7 Princess Ruby Princess Cruise Reviews for Romantic Cruises to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean

Well-trained and consistently-trained staff. Unfailingly (apparently) happy in their work and with good people skills.  Good sense of humour (necessary to rebuff the complaints about the food). Relentless up selling of drink options. (I ... Read More
Well-trained and consistently-trained staff. Unfailingly (apparently) happy in their work and with good people skills.  Good sense of humour (necessary to rebuff the complaints about the food). Relentless up selling of drink options. (I don't WANT your "special" marguerita - I want an ordinary one!) Poor organisation in breakfast buffet, though with all waiting staff either assigned to drinks duty ("More coffee, sir" , every three minutes, even when cups still full) or to cleanup when the under-managers were on the prowl (three separate mornings when NOBODY came by our table to ask if I wanted juice or any other drink, I was reduced to pouring it for myself, which of course led to protests from the staff member who noticed!). Wouldn't it make more sense to have some staff assigned to each duty type at all times? Food in main dining room (8.15 sitting) bland and uninspiring. I was tempted to attend the culinary demonstration in order to find out how they managed to remove any flavour from what were (presumably) reasonable-quality ingredients. The highlight was the fried sushi rolls, which were inventive and imaginatively-presented. The lowlight was the food on the Italian night (for some reason scheduled on Halloween, some five days after we had left Italian waters), where great skill had been applied to the desiccation of both fish and meat main courses. The evening entertainment in the theatre varied from reasonable (Siobhan Phillips - beautiful and unusual voice), through adequate (Freddie Mercury tribute), to pathetic (the "other" David Copperfield). Some people seemed to enjpy Copperfield, to judge by the laughter (unless he had a backing tape set up), BUT I have to say to my US co-travellers that this was not "wacky British Humour" - he simply was not funny! The nightclub appeared to be patronised largely by off-duty members of the entertainments team, but was a lively place to relax with a post-prandial marguerita. Adagio was altogether more refined. We just didn't like the lack of atmosphere in wheelhouse, explorers, or crooners, but plenty of other people did. Daytime entertainment appeared to be focused on separating guests from their money (Casino, Art etc). Except, to be fair, the various musicians who played in the Piazza. Special mention should be made of the Atomic party band, who were able to turn their hands to many different styles, but were at their best when allowed to rock! Room was comfortable (inside, Riviera deck), very quiet and supplied with all necessities. I found it strange, though, that a US-dominated boat appeared to have no shoe-shine facilities, nor did our steward seem to understand what should be done to clean and shine a pair of brown leather shoes.  Only ended up taking one tour. The staff member assigning us to buses failed to notice the important words "guiados en Espanol" on our tickets, leaving the guide at Olympia to make some hurried phone calls to get us out of the English-language group from bus 11 and onto the Spanish group from bus 14. The other tour we booked was cancelled, so we instead did Ephesus on our own, as for most of the other ports. The guests were split 1500 US, 500 UK, 500 Aussie and 500 "other". Ages ranged from one year to about ninety, the median being around fifty. The US folk seemed to stick together, but the non-US mixed well (and I include the Latino Yanks in "non-US" here - it was the Anglo-Yanks who seemed to be the most stand-offish). The itinerary was great (Greek Isles, Venice to Rome), but I don't think we will be back on the Ruby in a hurry.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
After reading a few reviews about Ruby Princess. I was ready for a 'so-so' experience. No so! The best vacation my wife and I ever had. The crew, the food, the cabin and the ship were all great. I have no complaints about any ... Read More
After reading a few reviews about Ruby Princess. I was ready for a 'so-so' experience. No so! The best vacation my wife and I ever had. The crew, the food, the cabin and the ship were all great. I have no complaints about any part of our vacation. You do get charged for almost all beverages. Coffee, tea, ice tea are free, but you pay for all alcohol. Since my wife and I do not drink, this was not an issue. We paid to use the 'Sanctuary' the quiet, no children section for sunning, which I was fine with. Paying for the few of Princess's 'add ons' works to my advantage. The staff was just wonderful; kind, professional, well groomed and helpful. Our wait staff in the dining room was also great. I'm a caterer and have been in the food service business my whole life. The food was excellent. The ship is feeding 3000+ guests 3 meals a day, a feat in itself, the food was well prepared, great selections and high quality. Don't miss the afternoon tea. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
The Ship: The Ruby was launched in 2008 and still looks new. This ship includes the International Cafe, 3 main dining rooms for traditional and anytime dining, the Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe for buffet dining, Vines for wine and cheese, ... Read More
The Ship: The Ruby was launched in 2008 and still looks new. This ship includes the International Cafe, 3 main dining rooms for traditional and anytime dining, the Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe for buffet dining, Vines for wine and cheese, a Pizzeria, Trident Grill for burgers and hot dogs, Scoops Ice Cream bar, plus Crown Grill and Sabatini's specialty restaurants. There are 5 bars/clubs/lounges. The library has plenty of books to borrow plus some games. There are 3 pools (one adult only near the spa), the Sanctuary for relaxing poolside, a fitness room, a spa, a theater, plus Movies Under the Stars (MUTS). We have been spoiled by the Princess Sun Class ships where the promenade is all on the 7th floor, whereas the Ruby Princess has the promenade on the 8th floor at the front of the ship, requiring stairs up and down to walk around the deck. I did not schedule a spa treatment on this sailing, but loved that I was still allowed to use the spa steam room, pool, showers, and locker