116 Venice Princess Ruby Princess Cruise Reviews

We flew into Venice a couple days earlier. We loved Venice. We walked and walked and got lost a bunch of times. Our hotel, Hotel Antiche Figure was excellent! Embarkation We paid a foot taxi to lug our bags to the port from our hotel (it ... Read More
We flew into Venice a couple days earlier. We loved Venice. We walked and walked and got lost a bunch of times. Our hotel, Hotel Antiche Figure was excellent! Embarkation We paid a foot taxi to lug our bags to the port from our hotel (it would have been impossible for us to do because of all the bridges) while we walked alongside him. $15 per bag - well worth the $30! There is a vodofone right inside the terminal that can help you buy phone packages for Europe (we are Canadian). Embarkation was smooth, especially since we were platinum members and had preferred lines. Room Our room was A439 and it was as expected. Nice size, nice balcony. Typical balcony room. Shower may have been a touch bigger than previous Princess ships. Our luggage arrived within a few hours - which was great. Our room attendant, Tommy, was excellent. We gave him an extra $50 USD at the end of the trip as our room was always in tip top shape. Service We found the service to be good. Typical for Princess. Our dining room was Concerto and although Alfredo was just okay, Michael (the assistant waiter) was excellent. Other services were good too. Spa was excellent although extremely pricey! Food Food was great - we both gained 8 pounds! The international cafe was one of our favourite spots. Coffee, a drink, light snacks, sweets - and always something going on in the Piazza - made it a great place to spend time! Our restaurant's food was also excellent, breakfast lunch and dinner - yum! One thing different that we enjoyed was Alfredo's. Italian fare and included! Great for those nights when we arrived back on the ship late and didn't make our dining time! Itinerary The itinerary was jam packed. We were seriously exhausted at the end of our vacation. I think we had 8 (or 9?) ports in 12 days. I really enjoyed them all. Only thing is its incredibly hot in the Mediterranean in July / August. Like disgustingly hot. If you don't like the heat - consider going in the Fall. Venice is gorgeous (reviewed above). Note - you need a couple of days in venice. We did our own thing here. Athens was great - one day was good. We did our own thing because I can speak Greek. We took the subway to Athens from the port. No worries. We saw the acropolis (packed!) and then roamed the streets. Had a nice lunch, did some shopping in the Plaka. Very good day. Kusedasi - Ephasus & Virgin Mary shrine Excursion - worth it - I enjoyed this but it was so hot and the line ups were so long that if I had known this ahead of time, I would have made this a sea day. Istanbul - Blue Mosque, Agia Sophia and Grand Bazaar Excursion - enjoyed this also. Seriously felt like I was in ancient civilization class though at this point! Grand Bazaar was neat to see. Didn't buy much. The two churches (well, one mosque, one church) were beautiful. Mykonos - did our own thing here. Walked, shopped (so much shopping in Mykonos) and enjoyed the beaches and the food! Great day. Naples - Amalfi Coast Excursion - The best money I've ever spent. A great day driving along the amalfi coast - Sorrento, Pasitano, lunch with an incredible view. Really the most beautiful place I've ever seen and I plan to return for a week sometime in the near future! Citivachecia (Rome) - we did this on our own because we've been before. Exhausting! So hot and so busy (have I said this before???). Far cheaper than a cruise excursion, and if you're organized, you can do it. We saw the Spanish steps, the trevi fountain, the coliseum and Vatican. Buy your tickets in advance online!!!! We also had time for lunch in Tresteverde SP? It was an exhausting day but beautiful none the less. Livorno - we took the Florence on your Own Excursion - just to get into Florence and back - kinda a waste of money, but it was nice to get the history lesson chat on route (about a 1.5 hour drive each way). Florence is great - with lots of shopping and walking and sights to see! Leather bags everywhere!!! Toulon - South of France - we just took the water shuttle over (were disappointed we had to pay for this!) and walked around. Not much to see really. Just a giant market to walk around. Should have made this a sea day or went to see the more of Provence. Disembarkation Super smooth! Two days in Barcelona were great. Our hotel was beautiful, great location, but the staff were rude. Hotel Jazz. Barcelona is a nice city with lots of activity and an incredible night life. NO one get up until after noon it seems, and continues to party until 6am! Great shopping, lots of walking, good food! We really enjoyed Barcelona! Notes The photo studio did not have any sort of special. Last year there were all sorts of specials on Crown Princess (eg. buy the portrait, get the digital image free, buy 3 portraits, get the 4th free...etc) The lack of a central stair case beyond the 6th floor is stupid. WE noticed that they changed these stairs to service stairs for staff. I would have booked a different room had a known this ahead of time. Entertainment was very good. Deputy Dan (the deputy cruise director) was hilarious! Enjoy!!!!   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Accommodation- We had a lovely balcony room on the 14th Floor- R620- this spacious room had more than adequate storage space for suitcases under the bed and a huge walk in wardrobe area with plenty of hanging space for clothes. This floor ... Read More
Accommodation- We had a lovely balcony room on the 14th Floor- R620- this spacious room had more than adequate storage space for suitcases under the bed and a huge walk in wardrobe area with plenty of hanging space for clothes. This floor was great as the buffet and main pool were only one floor up. The bathroom, like on most ships, is very compact- the running joke on the cruise was ‘what happens when you slip over in the shower? - nothing, you can’t go anywhere’. We never had any issues with water temperature or pressure. There was also a handy drying line in the shower where you could hand up any clothes you had washed by hand. My word of advice is that if you like to use a hairdryer to blow dry your hair make sure you BRING YOUR OWN! The hairdryer in the room is useless, it was easier for me to sit on the balcony and let my hair dry naturally, this was quicker than using the world’s slowest hairdryer! We were only woken up a couple of mornings by people moving around the sunbeds on the deck above us- but never heard any other noise. I was glad we were not further down the corridor toward the laundry room- there seemed to be an unpleasant ‘smell’ from a cupboard which I can only imagine was to do with the toilets- it wasn’t pleasant and was there for the majority of the stay, I don’t know if anything could be smelt in the rooms in that area though. Our balcony was spacious and being the top deck meant that no one was overlooking us which we liked, we however could see down into everyone’s balcony’s (I think people forget this and we did spot a lot of people in their underwear!) The sail was exceptionally calm- and we could only feel the ocean on one occasion- a very smooth passage indeed. Food We dined in the Botticelli dining room on a late sitting- we had a fantastic table of 8 people and I have to say we had such a great time- a lovely mix of people and the evening always went very quickly as we were chatting all night. Our waiter Tarra was fantastic- very funny and knowledgeable on the menu, he would go out of his way to ensure that everyone on the table was having a good time and enjoying their food. There was always a good selection of things on the menu, however I found that the menu was very fish heavy, which was great for me but no so good for my partner who can’t eat it, but he always found something on the menu. They tried to be very adventurous and on some occasions they combinations were very odd. The Medallions of beef on the everyday menu was very good and if the Duck in plum sauce comes up on your cruise ORDER IT- it was delicious. Our main complaint is that when the food arrives it was never very hot; it was always cooked but never as hot as I would want it. We ate lunch and breakfast in the buffet- there was always a varied choice- my partner was raving about their mash potato, he couldn’t get enough of it. The pizza in the outdoor café was delicious, I definitely advise you go and get some. Entertainment The entertainment on the Ruby was varied. Some days it was fantastic and some days I wished we could have walked out. The comedians Alfred and Seymour were incredible! Like nothing I have seen before. Just make sure you don’t sit near the front, you are not late, and you don’t walk out before the end, else you will be pulled up on stage! For those in the audience who were watching it was hilarious. Its prob not to everyone’s taste though. http://www.alfredandseymour.us/aboutbsb.html The final show- ‘Once upon a dream’- was very good. The staging was very technical with huge projectors and the costumes were fantastic, definitely a highlight. There were always plenty of activities to join in with on board and people seemed to be having a great time (we are more observers than joiners in) but we did feel that things got very quiet after 11 which was a shame, most of the bars were empty and we had to go to the Skywalkers night club to find some people! Destinations We did most of the ports ourselves (having been to a lot of them on a previous cruise)- here is some of my tips for the ports that we visited that I believe you can do yourself if you are willing to get out of bed early! The library on board also had lots of excellent travel books you can take out which helped for some ports. Athens- Once you exit the ship in the port of Piraeus all you need to do is to exit of the port gates and follow the road left- you will soon see a sign for the big red/Blue hop on/hop off buses- the blue line will take you straight from the port of Piraeus into Athens, you can then get the red line for 1.5 hour tour of Athens. http://www.city-sightseeing.com/tours/greece/athens.htm This total cost for the ticket for the red and blue line was €20- the timetable is extensive and we always found it ran on time. There is a bus every 30 minutes and you can get on and off as many times through the course of 24hours as you want. My only advice is that if you are travelling in the afternoon make sure you take something to sit on on the top deck- the plastic seats get unbelievably hot (I have learnt from my mistakes) Corfu- We took the local bus into Corfu old town and navigated the city ourselves- I would say go to the old fort- it is quite walk but the views from the top are amazing. We walked back to the ship- it only took us 20minutes. Santorini- There are lots of messages in forums about this place- and I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to do this destination. If you take one of the organised tours you avoid having to go on the cable card or up on the donkeys. We decided to do Santorini ourselves. We left the ship at 8.15 and at this time there was no queue for the cable cars. We then walked to the bus station, about 5 minutes away out of town, and took the bus to OIA, this place is a must. The buses run every 30minutes and go directly there, we were lucky and got a seat both there and back. The ticket was €1.60, you could not buy a return so had to purchase on the bus. The buses were air-conditioned and comfortable. The queue back down for the cable car at 3.30 was 1.5 hours! This wait was tedious especially in the hot sun. We wished we had walked back down but had heard it was dangerous with all the donkeys using the same path. Katakolon (for Olympia) We used local transport for this again. There was a train but we missed the first and didn’t fancy waiting in the sun, so we used a coach tour that was advertised as soon as you get off the ship- this cost us €10 each and took us straight to Olympia- they gave you 2.5 hours here and this was plenty of time to go and see Olympia and the museum- total cost for dual entry was €8. Mykonos We used local transport again. DON’T WALK TO TOWN- the road was dangerous and had no footpath, the cruise put on a shuttle bus which cost €7 return- but you had to buy your tickets from reception before you left the ship. We eventually found the main bus depot, after asking several locals, and took a bus to the beach to Platis Gialos - cost was €1.60 for this- these ran about every 45minutes and soon filled up so I would advise you go early. We had friends who went on the beach shuttle from the cruise ship and this cost them $38 and they had to leave for 8am and were back by midday! So we saved a lot of money doing this ourselves. The beach was very clean and had lots of lovely beach bars and restaurants. It cost us €10 for the day to hire two very comfortable sunbeds and an umbrella. Be careful, some of the beaches are nudist only so do some research- I heard great things about Paradise beach and saw a local bus going right from near where the shuttle bus drops you off so no need to walk through town, buses here are very frequent too. NEWS FLASH- something I found out through experience, the sea is cold in Mykonos! Be prepared! Make sure you try and track down Petros the local Pelican- he is amazing and so friendly! All in all we had a wonderful time on the Ruby and couldn’t actually find very much to complain about at all. If people are hesitant about going because they are worried a cruise might be too ‘old’ for them, we are in our mid 20’s and had a great time. We had fun on the open deck party which went onto until 1am and you could always dance the night away in Skywalkers so there was always somewhere to party late and we made some great friends who we could always drag out for late night drinks after the show! This cruise was very port intensive but it was amazing to see so many places! we were certainly exhausted by the end of it but have come away with amazing memories and some excellent photos!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This was our first cruise on a Princess ship but we have cruised on other lines many times. It is not my intent to compare Princess with other Cruise lines. This trip was from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale, transatlantic. We arrived a few ... Read More
