were fried eggs with very runny centers - not to our liking. And only one flavor of yogurt (banana/strawberry) was seen. I once ordered a lemonade and my wife ordered two, but the waiter misinterpreted this as two; one tasted like water. There are a lot of six-person tables by the coveted windows here. As a result, parties of two or three occupy them, wasting much more room than if smaller tables were by the windows. More tables for two are sorely needed, as at times there were no tables open and one had to find someone who was done eating and wait for their table. Twice we came back from ports late and headed for pizza served by the pools to take to our cabin. If fresh, the crust was crackly but if not it was very soggy. One day on a spur of the moment we went to the afternoon tea. We were probably the last ones in, but had excellent service and enjoyed the live music. My wife, not a tea drinker, actually liked her tea; she thinks the lemon helped. There's more than just sweet items to eat. Not many people seemed to be there, so we hope it'll continue as we're sure all costs are being looked at. The coffee at the International Cafe ($3 for large Jamaican Blue Mountain) was very good for coming from a machine. SERVICE: Service generally was good. Because we were on anytime dining, we had different servers every night. They all seemed to be in a hurry, so we didn't have much rapport with them except with one waiter who liked to talk about wine, as we always had a bottle with dinner. When wait times for dinner got to be 45 minutes we'd get a beeper but then go to the other dining room and get a beeper there too. Whichever beeped first got us and the other was canceled, but we probably never waited more than 15 minutes for a table for two. One dinner waiter ignored us for 15 minutes before he finally gave us dessert menus. It can be difficult to get service in Horizon/Caribe even with dozens of crew members scurrying around, so you must be forceful; one just stood there watching a card game. PORTS OF CALL: Ocho Rios - Rather than take one of the ship's excursions we booked ahead with Trevor Hudlin based on info found on the Cruise Critic boards. It was our best shore excursion to date. Trevor has been a guide for 20 some years and made sure we got a top-notch tour, with lots of information about the city and country. He drove a large van that held just another group of five plus us two. We first went to Dunn's River Falls for the climb. Even though we were among the first there, quite a few more people arrived while we waited for a large enough group to form. Guides take you up the falls in groups, then ask for tips. Our group had two guides plus a videographer, who wanted $30 for the DVD. With so many people the going is fairly slow, but one shouldn't rush this, as you are climbing over rocks of varied heights and rushing water. Water shoes are available for rent or purchase and should definitely be worn for protection and to avoid slipping. Beware of the shopping area, as one fellow latched on to us, taking us to his "store" where he proceeded to carve our names in little totem figures then ask for money. I asked how much, and he said people give him $25 or $30. I said I didn't have any money with me, but he said he'd go back with us to our van to get it. After my wife bought a dress from another vendor, both vendors came with us to the van. I gave the carver $8 and he asked for two bucks more so I gave it to him. Only later did my wife see that on my figure one could see where a previous name had apparently been carved out - presumably because he or she didn't buy it! Our group then went up in the hills to view the city from an overlook then through Fern Gully, stopping at the top while Trevor bought some sugar cane samples for all of us to try. Trevor next let us off at the river for our tubing trip before taking the other party shopping. We had a young "guide" to escort us while tubing - like the falls, another way of getting income from the tourists. He helped keep us in the middle of the small river that had a few mild rapids. Halfway down we stopped so we could get our photo taken (another revenue source!) and use the swings in the middle of the river before finishing the trip. It was fun and the water wasn't too cold. Trevor then left us off at one of the shopping areas, where we went to lunch at Mama Marleys. We ordered two appetizers, a beer, and a sugar cane drink flavored with lemon. After we were done, the bartender/waiter said he'd bring another sugar cane drink, which we though was free (it wasn't much for $4), but after paying the bill with my Visa card he said the second drink wasn't on the bill. We paid that with cash but strongly suspect it went into the bartender's pocket. Based on our experience, be prepared to be aggressively "serviced" for tips and another income here. I bought a pound of Jablum Blue Mountain coffee for $20 but saw it elsewhere for $15; it's not the best coffee I've ever had. The weather was 84 F. Grand Cayman - There's not much to do here, so we took a city bus ($5 for both of us) to Cemetery Beach at the far end of Seven Mile Beach. It's literally a beach by a cemetery, accessible from a pathway along the far side. There's no services here, so be prepared to be on your own. Trees provide good shade. This was the best snorkel stop of the week, with a dozen different fish including a pufferfish. Buses are frequent, but careful crossing the busy road, as traffic goes in the opposite direction than in the United States. The weather was 80 F. Cozumel - Aware of the various warnings about renting scooters here, we had reserved two from Smart Cars near the main city square. Unfortunately, our ship docked at a different pier than our last cruise and was three miles away at Puerto Maya. We got in a van with others for the $7 ride (for the two of us) to downtown. Both scooters cost $33 for the day and included helmets. We had no previous experience with them and found them heavy and a bit difficult to get used to. We headed toward the southern tip along a parallel road between the main highway and the coast. I thought the parallel road ended and at one point got us on the main highway. That freaked my wife a bit, as we were going pretty fast. I tried to find access to the beach and at one point I turned around in the parallel street. My wife tried to follow but fell during the turn, damaging the scooter in a few places as bruising her knees and other parts. Fortunately she wasn't hurt badly and were able to continue to Mr. Ponchos or so something like that to what I think was San Francisco beach. We sat at a shaded table and enjoyed a beverage. I went out to snorkel, but there was a strong current and no rocks, thus no fish. We then proceeded further to the El Cedral ruins, which amounted to not much. At that point we decided to cut short our trip around half the island and return the scooters, knowing we'd be dinged for the damage. The guy wanted $280, which is under what I had feared, seeing posts by others before we left for $300 for dings and such as a way to get additional revenue from tourists. I offered to pay with a Visa card but he wanted cash, which was understandable, as we could have returned home and contested the charge. Fortunately, we had the cash and considered it a lesson that we should have taken the $14 per scooter damage insurance, though that might have enough loopholes to be worthless. An expensive day, but at least we survived. Next time we'll rent a car or guide.... The weather was 82 F with a strong breeze. Princess Cays - We arrived at the Cays only to be told by the Captain that the waves were too high (five feet) for the tenders, so the ship skipped the island just meandered about for the day. The weather this day and the previous day were cloudy with occasional rain, so it wasn't a big loss. But this was the second time we were supposed to go to the Cays and didn't make it, the first because of hurricane damage. We saved money though, as our shore activities were not charged and the port charge was refunded on our final bill. ENTERTAINMENT: We're not big nightclubbers or Broadway show types, but I enjoy comedians and magicians, so I went to as many of those shows as possible. I liked all three or four I attended, though some of the performers repeat their acts. My wife likes to dance, so we tried to find a venue that would allow us to do that. One night after dinner (around 8:30 a.m.) we were amazed to find nothing - every band seemed to be on break at the same time or it was too early for the night's entertainment. I had seen that earlier Ruby cruises featured a live ABBA show but was disappointed our voyage didn't. I went to the last Once Upon a Dream show on Friday, but found it lackluster and plotless - just some pop tunes and dancing. The theater wasn't usually full, which was unusual because on past cruises you had to be there a half hour early to get a decent seat. During the week there was a lot of emphasis on amateur (crew and passenger) shows and such, which just aren't appealing to us. Because we're paying for entertainment as part of the cruise package we expect to see professional performers, not karaoke or talent shows. DEBARKATION: On Saturday, we were scheduled to depart at 8:50 a.m. according to the departure schedule based on our flight home. We had breakfast in the dining room, then went to our another dining room to wait until our color and number were called. It was very crowded. I needed to visit the restroom, so went to one by the dining room. The one toilet was clogged, so I went up a floor. Someone had thrown up in that restroom, so I went to another. Someone was in that lone stall, so I went to the 15th deck to the restroom by the Horizon/Caribe buffets. By the time I returned our color/number had been called, so we got off the ship, got our luggage, passed through customs, then walked outside and were second in line for a taxi to the airport (about $13 before tip). All in all it went fairly quickly once our number/color was called. SUMMARY Hope this review doesn't seem picky, but many of you wonder how Princess compares to other lines so hope this is helpful. No cruise or vacation is perfect, but we always enjoy the value cruises give for the buck. We know what Princess offers and continue to be loyal customers. Just before we left for this voyage we booked a 10-day Eastern Caribbean voyage on the Ruby Princess and are excited to be back aboard next November. Thanks to all you CC'ers for your questions/comments on the boards and your reviews - knowledge is power! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
There was a group of 7 women on this cruise (5 were first time cruisers and 2 had done a prior cruise). Our ages ranged from 44-76. Our objective was to get away from the winter months of PA and to forget our stresses. In addition, my ... Read More
There was a group of 7 women on this cruise (5 were first time cruisers and 2 had done a prior cruise). Our ages ranged from 44-76. Our objective was to get away from the winter months of PA and to forget our stresses. In addition, my father had passed away a couple of years ago and I thought it would be good to get my Mom away for a week and have something to look forward to. Not to pat myself on the back, but what a wonderful idea this was. My mother totally enjoyed herself and I can honestly say that I have not seen her laugh and enjoy herself like she did on this week's cruise since my dad passed away. We stayed at the Comfort Inn/CruisePort Inn in Fort Lauderdale. This was a very nice hotel that picked us up from the airport and took us to the cruise. They also included a free breakfast in the price. We would definitely stay there again, but there was at least a 30 minute wait to get picked up the airport...the only negative that was not really that big of a deal since it was such a beautiful day when we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale. We arrived at the ship around 1 p.m. and the line looked quite long, however, we were on the ship in about one half hour time incredibly organized. We all got our luggage delivered in the next couple of hours and got organized before the wonderful sail away party. This party was so full of energy! They had such great music and the atmosphere was just so "fun and adventuresome". It was just so neat to be around everyone that was so happy and knowing that we would be on this awesome ship for 7 full glorious days! We had our first meal at the seafood sailaway buffet - would recommend this! Our other dinners were at the non-fee restaurants which we found quite good (some nights were better than others, but still all meals scored at least a 3.5 out of 5 with most meals in our opinion getting a 4.5 out of 5). Our favorite excursions were the zip line in Jamaica, in Grand Cayman we totally enjoyed the kayaking and snorkeling adventure offered by Princess. A couple ladies of the group enjoyed the Mayan Ruins in Cozumel while others took a cab ride of the area. I would have loved to have rented a motorcycle here but will have to return because I could not talk my 76 old mom into the idea... Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate for our beach day at Princess Cays, but hopefully will get a chance to see it sometime since I have heard wonderful things about this private island. A couple things to note: Our waiter in the restaurant was Fernado - if you happen to get him you will love him - please tell him Marcy and Rika from PA say hello and we miss his smile and good service! Really enjoyed sitting out by the aft pool for breakfast - very nice views and peaceful environment! Glad that I faxed a request in to have an egg-crate on my bed - slept like a baby (inside stateroom with no light - excellent sleeping) Also, one of the highlights for me was meeting the Captain (Captain McCharming). He was such a nice guy and really gave you a good vibe to be sailing with him :) This cruise experience really hooked me on cruising. I met some really fun and interesting people that I hope I can re-connect with on some future cruises. I would definitely cruise Princess again. There were just so many options to do while on this beautiful ship that I can't wait until my next cruise experience. Hopefully I will meet some of you on a fun excursion. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
