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Knowing that after spending three weeks on the road in the Canadian Atlantic Provinces with my husband doing all the driving on pot-holed roads, I would probably need a vacation from my vacation so I went looking for a nearby solo cruise bargain. What I found was Princess’s Pacific Coastal Wine Country cruise out of Vancouver at a rate that made the 100% single supplement at least not awful (a rare thing these days). Although it started only three days after my other trip, at least it was only a $10 Bolt Bus ride away from home. The Bolt Bus turned out to be a very good idea; it runs from Portland to Seattle to Bellingham to Vancouver. Even with our stop at the border to clear Canadian customs and immigration during which you had to drag everything off the bus and then reload, it was a smooth ride and we arrived 10 minutes early at the Vancouver bus station. From here you just walk across the little park to the Skytrain Main Street/Science World station, where for $1.88 CAD senior rate, you ride directly to the Waterfront Station. From there just follow the signs to the Canada Place exit and you are right across the street from the cruise terminal entrance. I had read on Cruise Critic boards that Vancouver can be very crowded and slow for embarkation, but it wasn’t too bad. There was only one person in front of me at the luggage drop-off point. The one really long line was for security as they were having both the Princess and Holland America passengers all go through together. Once that was done we were separated by cruise line. Fortunately, there was a separate line for Nexus pass holders to go through U.S. immigration (all our future ports were U.S.), although I noticed the regular immigration line was not bad. Next came check-in, but as a Platinum member I had priority boarding and waited all of two minutes to get to the check-in desk. From here it was to the elite lounge to await the boarding which began at 11:30 am by row in the seating area. And our cabins were ready so I dropped off my carry-on bag and was sitting in the Horizon Court with my lunch by 11:50 am—you can’t beat that for smooth embarkation. I had not sailed on the Ruby Princess before and when I arrived at Canada Place I was rather stunned on how huge it looked, even compared to the Eurodam parked nearby. This is a BIG ship which means long walks from aft to bow, but it also means lots of facilities. Everything seemed to be in very good condition and I was surprised that with nearly 3000 passengers only a few times and places really seemed crowded. My one complaint about the ship were the noise levels in some areas. The first morning I went down the International Café at 5 am (I’m an early bird) with the idea of buying a hot chocolate, but the music in the atrium was absolutely blaring; it was awful so I just left and never came back again in the morning. I’m an avid reader and it was difficult to find a nice quiet place to read. At times the seating area outside the Explorer’s Lounge was quiet, but the minute the bar staff arrived to set up the music came on and you had to find someplace else to sit. The front desk suggested I try Skywalkers during the day, but when I went up there the music was blasting away even though there was no one there. Princess really needs to acknowledge that not everyone wants music 24/7 and that most of us older folk are not hard of hearing. I suppose it would not matter to those with larger cabins with seating areas but the inside cabins do not provide any armchair in which to sit so we need to look elsewhere. The fitness facilities on the Ruby are really first class. The gym had every imaginable piece of equipment, a nice large floor area for yoga/stretching, and NO MUSIC (at least in the early mornings when I was there)—fantastic! If you brought your own headphones/earbuds, you could plug into music or TV on the aerobic machines as you wished. There two main pools opened at 7 am and were large enough for short laps at least and were well heated. Can’t say that for the very cold shower next them however. I always went first thing to beat any children. The two pools that are adult only are two small for swimming. I wish they had designed one large pool adult only and then allowed children in the small aft pool instead. As for other activities on the ship, they were almost all sales related, or silly mindless games, on this cruise. There were no educational or port related talks at all. Since it was a short cruise to places I had already visited before I didn’t mind but on a longer cruise this would be significant failing on Princess’s part. The other failing was the sorry state of the library—the shelves were almost bare. When I boarded there were maybe three dozen fiction books, a