Cruise Ratings
Sail Date: June 2015
The Ruby Princess is a very young ship that is the largest in the Princess fleet. They kept many of the basic layout and design elements from all of their other ships, but also made some rather notable changes. The Piazza is much larger ... Read More
The Ruby Princess is a very young ship that is the largest in the Princess fleet. They kept many of the basic layout and design elements from all of their other ships, but also made some rather notable changes. The Piazza is much larger and capable of holding more traditional entertainment events; the down side is that it interferes with the programming of Crooners (their piano bar). The Horizon Cafe is larger and joined by a Pastry Shop and the Horizon Bistro; in addition they have changed from the racetrack serving areas and gone to walk through serving areas. These changes to Horizon have allowed for greater variety and more ease of service. The Princess theatre is larger but feels more intimate. They added a “bridge” which is a curved outcropping on the pool deck that has a see-through floor, allowing for a different view of the water and, when positioned right, the port; this is a real waste as few, if anyone, walked it more than once…after all, how many views of the water do we really need. The have failed to improve the layout of the basic staterooms (I can’t speak for the various size suites). The shower is larger and no longer the tube units, but the overall size of the bathrooms doesn’t fee any different (if anything, they feel smaller). They still have an extremely limited number of electrical outlets (2) and they’re located at the desks; this means that if you have a CPAP or want to have an alarm or backlit clock next to your bed you need to run extension cords and risk overloading one or both of the outlets. A recent voyage aboard a Royal Caribbean vessel showed that having outlets on either side of the bed is possible so I don’t know why Princess couldn’t have done the same. There are still three elevator areas, but only two of them (the ones on either end of the ship) have stairwells that go from the lowest passenger floor to the top of the ship; the middle stairs stop at the 8th floor. Considering the demand for elevators at peak periods, this is a serious problem and creates significant irritations to those of us who would use the stairs rather than stand around for 10 minutes (I kid you not) or more. The Casino seems to be smaller, but that could be an illusion caused by space utilization. The Passenger Services desk, as well as other service desks, are down a hall instead of in the Piazza area; not necessarily an issue but it can make them a little more difficult to find. There’s an additional specialty restaurant, this one featuring seafood (we didn’t try it so we can’t say if it is any good); the information provided indicates that the pricing is “ala carte” so I can’t speak to the cost. The Grill specialty restaurant is located behind the Wheelhouse bar, losing whatever intimacy and formality it formerly had. All in all, a beautiful ship which, other than the Horizon areas, is not a marked improvement over previous Princes ships and, in many ways, a step down. The staff was, far and away, the best I have experienced in my two dozen plus cruises. I never met one staff member who didn’t have a great grasp of English; so much so that they understood the nuances of American humor and could dish it out, as well. We weren’t too thrilled with our cabin steward, who we rarely saw except on chance encounters and consistently forgot requests or would leave too few towels, but leave tray linens that had no purpose in the room; but everyone else seemed to be happy with their stewards so I suspect it was the individual. The first two nights in the Anytime Dining Room seemed to take forever, but this may have been due to the sheer volume of guests using the facilities; it was markedly better after that. The food, by the way, has been a real step up over previous Princess Cruises (and we enjoyed the food on those cruises). There are the occasional misses, and the expected over promised entree names, but otherwise it made it all too easy to over eat. The cruise director was not very good. She did appear in one of the programs and wasn’t too bad, but her after show comments were flat devoid of the humor that other cruise directors had shown to great effect. Unless she was taking part in a program, I can’t remember seeing her around the ship. Most disappointing was been a feeling of disrespect and uncaring from Princess’ management. We had arranged to take a Princess bus from Victoria Station in London down to the ship in Southampton, as did scores of other passengers. The process was chaotic and disorganized. We were told to be there by 9 am with a 9:30 departure; we left the bus terminal a little after noon. When we arrived at the bus station we stood in line for 30 or 40 minutes before being given a ticket which would dictate when we’d actually leave for the ship. They took our luggage while we were in line, but didn’t tell us that our luggage would be taken by truck instead of on the bus with us; thus we wouldn’t have our carry on luggage when we arrived at the ship. That morning we all received an email from Princess saying the ship would be at a different pier due to weather conditions; evidently they never told the bus driver because he went to the originally scheduled pier. When we finally got to the ship terminal, it was a zoo with no one giving anyone any instructions. Not only was the management of the boarding process faulty, but once on the ship the feeling continued starting with the Captain. It might be unfair to characterize the Captain as uncaring, he could have been merely incompetent. The departure from Guernsey was a fiasco with people waiting 90 minutes or more to tender back to the ship. The official line was that there was a second ship in port, which had not been anticipated, and a ferry interrupted the process; an obviously bogus explanation as ships don’t just pop up unannounced in ports of call and the ferry would not have been a problem had the tendering process run smoothly. Had they planned correctly, and/or sprung for additional tenders, the process could have run more smoothly and the comfort of the passengers been assured. [The cruise director said that they had never seen this situation before, but a review on Cruise Critic from 2012 describes exactly the same scenario. This implies that either Princess did not learn from the experience and devise procedures for handling it, or the Captain decided to ignore those procedures despite the affect on passengers. It also implies that the Cruise Director either was uninformed or a liar.] This fiasco delayed departure by a matter of hours, causing us to be an hour late into Cobh; the result was the truncating, if not outright canceling, of many tours. Dublin was also scheduled to be a tender port, but the Captain decided that if he hit the tides right he could dock in the port. This sounds good, but it caused us to be in port 3 hours early, at 5 am, when nothing is open and there’s nothing to do. More importantly, it caused us to have to leave by 3 pm, four hours early; this forced the canceling of many more tours and the rushing around for those of us who chose to be on our own (it also caused a half-dozen passengers to miss the ship, having to find their own transportation to, and accommodations in, the next port - Liverpool). Liverpool went off without any real hitches, but the Captain mistimed the tides going into Belfast causing us to be about 30 minutes late into port and, again, to truncate our visit and rush back to the ship. Given the limited window in which to depart (again, because of the tides), I wonder what would have happened if a cruise arranged tour was not back on time (given their guarantee that the ship would not leave without them). The next stop was Greenock from which most passengers went to Glasgow, followed by a day at sea and stops in Invergordon (the port from which one made their way to Inverness) and Edinburgh. After another day at sea, the ship ported in Le Harve for people to transport to Paris or Normandy. Aside from some weather which caused an unplanned closure of the casino, the porting (and tendering) in these locations seemed to go well. The ports, themselves, were all wonderful. We either arranged our own tours or just wandered on our own. The excursions that Princess provides are all much to overpriced and have huge crowds of people; our arranged tours were much more reasonable (in one case the savings was over $100 per person) and the groups smaller allowing for more interaction with tour guides. Guernsey was a quaint, friendly port; be careful with purchases there, however, as they sometimes give change in the local currency (Guernsey pounds) which other countries, and the ship, won’t take. Cobh is a launching point to Cork, as Greenock is to Glasgow. Between those two ports were Dublin and Belfast. We didn’t explore the launching points much, the main destinations were all fascinating in their own rights. Cork was more urban than I expected, but still managed to maintain a quaintness to it. On the way back from Cork we got spend a little time (too little due to the aforementioned bridge decisions) in Dinsale which was very charming. Belfast was very intriguing as the city’s history of tension between Catholics and Protestants continue to this day, punctuated by the wall which separate the two communities; the sights outside of Belfast were awe inspiring. We did Glasgow on our own, mainly walking around the downtown area, shopping, eating, and marveling at the mix of old and new architecture. Glasgow was followed by much needed day at sea. We tend to prefer cruises with a maximum of ports, but we had been on the go since before the cruise (we spent three days in London after flying across the Atlantic) and really needed the downtime. I don’t know if there was some sort of practical reason for the scheduling, but if it had been possible to have the sea day prior to Glasgow, instead of after it, it would have been much better. My sister is an avid follower of the Outlander series (both the books and the television adaptation), so we took a tour in Inverness which was focused on the locations and history related to that program. In Edinburgh we went about on our own. We started at Ediburgh Castle where we spent several hours; our trip there was extended by the delay caused by the changing of the guards at 11 am…you don’t want to plan your arrival or departure from the Castle at that time. We had intended on following a Rick Steve walking tour but quickly decided we didn’t want to do a bunch of museums so we set about walking across Edinburgh to the Holyrood Castle (the summer home of Queen Elizabeth), seeing sights and snapping pictures. At Le Harve we had arranged for a tour of Normandy which, due to a virus which had spread through the ship, I was unable to join. The disembarkation process was exceptionally smooth. Considering the way the embarkation process ran, it made me feel that they were more concerned with getting the ship ready for the next group than they were for our group’s enjoyment of the cruise experience. This was my 8th voyage with Princess; before this I was always very pleased with the organization and professionalism of their operation. I am hopeful that this experience was merely an aberration and not a sign of things to come. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
Last year my lovely wife and I were on a Transatlantic Crossing that failed, due to weather, to go to Northern Ireland, Iceland, and Greenland. We tried again this year on a cruise that went from England to Bergen, Norway, the Shetland ... Read More
Last year my lovely wife and I were on a Transatlantic Crossing that failed, due to weather, to go to Northern Ireland, Iceland, and Greenland. We tried again this year on a cruise that went from England to Bergen, Norway, the Shetland Islands, ports in Iceland and Newfoundland. Weather conditions did not allow us to go to the port of Isafjodur in Iceland, but the other ports were wonderful, and we had good weather in the ports as well. We flew from Dulles, near our home, to Heathrow on the night of September 4. That gave us the fifth, sixth, and seventh in England before the cruise on the eighth. We took the Underground into London, going to Waterloo Station near our hotel. On a scale of one to ten, the location was a ten. We could walk in five minutes or so to the London Eye or across the Westminster Bridge to Big Ben and Parliament and Westminster Abbey. Because of the location, there was a cluster of hotels in that area. We walked down to the Victoria Coach Station and scheduled a long tour on Saturday, the sixth. On Friday, we explored our area of London, including Buckingham Palace, going by New Scotland Yard, Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James Park, etc. There were nearby theaters showing Wicked and Billy Elliot. The Book of Mormon was not very far away, but we did not manage to take advantage due to fatigue. Our tour on the sixth took us to Stratford, the Cots wolds, Bath, and Stonehenge. Obama was at Stonehenge the day before we were. Lovely weather. We took the train from Waterloo Station to Southampton Central Station. We took a short walk from the station to our hotel in Southampton. We explored the core area of the city and had a very good dinner at the hotel. The next day the hotel staff said we could walk to the ship in ten minutes. Actually, it took us a half hour with luggage. I would not recommend it, although the couple walking ahead of us with bigger suitcases, said they were fine once they could actually see the ship. Embarkation was a breeze and our bags were delivered promptly. We could go to our room right away. It was a portside Caribe Deck Balcony room. One might think we could not use the balcony much, but they was lots of sun and good weather, and we were able to use it a lot. Our room was very comfortable and the steward very friendly and good at his job. Food room service was extremely good and prompt. The Cruise Critic M&G was quite large and went well. We ate at 5:30 at a table for eight. Our tablemates were wonderful and we had almost all dinners together. The food was very good. The service was pleasant but no as smooth and efficient as one might hope. The buffet was very good. There were days too rough to use the pools, and it would have been nice to have had a enclosed pool option. Still, I had some very nice swims, and the hot tubs were good and hardly ever crowded. The ship always handled well and Commore Romano did his very best to make sure we were safe and comfortable. With few exceptions, the entertainment was very, very good. This ship was quite efficient in trying to make sure that at high demand seatings there were no seats going to waste. They did this with great humor and civility. Bergen, Norway was a wonderful port. Well worth a visit. Lerwick on Mainland, the largest of the Shetland Islands, was a very nice town. The tour we took to the south of the Island to see ruins going back 4000 years and the viewing of the 2000 year old, intact Broch of Mousa was one of several highpoints, which definitely included the hundreds of Shetland ponies we saw. On the crossing to Iceland we saw the Northern Lights and crossed the Arctic Circle. A wonderful day and night. Akureyri, Iceland and the surrounding countryside was wonderful to visit. A good folk life history museum, a spectacular waterfall, and, possibly, the World's most northerly arboretum gardens, which were in bloom. Reykjavik is a very attractive, pleasant city. Our tour took us through interest country, through the rift valley where the North American Plate and Eurasian Plate are pulling away from each other, to the hot springs and Geysers that gave Geysers all over the World their name. There is a "faithful" geyser there named Strokker. We watch it spout off several times during our visit. We also visited a state of the art geothermal power plant on our way back to Reykjavik. We had three nice sea days crossing to St. Johns, Newfoundland. It started off rough and winding, but settled down. St. Johns was lovely. We explored the city and walked to the charming village of Quidi Vidi to drink beer made from icebergs. The two days at sea to New York were fine and smooth. We got up to watch the ship go under the Verrazano Bridge and by the Statue of Liberty. The ship berth is in a place with amazing views of New York City. I walked the High Line, before we took Amtrak home.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
I will cover the title later. This review covers the Ruby Princess on back to back cruises that started in Southampton on 8/27/2014 and ended in Manhattan New York on 9/22/2014. Princess refers to the cruise as “British Isles” and ... Read More
I will cover the title later. This review covers the Ruby Princess on back to back cruises that started in Southampton on 8/27/2014 and ended in Manhattan New York on 9/22/2014. Princess refers to the cruise as “British Isles” and “Iceland Grand Adventure” for the second half. This review covers all opinions, mostly good to excellent and some disappointments. The Itinerary - Both cruises offered an excellent choice of ports covering Great Britain, Ireland, France, Norway, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Shetland Islands and Newfoundland. Generally, Princess offers free shuttle service from the pier to the downtown area. Not true on some ports. I believe that this is wrong, if Princess says they will take you to Edinburgh, then they need to do that rather than dock at South Queensferry and charge you extra to get to the main destination. Shore Excursions - I found that booking online will save you both time and money. The average savings per ticket is $20.00. That adds up on a 26 day cruise where as many as 12 ports are visited. Beware that there are many thoughtless passengers out there that move up on the bus and take your seat at the first chance the bus stops and unloads. The best solution for this thoughtless move is just give it to a higher authority and take what comes up available. Princess needs to expand the operating hours of the tour desk. Four to six hours a day is not enough and they also need to give the passengers more time to cancel. Currently, there is a 48 hour cancellation window where 6 to 8 hour hour notice should be sufficient. I don't believe Princess is being as customer focused as they should be by mandating a 48 hour notice. I believe sold out tours could be filled almost immediately. Room Service - We used room service several times, so far, five times for wine, and they must think that I am collecting full bottles because they seldom bring a cork screw. Thus, the title “Remember to bring your corkscrew”. I am contemplating on giving the room service manager a “Consummate Host Recognition Nomination” but to have one subtracted from his total for failure to tell his people to carry a cork screw. This is blatant poor training on the managers part. I remember the first time this happened, the gal told me to just call room service again and have them send up someone with a corkscrew. I assure you that the whole Princess fleet does not operate like this. Update: I believe that I know why the wine bottles are not opened automatically. If you tell the operator you need wine glasses, they send a cork screw with delivery. If you tell them you do not need glasses, they do not offer to open it. So, if you do not have glasses and want to drink it straight from the bottle, you are just out of luck. Lotus Spa – Being Suite passengers, this entitled us unlimited use of the spa thermal room. They were absolutely magnificent. It was clean. It was relaxing. Lemon water, tea and fruit was available. Best of all, it was free. The waiting time to check in and out of the spa was excessive at times. My worst experience was at least ten minutes because the gal was making appointments for two people in front of me. There should always be 2 behind the desk, not one. Not many paying customers will come back to the spa after one visit if they have to wait excessive times to get checked in and out. The Suite – Never again will you take anything less once you have a suite. Since we spend a lot of time in our room, this was the best choice. I won't get into the amenities since a description is available on the Princess website. As far as the furniture, I think that I have given more comfortable