The embarkation was very smooth and the ship was beautiful and had a nice layout. We had a full suite and it was very nice and our room steward did a nice job. The Casino was very nice and had a good layout and was extremely busy. The ... Read More
The embarkation was very smooth and the ship was beautiful and had a nice layout. We had a full suite and it was very nice and our room steward did a nice job. The Casino was very nice and had a good layout and was extremely busy. The food in the Horizon buffet was OK at best. The staff didn't seem to care if the food looked good or bad. Much of the hot food was cold and when I went back to complain, the server said that I was not the first to complain and he had discovered that nobody had turned the heating element on. One new thing that they advertised was the fact that they were now serving Lemonade in the buffet. Well they were, but you had to ask for it and it sometimes 30 minutes to get and sometimes you had to ask a dozen times to get a glass. If you asked for 2 glasses, you would get an attitude from the server. Why can't they put a pitcher of Lemonade out for customers to get themselves. The Caribe Cafe was the worst I have ever experienced. We went there 2 nights and found almost nothing that we could eat. I have been on many Princess ships and this is the worst food by far. The service at dinner was terrible as well. Everyone around us were surprised at the poor quality of the food. The only reason we ate there was the fact that the dining room food and service weren't much better. The anytime dining room service was beyond poor. The service was very slow and indifferent and the food on most nights was very low quality. This is the first cruise I have been on that the food and service quality in the dining rooms was so poor and when we complained to the head waiter (no Maitre D' in our dining room, they didn't really care and they weren't surprised. As the week went on, fewer and fewer people were in the dining room for diner. We finally got some good food from room service - We ate 2 nights in the upscale dining rooms and the food and service there were good but not over the top. The best food we had was at Sabatini's for breakfast (which is a new perk for suite guests) The service was great and the food was good too!! The decor was really nice as well. We had 3 ports - Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel and all were very nice. We were supposed to stop at Princess Cays but the Captain decided not to stay because the weather was not that nice. Overall we had a nice time but since Princess has lowered their level of service and food quality this much, we will never sail on Princess again. I even sent in a letter and never got a reply even though we are Elite status with them. We had 2 other cruises booked for later this year and we have cancelled both of them and rebooked on other (non Carnival owned lines). Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Ruby Princess Cruise Review 12/6 - 12/13, 2008 Pre-cruise We drove from Columbia, SC (9.5 hours there, 9 hours back) and stayed at Embassy Suites on 17th St. When we left Columbia at 6:00 am it was 50 degrees, when we arrived in Ft ... Read More
Ruby Princess Cruise Review 12/6 - 12/13, 2008 Pre-cruise We drove from Columbia, SC (9.5 hours there, 9 hours back) and stayed at Embassy Suites on 17th St. When we left Columbia at 6:00 am it was 50 degrees, when we arrived in Ft Lauderdale and 3:30 pm it was a sunny 75 degrees! ? I have stayed at ES before several years ago and it has been renovated very nicely since then. We chose this hotel because of its excellent location (near the port) and we could leave our car there for the week ($10 a day) in a secure area (TIP - we are starting to find that most hotels in Ft Lauderdale will not allow you to leave your car there for an extended period of time, so please call ahead). ES still offers many items that only a full service hotel can offer. An example is having a bellhop take the luggage to the room when you arrive and check out. I also like the feeling of being in a suite (divided living room and bedroom). Rooms here have always been clean, with a very comfortable bed, a small fridge, comfy couch (that opens up into a bed if needed), and a decent sized widescreen LCD television in each of the rooms. The atrium is noisy, however when you close the bedroom door, it obstructs most of the clatter. The hotel is also next to a nice shopping center which has a Publix grocery store (where we picked up a few last minute items for the cruise) and a few restaurants. We had dinner at Angelo's (dined there before) and it's been remodeled since June of '07. The food was tolerable; however I think we'll look elsewhere next time we're here. Embassy Suites still offers a pretty good breakfast and for the early risers like me, they have drinkable coffee available around 5:30 am in the buffet area. Bonus for us is at sun rise is going up to the top floor and looking at the port and seeing the Ruby Princess for the first time in person. Unless we found a great rate at a similar class of hotel in the area, we would stay here again with no hesitation. Embarkation: A+ This was the best ever embarkation I've ever experienced. We left Embassy Suites at 10:50 am (on a reserved mini-bus), arrived at the port at 11:05 am. After dropping off our luggage with the ship porters, walked over to the security / screening line and we were sitting down at 11:15 am (I am a Princess Platinum member and have priority status) in the port passenger waiting area. At 11:30 am they opened up the partition, we were the first ones in the 'Dolphin' line, received our cruise card and then up the escalator to the ship holding area. We waited there for a couple of minutes and the ship photographer said we could get our 'Welcome Aboard' photo taken now instead of waiting. At 11:40 am we walked on the gangway (one of my favorite moments!) to the ship, had our security photo taken for our cruise card and we were in our cabin at 11:50 am. Total time from hotel to our cabin was an incredibly quick and smooth one hour. Cabin / Room Steward: A+ We stayed in cabin D730, mini-suite near the aft of the ship on port side. Suzi and I have stayed in cabin number D730 on every Princess cruise. We enjoy the quiet location and the cabin has plenty of space with very little foot traffic in the hall. Robes and my tux were already in the room when we arrived. Fridge stayed nice and cold all week. We brought along a gallon of Arizona Southern Sweet Tea and it fit in the fridge just right! ? Room temperature was a nice 72 degrees and the only time we had to touch the thermostat was after we had the sliding glass doors open in the morning to get some fresh air in the cabin. We noticed three items different than the same cabin on the Caribbean Princess - both TV's are now 26" widescreen LCD's; the individual lights by the bed do not have dimmer switches on them anymore; and we had a TV guide for the first time. To the best of my knowledge, everything else was the same. Saturday Port / Sail away I tried calling 'Dine' to make dinner reservations for Sabatini's, which didn't work. Then tried calling the 'dinner reservation' number and you are placed on hold until it disconnects after 45 seconds. We decided it was time for lunch, so we went upstairs and ate by the pool. Next we did a little ship exploring and around 1:00 pm we went up to Sabatini's (according to the Princess Patter they would have someone there from 1 - 4 to take reservations). No one from Sabatini's was there, so we stood around and finally someone (who did not work in the restaurant) asked if they could help. We explained what we wanted and he went over to the phone and dialed in a number and handed me the phone. The lady took our dinner reservation request and said we would receive a confirmation card (which did arrive on the day we requested). Jojo (our room steward) came by to introduce himself after we returned to our cabin (hoping to see our luggage, which had not arrived yet, however several cabins by us had there's waiting for them). He came back about thirty minutes later with our welcome aboard glass of champagne for each of us. We spent most of the afternoon watching the 'Love Boat' on TV as we waited for our luggage. Around 3:00 pm Jojo was in the hallway (he was already calling us by our first names) and asked if he could help us with anything and I told him no, I was just looking for our luggage. A few minutes later he knocks on the door and walks in with a bottle of champagne and apologizes for the wait. We went to muster drill at 4:00 pm (nice having this indoors!) and when we returned, our luggage was just arriving. We unpacked and since it was getting close to changing clothes for dinner, we skipped the usual activities on the pool deck and decided to go out on the balcony for sail away. Another great moment for me is to watch the other ships leave and then look at the condos and small boats pass by as we sail out of the port to begin our week at sea on a cruise vacation. ? Sunday: sea day (partly cloudy 75 degrees) We are both early risers and after trying a cup of coffee (yuck!) from the buffet, we were both thankful the atrium coffee bar serves something drinkable around 6:15 am. Room service breakfast arrives 15 minutes early today (7:15 am) and then we spend rest of the morning exploring the ship again. Then we sit out on the promenade deck watching our ship glide through the ocean to give Jojo a chance to clean. Suzi and I have lunch together in our cabin as it has become a tradition for us to order room service (usually club sandwiches and a salad) on sea days and enjoy it by ourselves in the comfort of our room. Most of my afternoon is spent in the casino and I won the blackjack tournament ($500) before heading back to the cabin for dinner. Formal Dinner was ok and most men wore suits. First time in a long time I saw very few tuxes on a Princess ship on formal dress night. Monday: Ocho Rios, Jamaica (sunny 84 degrees) Not really much to report here that has not been said a million times before and nothing has really changed over the years. Within a couple of seconds after leaving the port area we were asked several times from several people if we wanted to 'party', have our hair braided, need a taxi, going to the falls, need a 'guide', need an island tour, etc. We try our best to avoid these people and simply say no, however some of them still follow you and repeatedly ask what we are doing or where we are going. We spent a couple of hours walking and shopping at the Taj Mahal shopping center, Harbour Shops and Island Village, bought several items (including three pounds of Blue Mountain coffee at $16 a lb.) and then to Margaritaville for a cold drink and appetizers (too early for lunch). We had a brief ten or fifteen second 'sprinkle' which ruined our morning. ? For those who have not been here, it's a great place to kick back and relax, nice music and on the beach. Plus it's a great location for ship photos. Tuesday: Georgetown, Grand Cayman (sunny 80 degrees) Suzi and I were married here, so this place always