room without charge. Stateroom: We had a balcony cabin. It's really nice to spend hours during sea days there. We had also the special dinner on the balcony which was really romantic! Entertainment: Sam, the Cruise Director, kept the schedule full with so many things to do it was difficult to stay idle for long. She is very friendly and nice. Love her jokes. The theater had the usual Welcome Aboard Show on the first evening. There was also "Stardust", "Broadway Ballroom", and "Once Upon a Dream". The comedians, were excellent. We went to see the Magician/Illusionist David Cats, he was simply great, the best show so far. The Orchestra in The Piazza was very cool. The Ports: We stopped at Kusadasi, Istanbul, Mykonos (love it), Naples, Rome, Livorno (Florence) and Barcelona. We loved every single moment of our cruise. All Ports are incredible, unique. Istanbul, Rome, Florence. Very Happy. The Seas: no rocky sea at all!!! Which was great ;) Disembarkation: Princess has really improved the disembarkation process. Instead of everyone crowding the public areas and stairs, passengers are assigned one of the public lounges based on the scheduled departure. When our group was called, it was fast and easy to exit. Our luggage was waiting for us and getting through customs was uneventful. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We (early 30's) have been anticipating this particular itinerary (Jun 22 sailing) from Princess for several years. Being this was a milestone anniversary, we decided now was the time. This was our 9th Princess cruise, 11th overall. ... Read More
We (early 30's) have been anticipating this particular itinerary (Jun 22 sailing) from Princess for several years. Being this was a milestone anniversary, we decided now was the time. This was our 9th Princess cruise, 11th overall. This review is lengthy, but I appreciated those who took the time to detail out their trips on this itinerary (i.e. SingerEsq), especially since this is a bigger trip/investment than most itineraries. (Note: all prices below are per person) The ship was wonderful, as expected from the newest Princess ship in fleet. Service was spotty, and food is good but we continue to see spotty Princess service (see Princess Specialty Restaurant review below). The itinerary was perfect, and the weather couldn't have been better. Rome Transfer: Marco to Termini was 14Euro each. Once to Termini be sure to take a taxi to your hotel. DO NOT transfer from Termini to Red/Blue Line. I cannot count the amount of steps we took with no escalator in sight. Take a taxi with luggage since they are reasonably cheap. Rome: Spent 2 nights at Westin Excelsior using points. Room on 6th floor facing courtyard was exceptionally nice & spacious compared to Euro standards. Everything regarding the room was perfect. The only complaint was the concierge service (or lack thereof). Our friends lost their luggage & for 3 days their only answer to helping find the luggage was "no news". In contrast, after boarding the ship Princess located & had the luggage in their stateroom w/in 2 days...And the ship moves everyday! Westin Excelsior Rome Concierge Staff...You badly suck! As for Rome, we loved the city. Used RomeinLimo for a '1-day tour of Rome'. Visited the Colosseum (12Euro), Catacombs (6Euro), Vatican (15Euro), and other highlights of Rome. We opted for a private guide inside the Vatican (150Euro total for party), which was well worth the price. The trip can be done on your own, but with our first visit & limited time we wanted to see everything. Ship Transfer: Taxi was 8Euro from Westin to Termini (worth the price with luggage!). Train was 3Euro from Termini to Civitavecchia. We each had baggage & no steps in station. As long as you can carry your own luggage on/off the train, there is no reason to pay the excessive 150-200Euro for a private transfer...You'll need that cash for more pizza & gelato. Once off the train, proceed toward the boats (you'll see them). Once inside the gate look to your left for the free bus shuttle stop to take you to your ship. The guards didn't tell us this while watching us haul our luggage down the street, so we walked more than necessary before figuring out on our own. Shuttle drops you off at the check-in area where you proceed to the ship's check-in from there. We arrived around 4P, & looked to be the last people checking in so there was no line (VIP style!). Cabin: We had an inside room (Cat J) on the Baja deck. Room was standard Princess cabin. We always find them roomy enough for 2 with plenty of storage. Steward was good, except we had dirty glasses again as we found on the Emerald in Mar10. We don't think they bring clean glasses like some hotels, so we always wash them ourselves to be sure, or just get some from the bars. I think we're bringing a small spray bottle of 409 to do our own germ spot cleaning next time. Oh, & if your bringing wine onboard (see Monte Carlo), don't forget to buy your own wine opener. The bottles fit easy in the fridge, and for wine glasses just call room service & they will bring as much as you want. Monte Carlo: Did on our own. We took the public bus from outside the dock area to a stop on the other side of the harbor (1Euro) to catch the bus going to Eze/Nice(1Euro). Got off in Eze & visited for over an hour. Then we caught a bus from Eze to Nice(1Euro). Enjoyed the sights of Nice & caught local train to main station (1Euro), then regional train back to Monte Carlo (3.3Euro). Walked to the Casino & then back to Port. This was all easily doable in a day. Also, there is a supermarket (aka Casino Supermarket) a few blocks from the port on the main street facing the water. This was the best & cheapest wine/champagne & bottled water stop on our entire trip. So stock up & carry as much as you can to your stateroom...A 6-pack of 1L water bottles was less than 3Euro! And great wine/champagne for 3-6Euro. Livorno: Did on our own. The problem with this port is you cannot walk to any public transportation. You are bound by the shuttle or taxis to take you out of the port (very industrial & far). A taxi will take you to the Livorno train station for 20Euro. So round up some people & share the cost. We caught the 830A train to Pisa San Rossore Station (3.6Euro). You will transfer trains at Pisa Centrale to get to San Rossore Station which is only about a 5min walk to the Leaning Tower (no signs, follow crowds or ask). We took pics & walked back to Centrale station (about 2mi), found some cheap clothing stores, and