chairs and sofas away. The furniture was worn and dirty looking. $400.00 spent at a thrift store would have produced better than what we had. Princess needs to realize that the older generation buy the suites and they spend a lot of time there and comfort IS a priority. Uncomfortable sitting furniture is just not acceptable for a suite. The pillow top bed was probably the best of any cruise we had taken. Medical – I suffered a drug reaction in the Botticelli dining room and the 911 operator sent the paramedic to the Crown Grill. Thank God the reaction was not that severe or I would be writing this from my coffin. I was also surprised that a wheel chair was not available and that took another 10 minutes. The office call was just a little over $200.00 which included a shot. I think that this was very reasonable. The Bar – Service was very good and the bartenders helped in any way they could with questions. I liked the beer special, 5 bottles for the price of 4. We ordered the Ultimate Bloody Mary and it sucked. The mix tasted worse than what you get in grocery stores. Really want a good bloody Mary mix? It is easy, combine 28 ounce tomato sauce, 28 ounce water, 6 ounce lemon juice, 3 ounce lime juice, 3 ounce Worcestershire sauce, 3 ounce horseradish, and 3 ounce Louisiana hot sauce. It is better than anything you can buy. Security – When getting off and on the ship, all the women guards were nice but not all the men were. Overall, no news is good news. Casino – AVOID – This sums it up. Attention Princess...you have banned smoking in the guest rooms, balcony, dining rooms and just about everywhere else on the ship. You have even designated special areas for smoking outside and one place inside, but you still allow smoking in the casino. I had to walk through the place one time to get on shore and it STINKS. That's right, it stinks. The carpet, walls, ceiling all stink. I feel sorry for the employees that have to work there to make a living because they have to inhale second hand smoke. Mr Buckelew, if you read this, you need to act responsibly as the CEO and ban smoking in the casino. Doing so may just get me back in there to gamble. In fact, I had lots of extra time on the sea days where I would have like to play the tables. I walked through there and guess what, I kept on walking. You lost my business. I did notice that only a few were smoking, not everyone. This tells me that only a hand full of people smoke in the casino and the non-smokers are disregarded. Internet – It should be illegal under maritime law to have internet service this bad. I thought that the Royal Princess was bad, but this takes the cake. Checking email with Google is not possible, but with other providers.....it is, but not with Google. Sending pictures over the ships internet is not possible. I did manage to send only text emails and also to check bank accounts. Printing a boarding pass is not possible if you fly with Jet Blue. It does not matter what browser you use. The internet manager agrees with this statement that it is not possible with the internet speed that is offered on the Ruby Princess. Again, Mr Buckelew, if you read this, you need to do something. Remember what happened on twenty July 1969? The USA managed to land two men on the moon, yet 45 years later, here on earth, you can not manage to get your ships internet to perform as good as the old dial up service. What a disappointment! Thank God the US Navy does not have Princess quality internet or we would not be speaking English, but some other language. Botticelli Dining Room – The selection, taste and presentation of the food was outstanding. The only area that would need improving would be to tell the waiters and waitresses that the passengers do have other options for meals and that they do not appreciate being reminded that they were missed on those nights where they want to eat elsewhere. It makes us feel like we need their permission to be absent. The International Cafe – The food, service and selection of beverages were excellent. The seating was a different story. I see so much extra wasted space on the ship that I could not help think that whoever designed this deck way under estimated the space requirement. The Piazza – Great musical entertainment happens here. Again, the seating is scarce. To get a seat, you have to be there at least 30 minutes or more before showtime. What really irritated me was those passengers that squat there all day and read or surf the web while the show goes on. How dis-respectable that is. The library was poor. If a dozen passengers were there, then it would be considered crowded. Why have one at all? Luggage delivery when we arrived was very speedy; not like most cruises where it takes a half a day. Shipboard account statements are available for printing at a kiosk by the reception desk or viewable online. Overall this cruise was good and I plan on taking future cruises with Princess. They are very much customer focused and they met and sometimes exceeded my expectations. I have been an owner of Princess (through Carnival - ticker CCL). I like the on board ship credits given to me by owning the common stock and also shipboard credits for being a military veteran. I would book another cruise on the Ruby Princess Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
British Isles on the Ruby Princess  Aug 3 – 15, 2014 This was a bucket list destination for a significant birthday in 2013 that had to be postponed by one year, however with 2014 we were able to board on my birthday and sail the Ruby, ... Read More
British Isles on the Ruby Princess  Aug 3 – 15, 2014 This was a bucket list destination for a significant birthday in 2013 that had to be postponed by one year, however with 2014 we were able to board on my birthday and sail the Ruby, both worth waiting for. For those who do not want DETAIL, here are the Likes and Dislikes….. Bests & Positives of 2014 British Isles Cruise & Paris in no particular order: 1. Arriving at Southampton’s new Terminal and seeing the Ruby again. This was our third Cruise on the Ruby and we will see her in Halifax in September when she crosses the Atlantic on the way to the Caribbean 2. A huge turnout for our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet and making some great new friends 3. The Skywalkers 5-7 pm private receptions nightly for platinum and elite passengers. Great food and service and a perfect place to do Sailaway 4. The very cheap (1 GBP) bus tour and everything else about Guernsey. 5. Meeting celebrity fish monger Pat O’Connell at the English Market in Cork (Google his name and the Queen Elizabeth visits Cork 2011) 6. Having fsh and chips at O’Neill’s Pub in Dublin with a cousin who was visiting Dublin at the same time. 7. Seeing the UNESCO Heritage site Giant’s Causeway and a drive on narrow roads and up cliff sides in Northern Ireland 8. Seeing and writing on the Peace Wall and hearing about the Catholic/Protestant conflict in Belfast from our tour guide 9. As we walked in a rain shower, being offered a drive back to ship by a resident of Greenock and a bus tour of Newark Castle by the Greenock volunteers 10. The bus shuttle around Orkney and hearing about the 5000 years of history and seeing the excavations 11. Despite the cold weather, experiencing Edinburgh Castle, tartans, eatiing haggis, the Fringe - what is not to like about this city 12. A late night discussion for two hours with 5 members of the Cruise Directors Staff. Actually we found this to be one of the friendliest cruise staffs. 13. Hot plates keeping hot food hot and cold plates keeping cold food cold 14. Better than usual coffee at Horizon and in Dining Room. 15. Being in Paris for the first time and on August 15 (the National Holiday) being at Notre Dame for Noon Mass. 16. Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time – awestruck! 17. Great air flights to London and from Paris via Redjavik with Iceland Air. The day we flew home we missed the volcano eruption which may have cancelled our flight for a few days!!! Negatives of 2014 British Isles Cruise in no particular order: 1. Missing Invergordon and the Scottish highlands due to high winds from Hurricane Bertha 2. Street construction and congestion in Dublin 3. Having a camera accident in Orkney and ruining my one year old Nikon. 4. Toilet facilities in cities and towns!!! Versailles was especially bad. Long line-ups at most places particularly for women. On the other hand the DeGaulle Airport and Iceland Airport had the finest toilets we had ever seen. 5. At 4:00 am on the morning heading into Edinburgh, having an all ship announcement saying ‘1st response to Bridge’ It turned out there was an electrical fire which was quickly put under control on Deck 16. About 15 minutes later a second announcement noted all was OK (Most of us thought the announcement said First Aid rather than 1st response. July 31 – Halifax Iceland We flew Iceland Air from Halifax to London. It was a 4 hours 15 minute flight leaving at 10 pm local time and arriving in Reyjavik at 5:15 am local time. Our wait was 2:5 hours between flights so we searched out breakfast in the quiet terminal. I believe we paid close to $25 each for the breakfast (buffet) Good variety but a tad expensive. 3.990 Kr. August 1 – London We arrived at Heathrow shortly before noon and by 1:00 pm had cleared customs and picked up luggage. We found the very reasonably priced National Express to Victoria Station and by 1:30 p.m. and we were off. L12 for the two of us plus L5 tip and from Victoria Station the Taxi L10 with tip of L5 to Hotel. 40 pounds total with tips from Heathrow to London Marriott Hotel County Hall Westminster Bridge Road. Our London hotel (Marriott County Hall) is situated next to the London Eye overlooking the River Thames, Houses of Parliament and the vibrant South Bank. It is a huge hotel, not in height but length. There is only one set of elevators and we had an eight minute walk to our room from the elevator. We napped for one hour, freshened up and checked out the concierge and purchased Hop on – Hop Off (L31 each) for one day and tickets for the London Eye. (L20 each) This way we avoided the line-up for ticket purchase at Eye. Speaking of lines, we picked up some quick food at Mcdonald’s at the Eye. Cannot beat Mcdonald,s prices but there was a line!!! Before the Eye we did the 3D London Eye Show (10 minutes) then had a thirty minute wait for the Eye. The Eye is a very pleasant experience giving great views and great photos of historic London and the Thames. There are about 15-20 people in each car and you are free to walk around as you revolve. We were able to begin our one day Hop on Ticket at 7pm so we decided to do one of the routes and ended up back at Big Ben by 8pm. By that time we needed drink and food and found a nice Italian restaurant closeby (Locale-Cucina Italiana) 36 pounds for wine and a shared caesar salad, calamari and marguerita pizza. August 2 – London Our breakfast was at a nearby Starbucks and we were off to get a Big Bus ride for 75 minutes in Westminster. Got off at St. James Park and walked seven minutes to Buckingham Palce for the 11:15 am Buckingham Palace Stateroom Tour. I had bought tickets on line a few months prior to be assured of getting this tour as it does sell out. We got in the 11:15 line-up and were in the gates by 11:30 am You get a great inside glimpse of the staterooms, exhibits, history and well produced multi media presentations. Get an audio guide (free) to follow along. By 1:30 pm we end up at the Gift Shop and Garden Café. Needing food we waited 5 minutes for a seat – Had a ham & cheese sandwich with scone strawberries and clotted cream. Bought a few souvenirs and Buckingham Castle book with pictures and then spent time on grounds. Back on Hop On Big Bus to Kensington Palace, Diana Playground and finally found Diana Memorial Garden after a 30-40 minute walk. Back through park – went into Palace to use washroom and picked up an ice cream. Back on Hop On Big Bus and went through Knightsbridge, Oxford St, Regent St and finally back to London Eye at 6:15p.m. Part of the Bus Pass also gets three walking tours (which we did not take) and a Thames River Cruise. So at at 7 pm we caught the last boat and cruised up the Thames to Tower of London Bridge and back – 70 minutes. Returned on Big Ben side and found a pub across from Ben for a beer, hamburger and fish & chips and a chicken burger. Fish was cod and excellent. 12 hours later we were back at the hotel. August 3 – London & Sail Away at Southampton: We had pre-booked/paid on-line a National Express bus ticket from Victoria Station for 8:30 am so taxied (15 pounds with tip-10 minutes) to Station. The taxi cost the same amount as the very comfortable bus ride of 2 hours to Southampton. There was just a single three minute stop at Winchester along the way. The driver kept to a speed of 100 km. After he got out of London, there was a 6 lane highway ride for an hour. At 10:30 am we arrived at Southampton Bus Station and shared a cab to Cruise Port with another couple for 10GBP total for 4 people and 8 suitcases!! The Ruby was waiting at OCEAN TERMINAL #46/47 OCEAN TERMINAL-BERTH 46/47EASTERN DOCKS There were very few people at this very new Terminal. We gave our luggage up, no tip. Right into terminal at 10:55 am and checked in very quickly. Waited in Priority Lounge (Juice and muffins) No issue with scanning and taking two bottles of wine aboard. We were about the 10th person on Ruby Princess at 11:45 am. Went directly to room on the Caribe Deck and unpacked smaller suitcase. We reconnected with the Ruby, made Crown and Sabatini reservations and proceeded to Horizon for buffet. Hip of Beef and salads were the order of the day. My wife gave me a Happy Birthday – Wine Package. It was- $160 for 7 bottles. All must be under $30 and consumed in Dining Room. At the end of the cruise we had finished all seven bottles. If you do not, you can order it up to your room to take home. My wife bought a soda package at $4.50 a day. By 2 pm, our suitcases had arrived, we unpacked then explored Ship until the muster drill. We delivered Cruise Critic invites to crew and back up to Terrace Pool for the Sailaway at 5:15 p.m. Stayed on Mid Ship Deck and watched Billy Joel NY Concert on Big Screen until 6:00 pm. It was a great sunny and warm day. Dinner was at Michalangelo – Table for two – no wait. We found if you arrived prior to 8, there was no issue getting a shared table but after 8 pm no luck. Princess is much better than NCL in coordinating shared tables. Finished dinner at 9:45 and off to show in Princess Theatre. The first show was Introduction Show with Princess Singers, Cruise Director overview and a mentalist preview. August 4 – Guernsey from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm (tender port) After breakfast in Horizon, we went down for Tender at 8:45 am. Only a 10 minute wait and 10 minutes to land. Walked to the Travel Info Office to left and up Main St. for info on Public Bus - 1 pound each at Bus Terminus – 75 minute circle run of Island. A few short stops for pictures. Back at Terminus, got off bus and waked up Hill. Visited Court House and a few stores. Visited Marks & Spencer then walked out to Cornet Fort. Did not go in but took a few pictures. Advice: Guernsey takes money in GBP however change is in Guernsey pounds. You cannot use them anywhere else. I paid for a 2 GBP purchase with a 20 GPB note and now have 18 Guernsey pounds which my bank will not even take. At noon we started to walk back to tender. Line for 15 minutes. Back at ship at 1:00pm with lunch at International Café. Salads and a sandwich and tarts. Out on Deck to catch a few views then back to room to get ready for Meet & Greet.. The International Café is a great alternative for breakfast and lunches. They have quality food and friendly service. Great place to have a specialty coffee or a gelato. Our Cruise Critic meet and Greet was at 3:30 p.m. We had pre-registered 90 and 70 folks attended. I had invited all senior crew. Not sure if they received the invites but the new Cruise Director Michael did show at 4pm and spoke for 5 minutes and stayed for 30 minutes to chat other CC’ers up. This was his first cruise aboard Ruby and he did a great job. Our first formal night occurred this day, we had a picture done by Hector (Mexico) who was a very personable crew member. We missed the Champagne Fountain by having an early Dinner followed by the show at 10:15 pm - Colours of the World – Princess Singers and Dancers. Music from around the World. August 5 – Ireland, Cobh - Cork Cork/Kinsale Tour with four other Cruise Critic friends so the six of us met at Vines at 8:00 a.m. – The pickup is at 8:30 am with Michael O’Donovan, the driver, we are very comfortable in an 8 passenger van. We paid 80 Euro a couple based on eight couples however two couples had to cancel at the last moment. Left Cobh for Blarney Castle (30 minutes away). Arrived before crowd. We did not do Castle but walked to Blarney Woolen Mills and walked around for 1 hour 15. Left at 10:20 for Kinsale. Skirted Cork and into Kinsale at 11 am and joined a Walking Tour for 1:30 hours. (History with Herlihy’s Guided Tour of Historic Kinsale). About 30 people. Some light rain showers along the way. After the Tour we did Lunch at Jimmy Edward’s Pub. Spouse had fish (haddock) & chips and I had braised beef with veggies and potatoes. Guinness and soda bill was 34 GBP. Excellent food. A quick drive to Charles Fort and around Town. Off to Cork. The traffic was busy. We stopped at Shannon’s Candy Shop, the Cathedral and the English Market – Met Pat O,Connell (Pat made headlines when he met the Queen in Cork in 2011). We chatted with the local celebrity, gave him a Canadian pin and got pictures. Back to Cobh – Cathedral stop then Ship via Heritage Centre. We were back aboard at 4:45 pm and went up to Skywalkers for the sail away. It is Port and Stilton night. Following dinner in Michaelangelo, we enjoyed the Mentalist Show August 6 - Dublin Following breakfast, we were off Ruby at 9:00 am – choices for transportation included Princess Cruise Shuttles - $16 each return, a taxi – 10 GBP or the Tram for 4 GBP. We decided on the tram but it is a long walk from the Port. While walking to Tram, a taxi stopped who offered to take us to the Tram free. We accepted, then decided to have him take us right into Dublin and get dropped off near Trinity College. We paid 10 Euro. Walked around Trinity College campus – Long line for Book of Kells. Our plan today was to meet a relative who was also vacationing in Ireland and just tour the city. We bought Hop On Hop Off Tickets - 17 Euro each. Got on Bus – Went to Molly Malone Statue, took pictures – across from O’Neills Pub. Went into Pub at 11:40 am for an early lunch. Had a Guinness and fish & chips again – Janice had Sheppard’s Pie. Big Servings and actually one item could serve two people. After lunch back on Hop On for an hour to other points. Dublin was very busy with lots of construction and delays so we actually did not get into any key places like Kells, Guinness, St. Patrick’s or the Jail. Queues were very long. Advice: Pick one or two things and do them well rather than try to do everything. Even the Book of Kells had a tremendously long line to purchase tickets and in the end those that got in said it is very disorganized and you do not see much. We started to walk back to Port but got a Tram instead - 4 GBP 20. After getting off Tram we still had a 20 minutes to walk back to Ship. Dublin was not a particular favourite destination!! There was an excellent Irish Music Show in Princess Theatre at 5:00 pm for 30 minutes, after which we went back to Skywalkers (Platinum – Elite Lounge) until 7:00 p.m. for Sailaway. Our Dinner was at Sabatini’s. Specialty restaurants are a nice change from the main dining room. There are only two on the Ruby although they also have the Crab Shack on a few evenings. The Crab Shack is seafood and since you cannot beat Nova Scotia seafood, we don’t usually try to compare. August 7 – Belfast, Ireland I organized our tour for six on internet back in November with Alister. He actually called me twice prior to the cruise and he ended up with two different CC groups that day. Michael was our driver. We were off ship early and looked for our sign. Cost was 300 GBP for 6 people which would be $160 a couple for the all day tour. We drove an hour from Belfast through pleasent vistas and farms with our1st stop in Crushindale for pics. We opted not to do the rope bridge walk but stopped for a bathroom break at the location. This was