brings back the best of memories for both of us. We had an excellent morning walking around and doing some shopping. I spent a few minutes at La Casa Del Habano looking at the cigars and purchased some excellent Cubita whole bean coffee. We had lunch at Margaritaville (had a table on the balcony that overlooks the main street) and did some shopping in there store. Not sure why, but the streets did not seem as crowded as they have in the past. I think it has something to do with all of the businesses being open now since the last time we were here they were still in hurricane recovery mode. Of all of the islands I've been to in the Caribbean, Grand Cayman is the one place I feel the safest at. The island is always clean and no one gestures you into there store. We had dinner at Sabatini's and to be honest, I was not that really impressed. The service was excellent, however the concept of bringing out a dozen or so 'samples' before the main entrEe doesn't really work for me. Most of the food was not eaten and I hate to see it go to waste. The restaurant does have a beautiful location overlooking the aft of the ship; however the place was close to empty. We were the first couple to arrive at 6:00 pm and when we left at 8:30 pm, I would estimate less than a dozen people arrived for dinner. Wednesday: Cozumel, Mexico (sunny 82 degrees) Another great day here walking around and shopping. We always take a taxi from the port to the forum shops and start our little walking journey there. The shops are lined up against the beautiful water front which has some outstanding photo opportunities. Many stores still have the usual 'hawkers' trying to get you inside to shop, however I will say the people who work there are generally very helpful and cheerful. While shopping, I found a Christmas present for Suzi at DI that she has been wanting for a while. When we were done shopping, we took a horse/carriage ride to - you guessed it - Margaritaville for lunch and drinks. The fish here is always excellent! This is one port where you really have to pay attention to the prices while you shop. Suzi and I both saw the same exact item in one place for $18 being sold a block away for $10. Thursday: sea day (mostly cloudy 77 degrees) I spent most of the day in the casino and walking around the ship. Suzi continued her usual sea day tradition of reading and relaxing in the stateroom. Since I was inside all day, I wasn't aware until someone in the casino (who had been trying to get some sun by the pool) that it was overcast with some intermittent rain. Formal Dinner was excellent and we went to a show afterwards. I did get several compliments for wearing a tux so maybe I'll wear one again next year. ? Before turning in for the night, I went to the Purser's office to break some large bills to smaller ones for our tip money. From past experience, I know the last full day of a cruise that this place will have a long line almost all day. Besides the tip money employees receive from the 'Princess auto-tip', we also give a few people additional money for the great service they provide us throughout the week. Friday: Princess Cays (partly cloudy 75 degrees) It was mostly cloudy and some very light rain in the area; however the ship arrived on time as we hear the anchor drop. Then I see a tender boat head out as we discussed when we were going to go down stairs and get off of the ship. Before we can come to a set time, the captain announces that because of inclement weather (choppy seas), our stop at Princess Cays had been cancelled (FYI - port tax was refunded and put on account). The captain said he was waiting for the tender to arrive back from island and then we would cruise to port Everglades for our scheduled arrival on Saturday morning. This worked out pretty good for me as the casino opened early and I won some money! ? Since we were now ahead of schedule, the ship slowed down and made a leisurely journey through the many islands in the Bahamas back to the port. Dinner was excellent and it was nice Monica had some time to talk with us for a while. It was hard to say goodbye to her and Jimmy after having a great week with them. After dinner we went back to the cabin to pack (not one of our favorite things to do!) and then watch a movie. Saturday: Debarkation: A Always a hard day for me as I hate to leave a ship and end our vacation. We had coffee from the atrium coffee bar (need to have exact amount in cash as your cruise card no longer works) and wait in our cabin before heading down to Club Fusion (another Princess Platinum perk) at our assigned time so Jojo can clean our cabin for the next lucky folks who are staying here. We are supposed to get off around 7:30 am; however they are behind schedule unloading the luggage in the port area. Around 8:15 am our luggage tag color is called and it takes less than ten minutes to get off of the ship, claim our luggage, go through customs and grab a taxi back to Embassy Suites. Princess handles the debarkation process so well. It is always smooth and quick and only a few rule breaking stragglers blocking the exit route. Ship: A+ What can I say; the Ruby Princess is a brand new ship (we were on its fifth cruise) and is very similar to the Caribbean Princess (that we've been on twice) and just as easy to navigate. The ship layout was excellent (no art auction in the isles!), very few announcements, colors were tasteful and Princess also had Christmas decorations in the Atrium and dining room. It should be noted we do not eat at buffets, but overheard several people say the lay out is still a PITA. My favorite change to the Ruby Princess compared to the Caribbean Princess is the casino & cigar smoking lounge. The casino feels much better organized and easy to walk around. The cigar smoking lounge is much smaller than the one on the Caribbean Princess and it only has one television. However I really like its new location in the corner of the casino and it is open all day (compared to the Caribbean Princess where it was only open in the evenings). FYI - the casino was packed almost every evening and it was hard to find a seat at a blackjack table after 8:00 pm. I saw a woman win $7,100 playing slots late Friday afternoon. I think everyone on the ship 'heard' about it! ? Food: Service A; Food C+ Food and service are both subjective and I will say upfront I am a very picky eater; however the new 'Chuck Wagon' approach in the dining room (chili, meatloaf, fajitas, etc) had me scratching my head wondering if I was on a Princess cruise or at a truck stop restaurant. While the food was average at best (meals - 2 excellent, 1 very good, 1 average, 2 below average/poor), the service was excellent (dinner waiter team was Monica & Jimmy). We ate in the dining room for six nights and at Sabatini's one night. I can honestly say that this is the worst dining room food I've had since my first Princess cruise in 1994. The food on our two RCI Mariner cruises was even significantly better than this cruise. Did this ruin our cruise, no; however it will make us look at other cruise lines where we think the food is better and has similar service. The only other incident to report was we had asked to sit at a large table (traditional dining, 6:00 pm) when we booked the cruise over a year ago. On the first night we were escorted to a table for four. Another couple did show up, however they told us they were not happy with the table location and were going to change tables. They stopped by the following evening after we already had been seated and asked if we wanted to sit with them at another table. We saw it was a table for four and it was with a different wait-staff team. We declined as we were very happy with our service and to be honest would feel bad that they would loose our tip money. Entertainment: B CD was ok, honestly nothing noteworthy about him or the staff. We attended two shows (actually tried to attend another one, but found out if you did not show up 30 minutes in advance you had little chance of getting a seat) and both shows were very good. The daily activities show that is on the Princess channel every morning advertised as a 'Live' show was actually taped the day before. Casino layout was excellent and most of the staff was pretty cheerful. We also missed a couple of the usual activities we like to attend as they didn't start until 10:30 pm and 11:00 pm and that was too late for us. Miscellaneous LCD Television was excellent and the satellite service was great the entire week. Think we lost the signal for a few hours on two days. Several really good movies and programs to watch in the mornings and before going to bed. ESPN actually was the US satellite feed instead of the Spanish feed we've had the last few cruises. Coffee - once again, this is just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt. The buffet coffee is still disgusting, room service coffee was not bad, and dining room service (after dinner) was pretty good. The coffee bar coffee ($1) was pretty good, latte's ($2) were very good (best I could find on the ship that I could drink everyday) and so was the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee ($2). Note: The coffee bar is not suppose to open until 6:30 am, however the same guy was there everyday and served me around 6:15 am without me even asking (IOW, he asked me what I would like, I didn't ask him first). The bakery next door still has great chocolate frosted donuts and excellent sugar donuts. ? We did notice the average age was significantly older then our previous cruise last December. We saw a handful of children throughout the week and maybe a dozen teenagers. I would estimate approximately one third of the passengers were retired. These are not bad things, just comments of what I noticed. We did not like the new Princess Patter look and layout as too many items are left off compared to the previous Princess Patter. Captain was Tony Yeoman's. Never saw him or his staff, however enjoyed his noon update from the bridge. We had two big groups on this cruise. A large group from the Mirage (saw them every day in the casino), and Vacations to Go (travel agency) had a singles group (although I never saw any of them after the first day). When shopping, do yourself a favor and check the ship prices on items you are looking for. We both saw several items that used to less expensive on the islands and now the ship prices are actually cheaper. Conclusion We had a very nice relaxing cruise, great weather on a new ship with the best service from almost all of the staff. I can say without a doubt our room steward and our dining room staff would both rate in my top three for service out of sixteen cruises. This was my tenth Princess cruise and last one for a while. We're looking forward to our next cruise (10/09) on HAL Westerdam. If you have any questions, comments or looking for help that I may provide, please contact me (Jody Brown) at seagarz@hotmail.com. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Friday The flight from Canada was uneventful. I checked into the Grand Yacht Club (Hilton). Nice hotel, nice room. You could easily walk to the pier if it wasn't surrounded by a barbed wired topped fence *smile*. I went for a walk ... Read More
