Background: We are a professional couple...late 30's, mid 40's. This was our 7th cruise together, 5th on Princess. We've previously sailed on the Sun Princess, Dawn Princess, Grand Princess, and Crown Princess. We consider ourselves somewhat well-traveled with usually at least one trip out of the country each year. Pre-cruise travel: Normally, we would try to arrive at the embarkation city at least one day early but we were able to get a direct non-stop flight into Ft. Lauderdale early on the day of embarkation at a considerable savings so we decided to chance it this time. There were no issues with the flight and taxis were plentiful at the airport. We were at the Port Everglades Cruise Terminal by 10:15 am.
Embarkation: Although many people were still disembarking from the previous cruise we were allowed to enter the terminal immediately through a small, secondary entrance that was set up for early arrivals. We were assigned to Group #1 and we waited in the holding area until our number was called around 11:30 am. The check-in process is very well designed with multiple check-in stations based on what deck you are assigned. We were the first ones in line for our deck and the whole check-in process took less than 5 minutes. We quickly boarded the ship and even though it was still before noon, our stateroom was already available. So we dropped off our hand baggage and immediately headed up to the Sanctuary to reserve our spot for the entire week. Thanks to all our fellow CC'ers who suggested you get there early to make sure you can get a spot. We were the first ones there and we got our choice of all the loungers in the whole place.
Sailaway: We are not big fans of buffets, so after getting our Sanctuary seats reserved we headed to the dining room for lunch. At first the greeter said that the dining room was only for in-transit guests. We assumed this meant passengers who were between back-to-back sailings. But, since there were many open tables and several staff members just standing around we decided to ask to speak to the Head Waiter to see if he would make an exception. He came over and before we even had a chance to say anything, he waved us in and sat us immediately. Just another lesson, it never hurts to ask. The food was good and during the meal it finally felt like our cruise had really begun. After lunch, we decided head for the Crown Grill to make reservations for later in the cruise. We had already reviewed the menus for the week (thanks again fellow CC'ers!) so we knew we wanted to skip the Caribbean Night in the main dining room. Since we had been on the Crown just over a year prior, we didn't need to spend much time exploring as the Ruby is virtually identical to the Crown. After the muster drill we met up with the crew from our CC roll call for drinks at the Adagio bar for sailaway. Our bags didn't arrive to our stateroom until sometime between 4:30 and 5:30 pm so we decided to get ready and go to dinner before unpacking.