Ruby Princess achieves something most 3,000-plus-passenger ships can't: A feeling you've just come home. (Think a high school reunion, only with people you just met.) It's easy to strike up a conversation with someone and feel like you've known them forever. Passengers aren't just friendly; they're down to earth, curious, outgoing and share a love for cruising traditions.
Those traditions are what keep so many past Princess passengers coming back. They don't care that the ship has no rock climbing wall or water slide. Instead, they love all the free dining venues (as well as the for-fee restaurants). They look forward to the balloon drop on the last formal night of the cruise (Princess passengers still take formal night seriously, by the way) and the Captain's Welcome Cocktail Party and Champagne Waterfall, where the maitre d' helps passengers pour bubbly over a tower of glasses. Perhaps most popular of all is Princess' signature Movies Under the Stars, where passengers snuggle up on the top deck with fleece blankets and popcorn.
Other favorites are the Salty Dog Gastropub, a dinner-only menu created by celebrity chef Ernesto Uchimura, available at the Wheelhouse Bar; the"industrial chic" specialty restaurant Share, created in partnership with celebrity chef Curtis Stone; and, of course, the Norman Love "Chocolate Journeys," which include chocolate-flavored cocktails, breakfast treats and even a tasty spa treatment.
The line's entertainment is a bit more hit and miss. The partnership with NBC's "The Voice"? Total hit. A musical created in partnership with Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz? The jury's still out on that.
Our biggest hat-tip, though, goes out to the ship's 1,200 crew members, who are not only friendly and attentive, but also have a great sense of humor and upbeat spirit. Fun tidbit: Ruby Princess is dedicated to keeping its crew happy and motivated. One way the ship's hotel manager accomplishes this is by taking his crew biking in port about once every two weeks. The team bonding enables an open platform for discussions on ways to improve crew and passenger life onboard.