Friday The flight from Canada was uneventful. I checked into the Grand Yacht Club (Hilton). Nice hotel, nice room. You could easily walk to the pier if it wasn't surrounded by a barbed wired topped fence *smile*. I went for a walk around the Marina. Wow, some very nice boats. There are some pictures at www.fotki.com/ggrrrr. Saturday Embarkation - Left the hotel at 11:15 (checkout was 11:00). Grabbed a cab with a person I met from my hometown. Embarkation went very quickly. I was on board, in my room, at 12:15. I had made the decision to try the Chef's Table, so I called Dining Reservations. I got right through and my name was put on the list. Lunch - went to the Lido deck, had pizza - yum! Cruise Critic Meet & Greet - the first of two get togethers. We met at the aft pool. Sail-a-way - lots of fun. Ok, it's always fun to get moving on your vacation *lol* Dinner - The App - Melon with Port - so so. The Main - 5 Star Prime Rib - very good, melt in your mouth. Show - The production numbers were good, but there were only 4 and the rest was Princess marketing - mostly boring. Sunday Coffee Card - I bought the coffee card at the International Cafe on deck 5. Entitles you to fresh brewed coffee, speciality coffees, ice capps, etc, Breakfast - I ate with the singles breakfast club outside on the Lido deck. Breakfast was good. Lunch - went for pizza again - still yum Cruise Critic Meet & Greet #2 - in Skywalkers. 12 people showed up. Chef's Table - I was accepted to the Chef's Table. Cost $75. 144 people applied and they accepted 2 tables of 12 each. More later MUTS - Football was being shown Captain's Cocktail Party - They ran 3 of them. Dinner - took a VERY long time for courses to come out. The App - fettucini - good. Soup - Won Ton - ok, The Main - Beef Tenderloin medallions - so so Show - the show was over by the time we got out of dinner Skywalkers - good music, good crowd, left late Monday Jamaica - I booked the Mystic Mountain chair lift and bobsled coaster tour. We went early and got right on the transportation, there was no waiting, The drive is about 15 minutes. The chairlift takes around 15 minutes and gives you some good views. You can see the ship at some points from the chairlift. When we got to the top we were able to get right on the bobsled coaster. I did the bobsled coaster 3 times. It was fun. I'd recommend it. Margaritaville - looked in some shops on the way. Margaritaville was fun Dinner - skipped dinner in the DR and ate in the buffet as I was hungry and didn't want to chance another loooong dinner. The food was fine. Tuesday Grand Cayman - been there, done that. I looked around Georgetown for a while and then went back to the ship and took advantage of the quiet. Chef's Table - We were met at the International Cafe by the Head Maitre d'. We went on a tour of the Galley, while it was working. We were told that the food we would have was not on the menu, ever. The Executive Chef got creative for us. We had 4 apps in the galley along with some Mumm's Champagne. 1) Tuna tartar with wasabi, 2) foie gras terrene on toasted brioche, 3) fontina cheese quiche with white truffle, 4) new potatoes with sour cream and caviar. We then moved to the dining room. We had: Risotto laced with parmesan cheese, red radicchio and langoustine ragout, lemon sorbet with mango slaw and laced with grey goose vodka, roast veal shank and veal tenderloin, market vegetables, chateau potatoes, baked camembert with pine nuts, port wine reduction and walnut bread, passion fruit dream cake, whiskey soaked raspberry soft centre, mango glaze. All the food was served by the Executive Chef and the Head Maitre d'. At the end we received a copy of the Courses book and a picture of the table. I recommend this. Wednesday Cozumel - I signed up for the culinary tour at 9:00 am. It was at the Playa Mia Resort. Transportation took us there and we were met by the head chef, Luis. Really nice guy, young and talented. We made an App, a Main and a Dessert. the App was a grilled tortilla with chorizo sausage, onion, lettuce and cream. The Main was pan fried group wrapped in banana leaf with green pepper, tomato, onion and olive. the Dessert was a layered dessert, home-made cookie, a rice pudding like concoction. They gave us Margarita's, Tequila or Beer (or water), whatever we wanted, and kept them coming. After that we had the run of the resort until 1:00 pm. There was no extra cost for anything after the cooking . This was a lot of fun and I would recommend it. Dinner: App - fettucini again, it was good. Main - Beef Wellington - I don't recommend it. The crust was very soggy and not appetizing. I did have enough food however. New Years Eve Party (ship party) on the Lido Deck. This was fun. The band (Wavelength) was very good and the crowd was into it. Thursday Sea Day - totally relaxed. The day was cloudy - no problem Maitre d' wine tasting. They had some nice wines, including an Opus1 - enjoyed this Princess Idol - from Sunday through Wednesday they held an American Idol style contest, The winner from each night met Thursday night for the final. One of our singles group won. Dinner - App - had the Twice Baked Goat Cheese SoufflE with Garlic Sabayon - very yummy. Main - Steak, very good. Friday Princess Cays - we got to the island, but the swells were too high for the tenders, so we left. We just sailed around. It was nice. I like sea days, Another cloudy day, with some sunny breaks Skywalkers - Lots of fun Saturday Got off the ship at 7:15 am. Was at the airport at 8:00 and had to wait until 11:50. Flights home were uneventful and on time. Eventually found my car covered in a foot of snow in the Park and Fly. Summary Nice ship: I found I was able to navigate the ship more easily as I had been on the Caribbean Princess last April. Chef's Table: very good and recommended All tours: very good Food: Fair to very good. Others had food they really enjoyed when I had the dinners that were fair. So, next time, I'll make different choices Cabin Steward: very good Room: Inside single. It was not large, however it was perfect for my needs People: Met a lot of very nice people, who were a lot of fun to hang around with Overall - it was a good cruise, lots of highlights. A cruise is what you make of it. Yes, the lounge chairs are very close together, I moved them. Yes, the layout of the buffet could be better, it's a small thing that shouldn't become a large issue. So, overall, I enjoyed it and recommend the ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Just returned from the 12/13-12/20 sailing of the Ruby and had a great time. I'll make this review relatively brief since others have already given a fairly accurate assessment of this beautiful ship. I am not a frequent cruiser, ... Read More
Just returned from the 12/13-12/20 sailing of the Ruby and had a great time. I'll make this review relatively brief since others have already given a fairly accurate assessment of this beautiful ship. I am not a frequent cruiser, but sailed Princess in 1991 on the old Star Princess and was on Holland America two years ago. The Ruby is beautiful, the service was generally excellent, and I loved the size and the amenities of our mini-suite. We had the egg-crate on the mattress and found it to be extremely comfortable. What I was most disappointed with was the food. If you want real scrambled eggs for breakfast then you better skip the buffet and go to the dining room for the real thing. The ones they serve at the buffet are made from a powder mixture and have a horrible consistency and taste. But to be honest, I am not a big breakfast person and was mostly satisfied with my cereal and banana. The lunch buffet was also a disappointment and I usually stuck to the salad bar or had a Panini and/or shrimp salad at the cafe on deck 5. We had traditional late seating for dinner and loved our waitress, Gabriella. The food, however, was hit or miss. Favorites were the Fetuccine Alfredo, the goat cheese soufflE with garlic sabayon, and the traditional turkey dinner. The chicken breast, which they offer nightly, was also excellent. Uniformly, I thought all the desserts were bland and tasteless. Dinner at Sabatini's was very good, especially the sea bass. Dinner at the Crown Grill was outstanding and well worth the extra charge. No one seems to mention the spa and gym in their reviews. I worked out 1-2 times a day and found the equipment to be excellent. A word of warning to those over 6 feet tall who are looking forward to using the Precor elliptical trainer: Your head will hit the ceiling once you step on the machine. I also had three massages which were generally excellent, but I could have done without the lectures on my lymph system and all the toxins floating through my body before I started each massage. I also thought that the locker room was poorly designed and lacking in amenities. My mother had her hair washed and blow dried one evening and said the stylist was extremely rude and hostile. He yanked at the tangles in her hair with a comb and hurt her. When she later tried to instruct him on how to blow dry her hair, he repeatedly told her that he was "highly offended" by this . She eventually got up mid-blowdry and walked out of the salon. She ended up being comped for the service and the manager was highly apologetic. My mom identified the stylist as the only Filipino, male stylist working there, so beware. I was never able to swim in any of the pools as they were all too cold. Not sure why. I didn't get a chance to use the Sanctuary, but I was told that they only take reservations beginning at 7 A.M. each day and do not accept any advance reservations. There are only a certain number of chairs that are in the sun, with the bulk of the chairs under the canopy. By the way, on the day of embarkation I was told repeatedly by various people that lunch was NOT available in the dining room, but only at the Horizon Court or Caribe Cafe. I was thinking of walking over to the dining room with my press release in hand, but it was not that important to me. Overall, I would not hesitate to sail on the Ruby Princess again, despite the above-mentioned problems. I actually lost a couple of pounds! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Having travelled from the UK we arrived in Miami somewhat tired after our long journey, there being 8 Adults and 2 kids of 4 and 18 months we passed through Immigration in about 1 Hour though not everyone was treated the same? We were ... Read More
Having travelled from the UK we arrived in Miami somewhat tired after our long journey, there being 8 Adults and 2 kids of 4 and 18 months we passed through Immigration in about 1 Hour though not everyone was treated the same? We were asked why we were there (a usual question) and which Fire Service I worked in as I was wearing a cap given to me from a friend in Meridian Idaho...my youngest son was asked all sorts of questions even down to how much money he had on him. We had a Bus all to ourselves on our drive to the Intercontinental West Hotel Miami our driver was a guy called George, we went out to find food and found crossing the main streets a problem due to there being no push button to stop the traffic due to it being missing... the beds and Pillows at the hotel were exactly what others had said about them and we had a great nights sleep. Kerry and myself were up at around 5-30am on Saturday and went out around 6-30 for a look around, we headed towards the Wal-Mart along I think 87th NW Avenue. We noticed a Fire truck outside the station building up a side road, having just retired from the Fire service we headed over to talk to the guys there. The Fire fighters had just changed shift at 7am and Xavier (nickname X) showed us around the Truck and station house and gave us Coffee, we met his Co-workers and the officers in charge of the Units. We continued our walk down to Wall-mart (wanted to see what the UK Asda of the USA was like) we met my middle son and his family on their way back to the Hotel; he was surprised that they didn't sell food! We went into the store and had a good old look around and Kerry bought herself a new wristwatch. At around 12-30pm we headed for FLL and the Ruby Princess taking the main Interstate Highway, due to a Major traffic jam after leaving I think I94 or 5 our driver turned his bus around and took a different route into the port. Having picked up our luggage and booking ourselves in we were in our rooms in around 20 minutes. We made our way up to our Suite L106 located on Lido deck and right at the Front of the ship, on entering we found a great vase of Flowers and Fruit and a Fabulous room with lots of space and plenty of Wardrobe space as well as a massive Balcony that gave Great views of FLL. The ships in port were Queen Mary2, Independence of the Sea's, Zuiderdam, Carnival Freedom and Enchantment of the Sea's. We stayed on the balcony with the family at sail away time while looking out for "Inletcam.com" which was on our Port side.... we all duly waved to those watching from the Garden. The Bed was very comfortable all week long as was the cabin and the Chocolate Strawberries each day were wonderful, our cabin Stewardess Eleonora was Brilliant all week long. Room service though did fail to deliver our requested drinks on one night but I guess that happens sometimes and we fell asleep while waiting. There was very little noise noticed from anywhere in this cabin, others in the same Suite on the Emerald and crown had complained of noise from the Gym. Sunday morning we had breakfast and then went to the M&G in the Horizon court at around 10am.i think all those who said they would go did so, about 17 people took part in the Gift exchange which included some unusual things. We went to the Captains Cocktail drinks around the Atrium in the evening and stood near the lifts and spoke to Lisa (James lays assistant) before James Lay presented the Officers to the crowds of people. We made our way through the passage to the rear of the lifts and found the Captain having his photo taken with 2 guests near the Da vinci dining room, we were just about to have ours taken when around 20 Asian people suddenly mobbed him which he looked non to pleased about but being the Captain put on his best smile. Afterwards we did manage to get our picture taken with him. Pictures were also