116 Venice Princess Ruby Princess Cruise Reviews

Having received a wealth of valuable info from Cruise Critic, I felt the need to provide my thoughts about the recent Ruby Princess Transatlantic cruise. I realize there have already been several reviews, but hope my perspective may ... Read More
Having received a wealth of valuable info from Cruise Critic, I felt the need to provide my thoughts about the recent Ruby Princess Transatlantic cruise. I realize there have already been several reviews, but hope my perspective may assist others looking for info as they plan future cruises. Some preliminary thoughts: I have on multiple occasions on cruises had someone I had never met tell me that their absolute favorite cruise line is (the name doesn't matter) only to have within 24-48 hours someone else I had never met tell me that "one thing is for sure; they will never cruise on (the very same line mentioned by the first person). Conclusion is obvious that different people have different likes and dislikes and points of view. But I believe there is more to it. While some lines may have hairy chest and belly-flop competitions and some don't; some may emphasize fixed seating dining and some emphasize come when you want dining and many other differences, the various lines seem to have a lot of similarities as well. I believe that comparisons based on folks saying they have been on several cruise lines, or even several ships, can lead to a bit of apples and oranges comparisons unless you compare cruises (and cruise lines) sailing similar itineraries at similar times of the year on similar size ships with similar passenger demographics, etc. Even the very same ship sailing a 7-day Spring Break Caribbean cruise and an 18-day Fall Transatlantic cruise will be very different; have different quality food, etc. So comparing one cruise line based on short Caribbean cruises with another cruise line sailing longer Asian or European cruises is problematic, for example. The weather, the people we meet, any loss of luggage, the dinner companions, etc, etc, will all color anyone's review of any cruise ship or cruise line. The real question for me is whether or not a cruise is worth my time and money, not whether it is better or worse than some other cruise or cruise line. I look at cruises (and any other vacations) in terms of whether or not my expectations have been met or have been exceeded. An important factor is to establish appropriate expectations in the first place. So I will review our Oct/Nov Ruby Princess Transatlantic cruise from the perspective of whether my expectations were met or exceeded. I hope that something I say will be useful to someone planning a cruise in the future. Pre-Cruise: We flew into Venice several days early to better ensure we had time to see the things we wanted to see in Venice, plus get over any jet lag. The weather was great when we arrived and on the first few days of our stay. We loved Venice; had a great time. The weather deteriorated on the day we boarded the ship and was very bad the day the ship sailed, but we had already seen what we wanted to see, so we were not troubled by the weather. Those who arrived and went straight to the ship probably were somewhat disappointed that the weather hampered their sightseeing opportunities. For us, research was key to understanding things like People Mover, Vaporetto schedules, museum hours, how to get from airport to our hotel in Mestre, which restaurants were good, etc. Lesson is to always go a few days early or stay a few days after in Europe. Boarding/Embarkation: The whole process MET, perhaps EXCEEDED, my expectations. We arrived at the terminal about 11:15 expecting to wait a while for boarding. We sat comfortably in the waiting lounge enjoying coffee, juice, and pastries until we were called to board around noon. We were in the first groups to board and were in our cabin within minutes. I believe there were some people who reacted to some confusion about boarding numbers and seemed to be stressed. We tend to have a "well, things happen, and we are sure we will all get on pretty soon" attitude so don't let things like that bother us. We were on before we expected to be. Weather: EXCEEDED our expectations. It was cold and windy on sail-away, but not raining and was beautiful. At this point I might have said my expectations were not met if the weather had remained the same the rest of the cruise, but it did not. We had heavy rain and winds while in Cannes, but perfectly fine weather in the other ports and on the transatlantic crossing. Fall in Europe and we only had one bad day of weather along the way seems pretty good to me. I realize there were folks on the cruise who had done this same cruise before and said this weather was worse than on past cruises, but I think they should just have been grateful for the great weather on previous cruises and realized our weather this time was perfectly satisfactory. I used my balcony often, particularly on the transatlantic portion of the cruise. Could the weather have been better? Yes. Was it just fine for what we wanted to do? Yes. Waves: MET our expectations. Several people have asked me if the crossing was rough. Fall cruise in the Med and across the Atlantic - - we could have encountered much rougher seas. Not once did we have a "have to hold on to stay upright" condition. I actually had hoped to encounter some rougher seas just for a short while to see what they looked and sounded and felt like. We never got any seas that rough. Have other cruises had calmer seas. Probably. But we were fine with what we experienced. Dining: The basic system: Barely MET our personal expectations, but clearly DID NOT MEET expectations for many of the other 2900 passengers. Our waiter and assistant waiter were very good. They worked hard, were knowledgeable, friendly, and responded well to any and all requests. They probably exceeded our expectations. However, we asked for 6:15 early seating and were instead given 5:30 seating. That time is just too early. Apparently many others had asked for the 6:15 seating and so we were wait-listed for many months. Also, many people asked for Anytime Dining and a very large percentage of them wanted to eat at about the same time. Their experience was really "Anytime to get your buzzer and wait until a table opens Dining." And that wait was longer than they wanted. When more people show up at a restaurant than can be seated, folks have to wait. We all have this experience at our local restaurants all the time. This is not everyone's expectation on the ship, however. I have always felt that if you have fixed seating and do not make it, you should not be allowed to go to Anytime Dining. I also believe that Princess should "max out" the early seating, and "max out" the late seating, and "max out" the anytime dining. I do not know if they do that. In other words, there should be a limit on anytime dining just as there is a limit on fixed dining. Their remaining problem then would be to deal with whoever is given anytime dining. They need to look at this problem because we have seen it on other ships, as well. Princess has created an expectation they are not meeting by making folks think they can eat "anytime." MDR food quality: MET our expectations. Some was really excellent. Some was not so great. Most was satisfactory. Variety of dishes was good. Overall, perhaps a bit less good than we had experienced on several other cruises. Sabatini's: DID NOT MEET our expectations. Just so-so. The "old style" Sabatini's where you got to try several different things has changed to an order what you want system pretty much like the MDR. This actually caused us to eat too much, but waste a great deal because the only way you can try anything is to order it, and if you order it, you get a full portion. So there are many things you do not order, and you probably cannot eat