then caught the 10A train to Florence. (Search online for the Tom Ogg review of Florence for step-by-step guide of Florence). We walked around, took pics of Duomo, David, & bridge, shopped, had lunch, and then took 335P train (6,6Euro) back to Livorno Centrale. Shared 20Euro taxi back to port. Naples: Used Pleasant Travel for a private tour of the Amalfi Coast & Herculean with other CC'ers. Public bus/train strikes appear to be common here so be wary of doing on your own. We visited towns of Ravello, Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento, and Herculean (11Euro). We purchased radio guides inside Herculean for 6Euro each, which provided lots of info & easy to use. With so much driving, we were only able to explore for 20-30min in each town, and 1hr for Herculean. We will go directly back to Amalfi on our next trip to Naples (and Capri which our friends did on their own & loved). Capri is easier to get to on your own by hydrofoil. Boats to Capri are private owners so no strike worries. Kusadasi: We took a private tour with other CC'ers to St John's (2,5Euro), Ephesus (10Euro), Houses (inside Ephesus for an addtl 7,5Euro!), & House of Virgin Mary (6,5Euro). Did not enjoy our guide & not many fond memories for this port. Ephesus is well preserved, but it's very hot & this would probably have been easier & cheaper on our own by getting a taxi. Shopping is lots of pushy salespeople. Kusadasi is checked off our list. If we ever find ourselves back here on another cruise, we heard from many people that the beaches just south of town are amazing. Santorini (awww, Santorini!): We rented a car & explored on our own. Driving & parking is very easy on this island. We were on one of the first tenders into Fira. Took cable car up (3Euro) & rented a 4dr manual from Tony's (40Euro), who said we were 1st to check-in & last to check-out. Drove to Oia first & explored the town for several hours (much larger than I expected). Then drove to Kamari Beach (8Euro for chairs/umbrella), and then to the Red Sand Beach (6Euro). Both beaches were very nice. Dropped off car & shopped Fira for a little before deciding the line for the cable car was too long (what a mistake that was). We proceeded to walk down the donkey path dodging nastiness & missing the views down. That's a one-time only experience I need. Cable car is your best (& should be your only) bet. Mykonos: We did on our own. We paid 5Euro for the shuttle from the ship to the main port area (worth it). Then we walked from the drop-off point around the harbor to windmills & up to the bus station to go to Paradise Beach. Bus was 1Euro each way; just find the store sign which says "Bus Tickets". Paradise Beach is very nice; just don't get too close to the rock barrier as several friends were stung (luckily not harmful). Chairs & Umbrella were 12Euro. We then proceeded from the bus station visiting some shops & getting some excellent gelato in the harbor area (like Roma) before catching the last 5P shuttle to the ship. Athens: We did on our own. You take the free shuttle to the terminal. Once outside, no taxis will take you to the train station. So if you are able to walk about 2mi, then do so & catch the train to Akropoli for 1Euro each vs a 20-40Euro cab. Station is a few blocks from the Plaka & Acropolis entrance (12Euro). We hiked up the entrance for pics, then visited the museum for 9Euro, which had great A/C to cool off but we're not museum people so we didn't find too interesting for the price. Afterward, we walked to the Plaka for some excellent gyro's & moussaka. Then took train back (1Euro) & walked lunch off with the 2mi trek back to the ship. Katakolon (or 'cat-a-colon' for the smell): We rented a car & did on our own (40Euro for 4dr manual or 80Euro for 8pax manual van). We had no reservations, but as long as you show up early (830A) you should have no problems renting. The roads were very easy to drive as they were much like the US. We drove to Olympus, and walked around (9Euro). The ruins were very disappointing as they were nothing but scattered rocks on the ground. Nothing like Herculean, Acropolis, or Ephesus we visited. We all felt this could be skipped if not that important in your itinerary. Afterward, we drove back to ship and parked the rental car (literally) next to ship for an onboard 'free' lunch. Then we proceeded to Kastro beach for the afternoon. The beach was very nice (but small) with nice facilities & a restaurant. Corfu: We rented a car & did on our own (40Euro for 4dr manual). Visited the Paleokastritsa beach that was very nice water but ICE cold. Others reported Dassia beach was nice with warmer waters. Island is very easy to drive on own, although signage (as most of Europe) could be better. Princess Specialty Restaurants: We dined in the Crown Grill for our anniversary dinner with great company. And while our steaks were good, the service needs work. They would not allow us to order 2 main entrees in lieu of appetizers/salad. Now, if this were a normal restaurant we'd understand. But we're paying $25 each additional to dine here. In contrast, the dining room let's you order whatever & however many dishes you please (i.e. my 4 orders of Lobster & Prawns!). So why could I not order a Filet & Lamb Chops? One in our group ordered 2 steaks, but we were made to feel as if the waiter & the kitchen were doing us a huge favor. We were all perplexed & certainly felt $25/each was a waste. As for the food, my medium filet was bloody in the middle which had to be sent back. Shouldn't these "specialty" restaurants have the best cooks & wait staff on the ship for the extra (stiff) price..?!? We also had bad service with Sabatini's on the Emerald in March 2010. I think Princess needs some serious service work on their "specialty" restaurants. We will not be paying extra to dine in the future. Entertainment: We were too tired to ever see a production show. We did watch & participate in some game shows. Watching the World Cup on MUTS was an experience. This is a port intensive cruise, so we needed our rest. Venice: We carried our own bags off the ship. Walked outside the building & to the right where you can find the Alliguna (public boats to St Marks Square). Price was 6Euro + 3Euro for each large bag. We walked from the stop to the Westin Europa. Mostly flat except for 2 stairs over water. So if you cannot handle carrying your own bags, then get a private boat (75-90Euro). We enjoyed walking around, but Rome was our favorite over Venice. Found some good restaurants