taken during this First Formal evening. We ate in as many places as we could so that we got an idea of the different food available though we did miss seeing beans on the Breakfast menu, although we never ate any Burgers during the week and had Pizza only once on One afternoon. On one morning we ate breakfast in Sabatini`s which was included for Suite passengers starting with Orange/champagne it was a totally different breakfast from anything else we ate during the week, I had the Egg Benedict with sauce and Toast and Yoghurt as well as croissant and jam. I asked for Tea and along came one of the waiters with a box with various tea's inside! I chose the Ginger and Peach as you do to give it a try.... I chose well... it is a very nice tasting soothing drink of Tea. Kerry had the Belgian Waffles with Bacon and Cream and Maple Syrup; she also chose Croissants and Jam. First stop Jamaica sadly was ruined for us by people constantly offering you this and that and something else and trying to get you to go to this beach here or elsewhere, Kerry and myself ended up in Margaritaville with 2 people from the Ruby and were later joined by 2 others Susan and Jake (think that was his name) not sure where they were from though, Kerry was the worse for wear on the way back to the ship sporting her head dress of balloons!! The rest of the family had gone down to a Beach near to where the Enchantment of the sea's was moored but were not happy with the locals down there who tried to get money from them just for kicking a Ball about so I can understand why Princess has removed Jamaica next year from their Western Caribbean stops. We watched next morning as we came up towards Grand Cayman into Spotts Bay from the balcony, at 7am the Captain announced that he had been told to "go away" by the port people due to sea conditions in Georgetown and that was why we were facing Spotts Bay. The sea around the ship wasn't too bad but again the Port people told the Captain that it was too risky to tender around the pier area due to the Low weather system making the sea a bit choppy there, the Captain said he didn't think it looked too bad from what he could see. So with that the ship turned away towards Cozumel leaving the Disney Wonder and Enchantment of the sea's behind. When we arrived in Cozumel we again watched the docking from our Balcony and came in alongside the Carnival Legend, also there was the Independence of the Sea's and Carnival Holiday. Further up the coast in the town area was an Aida ship and Disney Wonder and possibly another Carnival ship. We headed off to Chankanaab Park for the day with the family taking pictures of the Dolphins and Iguanas. We watched the sail away from our balcony and the Bridge deck as we headed off towards Princess Cays. In the evening we ate in the Michelangelo dining room, a Retirement cake brought to the table and the 4 waiters sang happy retirement which was unexpected. That evening we received a letter from the Captain inviting us to visit the Bridge the following day along with an Invitation to the Captains Circle Cocktail Party on the Thursday evening along with quite a few other people. There were around 24 people taken to visit the Bridge after we had all been scanned and searched, the Captain was waiting to greet us all and he commented on the T shirts we wore... The talk was given by 3rd officer Gianluca after which we were allowed to take pictures and speak to the other 4 people working their 4 hour shift on the Bridge including Second officer Kiera Brown from the UK who was in charge of the ship at that time. In the evening with our formal night wear on we made our way to Club Fusion for what turned out to be the 3rd Captains circle party that day due to the number of members aboard on this cruise. In his speech he said that we were currently doing 25.2knots due to being in the Gulf Stream and were still using only 5 out of the 6 engines and so could have reached a higher speed with all 6. He also talked about the name for the Ruby and said that other people had mentioned one could be " Tanzanite Princess" but it was too big to fit on the Bow, afterwards we went off to eat in the Da vinci dining room choosing to sit with other people. We were seated at an empty table although no one else came in so we ate alone on a table for 8; we had pictures taken before our meal. Friday was Princess Cays day and again we watched from the Balcony as we sailed in, we were off and onto the Cay quite quickly despite certain people trying to join the queue by leaving the lifts on Deck 4 rather than going to the Theatre. They were told where to go by people in our waiting queue, The day was very warm and sunny until around 12pm when the clouds began to roll in and by around 2pm there were Rain clouds gathering so we made our way back to the ship. The line though quite long moved along fairly quickly. For our last evening meal we ate with the rest of the family in the Michelangelo dining room. On two of the nights during the week we ate with other guests and also joined people from the M&G on at least one night Keith, John, Leslie and her mum Melody. Overall we had a Great 1st ever cruise and enjoyed meeting the various people from our CC Roll call and Captain Tony Yeoman's and his staff. The food we found very good with plenty of choices though we didn't eat evening meals in the Crown Grill or Sabatini`s through choice. The cabin was great despite having read some bad reviews about its location and noise and wind problems. We did manage to sunbathe on the balcony despite the wind and hardly felt any motion from the sea or maybe it was just that we slept well. We never had any problems with any of the staff and they were always polite and said good morning, one of the Bar waiters Alex from India is such a good laugh having nicknamed me Mr Becks after the sponsors on my Jaguar racing T shirt. Every time he saw me he said hello its Mr Becks. The Lotus spa. We had use of the Spa as part of our room package and only managed to use it on 2 occasions but it is worth going in there believe me, the sauna steam room, gentle sauna not much steam with curved mosaic heated seating, 3 different types of showers (tropical rainforest) and the Heated Tiled beds which are also great. The family had 3 Balcony rooms on Aloha deck, 2 of them with a 3rd bed that comes down from the ceiling and closes back up during the day. Photo Gallery ...there seems to be a lot of waste here in the way photos are taken every day and night, in these days of saving the environment the amount of paper and ink wasted is on a large scale, one of the guys on our group suggested Princess could maybe put them on a database for people to view in their own cabin on TV and then order using the number codes from the pictures. That way there is no waste and maybe that would lower the cost of the pictures and people would possibly buy more of them! MUTS... maybe this should be renamed Music under the stars due to the rather large number of concerts shown rather than movies! Though we didn't watch any films that may have been on when we were indoors elsewhere on the ship. Wheelhouse bar ... we tried this on our first sea day and the Fish and Chips were quite ok. One thing that did make us curious was why the drink prices varied so much for the same drink in the different bars? The Ruby is a Fabulous ship although in some places does not look finished on the Exterior, we noticed Rust under the Handrail on and around the outside of the Balcony, the top of the outsides of the Bridge deck partly painted as was the plating on top of the Promenade deck and one of the Glass doors was missing from the Port side Lido deck entrance. The interior looks Great with All the pictures on the staircases and the furniture and fittings are all very comfortable. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
My wife and I are Diamond status with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and had only sailed with this line. We had decided to try another line to compare to RCCL. We chose Princess because of all the hype about their new ship the Ruby ... Read More
My wife and I are Diamond status with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and had only sailed with this line. We had decided to try another line to compare to RCCL. We chose Princess because of all the hype about their new ship the Ruby Princess. Our was the second sailing of the inaugural cruises and thought that this would be an over the top cruise. What we received was poor service and poor food compared to what we have come to expect with RCCL. There were two amenities that we did find enjoyable, one was the outdoor movie screen which showed the Monday night football game of my hometown Cleveland Browns as well as top rated flix. The second amenity which was great was the Sanctuary, an area for adults to relax in a very tranquil setting. You are offered food, cold drink, cold face cloths and even the use of an mp3 player and head phones. Space is limited and at an extra cost, but well worth it. A very nice touch for an otherwise oh hum voyage. Based upon the lack service by our stateroom attendant, poor food and overall disappointment with the Ruby Princess, we have made five more cruises on RCCL, with another in the works for June 2011. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Prior to our embarkation we stayed at the Sheraton Yankee Clipper which was fantastic as if you can get an ocean front or ocean view you can see this LOVELY RUBY coming in to shore on Saturday AM in it's GLORY! She is the MOST ... Read More
Prior to our embarkation we stayed at the Sheraton Yankee Clipper which was fantastic as if you can get an ocean front or ocean view you can see this LOVELY RUBY coming in to shore on Saturday AM in it's GLORY! She is the MOST GORGEOUS of them all! When we were able to embark we got to the port at approximately 1:30 and were in our stateroom at 2:00! Very orderly and very well arranged by Princess - better than our last cruise. Our Mini Suite was Fantastic - Nice and Big - and we were very happy with our Cabin Steward. We were on the Dolphin Deck - Mid-ship, which we've been happy with on all our cruises. Our luggage arrived by 5:00 PM, in time for us to join our Cruise Critic Buddies up top for our Farewell Informal Cocktail Party at the Aft Bar. Then it was off to the Horizon for the Wonderful Seafood Buffet which was, as usual, All you can eat and Delicious - Bon Appetit! SPECIAL OCCASION PACKAGE If you have someone who has a birthday or an anniversary, it would be WELL worth your while to order Princess' Special Occasion Package for $140.00. You will not be disappointed with their choice of champagne, breakfast, roses, framed photo, canapes - it is absolutely well worth the money. It was my husband's 64th Birthday and he enjoyed it immensely. He even got a card from Princess. Very thoughtful. CRUISE CRITIC GET TOGETHER FORMAL MEETING We had a great get-together in which Captain McCharming Tony Yeomans (My favorite Captain of all ships :) - Hello Captain ) came and spoke to us and answered anyone's questions about any issues or anything about the ship - he was absolutely great and very accommodating throughout the cruise. My husband and I can't say enough about him. If you read this thank you Captain. PORTS OF CALL Princess Cays - Great We booked the Glass Bottom Boat Cruise - It was great. The water was very choppy but we saw many coral reefs and several types of beautiful colored fish. It was well worth the money we paid through Princess. Ocho Rios I can't say - I know that a lot of our acquaintances got off and said it was nice but We can't speak for ourselves. Grand Cayman The Port of Grand Cayman was closed due to High seas and High winds the day that we landed there and we had to pull in to a smaller port and there were 2 other large ships with the 3 ships equaling 10,000 people so we decided to stay on the shop as it would be totally crowded so even though we wanted to get off we didn't. Cozumel Absolutely wonderful. We booked Gerry from Cozumel Taxi. You will see him referred to in this web site. He is well know and I will give him a terrific reference also. If you are interested in booking him he is only $80 for 3 hours and is well worth it. You can reach him at cozumeltaxi@hotmail.com and I'm sure that you will hear from either himself or his partner Mike. I told him I was leaving it up to him and he took us to the Tequila Factory for a tour, to the oldest Catholic Church, the Military Facility, a great luncheon spot right on the water, and other spots that I can't remember but it was a great take. He is well worth it. DISEMBARKATION We had to be at Michelangelo Restaurant at 8:15 AM on Saturday and we were on the bus to Ft. Lauderdale Airport at 8:30 AM and at the Airport by 9:00 AM and had to wait until 1:00 for our flight. It was fantastic how quick it was. SO I HAVE ALREADY FUTURE BOOKED. PRINCESS IS MY ONLY CRUISE I WILL SAIL WITH AND HOPEFULLY IT WILL BE WITH MY CAPTAIN AND WITH MY ROOM STEWARD JAMIE AND WITH MY WAITRESS IN THE HORIZON/CARIBE RENATE. HAPPY SAILING AND GOD BLESS. PEGGY AND GLENN GRANT, NORWOOD, MA Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