all of what you do order. Food quality was generally good. Service was really not very good. It took a very long time to eat with too much time between courses. Crown Grill: EXCEEDED expectations. Perhaps because we went to the Grill several days after our Sabatini's experience we were apprehensive about what we might experience. In fact, the service was superb. The food was very good. The overall experience was great. Who knows why the two were different. The "system" seems to work the same in both places. Different days? Different folks? Who knows? We really enjoyed Crown Grill; did not really enjoy Sabatini's. International Cafe: MET expectations. The food is great. Enjoying a nice cappuccino or latte is fun. Allowing folks to line up and get regular coffee at any time slows the process greatly and results in sometimes less than timely service. The generally-considered lousy coffee in the Horizon Court tends to push people to the IC for brewed coffee and makes things very slow at certain times. Horizon Court: MET expectations. Some good, some not so good. Overall, I thought it was a good place for breakfast, was satisfactory for lunch, and could substitute for dinner in a pinch. People's tastes will get you many different opinions about HC. BTW, I kinda like what some people call the "chaos" of bumping into people as you move around to get food. Yes, you will encounter the pushy or the impatient folks who would be happier with a more structured setting. We tried the Caribe Cafe a few times for lunch. It was a good alternative. Food was just OK, but usually had some sort of International theme so was a fun change. We would like to have known a few days in advance when the Caribe Cafe was going to be open and what they were going to be serving. Cabin Steward: EXCEEDED our expectations. As good as we have ever had. Cabin: MET our expectations. We had a mini-suite; had a mini-suite before and knew what to expect. It was great. We love the extra room in the bathroom and the separate sitting area. We are in the group that is just fine with a completely exposed balcony. We have done covered, half covered, aft-facing, various decks. They are all fine with us. Key is not to be under or above a noisy area. Never had any problem with noise from neighbors on either side, above or below. Our cabin itself made interesting creaks and moans when the seas were 8 feet or higher, but we found them to be a kind of natural part of being on a ship in the ocean. We slept right through them. Shore Excursions: Private tours EXCEEDED our expectations. Princess excursion DID NOT MEET our expectations. We did private tours while in Naples, Rome, and Barcelona. They were always superb!!! Our Princess excursion in Livorno was satisfactory, met our expectations. In Cannes, our Princess excursion was modified by the tour guide and did not go to the location it was supposed to visit. This troubled us because several other groups did go there and had a fine time. Weather is Cannes was rain and cold, as forecast, and as predicted by the Captain. We had our warm clothing and our wet-weather gear and were happy to experience things in the rain; have done it many times before in much worse conditions. Many passengers, however, were unprepared and were somehow miraculously surprised that they got cold and wet. This tour did not go where advertised so clearly DID NOT MEET our expectations. Princess excursions in Lisbon and the Azores were satisfactory, the Azores excursion hampered by fog, but there is no way anyone can control the fog. These things happen. Overall lesson is one we have always known. A good, reputable private tour is better than a Princess excursion - - is a smaller group and provides greater flexibility and gets you to more places - - generally for the same or less money. The Gym and Thermal Suite: MET expectations. The gym had good equipment, well maintained. Going at times to avoid the crowd is a good idea. The Thermal Suite is something we do on many cruises; always relaxing. Entertainment: Overall, MET expectations. We never went to a show in the Princess Theatre so cannot comment. We did not take this cruise for that purpose. John Maxtone-Graham was a very good lecturer; probably exceeded our expectations. Other lecturers were OK, but not great. The various piazza acts (jugglers, magicians, etc) were just OK. We enjoyed the violinists and piano player several evenings while we had a pre-dinner cocktail. Disembarking: MET expectations. Although the process seemed to be about 30 minutes behind scheduled times, we enjoyed juice and coffee until called, exited quickly and efficiently, found our luggage quickly and passed very quickly through immigration. We took a taxi to the airport. There were many available. Cost without tip was about $12.00. We experienced no problems with disembarkation other than seeing the occasional impatient passenger. Overall Assessment: Cruise MET our expectations; probably would have exceeded our expectations were it not for the dining and shore excursion problems. We clearly enjoyed the cruise and would be delighted to do it again. Advance planning/research is key. There were actually passengers who got on the cruise not knowing that we were in Rome on Sunday and the Vatican would be closed. Lots of cruise critic and Red Hot Ruby Roll Call research enabled us to get a great hotel, book wonderful private tours, and develop reasonable expectations for the cruise. There are many other things I did not cover, but this is already very long. If there are questions, feel free to ask. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This was my first and last Transatlantic cruise and my last cruise with Princess... While the ship is beautiful and the crew is the best I have ever seen the overall experience was a nightmare, because... 1) There weren't old ... Read More
This was my first and last Transatlantic cruise and my last cruise with Princess... While the ship is beautiful and the crew is the best I have ever seen the overall experience was a nightmare, because... 1) There weren't old people on this cruise, there were old people's parents. While many were nice there were an equal amount that were rude, demanding and obnoxious and it affected my experience. 2) The food was disappointing, a lackluster performance at best. Bland, boring, and obviously geared to the senior sect. 3) Six sea days trapped on a ship with old people sucking any youth I have left. 4) The entertainment on board was plain horrible. We saw two comedians one who clearly got all his jokes off the Internet. The production shows were mediocre at best The one high point was Gareth Oliver from Britain's Got Talent, he was a Ventriloquist a magician a comedian and an overall great entertainer. He was the only one I saw that I would pay to see again. 5) Princess has their own shore excursions, they were all over priced for what you got. Changes to itinerary were made with no notice or offer of compensation. 6) Our cabin was very, very noisy. (R701)Located directly below the Horizon buffet while trying to sleep we could hear the restaurant staff moving carts around as though they were in our room. 7) And the unforgivable sin was they allowed people to smoke cigarettes in the Cigar bar. Cigarettes give off a foul odor due to the chemicals and paper. I'm in there trying to enjoy a $30 Gurkha and the experience was totally ruined, thanks for having your head up your butt Princess! Now if you're 80, you've found a home on the Ruby Princess... Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Med. Cruise 9/25-10/7-AWESOME! After months of research and some anxiety we sailed away on Sept. 25th out of Venice. The sky was a beautiful blue, temp was in the 70s, Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli were singing, and we were finally ... Read More