This was our first cruise on a Princess ship but we have cruised on other lines many times. It is not my intent to compare Princess with other Cruise lines. This trip was from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale, transatlantic. We arrived a few days early in Venice and totally enjoyed the extra time. Embarkation was somewhat slow. After checking in and receiving our cruise cards we were given a number and waited for over an hour to board. When we did board the cabin was ready and our luggage was delivered soon after. The Ruby Princess was staying overnight in Venice and not sailing until the next afternoon so there was time for further adventures in Venice. On the negative side, there were tours during the morning and the muster was held at 1:00 and the dining room closed at 1:30 that meant that all the people who toured Venice was sent to the Horizon Cafe since the dining room had closed. Needless to say that dinning venue was a zoo. The sail away was awesome, down the Grand Canal. Ports and tours: All the ports were as expected. Princess tours were handled very well with the exception of Casablanca. More on this later. The one down side was the cost in several ports of having to take a shuttle bus to the city center. Princess charged for this service, from $5.00 to $8.00 each way. That is a case of nickel and diming. Seems just like the airlines. Now for Casablanca. I don't know if this was true on other tours in Casablanca, but the one that we were on was a disaster. At one stop the tour company sent our bus, with belonging on it, to another location. When we went back to go to the next stop the bus was not there. It took 45 minutes to find it and return it to our location. Beyond belief our belongings were still there. However, the rest of the tour was very rushed and not at all enjoyable. It took many complaints from the passengers to get Princess to take action and they did refund part of the cost of the excursion cost. But passengers had to demand it rather than having them identified and the refund posted automatically. We had to divert to the island of Madeira instead of Ponta Delgarda to avoid a tropical storm. This little island in the middle of the Atlantic off the coast of Africa is a jewel. Well worth a visit. Dinning: The food on this trip was uniformly excellent. Service in the dining room was great. Down side, Princess has a dress code for evening in the dining rooms. The problem is they don't enforce it. Where smart casual was mandated men in tee shirts and hoodies were allowed in. On formal nights, open collared shirts were permitted. If you are going to have a dress code, please enforce it or don't have a code. At the start of transatlantic portion of the trip it was announced that Norovirus had been identified on the ship and the number of cases tripped the CDCs protocols. All the signs seem to point to Casablanca as the place where the virus came aboard. This caused extra work for dining room staffs and they were over taxed. We were not allowed to even touch a salt shaker. The outbreak also curtailed activities during the long transatlantic days. We were even not allowed to get playing cards in the fear of spreading the virus. Disembarkation: This was a total disaster. 3,200+ passengers were herded into the arrivals hall without any organization. Speaking to the Head of Station in ft Lauderdale, she blamed the Port and a faulty gangway, then the Captain of the Ruby Princess for wanting to get all the passengers off the ship so that decontamination could began and not impact the next cruise and then the US Custom and Immigration for not having enough agents in place to handle the situation. Princess did a poor job in this situation and many people missed flights because it took over 90 minutes to clear Customs and Immigration from the time you left the ship. This situation almost ruined a great experience. In summation given the few problems the cruise was well worth the effort and I would give Princess a chance to redeem its reputation as a upscale cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We boarded the Ruby on Oct.09/12 in anticipation of an extra ordinary experience and were rewarded with ''just ordinary.'' Our cabin was not as big as a lot older Celebrity ship we had sailed on a few years earlier. ... Read More
We boarded the Ruby on Oct.09/12 in anticipation of an extra ordinary experience and were rewarded with ''just ordinary.'' Our cabin was not as big as a lot older Celebrity ship we had sailed on a few years earlier. Our Celebrity cabin had a sofa and a chair as well as a decent sized balcony. The Celebrity bathroom also had a bigger shower and glass doors. This ''newest Princess'' cabin had two small chairs and a bit larger balcony, but had curtains in what I believe was a smaller shower in a smaller bathroom. After eyeballing our not so luxurious Princess cabin we proceeded up to the Horizon buffet for lunch. The buffet had less choices than other cruise lines we had been on and after eating we decided to get acquainted with the Ruby while we waited for our luggage to arrive in our Cabin. As we left the Horizon buffet we were approached by a crew member trying to convince us to pay extra for an adults only area known as the ''Sanctuary.'' He told us that for a mere 10 dollars we could spend 4 hours in the Sanctuary, or we could spend 20 dollars for a whole day. I told him that the Sanctuary sounded a lot like an adults only area that all Celebrity ships have that is called the ''Solarium'' that is free of charge to adults. It seemed like every time we turned around a crew member was trying to sell us on ''Coffee cards, booze cards or Soda cards. You could have gelato, but you had to pay extra for it also. If you are a nostalgia buff, the Ruby has an ultra large screen adjacent to a pool that reminds one of going to a ''drive in theater'' in days of old. That was probably the only oddity that may differentiate it from other ships, but it wasn't enough to make the Ruby stand out in crowd. I don't think I can recall of another cruise where we were as inundated with as much of a sell, sell hype atmosphere that continued throughout the cruise, whether it was around the ship or in your cabin. The in cabin television channels were also a maze of Princess self promotion that continuously prompted the watcher to buy this, or buy that. I felt sorry for anyone that was in quarantine as a result of a an outbreak of ''Noro-Virus'' that left very little choice of entertainment on the Princess's telly. The ''Botticelli'' dining room on the first formal night featured ''Chili'' as one of the entrees which prompted one of the cruiser's at our table to comment: ''we spend thousands of dollars and travel half way around the world for Chili? I could have stayed home and had Chili for a lot less than we've spent to come here!'' Another dinner menu evening featured ''Mac and Cheese'' which also was greeted with some derisive comments. Having said all the previous; we did enjoy all the stops we made and the crew were pleasant enough, but for the dollars spent we expected to be dazzled by the ''Ruby'' and were instead left wanting a lot more for what we had spent... Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
This was our 8th cruise, 2nd on princess. We arrived in Venice 2 days before the ship sailed, staying in Mestre. The cost of the hotel was a lot less than staying in Venice. It was only 10 minutes to Venice by train. The hotel Tritone had ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise, 2nd on princess. We arrived in Venice 2 days before the ship sailed, staying in Mestre. The cost of the hotel was a lot less than staying in Venice. It was only 10 minutes to Venice by train. The hotel Tritone had the best breakfast I have ever had at a hotel. They put out the kitchen sink. We spent 2 days touring Venice, naturally going to the rialto bridge, St. marks square. We also went to the back street behind St. marks square, and bought gifts for the family. Venice was the highlight of this cruise. Of course we did a gondola, right under the bridge of sighs. The ship was all you can ask for, having being only 4 years old. The decor was very ornate and beautiful. We had great service for the crew and we found the buffet and dining room food to our liking. The menus were different and interesting. Since the age group was so advanced, at about 8 o'clock in the evening the ship was a ghost town. One night We went to the sky walker and there was only about 3 couples in there dancing. In livorno, We hired a taxi to take us to Pisa. I had been to Pisa 50 years ago, and the tower did not look that good at that time. It was dirty and had a green appearance. This time it was pure white and was beautiful, I was really impressed. The driver gave us plenty of time for shopping, and took us back to the ship. Casablanca was a disappointment, a hodgepodge of shanty towns and garbage heaps. It was a good move that we had a ship tour to Rabat, which was a lot nicer than Casablanca. I am glad I saw Casablanca, but again i was not impressed. I would never go back there again. All in all this cruise was a cruise of a lifetime, 19 days on the ship very interesting ports, 7 days across the Atlantic. One more comment, Instead of going to the azores we went to madiera because of the storms at the azores. madiera turn out to be a better port, we loved it. In summary, everything on this cruise was to our liking, and I would take this cruise again in a heartbeat. Princess cruises are one of my favorites. Spent quite afew euros,but saw what we wanted to see.Get me on a ship! Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We found the Ruby Princess to be absolutely gorgeous! The Public areas particularly are fabulous. The Itinerary for this trip was great in that the ports visited with one exception were excellent, and since we love sea days, the TA and ... Read More
We found the Ruby Princess to be absolutely gorgeous! The Public areas particularly are fabulous. The Itinerary for this trip was great in that the ports visited with one exception were excellent, and since we love sea days, the TA and the days at sea were perfect. The Port we did not care for was Casablanca. We did the ship excursion to Rabat and found that city very nice, but Casablanca was like an open sewer. We realize the movie was shot in LA, but we still had expectations that were not met. We were glad we stopped there and had the experience, but we do not care to go back. This is a great cruise for those who love to do TA's. As for experiences on board ship, we found the food in the main dining room with traditional seating to be very good as was the service. We did not care for the food in the horizons buffet, and found the set up for the food line to be cramped and cumbersome. We ate there only two or three times and very much enjoyed our lunches in the dining room. The menu was varied and the service was very good. When sailing Princess, please do not miss the Pizza. They have absolutely the best Pizza in the Cruise Industry. A disappointment for us on the trip was the Theater. It is small compared to experiences we have had with Celebrity. Also, we found that apparently, the any time diners arrange dinner timing to better coordinate with show times so that when we finished our late seating and attempted to make the late show, the Theater was standing room only. The ship simply does not have the capacity to handle the number of passenger's in this venue. We also found that the entertainment was not up to the standard we experienced on Celebrity. We experienced some management level staff problems on this cruise. On multiple nights, we met friends for drinks before dinner and found bars staffed with only one bartender and one waiter. Although the staff worked very hard to overcome this, it was impossible and poor service resulted. One evening our friends waited an hour for a drink. You would think the management on this ship would realize what a profit center the bar is and properly schedule staff to maximize profits while providing excellent service. Another management level staff problem that had a dramatic negative effect on our trip dealt with the handling of our toilet that often failed to flush. For about the first three days we were told that the problem was a result or our putting tissues or foreign objects in it. We explained that because we had cruised previously, we understood not to do that, and after three days, five phone calls for help, and a demand to speak to the Hotel Manager that contact was made with the Manager of Guest Relations. Although expectations were raised that this might help expedite the solution to the problem, just the opposite happened. We found the Manager of Guest relations to be a person quick to make alibis and attempt to pass off problems as being just ordinary. After about a week of problems, and another repair that did not work, extremely loud plumbing rumblings were reported to the Guest Relations Manager. Without any investigation she responded that I should not worry, and these sounds were normal. My continued pleading for help resulted in a complete toilet replacement according to our cabin steward. If the sounds were normal, then why the replacement? So that this review does not go on forever, please know that our toilet failing to flush or delayed in flushing was experienced up to the last day on board, nineteen days. I also learned that other guests on my deck, as well as the crew also experienced this problem. In short this is a problem on this ship, and one that is not healthy. When this was pointed out to the Guest Relations Manager, she denied such. When the crew tells me that they have to wait to use the toilet because they do not flush without a delay, and I experienced this as well, this is not an isolated problem. IF YOU ARE IN CABIN A642, be prepared for a toilet that at best delays flushing. This delay may be 30 minutes or more. The way the management level staff on the Ruby Princess handled our stateroom problem will cause me not to sail Princess again. Denial and inappropriate excuses is not the way to handle a problem so basic to a positive cruise experience. Although I asked that my concerns be sent to Land Headquarters, I have had no contact from Princess since the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
This was a Mediterranean + Transatlantic cruise -- we started in Venice and ended up at Fort Lauderdale for a total of 19 nights. At the outset of this review we should say that we were very appreciative that Princess corporation and the ... Read More