dozen paperback exchange books and a scattering of non—fiction. And within a day most of the fiction books were all gone. There seems to be the assumption now that everyone is happy traveling with their e-readers, but that is not true for many of us. I know some of the U.S. cruise lines have even talked about eliminating libraries on board completely. Let me tell you, any ship that does that will never have my business again. Since I had visited all our ports before I did not sign up for any shore tours. It was quite nice just being able to walk off and wander around on my own schedule. At Astoria there were volunteers helping to direct passengers to bus transport, although it was just 1 ½ mile walk to the town center. $6 got you an all-day bus pass. Several vendors also set up booths right at the dock. San Francisco had a myriad of transport options right at the pier. I used the F streetcar for getting around most of the time which had a stop right across the street and went from Fisherman’s Wharf all the way down Market to Castro ($1.35 senior rate). A HOHO bus companies had buses waiting at the cruise terminal and another offered a free shuttle to Pier 39. Santa Barbara was a tender port which let you off at the marina. From the marina you could walk into town or take the 50-cent waterfront trolley connecting to the downtown trolley at Stearns Wharf. Lines for the trolley back towards the marina were very long though, even early in the afternoon. I just walked both ways. We were fortunately in that we had wonderful weather in all our ports. I had an inside aft cabin on the Aloha deck which was nice and quiet. The bed was very comfortable and I like that they use a top sheet as well as a duvet so you can choose between light or heavy covering. Storage space was very good. Even though the website shows an armchair on the floor plan for inside cabins, it is incorrect. That means to read or watch television you either need to sit at the desk or lie in bed—neither option is very comfortable or good for your posture. I wish they would eliminate the silly little table and put in a small armchair in these cabins. My cabin attendant Petar was wonderful—fresh towels and spotless cabin every day. I like quick and early meals so I chose to dine in the Horizon Court almost every time. I must say I was a bit disappointed in the quality of food here. It also seemed to be haphazard as to how it was organized. I wondered if that day’s meal selections were just chosen by what came to hand in the freezer first. For example, one day they had beef stroganoff, which is one of my favorites but then there were no noodles or rice on which to put it—what were they thinking? And the labels on some of the dishes were lacking in information. Why do they think adding fancy Italian or French names makes the dish better? One day I saw an interesting looking creamy pasta dish but decided to ask what it was first only to be told it contained clams. You certainly could not tell from looking at the pan nor from the weird name they gave it. What if someone were allergic to shell fish—it could have had serious consequences. The meats on the carvery were consistently rare with no option for getting some well-done slices. Holland America has a grill behind their carvery and the staff will toss a couple slices to on there for you to cook more. On the plus side the Horizon Court salad bar at lunch time was quite good and they offered a nice continental breakfast at 5 am every day which is great for us early risers. The only other place I ate was the pizzeria (fantastic pizza) and the ice cream bar (used up my shareholder’s benefit on malts). Because our itinerary included only U.S. ports after we had completed U.S. immigration at Vancouver, our disembarkation was a breeze. We walked off the ship, picked up our bags and went straight out the door! A couple of days earlier they had distributed color-coded luggage tags with assigned times, but there was no problem going to the front desk to change time if you needed to. Many passengers elected to do independent disembarkation carrying off their own luggage and that began at 7:30 am while those of us with assigned times were called beginning at 8 am. Since I was traveling on my own, I elected to us Princess’s transfer bus to the airport and it worked well as our bus filled quickly. In summary, this cruise almost perfectly met my expectations for this stress-reducing trip. I found the staff on board the Ruby Princess were all very nice and helpful with absolutely no run-around at the front desk—a rarity these days. I was also impressed by how many senior staff turned out for our Cruise Critic Meet and Greet. So, I left feeling quite positive about Princess except I do wish they’d lower the music and restock that library.