Med. Cruise 9/25-10/7-AWESOME! After months of research and some anxiety we sailed away on Sept. 25th out of Venice. The sky was a beautiful blue, temp was in the 70s, Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli were singing, and we were finally departing on our dream cruise through the Mediterranean. I felt if we were in the video for PBS visions of Italy. PreCruise We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn one night and then moved over to the Molino Stucky the 2nd night, we used our Hilton Points. The Garden Inn is very nice and there is a bus stop out front that takes you into town and the hotel sells passes. The Molino was gorgeous and we were upgraded to a suite. You can now catch a water bus from the Molino to the cruise port for 8 Euro each, suitcases are 1 Euro each unless they are big than it is 3 Euro. The water bus takes you right to the cruise ship. The Ship This cruise was our first time in an inside cabin, I was a bit nervous about it but it turned out to be just fine and we would definitely book it again. The big reason why it worked out for us was due to our placement on the ship which was purposely planned. We were on the Rivera Deck AFT, so each morning I would step out of my cabin and within a few steps I was on the back of the ship-that was my balcony. I would walk up to the Caribe Caf make my tea & get some breakfast and sit outside and enjoy the view. The room was great for sleeping because it was nice and dark. Occasionally we would hear wheels rolling from upstairs but it was so light that it never bothered us. We are always pleased with Princess- great food and service, clean and always so much to do. If you didnt like your food you just ordered something else so no complaints there. We did notice staff very eager to sell to you just about everything they can. A crew member shared that their sells determine their dime off, if this is true how sad is that. Helpful Tips Bring a digital alarm clock- the clock in the stateroom is on the phone so you have to get up to see the time. I am a big tea drinker and I like my tea out of a ceramic mug, not plastic. I purchase s souvenir mug and bring it up to the caf each day. This cruise I learned that the cabin steward can clean my mug each day because they have a dishwasher on each deck. So every day I had a clean mug returned to my cabin-Magic. We brought a duffle bag folded in our suitcase. Upon departure we filled it with dirty clothes and had room in our big bags for souvenirs, and we didnt have to pack so tight. Ports of Call Our group was a party of 8, we met on a cruise several years ago and have remained friends. We made arrangements (months of research) for tours on our own. We had beautiful weather for the whole cruise temps, in the 70s & 80s. Dubrovnick, Croatia What a beautiful country, we all said we would like to come back for a longer stay. We didnt have a tour planned as we were just going to walk the wall and hang out there. Two taxi drivers met us and asked if we would like an hour tour around the area before being dropped off at Pile Gate, we all said yes. What a great decision that was, our drivers were full of information and had such passion for their country. They drove us above the town and we looked down at the walled city, it was a breathtaking view. Our driver Mikele asked if we wanted more time and they would drop us off some place nice for lunch, we all agreed. We drove to what once a beautiful resort area on the beach, all the hotels had been bombed from the war and have been untouched for 20 years. We went to a small village (Cavtat) on the water and had lunch with gorgeous views, I wanted to stay. Our drivers drove us to Pile Gate, we didnt have much time inside the walls as I was on a mission to find Buza 1. I had read about this Taverna on the water and saw it on YouTube, and said this is a must see. We found the hole in the wall and walked through and went WOW. I called it the Pub on the Rocks, it has different levels of seating on the rocks overlooking the sea. We sat and had a drink while listening to Diana Krall and taking in this awesome view, it was a pinch me moment. I asked my husband if he arranged to have Diana playing and of course he took full credit. Corfu We had hired a driver because I wanted to go to Paleokastritsa beach which is a 45 min. drive, and someone else wanted to see the big Pink Palace- a hostel where their son had stayed. We first visited the Achilleion Palace, the house was crowded so we didnt spend much time in it. We wandered out to the gardens, beautiful with breathtaking views. We drove to the beach I wanted to see and had wonderful lunch on the water, it was great. Marie the owner of Aladino took good care of us, great conversation and she treated us to her homemade desert. Katakolan At this port we did book an excursion through Princess because they had what we wanted. We went to Olympia for 2 hours and then were driven to a beach for 3 hours where we had lunch overlooking the water. Mykonos Beautiful place, we walked into town and browsed the shops for a wee bit and then found the bus station. We took the local bus to a quiet beach, Agios Ioannis, and had a bite to eat at Hipie Fish on the water. Athens We had arranged for a driver to meet us and drive us to the sights we wanted to see, that helped save time and Petros was wonderful and shared a wealth of information about his country. We drove straight to the Acropolis and spent 90 mins We then drove to the Olympic Stadium, then over to Arch of Hadrian and then up Lykavittos Hill. The views from here are amazing, from my understanding this is a place where the big busses cant go. We walked up to the top of the hill to St. Georges church, you can see all of Rome from this view, it just goes on & on. There was a protest going on but our driver avoided it. We got dropped off at the Plaka for lunch and a walk around the shops. We had an hour left and the group wanted to get back to the ship just in case there would be traffic, our driver was disappointed he couldnt show us more. We were so glad that we planned a private tour. Turkey We had arranged a private tour to take us to Ephesus. At 8:00 am Murate met us at the ship, he was our private guide, and we had a driver as well. Turkey is beautiful, it reminded me of Colorado mountains and blue sky. The ride to Ephesus was about 30mins. We spent about 3 hours with Murate explaining all the history to us as we walked, again such a wealth of information. Murate said he went to college for 4 years to become a guide. A highlight of Ephesus was the Terrace Houses, people have mentioned that there are a lot of stairs, we didnt think the stairs were that bad, you walk a few stairs and then there will be a platform area that you walk on before more stairs. After the Ephesus we were asked if we wanted to go to the carpet factory, we said no. We were asked if we wanted to go to a leather factory, we said yes as someone in our group wanted a leather jacket. When we arrived we got a private show with models walking down the runway wearing the leather jackets. We went back to the port area for lunch and shopping but we found the vendors so pushy that we just went back on the ship. Rhodes We didnt have plans for Rhodes so we just walked into town and did a little touring on our own. Walked around the shops a bit and had lunch in a beer garden before heading back to the ship. Santorini This Port is the main reason why I planned this cruise and I was not disappointed. We got the first tenders out around 8:15am and we took the cable car up and our friends rode the donkeys. The shops were quiet when we first arrived but that changed fast as there were 6 ships in Port. We met up with our friends and found the bus station, we immediately headed for OIA, about a 20 min. ride. We walked around OIA taking breathtaking photos, it was absolutely gorgeous. We found a restaurant overlooking the water and the blue dome churches, it was another pinch me moment. We took the bus back to Fira and found the line for the cable car, it was over an hour wait to get the cable car back to the ship. Naples We had a private tour booked to take us to the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. We didnt do this tour as planned due to half of the part y had been to Pompeii and didnt want to see it again. So we drove along the Amalfi Coast, stopped in Positano for an hour, had lunch in Sorrento where one group took a boat back to Naples and the rest of us went on to Pompeii. Everything was wonderful but to rushed, we didnt have enough time in each place especially Pompeii. In hindsight I should have just had the other group book their own tour and then we could have taken the tour as to how it was designed- Pompeii in the morning and Positano in the afternoon. Post Cruise We had a wonderful 3 days in Rome at the Rome Cavalieri again using our points. The Cavalieri is 20 minutes outside of Rome but they have a shuttle that takes you back and forth. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