followed by a spectacular hill and mountain ride – narrow roads and great views. We arrived at the Giants Causeway, SPECTACULAR UNESCO Site. Google this and make sure it is included in a tour you take. We paid for a bus ride up and down to save time. Lots of people and pictures Next we were on to Dunluce Castle where we explored the grounds (no admission just pics). Our lunch was at a great café near castle. Chicken sandwiches and dessert – 17 GBP. While we were at the Castle, driver went up an reserved us a table otherwise we would have waited. Food was superb. It was 90 minute drive back to Belfast where we did a tour of the Protestant & Catholic sides of Belfast. Needless to say, the religious and political strife is sad and laid bare before everyone. Murals in the Protestant quarter with stories then saw walls in Catholic section. Commentary and history from Michael all along the way. The gate close at 6 each day in the Catholic section. We actually say wooden pallets being prepared for bonfire demonstrations. We also saw the Monastery and wrote a message on the Peace Wall By 5:00 p.m. we were back to Ruby after a full day and by far the one tour we will remember the most on this cruise. August 8 – Greenock This was a Port that many used to go to Edinburgh and the Tattoorather than Glasgow. We were not interested in the Tattoo and after a disappointment in Dublin we opted not to go to Glasgow so we decided to stay and explore Greenock. The weather was cloudy with showers and it sure was cool. We had breakfast in Horizon at 9 am and was off Ruby by 9:45 am in Greenock. They have a very friendly and welcoming Visitor Centre with scotch whiskey samples and great volunteer guides. We happened on a tour around town and to Newark Castle organized by the volunteers It was 7 GBP so when we booked only the 2:45 pm tour was available. W e walked round town, the library, Lyle Kirk and St. Mary RC Church and a walk along the Esplanade and Clyde River. A rain shower started at 12:15 so back to Ruby for Lunch. One of the guides at the Church recognized us walking back so she picked us up and drove us back to Port. A real nice gesture!! Back to Visitor Centre at 2:30 and caught the tour to the Castle. It was an informative tour of a fascinating Castle. When we got back to Ruby at 5pm, the Princess Tour buses were loading for Edinburgh’s Tattoo. It was a three hour drive for a 2 hour show then a drive back after the Show. I felt sorry for those going and happy we had had a low key day around a friendly Scottish town. We went back up to Skywalkers for apps and drink until 7pm then Dinner at 8pm in Michaelangelo. Just like Ireland, there was a superb Scottish music show in Princess Theatre to round out the day. August 9 – Sea Day We opted for our only breakfast in Michangelo on this Sea Day. Read in Skywatchers for most of the am and enjoyed a Pub lunch at Wheelhouse Bar. This is always a traditional treat on Sea Days on Princess and we look forward to the fish and chips and Steak and Kidney Pie even in the Caribbean so it was a must attend in the British Isles. We also went to High Tea in the Dining Room at 3:30 p.m. (After all we were in the British Isles) The Captains Reception in Club Fusion was at 7:15 pm and we had our Dinner in Crown Grill at 8. August 10 – Orkney – Kirkwall – (Tender Port) Like Guernsey, the Orkney visit would be a pleasant surprise. It is Sunday and at 8:30 am we went down to Level 5 for disembarkation, 10-14 minute tender ride to Port. MSC was docked alongside so we knew it would be a busy day. The day before had been a rough day with driving rain and high winds such that most of Kirkwell closed down. Ran into CC group of 12 and decided we would stick together and do the local bus tour. We walked and eventually found the Bus Depot/ Visitor Centre for tickets. A small line-up. Got tickets around 9:40 am and caught the10 am Double Decker. We were just ahead of the crowd and we heard later there were no more buses added. It was quite windy but sunny and a cool 16 degrees (61) for a drive to Stromness and other points. At 11 am we got to Excavation – Village of 5000 years. Did not buy ticket (8 pounds) but explored grounds and saw everything except inside of the big house (the Museum ). Great grounds, garden, beach, fields, exhibit. At 12:30 pm, back to bus and 30 minutes to next stop, the Ring of Brodger – fascinating UNESCO Heritage Site. Got pics and quick walk around site. No fee here either. Back on bus for journey back to Kirkwell 1:30 pm. After getting back to Visitor Centre at 2 pm. A huge agricultural/Clydesdale horse parade was happening . We walked to the town and visited St. Magnus Cathedral. Found a side door and went inside. Just a 10 minute visit – very busy. Got a bag of chips and then found an Orkney Ice Cream Parlour. Delicious ice cream flavours and very busy. We had a rhubarb and custard and a coconut cream cone. 2 pounds each. Walked back to Tender for 3:15 pm. And on ship at 3:45pm There was an Italian themed dinner in the Main Dining Room August 11 – Invergordon turns into Sea Day The effects of Hurricane Bertha affected our cruise with this stop being cancelled. We had a private tour planned with 6 fellow CC’ers but it was not to be. It was a stop I was looking forward to experience highland Scotland, Rough seas and rain most of day. The captain put two stabilizers out and it did not seem bad. We spent most of the day in Skywalkers reading and editing pictures and had a Dining Room dinner. Met up with fellow CC’ers after Dinner at 9:30 am and sat in the lobby. We were joined by an assistant cruise director (Australia). This was her first contract and we chatted for hour. Then four others from her department joined us and we all chatted until midnight. David from England, also other assistant from Australia and two others (Jamaica and England). We had an enjoyable couple hours chatting and learning about cruise ship life. August 12 – Edinburgh (Tender) The Ruby arrived neared South Queensferry at 7 am. It would be a rough morning for the tenders but at least we are here. We had heard there was only a 50/50 chance of getting into Edinburgh. This would have been a big disappointment! Edinburgh was the easiest to plan for us. The city is stunning and its easy to get there via train. Even if you didn't do the castle, the Royal Mile or Holyrood House are great. The architecture all around is amazing! Once off the tender, and you leave the dock area there is a sign for a shuttle into Edinburgh for 10 GBP return. The other options are a train or a Princess Shuttle for $69/pp. We decided to do Shuttle bus at Pier. 5 GBP each (return). Left at 9:15 and in Charlotte Square by 9:35 am. Made our way to Castle. Bought a ticket from HOHO Bus for the Castle – It fast tracks you and costs 13 GBP each. Saved about 20 minutes however by 12:30 when we were coming out there was a very long long line to buy tickets. At the Castle, we spent close to three hours walking around to the various buildings. Did not get audio tour although if we had had time it would have been useful. The longest line was about 20 minutes to see the Crown Jewels. After the Castle we walked out and came to the Tartan Factory on left. Spent an hour in there. It is about four or 5 levels and great souvenir stop. We then visited St. Giles Church. (historic church) All eating places were very busy. We found the Filling Station – 20 minute wait. Had Guinness and did free Wifi. I had wanted to try haggis and this place had three pieces of deep fried haggis (beer batter) with a red pepper jelly dipping sauce. Very tasty. Spouse had a pizza. Great friendly service here. Then back out and proceeded down Royal Mile looking at stores and sights. Very busy with street performers as it was Fringe Festival. Showers continued with breeze so very damp. Visited St. Patrick’s RC Church (Redemptorists), a Christmas Shop, Walked through Princes Garden back to Charlotte Square. Book Festival also going on in Charlotte Sq. Got to bus at 330 and it left at 345. Back to cruise terminal at 4:15 pm. A 50 minute tender wait and back on ship at 5pm. Some folks had up to a two hour wait as the sea was rough and limited tenders could be used. Up to Skywalkers for apps (stilton cheese etc) until 8:00 p.m. Late sailaway at 7:45 pm We chose to do a casual dinner in Horizon Buffet . We are big dining room fans so do not do Horizon for dinner. The few times we did, we were not disappointed. August 13 – Sea Day There is a time change upon leaving Edinburgh. We ordered coffee from room service for 7 am but it arrived at 6am! Had a late breakfast in International Café and went to the Outlet Sale. Back to room for packing as we disembark tomorrow in LeHavre. Following lunch in the dining room we read in Skywalkers for the afternoon, completed packing and had our final dinner at Crown Grill with friends we made through Cruise Critic. August 14 – LeHavre, France Rather than return to Southampton, we decided to disembark in LeHavre. To do this you must let Princess know of your intention months before you sail. We had surrendered our passports earlier in the cruise and would not get them back until after French authorities has stamped them today. We booked a train a few months before the cruise for noon hour for the 2 hour 30 minute trip to Paris. It was a short 5 minute taxi ride to the station and they advise being there 45 minutes before departure. Taxi was 10 Euro and train for 2 in 2nd Class was $80 purchased in May on internet from Rail Europe. The train left promptly at noon and we were in Pars at St. Lazare Station at 2:30 p.m. Advice: Some folks choose to take a 3.5 hour bus tour into Paris, stay four hours and then return by bus. Others choose to do the Normandy Beaches at this Port. A train trip to Rouen is another possibility or you could rent a car. Paris by bus would be my least favourable recommendation. Thanks for your patience if you read this review/summary of our trip. We gain so much from other reviews and postings on Cruise Critic, we feel we are giving a bit back. Next year the Royal will be doing this cruise. Having had a Caribbean sailing on her last year, we can attest she will offer a wonderful cruise on this itinerary. To close, I have summarized a few high and low points from our 2014 UK and Paris adventure. As you can see the positives far outweigh the negatives. August 15 – To Paris Up at 6:30 a.m. – Breakfast at Horizon by 8:30 a.m. Paid off our account then finished the one book I took from the library (Left Bank) between 9 am and 10 am Disembarked at 10:45 am. Picked up suitcases and taxi right at exit to the Train Station. 10 Euro to bus station. Waited in line 20 mins for ticket processing. On train at 11:50 and left at noon. About 5 stops going in. Arrived about 15 minutes late (at 2:45 pm in Paris) August 15 – 19 in Paris Did Hop On – Hop off for two days and touring on our own for two days plus did a day in Versailles.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
This was our first Princess Cruise, overall it would have been a mainly positive experience, but we were let down by Princesses greed who sell cabins to passengers that are not fit for purpose, I have since found a previous review by a ... Read More
This was our first Princess Cruise, overall it would have been a mainly positive experience, but we were let down by Princesses greed who sell cabins to passengers that are not fit for purpose, I have since found a previous review by a person in the same block, wish I had seen this before we cruised. It was a shame because we loved our cabin steward and we loved the layout of the room, but sadly we are human and we do need to sleep. We thought the food was ok, it would have been even better if we had any green vegetables with our main course other than carrots for the first 7 nights!!! Even upstairs in the Horizon court they had a lovely roast joint but no green vegetables, Why do Princess hide stuff away, there was lovely scones in the afternoon but no cream , eventually we found out there is cream but you have to ask for it. At breakfast in Horizon court there is no English bacon unless you asked for it and then they would produce it from some hidden cupboard!!!!!!!! We didn't think the staff attitude was anywhere near the service on Celebrity, we saw several staff members being quite rude and surly to elderly passengers, throwing their eyes up in the the air etc and banging plates down in front of them at the dining table. The deck hands /security did not enforce the pool rules regarding babies in diapers in the hot tubs or the adult pool, consequently we didn't use them at all a first for me on a cruise!!!! To end on a positive note we thought all the staff in the International cafe were excellent, friendly and efficient, even though they were some of the busiest people on the ship. We thought the entertainment was also very good, although we thought some of the scheduling was a little off we had second seating dining, which meant we missed several things we wanted to see. The ports of call were all good as expected and while we disappointed not to dock in Invergorden we are sure the Captain made the right choice, and although the seas were rough for the additional sea day we didn't feel any discomfort. Would we sail Princess again only for the right price and being very careful about where our cabin was!!!!!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
We were picked up at Heathrow by Barry of Taranis Travel--bookings@taranistravelco.uk. He was very efficient and transported us to Southampton via Stonehenge, Salisbury, Avebury, Amesbury. His price was great and we could stay as long as ... Read More
We were picked up at Heathrow by Barry of Taranis Travel--bookings@taranistravelco.uk. He was very efficient and transported us to Southampton via Stonehenge, Salisbury, Avebury, Amesbury. His price was great and we could stay as long as we wished in each place. He also transported us to Bath another day. There is an audio guide to the Baths. Will take you around 2 hours and it could be more if you don’t want to hurry. There are lots of shops, etc. around. Probably 5 hours is what you would need in Bath. We were going to take the train to Bath from Southampton but found that you need to book in advance for the train as the price continues to go up the closer you come to the date you want to go. Just like the airlines. That is why we decided to take private transportation because for the 4 of us, it worked out the same price if not cheaper. We stayed at the Southampton Park Hotel. It was okay. Very small rooms. No a/c which usually is not a problem but it was warm. The good thing is they had a full made to order breakfast included with our room cost. It was centrally located so walking was not an issue. Staff was friendly. The hotel was inexpensive. Don't know if we would stay here again. We took a cab to the ship which was about 7.8 pounds. Princess Ship: We signed up for Anytime Dining; however, we could only get reservations at 5:30 or 5:45 and then at 7:30, etc. They would not take reservations for 4 people at 6, 6:30, 7, etc. This has not happened to us before. We always were able to make reservations for 6:30. This time we had to walk in. Currency: The ship did have an ATM machine for local currencies. The transaction fee was $4.50; Euro exchange rate was $1USD = .70 Euro; $1USD = .56 English pound Also if you have Bank of America, Barclay Bank is their affiliate and so no foreign transaction fees are charged at the ATM although I was charged a 3% exchange fee. This has not happened before at other affiliated banks. Also, you needed a debit card with the chip in it to use at Barclay’s ATM. Bank of America’s debit card does not have such a chip so I had to go inside the bank to a teller who did the transaction. Perhaps this is why I was charged the 3% fee. However, Bank of America waived it. In many places you need a credit card with a chip in it. Bank of America suggested I get their travel credit card which has no foreign transaction fees and does have the chip. It came in handy as sometimes American Express (who also no longer charges fees) wasn’t accepted. Cork: Used Butlers-buses.com for 8 of us. Did Charlesfort, Kinsale, Jameson tour, Cork, and Cobh. Our guide, Steven, was great. Great price and vehicle with a PA system. We did not want to do Blarney but we could have. Cobh is a small town and attractions are within walking distance from the pier. Local train station is right by the ship’s pier and journey to Cork takes about 25 minutes. Glasgow: Used Great Scot Tours. greatscot-tours.com Our guide was David Frood. I corresponded with Gordon Ross and Gordon had a van of 15. We had a van of 6. David picked us up at 11 a.m. and we did so much. Went to village of Luss, to the Trossachs, Aberfoyle, Callander, Sterling Castle (David explained the various rooms in the Castle with us), and then finally into Edinburgh for the Military Tatoo. He ate with us at Apex Hotel in the Grassmarket area. Things were very busy. We got back to the ship around 12:50 a.m. long before the buses arrived back after 2 a.m. David was absolutely wonderful. A great great tour. Our tickets for the Military Tatoo were bought by someone on Cruise Critic who joined Friends of the Tatoo so we could get tickets as soon as they were available in December. They were 38 pounds each, Section 12, Row R and great seats. Easy in and out. Also the ship was docked at Ocean Terminal in Greenock. Town is within walking distance from the port and offers some shopping as well as restaurants and pubs. Glasgow is about 45 minutes from Greenock. When you exit in the terminal, stop and get the free Scotch Whisky tasting available. Kirkwall: A tender port--takes about 10 min or so. They put extra buses on starting from about 8:30 a.m. to about 10 a.m. to go around the island. It is the T11 bus.There was a PA system. Bus tickets are purchased on the bus or they may have a ticket stand set up at the travel centre. The bus departs from the Travel Centre. Length of tour: 3 hours 30 min. Unfortunately, we did not take the bus but know people who did and they say it was wonderful. If you just do the town, you can skip Bishops Palace and Earls Palace. St. Magnus Cathedral was good (no charge). You cannot go to Highland Park Distillery unless you take the tour. No tastings are even available at a cost. Taxis are available at the City Center but only go locally. They will not take you to Scapa Flow, etc. And the taxis that will are extremely limited. They were all gone when we got into the port because we didn’t go in ourselves that day until around 11. Also, it was a Sunday so many taxis were not even running. There is a visitor center about a 5 minute walk from the port at Castle Street and Junction Roads. There is a team of Welcome Ashore Orkney personnel on hand at the pier side to guide you to the travel centre. Easy walk to town and around town. Invergordon: Our ship could not make port because of Hurricane Bertha and 75 mph winds and 55 mph winds in the port. We were to have toured with exquisitescotland.co.uk We had arranged Dunrobin Castle and the falconry exhibition as well as 2 scotch distilleries and other places. We really missed seeing this port. We were to dock at Admiralty Pier—small town with shops, cafes, etc. Inverness is about 40 min. away. Disembarkation: David Stubbs of londoncountrytours.co.uk picked us up at port. He drove us to Oxford, the Cotswolds, Stratford on Avon. Very good guide. Very good vehicle. We didn't get to the Ibis Hotel at Heathrow until 9 p.m. at night. Was a long day, but a great one!! Ibis Hotel on Bath Road: was a decent hotel; bigger rooms than the Southampton Park, reasonable price. The 4 of us took a taxi to the airport at 19 pounds. However, they had a shuttle running every minutes for 4 pounds each. We had a very early flight and decided on the taxi.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
First time with Princess and first time around the British isles. We would like to do both again. This was our eleventh cruise and, all round, probably the best. There were things to gripe about (the food was much of a muchness, the shows ... Read More