I think I'll write this review from the perspective of a loyal RCCL cruiser who wants to offer his best effort at an objective comparison between Princess and RCCL. I cruised with my wife and 2 daughters, ages 10 and 13. This was our ... Read More
I think I'll write this review from the perspective of a loyal RCCL cruiser who wants to offer his best effort at an objective comparison between Princess and RCCL. I cruised with my wife and 2 daughters, ages 10 and 13. This was our 4th family cruise and 6th cruise for my wife and me, with previous cruises on RCCL, Celebrity, and NCL. This was our third annual Thanksgiving cruise, a tradition which will end due to higher cruise and air fares during the holiday weeks, in addition to our children missing some school days. We'll now cruise annually in April. Embarkation: We arrived from our hotel at the ship around 11:00AM, and waited until our number was called to board the ship. Platinum level and suite passengers enjoyed very quick entry once boarding started around noon. We got onto the ship around 1:00pm, and, to our surprise, our rooms were ready. My wife and I had a balcony room and our girls were in an interior room across from us. This was the first time we cruised in separate rooms, and will now be the way we cruise from here on out. Overall, embarkation seemed as organized as it could be, especially given that we arrived a little early. Rooms: As you know, the Ruby is a new ship and this was it's third week-long cruise. The rooms and public areas were, obviously, in fantastic shape. The rooms are typical cruise rooms, with size and layout pretty traditional. I will give a slight nod to Princess for how the closet is kind of separated from the rest of the room. It runs perpendicular to the rest of the room so that it has it's own little entry way. Makes you feel like the main room is really a living room. Our room steward was reliable, timely, and thorough, though not particularly effusive in his service. He wore way too much cologne, which remained in the room for hours after he serviced the room. This was an issue for me because of my sensitivities to any chemicals and he failed to correct this concern after I asked him not to wear cologne. I give RCCL the edge in the room service category. Ship: Beautiful, very beautiful. I enjoyed the colors, layout, artwork, and public areas very much. Two main pools were great, one was quiet with some entertainment during the day, the other pool was noisy since it was in the Movies Under the Stars area. I didn't think I would like this huge movie screen on the main deck but it was cool watching a movie at night with popcorn and blankets. There was an adult only pool that costs $10 per half day, but I did not access this pool. There was also a smaller pool in the stern, next to a bar. This looked like a great area to be if you didn't have kids to supervise. I'd think it'd be pretty special sipping a drink in a pool as you watched the wake left behind the ship. I can't remember the name of the coffee/cafe shop, but this was a great place to get my Mocha. Between RCCL and Princess, I think I'll call it a tie in terms of ship beauty, layout, pool access, etc. Service: Overall, the staff on the Ruby provided excellent service. They always provided greetings and did anything they could to make your cruise special. When looking at the entire staff, I give Princess the advantage, but both RCCL and Princess have been pretty darn good in this arena. Entertainment: This was probably the most disappointing aspect of this cruise for several reasons. Let me start by saying that we mainly hung out by the pool, so we look for lots of daytime entertainment, including some good poolside music. Except for the movies by the one pool, there were only 2 or 3 events on the pool deck. We never saw the Cruise Director, James, on the deck, unless he was just walking through. We only saw one of his staff members a few times as well. There may have been more happenings in the bars, etc, but we were trying to soak up sun during the day. The ships production company was inconsistent. One show was lackluster at best, while another show was excellent. In addition, they would repeat shows for 2 nights in a row. This seemed odd when they had some quality special entertainers who could have packed the large auditorium, but were relegated to very small lounge areas. There were lots of entertainers who performed in the Piazza area, but we didn't watch many of them because they performed during good sun worshiping hours. I'm going to have to give RCCL the nod in the entertainment arena. They just seemed more organized, professional, and enthusiastic. Food: Buffet food was pretty traditional when compared to other cruise lines, though they did offer some very unique options each day, eg "squid ball soup" or something like that. Waffle and Pizza station was superb, and the gentleman making and serving the waffles was probably are most favorite staff person. Main dining room food was fairly good. Meat sometimes overcooked but desserts were excellent. Our wait staff were very friendly and professional, and earned extra tips. Besides the soda card, Princess also offers a card for kids that allows unlimited ice cream and frozen drinks. I didn't like this "nickel and diming" at first, but admit these cards were worth it by the end of the cruise. We give RCCL a slight advantage on overall food quality, but Princess wins the dining service award by a few points. Kids Program: This is why we are loyal to RCCL. They just seem to understand family needs during a cruise. While the Ruby's kids areas were beautiful and had lots of games,computers, etc, the staff was the rudest we have ever experienced. While there were over 550 kids on this cruise, that's no excuse for the unprofessional and rude actions displayed by the kids program staff. I won't get into specifics, but our girls did not go back to the kids programs after the first day. Captain: Not sure I would typically write about the captain, but Ruby's Captain Ramous (sp?) was, by far, our most favorite captain. He was lively, funny, and visible. In fact, we saw him more than we saw the Cruise Director in the public areas. Ports: Due to weather, the Ocho Rios stop as aborted. We were looking forward to "bobsledding" through the rain forest, but appreciate the Captain's focus on safety. Grand Cayman - We booked Stingray City through Princess. This ranks as our most favorite tour ever and highly recommend it. We then hung out on 7 mile beach, which is always a treat. Cozumel - My wife and girls went into town to shop in the morning, and then we all took a cab to go snorkeling at Dzul Ha. Really enjoyed this little public beach, which had chairs and excellent food and service. Snorkeling was pretty good as well. My girls saw their first Moray eels. Princess Cays (private island)- EXCELLENT. By far our favorite private island. Expansive, good snorkeling (take bread), and good eats. Lots of chairs. Disembarkation: Very organized and timely. No complaints. Bummer was the striking taxis hat would not enter the cruise port. Had to walk about 3/4 mile to wave down a taxi. The strike had something to do with not being treated fairly by port authorities. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Oh my golly! Since 1991, my husband and I have taken 12 cruises (5 RC/4 Celebrity/1 HAL/and now 1 Prin), and this is the most beautiful ship ever we have seen. The designs are graceful, the fabrics classy. I had also been on a few ... Read More
Oh my golly! Since 1991, my husband and I have taken 12 cruises (5 RC/4 Celebrity/1 HAL/and now 1 Prin), and this is the most beautiful ship ever we have seen. The designs are graceful, the fabrics classy. I had also been on a few cruises in the late sixties, early seventies, the most memorable of which was the QEII in its inaugural year. These other lines could all learn something from Princess, for sure. Embarkation was so speedy that we were in our cabin 20 minutes after leaving parking garage. We stopped just for a moment to look at the beautiful atrium (Piazza) before going up to cabin. Muster was easy and non-blustery (being held indoors). There was no roll call, keeping it shorter than others too. It was announced that they knew who was here. (How? Heat sensors in cabins?) Disembarkation, called a silent disembarkation, was as quick as embarking, 20 minutes including getting bags and going through Customs. The staff!!!! Who hires and trains these people? There wasn't anyone I met who wasn't helpful, even looking to help when you weren't expecting it. These guyz/galz couldn't keep themselves from smiling. If not delighted to be there, they were great actors. The food!!!! The best by far of any ship we've been on (excluding QEII, 1969) and that includes our previous favorites (Summit and Mariner). Great variety up to and including the last day. Perfectly prepared almost all of the time. The only exception to that that I saw was an all the way through well-done roast beef for carving. The ride: Well, be careful of what you wish for. The first two nights I (jokingly) complained that it was so smooth that I missed being rocked to sleep. The third night in our cabin on the 8th deck, I didn't sleep. We apparently hit a bad patch and were in a hurry. We swayed and rolled. I couldn't sleep but wasn't sure I wanted to sleep through it if these were going to be my last minutes on earth. You know the ending to this story since I'm writing this review. The next day a fellow told us he was out and saw a 30' wave hit. I could believe that but maybe he miscalculated. One small complaint: I've never been in a stateroom before where you could hear the TV's on each side of you. They weren't loud, but it did seem strange. That's happened with balconies and open doors but never with an outside room before this ship (in our experience). Regarding overall quality, I asked a woman if she thought it was partly show because it is a new ship. She answered that this is her fifth Princess cruise and they are all this way. All fabulous. We enjoyed The Sanctuary though we picked an afternoon where it was coldish and windy, the day before arriving back in Lauderdale. Next time, we'll sign up in warmer waters. We did like the price because it made it accessible (just $10 p/p for 1/2 day). Spa treatments are out of my range, but I considered it a good thing for Princess to do to make Sanctuary mostly first-come-first-serve with just a small fee. Would I cruise with them again? Can hardly wait! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Ruby Princess Maiden Voyage -Review Itinerary: Ft Lauderdale Cozumel Grand Cayman Ocho Rios Princess Cays Jack and I just returned from the first passenger voyage of the Ruby Princess. This was our 11th cruise. We've sailed ... Read More