This was a Mediterranean + Transatlantic cruise -- we started in Venice and ended up at Fort Lauderdale for a total of 19 nights. At the outset of this review we should say that we were very appreciative that Princess corporation and the Ruby's Captain successfully kept us away from hurricane Rafael and navigated the ship around Sandy so that we only experienced some roughness the last night of the cruise. Keeping the passengers safe was their first priority and they performed excellently. Any other comments and criticisms are minor in comparison. The main problem with the Italian ports Venice, Naples, Rome, Florence and Pisa was that they were swarming with tourists even in mid-October which was nearly low season. For example, during our visit to Florence the crowds were so thick we could hardly move. Cannes is a nice place but not really all that interesting to visit -- Nice would have been much better. Barcelona now has a very pleasant new cruise ship port and we spent hours just walking around and enjoying the Ramblas. Casablanca was very much a third world city but trying hard to develop there wasn't much to see and it was a shame that some on the Princess sponsored tours to Marrakech apparently got food poisoning. We were pleased that we stopped at Madeira instead of Ponto Delgado - it was just a lovely place to visit.Generally the food was good but not great. We ate at the Crown Grill for dinner one night and found it to be excellent. Since we were in a suite we often ate breakfast at Sabatini's which again was excellent. Generally the food at the Horizon was reasonable but the self service restrictions imposed after the Norovirus appeared made it a much less attractive place to eat. The Trident Grill had good hamburgers and hot dogs and we thought the Pizzeria was very good. The International Cafe in the Atrium was very pleasant but no one we met could understand what the Vines concept was intended to be. Sushi plus tapas with wine wasn't an appealing combination and after it seemed to be implicated in the Norovirus outbreak it was pretty dead at Vines. It needs to be repurposed or dumped. Mostly the dining room was OK but like others we grew tired of it after a couple of weeks. How many of us eat out at restaurant every night at home? We took the "Anytime" dining option but found we still needed reservations which took away some of the flexibility it was supposed to have. The cruise lecturers were very good and we thought that making up a program guide and having an introductory session were really good ideas. Mr. Scott's talks on aspects of the NASA space program were authoritative and interesting because he had personally participated in many of the events he talked about. Mr. Dalton's "adventures" were a bit tame in the sense that the hype was more than the actual content deserved but somewhat interesting. The best talks were from Dr. Detrich particularly on ports. He was honest and forthright in his comments and certainly wasn't selling tours. We took particular note of his negative view of Casablanca (turned out to be true) and his prediction of the long lineups for St. Peter's in Rome (also true). This information was very helpful in making our choices of shore excursions.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
A good cruise experience, we love Atlantic crossings and we loved Venice, Italy. The worst stop was Casablanca; we are too Western in our taste and do not have the adventure spirit to enjoy the stop; Casablanca was dirty, disorganized and ... Read More
A good cruise experience, we love Atlantic crossings and we loved Venice, Italy. The worst stop was Casablanca; we are too Western in our taste and do not have the adventure spirit to enjoy the stop; Casablanca was dirty, disorganized and traffic seemed dangerous. Recent labor actions left buses abandoned in the streets with broken windows. Tour staff on the ship want to sell tours; do not look for much help if going independent-do your research before traveling if going independent (on your own when touring). Naples Taxi drivers represented a disheartening gauntlet; especially in Naples, make your arrangements prior to arriving in Naples. Venice is very easy to do while on the independent self directed tour mode (don't miss Burano and Murano), Vaporetto are excellent and economical, water taxis are for the wealthy among us. Barcelona was excellent for going it alone; easy to use public transportation; Los Ramblas and market should not be missed. Funchal, the tour bus was a economical and efficient way to get a quick tour of the Island; we stayed aboard and took both routes in the same half day. Anytime dining, service levels below regular dining; however, great opportunity to meet different people. Sick Bay: out of pocket, you file your own insurance, two routine visits about $300; that included meds for a cold that was turning into a upper respiratory problem. Kudos to the Captain for avoiding rough waters from Sandy as long as he could, the ship altered course several times and changed the itinerary from Azores to Funchal, nice surprise, to avoid rough waters. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We had booked this as cruise only so I will only talk about the cruise. We arrived at he ship at 14:30 the embarkation was simple and easy, very efficient. We were meeting our friends on the ship and they were waiting for us. We had a ... Read More
We had booked this as cruise only so I will only talk about the cruise. We arrived at he ship at 14:30 the embarkation was simple and easy, very efficient. We were meeting our friends on the ship and they were waiting for us. We had a ocean view cabin it was quite roomy with plenty of space for storage, particularly enough coat hangers for all our stuff including all my wife's dresses. The bed and pillows were very comfortable. The emergency drill was very strange, because our muster station was in the casino, I am really not too sure about mustering at an internal location in a real emergency ( thinking about Herald of Free Enterprise and Concordia) I found it disturbing I would want to be at the lifeboat. In future this is something I would want to know before booking a cruise I never thought this would be allowed. The Horizon buffet was good for breakfast and lunch and we ate there one evening when tired after a tour. I really don't like eating at the buffet in the evening too much temptation to put everything you fancy on a plate and you end up with a kind of chop suey. We were on anytime dining which we were not too happy about because we prefer late sitting but we were told it was full. Anytime dining has it advantages ( you can go when you like but if you go after seven there are queues ) there are also disadvantages, you don't have the same waiters and you do not build up a relationship ( which can be good or bad) it explains the tips been added to the cabin account. Otherwise you would have to carry money to tip every night. (They always ask your room number) Talking about service, generally the service was very good our cabin steward was friendly and efficient. The crew in the Horizon buffet were particularly friendly and helpful. There was no shortage of crew anywhere you could get help where ever you were. In the evening we ate at either the Da Vinci or Michelangelo restaurants. The food was good but not exceptional. The service was also good. However we did suffer bad service in the Da Vinci dinning room on the last night. The service was very slow, snail pace they would serve one and not us all. There were six of us but only four of us were drinking wine so we would order a bottle of wine one night and our friends would order a bottle of wine another night. The last night our friends ordered a bottle of wine. When it came it was corked, so he refused it. The waiter argued that it was OK and we should accept it. When you are paying $38 for a bottle of wine and it's corked you don't accept it and you don't expect an argument. The waiter sent for the sommelier who agreed with us that it was corked. So another bottle was ordered. They still tried to charge our friend for the first bottle. This left a bad taste in the mouth in more ways than one. It soured our opinion of Princess. You know it's the little things that count. The entertainment was at best mediocre, it says a lot when members of the crew can sing better than the singers that are on in the theatre. There were two guys from Essex who sang Beetles songs one night and another they sang Everly brothers, trouble is they sounded like Alvin and the Chipmunks. I think if they billed themselves as a Alvin and the Chipmunks tribute band it would be acceptable. The dancers were good, the magician was terrible and the violinist OK. The one bright spot was a group called Music Inc that played in the Explorers bar, the lady singer was quite amazing, great voice. We will always remember the pool party where she and her group were set up on the sun deck above the pool deck she was wearing a long dress with long flowing hair blowing in the wind blasting out great songs and everyone dancing. It was a night to remember like something out of a movie. We also did dance lessons which were fun and enjoyable. Zumba which worked up a sweat. The public areas were somehow lacking when we compared it to Royal Caribbean. On Formal evening we like to take our own photos but there are not that many good spots on the ship. It shows because the ship's photographers except for one place were all using backdrops. A large area was taken up an art galley which obviously you couldn't take photographs. We never used the casino or Sky walkers lounge because the cigarette smoke in the both places was awful, the casino particularly caused contamination of the shopping area on deck 6. We wanted to shop there but I had picked up a cold three days into the cruise and the smell just caused me to have coughing fits so couldn't stay in that area. We always like to get exercise particularly on sea days. So we would walk around on deck 7 if you walked 2 1/2 times round was one mile. But as you walked around the bow there was a awful smell of very strong cigarette smoke being expelled from a vent not nice to walk through at all. Disembarkation was very simple. We enjoyed the cruise particularly the itinerary and not everything was bad however I do not think I would book another cruise on this ship or with Princess, maybe our expectation were too high we found Princess to be lower in quality than RCL. In the ship and entertainment. Generally the service was good except the last evening which was terrible and has possibly coloured my judgement. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We thought the whole trip was wonderful. Couple of things that we were irritated by. I'll explain as i go along. The balcony stateroom was perfect Deck 12 Aloha. Plenty of space for everything. We decided before we booked the trip ... Read More
We thought the whole trip was wonderful. Couple of things that we were irritated by. I'll explain as i go along. The balcony stateroom was perfect Deck 12 Aloha. Plenty of space for everything. We decided before we booked the trip that it was going to be a complete chill out vacation. And thats what we did. We had already been to some of the cities before on the itinary, and so were happy just to either stroll around or do our own thing. Most of the tours are over priced we think, but we already knew that, as we have cruised before.The weather really had a lot to do with our excursions. It was unbearably hot. It was predicted 97 degrees it could have been hotter than that. We were wilting after 5 minutes. Also we did not fancy getting up early and meeting the tour operator at 7am. We were meant to be on holiday. I did not want to set the alarm. We opted not to eat in the formal dining rooms at all. Our theory was, why should you have to choose from a small menu, when you can eat such a variety of foods in the self service restaurants, and you can go back for more if you wish.There was always somewhere open even late at night to get a snack. The entertainment was good. Not so much the comedy act though. The party band " Lots of fun " were brilliant. Now to the negatives. The staff were all great, but, in the self service restaurant they drove me crazy. Constantly in your space offering you " do you want this " Do you want that " then someone else comes along and goes through the same routine. I just want to eat my food in peace and quiet. I know its there job and they are told to work this way. It was hard to hold a conversation with eachother because we were interrupted all the time. We worked out that if you say yes to a glass of water, they would mostly leave you alone. I sound really grumpy dont i ?. The last thing i want to complain about are the Gratuities. Now before we booked our holiday, we told the travel agent that we do not want to pay the gratuities. We wanted to tip those people we came into contact with. We had been tipping along the way. So when we went to check our bill the day before we disembarked we were shocked to find that they had added them on. For example a Pina Colada was 6.50 dollars. During the night when they do the add ons, they put 11.50 dollars per person. I think thats shocking. When we complained at the desk, the assistant told us " well all the staff work very hard for you, and they deserve the gratuities, all the hotels around the world charge gratuities and everyone has to pay " Well let me tell you i worked two jobs to pay for this trip. Princess should pay there staff more. I felt i had been robbed of 400 dollars. They did eventually reduced the bill. It almost spoiled the whole holiday. So as soon as you get on the boat, go straight to the reception desk and get it sorted out. So we will be more aware the next time we cruise. By the way, we wern't the only ones complaining. There was a very long queue. On the whole, we loved every minute of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Cruise Critic - Ruby Princess Overall. Great Cruise. I recommend it Itinerary. Itinerary is intensive. There are only two days at sea. Port stops are from early morning until late afternoon. be ready to walk, walk, and walk. Ship ... Read More