I have been on probably 30 cruises on heaven knows how many lines and this was one of the best ever. Embarkation-- Got on board the Ruby in Venice. Since we were spending the night in Venice, embarkation was spread out over the ... Read More
I have been on probably 30 cruises on heaven knows how many lines and this was one of the best ever. Embarkation-- Got on board the Ruby in Venice. Since we were spending the night in Venice, embarkation was spread out over the whole day and was as painless as it could possibly be. We arrived by water taxi and our bags were off loaded and we were told to just leave them there and we would see them again on board. Nice touch to not have to tote them over to the warehouse, as we had to with Holland America. Breezed through the check in and found our room on Emerald Deck with no problem. It was an obstructed view room, but we could see the water. Room-- Like I said, we booked a guaranteed obstructed view room and were give E226. Great location toward the front of the ship and I really liked the they arranged the room. In the past I have had inside room and they always had the bed against the outside wall. This room had the bed against a side wall and the desk and TV on either side of the window. While I think the room was the same size as the inside room, it seemed bigger and worked much better. I would suggest you try this category of room. It was very located to the main decks for entertainment. There was no noise from he Princess theater or noise from people on the promenade deck. Food-- Princess has really improved the dining room and buffet food. Everything I had was well prepared and served hot. The International Cafe has some of the best shrimp salad I have ever had! they have even improved their coffee at the buffet! The Horizon Cafe served a wide variety of food and there was always something good to eat. The pizza and hamburgers are well prepared and they have the best french fries on the high seas! Another note on the Horizon Cafe and Caribe cafe, they were never overly crowded. I am not sure why, but even with 3,000 people on board there was seldom a long wait or big crowd, not matter what the time of day. This is an improvement over some of the recent cruises I have taken on large ships. Ship layout- Fantastic! I am not sure what they did when they built the Ruby. My understanding was it was the same as the Emerald, which I have sailed on, but somehow they have increased deck space so that there was never a problem finding a deck chair or table to sit at. It was really nice to be able to come on deck at any time and have no problem finding a place in the sun or shade. Lots of pools and hot tubs. I really enjoyed the layout of the ship. It is a big ship and you can get lost, but there are places to do whatever you want. Movies under the Stars is still fun and the weather was perfect for it. Entertainment- Again, Fantastic. After sailing transatlantic on the Westerdam and having singers that could not sing and dancers that could not dance and terrible music in the lounges and pool area,the Ruby did everything right. The shows were well done. The singers and dancers were first rate. The band Temperature which was by the pool and in the Explores lounge were among the best I have heard. The guest entertainers were all very enjoyable. It was first rate all around. Ports of Call -- I have visited some of the ports before, but it is a great itinerary if you love history. Athens, Ephesus, Istanbul, Rome, Naples, Florence. How can you have a bad time? We had my 86 year old mother in law with us, so we took a lot of Princess Shore Excursions and they were all well done and enjoyable. They do move you on and off the ship and you are headed around, but you don't have to worry about making your own arrangements or getting back to the ship on time. We did our own thing to get to Capri-- that is not a hard thing to do. I would suggest that you take the cruise from Venice to Barcelona, not the other way around. You have two days at sea to get over jet lag and get ready for a strenuous number of port days. Whereas, if you sail from Barcelona, you hit 4 ports in a row and they are long days and long trips into Rome and Florence. We did the Rome and Florence "on your own" and that worked out very well. They bus you to Rome and give you 5 hours on your own, so you can pick and choose. We did the same thing out of Leverno and did Pisa and Florence. Pisa was a pleasant surprise. We really enjoyed it. All the ports were crowded and I would suggest you cruise in May. We did that several years ago and the places were not as crowded. Service-- Top notch. Everyone was friendly and did a great job. Our room steward could not have been better and the service in the dining room and on deck was great. In the Horizon they will bring you your drinks and take care of you after you are seated so you don't have to try to juggle a drink and plates of food. One night we went up to get a couple of cookies for the next day and there were none out. A steward asked what we were looking for and we told him and he rushed back to get us some. Nice touch. Disembarkation- We had Princess transfers to the airport for a 10:30 am flight and they got us off and onto the bus and at the airport by 7:45 am. One nice touch was after the bus got to the airport, they had porters waiting to take your luggage inside. You did not have to drag yous suitcase into the airport across traffic. The little things are what make a cruise a 10 instead of an 8 and Princess was able to do all the little things right this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We are a couple in our late 50's who traveled to meet our daughter ( who resides in Vietnam) half way around the world ( Venice) to celebrate her birthday, take our first ever cruise ( hers too) and enjoy the Greek Isles and the ... Read More
