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

Background information - This was my first time sailing on Princess. I had just taken a sort of impromptu Carnival cruise a couple of months earlier (probably won't sail them again), and based on what I knew about Princess, I was ... Read More
Background information - This was my first time sailing on Princess. I had just taken a sort of impromptu Carnival cruise a couple of months earlier (probably won't sail them again), and based on what I knew about Princess, I was looking forward to something more relaxed. I've previously sailed on Royal Caribbean, NCL, Holland America, and Carnival. Travel information - We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before the cruise and overnighted at the Embassy Suites near the port. The hotel is very conveniently located and handles a huge amount of cruise traffic. We thought the hotel was very comfortable and liked our room and the complimentary breakfast as well. Travel to embarkation Port - We had rented a car with Avis, who maintain a rental facility at the Hyatt hotel on the causeway next to the port. It was perfect weather on the day our ship sailed, and we had several hours to kill so we drove along A1A, had some drinks across the street from the ocean, and then dropped our car off around 1pm. Avis provides a shuttle between their facility and the port, a service we had utilized last year, and it worked just great. Embarkation - Smooth as silk. We weren't in a rush to get on board the ship and probably arrived at the port around 1:30pm. There were no lines at the Princess check-in desks and after we passed through security and filled out a quick health questionnaire, we were given our room keys and were walking on board in less than 10 minutes. The ship's crew took our pictures to match up to our room keys as we entered the atrium of the ship and that was that. Crowding around the elevators was not bad, but we elected to walk up to our cabin. Ship information - If I'm not mistaken, the Ruby Princess is about six years old and it is one of the most beautiful ships I have ever been on. Everything, the public areas, the bars, lounges, rooms, etc. was very tastefully done, elegant, and comfortable. The ship was spotlessly clean, and everything was in good working order. The ship's atrium, which they call the Piazza, is three decks high and is surrounded by shops, some bars and lounges, and a snack and coffee area. Two panoramic elevators travel from the ground floor of the atrium up to the top of the ship, next to the pool and the buffet area. Navigating from one end of the ship to the other was easy, although depending on the elevator bank taken, there are some areas where you have to more port or starboard to move forward or aft as one of the dining rooms blocks your path. The ship is also fairly large so it was not until the second day that I felt comfortable with knowing where everything was. Cabin - We booked a Vista Suite, which was located all the way aft on the starboard side of the ship. A bit smaller than the suite we had last year on Holland America's Westerdam, it was more than large and comfortable enough for two people. The balcony in particular was great. There was a walk in shower and a tub (we never utilized the latter) a walk-in closet, safe, two televisions, a sofa with coffee table, and a small bar/sink area. Small canapes were delivered to the room each night, if we remembered to fill out the order form, and we were also given a complimentary mini-bar setup at the beginning of the cruise. A selection of alcohol minis, beers, and soft drinks were included, but there was not a complimentary restocking of anything we consumed. If we wanted anything replenished, that came with a cost. Complimentary fruit was also delivered during the trip, which we enjoyed. Two service misses in the cabin were a shower door that leaked at the bottom so we were always throwing towels down to stop the flood, and no shelves in the bathroom. The shelf issue sounds very minor, but counter space was limited and there were a lot of wall space that could accommodate a few places to store personal items. Activities - This was a more leisurely itinerary than what I had just experienced on Carnival, with two days at sea at the beginning and towards the end of the cruise. I enjoy sea days, feeling that they force you to relax. As mentioned earlier, the weather in Fort Lauderdale was great on the day of departure and this held true for the entire duration of the cruise. There were a few nights when it was actually a bit chilly out on deck, which did not bother me in the least. Daytime was sunny, not humid, and just great temperatures in the mid 70s to low 80s. Each night we received the "Princess Patter" at our cabin, which is the daily rundown of what's going on, on board and in port for the following day. There was a lot of things to choose from on board to stay busy. We utilized the ship's exercise room almost every day, which is located at the front of the ship next to the spa. A large selection of treadmills, elliptical bikes, resistance equipment and free weights were available. There is a water fountain in the gym but unfortunately the water was on the hot side of warm and tasted awful. We learned after the first day to bring bottled water with us. There is also a locker room with dry and wet saunas. Our cabin was a suite, which gave us complimentary access to the ship's thermal suite, which is located below the spa and gym area. It was nice with a selection of wet and dry saunas, as well as rain and mist showers, but no hydrotherapy pool. It was also in a bit of an odd location with no windows. It was extremely underutilized and I remember seeing no more than one or two other people in it the entire time we were on board. We liked the Westerdam's thermal suite much better. Fellow passengers - A very mixed group on board, leaning towards an older crowd but not entirely. We saw some kids on board, but not too many, and a lot of passengers were our age, i.e. in their 40s. Princess apparently has a big appeal with international customers as there were a lot of British citizens on board, as well as Japanese and Russian. Not a big, party crowd on this ship like I experienced on Carnival, but the bars, lounges, and casino were well attended each night into the wee hours of the morning. Service - Not as good as I expected it to be. Service in the up-charge restaurant, Crown Grill, was very slow both times we ate there, despite most of the tables being empty, and the main restaurant's service was rushed and informal, very much like a banquet meal in a hotel. Some wait staff were a bit cold and on the edge of unfriendly, so that was a bit disappointing as well. The standout was Sabatini's restaurant, where we enjoyed an excellent breakfast on several days, and dinner on two evenings. The staff there was just excellent, friendly, chatty, personable, etc. I can't compliment them enough. Our cabin steward was pretty good and special requests were accommodated, but he was a bit cool towards us. We were always greeted by him in the halls, but we felt our cabin steward on Holland America to be much more friendly and the service better all the way around. Service in the shops and the front desk was not impressive. I'd say it leaned towards a staff that was at best, indifferent and that was disappointing. One thing in particular that was bad was an order we submitted to have our luggage transferred directly from our cabin on the last night to our airline for the flights home. We utilized this service last year on Holland America and it was excellent. For $20 per person, you leave your bags outside your cabin on the last night and don't see them again until you arrive at your destination on the baggage carousel. Princess offered the same thing, or so we thought. I filled out the forms and turned them in but the crew-member manning the desk said he needed hard copies of our itinerary from the airline. The order form mentioned nothing about that and I didn't have hard copies to give him. He said he'd see what he could do and that was the last I ever heard about it. Our luggage did not automatically transfer and we received no notice that they couldn't accommodate our request. I'm inclined to think that our order form got tossed in the garbage. Port & shore excursions - A good selection of things to do were available for each port, although we missed our opportunity to book in Grand Cayman ahead of time and wound up booking a quick island tour in port, which included Hell (yes, that's the name of the town), a Dolphin seaquarium, the Tortuga Rum Cake factory/store, and 7 Mile Beach. The stop in Roatan was actually at Mahogany Bay, which is something of a compound for Princess and Carnival cruise lines. Very safe and isolated, it's nothing more than a day on their beach with some bars/dining and shops. I'm not a big fan of the Roatan stop, having done it once before on an NCL cruise, so staying within Mahogany Bay was fine. Cozumel was a shopping day for us, and we walked up and down the waterfront and stopped for drinks before heading back to the ship. Again, we were blessed with wonderful weather so being out in the sun all day was not uncomfortable. Princess Cays, which is Princess' private "island" (actually it's a stretch of land on the island of Eleuthera) was beautiful, and here we rented dune buggies and were gone for 2 hours on some very bumpy, sandy roads and trekked to some local sights including a gorgeous beach and an old lighthouse. We thoroughly enjoyed our day at Princess Cays. Dining - Unfortunately it was at best, marginal. The buffet was always easy to navigate, utilizing islands instead of a long buffet line, but the food was not particularly good. We tended to stop there only for lunch, and for dinner on just one occasion. It was very bland, and there seldom seemed to be a theme to the offerings, with the exception of Mexican food when we departed Cozumel. There was also another buffet area towards the back of the ship that was only open for 90 minutes in the afternoon. We tried it once when they were serving sushi and a selection of Asian dishes, but again the food was not very good. Crown Grill was a big disappointment, as I looked forward to the selection of steaks. Having eaten at both Cagney's on NCL ships (always outstanding), Scarlett's on Carnival (again, excellent), and Pinnacle on Holland America (delicious!), Crown Grill was a let down. The aforementioned slow service certainly negatively impacted my opinion, but the quality of the appetizers, steaks, and dessert was also a let down. In fairness I will say that the person I was traveling with said that his seafood entrees were always great. We dined at Sabatini's twice for dinner. Again, my friend said his seafood was very good, but the chicken I ordered on one evening was bland and disappointing. The steak I ordered on the last night of the cruise, however, was decent. We ordered room service a lot for breakfast, and it was always right on time and pretty good. We also received a "suite" breakfast menu each night but no indication on how to order any of the special offerings. The hang tag that got placed on the door to order food included none of the special offers, so we never experienced it. Entertainment - Activities up on deck and in the lounges included several musicians and bands (all pretty good), a ship's theater with shows throughout the week (we caught part of one but didn't enjoy it very much), and a huge video screen out at the pool deck for watching movies. Princess places fabric covers on the lounge chairs and distributes very warm and comfortable blankets for the movies running at night. We watched one, Defenders of the Galaxy, on a chilly and very windy night but enjoyed it very much thanks to the amenities. Princess' staff also circulate during the movies with snacks. Disembarkation - We had to be out of our cabin by 8am and then queue up in a lounge two decks down. There was coffee, water, juice, and pastries. We didn't have to wait long as about 20 minutes later, our group was called to disembark. The process was smooth and we were off of the ship, had our luggage, and cleared Customs and Immigration in less then 30 minutes. We purchased airport transfers and were quickly directly to the motor coaches that took us to Fort Lauderdale. Summary - Coming on the heels of a Carnival cruise, I definitely enjoyed this much more. No offense against Carnival, they have a market they appeal to and are very successful with their niche. Princess' ship was beautiful and the entire week was very relaxing. The disappointments on this cruise pertained to the food and several service misses. I would sail on Princess again to give them another shot as the positives outweighed the negatives.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
A delayed review from our third trip on the Ruby Princess in the past year. Since first sailing on the Ruby Princess in December, 2013 and getting engaged on that trip, we now consider her "our" ship, and were disappointed to see ... Read More