Cruise Critic - Ruby Princess Overall. Great Cruise. I recommend it Itinerary. Itinerary is intensive. There are only two days at sea. Port stops are from early morning until late afternoon. be ready to walk, walk, and walk. Ship Facilities. Overall facility's are excellent. Gym is well equipped. Running track lap is only 1/12 of a mile. For walkers, there is another track on lower decks. Meals. Anytime dining tables for two are too close, easy to listen to the table next to you. For formal nights it is best to make reservations, or you will wait a lot. Buffet dining does not offer much Mediterranean fare. Food quality very good. No fresh fish. Tables fill easily and you end up waiting a few minutes with your food on hand for an available table. Hand sanitizing policy heavily enforced by waiters. Buffet waiter services were inconsistent. Some days they were on top of everything; in other days you had to grab a waiter to clean up the table and set it up for you. Ship activities. There are movies all over; Under the Stars, in the lounge, and in your stateroom TV. There were no Christian religious services on Sundays as previously done, only daily Bible Studies at 8:00 am when everyone is on a shore tour. The ship scheduled services for other faiths. There were get-togethers for veterans, Service Clubs, grandparents, First Responders,etc, but mostly on days when people were on shore tours. The ship also performed daily LGBT-oriented activities. Shore tours. Shore tours from Princess are costly but are very good and cover everything you pay for. For the full day in Venice, the ship will charge $15 pp for unlimited water taxi transfer from Ship to San Marco. We also booked three tours with CruisingExcursions.com for a lower cost, and in two of them the guides did not deliver everything we paid for. Weather is very hot. Wear light clothes. Travel light as you will walk for hours. Transfers to and from Ship. if you arrive to Venice airport, you can take the Alilaguna water shuttle for a few euros, but will take 75 minutes to get to San Marco. Private water taxis are way expensive, but if you come with a party, you can share the expense. For debarkation, if you can, use the walk-off option. You keep your bags for the last night and you leave the ship straIght from your cabin. If you are staying in Barcelona after the cruise, you get better off getting a taxi at the pier for ship to hotel door service. Princess charges you $21 per person to drop you off at either Plaza Espanya or Plaza Catalunya for you to roll your luggage to the hotel. Taxi fare is cheaper than that. Other Issues. You will receive paper, paper, and more paper. Everything is printed and placed in your stateroom. You end up filling out the trash can with it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
I have never cruised before and would do it again tomorrow! We always book luxury holidays and have high expectations and this cruise ship filled them all. Cruise Staff: i was surprised at how many staff were around to help you. They ... Read More
I have never cruised before and would do it again tomorrow! We always book luxury holidays and have high expectations and this cruise ship filled them all. Cruise Staff: i was surprised at how many staff were around to help you. They are extremely friendly and professional too. Room: queen size comfortable bed, large dressing area/hanging space. This room was an aft room (back of the ship) so amazing views at all times. Large private balcony which had added bonus of an extra corner, so was bigger than other stateroom balconies Food:Wow very high quality, so much choice and we had an anytime dinning which allowed us to eat anywhere at anytime. We did pay 20 dollars each to eat in Sabetinis one night, the food was delicious so well worth the extra money. Drinks : We paid for 2 drinks packages. 54 dollars for a soda package and 84 dollars * 15 dollars tax for non alcoholic cocktails and soda.these entitled us drinks anytime of the day. I was surprised that we did not feel the ship move at all as i was worried i would suffer from seasickness as i am sensitive to movement. Apparently if you do suffer, book a room in the middle of the ship to prevent this. Overall i would rate this as a five star experience and we will definitely book another cruise with princess cruises. This cruise was on the RUBY princess ship. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
This was my first cruise - Ruby Princess. My father treated us to a cruise for his wedding. This was definitely the way to be initiated into cruising. Transfers. As there were 8 of us converging all from around the world all at ... Read More
This was my first cruise - Ruby Princess. My father treated us to a cruise for his wedding. This was definitely the way to be initiated into cruising. Transfers. As there were 8 of us converging all from around the world all at different times. The reliability, friendliness and amount of organization was great at the airport. The only thing that could have been improved, as a first time cruiser, was maybe a quick briefing of what to expect once we arrived at the port. Embarkation. As they had decided to board by different groups, there was about a 45 minute delay in getting the journey started. I feel that more security staff to increase the rate of passengers boarding would benefit everyone! Although a little lengthy, was a good experience as all the staff were incredibly friendly and willing to assist with any questions or concerns. The Room. The room was great. My brother and I were lodging together in a balcony room closer to the aft of the ship. The room included a safe (punch code), a mini-fridge (very useful), small desk, a chair, nice balcony, and a full washroom. Amenities were included and were refreshed daily - all great (for hotel soaps and shampoos). The room was always clean and comfortable. An incredible experience. The ship itself was huge. I'm happy that the trip took 12 days as it took the first 4 just to become familiar with it. The entire ship was a palace on the water. The restaurants were the most luxurious however it was a little too much (I can take care of my own napkin on my lap, thanks!). The schedule / ports of call were amazing, although I do have to say that as the population on the cruise was more for the 50+ generation, there were very few people on board close to our ages and few activities geared to the younger generation. The staff was phenomenal. Every aspect was incredible. Rod Goodman (the cruise director who is now on the Royal Princess), was amazing as were all of his staff. Friendly, knowledgeable, and fun. The food. The food and culinary staff were exceptional. Throughout the trip, the standards never changed. Although it was a 12 day trip, and some of the fruit and produce was starting to show signs of mold, the taste and presentation was amazing. At the restaurants, the service and food was beyond compare. The steakhouse on the ship was also incredible. With many different special requests from our group, it was so well done. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
This was our family's first cruise, and everyone had a great time. We traveled as husband, wife, 14 year old daughter and 11 year old son. We flew from Boston to Rome and spent a few days in the city. From Rome we took the train ... Read More
This was our family's first cruise, and everyone had a great time. We traveled as husband, wife, 14 year old daughter and 11 year old son. We flew from Boston to Rome and spent a few days in the city. From Rome we took the train to Venice and spent two days before the start of the cruise. Venice is the most beautiful city I've ever seen and a great port to begin a cruise. The ship is very large and offers more activities than you could ever experience. Since we were traveling with children, Movies under the Stars was big part of our evening experience. Each night a different movie was offered with a showing at 7:30 and 10:30. The movies are current (e.g., Hunger Games) and the showing is on a very large screen by the pool. The pizzeria, grill, ice cream stand and buffet are close by if you want a snack during the show. Popcorn, cookies and milk are offered by the staff. My son and I also used the gym and worked out every day. The gym is first rate all the way. We also spent about an hour each day playing basketball. The courts are busy, but we usually managed to get in for some play time. We went to a handful of shows, including a four season's concert, culinary show, and magic show. The shows were very good to excellent. We were so busy and tired from our shore excursions, however, that we didn't take advantage of more shows. We had two cabins side by side with ocean balconies. We were able to connect through the balcony, so we were able to keep our family together through the entire trip. The rooms were spacious and comfortable.... Better than we expected. The air conditioning was very comfortable. Housekeeping was excellent.... We had no issues at all. The food on the ship was fantastic.... Especially the traditional dining. The breakfast buffet was very good, and fairly traditional. I'd compare it to an excellent breakfast buffet at an upscale hotel. Since we were very busy with shore excursions, we had room service most mornings and it was good and dependable. For lunch you had many choices. On sea days, we usually ate by the pool. The Pizzeria was absolutely first rate (better than the pizza in Italy) and the grill was decent (burgers and fries). We occasionally had lunch in the buffet and the food was very good. There was usually a theme (e.g., Mexican) and there we many choices. Dinner was our favorite. We LOVED the traditional dining. The meals were 4 courses and FANTASTIC. The service was as good as the food. On the outside, these meals would cost you $50 to $75 a person. We did not expect the food to be this good. We went on one private shore excursion. The remainder we did with Princess. The Princess expeditions were very good and two of them were OUTSTANDING. One was cheese tasting in Sorrento, and the other was visiting Orvieto (with a meal at the Tipica Trattoria Etrusca, a 5 start Italian restaurant). We were very pleased with the excursions. The employees on the Ruby Princess were pleasant and helpful. They were never far from your table during a meal, and the pool and bar staff deserve special mention. To sum it up, we were very satisfied with our experience. It was truly a trip of a lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
From the moment we boarded the ship we were delighted with the quality of the fittings and furnishings and especially the professionalism and friendliness of all the crew from our steward to the Captain. We had a stateroom with balcony ... Read More
From the moment we boarded the ship we were delighted with the quality of the fittings and furnishings and especially the professionalism and friendliness of all the crew from our steward to the Captain. We had a stateroom with balcony which was very comfortable and more than met our expectations. The food and service in the formal dining rooms Da Vinci and Michaelangelo was outstanding. The food in the self service restaurants was also excellent but a little manic at times. Two restaurants you pay an extra 25 $ per person: Sabatini's and Crown Grill. Didn't try Sabatini's but Crown Grill was awesome - steaks outstanding and waiting staff brilliant! The ship is kept immaculate all the time and the crew work extremely hard - they should be commended! The sports facilities and entertainment was outstanding. Drinks, wine and trips are expensive and Princess add 15% to all purchases. I wonder if they would sell more if they charged less..? Overall, we had a fantastic 12 days and would definitely book again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Just arrived home from this fantastic 12 day European Cruise. It was our fifth cruise overall and for me the best ever as we saw some wonderful sights in Europe. My husband and I had an aft balcony on Baha and across the hall my teenage ... Read More
Just arrived home from this fantastic 12 day European Cruise. It was our fifth cruise overall and for me the best ever as we saw some wonderful sights in Europe. My husband and I had an aft balcony on Baha and across the hall my teenage children (age 19 an 16) shared an inside room. It was a wonderful family cruise. I definitely love having a balcony and the kids came over many times to "share" but we had gotten a great price especially for the inside room. Our trip began in Venice after a small snafu in the States. Our first leg of our flight was cancelled but Delta re booked us on new flights which worked but then one of our pieces of luggage didn't make it on our new flight. Good thing we had booked an extra day in Venice before the cruise departed. That was the only snafu we had the whole trip. Embarkation was a breeze for us as we didn't go to the ship until 8 pm (departed 8 am the next morning) no crowds just walked on the ship directly after they screened our luggage. We had spent the day in Venice on our own and had stored our luggage at our hotel. Venice was amazing. Muster drill was at 8 am and then sail-away down the Grand Canal. Beautiful! We spent the next two days at sea. We loved playing Bingo, went to a couple of trivia type games and then my husband and I went dancing. We were surprised when we went to anytime dinner early (5:45 pm) that no one was in the the dining room. On our Caribbean cruise if you didn't get there by 6 pm you had to wait. Our waiter told us that there was only 15-20% American on the ship with about 30% Spaniards and the rest were mainly Russian, English, Australian and Canadian. It seems they all liked to eat later and we did have our only long wait one night when we went at 7:20 pm (took an hour to be seated). It was a very nice and interesting experience being with such an international mix of passengers. We mixed our dining experiences between the formal and in Horizon Court (especially after long port days) I enjoyed both but was really surprised at how good the Horizon Court food was. There was a lot of variety that did well with my family of different tastes (ie very picky teenage girl). The international cafe was also fun to go and try new or several different desserts. I will post individual reviews of the ports we visited but here's a quick review as we are very DIY's and I think saved a lot of money by not doing the shore excursions and we had a great time. It did take a lot of research but I loved cruisecritic and tripadvisor. Venice: stayed on the Piazzale Roma at Hotel Olimpia: Great Location! Walked to the vaporetti and took it down the Grand Canal to St. Mark's Square. Stored our luggage on our day of embarkation and then walked to the People Mover and then to the ship. Athens: DIY. Took taxi's both ways to save time. The drivers were both very nice and although the first wanted to give us an all day tour we politely said no just drop us off at the Acropolis. We actually beat the crowds and were at the Parthenon before it was too crowded. We then walked the city and saw the many sites. Ephesus: Used Meander Travel and took a private tour for four to Ephesus, Terrace Houses and House of Virgin Mary. Hakan our guide (he was an actual archaeologist that was part of the excavating team in the winter in Ephesus) and his driver picked us up at the dock and whisked us away for a 5 hour excursions. His knowledge was phenomenal. Istanbul: DIY We let the ship and took the very easy Metro to Topaki Palace where I had already bought tickets to the museum and Harem. Again were there before the crowds. We then went to Hagia Sophia (pre-bought tickets