First time with Princess and first time around the British isles. We would like to do both again. This was our eleventh cruise and, all round, probably the best. There were things to gripe about (the food was much of a muchness, the shows were pitiful and we avoided them, the cruise director was.......) but we do not go on holiday for shows compered by someone whose love of his own voice was quite discomforting and disconcerting. There was plenty of good, quiet music to be enjoyed without the flashing lights. The real plus about this cruise was the interesting itinerary with, what seemed to us, the maximum time possible for people to spend ashore. This meant that cities like Dublin could be enjoyed before the locals had surfaced. The good weather helped (it was a bit wet in Orkney but we had never been there before and we discovered loads between the showers). We always travel stowaway class (not literally but inside cabin) as the room to us is a place to get washed and scrubbed up and to sleep (this appeared to be the biggest room that we had ever been given). We are old fashioned enough to like 'the dressing up for dinner' aspect to cruising and may like to do a similar itinerary with another cruise line. The rooms were always cleaned well and the lady attendant was very pleasant. We have never found room cleanliness an issue on any ship - these people do a sterling job. We stayed at the same table each night and this was certainly a minor irritation and may have been a mistake. The folks on the next table invariably arrived late and caused some commotion possibly as they spoke so quietly in an accent that was unfamiliar to all who tried to hear including us. Nice enough people but very little clue as to what they said. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
Review of August 27- September 22, 2014 Cruise on Ruby Princess This cruise was a back to back including an initial 12 day cruise from Southampton around the British Isles and a subsequent 14 day transatlantic cruise calling in Bergen, ... Read More
Review of August 27- September 22, 2014 Cruise on Ruby Princess This cruise was a back to back including an initial 12 day cruise from Southampton around the British Isles and a subsequent 14 day transatlantic cruise calling in Bergen, Norway, the Shetland Islands, Iceland and Newfoundland before terminating in New York City (Brooklyn Red Hook Terminal). This review will be organized in the style of a Consumer Report test with categories from Recommended without reservation, to Recommended with reservations to Not Recommended. Recommended without Reservation: Itinerary. This itinerary was exceptionally well chosen giving an opportunity to visit and experience a wide range of cultures, customs and sights both around the United Kingdom and Ireland (with a brief digression into France) and on the Transatlantic where each port offered a new, interesting and educational experience. The unusually good weather we experienced certainly helped make this a most enjoyable cruise. Each of the ports offered something of interest to us, even those ports we had visited in the past. It is almost impossible to enumerated highlights as there were so many, but Belfast, Bergen and Akureyri (Iceland) were exceptional. Commodore Romano, the Captain if the Ruby Princess for this voyage, did an excellent job monitoring the weather and adjusting the ship's speed to anticipate any rough weather and to accommodate it by reducing speed to maximize comfort. I will comment on Entertainment in the next section but here I want to highlight the excellent String Quartet on board throughout the 26 day voyage. The quartet called itself La Boheme Strings, four young musicians from the Ukraine who played with great technical skill and fine emotional balance. The quality of playing and the extensive repertoire exceeded anything we have ever experienced on board a ship. Princess is to be commended for finding this outstanding group. The vessel. The Ruby Princess is not a new ship but she has been very well maintained and looks really good. In our experience, on an extended voyage, something usually goes wrong, most often the toilet system clogging for a period of time. For us, there was no such occurrence on this trip. The systems all worked, maintenance was impeccable, she looked really good. It is cliché to call any cruise ship,”the beautiful” followed by the name of the ship. In this case that title is warranted. International Cafe. Princess has a winner in the International Cafe. Starting with the “real” brewed coffee, to the large selection of pastries and sandwiches to the “bargain” gelato, the 24 hour service in the International Cafe is unmatched in our cruising experience. We just hope the upcoming refit of the Island Princess will include an International Cafe on that ship. Fitness Center. Wife and I had undertaken something of a fitness campaign in the months before this cruise and were concerned that we would not be able to duplicate our routine onboard. Not to worry. I had never paid much attention to the Fitness Center on cruise ships before, so did not exactly know what to expect. The Fitness Center on the Ruby was as well outfitted as our gym back home and we were able to exactly duplicate our routines and even add some features not available at our home gym. A pleasant surprise indeed. Recommended with reservations: Staffing. As a general rule the crew was pleasant, hospitable and competent. Some were exceptional, such as the Commodore (to be expected I guess) and at the other end of the spectrum, the early morning attendant in the International Cafe (Ashley Fernandez, 3rd cook) and our cabin steward (Jordan from the Philippines). One was exceptional in the opposite direction. I ran into the Staff Captain in the Lotus Spa several times, usually flirting with the attractive staff there, and on one occasion found him to be rude, arrogant and uninformed about the ship ( a Schettino in the making??). Others, such as the majority of the staff at the Customer Service desk, seemed not to understand that their central task is to be pleasant and accommodating, as well as reasonably well informed. On one occasion, I asked at customer service which function would handle requests for transfers from the pier in NYC to Laguardia Airport, was told talk to the Excursions desk, went to the Excursions desk when they were open only to be told that the forms necessary for purchasing transfers were at the Customer Service desk. Such a failure of internecine communications was to be repeated when our disembarkation tags arrived. So, overall, the crew gets a recommended but there are exceptions that dented the enjoyment of an otherwise very enjoyable cruise Princess Transfers. A tale of two cities. The transfer in London from Heathrow to Southampton was flawless. Luggage collected immediately outside the Customs area, reappearing in the cabin in a timely manner after boarding. The transfer in Brooklyn was a disaster. Luggage had to be maneuvered to the buses outside the terminal area, at a significant distance from the end of the Customs area. Once in that area, chaos ensued. Busses were loaded in a haphazard manner with no one seeming to be directing traffic and no concern about flight times. Fortunately, the driver was very competent and everyone got to Laguardia in time, but for us it was close. We arrived at Laguardia at 12:05pm for a 12:59 flight. Entertainment. As reported earlier, the excellent String Quartet was the highlight of the entertainment program. George Casey (Irish Comedian) was also excellent. The production shows by the resident company were better than normal cruise ship fare, with one production using the LED wall, truly outstanding. Micheal Ziegfield (ventriloquist/comedian) was very entertaining. And, the resident orchestra, especially its leader on keyboards, Jane did a fabulous job, especially with the Dixieland Jazz shows. Other entertainers were average or below, with one ego-centric violinist so proud of his crystal encrusted violin he didn’t realize the acoustic one sounded so much better. Not Recommended: Early Seating Dinner/Other dining issues:. Preboarding, the early seating traditional dinner time in the Botticelli dining room was 6pm. Early, but given medical advice to allow 3 hours after a meal before retiring, not unreasonably so. Upon arrival, the time had been set forward to 5:45, and for the second leg of the cruise, to 5:30. Even if one wants early seating, 5:30 is too early, as least for us, so we switched to “Anytime.” One of the enjoyable experiences of cruising was effectively taken away as we enjoy the camaraderie of a set table for the duration of a cruise. Not sure how Princess could address this, but some form of staggered “traditional” dining, allowing for seating at 6:30 or 7:00 should be feasible. Small issue, the Cafe Caribe aft of the Horizon Court, had indecipherable hours. We much preferred its more intimate space to the Horizon Court but could almost never figure out when it would be open, at any meal of the day. On one occasion, they held a “Pastry Extravaganza” in the Caribe that ended at 1:30 pm, now really who is finished with lunch and ready for a “Pastry Extravaganza” by 1:30? Sabatini's was excellent as usual but our experience with the Crown Grill left much to be desired, the steak was exceptional but service and all ancillary items were well below par. Internet. It goes without saying that the internet speed is atrocious on board. Surely, some technological genius can fix this problem. Finally, a small pet peeve. Why are waiters in the dining rooms trained to ask about beverage preferences, especially wine choices, before meal selection has occurred? How does on know which wine to order, or which to recall from the cellar, before even looking at the menu for the evening? A small issue, so easily corrected and so annoying to be asked every meal about wine choice prior to meal selection. If anyone is still with me, congratulations. I don’t usually go on this long but this was a really great cruise with great ports of call, a fine ship and generally great service. The dining experience on the Ruby was better than average in our experience with some creative touches. We especially appreciated that Princess has figured out how to make really tasty and satisfying sugar-free dessert options. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
I am not writing a long review because the Ruby is not sailing this itinerary again. So I am not going to go over the ports. 1. Staff=Tremendous. Every staff member was upbeat and smiling. Nothing was too hard for them to do. They carried ... Read More
I am not writing a long review because the Ruby is not sailing this itinerary again. So I am not going to go over the ports. 1. Staff=Tremendous. Every staff member was upbeat and smiling. Nothing was too hard for them to do. They carried trays, got extra blankets, got seconds of food at dinner...and the list goes forever. 2. Ship=Great shape. Once you got the layout the ship was easy to navigate. 3. Ports=Lines. We never stood in line to get on or off the ship more than 20 people of so. That is fantastic considering how many people they have to move. 4. WIFI=Not bad. I paid in advance and used my ipad all over the ship...yes it's slow...but I found it fine. It did the job and kept everyone in the loop. We were gone 26 nights in all, so this was a must. 5. Excursions=We only took a few with Princess and they were pretty good. The one that was not up to par, we were given a 15% refund. So that's fine. Things I learned on a long cruise with lots of ports: 1. Bring labels from home to just stick on Postcards...Takes forever to write all that out. 2. Bring a map of the area just to keep up with where you are in the world. 3. Scotch tape to tape the itinerary on the mirror-so everyone knows where you are going and doing each day. 4. Be first in line for excursions so can sit in front seats of bus. Longer time at attraction. 1st off-last on. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
We just completed this cruise with our 14-yr old son. Overall we had a wonderful vacation. Here are the pros and cons: Pros: Loved the cabin--we had an aft balcony stateroom and loved watching as we arrived at and left ports every day. ... Read More
We just completed this cruise with our 14-yr old son. Overall we had a wonderful vacation. Here are the pros and cons: Pros: Loved the cabin--we had an aft balcony stateroom and loved watching as we arrived at and left ports every day. Also loved that this was a very port-intensive cruise. A great way to see a lot of different cities/areas. Services on the ship were excellent; staff were uniformly friendly and responsive. Finally, food was good, not great. Dining room food better than buffet. Breakfast needs work--the oatmeal was grossly overlooked (and just gross). Cons: We are a young, active family. The princess on-board activities/entertainment and shore excursions cater almost uniformly to older passengers. Example--we took in music trivia one evening--the most recent decade for the music was the 70's, and there were only a few of those; the rest were 40's-60's. As for shore excursions, we did the princess excursions for two ports and booked the rest through independent operators. Loved the BusyBus from Liverpool, Invergordon Tours (Gavin Nicholson) from Inverness, and BelfastCityBikeTours in Belfast. The Princess excursions are the "get on a bus and be talked at" for the entire time. Awful. Princess also needs to work on getting people on and off the ship in each port in a straightforward and organized way. Finally, we wasted $160 on what was supposed to be 460 minutes of shipboard wifi service. The service was not just a little bit slow--it was "hung up" much of the time. Add that to time repeatedly getting kicked off and having to reconnect (and reenter login credentials where relevant), and I estimate that we really got 100 minutes or less of wifi time. I think that's too expensive, not to mention downright frustrating when you're trying to do something on-line. I brought this up with princess customer service when we returned home. They were absolutely no help. My advice: don't buy the princess service (especially if you really need the connectivity); sign up for data roaming with your cell provider. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
Our family of four chose this cruise due to it's itinerary (which selected fantastic ports to cover the British Isles) and of course with princess being loyal princess cruisers. This was our 8th princess cruise and 14th overall. ... Read More
Our family of four chose this cruise due to it's itinerary (which selected fantastic ports to cover the British Isles) and of course with princess being loyal princess cruisers. This was our 8th princess cruise and 14th overall. Expectations were high being it was one of the newer ships we'd been on. Positives The staff are brilliant! They are all professional, friendly and go out of their way to serve/please you. I cannot fault one staff member I met and believe they make every princess cruise wonderful. Staff ratio is great; you always feel taken care of. The food at the speciality restaurants was great, better than dining rooms, but not of Michelin style quality. We had traditional dining onboard and were satisfied though the standard of cuisine was not it's highest we've experienced before. The room we had (mini suite) was spacious, well maintained and comfortable. Beds were great, decor was suitable, everything was clean and proper. The space in the closest and bathroom were both decent. Embarkation was a breeze though lines were long. Very professional crew taking care of embarkation and disembarkation. Ruby princess is one of the newer, larger ships. It takes a while to adjust to the space but the public areas are excellently designed and appropriately laid out. You may find accessing some areas difficult since kitchens are in the centre of the ship but it just takes getting used to. Skywalkers night club (doubling up as a lounge between 5-7) was excellent. The service up there was faultless. Andrew the bar manager really has a grip on things and deserves endless praise for him and his team. The Dj there is also excellent, hosting a different specialist music hour every night between 10-11 e.g. 70's, rock and roll, ABBA, chart toppers, following it up with general music. It was great and young and old enjoyed it. Fitness equipment was second to none and always available. Cruise director Martyn was a true gentleman. Found most staff including the captain and hotel manager as well have a sense of humour like ours. Majority of the ship was not amused or conversation went over their heads but we found them funny and lovely. Onboard pricing was suitable and we took advantage of our strong Australian dollar whilst spending. Selection of tour itineraries are great. Wide variety and very accommodating. On shore guided were knowledgable and approachable. They listed wait times in advance as well  both onboard and during the tour for our benefit as well, since many sites had a wait time. Negatives Tours are phenomenally expensive and tour staff really push you into booking one. They scare you in ports such as Glasgow and Edinburgh where cities are a bit out of wharf- saying there are no cabs or buses to take you in, and if you DO want to take public transport it's a long trip in (staff suggested 45-60 mins to get into the main city) and would cost anywhere north of 80 pounds one way. This was not the case and basically a scam. Plenty of taxis available and Edinburgh offered a 10 pound return shuttle from Queensferry. Estimation times are were certainly off. Sanitation on board was low. No sanitiser getting off and on board, before the restaurants or in public domains. Staff rarely seem cleaning public areas - which is not their fault but their superiors instructions. Previous cruise upheld a higher standard and considering the fellow passengers lack of hygiene this cruise, sanitation was essential. Entertainment was lacking or repetitive. Cooners pianist was shockingly bad! As usual too many incentives for buying extras onboard. I realise staff are instructed to make sales but it's very annoying to be told day in day out about their drink specials, speciality coffees and liqueurs, wine tastings, spa treatments ... Tutt tutt princess cruises. Spa prices are not reasonable and I wouldn't recommend treatment for the price offered. Communication for tours and meeting times are not clear. We were expected to arrive late in our second port (Cork, Ireland) and were told the previous afternoon than tour times would change. 8am the next morning, whilst docking, they announced that a retraction on the precious comment, and that tours would be as listed. This gave us 15 mins to eat breakfast and prepare for our excursion. Disorganised and miscommunicated by Princess - just not good enough. Many many issues with wheelchair or scooter passengers, particularly with leaving at port. Many times witnessed immobile passengers disobeying company protocol and trying to disembark to a tender or on a gangway not suited to their chairs. Princess need to monitor this - regulations and advice for disembarkation at port is in both their policy guidebook and patter, so why aren't they policing it instead of allowing these people to hog queues for 10 mins a piece and then trying to move them aside. Hypocritical or absent minded? Exchange rate on onboard money machines is horrible, so use onshore atms. Stupidly, the ship travelling the British isles and Europe (drinking age 18) had an onboard drinking age of 21. Now, I respect the ship is registered in America - though I don't understand why when the cruise is covering European ports. Over 18 year olds could and were drinking ashore and then coming back on board. Where's the logic in that? Princess are so keen to follow exhibiting visiting-port foods and cultures onboard and yet they made two huge mistakes onboard: 1) having a 'gala night' and dressing everything up in the US flag (since when did British gala feature the American flag?) and 2) the drinking age. Very confused ... The internet onboard is ridiculous! We are platinum members and have free minutes, however the computers in the internet cafe are painfully slow. It took 20 minutes load one page, another 20 minutes to print one page. We didn't print. any of our boarding passes for our home bound flight because of this. Our laptops and phones worked better on the wifi , even in the room, so I suggest taking personal devices and not using faculties onboard. I understand were at sea but why would my laptop take 1 minute to load a page and the computers onboard 20? Internet cafe manager was not helpful with this. The biggest negative was the fellow passengers. They were excruciating. I have never been surrounded on any trip with that many racist, arrogant, poorly mannered and small minded passengers. We were one of the very few Australians travelling onboard- the majority being Americans (67% I heard at the welcome aboard party) and I think we Aussie's (not Auzzzie's) have a much higher tolerance and acceptance threshold for nationalities and cultures. We are far more relaxed travellers and it was a shame to be constantly surrounded by rude people. A real spoiler. Definitely enjoyed sailing with the British more. Overall: As usual, we favour Princess Cruises and prefer travelling with a familiar, upscale cruise line. We usually choose our cruises based on itinerary- not the ships or the dining- and are overall satisfied with our experiences. We would cruise again with Princess. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