A delayed review from our third trip on the Ruby Princess in the past year. Since first sailing on the Ruby Princess in December, 2013 and getting engaged on that trip, we now consider her "our" ship, and were disappointed to see her being repositioned to the west coast. Embarkation: No doubt about it, this was not pleasant. Apparently there was some sort of issue with clearing the ship, and not enough ICE personnel on hand. The biggest problem was no communication in terms of updates as we stood in a non-moving line for the better part of an hour and a half. Once we got up the counter, we were handed our cruise cards with hardly a greeting. All the shore side Princess employees we encountered were less than pleasant, and that is an understatement. This all changed once we were on board, however. Everyone crew member we ran into was friendly and helpful. Our luggage was delivered to our stateroom within an hour. Cabin: After having a Caribe balcony on the previous two trips, we opted for an oceanview this time around. After much research, including the excellent threads here on Cruise Critic, we opted for E403, listed as a partial obstructed view cabin. We could not have made a better choice; in our opinion, there is no obstruction at all to speak of. If you look down to the service walkway below the window, there is a white rectangular equipment locker attached to the railing that is the only thing even remotely that can be called an obstruction. With the overhang from Dolphin deck above, we felt the cabin stayed cooler and was shaded during the day when the sun was on our side of the ship. Location was perfect, starboard side amidship just a short walk to both elevators and stairs, and one flight down to the Promenade deck. No noise issues whatsoever in this cabin. Cabin condition was excellent, and our steward, Leo provided attentive and friendly service; our ice bucket was never empty. The ship: I was looking at some other, recent reviews of the Ruby Princess, and this really drove home the point that reviews are sometimes truly subjective, and you have to really sort out opinions from fact, though they sometimes blur. As mentioned, having been on this ship three times in 11 months, we were very aware of her condition, and changes between trips. I've read where some recent reviewers called her "worn", and "getting tired", and frankly, we did not see that at all. In fact, we both commented that the Ruby looked better on this trip than she had on our previous two voyages. Clean and sparkling, there was maintenance everywhere you looked, from varnishing the wooden deck rails to painting. We had to excuse ourselves as we stepped over a crew member polishing the metal door thresholds on the doors leading in and out of the Promenade deck, just one example of what was always going on (but didn't interfere with any passenger activities). Having said all that, given her age, the Ruby is due for a total refit/refurbishment, but we never felt that she was "past her prime". Dining: The food on a ship is not always going to hit the mark, but overall we found our dining choices and food to be good ones. We split our dining between the MDR, late seating, the Horizon Court, and a night at the Crown Grill. Our steaks at the Crown Grill were excellent, as was the whole dining experience. Dinner in the MDR was generally good, and though we requested a table for two, were seated at a larger table. We were promptly moved to a 4-place table for the rest of the cruise, so we had extra space, as well as good service by our waiter and assistant waiter. We both thought German night at the Horizon Court was excellent, and the staff was very friendly all the way around. Of course being a buffet some things just don't work, but there was nothing that was just plain bad. It's hard to walk away from a buffet without finding at least something that was very good. Ports/Shore Excursions: Princess Cays. We had booked an excursion with Eleuthera Tours to do something a bit different and see more of Eleuthera, but that did not work out; you can read my review of that experience on Trip Advisor titled "No tour for us", dated November 13th, 2014. We just ended up doing the beach thing. It turned out to be a typical Princess Cays experience, meaning it is what it is, a relaxing afternoon lounging on the beach, with a fairly good cookout lunch provided. Ocho Rios: We booked an excursion with Yardie Tours, and it was an incredible day. You can read my recent review for them on Trip Advisor titled "Just go with Yardie!" We did the Countryside Excursion Tour, and got to see the real Jamaica. It was well worth it and I highly recommend this company. Days at Sea. Typical what should we do now if anything types of days, very relaxing. We did book an afternoon in the Sanctuary, and it is well worth it. Very cool lounging in a shaded, quiet area as we sailed along the coast of Cuba. One of those things that stays with you. We also attended the culinary demonstration and took the galley tour, both well worth the time. This was actually the second time we took the tour of the galley, and on both occasions it was absolutely SPOTLESS. Disembarkation: No issues, we were off in a fairly quick manner. Port Everglades was crazy busy that day, so a bit of a line both at customs and to find our luggage, but nothing too bad. Summary: We are going to miss the Ruby Princess, as we are not likely to cruise from the west coast. In planning for a Eastern Caribbean trip later this year, we have to decide between the Emerald Princess and the Regal Princess, the Emerald being a sister ship to the Ruby and therefore quite familiar (we do love the layout and appearance). As there have been many mixed reviews for the Royal/Regal, we have decided to see for ourselves, and will be doing the short trip to Princess Cays on April 12th, to see if we like the design and layout of the newest Princess ship. I hope this review has been at least somewhat helpful, as it is my first one here on Cruise Critic. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Along with another couple, my husband and I boarded the Ruby with high hopes and great expectations, and also to see if we wanted to talk this ship for a longer trip to the British Isles in 2015.Now it is true that we took an inside cabin ... Read More
Along with another couple, my husband and I boarded the Ruby with high hopes and great expectations, and also to see if we wanted to talk this ship for a longer trip to the British Isles in 2015.Now it is true that we took an inside cabin ( inexpensive- however we slept like bears hibernating!) and there were things that we had to pay for that came with the more expensive staterooms- and that was fine. BUT!!! Let me first say that the ship is beautiful- just stunning- ( we have cruised many, many times and this is even prettier than Crystal). The staff is amazing- very eager to please, very helpful and these are the marks of Princess. Just what we had hoped for and had heard from our friends. And that is were it stopped. As it morphed into a Carnival cruise ( we have travelled Carnival) the food was underwhelming, the towels in the rooms where like the ones you put aside to wash your car, dog, etc.- stiff, thin, small. The liquid soap and shampoo was just that, liquid and not great. There is a spa on the ship. You would think they would promote their products for people to buy after they tried them. ( However, I did find out that the towels in mini-suites and suites were plush and lovely- what's next, the sheets) When asking about an upgrade, we were told the ship was full; met a lady who was moved up 3 times! The ship allows smoking on 1 side of the casino- the smoke doesn't stay on that side! It travels through the whole casino and into the halls. We couldn't get near it. Can you imagine being charged for COCO- yup, $1.50 for a cup of hot chocolate! And the juices that are normally self serve and out all day, are not out at all! You must ask the servers if you want any. Needless to say, this was all very disappointing.- not what you think of when you chose Princess. The entertainment was good-movies under the stars was fun, there was a terrific comedian and the dancers and singers were great. And as mentioned before, the ship is beautiful and the staff excellent. I only hope the Carnival people don't screw with that. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We booked the Ruby for 4 consecutive cruises, a 5, 4, 5, 5 day, and the first 3 were fine. Feb 15 Pre-Cruise and Embarkation: We got a great deal for secure parking at the Embassy Suites on 17th street - 1/2 the price of parking at the ... Read More
We booked the Ruby for 4 consecutive cruises, a 5, 4, 5, 5 day, and the first 3 were fine. Feb 15 Pre-Cruise and Embarkation: We got a great deal for secure parking at the Embassy Suites on 17th street - 1/2 the price of parking at the port - and took the free shuttle to the ship. Embarkation was painless - we have preferred boarding and walked right on. CABIN: Luggage was delivered very quickly and we unpacked to settle into our 19 day vacation. Typical inferior cabin. Room steward was very nice, & got us a pillow top mattress cover. Several times we did not get a daily "Patter" and had to go to the Pursers desk to get one - pretty inconvenient if you are trying to plan your day in the morning. But As I said the first 3 legs were fine, I will concentrate on the last cruise starting March 1: Spring Breakers invaded the ship. Loud, obnoxious behavior everywhere. Pools & hot-tubs quickly became disgusting brown-green and the aft pool was so dirty you could not see the bottom logo. One of the main pools had to be closed - I didn't even want to know why. I asked if underaged kids were being carded and all the bartenders said yes, but I never saw it once. I did see chugging contests, shots being slammed and inebriated kids everywhere. The quiet, adults only aft area was not quiet, and not adults. Saw small children and teenagers in the pool frequently and the deck attendants nowhere in sight. Trash was everywhere, pool towels and chairs were at a premium and there simply was not enough staff to keep up with it. Tables in Horizon Court were not cleaned, you had to stand there and wait for someone to clean it off. Dining room attire was unbelievable, on formal nite - I saw people come in t shirts and jeans, & no one enforced any kind of dress code. Screaming college kids were running down the hallways late at night, taking things out of mailboxes, and switching door signs from "do not disturb" to "please refresh room" - and several people I talked to had some embarrassing moments. For the first time in 14 cruises with Princess - I felt it necessary to book the Sanctuary to get some peace and quiet. STAFF: As a result of this invasion, some of the staff became harried and overworked. Most were very pleasant dealing with us, but expressed frustration with so many irresponsible, obnoxious kids. So many people I talked to said they had never seen anything that remotely approached what they saw on this Princess ship for those 5 days. I can't say enough about how well the waitstaff, room stewards, bar tenders, etc dealt with the mess. Should have received hazardous duty pay! Dining: The shorter cruises mean that they repeat the menus frequently which is something I was not used to, having always done longer ones. Food did not seem up to par - only the Fettuccini Alfredo and the pastries remained outstanding. Lamb chops were fatty, fish had bones. Crown Grill had an excellent filet, but the veal chop was so fatty and tough, we sent it back and got our money back. Horizon court was good for a buffet and I was always able to find something good for breakfast (made to order omelets) and lunch (really good fruit and salads). Its just the service was lacking - seemed understaffed. Pizza & ice cream at pool deck remains the best afloat!!! Int'l Cafe had some nice salads and pastries. Public areas: everything appeared very clean & well-kept. The chairs in Crooners seemed to have been "sat out" for lack of a better term - they need re-cushioned. Teak in several areas was being redone - routine maintenance. There was a lot of emphasis on hand-wasking stations. I did however see people walking into the "Exit" opening of Horizon Court without using the hand sanitizer, and that was a bit disconcerting. Entertainment: the band New Deal was excellent - way above normal expectations, Comedian ok, shows ok. - standard fare. Piazza singer/guitar player Toby Reilly was really awful - not many people watching or listening, & his voice was so annoying, it actually drove people out of Crooners! Whose son/grandson dropped out of college and needed a job??? Shore excursions: we had been to all the islands before so the only new thing we did was Off-Shore Fishing in Cozumel - and it was outstanding!! Caught 3 large barracudas and had a great time for the money. Misc: And I'm sure it was because of the clientele on the ship that week but - why did the previously MIA all day deck attendant in the aft pool start stacking loungers at 4:30 in the afternoon before sail-away?? So many people hung out here, as soon as he left, they unstacked the chairs and sat down. Why can't they keep Outriggers open later - at least until 7PM?? Again, are they understaffed? Also - on the Promenade deck, i was told I had to "please move" at 5:30PM so they could gather and stack chair pads. Whaaaat??? This was one of the very few quiet places on the ship where you could actually sit and read listening to the ocean, now they are taking your chair pads away while it is still daylight?? All in all I had a good time over the full 19 days, but lesson learned - I will never cruise the Caribbean in March again. And I noticed many little things that I think are a result of cost-cutting on Princess's part. So many previous Princess cruisers wonder why the longer 10-14 day cruises are not being offered. Seems like $ is the issue? But the clientele these shorter, more affordable cruises attract are going to drive loyal Princess customers away. Service, food, and amenities suffer. Does Princess care? They should ! Leave this market to the Carnival people, or customers like us will take our money and cruise with another line.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
