My wife and I sailed aboard the Ruby Princess for the 7 night Mexican Riviera Cruise Departing February 3rd, 2017. We had sailed this itinerary before with DCL, but the stop at Mazatlan was new for us, since in 2011 cruise lines were ... Read More
My wife and I sailed aboard the Ruby Princess for the 7 night Mexican Riviera Cruise Departing February 3rd, 2017. We had sailed this itinerary before with DCL, but the stop at Mazatlan was new for us, since in 2011 cruise lines were cancelling that call due to security concerns.
Our experience was really wonderful, and we had such a great time. The only problem was that when we came back into port, I really didn’t want to leave!
We had a mini-suite on the Dolphin deck. These mini-suites are terrific. There is a lot of space, and it feels both cozy and roomy to me at the same time! My favorite part was the area just inside of the balcony which had a large sleeper sofa (which we never pulled out), a little coffee table and a nice chair. There are two flat-screen TV’s in the room, one angling towards the bed and one angling towards the couch/chair, so you can easily sit here and relax. Since there is plenty of room for your stuff, you don’t have to clutter this area up.
The bed was so comfortable. It was easily as good as my bed at home! There’s a large closet for hanging things, as well as a shelf for your clothes with mirrored doors. For 2 adults, there was more than enough space for everything including our suitcases.
Bathroom was nice - small as you’d expect. The mini-suites actually have actual porcelain tubs and very nice showerheads. The counter is pretty narrow, but there’s a little shelf for your stuff. Being a cruise ship bathroom it is compact. If you want to spread out and relax while you do your “business" you might want to head to one of the public bathrooms!
The decor was pleasant, though not super current. I was looking at my pictures from our 2001 cruise aboard the grand princess, and they certainly updated the rooms, however I think they used the same supplier for the built-in room furniture.
the mini-suites feature larger balconies. They are functional but not really fancy with that utility rubberized flooring. The nice thing about the mini-suite balconies is the clear open view of the sky. The only downside is that everyone on the decks above can look right down into your balcony.
The mini-suites are mainly on Dolphin (deck 9). Its one of the lower passenger decks, however that’s not really such a bad thing as you only go down 2 flights of stairs and you’ll be in Promenade with easy access to the Piazza. It is a bit of a climb up to 15 for Horizon Court and the pool, but honestly with all I ate and drank I was eager for the exercise. Remember there is no deck 13 so it goes 10, 11, 12, 14, 15 - 5 flights of stairs. There are elevators of course!
The other thing I’ll mention is that the rooms are very insulated from noise next door - i couldn’t hear my neighbors at all. There was some hallway noise, but it wasn’t a problem.
On tender port days, or on days that they could be testing the life-boats (or - in the hopefully rare scenario that they are using the lifeboats - it which case you’d have bigger things to worry about!) the machinery for the davits and winches for extending and lowering the boats sounds like its right beneath deck 9. So, when we arrived in Cabo, we heard this extremely loud “whirring” and were a little alarmed until we figured out what it was!
I think the drains get slow from time to time with all the hair and junk. Don’t be shy - tell your stateroom attendant. On our cruise, a plumber actually came by one day to check it, and I said I was glad he did because it was slow, and in about 5 minutes it was clear as a bell.
I have taken several galley tours, and I can see how challenging it is to provide elegantly prepared food for 3000 people. I think Princess does a great job.
We ate in main dining 5 times on the cruise, then 2 nights in specialty restaurants: Share by Curtis Stone and the Crown Grill Steakhouse.
Of course we also ate in other venues: Horizon Court, International Cafe, and Caribe Cafe.
I enjoyed the main dining food. Everything for the most part was really well presented. The taste ranged from really good to good enough. Personally I think they do a great job given the huge numbers of dinners they have to serve. The service was at times really good, and at times just ok. Its important to note that we chose “Anytime Dining,” which means you likely won’t have the same server more than once, and they are a little more rushed than if you choose a specific table and dinner time. We knew that going in.
We like to eat by ourselves, and I think the tables for 2 are nice - You’ll likely be sat at one of those areas where there is a very long “bench,” and then tables for two spaced just wide enough for someone to slide in, then chairs on the other side. Its not as intimate as having your own table, but its really not any different from something you might find at a fancy restaurant where space is at a premium.
On Ruby, you can “Anytime” dine at either Michaelangelo or DaVinci. The food is the same, and the decor is different, but not that much different. We varied - a few nights in one, and a couple in the other. One night, we had this Jamaican server in DaVinci that we really nice and attentive. If they are busy and you request a table for two, they might try to “Sell” you on eating with other people - its just an option if you want to eat right away. If you are willing to wait, then you can eat at a table for 2. Or, try the other dining room - they are right on top of each other, so you may just go upstairs or downstairs and find there is a table available right away.
Share by Curtis Stone
My wife an I agreed that this is the best meal we have had at sea (mind you we are not that experienced! This is just our 4th cruise).