We are a couple in our late 50's who traveled to meet our daughter ( who resides in Vietnam) half way around the world ( Venice) to celebrate her birthday, take our first ever cruise ( hers too) and enjoy the Greek Isles and the Mediterranean. She has always wanted to see the Greek Isles and it has also been a dream of mine. My hubby as he says came along for the ride. And what a ride. We flew the 11 hrs from Atlanta to Venice by way of Amsterdam. We spent an extra day and night in Venice and enjoyed getting lost among the various nooks, crannies and canals. We did independent walking tours of the city, the Doge's Palace, the Bridge of Sighs and of course just enjoyed St Marks' Square. The Basilica was closed so we did not go in but we just enjoyed soaking up the experience of being in this magical city. We stayed at the Duodo Palace Hotel which was closer to St Mark's Square than where the ship was docked. This was great for exploring Venice proper but a downside in getting to the Ruby Princess. When I say downside water taxi's are not cheap!! But we were lucky enough to share with another couple. They are also like most taxi's anywhere else except they are on water...it was a fast and raucous ride to the ship! Talk about getting sea legs fast! On arrival at the port, bags were taken and we did not see them again until they were at our cabin door. Embarkation was a breeze.The usual photo op then we were on Ruby. What a beautiful ship! We were like kids in a candy store wondering where to look or go next. Staff were everywhere, smiling and guiding us to our cabins and other places as we wandered our new home for 12 days. Our Cabin Steward Rommel was professional and friendly and always made sure that our needs were met. For our daughter's birthday he made a towel monkey ( yes she is an adult but there is something about those little animals, stuffed, towel or otherwise!)and he made our home away from home perfect! C252 was perfect for an inside cabin. Enough room for the three of us and despite all I read here the beds were perfect for us. One thing that I read here that was great was to keep the TV on on the ships bridge cam at night. That way you get the sense of day and night and with it reflecting in the mirror it appears almost as a window..something I hear Disney has incorporated in their inside cabins. My hubby was jet lagged and Venice lagged ( after walking the city over and over again)so he slept in after a quick view of Ruby. My daughter and I went to our first Traditional time dining experience and I can tell you the food was great the entire time ( okay one dish I did not particularly find appealing was the veal scallopini..)and yes we did indulge!!Our first meal was when we embarked after lunch closed in the MDR but HC was pretty decent and in general my hubby liked the buffet. Because of the port intensity of this cruise HC saw us for breakfast for most mornings and the fare was good. After awhile however I was getting a bit tired of eggs. One thing I can attest to is that Chef Joel Descrito is the best! He made a curry dish ( Curry chicken one night then curry lamb the next) that my hubby requested that made me wonder how I was ever to prepare these dishes again for my husband to enjoy after eating the ones that Chef Joel created. Scrumptious!! The ports were fascinating. We were not fans of Corfu or Rhodes per se. Our Dubrovnik excursion was not what we signed up for in that the guide took us almost to Montenegro, did not have lunch in an all day tour ( we signed up for 1/2 day so something went awry somewhere) did not get to climb the wall around the city,but the brandy tasting and Cavat was interesting. Not complaining just a bit perplexing. Efes ( Epheseus) was breathtaking and the Amalfi Coast ( Naples) awe inspiring and beautiful. Oh and the sail away from Venice..heart stopping and soul stirring to say the least! Lisa Ball was our CD and she and the assistant CD Eric really tried to drum up the entertaining spirit of the passengers. I think in my humble opinion that they did a good job or maybe it was the group that was sailing, I saw many participating in the activities and lots playing cards and table games, laughing and having a good time or relaxing with electronic readers poolside or on the promenade. All staff were professional and friendly and I felt that anything we needed they would try to obtain. Okay, so I fell for the first timers gotta have some of those $19-$25 pictures. Hubby liked the casino and we had wine at dinner almost every night, and my daughter and I just had to have that massage with the stones of course! And yes we did the Chef's Table. I've got to say with Generoso( love that man!) being so gracious and Chef Joel providing a wonderful meal not to mention great table mates..it was worth every dime even though the pricing has increased. Sadly we had to disembark. That process was even more of a breeze than embarkation. I thought for sure it would take more time and so we had hired a taxi for 10am and I put us down for disembarkation at 0900 thinking for sure we would have to spend time looking for our luggage, getting to the pick up area etc. Nope we were out of there in 10 minutes flat and waited for our taxi!! We stayed in Rome at the River Palace ( centrally located near the Villa Borghese gardens and the Piazza Popolo)for two nights and did our own tours of the city, the Vatican etc. The weather was phenomenal all along until Rome where it did rain that first day and was partly cloudy and cool but the Trevi Fountain ( heck all of Rome) at night was breathtaking and yes we did throw our coins in the Fountain and the Spanish steps were not as hard to go up or down as I thought ( after Santorini and Fira's 562 stairs anything else is easy!!). Our favorites besides Venice was Mykonos, Santorini and the Amalfi Coast. We loved our Princess experience. We chose this on a whim because our daughter's nick name is Princess and what better way for a Princess to celebrate her birthday but on a Princess ship?Well the fairy tale came true and it was sheer delight. Thanks Princess...you will see us again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was my 7th cruise. My motto is "the newer, the bigger, the better" and some of my previous ships include RCCL's Freedom of the Seas, Cunard's Queen Mary 2, Holland America's Eurodam , Celebrity's Equinox ... Read More
This was my 7th cruise. My motto is "the newer, the bigger, the better" and some of my previous ships include RCCL's Freedom of the Seas, Cunard's Queen Mary 2, Holland America's Eurodam , Celebrity's Equinox and NCL's Epic. I've wanted to try Ruby Princess since it hit the seas in 2008 and I was happy to finally get the chance. This particular cruise sails Venice-Barcelona and Barcelona-Venice all Summer long with some amazing ports in between. We decided to do the Venice-Barcelona cruise because, as we are from Canada, getting to and from Venice and their port is a little more complicated than getting to and from Barcelona and their port so we thought we'd deal with the challenging stuff at the beginning rather than the end of our cruise. Also, we wondered if spending a night on the ship in Venice when the cruise was essentially over might be a wee bit anti-climactic. In hindsight, although we don't regret our decision, I imagine sailing into the Venice harbour would probably be more breathtaking than sailing out of it! Embarkation was a breeze - it was efficient and quick. You are allowed to go straight to your cabin upon boarding. While Princess says embarkation begins at 1 PM I noted many people on board before then and, in fact, the Princess Patter (i.e. the daily schedule that's delivered to your stateroom every evening) had activities starting as early as 11 AM. Those boarding in Venice, however, should take note that it is not entirely clear how to get to the port. For those arriving directly from the airport, a taxi can be taken and for those arriving directly from the train station, you need only walk a short distance. For those who spend a day or so in Venice before the cruise, it can be tricky. I know now, however, that you have only 2 options. One option is take a public water taxi and get off at the port or train station and simply walk to the People Mover. However, if walking over cobblestone roads and getting in and out of crowded boats with your luggage is a challenge for you, the second option is to hire a private water taxi that will take you right to the ship - while much more relaxing, this method is also pricey at about 60 to 80 Euros (it'd be great for a group of people as you could share the cost). Princess does have a shuttle that goes between St. Mark's Square and the ship (it's $15 return) but this is ONLY for those who have already boarded - you can't use this