Just what I hoped for

Ruby Princess Cruise Review by comcox

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2017
  • Destination: Pacific Coastal
  • Cabin Type: Interior
Knowing that after spending three weeks on the road in the Canadian Atlantic Provinces with my husband doing all the driving on pot-holed roads, I would probably need a vacation from my vacation so I went looking for a nearby solo cruise bargain. What I found was Princess’s Pacific Coastal Wine Country cruise out of Vancouver at a rate that made the 100% single supplement at least not awful (a rare thing these days). Although it started only three days after my other trip, at least it was only a $10 Bolt Bus ride away from home.

The Bolt Bus turned out to be a very good idea; it runs from Portland to Seattle to Bellingham to Vancouver. Even with our stop at the border to clear Canadian customs and immigration during which you had to drag everything off the bus and then reload, it was a smooth ride and we arrived 10 minutes early at the Vancouver bus station. From here you just walk across the little park to the Skytrain Main Street/Science World station, where for $1.88 CAD senior rate, you ride directly to the Waterfront Station. From there just follow the signs to the Canada Place exit and you are right across the street from the cruise terminal entrance.

I had read on Cruise Critic boards that Vancouver can be very crowded and slow for embarkation, but it wasn’t too bad. There was only one person in front of me at the luggage drop-off point. The one really long line was for security as they were having both the Princess and Holland America passengers all go through together. Once that was done we were separated by cruise line. Fortunately, there was a separate line for Nexus pass holders to go through U.S. immigration (all our future ports were U.S.), although I noticed the regular immigration line was not bad. Next came check-in, but as a Platinum member I had priority boarding and waited all of two minutes to get to the check-in desk. From here it was to the elite lounge to await the boarding which began at 11:30 am by row in the seating area. And our cabins were ready so I dropped off my carry-on bag and was sitting in the Horizon Court with my lunch by 11:50 am—you can’t beat that for smooth embarkation.

I had not sailed on the Ruby Princess before and when I arrived at Canada Place I was rather stunned on how huge it looked, even compared to the Eurodam parked nearby. This is a BIG ship which means long walks from aft to bow, but it also means lots of facilities. Everything seemed to be in very good condition and I was surprised that with nearly 3000 passengers only a few times and places really seemed crowded.

My one complaint about the ship were the noise levels in some areas. The first morning I went down the International Café at 5 am (I’m an early bird) with the idea of buying a hot chocolate, but the music in the atrium was absolutely blaring; it was awful so I just left and never came back again in the morning. I’m an avid reader and it was difficult to find a nice quiet place to read. At times the seating area outside the Explorer’s Lounge was quiet, but the minute the bar staff arrived to set up the music came on and you had to find someplace else to sit. The front desk suggested I try Skywalkers during the day, but when I went up there the music was blasting away even though there was no one there. Princess really needs to acknowledge that not everyone wants music 24/7 and that most of us older folk are not hard of hearing. I suppose it would not matter to those with larger cabins with seating areas but the inside cabins do not provide any armchair in which to sit so we need to look elsewhere.

The fitness facilities on the Ruby are really first class. The gym had every imaginable piece of equipment, a nice large floor area for yoga/stretching, and NO MUSIC (at least in the early mornings when I was there)—fantastic! If you brought your own headphones/earbuds, you could plug into music or TV on the aerobic machines as you wished. There two main pools opened at 7 am and were large enough for short laps at least and were well heated. Can’t say that for the very cold shower next them however. I always went first thing to beat any children. The two pools that are adult only are two small for swimming. I wish they had designed one large pool adult only and then allowed children in the small aft pool instead.

As for other activities on the ship, they were almost all sales related, or silly mindless games, on this cruise. There were no educational or port related talks at all. Since it was a short cruise to places I had already visited before I didn’t mind but on a longer cruise this would be significant failing on Princess’s part. The other failing was the sorry state of the library—the shelves were almost bare. When I boarded there were maybe three dozen fiction books, a dozen paperback exchange books and a scattering of non—fiction. And within a day most of the fiction books were all gone. There seems to be the assumption now that everyone is happy traveling with their e-readers, but that is not true for many of us. I know some of the U.S. cruise lines have even talked about eliminating libraries on board completely. Let me tell you, any ship that does that will never have my business again.