online) and then to the Blue Mosque. A huge rainstorm hit on our way to the Grand Bazaar so we were drenched. I didn't care for it as it was crowded and the merchants were a little too pushy for my tastes. Easy to jump back on metro to the ship. Mykonos: DIY Our kids had signed up for the ship's excursion to Delos but it was canceled so they went with us and we just went to a local beach and then walked the narrow streets and took pictures and shopped. I loved the shopping! Found some neat handmade jewelry (25-30 euro) Naples: Used Rome in Limo with driver Stefano. He picked us up in front of ship and took us to Pompeii where we had a private guide. We avoided the crowds and saw so much. He then took us down the Amalfi Coast line to eat lunch in Sorrento (Wonderful Pizza) and then a quick stop in Positano. Rome: Used Rome in Limo with driver Francesco. Again picked us up in front of ship and took us to the Vatican where we again had a private guide: Praeda. She was fantastic and again we beat the crowds and had an almost empty hallway (map Gallery and Tapestries) leading to the Sistine Chapel. She said it's usually wall to wall. It was very beautiful. We also saw St. Peter's Basilica before heading to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and then Piazza Navona. It was 104 degrees that day and we were so glad to be driven place to place in air condition. RIL is awesome! Florence/Pisa: Used Rome in Limo with driver Elizabeth. She was so energetic. We were off first thing to Pisa where I had booked tickets in advance to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was so unique. We were then off to the Academia in Florence to see Michelangelo's Statue of David. Simply stunning! and then we toured Florence and on the way out of the city she drove us to a beautiful place on top of a hill for us to really see the Tuscany landscape. It was everything I had dreamed it would be. Beautiful old villa looking over golden rolling hills of vineyards and olive trees. Breathtaking! Rome in Limo gave us three days of superb service Monte Carlo: Just walked around. Enjoyed the port . Overall, great cruise! Great service, sites and loved the family time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Ruby Princess R223 Grand Mediterranean 12 day cruise Embarked in Venice at tea time after a day's travelling. No queues to check in and quickly arrived at our cabin. Rod, our steward came to see us immediately and welcomed us ... Read More
Ruby Princess R223 Grand Mediterranean 12 day cruise Embarked in Venice at tea time after a day's travelling. No queues to check in and quickly arrived at our cabin. Rod, our steward came to see us immediately and welcomed us warmly telling us to let him know if there was anything we required and he would organise this. I asked for a couple of bathrobes, a daily supply of ice, and any 'to purchase' items in fridge to be removed. Then straight off to dinner. We has asked for and were granted an early 6pm sitting, table for 8. We arrived at table 81 in Botticelli restaurant to find a table for 2. It appeared that there were a large number of extended families on this trip who had used up all the larger tables. I had always thought that tables for two were difficult to get, however we soon made friends with the two other couples either side of us, so it wasn't an issue. Our waiter, Lawrence, was excellent. He was very knowledgeable about the menu and gave us good advice throughout the cruise plus free speciality coffees and extra portions of popular dishes. His assistant, Itsel, was a charming young woman, new to this job, but definitely with potential. They looked after us beautifully. I will mention the food just now. It was very good, both in the restaurant (always piping hot and fresh tasting) and the buffet. I too highly recommend the freshly made pizzas on deck 15, next to the ice-cream parlour. We never visited the 'paid for' restaurants or the International Cafe on deck 5, and never managed to get to any of the afternoon teas either. We used room service every morning for breakfast and this was good too. My husband also went to the buffet breakfast for his daily smoked salmon fix. A word about our cabin. We booked fairly late on a guarantee balcony and were given C310, deck ten. We had heard that some balconies were overlooked on this ship (and Grand) but also that balconies on deck 10 were larger. This turned out to be correct. If you want a large balcony, go for deck 10. We were only partially overlooked from above so could sit in privacy if required. There were four chairs and a table on our balcony, two of the chairs reclined so I spent many an hour reclined with my feet on one of the other chairs reading and watching the waves in peace. Lovely. The cabin itself was well appointed. Plenty of storage space for our stuff and a comfy bed. Shower room had a curtain which I know some people don't like. It wasn't a problem for us. Shampoo, conditioner,soap and lotion provided in bottles, replenished regularly. Towels thick and soft. Two striped pool towels provided every day. After dinner we went back to the cabin to prepare to go off the ship. We found two tickets on our bed for the water-shuttle to take us straight to St Marks Square. I think they were $15 each. We had already decided that we would walk into Venice from the ship, so we wrote our cabin number and name on the reverse of the tickets and posted them into the relevant drop-box so we wouldn't be charged for them. Venice in the evening is magical. We had a map of sorts but just meandered around in the general direction of St Mark's, soaking up the wonderful atmosphere. There were signs along the way which helped a bit, but really it is not difficult walk to St Mark's. At 1am the ship left Venice and we were lucky enough to be on the correct side to watch St Mark's gliding past while we stood on our balcony. I understand that this special sight will soon be a thing of the past because large ships will be docking further away and bypassing the Grand Canal completely. After a couple of days at sea we arrived at Athens (Sunday). We docked in Pireaus and had originally decided to take a train from there to Athens to catch a hop-on-hop-off bus outside the Syntagma Station in Athens. However, just outside the port we found a couple of HOHO buses waiting. We chose the yellow Athens Open Tour bus, 20 euros each. This took us to Athens and then we stayed on this bus to complete the tour. I have never seen so many ancient buildings and monuments in one place, wow, however I was disappointed to see that some monuments were covered in scaffolding. We will return again once the scaffolding is removed. Our bus tour guide told us that the special Sunday Changing of the Guard would be taking place outside the Parliament at about 10.30. We got off at this stop just in time to watch this special event. The tunics that the guardsmen wear have four hundred pleats, one for each year of Turkish rule. The soldiers have to iron each pleat themselves. I will never complain about ironing my husband's shirts again! After a walk in the adjacent National Gardens (where I photographed a very large tortoise wandering along a path), we caught our HOHO bus at the Melina Merkouri Plaka (by the Temple of Zeus) and returned to the ship for ice cold lemon juice and iced-tea from the buffet. A word about the pools on Ruby. There are four main ones. I spent my entire time at the Calypso Pool because that is where the Movies under the Stars (MUTS) is. I love MUTS and this one of the reasons we chose Ruby over some other ships we considered. Music concerts and films were shown throughout the day and evening and in the late evening it was used to play Wii games too. Next door was Neptunes Pool where live music was played and pool games. There was a pool at the back and the Sanctuary pool, plus the children's area had a splash pool too. The next day we stopped at Kusadasi, Turkey, and booked an excursion to the ancient city of Ephesus ($59 each). A very interesting trip, I recommend anyone to visit it. The next morning was another excursion ($69 each), this time in Istambul. Due to a mix up on the ship, the coach had left before we got to the dockside. However, we were taxied to the coach which had stopped at the side of the road to wait for us. Phew! Topaki Palace is a stunning building. It was opened especially for the ship tours because it is usually closed on a Tuesday so we were lucky to see it. We walked around the massive building and grounds and saw the harem. The high point for me was seeing the 82 carat Spoonmaker's Diamond, one of a large collection of jewels and artefacts on display at the Treasury. We stopped at the Grand Bazaar on the way back and watched a carpet demonstration, fortunately this took just 20 minutes and then we visited the Blue Mosque, the Suleymaniye Mosque and the Bazaar before returning to the ship. During my research on Istanbul we discovered there was a HOHO bus tour taking about one and a half hours with ten main stops and 73 request stops) starting at the Hagia Sophia. The next day we arrived in Mykonos, Greece at 12 noon. Originally we were to be tendered to the town but actually docked a little way round the bay. A shuttle bus was provided, for a price, but it took twenty minutes to walk in along the coast road, past three lovely little beaches. You will be told that it is a dangerous walk (no pavements) and to take the shuttle, but it is not. Mykonos is a charming little town, busy with tourists, but also with a lot of good shops and narrow windey streets and lanes. We bought some gifts here and beer to take back to the ship. During the cruise we regularly bought back beer and wine for our cabin, and this is ok on Ruby Princess. However, once we also brought back a litre of spirits, expecting to have it removed once we returned but this never happened, even though it was in a large bag labelled 'duty free'. The next day, Thursday, was a welcome day at sea and a sleep in. The Princess Patter is filled with a large number of events and activities; sports, dancing, quizzes, films etc. However my choice was the Culinary Cook-Off Competition took place in the Princess Theatre between Executive Chef Shaun Candon and Maitre-D'Hotel Francesco Ciofito. I must urge you to go along to see this event, very, very funny and entertaining but also informative. It showed me that Shaun really knows his stuff and is committed to producing excellent dishes, consistently. This is clearly borne out by the food we ate during the cruise. A Galley Tour followed the show. Friday found us at Naples, Italy. We have visited Naples on a number of occasions and visited all the famous places and done the HOHO bus tours (they pick up at the port, really convenient). This time we decided to try and walk up to the Castel san Elmo which dominates the port. First thing we noticed was that there was a police presence at the zebra crossing we needed to use to get into the town. This was welcome because it meant that traffic actually stopped when their light was red, to allow pedestrians to cross the road safely. Then we just walked in an uphill direction hoping that eventually we would get to the Castel. We did get really far up and quite far around the headland, and had some spectacular views of the town, but eventually we got to a dead end. On our return down we passed one of the Funicular railway stations and decided to get the train down to the port. This was a simple process and I recommend you try it yourself. Saturday was Civitaveccia (for Rome). A free shuttle was provided by the port to the edge of the port, then just a ten minute walk along the road to the railway station. I had found a helpful website www.rometoolkit.com which gave details of travelling to Rome from Civitavveccia, with a link to www.trenitalia.com for train times. Train tickets cost 12 euroes each and journey took over an hour to get to Stazione Termini. By the way, toilets at the station cost 1 euro to access. Outside the station are a number of HOHO bus tours. We chose Green Line Tours 18 euros each. While we waited in a long queue to get on the bus (we had to wait while two buses filled up before we were able to get on) people already on these buses were buying the sun hats that various hawkers were trying to sell us -- they must have been desperate). We were lucky to get an open topped bus with a cover. This proved to be extremely welcome because it was very, very hot. We had been to Rome a few times before so we just did the tour, got off, and returned to the ship by train again. Back on board for 2pm to a virtually empty ship. The next morning, Sunday, we stopped at Livorno, for Florence/Pisa. We had been to Florence/Pisa a couple of times before so opted to stay in Livorno. I had another reason to want to visit Livorno though. As a self-confessed 'cat person', Livorno is home to a colony based at the Fortezza Nuova, looked after by an elderly former lawyer who we have visited a few times in the past. To my dismay it was closed, being a Sunday! I could just see a lone black cat through a gap in the gate... If you do take the train to Florence (takes about an hour and a half to two hours), you can get a HOHO bus, I understand they stop at the Florence Santa Maria Novella railway station. The City tour (line A) takes about one hour, the Fiesole tour (line B) takes two hours. Not sure of the price, but probably in the region of 20 euros just now. The next day we were stopped at Monaco, only a half day, leaving at 1.30. This time we were taken ashore by tender. We walked up to the casino although it didn't open until 2pm. I understand that nowadays it attracts a fee of 10 euros to enter the casino, probably to get rid of the riff-raff who just go in to ogle (which we certainly have in the past). I understand that the slot machine area is free to enter though. There were several excursions taking place from the ship to Eze (12th century castle), French Riveria, Nice plus Old Monaco, St Nicholas Cathederal and Royal Palace. Disembarkation morning saw us in Barcelona. We had become platinum members because all our P&O cruises had been taken into account when calculating the total number of our cruise days. This meant we had preferred embarkation (it was irrelevant though because we arrived late and there was no queue!). It meant however that we could go to wait in the Disembarkation Lounge at the De Vinci Dining Room from 6am where pastries and coffee was provided and we would disembark at our allotted time at the door right next to the dining room. Our disembarkation time was 6.15am so we spent a grand total of 15 minutes at the lounge. However there was time for coffee, and it was convenient to just quickly walk off the ship. Once on land we quickly located