The emphasis here is totally on quality and not quantity! I would not expect to leave with the buttons on your shirt bursting! You select choices from about 6 different courses. Everything is fascinating combinations of flavors and textures. The presentation is elegant, but the restaurant is not at all stuffy and overly formal. The brand new decor is contemporary and home-like. Everything is fresh and hand made.
My wife is not a steakhouse fan, but we decided to go here because we intentionally did not bring any formal wear, so we added a 2nd night of speciality dining. I thought it was excellent. Now, though the food is high quality, chances are you will leave with your belt and shirt fitting tighter - the portions are very large. The centerpiece, the steak was really excellent. I love that they are serving it with these different types of salt that you can add in the amounts you want. They had himilayan, black hawaiian and an herb salt. The other item I loved was their unique take on French Onion soup.
I am a huge fan of buffets. I admit it. Its probably one of my favorite parts of cruising! Guilty as charged. The Horizon Court food is good - its high quality. At night, you’ll find some of the items also being served in Main Dining. Its also nicely presented. However, the selection is fairly limited as buffets go, and the space itself is pretty small and cramped at times with a fairly poor flow. Buffet design has changed over the last decade and Horizon Court doesn’t really incorporate any of those innovations. Still, its not bad! I just wish they had more salad offerings. Believe me - I still spent plenty of time at Horizon Court. The view is terrific. The service is good too - you can get your own drinks, or the servers will bring them as well.
Caribe Cafe is basically just an extension of Horizon Court - I didn’t really see very much that they had out that was very different. So, if space is tight and Caribe is open, you can always eat there.
When Caribe Cafe is closed, you can still use the seating area, at least from my observation. Don’t be afraid to use those seats.
We got burgers at Trident Grill a couple times. They were very good, not too big and made right in front of you. They come with Fries.
I got one slice of pizza there - my wife did not like it, but I did. Its more of an italian style pizza - not too much cheese, and a very nice crust. I liked it, and it too was made fresh.
All the bars were fine. On the first day, we got several drinks at the Pool bars.
We absolutely loved the international Cafe! I think this is a great addition to the ships. Its the one place that is open 24 hours a day, just in case you are hungry at 3am. The International Cafe serves freshly brewed coffee and espresso drinks, as well as drinks from the bar, and all day and night they have sandwiches and small plates of salads and desserts. Its the perfect afternoon sack (or post dinner, post bedtime, etc…). There is no charge for any of the delicious desserts or food items - they are served on small plates though, so if you want a lot you might just need to make a few trips to the counter. They appeared to be giving people what ever they wanted though (I’ll have a tuna sandwich, and a roast beef sandwich, and a tiramisu.”)
The coffee at International Cafe is good, and is a step up from the Nescafe Alegria coffee served everywhere else (which honestly is not bad either!) They brew fresh drip coffee however at International Cafe. The prices are very fair - about what you’d expect to pay at your local starbucks - around 2.50 for a large coffee. We opted for the Princess Coffee Card. Its around $35 for 15 punches that can be used for any specialty beverage (cappuccino, latte, mocha, espresso,etc), then you gut unlimited drip coffees. I know we got our money’s worth with the card. They don’t seem to care if you get smalls or larges with the speciality beverages, so feel free to indulge. The espressos and cappucinos were very good. There’s a nice little seating area just off the Piazza, and its really a nice place to be, day or night. If you do grab one of the chairs first, there is a waitstaff that will come and take your order.
The shopping is decent on the Ruby Princess. The main gift shop has some nice items, and the prices really aren’t bad. They have some fun Princess logo items, duty free liquor, chocolates, and some clothes. The price of the clothes appears to be about the same as you’d find on land, minus the tax.
There’s also a perfume shop. Being a dude, I don’t have much need for perfume and I haven’t worn cologne in a long time (maybe I should start?) But, its a pretty cool looking shop. We bought a sampler pack for our teenage daughter that was really a hit when we returned.
In addition, there’s a watch store - they had some nice stuff, and a new “Effy” jewelry store. There’s also a women’s store with purses, sunglasses, etc.
Shore excursions/ ports
This was a Mexican Riviera cruise. We had done the same itinerary back in 2011 on the Disney Wonder, though that year the Mazatlan port call was cancelled amid fears of crime. The itinerary was: At sea, At sea, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and a short day at Cabo, followed by one more day at sea.
If you live along the West Coast, or even in Las Vegas or Phoenix, this itinerary is just a no-brainer! Its almost as nice as the Caribbean (not quite, but not bad!) but with just a short flight and little or no time change, its so much easier to get to LA than Florida.
We did the snorkeling trip to Marietas Islands. It was so much fun. The company was called “Vallarta Adventures,” and they were phenomenal. They were so hard working, friendly and seemed to want everyone to have a safe and great time. We were also very blessed to have apparently one of the best Humpback whale watching days ever. We saw a dozen or more breaches, some quite close.
We chose the Faro (Lighthouse) Hike excursion. Again, the tour guide was just great. He took us on a slow hike with plenty of stops up a large hill. Along the way, he stopped to talk about the local plants and animals (including a friendly local dog that joined our group). He was funny and knowledgeable. The view was amazing.
Overall, it was a tremendous trip! Can’t wait for the next one. Read Less