Since I had visited all our ports before I did not sign up for any shore tours. It was quite nice just being able to walk off and wander around on my own schedule. At Astoria there were volunteers helping to direct passengers to bus transport, although it was just 1 ½ mile walk to the town center. $6 got you an all-day bus pass. Several vendors also set up booths right at the dock. San Francisco had a myriad of transport options right at the pier. I used the F streetcar for getting around most of the time which had a stop right across the street and went from Fisherman’s Wharf all the way down Market to Castro ($1.35 senior rate). A HOHO bus companies had buses waiting at the cruise terminal and another offered a free shuttle to Pier 39. Santa Barbara was a tender port which let you off at the marina. From the marina you could walk into town or take the 50-cent waterfront trolley connecting to the downtown trolley at Stearns Wharf. Lines for the trolley back towards the marina were very long though, even early in the afternoon. I just walked both ways. We were fortunately in that we had wonderful weather in all our ports.

I had an inside aft cabin on the Aloha deck which was nice and quiet. The bed was very comfortable and I like that they use a top sheet as well as a duvet so you can choose between light or heavy covering. Storage space was very good. Even though the website shows an armchair on the floor plan for inside cabins, it is incorrect. That means to read or watch television you either need to sit at the desk or lie in bed—neither option is very comfortable or good for your posture. I wish they would eliminate the silly little table and put in a small armchair in these cabins. My cabin attendant Petar was wonderful—fresh towels and spotless cabin every day.

I like quick and early meals so I chose to dine in the Horizon Court almost every time. I must say I was a bit disappointed in the quality of food here. It also seemed to be haphazard as to how it was organized. I wondered if that day’s meal selections were just chosen by what came to hand in the freezer first. For example, one day they had beef stroganoff, which is one of my favorites but then there were no noodles or rice on which to put it—what were they thinking? And the labels on some of the dishes were lacking in information. Why do they think adding fancy Italian or French names makes the dish better? One day I saw an interesting looking creamy pasta dish but decided to ask what it was first only to be told it contained clams. You certainly could not tell from looking at the pan nor from the weird name they gave it. What if someone were allergic to shell fish—it could have had serious consequences. The meats on the carvery were consistently rare with no option for getting some well-done slices. Holland America has a grill behind their carvery and the staff will toss a couple slices to on there for you to cook more. On the plus side the Horizon Court salad bar at lunch time was quite good and they offered a nice continental breakfast at 5 am every day which is great for us early risers. The only other place I ate was the pizzeria (fantastic pizza) and the ice cream bar (used up my shareholder’s benefit on malts).

Because our itinerary included only U.S. ports after we had completed U.S. immigration at Vancouver, our disembarkation was a breeze. We walked off the ship, picked up our bags and went straight out the door! A couple of days earlier they had distributed color-coded luggage tags with assigned times, but there was no problem going to the front desk to change time if you needed to. Many passengers elected to do independent disembarkation carrying off their own luggage and that began at 7:30 am while those of us with assigned times were called beginning at 8 am. Since I was traveling on my own, I elected to us Princess’s transfer bus to the airport and it worked well as our bus filled quickly.

In summary, this cruise almost perfectly met my expectations for this stress-reducing trip. I found the staff on board the Ruby Princess were all very nice and helpful with absolutely no run-around at the front desk—a rarity these days. I was also impressed by how many senior staff turned out for our Cruise Critic Meet and Greet. So, I left feeling quite positive about Princess except I do wish they’d lower the music and restock that library.
comcox’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Interior
Cabin ID A720
I had an inside aft cabin on the Aloha deck which was nice and quiet. The bed was very comfortable and I like that they use a top sheet as well as a duvet so you can choose between light or heavy covering. Storage space was very good. Even though the website shows an armchair on the floor plan for inside cabins, it is incorrect. That means to read or watch television you either need to sit at the desk or lie in bed—neither option is very comfortable or good for your posture. I wish they would eliminate the silly little table and put in a small armchair in these cabins.
Aloha Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins