Within a few days of Princess releasing the 2019 schedule, found a cruise that met our needs. Ruby Princess, doing round trip to Alaska out of Los Angeles on 4/23/19. We now require an accessible cabin due to mobility issues. We prefer the Caribe deck, due to the setback of the superstructure. I call and secure one of the three accessible cabins left. 565 days out and as usual, Princess is asking full price for newly listed cruises.
Over the next year we get new passports with only two weeks turn around. By chance I find that they have used our cabin as the example of an accessible cabin https://www.cruisecritic.com/photos/ships/ruby-princess-443/accessible-balcony-cabin-276108/accessible-balcony-cabin--v12728343/ As time goes by, we take advantage of two price drops.
75 days out, news groups going nuts about the one comfortable chair being removed from most of Princess’ balcony cabins. Questioned Princess on this policy since we require it, I was basically told too bad. On a second call speaking to an executive assistant, I was told that because I have a accessible cabin, that chair may or may not still be there, they simply have no idea at corporate what is happening on their ships. Still hoping on having a good time, without having to stand.
60 days out and the emails start. “Information about your cruise” from Princess. Cancellation?, change in itinerary?, cabin reassignment? Each time a flutter of anxiety I see it in the inbox. Soon learn this is Princess’ way of trying to get into my wallet before the cruise. Wine, excursions, specialty restaurants etc etc. I quickly learn to glance at them before hitting delete.
Embarkation day has arrived. Get a late start out of the house, at the docks “rush hour” has already started. Utter bedlam from people not knowing where to drive, stop, park or drop off passengers/baggage. Inside the cruise center total calm, walk right up to the desk, have passport scanned and have cruise cards within seconds. Slight bottle neck at security because of the number of pax arriving. On the ship in about 90 minutes from when we left the house, far from a record, but nothing to complain about. Point of interest, I had two power strips (not surge protectors) in my carry on, no issue by x-ray or security. At some point after we pass through, new policy takes effect with security checkpoint. ANYTHING looking like a power strip is being confiscated and a receipt being issued. Attention Princess, while they are not your direct employees, security is your representatives and some education is needed. Since we ran into same situation over ten years ago and there has been no improvement. I predict there will be no action from Princess now.
Another “new” policy is in place on the ship, fire doors going to cabin walkways are closed. All 3000+ pax are directed to the public areas on decks 7 and 15. To avoid the masses we grab a table near the Trident grill near open sky. We enjoy a bite to eat and start our favorite past time onboard, people watching.
I will take this time to point out I’m not a millennial or generation X’er by any means. We retired three years ago, but looking around, I feel like I’ve been dropped into a convention of Wal-Mart greeters who have been terminated due to age. The wife, who notices these things, has counted less than twenty children in total. I have a feeling they will soon be bored. Just an observation, the vast number of passengers fall into two groups: retired Americans or younger foreign tourists, mostly from Asia. Per two crew members, the average age of this voyage is 65 years. Seems the common dinner conversation concerns medical procedures, prescriptions and what relative has recently died. Not all passengers observe the same dinning etiquette and a lot of food has been seen going into bags headed back to the cabins. To some, the idea of getting in line for services is foolish. Much simpler just to step in front of everyone. At times just getting from A to B is an obstacle course going around people who change direction without looking or just suddenly stop in their tracks in front of you. My wife and others using mobility devices seem invisible to the crowd.
About 90 minutes pass and by chance I discover cabins have been made available, no PA announcement was made. Before running off to customer service, I check and find the “barrel chair”, removed from almost all balconies is still in this cabin. Only upgrade to the cabin is the 43” LG television mounted on the desk surface above the refrigerator. Doing my best Houdini impersonation, I am able to get a hand to the left side to plug in a HDMI cable. All that effort for knout, this TV is set to “hotel mode”, no changes possible. Won’t be able to watch media off my lap top.