Ruby Princess Maiden Voyage -Review Itinerary: Ft Lauderdale Cozumel Grand Cayman Ocho Rios Princess Cays Jack and I just returned from the first passenger voyage of the Ruby Princess. This was our 11th cruise. We've sailed Cunard, Royal Caribbean and Princess. We had 3,044 passengers and 1,235 crew on board for this sailing (this was per the Bridge Status Board). Our itinerary was reversed due to Hurricane Paloma, which resulted in a little less time in Cozumel, but a little more time in Grand Cayman, so for us it was a wash. The weather was actually pretty good for the whole cruise, considering we were chasing a hurricane J Below are some of our observations: Ship: Hands down the most beautiful Princess ship we've sailed. While similar in design to the other grand class ships, her finishes are just a bit more refined. They've also improved some of the passenger flow, which is important as this generation of the grand class does hold approx 500 more pax than the older ones. We never really felt that the ship crowded, so whatever the designers have done, it seems to have worked. Not everything is smooth in the passenger flow area - the walkway in the Calypso Pool area (where MUTS is) is hampered by some support beams that stick out at an angle and cause some flow issue. We also found that you can only get to Deck 16 and higher (from the outside decks) from the starboard side of the ship at night - the access is closed from the port side at night. These aren't complaints - just observations. The Piazza is stunning. We like how they moved Crooners to the port side of the ship and expanded it as well. Alexa and James took great care of us there. The shops were all very well laid out and had a lot of merchandise in stock. We were impressed with how much Inaugural merchandise they had on hand too, in all sizes. They also had a 15" highly detailed model of the Ruby going for $275 - we had to treat ourselves to this one. It is on a nice wood base with an Inaugural 2008 plaque and ship stats, covered with an acrylic case. Very nice. Sabatinnis and the Adagio bar are beautiful spaces, with great views off the back of the ship. EJ and Jose (Kung Fu Panda) were our servers in Adagio and were an absolute joy! The Crown Grill is also very nice, with lots of dark woods. Gatsby's Casino is a definite upgrade from the older grand class casinos. The cigar bar was located within and was a nice space. We were told that they've added 80 seats to the Princess Theatre as well, but in appearance, it is similar to the others we've seen. Movies Under the Stars: They played several movies here - Mama Mia, The Dark Knight, Swing Vote, Wall E, Iron Man and a lot of football (including Monday Night Football). They also used MUTS for Wii Fit competitions. They did midnight showing of Rocky Horror, which was fun. MUTS was really unobtrusive. We hadn't sailed on a MUTS equipped ship so didn't know if the volume would be too much. We were surprised how low the volume is. Bridge Tour: Our friends had gotten us the Deluxe Honeymoon Package for this cruise which was great. Champagne waiting in the room, Red Roses, Robes, a champagne breakfast, chocolate covered strawberries and a spa treatment too. As nice as all of this was, the highlight was the Bridge Tour we received on the last sea day. We were met by Security at about 1:50 and escorted to the Bridge. Alex, one of the bridge officers gave us the tour and explained how all of the equipment worked. This was just amazing. We got to spend a little over an hour there and will never forget it. Food: We had traditional dining, second seating in the Botticelli Dining Room, Table 2. Our servers were Jose and Francisco. Service was very good. Princess has made some additions to their menu. We tried the Texas Chili, Chicken Cutlets, and the Meatloaf among others. We found these additions to be quite nice. We didn't have any food in the Dining Room that we did not like. It was all very flavorful. The Pub Lunch in the Wheelhouse Bar (offered on sea days) was a huge hit. We especially liked the Cottage Pie and the Fish and Chips. The Bangers and Mash needed a bit of help (the bangers were more like breakfast sausages - but the mash was good). We didn't try the Ploughman's Lunch. I had Guinness with my lunches, Jack had Bass. The hot dogs and hamburgers were good. We weren't quite as happy with the pizza (we have like the pizza on other grand classes). We didn't try any of the ice cream on this trip - guess we need to rebook and try it The waffle bar (which is located in the Pizza and Ice Cream area for breakfast) was very good too. Cookies and Milk served Poolside each day at about 3:30 - loved it!!! Overall, we would rate the food from very good to excellent, especially compared with past Princess voyages and other lines we've sailed. Ports: We liked most of the ports on this itinerary. Cozumel: We did the Twister Boat and Paradise Beach Break offered via Princess. What a blast. A new friend we met on Cruise Critic (Hi Chris!) joined us and we had a great time. Grand Cayman: After some tendering delays due to winds that increased the sea swells (no fault of Princess), we grabbed a ride to the Turtle Farm. The turtles there were so cute (and big). We even got to hold a young turtle - which was surprisingly heavy. Jamaica: We chose to treat this day as a ship day and enjoyed hanging by the pool. BTW - great poolside service. Princess Cays: We rented a bungalow here. We rec'd Priority Tender Tickets and you could choose an upgraded menu and wine packages if you wanted (we didn't). We got a ride to our bungalow (Yellowender, #6) from the tender pier. The bungalow had air conditioning and a ceiling fan, outdoor shower and foot wash. There was a table set for six in side, along with a bucket of ice and pitcher of water. There were six beach towels inside and six more on the the dedicated loungers outside. There was also bug spray inside if we wanted it. We had two waiters, Emil and Joey who provided bar service and brought a ton of food from the buffet, family style. If you book a bungalow, please remember to bring some cash for tips. These waiters work hard. Loved it and would do it again. There are a couple of souvenir shops that take the seapass card and a couple that take cash. Cruise Critic: We had a HUGE Cruise Critic roll-call on this trip. It was a blast meeting all of you. The CC meet & mingle was held in Skywalkers on the first sea day and as a highlight, Captain Yeomans showed up and spoke with us as a group and individually. He was very gracious and friendly. We also saw the Captain all around the ship with his lovely wife. Misc: Uniforms: Princess has upgraded their uniforms for bar staff and room stewards. There seems to be a Cunard influence on the uniforms. They are much nicer now, both in our opinion and the opinion of the workers who wear them. All of the furnishings throughout the ship have been upgraded as well, which contributes to a feel of elegance. Patters: We don't care for the new Patter format and commented on such on the survey. Pool Depth Markers: These aren't correct on the Neptune Pool. They say 3'9 to 5'2. It's more like 5'2 to 7'. This needs to be corrected. Princess still needs to put the "Adult Only" signage at the Terrace Pool too. Inaugural Gift: We all received (one per cabin) Kosta Boda Atoll Bowl in ruby red with "Ruby Princess Inaugural 2008" in white lettering. Very nice. Embarkation and Disembarkation: These were the smoothest we've ever had on any cruise. When we embarked, we got to the port at around 11 and were on board by 11:45. Disembarkation is "Silent". We went to Club Fusion, which was being used for Platinum and Elite. At our assigned time, we just walked off the ship. They directed us to our bags and were through Customs and Immigration in no time at all. From walking off the ship to getting through security at the airport was 55 minutes. Not bad at all considering there were five or six ships in port. Overall, we had a great time on this cruise. There were some glitches due to it being a maiden voyage and the fact that many of the crew were learning to work together. But, that being said, we actually anticipated that there would be many more problems on this cruise and were pleasantly surprised how well things did go. And as each day went by, things went more smoothly. We look forward to doing a longer cruise on Ruby in the future. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Let me start by saying this was my third cruise, but my first with Princess, so I am far from an expert at cruising. My two previous cruises were with Carnival and while we enjoyed this cruise, there were several things that left a bad ... Read More
Let me start by saying this was my third cruise, but my first with Princess, so I am far from an expert at cruising. My two previous cruises were with Carnival and while we enjoyed this cruise, there were several things that left a bad taste in my mouth. After reading all the glowing reports of the Ruby's first few cruises, my DH and I were very excited to be going so I am not sure if we expected "more" than what we actually experienced. While I can't put the blame entirely on Princess, I have learned a few things that will make any future cruises with them much better. Our group consisted of myself and DH along with my mother, aunt, sister and brother in law. Our ages range from 47 up to 67. We all came from different parts of the country for this cruise. My DH and I drove from Memphis while the rest of the group flew in from Texas, Colorado and California. We stayed at the Hampton Inn North on 12th which was wonderful. They offer a park and ride program for those who are cruising. There was some question about the price. I was quoted $20 for the week and when I arrived I was told $30. They did honor the $20 price, so I was happy. At check in, we arranged for their free shuttle to take us to the port at noon and when we returned from the cruise, I called and the shuttle was right there to get us and take us back to our awaiting car. NOTE: I accidently left my tennis shoes at the hotel before the cruise. When we got back I went in to the front desk and they have saved them for me! Not many hotels do that! Embarkation was a breeze. It took us all of 30 minutes to get thru check in and into our cabin. We met our cabin steward Adelino who was wonderful the entire week! Our cabin, while smaller than the ones on Carnival, was wonderful. The bed was a bit hard, but nothing I couldn't handle. This was our first balcony, so we took advantage of that every chance we could. There is nothing better than sitting out on your balcony with your first cup of coffee in the morning. Food on the ship was ok. The buffet was satisfactory. Sometimes it was good, sometimes not so good. But the food in the dining room was always wonderful. We had early seating in the Botticelli Dining Room with Ceclia as our server. She was wonderful and always had a smile on her face, even though she seemed to be overworked. I tried the Fettuccini for the first time and ended up ordering it 4 nights out of 7! We never had a problem getting a seat in the Horizon Court or the Cafe Caribe. If one was full, there were always seats in the other. Room Service was prompt every morning with our coffee and muffins. I was able to go to Tea one afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed that. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants. Entertainment was good but confusing at times. We saw 2 comedians, a magician, listened to a couple of bands and attended the early performance of Once Upon a Dream. During sea days, we attended Princess Pop Star and signed up to participate in Passenger Feud. We had been looking forward to seeing the Abba show, but that had been replaced with a Broadway tribute show. Also, we had planned on seeing Mama Mia one evening on MUTS, but that got changed to an earlier time and was shown in the theater. We also went to see the Champagne Waterfall which for me was a mistake. I don't handle crowds well at all and I think 90% of the ships passengers as well as employees were there. The band playing in the Atrium that evening was very good, but very rude to the passengers. At one point, the female singer told some of the passengers to hurry up and get their pictures taken and move off of her dance floor because they were ruining her party. She stated that her boss was there and they were making her look bad. DH was able to hold on to me and get me out of there before I had a complete meltdown… lol. Casino and Bingo were fun! Both my sister and Aunt did well in the casino the first few nights. I did ok, but did especially well on the last night. It seemed the slots were "looser" on the last night.. either that or I just hit them at the right time and won enough that I came out ahead in the end. My mom, aunt and sister played bingo a few times during the cruise, but I only played on the last day (and that was only because my mom bought my tickets with the agreement that whatever I won, I split with her. Well, Friday was my lucky day because I won the BIG JACKPOT (the final blackout game) and won $2750!! That gave both my mom and myself $1375!! Not too shabby!! In Jamaica, we did the Spirit of Ocho Rios tour through the ship. It was interesting although I would not recommend it to others. Our tour guide ended up taking us to a "shop" where we could get special discounts (and I am sure she got commission on what was sold). We missed Grand Cayman which we all were looking forward to, but ended up finding things to do on the ship, so we weren't too unhappy. My DH said, "Oh well, this just means we will have to take another cruise!" woo hoo! In Cozumel, we all went our separate ways. I went shopping with one of my friends I met here on CC while my mom and aunt did the Tulum tour and my sister and BIL went to the beach. My DH did the helmet dive. He came back and said that there were only 2 problems with his excursion. The first was that the water was a bit cold. The second was that they made him come out of the water. He has done nothing but talk about that tour since he got back, so I guess I will have to do it when I go there next May!! Our biggest disappointment came on Princess Cays. We booked a Bungalow and I will