We were looking for a deal in the UK school holidays and sure did we find one. We found the cruise on sale at £599 which at £50 pppn summer holidays was unbeatable. We were not sure about the ports being so close to home, but felt ... Read More
We were looking for a deal in the UK school holidays and sure did we find one. We found the cruise on sale at £599 which at £50 pppn summer holidays was unbeatable. We were not sure about the ports being so close to home, but felt assured that we would enjoy the ship and its facilities non the less. We have been on P&O Ventura twice, and my parents who also traveled with us have sailed with Princess and held them in very high esteem since their very first cruise on the Dawn Princess around 15 years ago. Although the Ruby Princess in almost identical to Ventura in appearance the feel of the ship, and quality of service and food is so much nicer. We were so pleased with the food quality in the main dining rooms it was a revelation compared to P&O fayre. The buffet food quality was superb with beautiful roast dinners my choice. Each night Fillet Steak medallions were available, almost every night I had the fish dishes which in all cases were excellent. I really enjoyed trying new fish dishes that I had not tried before. Apart from the view we were left a little underwhelmed at Sabatinis due to the stunning service and food quality elsewhere. The lobster dinner night was amazing, I had an extra lobster tail and it was delicious. Other party members had the Beef Wellington which was noted as being the best ever tasted. Who could resist the Baked Alaska? We traveled independently at the ports, using local taxis either pre-booked or taken from the stand near the ship. In all cases these were far cheaper and more convenient than using the ships transfers which were overpriced. The only time this didn't work out was in La Havre where we had planned on visiting Hornfleur. I had called the night before to book, but was assured their would be plenty of cabs at the port. We were a little late off at 10.30am and the only taxis left were only suitable for four passengers. The only larger one was just loading a party, and was going to Hornfleur we were told it would return for us, however as Google Maps said it was around 45 minutes each way we jumped onto a mini shuttle bus-train like you normally see on seafronts going up and down the promenade, it was 10 euros each return to La Havre. It was a bit slow and a bit bumpy, when were returning later we were pleased to be told our tickets were valid for the regular shuttle too so came back on that. Their were some very heavy rain showers in La Havre, but this allowed us to sample a couple of excellent beach bars. We shared a Pizza in one, then on our way back enjoyed steak burgers in its neighbor as the heavens opened up again. The weather was generally excellent for the location the rest of the time, it was so nice having full sunny days in Dublin, Greenock and Invergordon for Loch Ness, the locals were keen to point out this was not normally the case! In Invergordon we hired a local car for £70 which was a brand new Peugeot 308SW estate which allowed 5 of us to get to Loch Ness and Aberdeen directly for less than £80 including fuel. This was picked up and dropped off from within the Port entrance so could not have been easier and I would highly recommend. Since the cheapest Princess tour to Loch Ness was $99 each we had greater flexibility and it worked out at only $26 per person based on 5 people. Liverpool was great too, a really good atmosphere as the somewhat inaccurately named 'Giants' were returning to the city. A large amount of people had come to see them, which meant hop on hop off buses were not running. As the 'Giants' were delayed we got a view of them from the ship as they passed close by prior to leaving the port. Many people had been sat on the deck for hours to get a good view of the 'Giants' passing, which a bit underwhelming. Their was a man with a water jet pack hovering and doing stunts at the side of the ship and I found that to be more interesting. Prior to travel I had heard mixed reviews about entertainment on the ship, but the Broadway themed show I saw was certainly very good, as was the American Comedian who despite his references to Dollar Stores etc translated very well. Since we seemed to dine around 8pm using Anytime dining due to our very busy port days I preferred making good use of my All Inclusive Drinks package which I found stunning value. It was eerie how everyone soon knew my name, I was often referred to as Mr Sheen as they many were unfamiliar with my name Sean which was quite amusing. I enjoyed trying all the frozen blended Margaritas and loved the 24k. The Stoli Elit Vodka was great, I was surprised it was in an All Inclusive package given its around £45 per bottle in the UK. Our cabin location was great for instant access to the main dining room, International cafe and Vines. The service at the International Cafe bar and Vines was so impressive, they made the best coffee and cocktails on the ship by far. Disembarkation was great, we delayed getting off at our specified time of 8am and just walked off at 9.15am after a more leisurely breakfast which caused no problems. Overall apart from a few hours of seasickness as we traveled to Invergordon around the aptly named Cape Wrath in strong swells it was perhaps the best holiday I have been on. I have traveled so that's some praise given the local nature of the cruise. I would even do the same cruise again next year! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
This was my 12th cruise, the majority of them with Princess. But this is my first review. The ship: There are two large identical dining rooms, one for set seating and one for anytime dining. We were anytime, and actually ended up eating ... Read More
This was my 12th cruise, the majority of them with Princess. But this is my first review. The ship: There are two large identical dining rooms, one for set seating and one for anytime dining. We were anytime, and actually ended up eating in both. We showed up whenever we were hungry for dinner and were usually seated right away. We never waited more than ten minutes for a table. Having the International Café was a plus, but we liked the dining room arrangement on the Diamond better. That one has four smaller dining rooms, each with a theme. So one always has an Asian dish, one an Italian dish, etc. It was more interesting that way. We don’t really do the musical shows, but went to see the comedians, and the magician/comedian – all of which were good. The string quartet was really good too. We had a mini-suite, as there were three of us in the cabin. This gives a little bit of space, and a sitting area during the day. The couch becomes a bed at night, which is a lot nicer than pulldown bunk arrangement. The bathroom has a real bathtub instead of a tiny shower in the bathroom, as well as a decent size counter for all our stuff. After having a mini-suite, it will be hard to go back to a balcony or window cabin. Because of the itinerary, the casino was closed most of the trip as were bingo games. My son loves bingo. A disappointment for us, but not a major deal. Some people complain about the spa and internet prices. They are what they are. I’ve never been on a cruise when the internet wasn’t very slow and very expensive. We buy enough minutes to check email once a day. The ports: Going in, I wasn’t so sure about this cruise. My brother actually picked this route. But we had a great time in just about all the ports. The weather was mostly cooperative, only raining on our day in Edinburgh and for a couple hours on another. Getting off the ship was sometimes difficult, especially the days we docked around noon. There were lines stretching around the entire deck! Most of the ports had very long stops, which gave time to see a lot of stuff on shore. I had an all day tour in Cobh including Blarney Castle, and took a tour to the Welsh countryside from Liverpool. People were able to go into Dublin at night to watch the World Cup from a pub in town. In Belfast, we had a private minivan take us out to the Antrim coast as well as a tour of Belfast. I think that was the highlight of the trip. Even my teenage son was impressed with the beauty of the place. We did a riverboat cruise on Loch Ness and went to the Castle. We went into Paris on the last day. All in all, I had a great time on this cruise. The ship was nice. The ports were great. I would highly recommend it.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
This was our first cruise and many of our friends said we'd love it. While we really enjoyed our time off the ship in all the ports, I really expected a better time while at sea traveling between them. The food in the traditional ... Read More
This was our first cruise and many of our friends said we'd love it. While we really enjoyed our time off the ship in all the ports, I really expected a better time while at sea traveling between them. The food in the traditional dining room was just OK (nothing special about the quality or the menu) and the buffet food was much worse. We received three bottles of red wine with sediment in the bottom and nothing was done to make it right. The entertainment was disappointing and on par with a third rate theme park. It soon became clearly evident anything extra offered on board was a money grab by Princess. The photographers were especially annoying with their in-your-face approach to taking (and selling) photos. The alcohol was pricey, spa and boutique prices were ridiculous, and we got much better value for our excursions by doing our own booking through private companies. Another passenger I spoke with suggested Celebrity Cruise Line as a better option. As of this moment, I will not be cruising with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
Selected this itinerary based on the ports. Loved the Ruby – she is huge and it did take a while to take the right elevator to the right floor, but we enjoyed the cruise and all ports except Honfleur. Another deciding factor on this ... Read More
Selected this itinerary based on the ports. Loved the Ruby – she is huge and it did take a while to take the right elevator to the right floor, but we enjoyed the cruise and all ports except Honfleur. Another deciding factor on this particular ship and cruise was that laundry facilities are available on each deck so we could travel lighter than usual. We were in Europe prior to the cruise so we did not bring as much with us as we normally would if we were home. We purchased Princess transfers and we were on one of the first buses to Southampton. Driver took us through the towns of Winchester and Southampton. Embarkation was pretty smooth but much different than here in Florida. Hand luggage and passengers were scanned just before we got on the ship so lines were very slow. Princess is very well organized and they seemed to call about 50-100 people at a time so it probably went much faster than it seemed. We aren't out that far at sea so quite a few passengers were disgruntled that the casino was closed much of the trip. I added casino information on each day below for those who might want to give Princess more money… I only gave them $60 more… my DH came out $100 ahead! Casino was open the first night from 8:30 PM to close. Cruise director's comedy (?) said if this sailing can keep the Skywalkers Lounge open past 12:05 AM it would be a first. Day 1 – St. Peter Port (Casino open from 4 PM to close) We took the tender from the ship into the town and strolled through the harbor side and the fort. We chose not to do any tours. Visitor Center in town was great source of information, maps, and some souvenirs. The first of two formal nights was that night that we skipped. We weren't the only ones eating in the Lido deck! Day 2 – Cobh/Cork (Casino open from 7 PM to close) We booked all excursions except one privately. We chose eCoach for Cork and our driver and tour guide, Kevin, was very informative, knowledgeable, and shared this lovely part of Ireland with us. We started out on time this morning in Cobh and got out before the Princess buses. Our first stop was Blarney Castle. We drove first through the town of Cork and parked near the Irish Woolen Mills in Blarney where we shopped after the walk around Blarney Castle. Next stop was one of the remaining star-shaped forts, Charlesfort, in Europe and then on to the village of Kinsale where we had lunch and walked through many small streets and shops. On the return trip to Cobh we stopped at St. Colman's Church for a "photo opp" then back to the ship. A group of Irish dancers, all students, were on the ship when we returned. Day 3 – Dublin (Casino open from 5:30 PM to 2 AM) We took a cab with two others from the ship (cabs are plentiful at the port) that were also on the same tour. The four of us joined six others on a walking tour of Dublin I found on the CruiseCritic roll call for our sailing. Garvan Rushe, AKA www.dublintourguide.ie, is a very interesting young man from the Northern part of Ireland (not to be confused with Northern Ireland) who moved to the Dublin area to attend college. His knowledge of Irish history and culture was combined with humor. Everything in Ireland is due to either the weather or the English! We started out on Kildare Street in front of the National Library. We walked more than the 10,000 steps two of our other members were counting! Also took much longer than the five hours scheduled and got back to the ship later than planned. We saw many highlights of Dublin including Trinity College where we saw the Book of Kells and the second floor of the library was where much of the Harry Potter movies were filmed. Also crossed the cast iron Ha'penny Bridge after lunch at Bewley's Cafe and then stopped at the GPO (General Post Office) where the 1916 uprisings began. We saw many statues, Dublin Castle, St. Stephen's Green, numerous state buildings and some huge metal umbrellas that are used on market day when it rains. The weather was supposed to be in the low 60's but it turned out to be very warm and sunny. I would give this a 4-star rating, however. Garvan stopped and talked way too much and we tired quickly of Irish history and the politics. We also had a somewhat mobility-impaired couple on our tour that were just left behind at their own pace…he didn’t seem to slow down for them but that also may be why he stopped and talked for so long so they could catch up. A few of us stayed back with them to be sure they were OK. Another downside was that there was NO opportunity for shopping and we had to grab a cab from somewhere in Dublin where we ended up to get back to the ship. We weren’t interested in sitting in a pub in a part of town that had zero shops, etc. We didn't spend a thing other than on lunch so Garvan saved us some money! Day 4 - Belfast (Casino closed) There was plenty of transportation into the city at the port and we got on a bus that cost a fraction of the Princess shuttle bus… think it was something like $15 (Yes! $$!) each for a round-trip ticket. We purchased Hop On Hop Off bus tickets ahead of time that took in the Titanic Quarter, Stormont and Parliament buildings, the Shankill and Falls Roads murals and the Queen's Quarter. We hopped off at the next to last stop and walked a few blocks to the BBC station for a FREE tour of the broadcasting house for BBC2. We saw the television broadcasting area and were surprised how small the sets are. Also met the communications manager who actually coordinates the schedules. On the way through the radio broadcast area we were invited to meet the DJ and ended up on film for the afternoon show. They thought it interesting two couples from across the pond were from Florida and on the ship. Still not sure why a radio talk show was being filmed... Day 5 – Greenock, Scotland (Casino closed) Booked a full day tour with Discover Scotland and Ian was our guide and driver. We left Greenock and headed to Loch Lomand where we stopped for a few photos and a souvenir shopping stop...one of many... The loch was a little foggy/misty and looked like something out of a novel! Also stopped in Aberfoyle for photos and more shopping for those inclined. On the way to our lunch stop in Callender, we pulled off to see a small herd of Scottish cattle close to the road. After lunch we finally reached Stirling Castle in the town of Stirling. These remarkable buildings were used during the times of James IV, James V, Mary Queen of Scots and James VI. Upon returning to the ship we found we missed a local show of bagpipers and dancers for those that stayed on the ship or returned earlier. Sea day on Day 6 so we caught up on some sleep. The casino was closed all day and night, too. Day 7 – Orkney Islands (Casino open from 7:30 PM to 2:30 AM) We were tendered into Kirkwall and saw the archaeological, spiritual and historical part of the Orkney Islands of Northern Scotland. Booked a private tour with Susan with Explore Orkney (www.exploreorkney.com). I would highly recommend this tour and don't hesitate to book this on your own. There were three cruise ships in port the day we were there so Susan had quite a task of getting us to all the sites and was successful in avoiding the huge buses everywhere we went! We crossed the island a few times, but we were able to see everything without massive crowds. We first saw the view of Scapa Flow which was used as a travel trade route over centuries. It was also used as the base of the British Home Fleet. During WWII Italian prisoners-of-war worked on the construction of the Churchill Barriers. The prisoners built a lovely little chapel, called the Italian Chapel that tells a story of patience, hope, and camaraderie. Then we drove to the Standing Stones of Stenness dating back to 3100BC. There are only four megaliths standing today. We then travelled to The Ring of Brodgar dating around 1200BC. This is the third largest and best preserved stone circle in Great Britain. We saw Skara Brae, a Neolithic village, in the afternoon. This site dates back to 3200BC to 2300BC and has eight dwellings. It was buried under sand dunes until 1850 when it was revealed by a major storm. Day 8 – Invergordon/Inverness (Casino closed) Booked with WOW Scotland tours today and the owner, Gordon Pearson, was our guide. We started early and first stopped in the lovely city of Inverness. Since it was Sunday, not many shops were open so we only spent about an hour here. We then drove to Loch Ness to see if we could spot the world-famous attraction....and surprise! Nessie was there! Got some great photos and couldn't believe the weather has been just about perfect for us. Again, since it was Sunday, the pub wasn't open yet so we only spent a short time here, too. The Culloden battlefield where the April 16, 1745 Jacobite uprising's final battle occurred outside of Inverness was our next stop. We then drove on to the Clava Cairns, an exceptionally well-preserved group of prehistoric burial cairns that were built around 4000 years ago. Cawdor Castle was our last stop which is an actual castle that is still occupied. The Dowager Lady Cawdor moves out during the summer and opens her home for tours. The castle is best known as the home of MacBeth in Shakespeare's "Scottish Play." Day 9 – Edinburgh (Casino open from 10:30 PM until close) We were tendered from the ship and spent the entire day in Edinburgh. The local shuttle sold us round-trip tickets at the port (think it was about 40 pounds for the two of us) and took us into the city where we used the next set of Hop On Hop Off tickets we pre-purchased from home. Unfortunately, it started to drizzle a bit so we hopped off at the next stop and walked up to the castle. Built on volcanic rock it is naturally well defended. St. Margaret's Chapel dated from the 12th century, is the most ancient building. Stood in a very long line to see The Honours of Scotland (the Crown Jewels) that were first used together for the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots. After we left the castle we stopped in a basement level restaurant and had haggis and a beer for lunch! We then hopped back on the bus and finished the city tour. The shuttle bus service was very reliable and we got back to the ship early. Days 10 – 11 – Sea Day and Le Havre/Honfleur (Casino was open on sea day from 9 AM until 7 PM; Open after we left Le Havre from 9 PM to 1:30 AM) Saw the White Cliffs of Dover around 9:30 at night as we cruised by them on the way to Le Havre. We booked a short (4-hour) Princess excursion into the small town of Honfleur. We were very disappointed in the tour, and the village quite frankly, since half of the stores did not open until 1:30 PM - and we left at 1:00 PM! Tour guide -- an American living in France – was informative. Still second-guessing spending hundreds of dollars for a 3-hour visit to Paris! Disembarkation was a breeze – we were back at Heathrow before Noon and checked into the Radisson Blu Edwardian for two nights before our flight home. We took a cab into Windsor to see Windsor, Eton and Windsor Castle. We spent the last day of our vacation in London. Wish we had more time.... We bought the internet minutes before the cruise at a discount (?) and spent every one of them… very slow… but it did allow us to stay in touch with home since our first grandchild was born just a few weeks before our trip. We used the Viber app and was able to text message and even call home for free when on the Wi-Fi. This review is not about what was BAD (there was nothing!!) about the cruise… everyone has opinions on entertainment, cleanliness, food, etc. Our room steward, Pisces, was fabulous… we rarely ate in the dining room so no comments there. We have no major complaints about anything. Fabulous vacation and would do it all over again!   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
