Several months have passed since we set sail on the Ruby Princess. I read a few of the reviews on here that have been posted since we sailed. I found them to be very interesting. At the end of the day, people are going to have different opinions about the food, the entertainment, the staff, the ship, etc. I am going to try and limit my opinions and focus on some helpful hints.
We flew into Heathrow and took the Princess shuttle to Southampton. I can't tell you much about the ride because I slept the whole way. However, I remember it being easy to get off the plane, go to the baggage claim area, find the Princess representative, get on the bus, make it to the port and then get on the ship. We waited a little while to board, but not long. I think we were on by noon or earlier. We took the shuttle bus that left around 10:00 a.m. from Heathrow.
We had an interior cabin and if you have been on a number of cruises, you pretty much know what to expect. I found the room to be pretty typical of an interior cabin. Not too big, not too small. There was a fridge in the room, so we kept our wine in there. Princess didn't seen to have too many rules against having liquor in your cabin and if you picked up liquor in port, you could take it back with you to your cabin. I picked up some scotch in Scotland and was able to take it on board with me. At one point I took one of our bottles of wine to the dining room. I was told there would be a $15.00 corkage fee, but they never charged my account. Our cabin steward was awesome. It seemed like he was there to greet us every morning and every evening and was as nice as could be.
I want to switch gears and address changing money from US to Euros or Pounds. I agonized over this and addressed it on our Cruise Critic Roll Call and never got an answer I was happy with, so I travelled to Europe without having changed any money over. When I got on the ship and went to the customer service desk, I was told they DID NOT exchange funds, as they had several machines on the ship that would do that for you. Here is the bottom line, use ATM machines in port. The exchange rate on the ship was awful, plus there was a fee per each exchange. There was an ATM machine on the ship in the casino, but it only dispensed US funds. We also used some different outlets in the ports that offered to exchange funds, but at the end of the day, our best deal was when we used an ATM. When we got home, the exchange rate we were charged on our bank statement was equal to the exchange rates you might find on the internet. I also used a Capital One card for any place that I decided to use a credit card vs. cash. The Capital One card was a bargain, too, versus using the ship's machine or exchanging funds at a bank or booth in port.
OK. Back to the ship. It took us a little while to get used to how the Ruby Princess is laid out, but once you get the hang of it, it wasn't too bad. We were staying on Deck 11 and found we could go from one end of the ship to the other in a minute by crossing outside on Deck 11. The flow of the ship on Deck's 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 seemed a little screwy at times, but again, once you figure it out, you get used to it.
I thought the food was pretty good compared to what I have had on other cruise lines. The only bad meal we had was in the pay to play steak house. I had the worst steak ever in there. I ordered a bone-in rib eye and it was so tough and fatty, I could only chew it and spit it out. At one point my plate was a mound of chewed up gristle. It was gross. I had never sent a steak back anywhere in my life, but when the waiter came over and asked how everything was, I showed him my plate and told him it was awful. I ended up getting a filet and it was tender, but the taste wasn't anything special. We weren't charged for that meal. I have no idea if that was on purpose or they somehow forgot to charge our cabin.
The entertainment? Well, who knows who will be on the ship by the time you are reading this, but overall the entertainment was hit and miss. There was a couple on the ship who did acrobatics that were amazing. There was a couple on America's Got Talent who had a similar act a year ago or so who almost won the whole thing. This couple was even better than that act was. They were that good! On the flip side, there were some entertainers that were there every night that were pretty bad. The main shows were fairly typical cruise ship type entertainment where they take some sort of theme and then lip sync songs that have nothing to do with the theme and dance around the stage for 30 minutes of so. The house band was pretty lame, too. They did have a couple of comedians that were really funny. So, again, hit and miss. Some good, some bad. Who knows who will be on there when you sail.
The real stars of this cruise are the ports. We loved Ireland and Scotland. We stayed for three days in London after the cruise and had a blast. We did the tour to Paris via Princess and got screwed. After we got on the bus, we were told we would NOT be having lunch at the Eiffel Tower. Surprise!!! That was half the trip! I contacted Princess after we got back and the lady I spoke with was very nice and understanding. She said I was not the first one to complain and gave me a refund of 20% which amounted to a little over $100.00.
Bottom line, take this cruise. It is an amazing itinerary and Princess is the only cruise line I know of that visits 4 ports in Scotland in a single trip. Even with some of the unpleasant experiences we had with some of the tour companies and the pompous cruise director Martyn (worst cruise director ever, although he will tell you he is the BEST cruise director ever), we had a great time. I noticed someone said nice things about Martyn. Really? Maybe you have to meet him up close and personal to know the real Martyn. Hopefully, he won't be your cruise director on this or any other Princess ship.
Getting off the ship was a breeze. We were led to believe we would be going through Customs, but we went down to get our luggage and then it was out the door. We were out so fast we had to wait an hour or so for our bus. We booked a tour with International Friends that went from the port to Stonehenge, to Salisbury Cathedral and then to Windsor Castle before dropping us off at our hotel in London. For those that had to catch a plane, they let them off the bus to catch a taxi to the airport and I believe, International Friends paid for the taxi ride. It was a great tour at a great price compared to what you would pay for a ride from the port to the airport without any kind of tour along the way.
One last thing. I could never figure out the best way to get from our London hotel to Heathrow. I ended up taking a cab that cost me $105.00 US. A much cheaper way to go would have been a shared ride via Viator or one of the other web sites that offer shared rides. One more thing. If you are planning a Meet and Mingle via a Cruise Critic Roll Call for your cruise on the Ruby Princess, send me a message. I have all the details on how to set it up.
A few more thoughts...Try the Belgian waffles on Deck 11. They are great (my opinion). The pizza is not bad either. We had a couple of celebrities on our cruise. Rick Steves (the travel guy) was on our cruise as was Peter Ford, son of Glenn Ford. You never know who you are going to run into on a cruise.
Room was OK. Nothing special.