This a 5yr revisit to the Ruby Princess on a short 4 night cruise, from a port intensive 12 day Mediterranean cruise 5 years ago. Also, I was able to enjoy different parts of the ship that I was unable to explore before, because of fatigue ... Read More
This a 5yr revisit to the Ruby Princess on a short 4 night cruise, from a port intensive 12 day Mediterranean cruise 5 years ago. Also, I was able to enjoy different parts of the ship that I was unable to explore before, because of fatigue or time factors. My 1st impressions are that ship is just as clean, well-kempt, and still has that brand new feel. Cabin I would also recommend that even if you are pleased w/your 1st cabin on the same ship, it would behoove you to change the type of cabin, or the location. This would give you a different feel of the ship. Here, we changed our location to a mini suite with bath tub shower combination as opposed to the small showers with flimsy curtains in the regular balcony rooms. This mini-suite had a nice sitting area in the cabin, 2 flat screen TV’s, and a nice size balcony. Therefore we were able to comfortably entertain twice in our cabin, and the guests mentioned that the next time they will book a mini-suite, as opposed to an inside cabin. The welcoming champagne was nice. The beds were comfortable and the room was quiet. From now on, it is a mini suite for me, unless the cruise is port intensive, where there are less sea days and less time on the ship, then a nice or deluxe balcony would suffice. The views of the sunrises, sunsets, and stars are well worth the extra costs. Another advantage of a shorter cruise, is that you can walk on and off w/ your own luggage. To me, this makes it so much easier; as opposed to waiting 3 hrs for your luggage to arrive to you cabin or search for your luggage in marked rows, as that had on do on NCL’s Breakaway this past summer. Thus, late luggage delivery is usually the reason when you see people in the MDR w/ shorts on, mainly men, especially on the 1st night. Entertainment: Their version of the Jersey Boys was nice; I missed the vibrant sail away parties. The band sounded and did not perform w/ the vigor that I have witnessed on other sail away parties, where they had the people up and dancing. In the past, the sail away parties were a must. Here, they had a “musician” playing along with a computer, drum machine, that tried to past as entertainment n the atrium. Expectedly, he drew little interest. The other performers attempting to do a repetitious Motown review were simply tired and sounded that way. Further, there is an over saturation of Motown music. The pianist at one of the smaller venues sounded fresh and nice. I really missed the midnight champagne toast w/ the flowing champagne and the Captain doing the honor. I guess in its place was a dropping of the balloons in the atrium w/ the Captain making a short speech. I guess the cruise lines adjust their quality of activities, entertainment, and amenities based on the length of the cruise and the money spent and made on shorter excursion s. From past experience all the bells and whistles were not pulled out. Food Again, not as good as the past Princess cruises, but the food was nice, not as creative or adventurous on past cruises, and no lobster. In the MDR the food was above average to good. We were not wowed or overwhelmed with a dish, which I really like the “wow” experience several times on a cruise. I guess they get a pass here, because it was a short cruise. However, I found the buffet in Horizon to be diverse, and good. The omelets were excellent. They had the sanitizers at the entrance, but for the most part, no one was strongly suggesting everyone use them & everyone was able to use the tongs to make their own selections. I wish they took more precautions in this area, and simply not allow any one in without using hand sanitizers, going and coming. Why wait until the dreaded norovirus makes an appearance to step up sanitation procedures? However, we did go to Sabatini’s and did have lobster and a salt-baked branzino that was excellent. It seems that to really get gourmet type of food on cruises you have to spend more and go to the specialty restaurants. The pasta, and other dishes had freshness, and a homemade flavor to it. Recommended. However, the service was not a smooth and polished as my previous experiences. Here, the Maître de’ came to our table and asked, like they used to do in the MDR’s. We eat at a different venue each night, Michealanglolos, Da Vince, and Botticelli. I think Michelangelo’s was the best b/c it was the smaller of the other two, and seemed less rushed. Also, the quality of the wait staff has gone down. Not bad, however, the service was not as experienced or as polished as they should be serving on a cruise ship, where dining for many, is the primary attraction. Overall, customer service has been dropping, as businesses attempt to save money, from the smaller seats on many airlines to the quality of the personnel, to being unable to speak to a live person. The apparent philosophy is let’s doing anything to save money, the hell with client comfort, reasonable expectations or protecting the brand name, too often appears that way to me. I guess one reasonably cannot expect the level of service, treatment, and excitement on a longer cruise. I understand Disney is one of the view companies that still adheres an old notion of customer service, and a quality product over a cost cutting policy. Disney here I come. Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze, arriving a little later and carrying on & off your own luggage is easier. I will do this in the future, if allowed. Further, we enjoyed bringing on one bottle of wine per person, which comes in very handy when you entertain other cruisers or couples in your cabin. We were fortunate to have excellent weather and enjoyed Seven mile beach tremendously, especially the Tiki Beach area, w/ facilities. However, going in parts of the beach can be a little rocky, and Sandy brought beach shoes and was fine. I did not go out as far as she did, b/c she is a better swimmer than I, and I found the waves a little strong, but he water was nice and warm. Overall, it was a nice short and warm get away from the cold of the northeast. Good crowd control, for a ship that size, more of an adult experience, and better crowd control than we experienced on NCL’s Breakaway in July. One big plus in selecting this cruise, was that we were able to obtain a less expensive flight on Wed & Mon. than the traditional Sat. or Sun. sailings. We left on a Thursday after flying in on Wednesday. Ruby, for the most part, is holding up pretty well.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
I am going to start with the PROS: Room: We were upgraded to an aft balcony cabin. Thanks Princess! The balcony was huge! The room was a decent size and clean. The water pressure and temperature in the shower was great. Plenty of open ... Read More
I am going to start with the PROS: Room: We were upgraded to an aft balcony cabin. Thanks Princess! The balcony was huge! The room was a decent size and clean. The water pressure and temperature in the shower was great. Plenty of open closet space. Bed was comfy to me. There were enough current movies to watch on TV too. Steward: Renato was nice and came by and introduced himself and told us how to reach him if we needed anything. We aren't complainers and are easy going so we never had to ask him for anything. However, he noticed we needed some wine glasses for the wine we brought onboard (you are allowed one per passenger) and he brought them to the room while we were out exploring the ship. Ship: Very nice ship, very clean. I saw staff picking up dropped items, trash and cleaning regularly.Decor wasn't cheesy at all. This ship is large but it was fairly easy to move around the boat if you take the stairs. Staff: Everyone was super friendly and helpful. The wait staff were attentive and came around regularly to see if you needed any drinks. Any time I passed by staff they smiled and said hello. The wait staff were funny and were able to crack jokes with us. They definitely go above and beyond to make sure you are happy. Food: The pizza was good, but not as great as most people have mentioned in reviews. But this is a personal taster. The burgers were fine. Didn't try the hot dogs. Try the fettucine Alfredo in the MDR. It was the best I ever had. I ate it twice because the other items weren't as appealing to me. Food comes out fast. Crown Grill: It was worth every penny. I was stuffed because the food was so delicious! Try the applewood smoke salt with your choice of steak. It was awesome! I highly recommend going there at least one night onboard. International Cafe: Nice cafe to order coffee and get a light snack. Wheelhouse Bar: The fish and chips were good and so were the fries and mashed peas that came with it. Food came out fast. Entertainment: The comedian was hilarious and the magician was amazing! I felt bad for both performers because the crowd was lukewarm. I mean, seriously the elderly crowd barely clapped at all and the performers did their best to excite them and participate. I hope this doesn't reflect on the performers. MUTS was fun. Do it at least once. They come around with popcorn, milk and cookies. The poolside bartending competition was fun and the sexy legs contest was funny. Cons: Food: The food wasn't as varied or tasty as I have experienced on other lines, but I am thinking they are catering to an elderly crowd and that is why the food is...meh. In the MDR, nothing amazed me except the fettucine. To get an omelette or waffles for breakfast doesn't make sense. You had to order from an attendant at the corner of the egg station and he writes it on a slip of paper and hands it to the kitchen staff. No sign that you can order omelettes either you just have to figure it out. I just happened to see someone get one and learned the process. There is not an omelette station where you order directly from the cook like on other cruises. They use canned spinach too. Not ideal. The waffle station was not in the buffet it was at another grill by the pool. Random. Not thrilled with the layout of the buffet either. Too cramped and too hot. Entertainment: The trivia isn't really inclusive for all ages. Lots of references to things that only the elderly would know. There was bingo, but no shuffleboard. I was surprised that a ship that caters to mostly elderly people didn't have shuffleboard. Lol. The Ultimate Deck Party was ok. This wasn't Princess' fault again. I see the effort, but most people just sat there watching the few people do the robotic line dances. You had to practically beg people to dance and clap for the band. Bar: I wish that there were some drink specials like other cruise lines that offers 2 for 1 or lower prices on drinks of the day. The prices were reasonable. They do offer a raffle to pay your bar tab. We didn't get a card until our last night and there was no way we would drink 5 drinks by 3pm the next day for just a chance to win. I also didn't feel that my drinks were ever that strong, but they were made well. Nightlife: It was basically dead at night. I have been on other lines that have much more activity at night. Even if the nightclubs weren't busy on the other lines, the bars were bustling. This cruise was basically lights out after midnight. Went to Skywalkers twice during the cruise and was always back in the room by 12:30. Found it weird that we didn't hear more Top 40 hits either. Played the same line dance and typical latin songs. Another passenger placed a bet with me that we would hear the Cha Cha slide in the next 15 minutes when we entered the club. I said 30. I won. Lol. Overall, This ship caters to an older demographic for sure. I am in my mid 30s, so I wouldn't recommend this cruise for any middle age couples, young couples, people with kids, girl or guy trips under the age of 60. Princess is a very nice line. I enjoyed myself regardless and made my own entertainment...lol. It just wasn't for me and my boyfriend. Every day on this cruise, we witnessed some passenger complaining about really nonsense things and we felt bad for the staff, so we would try to joke with the staff after having to put up with somebody being so rude and at times, ethnocentric. So kudos to Princess for having to put up with all the ornery folks with a sense of entitlement. To future cruisers, remember that you are on vacation and probably retired... RELAX! I knew when booking, that Princess would be a quieter ship and I was looking for serenity, but this was too quiet. I have cruised Holland America (I prefer them over Princess, albeit it can be quite older too), Carnival (too rowdy... I am not 20 something anymore) and Norwegian (so far I think they might be for me) before Princess and I am just figuring out where a 30 something like me would fit in. I still have to try RC and Celebrity. I would only cruise Princess again just because I got the Fare Credit for this particular cruise, but I don't think I will seek out a new cruise after that until I join AARP.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We just completed a 4 and 5 day cruise on the Ruby Princess. Princess offered a really good deal and many people were doing multiple back to back cruises. I will tell the good and bad for each cruise. Unfortunately Princess made several ... Read More