to get to the ship to embark with your luggage...although many try! The ship itself is just shy of 3 years old but is impeccably maintained and very clean. It still looks new. Ruby will not win any beauty contests as, with the exception of the dramatic piazza which spans several decks, the dEcor is rather bland...especially the pastel greens in the staterooms. The 3 dining rooms are all single-floored so lack the spiral staircases and grand chandeliers. However, it is perhaps the most functional ship I have ever been on. There is ample deck space (never a problem getting a chair) and 5 large swimming pools (6 if you count the 1 for the staff). The deck is very exposed and you can walk all around the ship on several levels. If you wish you can go right to the nose of the ship and pretend you're Leonardo DiCaprio and be The King of the World! In the rear, open space spans several decks...which is awesome for sailaways. The passengers on this cruise were of all ages but were mostly older couples. This may not be typical of Princess cruises, however, as a bartender told me that, in the Summer, they often had close to 1,000 kids on board. There were only a handful of kids on this particular cruise. We had a mini-suite and it was plenty big with loads of storage space. The bathroom was also large and private. The food was excellent but there is so much of it that you just can't get hungry enough to eat as much as you'd like. Aside from the main dining rooms there's the cafeteria-like Horizon Court as well as the grill and pizzeria on deck. There are 2 specialty restaurants, Sabatini's (Italian) and the Crown Grill (beef) - we tried both and enjoyed them. We did find that the menu in the main dining rooms did lack imagination on some nights so it was rare that you were torn choosing between many options...it was actually the opposite and, on several nights, we simply selected from the side of the menu that offered the traditional standbys that were available every night (pasta, beef, etc.). This may have been because we are not fish lovers...if you like fish, you will be in heaven as there are lots of fish choices every night. The service was always great in the dining rooms with the wait staff always eager to please. I did buy an Ultimate Kids Pack that allowed unlimited sodas, juices and smoothies all cruise long. I shared this with my travelling companion and the staff didn't seem to mind. Contrary to what others have said, I ordered countless Cokes, juices and smoothies and never once did it seem like an inconvenience to anyone. Ruby offers traditional or "any time" dining. My guess is that about two-thirds of the ship opted for the latter. Again, contrary to what others have said, we never had trouble getting a table for two - we usually were escorted immediately to a table or, at most, had to wait only a few minutes. Regarding entertainment, Princess is yet to get into the modern age and do things like NCL with the Blue Man Group or RCCL with Broadway shows. The guest entertainers on this cruise were, as Simon Cowell used to say on American Idol, "very cruise ship". However, the Ruby Princess "singers and dancers" were absolutely spectacular (and easy on the eyes too!) and the 3 shows they did were amazing. I only wish they could have entertained every night! Note that the theatre only seats 850 so, for some shows, you need to arrive early to get a seat. The service on Ruby is very good - on par with NCL and RCCL but perhaps not quite as sophisticated as HAL or Celebrity. With the exception of a handful of employees who were somewhat indifferent, the vast majority can't do enough for you. Princess is a little light on "extras", however - you have to ask for bathrobes and beach towels, there are no cold drinks at the gangway when you return from a long day ashore, etc.. In addition, "accuracy" is not their strong point - pre-ordered flowers were not delivered, laundry was mixed up with other passengers, room service order was wrong 3 out of 5 times, white wine was served in the Crown Grill when we ordered white, USD-CAD currency conversion was used when we clearly said we didn't want it, etc., etc.. HOWEVER, none of these were "deal-breakers" and the staff always happily corrected any errors. Our cabin steward was nice and did a good job but was not a star by any means. I had heard that Princess was #1 in shore excursions and they did not disappoint. While most cruise lines excel in this area, Princess was exceptionally good. The ports on this cruise were outstanding (kudos to whoever designed this itinerary) and there were numerous options for excursions at every port. The tours I took (5 of them) all ran as per schedule and it was always clear where you were supposed to be and when. The guides were all great and had good knowledge and senses of humour. Like all ships, Ruby offers numerous opportunities to get your photo taken. While pricey, the quality is excellent. If you buy a number of photos you can get some for free. Finally, for the true ship-lover, Princess offers the Ultimate Ship Tour. They only take the first 12 to sign up and the tour is done on a sea day. You get to see backstage at the theatre, the engine control room, the kitchen, the medical clinic (including the morgue!), the laundry room, the anchor room, the photo shop, the printing room and the smoke stacks. The tour concludes with a photo-op and glass of champagne with the Captain on the bridge. At $150 it is expensive but it lasts 3 hours and is very interesting. You also end the tour with numerous professional photos, a bathrobe (which sells for $90 in the gift shop), a chef's coat and a pad of paper with your name on it! In the end, we had a wonderful time. I would not hesitate to cruise with Princess in the future or to recommend Ruby to anyone. I hope you found this review helpful. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
I'd read quite a few reviews and some negative comments, but I have to say that the Ruby Princess gets top marks in almost every category. Check-In was very smooth. We were booked on Traditional dining but because a ... Read More
I'd read quite a few reviews and some negative comments, but I have to say that the Ruby Princess gets top marks in almost every category. Check-In was very smooth. We were booked on Traditional dining but because a number of our shore excursions ran into making us late for the early sitting, we were still welcomed at our table in DaVinci's when we could get there. The food was excellent and the staff went out of their way to make sure we were pleased. We had some senior ladies at our table and the waiter or assistant waiter even cut up the meat for one. Our balcony stateroom was very clean and the steward friendly and attentive to our needs. The steward collected our passports after we were at sea, so there was no problem that had been mentioned in another review. We tried Sabatini's and the Crown Grill and the food was delicious. Sabatini's artichoke souffle was outstanding. The only complaints we had about the shore excursions were minor. One guide had a bit of a shrill voice. The region was having a heat wave and it seemed that every port had temperatures in the 90F range, so it made the walking to the buses seem long. Disembarking at ports went smoothly. Internet was (naturally) a bit slower than at home, but really not a problem. There was usually entertainment in the Piazza and some of it was exceptionally good. There always seemed to be something of interest going on when we returned from our shore excursions (at every stop) I would like to see smoking banned entirely from the casino, but maybe that's coming. We only went to one stage show and it was very good. It helps to know that the hall carpet is bordered with red on one side of the ship and blue on the other side. I think that the curls in the wave pattern point to the front of the ship but am not sure so will check that out next cruise. Lots of staterooms had balloons and a sign on their door...Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary. Made it look festive. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Hi Everyone, We just returned from a wonderful 12 days aboard Ruby Princess. Excellent Cruise. Great Itinerary, Superb food, Amazing Guest Entertainers. Itinerary: Simply great. We never been in Europe, so this was our first time. ... Read More