around the Rialto & Traghetto area. This is an expensive city, so save your Euros for this visit. Westin Europa: We spent 2 nights on cash & points. Hotel refused to check anyone in before 3P, which is their policy but how can all the rooms be ready exactly at 3P...? With Gold status, not a good start Europa. The room itself was roomy & nicely furnished however there was no AC in the bathroom which made for sweating & multiple cold showers. Not something I'd expect from a $500/night hotel. Again, not good Europa. But the location was excellent & after figuring out the bedroom door had to be closed individually for the room to cool, we had a good stay. One bonus goes out to the concierge staff who, when we inquired about visiting Murano, recommended a glass factory that was offering a promo which provided a private taxi to/from Westin to Murano. So we took up the offer, did the sales tour, had lunch in Murano (cheaper than Venice), and headed back to the Westin in a free taxi! The boat alone would have been 12Euro each on the public boat. Free IS better. Leaving: We had an early flight out (650A), so the only viable option was a private water taxi for 110Euro (ouch!). Luckily we shared half with some fellow cruisers & the boat picked us up right at the hotel dock. Concierge staff made sure the boat arrived on time. Thanks again Westin Concierge Staff! Venice airport was surprisingly busy at 630A. If not for our business class tickets, carry-on luggage, and preferred security line we may not have made our flight on time. To check-in luggage would have taken at least 30-45min, and the security line, with only 2 stations open, would have taken at least another 45 minutes. So if your coach, be sure to arrive at least 2-2.5 hours before your flight. Air France Business Class: A disappointment from Venice-Paris with a 3-seat configuration for business. But we flew the 777-300 from Paris to Houston. Excellent. Great Service. Great Food. We were impressed. A great end to a long trip. Thank you miles! ? Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
My husband and I just got back from 12 days on the Ruby Princess. We left from Venice and cruised to Athens, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Monte Carlo, Naples, Rome, Florence, Mykonos, and ended in Barcelona. Overall we had a great time on the ... Read More
My husband and I just got back from 12 days on the Ruby Princess. We left from Venice and cruised to Athens, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Monte Carlo, Naples, Rome, Florence, Mykonos, and ended in Barcelona. Overall we had a great time on the ship. We had a balcony cabin on the Lido Deck due to a last minute upgrade from Princess. Cabin and staff: The cabin was small but very comfortable with a nice balcony with two chairs and a table which we spent a lot of time outside on. The bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was standard (great shower pressure). There was two dressers and a chair and a TV on top of a cabinet with a refrigerator. A complimentary robe was provided. The walls were a bit thin but overall we enjoyed the cabin and had no complaints. Boarding and disembarking the ship was very easy and Princess has it down pat. They are very organized with regard to tours and getting on and off the ship. Most of the staff was extremely helpful and nice (especially our cabin steward). Food: The food was okay. We ate breakfast in the buffet and it was large and full of hot and cold items. We avoided lunch at the buffet and dinner after the first night. Food wasn't so great. Service at the buffet was hit or miss. The anytime dining was great as we were not hungry the same time each day due to all the ports we visited. The main dining rooms was very organized and the food was good. I would say not outstanding but we didn't expect 5 star food. Most of the food was good and you had a lot of choices. We had pizza and a hamburger at the grill which was very good. We did not pay the extra to eat at their signature restaurants. Entertainment: We are not into the typical cruise shows and spend many nights up on deck watching movies under the stars which were great. I think we watched 6 of 8 movies including Star Trek, Terminator, The Proposal, Angels and Demons, etc. Something for everyone. There was plenty of room and the lounge chairs were cushioned and comfortable. The staff handed out blankets and popcorn and then came by at the end with milk and cookies (a very nice touch). Other than that I cannot comment on the larger shows. Tours: The cruise tours were very expensive and I researched options and we booked private tours at less money. There were a lot of complaints about the tours among fellow passengers (too many people and could not keep up with the guide). I would suggest if you are able to book private tours or find you own company in lieu of Princess. That was you save money and get a much better and more personal experience. For example we paid 350 euro/$500 (4 of us) for a tour of Pisa/Florence and the same tour on princess (only difference was lunch included) was $369 a person. Spa: I did have a massage as there were a lot of special deals. I didn't see that many people using the gym facilities which were clean and very nice. I used the treadmill and stair stepper a few times and there was no wait. The spa staff was very nice and helpful. Overall, the Ruby Princess was a great ship (very large) and comfortable with lots of choices for entertainment and food. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
My husband and I are new to Princess.  We have cruised Carnival and Royal Caribbean before.  We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary on the Ruby Princess.  We picked Ruby Princess specifically for their ports.  We picked ... Read More