We just completed a 4 and 5 day cruise on the Ruby Princess. Princess offered a really good deal and many people were doing multiple back to back cruises. I will tell the good and bad for each cruise. Unfortunately Princess made several very aggravating errors at the beginning of each cruise and these spoiled the mood. You know the expression “never fool with someone else’s money”, well Princess really made some major missteps on each cruise. The first cruise was a 4 day cruise, they could find no record of our shareholder credit and also lost our vouchers for the ”Crown Grill” The front desk was clueless. It took 2 days of our 4 day cruise to straighten this out. Never did they apologize for their mistakes even after they were shown documentation of our credits. On the second cruise they managed to lose our coffee card, this only took one day to get corrected. When you start cruises with this aggravation it is a real downer. Our Meet and Greets went well and Princess was good enough to have their senior officers attend. Nice job to the organizers of both Meet and Greets. Our Gift Exchange went very well. The handsome gentleman who ran it had a great sense of humor. Princess did charge us $10 for the use of a microphone at the event. Really Princess this is a bit petty, charging for a microphone at an event for Cruise Critic. Let me discuss some positives: The entertainment production shows were outstanding, especially the show”Once Upon a Dream”. This was one of the best and most interesting shows I have ever seen at sea. The Deputy Cruise Director, Frenchy, was charming and Chris and Kat from the Cruise Directors staff were also very good. The comedian, Miguel Washington was very funny and did a clean and perceptive show. Unfortunately the Cruise Director, Lee Childers, was not around much, only saw him at the evening shows. Other CD’s are usually all over the ship. Our cabin was nice. I was worried as we were directly under the Lido deck. However we never heard any noise from above. Our room stewards were good and kept our room clean and tidy. Food was good to very good. The french onion soup was a treat and the filet mignon was outstanding. Here is a tip, if you like ice cream sundaes and banana splits, order the “Volcano”. It is on the children’s menu but even us adults can order it. Ice tea was rarely refilled without being asked, also waiters really should take the women’s orders first. Princess does not seem to train their waiters to do this. The Muster drills were well done. Some cruise lines have you stand outside on the deck, Princess drills were much better as they were in public rooms and you could sit down, remember some cruisers have physical ailments that make standing for any length of time difficult or impossible. I do need to mention about the lack of Purell dispensers at the entrance of the main sit down restaurants. Also the soap dispensers in the restrooms were either empty or near empty. All in all we had a good time, had we not had the hassles at the beginning of each it would have been a whole lot better.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Princess Ruby Review This cruise started off fine in Fort Lauderdale, as we went to Lester's diner, a Christmas Boat parade, and Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor. This was the beginning of a very long week I'm afraid. DAY ... Read More
Princess Ruby Review This cruise started off fine in Fort Lauderdale, as we went to Lester's diner, a Christmas Boat parade, and Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor. This was the beginning of a very long week I'm afraid. DAY 1 EMBARKATION DAY... left the hotel at 10:30 and arrived at the terminal by 11:00. We sat un till 11:45 as they we still disembarking the previous guests. Got our sign and sail cards, walked past the photographers and were aboard at 12:10. We were told our room was ready, so off we went.. This started the problems. This was supposed to be a handicapped room.. Well needless to say 2 twin beds not put together and no 3rd bed in sight. Called the stateroom attendant who told me he was at lunch till noon. (Strike 1), okay on to Purser's desk.. no luck there as the entire ship is filled. Got a rollaway, we walked around, took pictures and had some lunch. Food is typical. Arrived back to unpack the suitcases and decorate our door. Muster drill, meeting up with friends and then to dinner. Food really good, service a little slow, but it's the first night. Back to room before the show.. Stateroom attendant told me I had to speak to his supervisor as my door decoration had to come down. This is a 12 x12 scrapbook paper that says "are we there yet"? With our itinerary on it. Well, according to Princess this is a "safety issue" Talked to the supervisor who still didn't give me an answer as to how a piece of paper is a safety/security issue so off to the purser's desk again.. Asked to speak to the Hotel Manager.. NOPE..(strike 2). Told them how can a piece of paper be of concern, when the rollaway is a fire hazard, blocking the door to the balcony that we paid for? "Sorry maam". Ok, so off to see a lame comedian and to bed. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day at Princess Cay.. But after this.. It'll be Royal all the way. Day 2.. No Princess Cay The captain announced about 7 am that there was no way we could be tendered into princess Cay, so it was our first of 3 sea days. There wasn't a whole lot to do, but I spent the day reading a good book and watching "MUTS".. Movies under the stars. The food has improved and it's typical, but in the Horizon Court (aka windjammer} we had Matzo Ball soup. There were a lot of odd things like smoked eel, and other odd fish. For dinner I had spaghetti and meatballs, as there is a lot of shellfish on the menu. Dining room waiter is Laura and assistant is Jeff. Don't see much of him at all. As for our stateroom attendant.. We never see him, and it's a really good thing as I would have a few not polite words to share with him about good customer service. We went to the production show "Stardust" which again was typical. We were told to see this singer in the Crooners Lounge named Bert Stratton. This man has made the evening complete. We went at 9:15and back again at 11:15, a great combination of singing and comedy. Tomorrow's another day. Day 3.. 2nd sea day We are up and dressed and ready to go to a presentation about the Captain's circle. Similar to the RCCL program, and we will see if our Carnival points convert. Rainy day, kind of cold, so it's day to read a good book. Formal day was great as mort people dressed up, plus they had a champagne waterfall which was really neat, but everything good seems to happen in the Piazza about 7pm which is right in the middle of 1st seat dining. After that it was on to watch Bert Stratton and then bed as tomorrow if St. Maarten. DAY 4, St. Maartin We arrived in St Maartin very early and disembarked by 7:30am. Nothing was open, but we got our pictures and spent the morning back on ship. Our tour was of the island with a beach break at Orient beach. We toured both the Dutch and French sides with our tour guide "Jimmy" who was very informative and warned us of placed that we should not go to for our safety. Orient Beach is a "clothing optional "beach, but we were not taken to that part of it. Disappointed to find out that the beach is in the Atlantic Ocean and NOT the Caribbean. Back on ship at 5:30 and time to get ready for dinner and then the Magician. Spent the night again listening to Bert Stratton and then off to bed. DAY 5 St Thomas The day started off cool and rainy, but that didn't last long, and then it was off for a tour of the island, with stopping for a picture stop at Drakes landing and overlook to Maegan's Bay. We had a 2 hour stop at the Bay for swimming and we found 2 Iguana's. We took the tour of Blackbeard's Castle and then shopping in downtown for 2 hours. Since I had nothing I really wanted to buy, this was a really boring 2 hours to wait for our water taxi. Back on ship for formal night, and then an early bed night since we were all exhausted. This was the New Years Eve party night, but did not go. DAY 6 Grand Turk We spent most of the morning taking last minute pictures of the ship as we didn't arrive in Grand Turk until 1PM. We did a tour of the island which was very informative, and then toured the small shops at the pier and Margaretville. The beach is right at the ship and is beautiful, but the beach into the water is extremely soft and you sink with no real feel to the bottom. We decided to go back to the ship and spent time in the pool. We waited for pool games which never happened due to "lack of participation" One of the things about this cruise is the lack of interest in the Cruise Director. We have only seen her on the first day, but the Deputy C.D. Tim is out there sometimes. We went and saw the comedienne and the Bert Stratton again. Tomorrow is a sea day and packing for home. DAY 7.. Sea Day COLD!! Not the weather that I like, so we will see. Did the galley tour, and the backstage tour. Bert Stratton at night, packed and ready to go home. Disembarkation... Never saw this, but our color was at 9:20. We waited and were off the ship at ten. Now.. You wait, get your entire luggage that you couldn't carry the night before and THEN go to customs with this entire luggage. Next time.. One carry one is good for us. All in all, the cruise was ok... Not the worst, not the best, but it was a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
November 15 - 22, 2008 Western Caribbean ruby Princess This was our first cruise with Princess, having mostly sailed with Royal Caribbean. This was our second visit to the Western Caribbean, having visited the same islands on this route on ... Read More
November 15 - 22, 2008 Western Caribbean ruby Princess This was our first cruise with Princess, having mostly sailed with Royal Caribbean. This was our second visit to the Western Caribbean, having visited the same islands on this route on a previous sailing. Our sailing was during the maiden season of the Ruby. We went out of BWI to Port Everglades 1 day before our embarkation date, which we always do. We parked at Airport FastPark. The service is excellent. They were cheaper than parking at airport, and we also used an internet coupon which saved us a little more. We took AirTran and they were so on schedule we actually left the terminal early. When we got at airport we took a cab for about $25 to downtown Ft. Lauderdale. This was for 4 travelers and 4 bags. We stayed at Riverside Hotel. They have nicer cabins, but we were in a basic room which was in a section which had not undergone renovation and wasn't well maintained. The hotel was nice overall, but it was old and not up to date in some respects. The elevators were too small and getting your luggage in and out of it was more than a chore. The parking lot was also available for public use I believe. I saw questionable characters there at times, all hours of night. What was nice is a smoking veranda. Port Everglades is very industrial and less modernized than Port of Miami. Rudimentary in operations, and far less staff. He had to make number slips for us for handicapped check-in by ripping up a piece of paper and writing out a number for us. Waiting around seemed longer. What we didn't like is porters "reminded" us about a tip. I thought this was in poor taste. Check-in was pretty smooth overall, not as efficient as Miami but pretty trouble-free nonetheless. SHIP We thought the ship was just lovely. Steve my boyfriend remarked that he enjoyed the layout much better compared to the open floor plan of Royal Caribbean. He said that you have to walk around more to explore the ship, which is sort of true because things are clustered about rather than bundled into one location. This reduced traffic and gave more intimate areas. The piazza is grand. The