tell you now, its not worth it. We got our Priority Tender tickets and got over to the island on the second tender. We checked in at the desk and a young lady walked us to our Bungalow. That was all the "service" we got. There was NO food service and we ended up getting our own drinks. My mom said our drink server came by, but we never saw him. I guess he introduced himself to my mom while we were getting our floats, but never came back to introduce himself to us, so we didn't know who he was. There has been a lot of talk on these boards about the level of service. Well I am here to tell you that for us, it was virtually non existent. We did enjoy our day of snorkeling and relaxing in the sun though. But we could have rented a clamshell and been just as happy! Disembarkation was fast and painless. We met in the Wheelhouse Bar at 9am and were in our car and on the interstate by 10am. My BIL had a bit of a different experience, though. He had purchased a ring my sister really liked in the jewelry store. When he tried to exit the ship, the buzzers went off. First he was told that he had a phone call which scared him since his brother has been sick. Then he was told to wait. Both he and my sister were then taken off the ship to get their luggage and taken to a small room. All they wanted to see was the receipt of the ring he bought her. Poor man was scared to death that something was wrong. The ships staff was wonderful. Every time we passed a staff member in the hallway or out on deck, they had a smile on their face and always said good morning or good afternoon. The employees at the Pursers Desk were all very helpful and very nice. I did not meet one rude employee. Passengers on the other hand were a completely different story. Getting into the theater to see a show was horrible. Our group of 4 got pushed around so much we ended up in different rows. DH and I finally made our way out of the throng of people and got down to the 2nd row where there were many seats available. My mom and aunt had both been "forced" into the 5th row. They were able to get out and come join us. DH and I stood and held seats for all of us until they could get to us, which was a matter of a minute or two. A woman in the front row turned to me and very rudely stated that there was no saving of seats, yet she was holding 2 for people who weren't even in the theater yet. So I guess it was ok for her, but not for anyone else. We saw this again during Once Upon a Dream. A large group of Oriental people were holding 6 seats even though there was standing room only. So the rule that no seats be held was not being enforced at all. We also had several problems of shoving and line cutting in the buffet too. It didn't matter that the line starts at one end and you work your way towards the middle, some people just started wherever and you just had to wait. On sea days, the chair hogs were out in full force around the pools. DH and I headed to the rear pool on the Riviera deck early one afternoon and there was not a seat to be had, but only a few people there. All the seats were saved. We sat and watched for a while and never saw anyone come claim their chairs. Overall, it was a good cruise. Perfect, no… but we still had a good time. We enjoyed our time on board, enjoyed our balcony and we enjoyed meeting the wonderful friends we had made here on CC. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Embarkation: We arrived a day earlier to help avoid any delays that could potentially prevent us from getting on the ship on time. For my partner and I this was cruise number 18 and yet with every cruise it's an incredible, exciting ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived a day earlier to help avoid any delays that could potentially prevent us from getting on the ship on time. For my partner and I this was cruise number 18 and yet with every cruise it's an incredible, exciting and invigorating experience! We checked into the Hilton "at the airport" and found ourselves in an incredible room for only $70.00, booked through the internet. In the morning we ate at the restaurant "buffet" $15.00pp and we were off to the port via a private shuttle from the hotel $9.00 pp + tip. The Princess employee that had us get in line didn't know what "Priority embarkation" was and had no training before starting his new job, there was some confusion and chaos getting everyone checked in but all and all we got through it within a reasonable amount of time. Upon boarding I was very pleased with the overall look of the ship, it really was more rooms and activities than I could do or experience in a mere seven days. The stained glass chandelier at the top of the Piazza is gorgeous with a large circular boarder of tacky cheesy lights surrounding it like "Princess meets Carnival" or "Princess meets Las Vegas" or "we tried too hard, didn't know when to stop and this is what we came up with". The Ruby also has English bars with fish & chips + bangers n mash, miniature golf, many huge spacious lounges each with a huge stage for performances, Piazza with multiple street entertainers, gelato station, bakery stations, candy station, large Casino, martini bars, Grand Piano aglow with ruby lights, the Piazza has an energy all it's own. Our room (room and balcony) had the new car smell and was very nice with brand new everything. The sink did break on the 5th day of the cruise and the repairmen did not have the part to fix it so when used..... the soapy dirty water poured all over the floor, we tried to use the shower instead. The rooms have flat screen TV's, refrigerators, safes, also there is plenty of room for your empty luggage under the beds and plenty of spare blankets under the beds as well. The whirlpools in the back of the ship are seldom in use and very clean, there is also a crazy looking pool in the rear of the ship that is next to the whirlpool and looks with a large tin can sunk into the floor. Down one level from there are two large fountains with "ruby" lighting and then down another level is the adult's pool that is cold square and deep with a large bar just a few feet away. Lido: The Lido experience was just OK at best. We had to get our food but the food grouping were not grouped. For example, find a pancake and then walk around looking for the butter and then walk around looking for the syrup and then get the rest of your food and good luck finding a table, walk again to get your beverages and then before you eat you have to hunt down silverware. Divinci Room for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner: However the sit down breakfast was excellent, fantastic and incredible in both terms of quality and service. Hot chocolate (no extra charge) came in huge stainless steel decanters, fresh papaya, mango, eggs benedict, and whatever you expect for breakfast was on the menu. Lunch was great and dinner was spectacular with Alaskan Crab, Lobster, Filet Mignon, Beef Wellington, great salads, various fish, shell fish, wonderful appetizers, and fantastic deserts. My favorite was the fruit sorbets (Mandarin and Lemon Cello) they were like Italian Ice and indescribably excellent. The rhubarb sorbet was actually strawberry ice cream and the blueberry was ok. One small tip: If you order coffee and want cream then you have to say "I want cream not milk" or you get skim milk with your coffee and it's not the same and Princess should know better than to pinch pennies by passing off skim milk as cream in its creamers. Anytime dinning option: Not really "anytime" dinning when every night we had to grab a pager that lights up when your table is ready, we had to wait an hour or more every night. Next cruise we will opt for the assigned 1st or second dinner seating. 1st stop: Cozumel, we went to Chankanaab Park, $10.00 taxi, $16.00pp admittance and it's an incredible place to spend the day with a fantastic restaurant, coral reefs for snorkeling, white sandy beaches, tropical gardens, ponds, shops, and waiters bringing you anything you desire while you sizzle in the sun or under an umbrella. I slathered on the sunblock, grabbed a white plastic bed, dragged it away from the chatty neighbors and under a tree to then fell asleep to the sound of the ocean breezes blowing the palm trees and the ocean waves splashing against the shore. There is also a raft that you can swim out to and rest, the raft is in the middle of some excellent snorkeling also and (during my experience here) one 5 foot long barracuda I would have rather not met. The barracuda are not dangerous but they look ominous and give me the heeby geebies, when I snorkel I look but don't touch anything and always keep a few feet between myself and the coral when there are waves to keep from being pushed into the coral and rocks. 2nd stop: Grand Cayman, a wealthy island with little to do unless you go to the Sting Ray tour as I have many times in the past. Our tour was cancelled so we had to walk to the other end of the ship, grab a ticket for the tender to shore and to be honest the whole tender process took many hours and I can totally understand why people often opt to just stay on the ship and skip this port altogether. Once on shore in Grand Cayman I walked left and a mile down was a restaurant "Casanova's by the sea" and ate lunch (lunch special $15.00pp. The food here is excellent, it's never crowded, and the views are spectacular, eating inside or outside is up to you. I then ventured to a grocery store and purchased a few new foods I can't get at home and then back to the ship. 3rd stop: Jamaica, hot and sunny the heat and humidity sucks the energy from you as you walk about. I visited turtle park and it's was still under construction with a few ponds and Japanese red and orange carp swimming in dingy water. Employee were trimming the trees everywhere with 3 foot hatchets. There were many Jamaicans lining the sidewalks offering various "items and services", this was making if difficult to get around and yet it was nice meeting and chatting with them also. Finally I fed some cereal to the chickens running around and went back to the ship. If you want to have a great time in Jamaica and can climb slippery steep rocks, the Dunn River Falls or the river tubing tours are the best. I bought a handsome tropical shirt during this visit to Jamaica and when I washed the shirt in the ships (on board Laundromat) the shirt fell apart and every seam became un-sewn and detached. 4th stop: Private Island: The BBQ is just OK at best and the beaches are very nice with the best snorkeling I have ever experienced. They do sell fish food at the private beach or some passengers brought breakfast cereal to feed the fish to experience a fireworks display of color under the water as schools of martins, parrot fish, trumpet fish, angel fish, snapper, ETC swirl about you getting within millimeters of you but never touching. Some snorkelers were holding bread rolls under the water and watching the fish eat out of their hand. This is excellent snorkeling with out the boring safety lecture, cumbersome life jackets, or tour fees. If you don't have your own snorkeling equipment at the Private island or Chankanaab Park in Cozumel you can always rent it for a nominal fee. The snorkeling area at the private island is indicated on the map they will hand you when you board the ship's tender for transport to the island....also to get to the snorkeling area take a right off the dock when you disembark the tender and walk down about ¼ mile looking for the brown wooden pier that has a hut at the end with a red roof, snorkeling equipment and fish food is near by this spot. Conclusion: In many passengers' opinion including mine, this Ruby ship is in the same class as Celebrity. This is a remarkable Princess ship and yet all of the Princess ships are very nice with the Ruby being very similar to the others plus a few purple lights for the "Ruby effect". The colors are "muted", relaxed and the ship is decorated with impeccable taste. For every group occupying a cabin, Princess gave a keepsake gift for our cruise since it was the first 7 day cruise ever. The keepsake gift was a candle holder by Kosta Boda of Sweden, this was a very nice ruby colored infused glass candle holder. Princess really did an outstanding and over all excellent job with this new ship, and just as any day on vacation is an excellent day.......... any day on a beautiful Princess ship promises to be an excellent day also. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Ruby Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 5.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.9
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 5.0 4.2
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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