our suitcases and were on our coach equally quickly. Very impressed with how quick and easy disembarkation was. Another major plus of being a Platinum member was the free internet minutes we got - 250 each! These would normally cost $99 dollars each. This was significant because this was the first cruise we had had without our children. At 18 and 17 they were old enough to stay at home and they had other commitments anyway. We were able to 'chat' to them every evening via Facebook and this was great. We were also able to do a bit of last minute research on ports. Additionally, we booked in our return flights online and changed our seating numbers, plus printed off the vouchers for 50 cents. Once word of warning. Once your minutes are used up you will not be told, but will immediately start being charged per minute. I had assumed this would happen but my husband did not and thought that he would receive a message telling him that his time was up. Subsequently he spent four minutes extra on line and was charged 80 cents per minute. I was still 48 minutes under... Finally, I don't think I have mentioned evening entertainment, there was a lot of choose from. The shows were good, the illusionist excellent, a couple of comedians, and a ventriloquist who had been 11th place in Britain's Got Talent (the same year as Susan Boyle). He was very good. Every evening was a film on MUTS which we mostly got to attend. I loved watching films in the open air and staff came round with popcorn, ice cream, pizza and cookies and milk. We were usually too stuffed from dinner to have any though. A word about the other passengers. This cruise was filled with people from all points of the globe, with a great number of large groups and extended families, people from the UK in the minority. It meant that it felt like a real family experience. I don't believe that the ship was full because it felt like there was a lot of space, none of the venues felt crowded. We were never pressured to spend money on drinks packages, photos, bingo, or any other extras. There were art auctions but they were never intrusive. Photographers took pictures but again we were never hassled. All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and would highly recommend Ruby Princess. It was clear that all staff were committed to our enjoyment and they seemed happy and motivated. We are glad we chose Ruby Princess. I am certain that I have missed out lots of stuff, but hopefully some of the information will be of help to readers. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
I will try to make this short, but I can see already it won't be. I do not want to waste more time on Princes so there may be some dyslexic spelling and some short form sentences below. My English teacher may not be happy. I will ... Read More
I will try to make this short, but I can see already it won't be. I do not want to waste more time on Princes so there may be some dyslexic spelling and some short form sentences below. My English teacher may not be happy. I will start by saying this is my first cruise but have travelled well in North America, all the Southern islands, and this was my honeymoon. The Decor and room. I swear the colors and materials of the stateroom were in my 1990 33 foot Sea Ray boat. The balcony was huge and very comfortable. The bed hard and somehow short. Bath shower incredibly tight but all and all a decent size sate room. The rest of the decor in the ship, not luxurious and rather dull. I expected more class or imagination for a newer ship. Noisey room with kids running up and down the halls playing games in the hall. Could hear the theatre above. Once smoke stack fumes came onto out balcony. Over all the room was fine. The food and drink. Anytime dinners..... We found it best to go at 8:30 and we got into the restaurants without too much wait. The sauces (gravies or bearnaise) often substituted for ones of another color. Not sure at times what I was eating? I didn't get sick so I assume it was OK. Any crab appitiser had fake crab subbed in pretending to taste good. Processed "Pollock" in crab cakes or in an artichoke crab dip? I nearly choked! Desserts frozen when they should have been room temperature. Some good food and some bad at each meal. It was fun to see what got botched up that eve. You could easily ask to mix and match anything on the menu and give you many small portions which made it much better to try more on each menu. Eventually you would have liked something. Dinners we had paid extra for,...better staff, knowledgeable, better menu and presentation, not even there they could cook a piece of beef till tender, but a better place to eat. We PAID for it!! It better be better! Still, not up to what I had expected when paying more. Everyone says "cruise food is great!". Does most the population have bad taste? (We started making up a game,... if you were on land at a restaurant, how much would you pay for this main dish? Often we though $7.00 but once I would have paid $20. If the food isn't good and I am getting dressed to go out for a restaurant, I won't pay anything for a bad meal!) The buffet..... I felt I was "running with the bulls" at lunch and dinner. Get the good stuff before it was gone. Push push, get out of the way!!! The sushi lasted minutes it seemed. With all the water around us could we not have some more fresh fish? Getting scolded by staff for going in through the "out" at the buffet. No knives and forks unless they see you sanitize your hands. I thought I had left my mom at home and paid others to discipline me at dinner! And when you realize the food was different at each buffet. You needed to wear running shoes to get what you wanted from each buffet and station, and if again you were not scolded on the way to get more with having a plate in hand and not sanitizing again, and eventaully find where your table was! They needed to have a menu in the elevator foyer between both buffets to tell you what each had even though the staff would have said they were the same. At the minimum, you lost weight winding yourself in and out of rooms, around walls, down halls, around tables and servers rarely found when needed when trying to get a meal. Again, a lot of bland food, fruit was good, cheese good, and you could always create something to make yourself happy if you have the will and time. The small cafes and eating areas around the ship.... The pizza was good, fries good, salad, desserts and sandwiches and tapas in the Atrium were good. The soda good if you had paid for a card allowing it to be "all you could drink". Rarely a good coffee unless you paid for it. Atleast the lemonade was good a free! The Soda card, the wine card, coffee card, smoothie cards..... A great Idea, but I thought I was getting some of this stuff for free? The ship is definitely not an "all inclusive". If there was more knowledgeable staff about the products they were pushing, or if the could relate it to you better in English, or, if it was on their website, then it would have been easier to make an informed decision on what to do instead of being cold cocked in the head. The wine card,.... you better know what wine is in each restaurant before making an informed decision on which level of card to buy. They made it difficult to buy a card when you did not know what they had in your price range. They seamed to love "California" wines. Not enough Mediterranean reds,(are we not cruising in this area?) and half way through the cruise they were running out of many of the mid range reds. Best to smuggle it aboard. And why can't I get a bottle at a bar using my card? I did pay for it already? Cork your bottle at the end of a meal and bring the wine to your room or another bar area. Better yet, buy wine off shore so you can have a glass of local wine before going to dinner. All in all, you could more or less get "what you need" but not "what you want" as Mick Jagger says. I expected more. I have had way better service and food at an all inclusive and not been scolded when doing so. The Entertainment. There wasn't any by definition. There was no "party" atmosphere anywhere. If you were late 40's or early 50's, you better conform to disco music or elevator music. There was some middle of the road tunes outside near a pool in the afternoon. A bit of rock and roll being played by a live band trying to be heard over the screaming kids around the pool, or the loud hot tubs full of children like cauldrons from a bedtime story, or the neighboring movie theatre noise. Once, I heard Beatles music from the atrium and I was excited. I had to see. Yes some live Beatles music with the rest of the staff dancing slowly in Victorian clothing like a scene from a Coronation in the 13th century. They couldn't even make that music fun! The theatre was a very room. Great chairs to sleep in during a show. A night of music history. I think they started in the 30's, hours later they may have been in the 50's. I though if they made it to the 90's I may be 90 so I was best leave after a couple hours, extended care on the ship isn't cheap. They had a comedian,.... or was it the puppet guy? I wasn't sure they sounded the same. By the end, If I had to hear a violin or piano again, or Cinnamon in the lounge or Atrium, I would have to have flung myself over board. One more Karoke eve or some lame couples game for entertaiment and I may get divorced on my honeymoon. Movies,..if you liked them they were everywhere! Movies in the theatre, movies on the top deck while laying in the sun, movies in your room, movies playing in the other theatres. You could always watch a movie and get fat. Maybe they should have called the cruise, The "Western Mediterranean Movie Cruise" Could they have at least change the movies up more? Laying on my own balcony I could hear it, laying at the other pool I could hear it. Late at night while trying to have a romantic eve, enjoying the motion of the ocean on a deck, shimmering lights seen off in the distance, a glass of red wine in hand, holding hands, and the rumbling of "John Carter" above my head blowing space ships up. The general stuff. It was hard to have some peace or romance during the sun. Roving bands of children like "gangs" on the street. Taking over all the hot tubs,... roving from one to another tub bored to death. Eating hamburgers and fries over the water, the occasional hot dog floating on the surface of one of the many hot tub adults were not able to use. Nice!! The adult pool often full of kids with staff not understanding the rules of the area or that minuscule sign no one could understand that said "adult pool". Or maybe it was the rap music in another language from I PODS in the adult areas that I did not understand. Maybe it was just me? I was too old for this place? Or was I too young for the other places on the boat. Maybe I did not fit in. The "Timeshare", or shall I say, Princess cruises. Up sell up sell always! "Buy our special coffees at dinner, it's a good deal!" they proclaimed every eve. Please let me relax at dinner and leave me alone! Stop trying to take photos of me every time I try to get off the ship!,..there is a long line and I am hot and not looking my best at 7:00 a.m. I don't want them anyway! Let me get to dinner and don't stop me from strolling through the ship to take more photos of me I won't buy! Buy some Art it's a great deal! Buy more cruises now, it is cheaper! The excursions,.... We had heard you should not take the ships and buy them off shore, but through our experience, we paid more to get to the front of the line at museums and churches, the safety of getting back on time, and good hosts. Once we did our own thing, the wait for the Picasso museum was 2 hours long. If we spent a few hundred more it was worth it for peace of mind and to organize the next day. Paying this kind of money for a dream vacation and going cheap in the end with the possibility of something going wrong was not worth it. We say what we could in the time we could. On your own you may have seem less or with a private guide, you may have not known what you were getting into. By the way, the woman who is on the ship's T.V was knowledgeable on the T.V. and could fill you in well with what was coming up at the next port and the sights, but both times we went to see her for help on making decisions on excursions, she was a total Bi*@h. She needed some manners. Great sights to see! Go swimming in Mykonos! Walk and walk the streets in all cities! Eat the food in all ports of call. Swim off the Pier at Monte Carlo! Window shopping for Jets and Bentley's, See the Vatican. Florence, Rome, Athens, Venice, Istanbul, Spain and lots of sunscreen. Be very good at haggling or they will eat you alive. Bring your bathing suit everywhere. Cheap cover ups for shoulders and knees for women, 5 EU scarves will get you into sacred places. See what you can because you may not be back. It is an adventure and you may need a vacation afterward. An added note,... stayed in Barcelona at the end for a few days, great wind down from the busy daytime excursions from 12 days on the ship,.,a pool on the roof, lots of fun, great Hotel, "Ohla" in the heart of action and walking to all beach, party, food and shopping activities. All and all, the ship was a vessel to take you from and to the ports you wanted to see. We took this cruise for the Ports of Call. Don't expect much more than that. Don't expect great food. The staff was just doing their job and I can't say too many bad things about them. It was clean, safe and OK. Hustle hustle always it seemed. Bring lots of money. I could say more. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Having just returned from the Grand Mediterranean cruise from 5 -- 17 July, as a first time cruiser, I make the following comments. First piece of advice to give a first time cruiser is "Don't take any notice of the depressing ... Read More