International Cafe always offered something new, which is a treat compared to the cookies and crap that are always served on RCL. Gelato was good and low-priced. We took advantage of the pizza and ice cream bar up on the top deck. We never got to go to the Sanctuary. We loved the Terrace Pool. Adagio and Sabatinis along with their Terrace Bar and all centered in this area at the back of the ship, making it a private and nice area for adults. Several little pools and whirlpools for private enjoyment up above. Movies under the Stars was great, but sound transfer could be improved. My boyfriend said if speakers were lower the acoustics would be better. It was sometimes difficult to hear over pool noises and wind, etc. The variety for MUTS was fairly good - concerts and first-run films. We saw Batman Begins which had just come out of the theatre. Very nice that they offer a warming blanket for your legs and popcorn. I loved that. My boyfriend was irritated by people reserving chairs on the pool deck, he said there was never a space unless you got out there early. We enjoyed the sandwich venue they have on the pool deck, with bratwursts and hot dogs and even veggie burgers for me! We didn't go to any of the production shows onboard, but we enjoyed various entertainment at venues throughout the ship - R&B band and pianist Ray Coussins at Adagio, etc. In the piazza there were different entertainers available at various times. Princess was friendly to smokers. There was smoking available at many different places onboard. We didn't like the cigar bar, which was poorly designed. Steve says it was much like a sports bar, and situated right next to the casino which made it very noisy and not relaxing. But it didn't really matter because there were lots of other nice nooks and places to enjoy. DINING I enjoyed the dining options onboard because I am a vegetarian and it seemed there was always plenty of options for me - all properly marked. Food was good, and portions good in the dining room. Service in the dining room was very poor. We had traditional dining, our waiter basically left us after serving the main course. He was helping set up another table and we stopped waiting for any kind of dessert or more water, etc. This was a shock. But we did get a table for ourselves. It was obvious from some other people that service was dead too because they were looking around too for their server. Pretty poor. I was surprised by saltines in their package for cheese plate, not even wheat crackers or biscuits. We never went back to the dining room. An exception to the service was from the Head Waiter, who tried very hard to have vegetarian options available for me and went through the trouble to have a special meal brought to my room, which was delicious and made me feel special. It was probably one of the best meals I had onboard. We ate upstairs for the remainder of our trip. Even on formal night, which Steve thought was pretty funny. Service in the buffet was better. They also identified dishes for vegetarians in the buffet area, unlike Royal Caribbean which only had it in the dining room. Staff not very attentive but still more available. I observed that some staff were kissing up for tips..but this was only a couple times. At dinner service seemed to be more on point than breakfast and other relaxed servings. We took part in the Princess Grapevine, an introduction to different wines. We enjoyed this and felt it was well run. Thank you Princess for having key lime pie and a strong variety in the buffet. I was rather impressed by international cuisines, with Vietnamese lettuce rolls and items that are not normally found in restaurants, more cuisine that is favored among cultural circles. For example, I ate lettuce rolls growing up as a child. But they had it. In general, I felt there were many things for me to eat even for lunch. It was a bit odd the layout for buffet areas because it was a type of circle, and you were either going outside or running in a circle, coming back to elevator. Breakfast seemed boring, hated the stewed prunes and eggs were rather runny one morning. Wished more options were available for breakfast. Lunch and dinner were always good. There was no wine package available, but they did give you juice for free even though it was concentrate. Sabatinis was a total disappointment. Our server seemed like a cool guy, but as a waiter he wasn't real good because he failed to provide enjoyable options for us or know how to respond to them. Steve ordered langoustines, which he said had no meat at all and overcooked. I pointed it out to server and they hastily put together some simple scallops to make up for the mishap. They didn't have a whole lot for me so I mostly had pasta. waiter brought out some steamed vegetables, asparagus and carrots and broccoli. Which I was practically insulted by because in an upscale restaurant you can do better than that. Both the vegetables and scallops were probably only steamed. We were not asked what we would like, we thought they would do cater to us to make evening special, but it wasn't. It is annoying enough that mere excuses are brought up for the rare vegetarian aliens and nothing acceptable can be provided by society. Just wish I didn't have to deal with it on vacation. I wasn't really escaping completely at this point. Steve was very disappointed. We were sitting around awhile, they were busy and left during our main course. Three hours and too much waiting is enough for dinner. We never went to Chops because the service was so pitiful in Sabatinis. Steve didn't leave a tip and he rarely does that, so it must have been bad. STATEROOM Layout is well-designed with closet open and bathroom tucked away and not intruding on traffic space. Bed was comfortable. We had a queen that was 2 doubles joined together, we felt a bit of a gap where the beds were joined but overall sleeping was good. They had new mattresses in and comfortable pillows. We were on BAJA deck, we didn't have a cascading balcony near the back of the ship. Balcony is a bit small but still comfortable. We took advantage of the laundry room which is a great feature. It was private and usually free. Coin-operated but that is fine. I did have a problem with the coin part where it took my money a couple times or failed to operate. Clothes took a little while to dry. Steve said television programming was good at sea, more cable channels and options. I liked the items from the Princess Spa that they had in your bathroom, it was like being at a hotel and a nice touch. SERVICE Customer service was poor in general onboard, it was noticeable. I noticed that some staff looked unhappy like they hated their job or hated us, not sure. Perhaps stressed out. On port days it was unorganized getting on/off the boat. We traveled with my boyfriend's elderly mother and her annoying friend, who uses a walker. I was annoyed by the fact that they made no accommodations for them despite their disability. We were all told to go to Princess Theatre and use the stairs, which were apparently not available. After that ordeal it would have been pretty easy to let them sit on end for handicapped seating. No. For the most part we were ignored. It was noticed by others traveling with us. Staff was fairly apathetic to others as well, aside from one lady who let us use the elevator returning to our stateroom from Jamaica. I used the spa service, for mani/pedi. Attendant didn't really talk to me or was warm. People in general were aloof and distant and sometimes rude in helping you. Someone at Terrace Pool wouldn't sell me cigarettes for another 3 minutes till place was "open" which seemed rude. Even at Guest Relations they were not very personable. The Cruise Director was pleasant and friendly, but aside from that everyone else seemed pretty muted, except for the ship photographers, who were always happy. Tips were charged to your account at the beginning of the sailing. Mostly people didn’t earn their tips aside from our room steward and some other times onboard. We took part in formal night. Steve felt that because of the “freestyle cruising” concept formal night had lost its appeal. We saw several people with t-shirts underneath their blazer, or wearing sundresses. It almost made dressing up an oxymoron. But we did see some people in black-tie attired. We felt a bit awkward next to those wearing less than business-casual though. We liked all our photos and bought most of them. Lighting was good, photos didn’t seem harsh and we liked the black-and-white photography that was offered. PRINCESS CAYS I liked Princess Cays but my boyfriend didn’t. He thought it was boring. I thought it was cute and it was the right size for me, not too big with a little strip of beach. There was plenty to do. At any rate we left the island early because of weather. We’d been docked offshore so we made an early go at it to get back on time. It was cloudy and the weather not conducive to a beach break day. Getting off the ship was pretty smooth. When we got into Port Everglade terminal our bags were all out in the middle of the floor, anyone could take them. You walk over people’s bags because staff just get them out there. This was cool. Made me feel a little better that I had a lock on mine that if someone were to take the wrong bag they can’t just steal my stuff. After all this mess we headed to our bus transfer to take us back to the airport. We had to sit there and wait for late stragglers, this was very annoying. So we left late. And the driver first off made a comment about he appreciates tips just like the porter when we originally got to Everglades. He by himself had to struggle with all the bags so we felt sorry for him and gave him tips for that. But he also inhibited people to help and get their own bags. When we got to airport he closed the doors so we had to wait the 10-15 minutes for him to get everything out. This was frustrating as all of us had planes to catch. Many people commented on this that he was doing it like we had to give him a tip and some didn’t for that reason and I don’t blame them. It was hot and very cramped on bus. Next time we’ll just grab a taxi. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We were on the last cruise of the Ruby Princess to the Caribbean before she sailed to the Mediterranean on April 18, 2009. This is my third cruise and my husband's first. Embarkment: Very easy and painless. We did have a ... Read More
We were on the last cruise of the Ruby Princess to the Caribbean before she sailed to the Mediterranean on April 18, 2009. This is my third cruise and my husband's first. Embarkment: Very easy and painless. We did have a bottle of wine in our suitcase and security did not care. Formal Nights: Always done on the evening when we were at sea all day. Food: Stay clear of the buffet on Lido deck when you first board. It was a madhouse and people were sitting around the tables talking with empty dishes in front of them. Head out to the pool grill, pizzeria, or the international cafe. We had anytime dining and we thought the food was good. We ate in the Michelangelo dining (less crowds) and always had a table for two without waiting. The only complaint I had was the service was so slow. The servers would wait for all the tables for two would fill and then bring all our food out a one time. If you got there at 5:30 and the last table filled at 6, every table would get their entrEe at the same time. We arrived one night at 5:30 so we could watch the movie at seven. We did not get out entrEe until 6:45 and we missed the movie. I was so disappointed. The first night at dinner, we ordered a bottle of wine. We asked to have to cork the bottle for the following night. The girl kept pouring us the wine. You need to make it very clear you only want one glass of wine. The buffet's food was okay and did serve ice cream every afternoon. There are two different buffet areas and they do serve different foods on each line. The pizzeria pizza, international cafe and the grill by the pool were all very good. We did the ultimate balcony dining, which included fresh flowers and a free photo. It was well worth the $100. The ships photography came and took appx. 8 pictures. Carlos and Roger were wonderful and attentive to us. They gave us plenty of alone time and were always there when we needed them. The dinner started with canapEs and a cocktail of our choice then it proceeded to a crab pastry appetizer, salad (much too large for this many courses), lobster and steak, fresh fruit and mousse, followed by an anniversary cake and cookies, plus a bottle of champagne. Let it be known the ship will only do three ultimate balcony dinners per night unless they are on the same floor close together. We called the first day at sea and they were all booked for the night we wanted. We asked to be on the waiting list and were called the next day because someone had cancelled. I tried to book the dinner prior to boarding and I went through five different people on the phone when I was informed it had to be booked on the ship even though all the literature says to book prior to leaving on your trip. Alcohol: My husband and I enjoy margaritas. We tried them at four