This was not a cheap cruise but there was something cheap about the experience. The ship overall is in very good condition, the staff was very good and cheerful. Most of the entertainment was not great, and they seemed to be catering to ... Read More
This was not a cheap cruise but there was something cheap about the experience. The ship overall is in very good condition, the staff was very good and cheerful. Most of the entertainment was not great, and they seemed to be catering to the over 75 crowd with ventriloquist acts and the such. The duo that played at at the Compass Room was very limited in their playlist and not great. The dancers in the production show were not attractive and it was somewhat distracting, the singers were very good. The biggest complaint to post is that this ship has a major design flaw when it comes to the Thermal Spa and it's location. It is right below the treadmills and exercise room/floor. So when you were trying to relax on the stone beds, it sounded like two hippo's were wrestling above your head. The staff really could not do anything but apologize. Don't waste the money on it. I was a little put off on the spa manager's posted "up sell" list for the therapists that if they sold XYZ services or products they would get an extra day off. That seemed really unprofessional, right out in the open by their computer. The food was pretty good, but we found the signature restaurant, Crown Grill, to be much better. The service was very good, and I have a food allergy (wine) so the staff was attentive to my need. For the price, they should include wireless internet access and change their photo program to digital, instead of charging $24.99 for one picture because they printed 10,000 pictures over the course of the 12 days. Seems like it would be more efficient and then the price would improve. We were traveling with our kids, aged 4 & 12 and both really enjoyed the kids club activities. The only negative is that there were not a lot of kids on the ship, possibly it was the itinerary we went on. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
They should rename this cruise line Pauper instead of Princess. This was my 6th cruise but my first on Princess and what a disappointment it was. Thankfully the itinerary (British Isles) was fantastic and so all was not lost and we still ... Read More
They should rename this cruise line Pauper instead of Princess. This was my 6th cruise but my first on Princess and what a disappointment it was. Thankfully the itinerary (British Isles) was fantastic and so all was not lost and we still enjoyed our vacation. But the Princess Ruby? Not so much.... The first morning we were locked out of our room for almost an hour due to a dead battery in the electronic door. Thankfully we didn’t have an excursion scheduled or we would have missed it. Day 3 the hard-wired hair dryer caught on fire in my hand!!! Not only did it catch on fire but it would not shut off. I tried several times putting it in the off position but it continued to turn itself back on and spit flames through the air vents. Since the desk area was full of papers and a throw pillow I couldn't set it down and so I continued to hold it while trying to shut it off. Since it was hard-wired there was no way to unplug it and the reset button didn’t work for me either. Thankfully my husband (who is a retired 30 year veteran Fire Dept Captain) hadn’t gotten into the shower yet (a wet body couldn’t have helped me) and he was finally able to push in the reset button hard enough to shut it off. I shutter to think what would have happened if I had panicked or hadn’t had my husband there to help me. It took my heart a good hour to come back to it’s normal rhythm after the cabin steward, his supervisor and finally the electrician removed the faulty thing. Another hour lost but compared with what could have happened that is minor. I was hoping that we would receive some sort of thank you from upper management: a bottle of Champagne, a fruit basket or even a note would have be nice but we got nothing. Nothing but a rather embarrassed “I’m sorry” (and a regular plug in hair dryer to use for the duration of the cruise) from the cabin staff. Day 5 or 6 the TV remote stopped working and although we let our steward know in the morning before we left for the day, we had to remind him again that evening and he finally replaced the battery. Day 8 or so 2 lights in our cabin burned out. They replaced them both the next day. It was “smooth sailing” for the remaining few days as far as our cabin was concerned. But sadly I must add 2 additional things to the above list. The food in general was disappointing and there was no lobster night...WTH? There is always a lobster night and we look forward to it - but apparently not on the Princess Ruby. So much for being treated like royalty! Last but not least the WiFi connection sucked! Apparently Princess is trying to save money and changed carriers/bandwidth about 2 months ago (according to Princess staff). We spent about $80 (half of which was refunded to us) since it required so much time for every download we couldn’t accomplish anything. In this day and age there is simply no reason for this - except for them trying to save an almighty buck which I think will cost them in the long run! I’m surprised that Princess has fallen into such a sorry state although considering the problems that Carnival Inc. has been experiencing the last few years I guess I should be thankful that we didn’t get stranded somewhere! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
My husband, 8 year old son and I just returned from this cruise. We loved the ship as it is similar to the Star Princess. This is a large ship. Our cabin was in the front and the hallway was so long that I couldn't see the other end. ... Read More
My husband, 8 year old son and I just returned from this cruise. We loved the ship as it is similar to the Star Princess. This is a large ship. Our cabin was in the front and the hallway was so long that I couldn't see the other end. We found this to be both a good thing and also a not so good thing. We loved the food on the ship. From the International Cafe to the Monticello Dining Room to the buffet, we found the food very good. Our son really enjoyed the kids club. There were only 26 kids in his age group so it was not crowded and made several friends. The ladies were all very sweet and I felt totally comfortable leaving him there for a few hours. The ship has two main pools that are open to the elements. They were heated and several people enjoyed them. We had decent weather. Rainy to sunny and an average temperature of 60 degrees. We were excited about the itinerary and had only book a few excursions as they were extraordinarily expensive. So, that left us to either explore on our own or stay in the port city. This ship does not dock in each big city so you have to find your own way or Princess will sometimes provide a shuttle for a large fee. Just get your details down first. If money isn't an option and you don't get motion sickness, take the coach tours. The two we took were very good and our guides were excellent. The internet is EXTREMELY slow and while I was glad to still be able to run my business and check emails, it would sometimes take me ten minutes to log in. The staff was amazing. All friendly and caring. The ship had 50 different nationalities on it but over half were American. While that was nice, I really enjoyed the British passengers. The ship is very clean and has sanitizers everywhere but there was definitely illness amongst the passengers. We really enjoyed the shows, comedian and magician. I would definitely sail on the Ruby again but not with this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
We went on the North Cape & Summer Solstice cruise in June. We were very disappointed with Princess, we have been with Royal Caribbean and P&O previously and these were much better. Good Points: Mini suite was roomy with a good ... Read More
We went on the North Cape & Summer Solstice cruise in June. We were very disappointed with Princess, we have been with Royal Caribbean and P&O previously and these were much better. Good Points: Mini suite was roomy with a good balcony. Staff were very friendly. Nightclub, lovely staff and good music. (Loved Jackie and Mahesh - they were the best). Bad Points: Food was awful in the self service restaurant, plastic plates, mugs and glasses were not very nice to use. The best food was from the Pizzeria. We gave up with breakfast and had room service at least you got a proper glass for the juice and china cups and saucers. Botticelli dining was not great. We had some very small meals of bad quality. Cheap toiletries in the cabin. Entertainment was awful. Mercury rising (a Freddie Mercury tribute) was in very poor taste and having it on twice was bad. The only decent entertainment in the theatre was The Macdonald Bros who again were on twice. Thank goodness the nightclub was good. They take far too many photos, the majority you would never buy. What a waste of all that paper!!! The TV was not good. On other ships they have on demand TV so you can choose films and programmes. On this ship I watched 5 films partly, some I did not even know the name of it. They had a booklet with channels but they did not coincide with the TV and I ended up watching half of the film and then having to watch the beginning, it was useless. Ashore. Bergen, Stavanger and Tromso were great, needed more time in Tromso 7am -1pm is no good. Nothing opens until 10 and Polaria and the Polar Museum were great. Trondheim would be good but it was raining. Geiranger was a beautiful place, walking to the Fjord centre was lovely. Going on this cruise has put us off cruising forever, the days at sea were awful luckily Norway is such a lovely place getting off the ship was the best!!! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
Well I have been home now for a week having spent 12 nights on the Ruby Princess & can honestly say that it is one of the best cruises I have been one. I have been on about 14 cruises including Cunard, P & 0, Costa & others but ... Read More
Well I have been home now for a week having spent 12 nights on the Ruby Princess & can honestly say that it is one of the best cruises I have been one. I have been on about 14 cruises including Cunard, P & 0, Costa & others but I have to say al in all this was the best. We always choose an inside cabin as it means we can take more cruises. It was better than ,ost with a walk in type wardrobe outside the bathroom which seemed to give more room in the cabin. The Staff were better than most, very friendly & attentive I could not fault any of them. The first sitting for evening meal was a little early (5.30pm) but if you did not want to 0r could not make that early call you could go into the other Restaurant at any time. A really good idea & we always requested a large table & sat with some very interesting people. The shows of an evening were also very good the production was the best I have ever seen & the shows would have appealed to all tastes as they included comedy, West End type productions etc..The itinaryf or this cruise around the British Isles was brilliant & there was never a problem doing your own thing on shore as most ports allowed easy access to the main city although Paris is some way from Le Harve. All in al,l pound for pound, one of the best cruises I have been on & will definitely cruise with Princess Line AGAIN. Would recommend. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
This was our 6th time on the Ruby. We have always enjoyed this ship and it felt like "home" when we got on board. Having been on the Ruby before, it was easy to get around. This cruise was a Summer Solstice to the North Cape. ... Read More
This was our 6th time on the Ruby. We have always enjoyed this ship and it felt like "home" when we got on board. Having been on the Ruby before, it was easy to get around. This cruise was a Summer Solstice to the North Cape. Unfortunately it was a hassle going through security in Southampton - long lines and no elite line. Counted 9 twists and turns before getting to security. And then noticed that 2 security stations were not manned. But what I noticed was that the ship was starting to show some wear. The paint on the deck chairs was pealing. When I looked up on the ceiling of the balcony, I saw lots of rust spots. Seat cushions had stains as did outside tables. And the windows always were dirty. The itinerary was fantastic - can't beat sailing in and out of the fjords. Was a perfect time as there was still snow on the hills and mountain tops. And with that, the snow had also started to melt and we saw hundreds of waterfalls - both little trickles and large gushers. One guide told us this wasn't the peak time for waterfalls as that had passed a few weeks prior. But it couldn't have been better. Wish the weather had been warmer but we still had enough sunshine to enjoy the long days! Only bad day weather wise was in Trondheim - rain, wind and very cold. Also didn't like the fact that we were charged $16 per person round trip bus fare to get into the city. Interesting that we had to take a bus in Bergen from the ship to a city drop off and it was free. Took a tour out of Hellesylt which was very good. Even encountered a snow storm on top of Dalsnibba so didn't get to look down on the ship anchored in Geiranger but had seen it on a previous trip. It was probably the best tour we took on this cruise. Room felt the same as before but having sailed on the Royal, the shower did seem very small in comparison. Had a very good room steward - Marlon. He kept the room in tip top shape. He commented that the management on the Ruby was one of the best. After having so much room in the Horizon Court/Caribe Café on the Royal, this was a challenge to get your food without bumping into someone. Because the weather was so cool, no one could sit outside to eat so it was difficult to find a table to eat from. This was always the case at peak times when people had to get off at certain times for tours. No issues with food for breakfast or lunch. Service was a little slow. Once we found an empty table, it took awhile to find someone to clear off the dishes left by the last passengers. Ate most of our dinners in the Michelangelo dining room. Food ranged from very good to average to not good. Service was sporadic at times - some nights we had long waits for service - especially when it was just the two of us. But had many cheerful friendly waiters. Ate one evening in the Crown Grill and will have to say that of all the times we have eaten there, I had one of my best meals. Steak was done perfectly. Went to a couple shows in the Princess Theater but after awhile, they all seem the same. And my pet peeve is just how loud the music is. Had an excellent quartet of 4 gals playing violin and cello in the Piazza. Was our favorite musical offering on the whole cruise. An accordion player also offered good listening music. Can't beat the Skywalker area either for quiet reading or drinks in the early evening. And 24 hours of daylight was an interesting part of the cruise. Will we go on the Ruby again? Think they need to spruce it up a little but I will still say it's been one of our favorite ships.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
We were on the Ruby Princess "Land of the Midnight Sun" cruise out of Southampton 16th-28th June. Embarkation at Southampton was very efficient & fast: 30 minutes from arriving we were checked in, through security & in ... Read More
We were on the Ruby Princess "Land of the Midnight Sun" cruise out of Southampton 16th-28th June. Embarkation at Southampton was very efficient & fast: 30 minutes from arriving we were checked in, through security & in our room! The cases had already arrived so we heaved them in & headed to Horizon Court! Stateroom C722 is on the Port Side Aft: its got the double depth balcony so has some cover/some open which is great. Our room steward Ramesh, was the best we've had on 6 cruises. He was the epitome of the "invisible" man, keeping our room spotless every time we nipped out! The bed was very comfortable & there were 2 US 110v sockets & a European socket 220v behind the bed, very useful for re-charging our gadgets. The bathroom was compact but, adequate with plenty of storage. We had more than enough room for all our clothes & paraphilia & believe me I'm not a light packer!! We asked Ramesh for more coat hangers & pillows & they appeared in a flash. We ate our evening meal in Michelangelo on anytime dining. Personally we thought the menu change wasn't good. We much preferred the old one. Our waiters Ana & Boyan were cheerful & efficient, nothing was too much trouble. We had a lovely table for two, although it was partly bench seating the tables weren't too close together & it wasn't treated as a table for 20 as we've experienced before. The cruise director was Martyn Moss whom we like. He's witty & shares our sense of humour. The production shows were new to us (last cruise 2012) & very good. Steve Larkins in Mercury Rising, a tribute to Freddie Mercury was brilliant. The Macdonald Brothers harmonies & Celtic music went down well. We didn't see the comedians or ventriloquist. The theatre had 3 shows some nights which meant not having to get there too early to find a seat. The ports were stunning, the mountains, the fjords & the spectacular North Cape, simply breath-taking. I will write about each port in the ports section. There were a variety of activities from the choir to towel animals to keep everyone amused. For the football fanatics (Poor England!) the world cup matches were shown when the satellite signal allowed. Disembarkation in Southampton was simplicity itself: we went to our meeting point, simply walked off with our hand luggage & collected our suitcases (ok one had the handle broken off!) loaded the car & drove home to a rather soggy Westcountry. All in all a really enjoyable cruise on Ruby Princess, the friendliest ship we've had the pleasure to sail on. We will be back!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
About us: A multigenerational group consisting of five women (my senior mom, older sister and her college-aged daughter, my wife and seven-year-old daughter) and one vastly outnumbered 40-something man. My immediate family arrived a day ... Read More