Having just returned from the Grand Mediterranean cruise from 5 -- 17 July, as a first time cruiser, I make the following comments. First piece of advice to give a first time cruiser is "Don't take any notice of the depressing advice given by experienced cruisers". After reading their advice I would have happily cancelled my cruise as I was so put off it by their comments. Forget the excursions! Overpriced rip offs in most cases and if the weather is hot (as it usually is in the Mediterranean you will be obliged to wait for the others many times, not be able to take a break for a coffee or a sit down without losing the group probably be out earlier in the morning and later in the evening than you should be on a holiday. One lady even said that after the cruise she would need a holiday to get over it. People were getting up at 5.00am to leave the ship at 7.00 and not getting back until 6.00 at night, all in 102f heat! Better still, do it yourself. Take Civitavecchia, take the ships free shuttle to a few hundred yards of the main railway station, buy a return to Rome on the 9.19am train and get into your air-conditioned reserved seat to travel to the Termini station. Cost €21 return. Then take the Metro, a new superb system two stops to the Coliseum where EU nationals under 18 or over 18 with photographic proof of age (Passport or driving licence) get in free. (Many national monuments run the same system so saving about €12 each time) After the Coliseum take the metro back to the Termini and then two stops more to the Trevi fountain. Pausing to stop for coffee and watch the world go by. Buses, trains, trams and even water buses are cheap and plentiful and most are air-conditioned. Beware of Kusadasi - it's a free for all rip off land! To me the trip was wonderful, as they say "Escape Completely" and you do. It was a wonderland of superb service (A bit overdone by the waiters perhaps) wonderful food and superb dining. Take the "Anytime Dining" and you will meet the most cosmopolitan crowd of people, different every night unless you want to join them again. Don't even try to see all the sights but pace yourself so you ENJOY IT! Remember, you are on holiday -- not on a travelator that never stops. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Day 1: Embarkation. Embarkation was supposed to run from around afternoon to overnight. I arrived with my group around 6pm. The security and staff of Princess made us wait at the side for 1-2 hours because we had not embarked earlier. ... Read More
Day 1: Embarkation. Embarkation was supposed to run from around afternoon to overnight. I arrived with my group around 6pm. The security and staff of Princess made us wait at the side for 1-2 hours because we had not embarked earlier. Completely ridiculous customer service. Once we passed security, the checking in was slow and the staff was inexperienced. Staff and food. The staff on Ruby Princess always wanted to pick up a fight with passengers. The buffet was inconvenient on Princess, as the staff wanted to create only one entrance and one exit so as to make it hard to get into the buffet, unlike on Royal Caribbean where there are multiple entrances and entrances and exits aren't separated. The lunch food at the buffet was terrible. The buffet was also closed a lot of the time and is closed very early each night. On Carnival and Royal Caribbean, the buffets are open 24 hours. The only food place open 24 hours on Princess is the International Cafe where you can get drinks and sandwiches. Lame. Crew members were reluctant to become friendly with passengers, unlike on Carnival and Royal Caribbean, crew staff always wanted to hang out and get to know the passengers. Room cleaners did not say hi when passengers walked passed them. Waiters were not very exciting. There were a couple of good staff, like one waiter who was always enthusiastic in Michelangelo, but that was it. The experience and events. It always felt like Ruby Princess just wanted to make more and more money. Almost nothing was free. Prizes for winning competitions, game shows and pool events were extremely lame, such as photos of people from last year's cruise and keychains. On Carnival and Royal Caribbean, bottles of champagne and trophies of their ships were given out to each winner. The events on Ruby Princess need work; they lack appropriate use of modern technology; the game shows didn't show a record of each team's points, etc. The staff continuously wanted to encourage passengers to spend more and more money, which definitely did not provide a good cruise experience. The teens over 17 years old on the ship also had basically nothing to do. The staff was very rude with them and did not give them anywhere to go. The teen lounge was threatened all the teens over 17 years old to stay away from the lounge. The Nightclub did not offer the teens a solution, as not many people their age went to the club - their friends under 18 years old could not enter, which caused them problems. I am saying this from a 33 year old's point of view. These kids had nowhere to go. All they could do was roam around in the back of the ship or somewhere. The cruise ship shows were also terrible and lacked content. I fell asleep each time I went to a show. The magic show was also nothing compared to the ones I've seen on other cruiselines. The people. The Ruby Princess itself was terrible. The fellow passengers I met were incredible though. People from all over the world were on the ship and I made about 100 new friends. Great people. The destinations. It was awesome to be able to visit so many different places in Europe, especially because I've never been to Europe before. The cruise tours were not surprisingly intended to just make Princess more money. I only went with the cruise tours once, but on my Kusadasi tour, my private tourguide was talking about the history and significance of each artifact and part of the ruins we went to, while a cruise tourguide was telling her group, "look over there - there's an apricot tree!" If you plan on going on a European cruise, don't go with the cruise tours, as they cost over double the money needed. The private tours provide you with private vans or buses depending on the size of your group, plus renowned tourguides. My tourguide in Kusadasi has given tours to people like the head of NYU's history department. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We are a married couple in our mid-30's and are not usually cruisers, but booked this mainly for the destinations. Overall the cruise went well, despite a minor bout of food sickness. Embarkation went very smoothly, although it was ... Read More
We are a married couple in our mid-30's and are not usually cruisers, but booked this mainly for the destinations. Overall the cruise went well, despite a minor bout of food sickness. Embarkation went very smoothly, although it was quite a walk to get from the train to the ship in Venice. Disembarkation went smoothly as well; we opted to carry our own luggage and pretty much walked right off the boat and then took a cab to our hotel. We had an ocean view cabin which was spacious and in great condition. Service was overall very good, and the entertainment was OK despite the fact that they really put in a lot of effort to try and put on a great show. Food was just OK - there was no significant difference between the dining room and buffet food, and we did experience minor food sickness during the cruise. It did pass in a day or so, and the overall cruise rating would have been higher if it wasn't for this incident. Ports - booked excursions for half of the ports and mostly through the ship; the only one that we could find a better deal through a 3rd party was for the one in Istanbul. -Venice - took the Alilaguna to our hotel near St Mark's/Doge Palace (~15 Eur/ea). Rialto, Santa Maria, and all other main sites are easily accessible by walking or Vaporetto water taxi. Venice is a little overwhelming at first due to language and the tiny streets, but it gets better after you get your bearings straight and realize how to catch the water taxis in the right direction. -Athens - saw the Acropolis/Plaka by ourselves. Piraeus train station is not easy to get to from the port, depending on where the ship is docked. We gave up looking for the station and just took a cab (25 Eur), and returned by taking the train (0.7 Eur/ea) to Piraeus station and then walked a mile or so back to the port. People here were extremely friendly and helpful. -Kusadasi --we took an excursion to Ephesus/St John's/Virgin Mary Shrine and were very impressed with all the sites. All the sites were pretty spread out so it was much easier through an excursion. -Istanbul - took excursion to Blue Mosque/Hagia Sophia/Topkapi Palace. The Mosque and Hagia Sophia were awe-inspiring, and Topkapi was very crowded but had some incredible jewelry on display. Traffic was awful so this would have been difficult to do completely by ourselves. -Mykonos - took an excursion for the town/beaches and the monastery at Ano Mera - just didn't want to deal with the logistics here and relax. Could have also just taken the shuttle into town and taken a short walk to see Little Venice/Windmills... -Naples - took a bus (~7 Eur/ea) to Pompeii and returned to Naples with time to spare, so then we walked to Sanservo to see the Veiled Christ statue before heading back to the ship. Bus station was relatively close to the port - will have to ask the local Information for directions. We originally wanted to take a ferry to Capri but the line was ridiculous. Naples is not the nicest or cleanest City, so we walked pretty quickly the whole time... -Florence - took excursion for Florence/David/Uffizi. Florence is not to be missed, with incredible views around every corner. Rome is really far away from port, so doing this on your own would be difficult. -Rome - took an excursion for Coliseum/St Peter's/Vatican Museum. Again, not to be missed, and difficult/costly to coordinate on your own due to port distance from Rome. -Monte Carlo - walked to the nearest bus stop and took line 2 (~2 Eur/ea) to the Exotic Gardens (excellent view of the city/coast), about 20 minutes away. Took the same bus back to the "Rock" (Monaco-ville) to see the changing of the guard, the cathedral, and aquarium. Could also have just taken the elevator right up to the "Rock" from the port and spent all of our time there. This is one of the nicest, cleanest places we have ever seen. -Barcelona - checked into our hotel and found the nearest Metro station. The Metro is relatively clean, very efficient, and covers the whole city. We bought all-day passes for ~7 Eur/ea and headed to Sagrada Familia first to beat the lines - definitely add the admission for the elevator ride up to the "temple". Then we got off at the Urquinaona stop for Palau Musica (expensive to get in), and then headed to Jaume stop on the same line for the Gothic Quarter. Spent some time at the Catedral Barcelona (truly gothic) and in the Quarter, before walking to Las Ramblas and soaking in the scene. Took the Metro from Liceu station back to our hotel for some much-needed rest. There is just too much to cover in Barcelona for one day... Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This was our 8th cruise, 4th with Princess and first time aboard the Ruby. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, which was port intensive but fantastic. Embarkation in Venice was the easiest we ever experienced. We arrived ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise, 4th with Princess and first time aboard the Ruby. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, which was port intensive but fantastic. Embarkation in Venice was the easiest we ever experienced. We arrived at the check in desk at 1pm, there was no line, we showed our passports, got our cards and right on the ship. This didn't take more than ten minutes. We booked an interior JJ category stateroom (B508, Baja deck 11), since we would hardly be in the cabin. No complaints about the cabin, except that there was a steward working area next to us and we heard some clanging from time to time, but not at night and our sleep was not disturbed. The ship left port the following morning, and sailing out of Venice was wonderful. They did play the epic opera music other passengers have mentions and the port guide gave commentary on the city. That day and the next were sea days, so you had a nice rest before hitting the first 4 ports. FOOD: Overall the food was very good in both the buffet areas and the main dining room. The only areas that could use improvement were the soups which were not very good at all. We ate all dinners in the dining room with Anytime Dining and breakfast in the buffet. The pastries and cakes were excellent. We enjoyed the pub lunch on sea days, afternoon tea and the chocolate themed breakfast one morning in the buffet. ENTERTAINMENT: It seems that this area has been scaled back considerably over the last 10 years or so. There was repetition in acts over the course of the 12 days. They did have a solo violinist, Chris Hawkins, that was very good. Otherwise it was the normal production shows you can expect on most ships. CREW: Extremely helpful and polite. On the entire 12 day voyage, we only walked past 1 crew member that did not greet us. They stepped right up and found us seats at the crowded buffets in the morning. Our room steward did a great job. GRATUITY: We found that many other passengers we spoke with weren't aware about the optional tipping, so just want to mention that Princess automatically adds gratuity to your account of $11.50 per day. Some people like this option since they don't have to tip staff individually. We prefer to tip individually, so we go the the purser's desk and have them remove the gratuity. If you choose the anytime dining option, you will have different waiters each day, although you can choose a specific table if you find one you really like. That's part of the reason we go with personal tipping. EXCURSIONS: As previously mentioned, we only booked the Athens excursion through Princess, mainly because we were uncertain about how things would be there with all the recent problems. In both Turkey ports we booked private tours through cruisingexcursions.com and were extremely pleased with the guides. They were very knowledgeable about the sites and so polite. Istanbul and Kusadasi were probably our favorite places out of all we visited. RECAP: This cruise involves a LOT of walking to really see the sites, most in hilly areas and many with uneven surfaces and steps. Bring a good pair of closed toe walking shoes. There are some excursions offered by the cruise line that are ride -through some places on a bus, but these seemed to sell out quickly, as there were a number of retired persons on this cruise. Overall, it was a great cruise and the most interesting itinerary so far. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Returned on a transatlantic cruise a week ago and did not seem to be on the same ship as the previous cruiser. Had a wonderful but short time in Venice, staying in a boutique hotel on the mainland in Mestre (the Best Western Bologna)This ... Read More