different bars on the ship and they were all syrupy sweet even when we asked them not to make them sweet. I did not realize they were from a pre-mix. Ask the bartender to make the drink from scratch and to put some alcohol in the glass because I did not even get a buzz from drinking a double. Laundry: I did not use them but the washers ($1.50) and dryers ($1.50) are on almost each deck. The wash soap was $1 from the dispensing machine. There was a change machine in the room but it was empty. If you plan to use the machines, it would not hurt to bring quarters so it would not be a hassle to find quarters. Stateroom: We had a minisuite on the dolphin deck. Our deck had the farthest balconies out and closest to the water, which I loved. Yes, everyone could see our balcony but I did not look up. Our steward was interesting in a bad way. He let us know from the beginning the company worked him like a machine. He worked eleven hrs a day, seven days a week. I did not want to hear complaints from the employees especially from the steward on my vacation. The steward addressed and only spoke to me. He totally ignored my husband from the first time they met. The steward only addressed my husband one time because I called the steward's attention that my husband was also present. My husband tried to initiate conversations with him. The steward was matter of fact, no happiness was in his job, and I never saw the man smile or laugh. On my way out I gave the steward an extra tip because he did do a good job. I felt he was ungrateful and snubbed my husband as we passed in the hallway to leave. There is a full TV and channels guide located in the back of the small hardback blue book in the room plus a small card to carry for all the dining options times and locations. We found this out late into the voyage. Leaving: We were in the first group to leave at 8:10 am with our luggage. We were in the dining room at 7:20 am, and were able to leave the ship at 7:30. After we cleared customs and out the door, there were two reps from Southwest available to check our luggage and give our boarding passes at the pier. Our plane was leaving at 10:35 so there was no charge to check in our luggage. It was perfect. The cab ride to the pier was $19.50 and returning to the airport was $12.50 which we shared with another couple. Activities: I was surprised at the small number of activities offered for the 3,000+ passengers. Natalie really stood out to me on the activity staff. She was fun,laughing and always having a good time with the passengers. The comic Kevin Jordan was very good. The productions in the theater will entertain you. You need to get there at least a half hour prior to the show to get a seat because the theater seats 900 people. We played putt putt golf (bring your own golf balls) and had few balls available. The adult pool is in the back of the ship and less crowded. The outdoor movie screen plays movies all day so check the Patter for listings. They do have different kind of dancing lessons as an activity. Passengers: We had many different ages and nationalities on board. I was surprised at the number of scooters and wheelchair people on board. There were a few I thought that they boarded to die out at sea. Yes, my husband and I did enjoy the cruise. It was okay but not great. We do about three major vacations per year and I would have to get a really good deal to cruise with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Hotel in FLL—we got the Westin Beach Resort from Priceline. The hotel is going thru renovations but it had everything we needed and was right across the street from the beach. Service was impeccable and we had a great room on the top ... Read More
Hotel in FLL—we got the Westin Beach Resort from Priceline. The hotel is going thru renovations but it had everything we needed and was right across the street from the beach. Service was impeccable and we had a great room on the top floor facing the beach. Embarking—It was totally worth it going in the night before and showing up at the port at 11. We were on the ship before noon. The process was extremely smooth. Cabin—Rolando, our steward, was extremely engaging and very cheerful and helpful. The cabin, however, was a HORRIBLE choice. It was an inside cabin at the front of the ship on the Caribe deck. Looking at the deck plan, it appeared it should have been quite since there were cabins both above and below it. However I neglected to notice the Princess theater was three levels below. We heard everything from the theater, including dress rehearsals! There was only one night where we went to bed early where it was an issue, but now I know not to book near the theater. (FYI, this was cabin C211). The size was not an issue since it was just the two of us. Food—we opted for buffets for all meals except for two nights when we tried the Crown Grill and Sabatini's. Overall, the buffets were average. Breakfasts were better than lunch and dinner. There was always something eatable, nothing extraordinary. Of course, the pizza was amazing! The Crown Grill was decent. Better than the buffet, of course, but not memorable. Sabatini's, on the other hand was phenomenal and WAY worth the $20 charge! Our waiter, Alessandro, was hysterical and one course was better than the next...ending with espresso Crème Brule. I also discovered it was less expensive to order a mixed drink, like a Manhattan, than any of their "specialty" drinks. I also stopped by the International Cafe a few times. I am a dessert junkie and I noticed they tended to have repeats of what was in the buffet at dinner but at lunch, they had new and different treats. SanctuaryI booked for the whole cruise cause it was spring break for the younger kids and I knew it would be impossible to find a "good" chair by a pool without getting up really early. The convenience was totally worth it for me...I liked the service a lot and the pool by the spa (adult only) was usually empty. Entertainment—we went to MUTS one night and saw Last Chance Harvey. We wanted to see the Dark Night, but it was Teen Night so the area was way too crowded to find a chair. We also went to two shows. The juggler Sideshow Bert felt like watching a high school talent show. Tony Tillman, however, was very entertaining-not the typical show I would go to...but glad I did. Casino—We both lost big-time...it's a lot of fun but WAY too easy to keep taking out $$ on the cruise card. Service—most cruise staff was very friendly and helpful. The only issue I ever had was in the casino or at the bars if I asked for a tap water. I know they want to sell their bottled water but I felt like I got a slight attitude cause I was opting for the "cheap" stuff. Ocho Rios—I can see why other cruise ships do not go here anymore. You get approached by ppl as soon as you go down the gangway. Every 5 steps you are saying "no thank you" to a cab ride, hair braiding, or drugs. We only browsed the shops and then hung out in Margaritaville, which was entertaining. Cayman Islands—I did this port by myself. I had the "great" idea of trying to walk from the port to 7 Mile beach...not smart in 80 degree weather. I made it about ¾ of the way and ended up taking a bus. The beach was gorgeous and I was so glad I went. Shopping in the port was better than Jamaica, but pricier. Cozumel—This was our favorite port. We decided last minute to do the Atlantis submarine. Seeing the coral and fish was a lot of fun and it's kinda cool to say I have been in a sub. The shopping by the port was the best of the cruise and all the people we met on the island were the nicest of any of the stops. Princess Cay—I also did this port by myself. I had never snorkeled so I rented the equipment and walked to the far end of the beach (past the last cabanas) and went for swim. I saw tons and tons of fish and since there were few other ppl near me, they came right up to me. I wish I had an underwater camera cause so many of them were day-glo and amazing! Disembarking-This was very messy. We opted for "walk off" and went down at our assigned time. It was a madhouse and there wasn't anyone directing ppl where to go so although we got "in line", anyone who got off the elevator after us just moved ahead in the queue, pushing us further back. We got off in about an hour but it just was an aggravating way to end a relaxing cruise. Summary-In some ways 7 days was long with the 2 days at sea. Not that I was bored, per se, but in the evenings, if we did not do the shows, there was little for us to do other than the casino. The ship is very nice to look at and overall it was great trip. They do nickel and dime you with the charges for ice cream and the specialty restaurants. I think I will opt for a European or Alaskan cruise in the future, where the ports are of more interest rather than just relying on the ship for entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This was my 18th cruise. I can't help but compare each cruise to our best experiences at sea. So here goes... We arrived in FLL one day before the cruise. Princess booked us at the Hollywood Beach Marriott. The price was $300 ... Read More
This was my 18th cruise. I can't help but compare each cruise to our best experiences at sea. So here goes... We arrived in FLL one day before the cruise. Princess booked us at the Hollywood Beach Marriott. The price was $300 plus for one night! If I could do it over, I would book a 4-star on hotwire.com for at least half off that price. Wished our travel agent had advised us that we didn't have to go through Princess. We liked that the hotel was located on the beach. We dined at the hotel for dinner and then breakfast on cruise day and enjoyed both meals. The hotel, however, didn't look like a typical Marriott. It was an older building that most likely Marriott had purchased from another chain. The interior was refurbished nicely. Still, not worth the steep price. The room was fine except that there wasn't a full-length mirror and the bathroom door was glass! Pretty, but not too private for families. Tip* If you have booked your pre-cruise night through Princess and want to get to the ship late morning, do not take the transportation they provide! They'll start lining you up like cattle at 1pm, and you'll be lucky to be on the ship by 2:30. The concierge will hire you a taxi. Four of us split the $35 cost, and we had our driver make a stop at a liquor store (Crown Liquor?) that was adjacent to Walgreens. We picked up some champagne splits and wine. We then hit Walgreens for some items we forgot and a big 2.5 gal. of purified water I like to have in the stateroom. Embarkation: A breeze for us at approximately 11:30 a.m. Our room (mini suite on Dolphin 9) was ready for us. This was a relief as some cruise lines (such as Disney) will not even let you drop off luggage before 1 p.m. Tip* I always make sure I bring on a roll-aboard (carry personally, don't check with the porter) all the bathroom toiletry items and makeup, clothing, sunscreen, etc. so that I can start setting up "my areas" and change to a swimsuit and coverup, or whatever and not have to wait for a late-arriving suitcase. Beware, if you are want a totally private balcony, the mini-suites on the Dolphin is not your floor. All balconies on this deck are 100% exposed. People standing on the top deck down to deck 10 can see you. As soon as I pop out of bed I like to go out on the balcony. Can't do that on deck 9 without feeling self-conscious. The ship is attractive, but I find that of all new ships I've been on. I guess I have to say the The Brilliance of the Seas was the prettiest with the glass elevators with the view to the sea beats all. I was hoping that the Piazza, the main atrium area, would in a small way compete with the Royal Promenade on the larger Royal Caribbean ships. It does not. Saw a woman doing the hoola hoop one day....Okaaay.... My husband and I seemed to get disoriented on this ship a little more often, even late into the cruise. Not sure if it was us or this boat. For some reason I decided to try my luck at winning a free spa procedure and attended the must-be-present-to-win raffle at the spa the first day. Forget this. I wasted 45 minutes of precious first-day at sea time. The last drawing was for a seaweed wrap massage. I "won"! When I read the fine print on the certificate, it was for $40 off (approx. 