My husband and I are new to Princess.  We have cruised Carnival and Royal Caribbean before.  We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary on the Ruby Princess.  We picked Ruby Princess specifically for their ports.  We picked a balcony for this cruise.  We had B756 which was at the back of the ship.  We loved the position of our cabin because it allowed us to sit on the balcony each night and sip wine as we left each of the ports.  Our cabin steward was spectacular too!  Our cabin was always well taken care of.  We did notice though they didn't make any "towel animals" on this cruise.  The food was good too!  We did "Anytime Dining" and loved the flexibility.  We did make a standing dinner time in Da Vinci dining room each night at 8:30 with the head waiter, Gardwyn.  I loved each night being greeted by him!!  Our waiter, Antonio was extra special.  He paid attention to all the details and looked out for us each night.  We did try both specialty restaurants on the ship.  The Crown Grill was excellent.  The steaks were great and service was exceptional.  Our favorite specialty restaurant was Sabatini's.  They fed us a 16 course meal.  The service was exceptional too.  They sang at our table for our 25th anniversary.  Our view was out of this world and super romantic.  We were both happy with our experience with Princess.  Their way of getting 3000 passengers on board and off the ship is much better than any other cruise we have gone on.  We both were happy with the nightly entertainment, but felt Royal Caribbean had better nightly shows.  They were more "Vegas like" than Princess, but were still happy with what we did see.  The ship was mainly people/couples in their 40's and older.  We did see many families, but felt it was more of an older crowd.  We both loved the Ruby and are already looking at where else we can travel with Princess.  They treat you wonderfully on this cruise!!  Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
General info I am late 30's, my husband is mid 40's. This trip was to celebrate our 15 year anniversary and it was our first time to Europe. The #1 piece of advice I would give to anyone on a trip like this is to do your ... Read More
General info I am late 30's, my husband is mid 40's. This trip was to celebrate our 15 year anniversary and it was our first time to Europe. The #1 piece of advice I would give to anyone on a trip like this is to do your research and plan very far ahead in order to make the most out of every day - one day in a major European city requires much advance planning and a decision making about what is important to you to see. We felt like this was a terrific way to see Europe for the first time and would recommend it to anyone. It was truly a trip of a lifetime and enabled us to get the flavor of a lot of different countries in one shot. We did private tours in every port but 1 and definitely feel this is the way to go to make the most out of your trip. We had impeccable weather - it was high 70's with a slight breeze and not a cloud in sight every day but one. We felt so fortunate to have this amazing weather in the beginning of May (the trip was May 2 - 18). Flights & pre cruise in Barcelona We flew Air France out of LAX via Paris to Barcelona and again via Paris back home from Venice. I had heard flying through Paris was a nightmare but that wasn't our experience - our flights coming and going were on time and comfortable and the service was outstanding and the food was even good and all luggage made it safely - phew! We stayed 2 nights at the Le Meridien Barcelona pre cruise. It was a perfect location on Las Ramblas and very comfortable and we had terrific service. We had 2 full days in Barcelona and feel like we barely scratched the surface. We could have easily spent a week there. Barcelona proved to be one of our favorite stops of the entire trip. The first day we took a 2 hours walking tour of the Gothic Quarter - this was an excellent way to start our time in the city and we learned a lot about the history of old Barcelona. Thoroughly enjoyed this tour and it was very inexpensive. After our walking tour we went to the Picasso Museum, then Citadel Park, then wandered through the Gothic Quarter on our own and of course stopped for tapas and sangria in the later afternoon to give our feet a break. Later that night we went to see the magic fountains at Montjuic. This was very, very special and a must see in Barcelona if you're there overnight! One of the highlights for us. Don't miss it! Day 2 in Barcelona was spent in the Eixample District. We saw all the Gaudi sights. All were very, very crowded so we just took pictures to them from the street and didn't get close up.  We did go into Parc Guell which was well worth it. Very unique area with beautiful city views. Also a must see! We had purchased a one day pass for the HOHO bus but every time we tried to get on it the wait was 30 to 60 minutes so we always ended up giving up and walking (we hate lines!!). If I were to go again I would probably just skip out on the HOHO bus and walk everywhere or hail a cab if I get too tired. I'm not sure if we just hit the HOHO bus on a bad day (there were lots of ships in port). Maybe its not always like that. Before heading to the ship we went to take out some cash at an ATM on the Ramblas. Our card was eaten up and we could not get it back. Thankfully we had a secondary ATM card. Make sure you have a backup plan for getting cash!  We boarded the ship at about 4 PM. Embarkation took about 10 minutes. We took a cab from the hotel and it was a snap. The ship - Ruby Princess Wow - what a beauty! This was our 6the Princess cruise and this ship was the most impressive so far. This cruise was so port intensive that we felt we barely got to enjoy all the wonderful amenities onboard. But what we did utilize we couldn't have been happier with. The staff was impeccable - the best service we've ever had onboard Princess (its always good but this was over the top). The matire d' hotel, Generoso Mazzione, was an absolute gem. He and his staff paid attention to every detail and went far and away beyond any service I would ever expect on a ship with 3,000 passengers. The food was overall the best food we have ever had on a cruise. Night after night, day after day, the food was impeccable. We had anytime dining and the head waiter, Godwin, had the same table for 2 reserved for us in the Da Vinci dining room every night regardless of what time we showed up. Our server, Grisana, became our friend. We were fortunate enough to enjoy the Chef's Table one night. It has been well reported on already so I won't be redundant but suffice it say it was one of the best meals we have ever had (and we're major foodies) and the VIP treatment that comes with the experience is so over the top that we just couldn't believe it. We will never, ever forget that special night! Truly a highlight of the trip. We didn't see as much entertainment as we normally do since we were so exhausted at night. We did manage to catch all 3 Broadway style shows and they were all very good - Once Upon a Dream was downright phenomenal. So innovative and unique - the best show we've ever seen on a cruise ship by far! Don't