About us: A multigenerational group consisting of five women (my senior mom, older sister and her college-aged daughter, my wife and seven-year-old daughter) and one vastly outnumbered 40-something man. My immediate family arrived a day prior from Miami to help get acclimated. We stayed at the Sofitel in Heathrow T5. The others flew in from New York City/JFK the morning of the cruise. A note about the hotel: It was fine, got it on a decent pre-paid rate, and we had easy access to dining options within the airport. Didn’t want to bother with going into London, we planned a few days at the backend of the trip post cruise and I’ve been before. But, if you fly into T-3, like we did, you have to take the Heathrow Express train to get to it (and subsequently back the following morning to meet the others and out transfers). Not difficult, and no cost associated with it, but it’s a little time consuming and there’s some long walking involved (i.e., daughter: Are we theeeeere yet??? My feeeeet hurt!!). Transfers/Embarkation: We reserved them through Princess, and while more expensive then a third party coach, we didn’t want to mess around on day one. It’s an approximately two-hour drive through some nice villages like Winchester, and you arrive at Southampton. Boarding was smooth, no issues, the whole process maybe took 45 minutes. Got to our cabins (three in a row port side on Caribe deck), and had our steward open the dividers on the balconies and it was time to relax. We were jet-lagging harder than usual and I developed a bit of a 24-hour bug. It played a role for the first two days unfortunately. The ship: It’s nice. It can get a little confusing navigating it at first, which decks go through, when to go up, back down, etc. But we all enjoyed it. I’ve had limited cruise experience (Celebrity, Disney, NCL, Princess) and some of the others had been on other lines as well and the ship got no complaints from any of us. I much prefer the Solstice-Class on Celebrity (I’ve been on Equinox and Reflection). The piazza area was very nice, if a bit smaller than I anticipated. Pool areas were nice but we hardly used them on this itinerary (the air was too cold, but the water was always very warm). Our cabins were Premium Balcony. They stick out from the ship so the decks above can look down onto you. The plus is a larger balcony, so we didn’t mind. The minus is, obviously, less privacy. The cabins themselves were a bit small, but storage space and the bathroom were fine. The TV offerings are very limited, no on demand library, and some channels simply didn’t work the way they should For example, the “ship” TV station, never (and I mean never) had the outside temperature listed! It always read “N/A.” Barometric pressure ….N/A. LOL! And no ordering or checking your account on the TV. It was simply outdated. The food: We’re not in any way food snobs, but it’s true what’s been written: Princess food is not very good. The buffet was fine for breakfast and some dinners, on a Denny’s kind of level. And the dining room offerings were just ok (the service was also hit or miss). What was really surprising was how average the specialty restaurant we tried was. We ate at the steakhouse one night and it wasn’t any better than the dining room. All in all, the food is ok and you’ll get by. A note about the onboard lobster tails (we had it in the steakhouse and the MDR on “lobster night”): they were among the worst I’ve ever had. I know it’s broiled under electric, but yuck, it looked like it was steamed, boiled white, with no seasoning. Blech. The International Café had sandwiches and coffees (upcharge on the latter) that were pretty good. The wine bar claimed to have tapas, but they were just a very limited selection (like three or four) of horrible appetizers. The pub lunch on sea days in the Wheelhouse bar was surprisingly good. Onboard experience: It was a “Night of the Living Dead” reunion! ;) I jest, but, let’s just say there weren’t many families with kids, and we got a few rude looks on elevators with our daughter. Some guests were sweet and some had no manners whatsoever. It’s like anywhere - take the good with the bad and you’ll be fine. The onboard photographers got out of hand on a few nights, you couldn’t get off an elevator without some dope sticking a lens in your face. I don’t like having my picture taken and I recognize it’s a personal thing with me. But I didn’t like this aspect of the onboard experience. Movies under the stars seemed like fun, but the weather wasn’t conducive for outdoor movie watching (at least for us, we live in Miami after all). The kids club was good and the employees were nice with our daughter, kudos there. The arcade is worthless. Boo, we were hoping there’d be some games we could play together. I can’t personally vouch for the spa, but everyone else in my family went (multiple times in some cases) and loved it. My mom said her masseuse was one of the best she’s ever had. Since the trip was so port intensive, we spent most of our time off the ship anyway, or relaxing on our balconies. But again, overall, the ship’s aesthetic was fine. Misc: We purchased two expensive Go Pro cameras and assorted attachments on board. A package of unopened (and expensive!) attachments, along with a battery and cords, was either a. left in our cabin or b. taken out of our luggage. They were gone when we got to our hotel in London after the trip. I requested a lost and found search and never heard back. No follow up of any kind. I sent another request. I emailed, I faxed. I called. I never heard a peep. No sorry, nothing found. That would've sufficed. Not good, Princess. Ports/excursions: I tend to try and do things on our own, rarely going through a cruise ship’s offerings. I’ll try and outline how we did what we did in case anyone reading this decides to give them a try. St Peter Port/Guernsey: This a short stop on day one, and a tender port. It looked lovely from our balcony and … none of us got off the ship to visit! I was still feeling sick, everyone was tired, so we all rested up. Carry on. Cork: We did Butler’s e-Coach tour to Blarney Castle, Cork, and Kinsale. The highlight was watching mom and daughter “kiss the Blarney Stone.” (I’ve heard the wait to get up to the top of the castle can be outrageous, and it was indeed long, about an hour. too bad but it didn’t leave us enough time to shop in the adjacent woolen mills so be prepared to choose. Also, at times the climb up through the castle can be tight/claustrophobic and harrowing.) We then drove through Cork, but no stop. We did stop for lunch in the port town of Kinsale, which was kind of drab. Not the best day. Dublin: Weird day here. A few in our group decided last minute to do the Guinness Storehouse ship excursion. The rest of us got a late start and hopped a cab into the city center around 9:30. It’s only a 10-minute drive. Went right to Trinity College and luckily got on the first student led tour of the grounds. It wraps up with a stop in the library and a chance to view the Book of Kells. Great tour, informative, fun, and inexpensive! Left campus and found a massive crowd with police galore. One look up revealed why: A jumper was walking along the ledge of a multi-story building right in front of the college. We hurried my daughter away and walked some side streets until we found the authentic Stag’s Head pub, which I had bookmarked as a lunch possibility. Good pints, service, and pub food. We then walked though Temple Bar, over the River Liffey on the Halfpenny Bridge, along the river, and then, back past the college (where the jumper was still at it!). The city traffic was at a crawl due to this, so we grabbed an ice cream and a taxi back to port. The day started out fun, then got dark, then fun, then dark again. I was glad to find out after my trip that he didn’t jump. Belfast: This was a great, great day. I had reserved a private tour through Paddy Campbell’s Black taxi tours. I had asked to do a lot, and boy did we. We drove up to the Antrim Coast and visited the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. This might have been the highlight of the whole trip. Everyone loved it. The scenery was stunning, and climbing across was thrilling. Take note, it’s a bit of a hike to and from the bridge. We then visited the Giant’s Causeway and the delightful little fishing harbor of Ballycastle, which is a location in Game of Thrones. I don’t watch the show but some in our group do and recognized it. The harbor was great regardless. We enjoyed lunch and a few pints at a tavern, and then saw another GOT location and Dunluce Castle. We then made our way back to Belfast city and toured the Shankill and Falls political murals and peace line (we all signed and left messages on the Shankill Road wall, including my daughter). We got a heavy dose of history and reality (be forewarned: at times we were in some uncomfortable situations – I personally felt fine, but I could see the concern on some faces) about the Troubles, and while somber, it was a very important part of the day. Our guide Damian was excellent and showed us so much in just one day - it’s still hard to believe how much we did. I highly recommend a tour with Paddy Campbell’s service. Glasgow: Everyone decided to say on the ship and just shop in the port town of Greenock (“grehn-ick” if you will!). Well, I wasn’t having any of that! So the wife and I walked to the train (about 15 minutes) and went into Glasgow. This is one port we did virtually zero research on. Went to a local art museum which wasn’t so great and then walked around a bit, hung out in a square, and that was about it. (We found out the really good art museum is outside the city a bit after it was too late to go – oops). So we shrugged and went back to the train and then Greenock. Nothing to see here, move along. Kirkwall/Orkney: Tender port here, but they drop off right in the town center so that was helpful. I wanted to see all the Neolithic sites at my own leisure so I reserved a car large enough for all of us far in advance. Kirkwall has limited available vehicles and almost all were already reserved, but luckily, I found one. (Note: the roads are very narrow, often one lane, and you will be driving on the left side and shifting gears with your left hand. I enjoyed it but had a few close calls.) I reserved a tour of the ancient Maeshowe funerary cairn. It was ok, too long to stand in a tiny room (literally 45 minutes listening to the guide go on and on). Not kid friendly, kept barking at my daughter to stop fidgeting and such. So I barked back and took her outside to look at some cows. The family wasn’t impressed. We then went to the Ring of Brodgar, a very cool stone henge. We walked around, took pictures, and joked about (“Look! There goes a rabbit! It’s the Rabbit of Brodgar! Oops! I just broke wind. It’s the Poot of Brodgar! I belched. It’s the Burp of Brodgar!). We then went to Skara Brae, a stone-aged village that was uncovered by a storm a hundred years or so ago. This was very cool. We had a nice lunch at the onsite café and decided, at the request of mom, to go and look for …puffins. Yay. We went to an amazing and stunning site called Marwick Head. There were beautiful craggy cliffs (dangerous!), crashing waves, but alas, no puffins. We made our way back to Kirkwall and dropped off the car. Did some shopping (found a pretty good record store for old vinyl), popped into the cathedral, and then hopped back on the tender. All in all, an enjoyable day but something was missing that kept it from being an excellent day. Some of the locals seemed grouchy. Maybe that was it. Or lack of puffins, perhaps? Invergordon/Loch Ness: Ever since I was a small child I’ve always wanted to visit Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands (never thought I’d actually get the chance). So, what to do with just the one day to play with in the area? Could I actually see the loch, and then some? Enter Ian with Inverness Tours. He put together an amazing day for my family. And that’s no easy task, considering our group consisted of my senior mom, my sister, her college-student daughter, my seven-year-old daughter, my wife, and one frazzled guy - me! (Each one of us crazier than the next.) He was waiting for us the minute we got off the ship, decked out in traditional dress complete with kilt, and off we went. It’s amazing how much we did — beautiful drives through the countryside, a visit to Loch Ness and a cruise on the loch followed up with a tour of Urquhart Castle, and finally, the goofy Loch Ness Experience. There was shopping for the ladies, then lunch at Culloden Battlefield, then another shopping stop in Inverness, and then, a surprise highlight – a stop at the Clootie Well (Legend has it if you leave an article of your clothing after dipping it in the spring's waters, then make a wish, and then hang it on a tree, it will come true. Awesome! Look it up!). My daughter loved this! All the while we were regaled with animated stories and historical facts about this amazing region. We even stopped off to see an actual Heilan’ Coo! Great guy. Great tour. This day was one of the standouts for all of us during our two-week+ vacation. Highly recommended. Edinburgh: The inclusion of Edinburgh, along with Belfast, was why we chose this Princess British Isles itinerary over a similar one with Celebrity that didn’t make these stops. Always wanted to visit “Edinbrah” and it didn’t disappoint. The tender here is a bit long, a solid 10-minute ride, and it goes into the little village (if you can call it that) of South Queensferry. Taxis are limited; we had to wait 20 minutes to get one. There is a shuttle bus but the line was huge and I knew exactly where I wanted to go. There’s also a train but it’s a fairly long uphill walk to the station, from what I was told. After a longish taxi ride and plenty of traffic, we alighted at the foot of Edinburgh Castle and thanks to our Scotland Explorer passes (get ‘em online at home before you go, print ‘em, and you’re all set), avoided the long queues and went right in. Superb! What a beautiful fortress. We walked about and enjoyed the amazing views. Afterward, it was down the Royal Mile to Mary King’s Close. I’ve wanted to do this after seeing it on a travel show many years ago. It was fun, but very corny at times (he wife hated it). In retrospect, I would have skipped it. We then went to Grassmarket area and had an excellent pub lunch at the historic White Hart. We shopped a bit, toured the cathedral, and then walked down “The Mound” past the Scottish National Gallery, and through Princes Street gardens (what a great place to just relax, hear some live music, and just be) and along Princes Street. We were going to take the train back (Waverley Station is right there) but decided to hop a cab instead. Getting back was much faster than coming in, only took about 20 minutes. We all loved the city. It had great energy and a cool vibe, and wished we had more time. It was my college-aged niece’s favorite city on the cruise (even over Paris) and she hopes to study abroad there some day. I hope she does too – I‘d have an excuse to go back! Le Havre/Paris: Most of my group went to Paris for the day, but I've been to the city a couple of times before and wanted to experience something new. I always wanted to visit Mont St Michel, but the ship didn't offer an excursion and was told by many it's too long a drive. Well, it is a long day, but I did it, and then some. With mom in tow, I got off the ship and went to the Rent-A-Car desk in the cruise terminal building (the only car rental right in the port) promptly at 8:00 and on our way by 8:30. (I reserved a vehicle a few months in advance - it's recommended to do so as they have limited cars at the port and you don't want to waste time going to another agency in Le Havre city center.) I made it to the city of Caen within an hour, which I had previously decided was my "no turning back point." If we were doing good time, we'd head for MSM, and if not, we'd head into Bayeux, and then tour the D-DAY landing beaches for the day. Since we did get to Caen at approximately 9:30, we went for it. With a short stop for refreshments, plus stopping for photos of MSM on the approach, we arrived just before 11:00. It was crowded. Lots of school groups. But we didn't wait long to board the bus at the new visitor center (give yourself an extra half-hour each way at least if you try this) and we were at the base of MSM in short order. We reached the summit, toured the abbey, not rushed, at a comfortable clip, and when we were ready, we descended through the charming village streets. Grabbed a couple of baguettes and an ice cream and headed back to the car. At the car it was now 2:30PM. I said we could take a nice leisurely drive back to Le Havre, stop in a little village - OR - we could try and squeeze in a short visit to Omaha Beach. We chose the latter, so that's what we did. The drive there, once you get within a few miles, is quite beautiful and exciting. We parked and enjoyed about 45 minutes just walking along the sand, floored by the sheer size of the landing beach, looking up at the hillsides, at the monuments, Pont du Hoc in the distance. (I was very close to trying to squeeze in Pont du Hoc but decided not to push my luck anymore than I already had.) Drove back, returned the car around 6:00PM and got on the ship. It’s a long day but very doable – don’t believe the naysayers! This was another highlight of the trip. Southampton/London: We reserved a transfer/tour through International Friends, with stops in Salisbury, Stonehenge, and Windsor Castle before getting dropped at our hotel in South Kensington, London (we stayed for an additional two days before heading home). If I had to do over, I’d just do the Stonehenge half-day transfer (we loved it) and have more time in London. Salisbury was ok, but Windsor just isn’t our “cup of tea.” We’re not big on all the opulence the royals are afforded, and it makes us uneasy. But if that’s your thing, you’ll love it. The International Friends guide Nick was great. He was very funny, and I loved the cheeky wit. Too bad a lot of it was lost on the old duds on our coach. I’d recommend them. Final thoughts: It was a nice trip, not great. Would I sail Princess again? Sure, if the price was right and they offered an itinerary that nobody else offered. But from my limited cruise experience, they’re not in Celebrity’s league.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
My family and I are seasoned cruisers. Over the past 15 years we’ve sailed a total of 29 times on Azamara, Celebrity, Holland America, Cunard, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL, and MSC. This was our third sailing on Princess ... Read More