Returned on a transatlantic cruise a week ago and did not seem to be on the same ship as the previous cruiser. Had a wonderful but short time in Venice, staying in a boutique hotel on the mainland in Mestre (the Best Western Bologna)This hotel is directly across the street from the train station (ideal for visiting Venice) Embarkation was lengthy, but we arrived on the ship and were led to our cabin by pleasant staff. Our cabin steward Danielo was great, and should be the employee of the month. The ship itself was not as great. Anytime dining should be just as it implies. No luck on the Ruby. So many people had the same table at the same time every evening, that it left many people standing around with a beeper (waiting to be called).People wanting this arrangement should have been accommuodated in traditional dining rooms. When the maitre de was asked how this could happen we were ignored. Many passengers we spoke with complained about line ups for meals in dining rooms,for gym equipment,coffee,and excursions.Can you ever imagine a ship this large running out of tomato juice and certain fruits on day three? Must have gone for groceries on day four,since they reappeared. The menus appeared to be wonderful however the food was only mediocre.(the quality of Princess has slipped over the last couple of years) I attempted for 4 consecutive mornings,to have a poached egg (be it Florentine,benedict,or poached alone) and even when sent back, it always came out the same...RAW. Lunches in the dinng rooms were better than the evening meals. When the presented meal was of poor quality, there was no problem getting a second different selection, We had breakfast with unfamiliar passengers and this turned out to be a beef session for most of us (in regards to how the Princess line is slipping). Several people said their list of complaints were too long to talk about. The Ruby appears to have too many passengers for the layout of the ship. Prior to excursions, passengers with excursion vouchers were herded into small lounges to wait for the next move to the theater. At times, there were people pouring out into the corridors far from earshot as to what was expected of them next. The International cafe is in a poor location, with only minimal seating (passengers must take their lattes elsewhere to find seats).My husband wanted a beer one day and the waiter recommended "Blue Moon" as a great one. One sip and my husband was disappointed. When my husband spoke to the waiter about it,he was told he would have to pay for a replacement (NOW REALLY!) We have decided there are enough cruise lines to choose from without being loyal to Princess ( besides, unless you cruise an astronomical number of times,the rewards for loyalty are trivial) Bon Voyage Princess...three times with you are enough. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My wife and I are just just back from a Ruby Princess Transatlantic cruise Venice, Italy to Fort Lauderdale, Florida - October 19 to November 6, 2011. Our primary motivation for taking this particular cruise was its origination from ... Read More
My wife and I are just just back from a Ruby Princess Transatlantic cruise Venice, Italy to Fort Lauderdale, Florida - October 19 to November 6, 2011. Our primary motivation for taking this particular cruise was its origination from Venice, Italy and to the transatlantic crossing, both of which were new experiences for us. This was also our first cruise with Princess cruise lines, our most recent prior cruise being last year on a Celebrity Constellation Panama Canal full transit cruise. Venice was as wonderful and beautiful as we anticipated, and certainly the highlight of the trip. We did a pre-cruise stay for a couple of days in a B&B, the 3749 Ponte Chiodo, which was fortunate as the ship's overnight at Venice was accompanied by terrible weather. The six sea days of the transatlantic crossing were enjoyable. We had less free time than we thought that we would have. Given dining, entertainment, gym exercise, lectures, etc., we had far less time for reading than we anticipated - Boredom was not a problem. Princess' port stops in the Mediterranean were too hurried. For example, Lisbon was only a 5- hour stop. Princess' target demographic may like as many ports as possible, even if the stay is brief, but my wife and I would prefer fewer ports for longer durations, preferably always an overnight stay. We loved Lisbon and would have really liked an overnight stay. Also, Barcelona deserves an overnight stay, preferably more. We found the food comparable to that of other mass market cruise lines - similar to good quality hotel catered food, such as for a wedding. However, in our experience, Princess' anytime dining didn't run as smoothly as our experience on other cruise lines - long lines were commonly encountered. The entertainment was generally mediocre, but I have read that this is often the case with a relocation cruise. This criticism is caveatted by the fact that my wife and I are not fans of the broadway-style musicals that are so common with all cruise companies. Nonetheless, the alternative entertainment of comedians, magician and juggler were definitely mediocre. We know that better entertainment exists on the seas because we experienced it with, surprisingly, NCL. I should mention that the lecture series was excellent. In summary, the cruise was good but not great. There was no cruise killer problem but rather an accumulation of irritants that got in our way of total enjoyment. On a scale of 1-to-10, we rate the overall cruise experience a 6. Now, given our recent cruise on Celebrity's Constellation, we naturally compared our experience there with what we experienced aboard the ruby Princess experience. Ruby Princess versus Celebrity Constellation Observations: Given that we did a Panama Canal full transit cruise on the Celebrity Constellation one year earlier in a comparably priced cabin (Celebrity Concierge Class vs Princess Mini-Suite), a comparison is appropriate. The ships are similar in size (within 20%) but Princess squeezes in 22% more passengers per ton of ship tonnage (tonnage/passenger_capacity). This means that, on Princess, more people compete for similar sized common spaces: Anytime Dining - In our experience Princess' anytime dining was poorly run with long lines and waits to even get a beeper so that you can wait more - we regretted switching form early seating to anytime dining. Our only salvation was to establish reservations for 6pm for every remaining night through tips to the head waiter - effectively recreating traditional-like dining. Food - The general quality of the food in the main dining room was, on average, comparable to Celebrity if maybe a notch lower. The buffet may be a notch better than Celebrity. Coffee - Celebrity has brewed coffee everywhere. Princess has terrible coffee, made from a concentrate, everywhere except at the extra charge restaurants, and even in the main dining room on formal night. Freshly brewed, real coffee is only possible if you purchase coffee cards for $31. The problem is that the ONLY place that the 3,000 passangers can easily get the brewed coffee is at the one small coffee bar on deck five and it frequently has slow lines. Room service has the same from-concentrate coffee. All dining venues can fetch real coffee (when shown your coffee card) but wherever they go to get it adds an unnecessary delay - the delay at the Horizons buffet is fifteen minutes from some waiters but most simply say that brewed coffee is unavailable. In my opinion, brewed coffee should be available everywhere and the deck five coffee bar should be limited to extra-cost specialty coffees, such as Cappuccino, lattes and espresso Cabins: Celebrity Concierge Class balcony cabin versus Princess mini-suite: These were comparably priced cabins. The Princess mini-suite is larger than the Celebrity Concierge Class balcony cabin and is a very nice cabin and the Ruby is six years newer than the Constellation. However, Celebrity's amenities are superior. Celebrity - welcome bottle of champagne; Princess - welcome glass of champagne. Celebrity - plush, full-length bathrobes in the cabin upon arrival; Princess - no robes unless requested and they are thin waffle weave, short length with 3/4 length sleeves. Celebrity - nice fruit basket in room upon arrival, automatically refreshed every day; Princess - no fruit basket until requested and then a skimpy affair and never refreshed unless requested each time. Celebrity - afternoon canapés every afternoon; Princess - nothing. Celebrity - several Concierge Cabin class events on a 2-week cruise, such as a party/gathering , special galley and bridge tours, etc.; Princess - nothing. Celebrity - special Concierge Class embarkation and debarkation (the debarkation was VERY useful); Princess - nothing. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
DW and I are avid cruisers. This was our fifth cruise in a row on Princess. It was also the third time we did this Western Mediterranean Trans Atlantic itinerary and our first cruise at platinum level. We really love the six sea days ... Read More
DW and I are avid cruisers. This was our fifth cruise in a row on Princess. It was also the third time we did this Western Mediterranean Trans Atlantic itinerary and our first cruise at platinum level. We really love the six sea days at the end of the cruise. I spent the previous eighteen months planning this cruise with many other roll call members. Our group was known at the Red Hot Rubies. We had an absolutely fantastic roll call that was very informative and a great way to get to know other roll call members. For our pre cruise stay we flew to Venice and spent two days at the Locanda Orseolo hotel. The Locanda Orseolo is a wonderful boutique hotel. Absolutely outstanding staff that did everything possible to ensure we enjoyed our stay. During our two stay in Venice we walked around, had some great food and wine and took in a Gondola ride. Venice is a truly magical city. As many say you don't need a map, just get lost. A truly magical moment was watching the Ruby Princess sailing down the Grand Canal when she arrived in Venice. The day of embarkation arrived and a wonderful roll call member had arranged shared water taxis to the Ruby for everyone in our hotel. The entire hotel was taken up by roll call members. When we arrived at the dock we made our way to the cruise terminal. The actual embarkation was a total nightmare. Very unorganized with arranging the priority embarkation status of suite, elite, and platinum members. I was told by terminal employees that there were so many priority embarkation cruisers they ran out of priority boarding cards. Their chosen solution was to give out high numbered cards and treat them as priority cards. Needless to say this caused confusion when people I saw with lowered number cards thinking they should be boarding first. We had AC mini cabin D732. This cabin is at the aft port side end of the dolphin deck. The balcony of this cabin has a larger balcony as it partially wraps towards the very aft portion of the ship. Our cabin steward James from the Philippines was great. He always had a smile on his face and did his best to ensure all our needs were attended to and our cabin was always clean. The Ruby is a fantastic ship. All areas were spotless and the entire crew always had smiles on their faces while doing everything under the sun for their passengers. Our cruise director Sam and her assistant Eric did a good job as well. Sam however lost her voice towards the end of the cruise. We enjoyed late seating traditional dining in the Botticelli dining room. Our table wait staff did a great job to make sure we enjoyed our dining experience. I found the food to be good to very good. Never saw our head waiter so I can't comment on him. Only saw Generoso (matri di) a couple of times at the desk upon entrance into the dining room and never saw him walking the floor. We also enjoyed dinner in Sabatinis and the Crown Grill. The service in both venues was great. The food in both was also very good. I personally like the reformatted menu in Sabatinis. I found it didn't take as long to finish dinner nor was I as full as during previous dining experiences. I found food in the Horizon court to be very good. This was a great improvement over my experience on the Golden this past February. I also enjoyed some great pizza and burgers on the lido deck. In addition, I also enjoyed the pub lunch in the wheelhouse bar. The international cafe had some tasty treats that I enjoyed over the entire cruise. My one negative comment about the IC was that in the morning it took a great deal of time to get a cup of coffee. The entertainment on the Ruby was acceptable. Even though we enjoyed the production show Once Upon a Dream, I think that since it's been running for the past two years it's time to rotate it out. We also enjoyed another show called Ballroom (sorry I can't remember the second part of the name). We also saw a comedian in the explorer's lounge that was not very funny. I did have a run in with a seat saver that ended up with her yelling at me. The Piazza had some great music entertainers. Other than the showroom and lounge entertainment, there was a great deal of activities on the Ruby to keep you busy. Our fantastic roll call also had a great meet and greet that was well attended. We also had a great roll call Halloween party in Skywalkers as well as a luncheon. We enjoyed private excursions in Naples, Rome, and Florence. In Naples I had arranged for three vans to tour Sorento, the Amalfi Coast, and Positano. Our entire group had lunch near Positano at a restaurant called La Tagliata. The lunch was out of this world good. In Florence (Livorno) I had arranged for one van to tour Siena and the Chianti region. We also had lunch at a great little restaurant. In Rome (Civitavecchia) we participated in an excursion wherein we visited Assisi and Orvieto. I took tons of pictures. We skipped Canne because it was raining heavily and I had come down with the sniffles. In Barcelona we took the Princess shuttle and just walked around Las Rambles. In Lisbon we just walked around a little but it was hard to find stuff as we were docked in a different area than our stop in 2009. In Ponta Delgada we just walked around a bit and stocked up on supplies for the six day crossing. One downer for the entire cruise was the weather. On our two previous crossings we left the first part of October and enjoyed terrific weather the whole cruise. This crossing left on the 19 of October. Our sail away was quite windy and cold. It also rained heavily when we stopped in Canne France. The seas were also quite rough on a number of days. During our six days crossing the Atlantic Ocean we only had one real quality day of sunshine and smooth seas. In the future I will definitely take the time of year into account when choosing another transatlantic itinerary. All in all it was a great cruise. The best part of it was meeting and having memorable times with the greatest roll call members out there. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
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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