Old habits still die hard, first morning I awake at the usual 6:30 AM to a beautiful sunrise. At7:45 AM, the PA gongs and the Captain twice makes an announcement of a medical emergency C255, which is twenty five feet forward from us. No matter the emergency, I know I am of no use to the situation. But of course curiosity makes me open the cabin door and look up the hallway the two doors to C255. No yelling, crying, alarms or flashing lights, had I heard wrong? 7:47 I hear the thumping of running feet coming from every direction. Brown, blue and white uniforms race by. Radios, medical equipment and a gurney are there in a span of seconds. Medical goes to the cabin and security takes over the hallway. This is happening at the forward bank of four elevators. They lock up three of the four to keep anyone from stepping off this deck and the fourth is kept open for transporting the patient. More security is dispatched as far back as mid-ship in this corridor to keep passengers and the curious away. Through the peephole there are 7-9 people standing around for an extended period of time. Around 8:20 AM an empty gurney is taken aft via the confines of the Caribe hallway. Our steward, Damodar Sheldekar (who did exceptional job), later stated that the passenger was in medical getting treatment. Four days later I see two people on 255’s balcony, a full recovery?
I’m not going to say the food was disappointing, just adequate. Basic ingredients prepared various ways. Chicken done Italian, French, Asian, Mexican or Indian is still chicken. First three nights, the menu for the main dining room appeared just tired and boring. Didn’t bother to get “dressed up” and just did Horizon and Crown grill on first formal night. Crown was a ghost town, only five other tables occupied. This was an example for the entire cruise. Fourth night we relented and went to dining room. I again am proven wrong in the need to “clean up”. Jeans, T-shirts, jogging suits and even ball caps are seen in the room. Feel overdressed in dress shirt and slacks. Nine years ago you always went to the main dining room, now there has to be something interesting/special on the menu. Horizon Court, Café Caribe, International Café, Trident Grill, Slices and room service deliver as advertised. As a side note, don’t disrespect the ingredients. We both made the mistake of ordering lobster 2nd formal night. Extremely tough from either over cooking or being held at too high a heat after the cooking process. On second formal night we were seated just before the “Baked Alaska” presentation. Was not impressed by the electric candles stuck in a fake pies.
The “Main Offenders” keyboard, two guitars, drummer and female lead who must use iPad for the lyrics. Four fair musicians in search of an adequate front person.
AJ Jamal, solid stand up comedian. TWO separate 45 minute sets on different nights. Very unusual to have 90 minutes of material.
David Guidice, a “good” piano bar performer. Put into the theater, backed by seven member ship band that’s amplified. Then add reverb to the vocal, computerized moving lights and some fog. Three more shows in the much smaller Explorers. Learned later he’s been doing the cruise circuit for over eleven years.
Jack Lee and The Ruby Princess Showband. The above mentioned seven piece back up band steps out on their own. No special effects, reverb or over amplification. Straight music by guys doing their thing, not the charts brought on by the hired help who get off at the next port. Hello Princess, you have an untapped resource here, use them.
Tricia Kelly, another Las Vegas lounge act dropped into a theatre setting.
Elyse Branch, gave a solid Motown review
Medallion Net, I can only compare to experience nine years ago. True, no “dead zones”, but same slow speed. Forget streaming, two minutes from log on to get to first email, 30 seconds just to load a page. “System” was down for over seven hours one night. Another night it took 2:19 to log on, then 12 minutes to retrieve ONE email and write a two line reply. We had complimentary minutes; if we had paid out of pocket for this poor service I would be demanding a refund. Slow service was experienced on two iPhones, lap top and Kindle Fire.
On Demand, I have both Netflix and Amazon Prime. Had seen almost all the films offered. On demand movies in roo is far cheaper than having fresh live acts.
Princess ties up at Berth 4, street construction to the South or is it cheaper. Sales people have taken position at the foot of the gangway, however are not pushy at all. First ship of the season and there is a lot of “on the job training” around the docks. Tourists haven’t spoiled it.