My family and I are seasoned cruisers. Over the past 15 years we’ve sailed a total of 29 times on Azamara, Celebrity, Holland America, Cunard, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL, and MSC. This was our third sailing on Princess Cruise Lines. We picked this cruise over our preferred line, Celebrity, largely because of itinerary and the sailing date. Overview The Ruby Princess is a lovely ship with a pleasant crew, average to above average dining and good maintenance. Basically, it had everything what you would expect from a more upscale cruise line with a few significant weaknesses: their wait staff and specialty dining. Embarkation The embarkation process was relatively average. After a quick check in we waited about one hour for them to call our boarding group. This was a refreshing contrast to our last cruise on the Crown Princess when sailing out of Galveston, which was one of the slowest we’ve experienced. Also, similar to our experience when we sailed on the Diamond Princess, our baggage made it to our stateroom before we did. The Ship The ship is relatively new and in great shape. All the public areas are modern and in good repair. Carpets are clean in both in the public areas and the staterooms. We especially liked the decor of the lounges and bars which were all done in wood. They reminded us of a high-end English pub. It took us several days to get our bearings. This is one of those ships where some of the pubic decks do not span the length of the ship as the kitchen is midship on decks 5 and 6. This requires you to climb a few levels of stairs and then descend back down to reach the Botticelli dining room on deck 6. Dining One nice option offered by Princes is that you could choose from “anytime” seating or the traditional early or late seating. In the main dining room the food quality was average to slightly above average for an upper end cruise line. We opted for the more traditional early seating dinning option, which put us in the Botticelli dining room, which caters only to fixed seating. The anytime dining rooms are the Michelangelo and the DaVinci. Unlike the Diamond Princes that had several smaller, more intimate dining areas, the Ruby Princess dining areas are large and surprisingly noisy. They leave you feeling you are dining in a banquet hall as we had to shout at our table of six to be heard. Maybe that is just the difference of being on such a large ship. We found the wait staff was not up to par with most of our other cruise experiences. While our servers were polite, it didn’t seem some of them really liked their jobs and were just going through the motions. They also didn’t go much out of their way to do any “extras” as we have experienced on other ships. I had to personally leave my dinner guests and hike from Botticelli’s on deck 6 to Sabatini’s on deck 16 to retrieve my unused bottle of wine from the night before. Usually a waiter or wine steward will track down your unused bottle for you, regardless of which dining room you purchased it. We were especially pleased with the coffee on the ship. That may sound like a little thing unless you are a coffee drinker. One of our perennial complaints on other lines is how weak the coffee is. We found the coffee on the Ruby Princess quite acceptable. The International Café served good espressos, gelato ($1.50 a scoop) and pastries. It was usually packed in the mornings. One annoying difference on the Princess line is that the only time juice is available is in the mornings. After then, you’ve got to pay for juice. Most others have complimentary juice available all day Specialty Restaurants The specialty restaurants are the Italian restaurant, Sabatini’s, and the Crown Grille. The additional charge is a reasonable $25 as compared with other cruise lines that charge $40. However, that extra $15 does buy you a slightly better dining experience onboard Celebrity, Holland America, and Cunard. They have a Michelin Star experience, which is largely missing from the Princess ships. Princess specialty restaurants allocate one waiter to a table. Better specialty restaurants have a team of three wait staff serving you, most of whom exhibiting a palpable passion for food. The food preparation and presentation is also a step above. However, and let me emphasize, the cost of Princess is 40% less than the others, so this isn’t a complaint as much as it is information The Crown Grille is a seafood and steakhouse restaurant with dark wood and small dining areas that give it an intimate feel. We found the Crown Grille to be a good value and probably a notch above Sabatini’s. While the appetizers and salads were average, the steaks and lamb we had were done to perfection. Sabatini’s is more open and has less of a feeling of intimacy than the Crown Grille, however, the experience is still a step above the general dining areas. We thought there was no Chef’s Dinner offered on our 12 day cruise, which we found atypical. When time came to disembark we voiced out disappointment to the Executive Chef who was wishing passengers a safe journey home. He told us there had been a Chef’s table. This was confusing to us, as we had called Dining Reservations the day we embarked and had our names added to the list of those interested in the Chef’s table. We generally look forward to these dinners and were very disappointed we were not able to enjoy this experience. The same thing happened to us when we sailed on the Crown Princess. While we have no explanation for the secrecy surrounding the Chef’s dinners on Princes, we are guessing they are by invitation only and made exclusively to passengers in suites. Drink Packages, Avoid Them On Princess! Like most lines, Princess offers a number of various drink packages, covering soft drinks, wine, and coffee. While you will save a little bit if you buy a package and fully use it, I would highly recommend you do not buy a drink package. Why? Unlike other lines that record your name and cabin number when you buy a package on the drink card, Princess does not list any ownership information on the cards. They only have a line for the Ship’s Name and Voyage Date. This means if you lose your card, or even worse if a server doesn’t return your card, you are out of luck. Princess will not replace the card or in any way compensate you for your loss without some extra diligence on your part. I learned this the hard way. I had a server either not return my card, or I forgot to pick it up from the table, early in the cruise. I didn’t receive any help or compensation from the International Café, where I had last used it. The front desk logged the fact I had lost the card and told me to check back daily with them. After checking for a few days to see if my card had been turned in, I asked to have the Food and Beverage manager contact me. Two days before the end of the cruise the Food and Beverage manager kindly sent me a replacement that at least allowed me to get a little benefit out of my initial purchase. In this day and age of technological efficiencies, it’s just unforgivable a line can’t mark a beverage package so it can’t be stolen or at lease print two lines on the back of their card for your name and cabin number. It is little things like this that will negatively impact my future decision to sail with Princess. Wine The wine experience on the Ruby Princes is a mixed bag. After experiencing how the Diamond Princess catered to wine lovers, we were especially disappointed at our experience on the Ruby Princess. Most of the wines were priced at 3x’s retail, which were slightly below the 4x’s retail charged on Celebrity. However, we really commend Princes for keeping their corkage fees reasonable at $15 a bottle, as opposed to HAL and Celebrity who charge $25. The Ruby Princess has two reasonable wine tasting events, one for $10 and one for $25. We had attended the Sommeliers wine tasting ($25) on the Diamond Princess were very impressed as we tasted 6 wines ranging from $32 to $150 with the average being about $80 a bottle. The Sommeliers wine event on the Ruby Princess didn’t feature as many high priced wines as the Diamond, the average cost was about $60. Also, the event was narrated by three waiters rather than a sommelier, a first for us. The reason the event was narrated by waiters is because the Ruby Princes does not have a sommelier, another first for us. All of the traditional duties carried out by a sommelier are carried out by the waiters. Unfortunately, most of the waiter’s wine knowledge is severely lacking. Being wine aficionado’s, we brought our own wine on board to enjoy, happy to pay the corkage fee. We had learned from our previous cruise on the Crown Princess not to ask the staff to decant a wine prior to dinner. On that cruise our bottles were never decanted, or even opened, upon our arrival in the restaurant. This time we took our wine to dinner and asked for a decanter. Most of the waiters had no idea how to properly decant a wine. One waiter dumped our 1990 Bordeaux upside down into the center of the decanter while we looked on in horror. Let’s just say there is a general lack of wine knowledge by the wait staff. Laundry Rooms Laundry rooms are available to passengers on all floors with staterooms. The laundry on our floor, deck 8, was exceptional. The room was large with four coin-operated washers and dryers and four ironing boards, which is very unusual in most cruise ship laundry rooms. The machines were in good repair and washed clothes at a standard speed, though it was hard to tell since the machines do not have timers on them. Another nice feature of the laundry room was a system of double doors to limit noise. Usually we book our rooms as far away from the laundry room as possible due to noise as people usually congregate by the doors to chat while they wait for their laundry. This would not have been a problem on this ship as the laundry room was insulated by two doors to cut down on noise and crowding. Over all, the laundry rooms provided a pleasant way to ensure you have clean clothes for the rest of your trip. Fitness This is an area in which the Ruby Princess is above average. There are a satisfactory number of treadmills and elliptical machines. They also have a good set of barbells and a minimal variety of weight machines. They appear to keep their equipment in good repair as all but one of their cardio machines were in working order the full length of our 12 day cruise. The men’s locker room and saunas were a big improvement from the Diamond Princes and were some of the best of any of the 29 ships I’ve sailed on. The Ruby has both a public and private dry and steam sauna that were acceptably hot, which is a huge improvement from the 105 degree maximum temperature I experienced on the Diamond Princes. Another great feature with their fitness area is the size of the lockers. They are the best designed of any ship I’ve ever sailed. They have plenty of depth and a separate section for your shoes. The combination locks eliminate having to register at the front desk and that makes a big difference in getting in and out of the locker room in a timely fashion. It’s often the little things that count! The only problem I ran into was that the lockers were often full. I tried to leave my valuables with the front desk, but they refused to keep my valuables for me. This meant not being able to use the sauna on several occasions which was particularly disappointing. Unfortunately the Ruby Princess doesn’t have a spa bar featuring a lighter, healthier fare and a selection of fruit juices and smoothies. The Calypso bar on Deck 15 is the only place on board where you can get a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice for $2.75. Entertainment We thought the entertainment was average for most cruise lines. The singers and dancers were talented and performed the standard musical reviews ubiquitous to most cruise lines. The guest comedians and vocal artists were also very good. The theater is unique to most modern ships, which often have two levels and spacious seating with tables interspersed for holding drinks. The Ruby Princess Theater has no balcony and the seating is very much like any theater with no center isle and compact seating. Small fold-out tables located in the arms of the seats (like in the emergency row of an airplane) do resolve the issue of what to do with your drink. The one area that didn’t meet the standards of other lines was the nightly lounge entertainment. On our cruise they seemed to have over-weighted pianists, quartets, and guitars playing elevator music. There just wasn’t much selection of music before or after dinner or charismatic performers that we looked forward to listening to each night. Internet I run a small business and being connected to my staff is imperative, even on vacation. I depend on having a functioning Internet while on board any ship. The Internet was easy to sign up for and operated flawlessly on our cruise. Also, unlike other lines, they didn’t terminate the package immediately on the morning of debarkation. There is a $4 “activation” fee which increases the cost of usage above what is advertised in the package. Internet speeds are ubiquitously slow on cruise ships. I am wondering why airplanes seem to have much faster speeds. Maybe someday the same Internet technology used by planes will become standard equipment on ships! Shopping The shopping experience is ubiquitous to most every other cruise line. There is nothing exceptional to highlight here. Port Talks and Shore Excursions Port and cultural talks were average on this cruise. Getting information on the ports was available via pre-recorded port talks that were not always completely up to date. Information for independent travelers not doing an excursion was minimal. As seasoned travelers, we don’t appreciate cruise lines that push their shore excursions by starving you for general information on port stops. We used the Internet onboard the ship to contact several tour companies that were highly rated by Trip Advisor. Another great place to book private tours prior to departure is by looking under “Tours” and on the chat boards on Cruise Critic. We have never been disappointed following the advice of previous travelers and typically save 25 to 75% off the ship’s prices. We ended up doing relatively well by booking taxis and tours on the dock at about ½ the cost of the ship’s prices. Guernsey was a fairly sleepy stop that required us to tender in, so allow an additional 30 to 60 minutes to wait in line each way. We walked into the town and took in the German Occupation Museum, which was interesting. This is a port that we would not be excited to visit again. Cork was a port we enjoyed. It’s easy to do on your own and for simplicity, was one of the best ports for ease of transportation on our itinerary. The train station is literally on the pier and the cost is an inexpensive 9 EU for the roundtrip, 30 minute ride into the city center. As a bonus, the trains have free WiFi! Once at the central station you will have an easy 20 minute walk into the heart of town. We especially enjoyed the English Market. Dublin is a great stop with much to see and do. The port is almost in the city center, maybe a 30 minute walk from Trinity College. However, we recommend you take a taxi, as opposed to the more expensive ship’s shuttle, into the heart of town if you are in a party of two or more. You will find the cost of a taxi is the same for two as it is on the shuttle bus and much more convenient. We visited the Dublina Museum, St. Michan’s, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Marsh’s Library, Grafton Street, The Old Storehouse (music pub), and the Book of Kells/Long Library. Belfast is another great stop. We recommend a city tour with a private driver who will take you to all the neighborhoods to view the murals and graffiti. We then took off to the country to see the Giant’s Causeway and Bushmill’s Distillery. Glasgow was a tougher stop for transportation. The pier requires a 20 minute walk to the train station and a 45 minute train ride into the city center. The shining star of Glasgow, the School of Art, had been badly damaged by a fire and closed as a result just four days before we arrived. We went instead to the Museum of Modern Art, but half of it was also closed and it was forgettable. Orkney requires that you book any private excursions or car rentals well in advance. We didn’t, so we had to endure the ships tour to see the prehistoric sights. If you are a whisky aficionado, call ahead to Highland Park Distillery and book a tasting for 35 to 75 UK. They will pick you up at the pier and deliver you back. Our three hour tour and tasting was one of the highlights of our trip, and a far better buy than going with the ship’s tour!! Invergordon is located a good 45 minutes from Inverness and requires a 10 minute walk to the train station and a 30 minute ride into town. We recommend you hire a driver or rent a car and head out into the country side to see Cawdor Castle or Dunrobin. There are a number of distilleries in the area, Balblair being one of the smaller distilleries that offers a great value tour and tasting. Edinburg is similar to Inverness, in that getting into town takes time and can be expensive. First, we had to tender so that takes a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour to get to the pier. The train station is then a 20 minute walk, uphill and a 30 minute ride into town. You are let off below the castle and the High Street, meaning if that is not your destination you will need to hire a cab to take you up or hike uphill for another 20 minutes. My suggestion, bag all that messing around and take a 30 minute taxi ride from the pier directly to the castle. The cost is about 25 pounds with tip, making it a much better buy than even the 10 UK per person shuttle bus that still will drop you down below the castle, requiring you to hire a cab for another 5 UK to the castle. Even more, you can fit up to six people in a cab with no additional charge! So get some ship mates together and pay less than 5 UK per person for pier to castle delivery. We toured the castle, did the Whisky Historical Center, had lunch at the Castle Arms Pub just around the corner (try their Haggis, seriously, it was fantastic), walked the Royal Mile to Holyrood and toured that, and then grabbed a cab for the 30 minute ride back to the ship. Movies Under the Stars, Our family enjoys this feature of Princess. The movies on a big screen are a great experience….weather permitting….which wasn’t very permitting on our early summer itinerary of the UK! While they have warm blankets to snuggle up in, my kids especially complained about the poor speaker system and tiling in the big screen. Kid’s Club Our kids have always enjoyed the kids programs on board most ships…on this cruise they opted to stay with the parents and enjoy reading in their cabin, so I don’t have much to report on the Ruby Princess kid’s club. Summary The Ruby Princess is a lovely ship with a pleasant crew, average to good dining and good maintenance. For most people, it has everything what you would expect from a more upscale cruise line. However, we are serious foodies and wine aficionados. While we appreciated their lower corkage and specialty dining fees, we got what we paid for. The wait staff, wine knowledge, and specialty dining was not up to the other upscale lines. This was our third experience on a Princess ship. We will think twice before booking with them again if the main focus would be the ship, like on a transatlantic or transpacific crossing. Still, we would certainly sail with them given the right itinerary where there was no option on one of the better competing lines or they were offering an especially inexpensive rate. For us, the ship’s culinary weaknesses keeps it from playing more than a supporting role in a successful cruise vacation.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
This was our first experience on Princess Lines. We had a mini suite which was wonderful for the two of us. We had a set dinning time and although the staff was attentive, the menu was tired. Not much variety. The buffet was okay but none ... Read More
This was our first experience on Princess Lines. We had a mini suite which was wonderful for the two of us. We had a set dinning time and although the staff was attentive, the menu was tired. Not much variety. The buffet was okay but none of the old favorites like Eggs Benedict. They would not toast a fresh English muffin so I had to have cold ones. They ran out of hash browns the first few days, replaced by French fries ( for breakfast? ) There was a lot of space and we never had to look for a place to sit. The bars were nice and in Crooners and the Wheelhouse, the bartenders were excellent......knew our names and our drinks right away.... the other bars...not so friendly. The stores were HoHum as were the sales people. I got the impression a lot of the employees did not like their jobs. There was sometimes bickering between waiters in the buffet seating area. The hamburger bar, ice cream bar, and coffee house people never smiled and acted like we were bothering them! Photos? Well, not in the 21st century there! We had to look and look for any of our pictures and never found more than two.... ( which I refused to buy because it was so hard to find them) other ships use your room key or facial recognition so you use your room key to bring up pictures on a monitor. What a pain in the behind...wake up Princess Lines!!!! Getting on and off on NON tender days was a nightmare. It was cold and windy and we were in long lines trying to get on with only one or two gangplanks! It was ridiculous! MAIN concern.....even on formal nights people were allowed in the dinning rooms with shorts, T shirts, flip flops...SERIOUSLY???? We were not the only ones who questioned this and were told they could not refuse these people. On Disney, my husband went to Palo in designer jeans, tie and coat and was told he had to go change ( no jeans allowed). On the QM2 I have witnessed people being turned away for not following the dress code. It made this ship look cheap and low class. I am sure Princess has many fine qualities as I have many friends who frequent these ships but for us, Princess will never be Disney or Cunard so I will not sail with them again. Read Less
Ruby Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.9
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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