Hi Everyone, We just returned from a wonderful 12 days aboard Ruby Princess. Excellent Cruise. Great Itinerary, Superb food, Amazing Guest Entertainers. Itinerary: Simply great. We never been in Europe, so this was our first time. The itinerary is simply perfect for someone who wants to see a little bit of everything. We went to Venice, Istanbul, Mykonos, Kusadasi, Naples, Rome, Livorno (Florence), MONTECARLO and Barcelona. Great. Unique places. Cabin: we had a suite ;) so, it was perfect. Our cabin Steward was such a nice guy. Very Very prof. Food: during this cruise they organized 4 different Chef's Tables. It's a sort of special menu for who wants to have something different. OMG, everything was so fresh and delicious. The Metre'D Generoso Mazzone is a great guy. Very friendly, superb. Good good job there. Entertainment: we love shows! Every time we have a couple of days we fly to Vegas to enjoy some shows..and casinos as well. During this cruise we had the chance to see every night something different. The welcome on board show was fun, the productions show all first class, Once Upon a Dream..unique. The Magician David Cats was terrific. One of the best magic show I've ever seen. It's really original, funny and amazing at the same time. The bands were all top class. Good Job Princess. I definitely recommend Princess Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
12 Days on Mediterranean on board Ruby Princess. My Evaluations: Ship: 5 stars The Ruby is the newest ship of the fleet. It's everything perfect, new, the style is classic and elegant, very nice. Cabin: 4 stars We had a ... Read More
12 Days on Mediterranean on board Ruby Princess. My Evaluations: Ship: 5 stars The Ruby is the newest ship of the fleet. It's everything perfect, new, the style is classic and elegant, very nice. Cabin: 4 stars We had a interior cabin, it was nice. We did 7 cruises in the past, we knew the kind of cabin we booked. Food: 4 stars Everything fresh, good, nice service. The Sabatini and Crown Grill are great. They changed the Sabatini's Menu. really nice. Entertainment: 5 stars Entertainment was great. Lisa Ball is a great Cruise Director. Good production shows, excellent Dancers. Princess did a good job there. The Magician Illusionist David Cats amazing, superb - Great Shows. Ports: 5 stars Great Itinerary. All Europe in 12 days. Venice, Rome, Florence, Istambul. Gorgeous. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
What a whirlwind! We sailed the Ruby Princess September 25 to October 7, 2011 from Venice to Civitavecchia, with stops in Croatia, Greece and Turkey along the way. This itinerary is not for you if you like sea days - there was only one! ... Read More
What a whirlwind! We sailed the Ruby Princess September 25 to October 7, 2011 from Venice to Civitavecchia, with stops in Croatia, Greece and Turkey along the way. This itinerary is not for you if you like sea days - there was only one! We wanted to see as much as possible, so consequently we were out all day, every day, on tour. This didn't leave time for much else. So, it didn't really feel like a cruise. We spent more time off the ship than on it, using the Ruby more like a floating hotel that deposited us somewhere new each morning. This was our eighth Princess cruise, and altogether I've sailed fifteen times. Although we'd never flown internationally to begin a cruise, we reached Venice without incident and boarded the ship easily. We utilized the Princess transfer from the airport, which makes things very convenient. We were booked in a balcony cabin on Caribe deck amidships. We'd previously sailed on the Emerald Princess, the Ruby's sister, so we knew our way around and felt right at home. However, there was a period of adjustment. Our most recent cruise was on the Royal Princess, which has since been retired and which carried a far lighter passenger load. Although the larger ships are able to offer more choices in almost every category of amenity, I missed the small ship ambience. There is no way other than a cruise to cover as much travel territory in as short a time. Our cruise began with an overnight stay in Venice, followed by calls in Dubrovnik, Croatia, Corfu, Katakolon, Mykonos and Piraeus in Greece, Kusadasi in Turkey, then back to Greece for Rhodes and Santorini, followed by our welcome day at sea. The final call was Naples, Italy with disembarkation the next day in Civitavecchia on Friday, October 7 - the start of the Columbus Day holiday weekend back home, which allowed us a three-night post-cruise stay in Rome to wrap things up with bang. Come to this itinerary well rested! It was a grind, with a lot of walking and hill-climbing. Each day we were up early for a tour, out all day and returned to the ship just in time for all-aboard. That left time only for a shower, dinner and to get ready for the next day. My comments on life aboard the Ruby are limited to what we experienced during the short time each day that we were aboard and awake. I'll take them one by one, starting with our cabin steward. He deserves special mention, because even though he performed all of the expected duties, he had a giant chip on his shoulder, and wore it with pride. Some might call it an attitude problem. He started out on embarkation day by telling us how he was so good that they'd asked him to serve on all the newest ships, about how passengers usually make unreasonable requests and, that because we were Platinum members of the Captain's Circle we must be rich and own stock in the company. He then proceeded to give us the cold shoulder for the rest of the cruise. One night, we ran out of shampoo, so we left a note the next morning asking for more. He left us twelve bottles of shampoo. I won't waste time on details, but his behavior was odd. And the shortcuts he took in taking care of our cabin were consistent and obvious. Dining was very good in the dining room at dinner but very bad at breakfast from room service. We had a table for the second traditional dinner seating each night at 8:30, and our waiter and his assistant were friendly, helpful and efficient. The food was what we've come to expect after many Princess cruises. My favorite was the night they served a Greek and Turkish menu. The choices ranged from Chicken Braised in Peloponnesian Wine, Warm Dill Scented Oysters over Wilted Greens to Hearty Red Lentil Soup with Potatoes and Leeks. I really enjoyed my Avgolemono Soup with Chicken, Lemon and Mint and Trilogy of minced Veal Kofte, Chicken Shish Kebab and Lamb Chops. They really should do more of this -â€" tying the menus for the cruise into the areas being visited. Superb. Because we were often in a rush to get out the door in the morning we ordered quite a few light breakfasts from room service via the provided hang-tag. We've done this on every cruise we've taken, and it's usually a no muss, no fuss affair. So I couldn't quite believe how bad it was on the Ruby. I'm talking about orders that arrived 20 minutes early or a half-hour late. Coffee with no cups, or cups but no coffee. Warm milk -â€" it was almost hot. And in a glass. I prefer nice, fresh cartons, which evidently have been cut as a cost-saving measure. Warm juice too, with lots of water cutting the orange juice. Cold toast. It was amazing. We'd save juice and milk to put in the fridge for use the next day when it would be cold. We then replaced what we used with the warm