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.
As noted in the main review, the cabin was the typical Princess balcony cabin. A bit cramped on space; only 2 poorly located outlets, flimsy balcony furniture. The shower was better, but the bathroom otherwise the same.