20%). It had to be booked by 10 p.m. that night and could only be used for a port day! This left a bad taste in my mouth. If they understood customer service a little better, they would realize that by delivering what they had promised would have resulted in return visits. Ladies, do not wait to be onboard if you want to have your nails done. I finally got a cancellation appointment on Monday at 5 p.m.! Tip* Do not let them rub your arms and legs during your manicure/pedi with their course salts!! Ouch!!! This hurts after getting a little too much sun. But should'nt they know this?Recommend: The Maitre D' wine tasting. $25pp for better wines, champagne. Had a lot of fun. 4 or 5 different presenters. Recommend: The Italian pay restaurant, Sabitini's. Everything was great. A total departure from the regular assigned restaurant. This was the way crusing was before all the cutbacks and pay restaurants. I ordered the lobster as my main course. It was ever so slightly overcooked with a brown sauce. If you like it the traditional way with drawn butter, ask your server if you can have it served that way. Recommend: The Margharita's. You can get it made with the real deal such as Grand Marnier and real squeezed lime. So many lines only serve the junk from the cartons. Obvious cutbacks: Did not see anything promoting a Captain's Gala party on the first formal night? But they did have the repeaters Princess Captain's Circle party the night of the second formal night. We were assigned late dining so our Circle party time was 7 p.m. There were shows etc. also scheduled for this time. To me, it was obvious they were hoping for low attendance by scheduling it at this busy time. My last cruise was on NCL. The party for the repeat guests was scheduled late a.m. on a sea day. Also, NO musical group at the pool!! Instead, one guy who didn't sing. Big disappointment. We didn't even want to hang at the pool. First time this happened. This cruise was just too crowded. When we checked in, I asked if it was a full boat. I was told it was bursting at the seams. My husband and I are ready for a mid-size ship and a luxury line such as Crystal or even Oceania we would like to try. Lines and more lines, can't find a table at the buffet, etc. People sometimes erroneously equate bigger with better. Now, bigger usually means another deck of cabinsmore bodies, not extra ammenities.Food: Breakfast was fine. I usually only eat eggs and fruit. I had to get the sunnyside up eggs because the scrambled tasted and looked like they were made from a mix. Lunch: Only eat salads and the variety was good and they had extra virgin olive oil! Wish they had sea salt, but I do bring my own packets. Dinner: The entrees didn't knock off our socks as far as sounding appetizing and lacked in quality, especially the beef. We gave the beef about 4 tries. Bombed each time. Princess gets low, low-grade beef. Why should we have to spend $25pp to get a decent steak? On lobster night I asked our server what to order. He said the beef or lamb. Was hoping he would recommend the lobster. I tried the beef. Left half and did not enjoy the half I ate. Entertainment: We love to attend the shows. We were disappointed with the shows on this ship. We did love the comedian, Phil Tag! He's been on Leno and will be on again when Leno moves to 10 p.m. Too many of the shows involved wanting more from the audience. Telling us, "is that the best you can do???!!!" So we had to clap louder, yell louder, etc. Hey, I just want to be entertained! My clapping and yelling will be commensurate with the quality of the entertainment being provided. For instance, I was on the Mariner of the Seas twice, 3 monthes apart in 2006. Saw all the shows again on the second cruise. I loved them no less the second time around. The quality was that good. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
My husband and I have always been cautious about taking a cruise, for one we don't like planned activities and another I get awful motion sickness. Anyway, we decided to try a cruise for Spring Break on Princess based on ... Read More
My husband and I have always been cautious about taking a cruise, for one we don't like planned activities and another I get awful motion sickness. Anyway, we decided to try a cruise for Spring Break on Princess based on recommendations from friends whose children really enjoyed the kid's program. We took a taxi to the Port at 1:30 and were in our cabin within about 15 minutes. We had a mini-suite on Dolphin, which was very nice with plenty of room for all three of us. The balcony has little privacy, because the other decks can see onto the Dolphin deck, but I think that may be the price for having a mini-suite room. The Kid zone was well staffed and the program seemed to have a lot of activities for those days at sea. My son was excited about attending the program until toward the end of the trip and by then he was burnt out on going off to camp (he comes by this honestly). The food in the dining rooms was generally good with some meals very good. The service was excellent. We had dinner in the Crown Grill as well and thought that meal well worth the extra price. The Horizon buffet and Caribe buffet were at best fair and I would suggest either the pizza at the pool or the International cafe instead of the buffets. The pastries at the International cafe were exceptional in the morning and that was where we had breakfast most days. We went on two excursions, Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman. At Cozumel, we took a taxi into town to do some shopping, which was fine. As to the motion sickness, it was fine except for going through the Straits of Florida on both sides of the trip. I had a patch on for the first half of the trip and used children's bonine for the return trip. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
This was our second cruise out first on Princess. We booked the cruise last June and enjoyed the anticipation of spending seven nights on the new Ruby Princess. Our first cruise was on the Carnival Triumph in February 2008 departing from ... Read More
This was our second cruise out first on Princess. We booked the cruise last June and enjoyed the anticipation of spending seven nights on the new Ruby Princess. Our first cruise was on the Carnival Triumph in February 2008 departing from Miami. We had a fabulous time and decided that cruising is the best way to vacation. So it was on to Ft. Lauderdale for our trip to the Western Caribbean on the new Ruby Princess in a double room with a balcony. It was cold when we left Washington state and according to Floridians, it was cold in Ft. Lauderdale although it felt pretty nice to us! Arrived at Port Everglades on Saturday, February 7. We were surprised to find a port facility much older than what we found in Miami, plus pretty dirty. The process was pretty fast to board and our room was ready when we boarded at noon. We were disappointed with the size of the room, but understand that the room plus balcony was about the same size as the room we had on the Triumph last year. Ultimately, we loved having access to the balcony. One small issue that was unavoidable was that the neighbors smoked and while in port the smoke from the neighbors was really apparent. Food was good not great on the Ruby. I personally liked having 24-hour access to free ice cream/yogurt on the Triumph which was not available on the Ruby. The room service menu on the Triumph was also much better than on the Ruby. In general, I did not see much difference in the quality of the Princess food which I had been told to expect. As far as the Ports go, we had a fabulous time zip lining in Jamaica although it rained nearly all the time we were ashore. The zip lining team was great, very professional and safety oriented. Loved it! Grand Cayman was okay. Did not take any tours, just ashore for some "shore time" and wandering. Not much to do within walking distance other than shop, eat and drink or take advantage of the 500 local banks! Cozumel was "interesting" although we did not get to see anything but the dock! We had signed up for the tour of Tulum Ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula. We went directly from the Ruby to the boat that took us to Playa del Carmine a pretty bumpy 40 minute ride where we boarded a nice bus for another 45 minute ride to the ruins which included a required "rest" stop for rest and souvenirs. Tulum is fascinating and sits above a beautiful beach. When we left we had to wait for some folks who did not understand that we were actually expected to be back to the bus on time! Anyway, by the time we got back to the dock at Cozumel, we only had time to "double time" it back to the ship, so we had no time to see anything but the dock in Cozumel. Princess Cays was gorgeous, but not quite as nice as Half Moon Cay that we visited last year. The weather this year was bad Saturday, Sunday, and Monday with some ugly seas. It all cleared up Tuesday and was gorgeous after that with nice flat seas which we really enjoyed since my wife tends to get a little motion sick. Our room steward was Richie for the cruise and he was fabulous. And with all cruises, it came to an end. Took little time to get off the ship, collect our luggage, and breeze through customs. That is where the fun ended. We became extremely unhappy and frustrated with Port Everglades. We were told to go to a specific area to catch a cab. It took 40 minutes to get a cab with sheriff/port deputies telling us to get closer together and keep out of the way of traffic. There was no order at all as to who got or did not get a cab. It would seem to me that a Port as busy as Port Everglades would be able to have experience in dealing with a lot of people trying to get transportation. Seemed as if this was the very first time they had ever seen anyone get off a ship needing transportation away from the port. The bottom line is that we loved the cruise and are planning for our next cruise, but will never cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale again. Today's plans are for Carnival Legend out of Tampa next February. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This was my second trip on a Princess Cruise and I was joined by my wife on this voyage aboard the Ruby Princess from February 14 - February 21, 2009. We tend to do a little bit more "adventurous" travel, and have done a ... Read More
This was my second trip on a Princess Cruise and I was joined by my wife on this voyage aboard the Ruby Princess from February 14 - February 21, 2009. We tend to do a little bit more "adventurous" travel, and have done a Galapagos Cruise on a 20-person yacht run by Ecoventura, and an expedition on a Russian Icebreaker to Antarctica (43 passengers, great experience with Quark Expeditions). So, for us - this is a little different than we normally travel. For perspective, I'm 44 and she is 36. We arrived very late the night before travelling from San Francisco to Miami and driving to Ft. Lauderdale. The next day we returned our car to the airport, and Hertz offered to drive us over to the ship (and didn't charge us anything). The driver was great, and due to the fact we didn't pay a cab, we were able to over-tip - which I really enjoy. I haven't used Princess' transfers on either of my cruises, and based upon what I've seen would consider them way overpriced compared to what I can do personally. Embarkation - this ran VERY smoothly. It took no more than about 15 minutes from walking in to getting on our ship and going up to our room. We met our steward for the trip, Pol, who was a great day and did a very excellent job at keeping our room clean and was always very friendly. We liked him a lot, so my wife was sure to fill out a blue "comment card" that you can complete for recognition of great customer service. After dropping things off, we went out in search of the soda passes ($29.75 + 15% gratuity for all the soda you can drink in 7 days), and then up to the buffet for lunch. I had read many reviews on the site about the quality of food on the voyage, and would have to say that I thought the food was fine. It tasted good, didn't cause any gastrointestinal problems, and overall was fine. It was a slight notch down from what I had on my Alaskan Cruise - but was still very good, and there was plenty of it. After that, we went back to our room to watch the sail away, and then relaxed for a bit before going around and exploring the ship. The ship itself was very nice, and we liked the layout of it. The Sanctuary looked like a great place to rest, and the miniature golf course, basketball hoops, and other athletic amenities were definitely state-of-the-art. We played miniature golf one day, and it took only about 15 minutes to complete 9 holes - but we had fun (the purpose of this trip, after all). We had dinner in the Michelangelo Dining Room (we had anytime dining this time around, whereas we had assigned seating on the last trip). The food was good, and we were seated with people whom we didn't know (they were nice) and it took 2 hours to get through with dinner service. Normally, my wife and I don't take that long to eat - and when we were with her extended family up in Alaska, that was a positive - but we didn't want to miss many activities...so, we learned something. If you go at 9:15, you get a table by yourselves, and you are served faster, and can finish by a little after 10 PM. One night, we arrived at 9:40 PM and were out by 10:15 PM having an appetizer, main dish and dessert - and caught a late show of something. The first night, we also went to the "spa giveaway" night. Now, the spa was an interesting place. I didn't go to the spa on my previous journey, but my wife and I did sign up before we left for the couples massage on Thursday. After going that night, I equate going to the spa as going to a Timeshare Presentation. When we arrived Antwanette (how she spelled it) wanted to show us around, and showed us a private area where only 40 guests were allowed and it had steam rooms, heated