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
Very Good. Lots of space and away from all engine soot.