miss it!We had a balcony stateroom on the Baja deck. We originally had an inside cabin because we were thinking we'd barely be around enough to enjoy a balcony so why pay for it? We re-thought it a few months prior to the trip and I am so glad we did! At the end of each day we were so exhausted and drained we were so happy to have a nice room and balcony to relax in! Well worth the extra money - especially for a cruise this long. One other noteworthy item - Ultimate Balcony Dining. We did this the night after sailing away from Istanbul. Wow - what an experience! The biggest lobster tail we've ever had and the filet was great too. Neither of could finish our meal which almost never happens (we're big eaters!). I highly recommend this experience - truly special in every way. AS luck would have it we had an incredible sunset that night too. The 2 servers even came in and sang "Happy Anniversary to you" with a cake and a candle. They were so sweet! It was the perfect way to end an incredible day and we would do it again in a minute. The ports: Monaco We had a tour with Michele at: www.revelationtours.com We went to St. Paul de Vence, then drove through Nice on the way to Eze, then finished the day in Monte Carlo. We shared the tour with 6 other members of our roll call. Both SP de Vence & Eze were incredible - two villages that time seems to have just passed by. We thoroughly enjoyed them both but if you can only see one I think I would pick Eze - just slightly more charming and a little less crowded. But either one is fantastic and we were so happy we got to spend time in each of them. Nice was just OK - I'm glad we didn't spend any time there. We live in Southern CA and it felt a lot like home to us. We enjoyed our time in Monte Carlo. We went inside the cathedral and walked around the casino area and then through the park near the cathedral which is just lovely. Michele was terrific - very flexible with our schedule (we had some confusion with our ship's docking time) and he was also very informative - we learned a lot about the history of the area, etc. We really enjoyed having him as our guide. He also took us to a few lookout points with incredible views where we got some of our best pictures of the whole trip. Of all the ports, Monaco was the one we were least excited about prior to the trip - but after going there we felt differently. This was a very, very memorable day and we absolutely loved the area and it is truly unique in every way. We'd go there again in a heartbeat. Livorno We toured with Guido from: www.tuscanyinmypocket.com We cannot say enough about the day we had with Guido. I actually got emotional saying goodbye to him - that is how much he touched our heart. He made this day special and memorable in every way. He was born and raised in Florence and everywhere we went people we honking and waving at him like he owned the place. He would pull us up to the door of each major site - right into the square amidst crowds of people - and get is into the sites with no line. We felt like celebrities. It was crazy. His knowledge of the region is simply astounding, and his passion for his home comes through in everything he says. We spent the first half of the day in Florence. There's so much to see there - we needed 3 days! We did see the original David - a must see in my opinion. Absolutely mind blowing - the size, the detail. We will never forget it. We of course went to the duomo and spent a little time in the area around it. We also went to Santa Croce cathedral and saw the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, etc. We loved everything about Florence. A big city with a small town feel. Definitely on our list of places to return to! After Florence we went to Chianti. Guido took us to a family owned winery called Montagliari. We sat outside overlooking the vineyards and had the best meal of the entire trip at the winery. Caprese w/ homemade mozzarella and home-grown tomatoes, homemade pasta with wild boar sauce, balls of spinach with gorgonzola sauce, and Italian apple pie, all accompanied by a bottle of Chianti of course! After lunch we toured the wine caves and the balsameria where they age the balsamic vinegar, then we finished with wine tasting in the tasting room.  The winery and surrounding area were incredibly beautiful - green and lush everywhere you looked. The hospitality at the winery was over the top - we felt like we were at someone's home. This day was one we will never forget. It was special in every way and meeting Guido was one of the highlights of the entire vacation. I cannot say enough about him and about this tour. Civitavecchia We used:www.limoinrome.com We joined someone else's tour from our roll call. There were 8 of us. Our driver was just OK. He was nice but never said a word after we got into the van as we were heading to Rome. I felt like I didn't learn nearly as much this day as we could have. He seemed more like a driver than a guide. He just kind of dropped us off at sites and we were left to figure it out on our own. We saw all the must-see sites: Circus Maximus, Palatine Hill, Colesseum, Pantheon Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Forum, etc. One place we went that is not as typical is the Basilica of Sao Paulo. This was probably the most beautiful church we saw in Italy. And because its slightly off the beaten path it wasn't crowded. I highly recommend visiting this church. It also has the remains of Peter and the actual chains that he wore when imprisoned. Very impressive building. After dashing from site to site we grabbed a quick sandwich and then met up with our licensed historian at the Vatican for a 2 hour tour. I cannot imagine visiting the Vatican without a guide. It is so enormous and there's so much to see and learn - we would have been lost without her. She was a terrific guide and this was definitely the highlight of the day. Everything we saw at the Vatican Museums blew our mind but the Sistine Chapel is in a class all its own. Do not miss this! Naples Our guide was Fabrizio Fiorinelli at: www.amalfi-drive.com This was an incredible day and a nice change in pace after running ragged all day in Rome. Fabrizio was so professional and sweet and gave us terrific background on the area without talking too much. We first went to Sorrento. Wow - what a place! The charm and the lemons everywhere - just a really special, unique little town. We went to the Limonoro Limoncello Factory for some tasting and of course walked out with 2 bags of