chairs, and other amenities - all for the price of $110 each for full use during the cruise. We didn't think that we would use it that much, so turned it down. Then came the "drawing" - which was basically coupons off for various services that they offer - teeth whitening, acupuncture, massage, facials, weight loss treatments for cellulite, etc.. My wife didn't win anything, but another woman won the $40 off a facial, and didn't want it - so gave it to my wife. We went to the front desk, and they scheduled her facial for the next day (we also got them to knock $20 off of our couples massage). The next day (Sunday, a sea day) she went down for her facial and described it to me. For the first 15 minutes her dear friend Antwanette told her about the procedure and the products that they would be using. During the facial she was explaining what each did, and talking about their benefit, and then when she was done, Antwanette was nice enough to recommend that she purchase the whole kit n' caboodle for an additional $290. (The facial, with coupon, was $105). My wife was not happy with the whole experience, and felt that all it was was an upsell attempt. And that was the sad part of the trip that we kept talking about - the constant pressure (especially in the spa) to upsell and buy more stuff. The fact that Princess pictures are $30 each (we saw a couple in line struggling to make that purchase - my wife and I travel a lot - but for them, it may have been their one big trip in five years), the fact that everywhere you go, the pressure is on to buy the Reflections DVD, to buy more spa product, to buy this, to buy that - sale here - shop at one of "Princess' recommended stores" (I bet Princess gets a cut out of what people spend on shopping at their shore excursions). You spend so much time on that ship telling people "no", that it really cuts into my "totally escaping" and enjoying a relaxing vacation. There were many times that I felt that I was at a Timeshare Presentation with the way the sales worked. One more word on the spa, then I'll hit entertainment. We did our couples massage on Thursday. The massage was excellent! I will say that the two ladies who did the massage were in the top 10% of massages that I've had in my life (and I've had quite a few). Right pressure, right tempo, all very nice (although at $269 for 100 minutes - 50 minutes for each of us, it was expensive). I would recommend the massage - HOWEVER, all throughout I kept waiting for the "upsell". I had told my wife before hand that it would probably be massage oil that they would try to get us to buy. Sure enough, after it was over, they left us for a few minutes - and came back and did a little presentation on how buying this massage oil would be great and we could re-create this experience with just the two of us. I told them "no" (and again, this kind of ruined the great spa experience for me as I always feel slightly guilty telling people no. I liked the two ladies - but had no need for their product - I still have tons of massage oil from when I got married in Tahiti). So, with that letdown, they led us to the Sanctuary where champagne and chocolate covered strawberries awaited us. Once again, the Timeshare mentality continued. The entertainment was great and a lot of fun. Phil Tag, the comedian was hilarious, and my wife would love to see him again if he makes it to San Francisco. The two main production shows, "Ballroom Broadway" and "Once Upon a Dream" were both excellent - although I definitely enjoyed the Dream more, as I loved the creativity with the music and musical themes. As someone who performs Improv regularly, I thought the performers were good, the dances fun to watch (one woman had the best abs that I have seen in my life. No body fat, incredibly toned - both my wife and I always had our eyes drawn to them, we were amazed). Definitely catch the entertainment - it will be well worth it (and no "upselling")! One of the big highlights of the trip was doing Movies Under the Stars. My wife and I enjoyed this more than we thought we would and saw three movies - The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Flash of Genius, and Mama Mia. We got blankets, free popcorn (although an "upsell" opportunity to movie candy for $2) and it was nice watching the movie like that. The Jacuzzi was open, so you could also watch from there. The movies were all good, and we really enjoyed the experience. My wife and I also took part in one of the game shows - Peer Pressure, which was a lot of fun. It's always fun to get involved with those and I had a great time with the task that I got. We also did the trivia quizzes when we could (I won once). The only down note on that is during one of the scheduled sessions, the staff person never showed up leaving about 25 people waiting for about 45 minutes. Then the Wheelhouse changed to a British Pub and we had to leave (the bangers and mash were just "OK" - although they did have my favorite HP sauce). The Destinations: Jamaica - Wow. This is an interesting place. I did the Plantation Tour with Dunns River Falls. I liked this tour. I felt the Plantation was interesting, our guide was funny, and I enjoyed this. There were some good views, and we learned a little about the crops of the Caribbean. Dunns River Falls is a must-see if you go to Jamaica, and don't wimp out - climb the falls. It's not that difficult. We liked our guide up the falls, but the two videographers were EXTREMELY annoying and our group was around 35 people - so it took a long time. The videographers (who were there to hawk a DVD they would make of your climb for the bargain price of $40, although you could talk them down if you wanted it) were constantly trying to get you to look enthusiastic and yell "Hot Hot Hot", and other things, and I just wanted to do the hike up the falls (200 yards), enjoy the scenery and the water, and hang out with my wife and other passengers on my ship who were there and very friendly. The experience of going up the falls and seeing the plantation was great - but dealing with the videographers was not. Additionally, they FORCE you to go through all the vendors on the way out of the Falls area and they harass you incessantly. Let me give you this, buy that, I feel left out - it's enough to take a great experience and make you regret coming. The same attitude was true for the stores that I visited during the 30 minute "shopping stop". It seemed like the woman in the store (there were about 4) kept checking how much we were spending and kept showing us more things, whether we wanted them or not (we did spend about $50 - and I brought out my American Express. They told me that it doesn't usually work and did I have another card. All I had was my ATM, and I wasn't going to give them that - so I said if it didn't work, I would just have to leave. They tried it, and guess what? IT WORKED!!!!). For those planning a trip, Princess has taken Jamaica and Ocho Rios off of their itinerary and from what I saw, added Roatan, Honduras. Having spent a week there three years ago (I became a certified scuba diver there), I think it's a great move - and they have a great marine mammal/dolphin facility there, zip-lining, and awesome scuba diving and snorkeling (plus the people are great). If any activities are done from Anthonys Key Resort - do them! We loved that place! Cayman Islands - My wife and I did Snorkeling at Stingray City and had scheduled the Island Tour with a stop at the Turtle Farm. The Stingray City tour was good, and if you haven't had much diving or snorkeling experience, I would highly recommend it. There were a lot of people in our group, and the stingrays stayed toward the bottom (although it was only 15 feet deep). Only toward the end, when half the people were on the boat, did the stingrays come and play with me - and that was fun. The captain and crew were good on the trip, and they also did a DVD (surprise?!) which you could buy for $50. Since my wife and I had previously played with stingrays (in Tahiti), and there were so many people in the water (she was constantly kicked and bumped into), we thought that the overall experience was average. When we got back, our second tour had left already (I booked them very close together hoping I could catch them as in Alaska our tours all got back early). So, Princess gave us a full refund (I was shocked, and didn't even consider asking for it - they volunteered), and we were told that we could take a taxi or local bus to the turtle farm. The bus was $2.50 each, so we chose that. We walked a few blocks, caught the "bus" (which was more like a van) and headed up there. The turtle farm is great, and we are glad that we did it on our own. We thought we saw our tour group at one point, and they were rushed through, given a turtle to hold (had their picture taken which they could buy - I don't know the cost), and left pretty quickly. We stayed for about 45 minutes - 1 hour, and bonded with the turtles. They had about 8 turtle tanks, and we bought turtle food for $3/bag. And then we hung around feeding them. They all came up close to us, and we pet a few of them - and they even ate out of my hand! We could have stayed longer, it was so interesting just watching with them and trying to play a little with them. I would highly recommend this - but NOT on a tour as you will be rushed through it. They have another section that also might be worth checking out if you have more time (not turtles, but other activities - it's more expensive). Overall, my wife enjoyed the turtle farm most of all of our excursions. Cozumel - We elected to do the Coba Ruins, which took a 45-minute ferry boat and a 90-minute bus drive to get to. There, you had two hours to spend at the ruins (I climbed a pyramid as the highlight, great views all around from the top), and then you headed back. You had the option on the bus to buy a souvenir which is a Mayan Calendar and the highlight on a day you pick. It was $30, and as I've always had an interest in time and calendars - bought it, and was happy with the product when I got it. Lunch was Subway (one woman commented that "I come all the way to Mexico and got Subway????" - but I was glad as I knew what it was, that it was edible, and was happy with the sandwich). The only sad thing is that we didn't get to spend any time in Playa Del Carmen, which is where the ferry leaves you and you walk to your bus. As a matter of fact, the guides MADE sure that you didn't shop anywhere in this community (and this was true from the three other tours that stopped there, form what people told me). I think Princess doesn't have any deals with the vendors here, so need to make sure the passengers spend money in Cozumel and not in Playa Del Carmen. My wife was very upset as they had a Starbucks there and she REALLY wanted to go…so close, yet so far… Overall, it was a good trip, but you really are pressed for time. It's good exercise, but I would think Tulum is prettier from the pictures that I saw (HOWEVER, you cannot climb the pyramid at Tulum, so if that is important - Coba is the place to go). Princess Cays - Great concept, poor execution. I did my one scuba dive on the trip here, a dive called "Boiling Hole" with Ocean Fox Divers and it was a good dive (only 35 feet), and a lot of fun. I left the ship around 9:15 AM, and my wife was going to get a beach shell and we were going to meet at around 12:30 PM at a store from the map. Well, I get back from my dive at 11:45 AM (15 minutes early), and I see my wife at the dock. Apparently, she had JUST arrived, and it had taken her well over an hour to get off the ship on the tender and get to Eleuthera (the actual name of the island in the Bahamas that Princess owns a piece of). She was not happy at all. She also informed me that a bunch of people gave up on going to the island and left the Princess Theatre where you met and went back upstairs. We rushed to get to the clamshell claim area (we only had 10 minutes to claim it), and ended up spending about 15 minutes in it. We then went to eat, and then it rained, so we went back on the ship. I think they could skip this stop in the future unless they find a better way to get people on and off the ship. The line to get back was also incredibly long. Final thoughts - I enjoyed the cruise (with the exception of the "upselling" pressure) and liked the little things - the milk and cookies at 3 PM in the pool area, or the good service. We ate at Sabatinis (never again, below average service and mediocre food) and the Crown Grill (definitely again on the next cruise - awesome food and awesome service). We had fun, but Princess needs to stop the upselling so much. As it is, I probably won't visit their spa ever again - so, if they want to drive away customers from some of their services, they are doing a great job. Besides that - all was well and good on the Ruby Princess. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
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
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
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
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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