I will preface this review by stating I have been on over 28 cruises. I've sailed just about every cruise line out there or sold it while I was a travel agent. I Just returned from 18 days on the Ruby Princess. We boarded in Auckland, which was the last 8 night leg of the reposition cruise that started in Vancouver. We Stayed on for a continuation cruise of 10 days which did round trip Sydney. We had cruised on Princess twice in the past. Once in 2006 which was a great experience and again in 2010 which was not great! We had no idea what to expect from this experience. Unfortunately, it was a lot more not great than the one in 2010! This ship is just plain old and what I would call a rust bucket! There is no coat of paint that is going to make this sad ship up to what Princess claims it's standards are. The balconies are rusted out as well as all the sprinkler heads. Whenever I walked on the outer decks I looked up and saw rust. When we got a close up of the ships body while we were boarding the tenders, you could see just how horrible it was. There are tons of coats of paint chipping away, marks all over and just plain ugly. The cabin and deck furnishings are all very outdated and worn. There are two plugs in the entire cabin! One by the vanity and one up near the ceiling, above the corner cabinet. I heard many people complaining about the lack of places to plug phones and electronics. If you need a sleep apnea machine, be sure to bring a long extension cord because it has to travel quite a ways for a plug. The standard balcony cabin is about the smallest I've seen in the past 7 years or so. There is a vanity chair and that's it! I can't remember when I've been in a balcony cabin without a couch. This was the poorest choice I could have made for 18 days at sea. There was enough space in the closet and cabinet for all our clothes. The bathroom was the standard telephone booth size with cracked shower floors and moldy shower curtain. The shower head does not come off the wall so it made it that much more difficult to shower. We had not issues with the plumbing but many people on the Deck 12 were complaining about toilet issues and water being turned off for lengths of time.
The cabin Stewards and Dining room staff were about the best I've seen at sea which is true to form for what Princess once was. They were always the most pleasant people on the ship. I will note that we did not get one towel animal which I guess is something they have stopped. Not a big deal at all, just something that surprised me.
For the most part the Horizon buffet staff was also excellent. They attended to the tables and delivered drinks without ever having to ask. I did encounter a few of the food attendants that did not seem to like their jobs very well. I've been on other ships where they allow the guests to put their own toast through the toast machine so you can have hot toast. The Carnival products seem to think we are not capable of toasting our own bread so they have a person on each side of the buffet just running toast through the machine. They toast giant stacks of bread and then bring them to the warming trays. For 15 days I had rubber toast! On the 16th day I asked for hot english muffins out of the toaster. You would have thought that woman was going to have to go in the basement, bake the muffins then toast them. She kept telling me the toast in the bins was fresh and I needed to take it from there. This annoyed me more than most other issues we had. It was a simple request that I made very nicely. This is one of the main reasons I will not choose to EVER cruise on Princess again. Sounds unreasonable, but everyone has their breaking point!
There was not a person that we met in the 18 days that did not agree with us that the food was terrible. Sauces were heavy and over salted. One comment I kept hearing was "there is a whole lot of brown food on that buffet!" Everything was swimming in a sauce. Many of the carving meats were over cooked and dry. They served various kinds of flat fish every day but they were prepared everyday the same way, drowned in butter or oil. The buffet breakfast was just a disgrace. The way they prepared that food was a crime. They would have trays of fried eggs on a warming dish for hours. They were dried out to the point of feeling like hockey pucks. You couldn't find one egg with a running yoke. The same thing with the eggs Benedict. They were all hard boiled....every single day! It really is a sin that they destroyed so much good food.
The scrambled eggs were all chopped up so small it was like eating cottage cheese. The only saving grace was the omelet station. You needed lots of time for that though! They had no cream at all for the coffee. It was all skim or regular milk. Just about everything was so budget and you could tell.
The specialty steak restaurant was a joke. If that was supposed to be like a fine steakhouse, they missed that mark by a mile. I got a steak that was less than 1/2" thick and tasted like a salt lick. I specifically asked for little to no seasoning, but that was something they just paid no attention to. The baked potato was dry and like a rock. The whole experience was horrible. The regular dining room food was hit or miss. Some nights they would have a decent amount of choices, none of which were tasted that great. Most nights there were no choices we would eat. They did NOT have a steak on the "every night" menu. I have never been on a cruise where you could not get a steak in the dining room every night if you choose. At the bottom of the menu they have choices of good food for an extra cost of between $20 to $40. That's something I've never seen before either. It's like, if you want good food, you will now have to pay extra for that. If it was anything like the steakhouse, it wouldn't be worth it anyway. I can't imagine paying extra for any of the crap they served.
The entertainment was not too bad on the 8 night Auckland to Sydney part of the cruise. Once they changed over to and "Australian" cruise line (all the money went to aud) for the Sydney round trip, the entertainment went right down the tubes. It was horrible. The singers were ancient, the comedians were old and Princess dancers would have a hard time performing on the stage with the Norwegian cruise staff. The best part of any of the entertainment was the games shows, etc. put on and run by the cruise director and staff. However, they held them all in rooms that were too small so if you did not get there at least 30 minutes ahead of each even, you were not going to get a seat. Many nights our dinner ran late and we could not go to an event because we could not sit.
The worst part of the entire cruise was the fact that almost all the ports in Australia are tender ports. Princess is either too cheap or too stupid to have gotten large ferries in all the ports. They had a system where you went down to a showroom at a time they announced in the morning to get a number to get off the ship on to a tender that would take you to a port. If you are an elite member, no problem. They take all elite members off first. If you have a million dollar tour that you purchased through Princess they took you off on the tenders first as well. If you just wanted to go to shore or booked your own excursions through viator or other wholesaler you were out of luck for getting off that ship in less than 2 hours. In one port we were unable to get off the ship until 11:30am. We arrived in port at 7:00am!!! It was ridiculous. One day many people never even got off the ship. By the time their number was called they felt it was too late to get off. The tenders took about 40 minutes each way on most the stops. Finally, after many angry shouting matches, there were Ferry tenders in two of the stops. It still took forever to get off, but at least we didn't miss our excursion. By the way, something we noticed was they NEVER looked at your tender number!
The average shore excursion cost over $175 per person and that was for a 4hour tour. Most tours were 8 hours or more and cost in excess of $275. Princess was charging $479pp for The alpine express excursion from Christchurch to Arthur's pass. It included a bus from the port to Christchurch which was about an hours drive. The train, if purchased directly costs $149.00!! This is just robbery. Princess gets away with it because they scare the life out of everyone by telling them if you don't take a Princess cruise, you might miss the boat on the return. Many tour operators will guarantee to get you back to the ship on time or get you to the next port if you miss the boat because of them!!! Look around and compare!
This cruise ship staff created so many situations where guests were made to wait in lines and get angry. They didn't even have an organized line at the guest services. Many days people started yelling and fighting because guests would just walk up to the counter and ignore the lines. I've never seen a ship run more poorly than this one. When they turned over to the Australian Dollar from US Dollars in Sydney, no one at the front desk knew how to convert the currency. I was given an amount and then called in my room to come back to the guest services because they gave me too much money.....that was after it took them over an hour to figure out what they did give me. It took over 4 days for them to get most of the casino slot machines up and working after departing from Sydney. I couldn't imagine how much money they lost because there were no machines to play. It was just crazy. I'm not sure who is responsible for most of what goes on aboard that ship, the Captain or headquarters but someone should be fired!
Outdated, run down and smaller than most of the ships out there.
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