Again Princess ties up at the furthest dock away from town. Next to the Chevron fuel dump that has it’s own stench that drove passengers off their balconies. Several thousand feet from town, cheaper or Princess wants you to observe the homeless while you walk to town? More excursion booths at the dock, but salespeople a little more aggressive. Have lunch at a place looking over the sea plane operation, do some shopping then back to the ship.
Due to landslide, the primary dock is unavailable for the foreseeable future. Have to walk to the train for the only Princess backed excursion that is accessible. Wonderful small town, can’t imagine the place over run by three or four ships. Lunch at the new “Sweet Tooth” Café, sign says they close at 2 P.M., they will quickly learn to stay open while tourists are walking around to save for that long cold winter. This will always be a small town.
We have been away from cruising and Princess for nine years, I can only go by my own past experience. Princess has changed their target demographics to an older crowd. If it were just this cruise, it would not explain the shift of the dinner service fleet wide to earlier times. There were a couple of days of warm weather at the start and end of the cruise, yet this cruise had the least number of physical actives we have experienced. Musical acts concentrate on songs 40-60 years old. While speaking of musical acts, adding fog, reverb and 60 computerized spotlights to a so-so act still leaves you with a so-so act. My opinion the stripped down sets by the ship’s band were far better than any other act
We had already experienced the Princess onboard sales pitches of a decade ago, but that has quadruped. Hard sales pitch while eating breakfast and dinner. Almost every organized event ends with some ship’s store “sale” sepal. As I write this, it’s day ten of twelve day cruise. I have collected close to an inch of ads shoved under my door. Oh, another issue. As stated we are in an accessible cabin. Whose bright idea was it to remove the “mail box”. There are quite a few people on this ship who can’t do the simple act of picking up anything from the floor.
The idea of charging more for a specialty restaurant is fine, except there still has to be value. I am speaking from experiencing the first offerings so many years ago. A screened off section of Horizon Court called “Sterling Steak House” for the exorbitant surcharge of $5.00 getting huge steaks with large sides. Rather off putting paying $29.00 at the “Crown Grill” for a $15 steak and a bowl of potatoes and vegetables. As stated before the place was deserted at dinner. Another side note, same venue used for “English Pub Lunch” with the same wait staff. The airs of a high end restaurant disappeared quickly as a two hour line snaked from the entrance. Looked like a toy store on “Black Friday” with waiters confusing what orders to what tables right off the bat.
Cruise director and staff were both approachable and knowledgeable of ship’s activities. Although at times some events were questionable for upper end cruise line; paper planes or egg drops………Please disregard comment about paper airplanes. Just saw over 200 people entertained by 50 pieces of paper thrown off deck 6.
Princess requires separate form NOW should you be bringing mobility device on board for each cruise. Why not ask for letter of need/requirement of accessible cabins. You keep records of past passenger’s information, this would be a onetime verification and data entry.
To get to the balcony of this accessible cabin, a narrow metal plate falls into place to bridge the gap between the inside/outside ramps. Great idea, except the only way to retract this plate is to reach down and lift it up with a finger. If there was a mechanism to lift this plate, it was broken a long time ago. Can’t comment about others, but my wife is physically unable to this maneuver.
Princess still “offers” coin operated washer/dryers. Very useful on extended cruises, easily reduces amount of packed clothing over 50%. Although the machines look like the originals from the ship’s maiden voyage, the cost has increased over 100% since our last cruise. $3.00 wash with inadequate spin cycle resulting in a sodden load. Another $3.00 for a 35 minute dryer cycle on high to get a warm damp load that ended up being hung about the cabin. Can I bet a large some of money that Princess will soon totally do away with the laundromat, forcing passengers to use the more profitable ship’s laundry.
Been away from cruising close to nine years, but have been on twelve Princess cruises for a total of 100 days. I know what cruising on Princess WAS. I can only say that except from crew performance, this cruise was of a lesser quality. From conversations with others and this experience, it is unknown if we will return. I do know I would not recommend Princess to a relative or friend at this point. I do know a large number of passengers on this cruise volunteered they will not be returning to Princess.
Accessible balcony, See hyperlink in review for "official" photos this cabin.