purchases. They are so friendly in there and when I asked if I could take a picture of the guy making the limoncello he invited me to come in and be in the picture with him, holding the bottle as though I were making it. Just a fun, happy place! We had about 90 minutes to walk around and explore the nooks and crannies of this special place. From there we headed to Positano. All I can say is - WOW! You approach the town from above and the car can only go to the top of town. From there you can only walk as you wind through the shops and galleries and head towards the sea. There is a certain magic or mystique to this place that it is hard to describe - a definitely must see on the Amalfi Coast! We hope to go back someday and stay for a few days. After leaving Positano as we were winding along the road Fabrizio stops and there's a man standing on the road that hands him something. We are wondering what in the world is going on. Fabrizio them hands the package to me and tells me it's a gift. I open it and it's a plate with a hand painted design and lemons on it and it says "Amalfi Drive 2009" and has my name at the bottom. What a special, thoughtful touch. I will always cherish that plate and the memories of this special day. From there Fabrizio took us to La Tagliata for Lunch. It sits high up in the mountain, overlooking Positano and the sea. The minute we sat down (there were 6 in our group) - they started bringing food and wine. We had NONE - yes NINE - antipasti, then 5 different pastas and all the red or white wine we could drink. Then they brought 7 desserts and shots of limoncello for all. This was probably the 2nd best meal we had on our trip (after the Chianti winery) and we were shocked when the bill came and it was only $25 per person. At home a meal like that would have been at least $50 per person. This restaurant has amazing views and the service and attentiveness from the staff is top notch. What an incredible experience! Now it was time to head to Pompeii. We can't say enough about how impressed we were with Pompeii. We paid the additional fees for a licensed guide (I highly recommend this!!). He was also named Fabrizio and he was a delight. We learned so much and thoroughly enjoyed this peek into 1st century Roman life. Pompeii is not to be missed. It was great going tin the afternoon because it wasn't crowded at all. Our guide said the first half of the day you can barely get around its so crowded. When we got back to the car Fabrizio #1 had a pizza waiting for us. He had heard us talking earlier about how we wanted to be sure to try a pizza from Naples since that's where it was invented. This was another thoughtful, personal touch that really impressed us. I can't say enough about Fabrizio and his kind demeanor. He went out of his way to make our day special and he succeeded. I would hire him again without hesitation. Sea day Boy we were ready for this. The exhaustion was really setting in. We had read how tired you are on this trip but nothing could have prepared us for this level of exhaustion. I slept in til 10 AM, my husband slept till 1 PM. I got a pedicure (which was so-so, not nearly as good as the spa pedis I get at home). We sat by the pool for a couple of hours then took a nap. It was really nice to rejuvenate and catch up no rest. We needed it! Mykonos This port was a nice diversion - casual, beach-y, easy. We rented a quad from: www.okmykonos.com This was a terrific way to explore the island. We rode all over the place and finished the day at Stefanos Beach right in front of where the ship was docked. A lovely island and lots of beautiful beaches. I highly recommend renting a quad or moped so you can explore on your own. We got lost a couple of times which was half the fun. The island is small so its easy to find your way if you get turned around. We felt completely safe on the quad. We rented 1 and rode on it together. Istanbul Since we were in Istanbul on a Monday we had to take a ships tour if we wanted to see the Hagia Sofia. We reluctantly signed up for the "Best of Istanbul" tour and hoped for the best. We were pleasantly surprised. It was not bad at all. Our guide was terrific and we didn't feel like we were in a cattle herd like I had feared. I talked to other people who took this same tour on a different bus and they said it was an absolutely nightmare. I think that bottom line is - when you take a ships tour in a city like this it's a crap shoot. A lot depends on the guide and the timing of your landing at certain sites. We enjoyed our day very much and were so happy to be able to see the Hagia Sofia. I read somewhere else that someone was very "underwhelmed" by it - I guess everyone is different......because it was the highlight of the day for us. The history of that building is so impressive and to see the Muslim and Christian relics side by side is really something. I would classify this as a must-see. We also visited the Blue Mosque - wow - what a beautiful and unique place of worship. We then headed to Topkapi Palace where we toured the palace, then had a very delicious lunch in a lovely restaurant overlooking the water, then toured the Harem. Do not miss the Harem! It is a fascinating look into the life of the sultans and their families. After the Harem we had about an hour in the Grand Bazaar. A really fun experience - I felt an hour was plenty - its kind of the same 10 shops repeated over and over again. We were ready to go after an hour. We got a little lost and came out the wrong exit - the place is huge! We had some momentary panic as it was getting closer to the time to meet up with our group, but we found our way and met up with 2 minutes to spare. Close call!! This was a very memorable day - Istanbul is a fascinating city and absolutely beautiful! Just walking over to Topkapi Palace from the Hagia Sofia was lovely - beautiful boutique hotels, some newly renovated apartments - very, very charming. We are so happy we had the opportunity to visit such a unique and fascinating city. Ephesus Tour guides in Turkey are very affordable so we decided to do a private tour here with just the 2 of us. We used EKOL tours and had Ozgur as our guide. It was nice to have a private tour and Ozgur was a delight and was very knowledgeable. We were surprised to find that Kusadasi is an absolutely beautiful, modern port. We were able to wander around there for a couple of hours after out tour - we did some shopping and sat down for a beer at a waterside cafe. I highly recommend allowing time to spend in Kusadasi itself. It is beautiful and the people were very friendly. Our tour took us to Mary's house, Ephesus and the Terrace Houses, and the tomb of St. John. Ancient Ephesus was so impressive and we felt the Terrace Houses are a must see. They are still excavating there and you wouldn't believe how well preserved everything is! Ephesus overall was one of the most impressive sites from the whole trip. We are students of the Bible so it really meant a lot to us to see in person an area that is often mentioned in the Bible. Even if you aren't a Bible student, I cannot imagine anyone not being impressed with this ancient city. Having a private tour was the way to go - we arrived at every site about 30 minutes ahead of all the large buses so the crowds weren't too bad. It was great to get at our own pace since it was just the 2 of us. The geography in this area was beautiful - rolling green hills down to the sea - it reminded us a lot of home (southern CA). Athens We shared a tour with 8 other members of our roll call we used Paul from: www.athenstaxi.org Paul was very nice and was informative. We were surprised at how dirty Athens is - there was a lot of graffiti everywhere. This was one of least favorite cities. We visited the Acropolis and all its sites, then went to the National Archaeological Museum. Afterwards we had a few hours to wander the Plaka and we used that time to have lunch there too. After that we explored the ancient Roman & Greek agoras - both fascinating and lovely and worth seeing! The National Archaeological Museum was the highlight of the day for us. Very, very impressive collection. We only had an hour there and wished we had longer to explore the many treasures. The shopping in the Plaka was so-so - lots of junk and we could have used less time there. We did have a wonderful lunch there at one of the tavernas. We sat outside and enjoyed watching all the hussle and bussle. It was a welcome break because it was very hot that day! Sea Day Another welcome break to gear up for our 3 day Venice extravaganza! And more beautiful weather to boot. We spent the whole day on a lounge just outside the sanctuary - so peaceful and quiet! We napped on and off. A great, great day! Venice Sailing into Venice was quite a site to behold. This was the only cloudy day of our trip but even that didn't dampen the excitement of our sail-in. We stayed on or balcony - I heard it was very crowded on the upper decks. We were happy to be on the side of the ship that sailed by St. Marks. What a memorable way to see Venice for the first time - from the water! They had the Andrea Bocelli music paying up on deck and also had it piped in through the tv so we were able to turn it on I the cabin and hear it out on deck. It was truly magical and lived up to the hype! Our ship sailed in at 1 and we had a tour lined up at 2 PM along with 6 other roll call members. We were picked up by a water taxi and had a 1 hour Grand Canal tour followed by a 3 hour walking tour. We used: www.tours-italy.com Our guide, Sabine, was so passionate about Venice! Our land tour started at St. Mark's Basilica. After going inside we then began a tour of the off the beaten path areas .This was incredible! We saw where Venetians actually live and learned so much about the history of the city. We never would have found any of these places on our own. It was a terrific introduction to the city. After the tour we all went our separate ways. We shopped a little then headed towards the ship. We got lost and it took a couple of hours to finally make it there. We were wiped out! The next morning was disembarkation day. We opted to self-disembark and it was an absolute breeze! We were among the first off the ship and another member of our roll call had arranged for a private water taxi for 6 of us. The taxi dropped them off at their hotel with their luggage then dropped us and our luggage off. We stayed at the Hotel al Ponte Mocenigo, just a stone's throw from the St. Stae vaporetto stop. Loved everything about it - including the location and price! They welcomed us with open arms even though we arrived at the hotel at 8:30 AM. They invited us in for breakfast. We had some coffee and got our bearings and headed out for the Secret Itineraries tour at the Doge's Palace. We took our time getting there since it wasn't until after 11. We took the elevator to the top of the campanile at St. Mark's Square - great views! It was early enough in the morning so there was not wait to go up. Good timing! The Secret Itineraries tour was awesome! I highly recommend it. The Doge's Palace itself is really something too. After our tour we wandered around there a bit. We could have spent more time there but we were getting hungry. Off we went to Cafe Florian for lunch and of course champagne! Sitting there in St. Mark's Square with the music of the orchestras shipping champagne...WOW! Dreams to come true. It was amazing. We then headed to our hotel where our bags had already been delivered in our room. We chilled out for the afternoon and had dinner at a cafe near the Rialto Bridge. It was a memorable meal with great views and terrific people watching! The following day we visited the Accademia - very impressive! I had pre-reserved tickets with a specific entrance time. It turned out it wasn't needed - there was no line. But you never know. Afterwards we had pizza and beer at the pizza place alongside the Accademia bridge - YUM! We just kept saying :" I can't believe we're really here!" From there we toured Ca' Rezonnico - which we really enjoyed.....we paid the additional fee for the audio tour which was well worth it.  For dinner we went near the St. Mark's square area to a restaurant that Generoso had recommended to us - excellent meal and a terrific way to end our trip! It was called Centrale Bar and Lounge. Warning - its not cheap! Venice is such a magical place - we had very, very high expectations and they were exceeded. It ended up being our favorite city overall from the whole trip and we can't wait to go back. It is unlike any other place we've ever been, and I would imagine, unlike any place on earth. What a perfect place to end this vacation of a lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Ruby Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 5.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.9
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 5.0 4.2
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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