glasses delivered that day. We made it work, but it wasn't pleasant. The onboard entertainment that we sampled was limited to magician David Cats, who was from Venice and who showed some promise, but his act was all "sizzle" and no "steak". There was a lot of dramatic music, flashing lights, drumrolls, strobes and lasers but when he threw up his hands and waited for applause, no one clapped. I wondered if we all missed something. When it came time to make his assistant disappear, one could clearly see her jump in and out of the box, which was quite obviously jostled as she did. Card tricks are difficult to perform from the stage, and David tried to get around the problem by -â€" supposedly -â€" having his movements televised on a big screen above the stage. But it was clear that what he was actually doing was performing in sync with a pre-recorded video. His show was disappointing. Another night we sampled Eric Stone's act, the lounge singer in Crooners Bar. He used way too much reverb. It was painful to listen to and sounded quite silly. He had an odd repertoire. I honestly never thought I'd hear Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" in a piano bar. I actually looked closer to assure myself that it wasn't Bill Murray up there doing his old Nick the Lounge Singer act. We stayed about five minutes. We booked an all-day tour in each of the ten ports we visited over twelve days. Actually, there were eleven tours, because the cruise began with an overnight stay in Venice, and we had something planned for both days. In Venice there are no cars, no taxis, and no buses. Everything is done by water. Princess operated a Water Shuttle between the ship and Saint Mark's Square, which ran continuously and took about twenty minutes each way. Tickets were left in the stateroom and a $15 charge for each was applied to your onboard account. The ship's tours included transportation, so we returned them for credit. We started off with a bang the first night with a gondola ride. The old saying is that if you're planning a gondola ride in Venice and you don't think that it's outrageously expensive, perhaps you misunderstood the gondolier. Well, expensive it was, but also quite memorable. We arrived in town at dusk, and it was nearly dark by the time we boarded the boat, four to a gondola. We were given a bottle of Prosecco to enjoy as we set off down the quiet, narrow, dimly lit canals. Every few minutes we passed under a bridge, and the camera-toting tourists looking down snapped photos. The experience was somewhat surreal. Although it was just like I'd always imagined it and everything was just as I'd seen on TV or in the movies, it reminded me of a ride at Disney World - it was so downright cool that it just had to be artificial! I wondered for a second if the gondolas were actually operating on tracks just below the surface. As we entered the Grand Canal with a view of the famous Rialto Bridge to our right, we joined up with several other gondolas full of Ruby passengers and, as the gondoliers propelled the boats parallel to each other and only inches apart, our serenade began. The singer was standing in the middle gondola as his voice rang out in the night, accompanied by Italian accordion. Sure, it's a little corny -â€" but the night would have been incomplete without it. The next day was busy with a tour of Saint Mark's Square and Basilica and the incomparable Doge's Palace before the early afternoon sailaway from Venice, with commentary provided by Port Lecturer Deborah, accompanied by music and broadcast throughout the ship by TV and loudspeaker. This has to be one of the most beautiful and unique experiences in the cruising world -â€" it brought tears to my eyes. Leaving Venice behind, we began the daily routine of a short, leisurely overnight sail to the next port and a new world outside our window each morning. The weather was spectacular the whole way, with not a drop of rain and plenty of warm sunshine. We saw so much, in so many places, that it's all a bit jumbled in my mind even now. I'll mention only the highlights. Dubrovnik's Old Town is a fun place for a stroll, but Cavtat, about 15 km to the south is a gem by the sea, with many shops and restaurants along the waterfront. It's popular with tourists, including the owners of more than a few luxury yachts. Corfu is two miles off the coast of Albania at the closest, and you're sure to meet a few Albanians who've come to Corfu seeking work in the shops of the Old Town. There are examples of Venetian, French, British and Greek styles of architecture on Corfu due to the influence of these rulers through the centuries. Ten kilometers outside town is Achilleion Palace, built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria in 1890 on a hilltop with majestic views of the surrounding hills and valleys and the sea below. The palace and the gardens house many paintings and statues of Achilles. German Kaiser Wilhelm II purchased Achilleion in 1907 after Elisabeth's death and used it as a summer residence. By the 1960's the upper level of the palace had become a casino, and a scene in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only was filmed there. From Katakalon we easily reached Olympia and the site of the ancient Olympic Games in the morning, leaving the afternoon free for a leisurely visit to Kourouta beach. We soaked up the abundant sunshine, along with a couple of bottles of Mythos beer. Dips in the warm water at this long, sandy beach -â€" quite quiet in late September, kept us relaxed. The waters around Mykonos were churned up by the strong wind -â€" typical almost anytime, we were told. This made the ferryboat ride to the neighboring island of Delos quite a rollercoaster ride. Delos is known as the birthplace of the mythological twin brothers Apollo and Artemis, and, today, as an important archaeological site with extensive excavations dating back to thousands of years before Christ. Our guide led us past the remains of temples and statues, a theater, and the residential area where many of the mansions and villas had mosaic floors, portions of which have survived the passage of centuries. After our tour, we had to wait close to an hour for the next boat back to Mykonos, which put us in danger of missing the meeting time for our afternoon tour. We made it, though -â€" but just barely -â€" and saw Panagia Tourliani Monastery, Kalafatis Beach and a glimpse of the famous windmills of the island, some which were built by the Venetians in the 16th century. In the labyrinthine Old Town, Petros the Pelican, the official mascot of Mykonos, posed for pictures with his admirers along the waterfront. We snuck away from the tour to enjoy a bite to eat at a small restaurant. A gyro -â€" hot and tasty pork and chicken for me, and some spinach pie for my wife. We asked if that was homemade. Our server pointed to his mama, who was finishing her own lunch in a corner of the shop. Our tour of Athens was a highlight of the cruise. How do you top the Parthenon at the Acropolis? It seems like it sits on top of the world -â€" you can take in the entire city at a glance. The rocky slope to the top was very slippery -â€" I saw three older ladies fall, hard, to the ground. The wind was very strong, and as it howled we were sandblasted by the fine dust swept up from the ground. And we were told that the crowds never die down. But taking it all in is worth the effort, and you can understand why the ancients built their temple to Athena in this place. I was surprised at how little of it actually remains, and of that, not much is original -â€" much has been restored. Somewhat ignorantly, I had imagined that it had been sitting peaceably on the hilltop for millennia, undisturbed but for the passage of time. When you learn of its history, though, you find that the truth is quite a different story. The Parthenon had been used as a treasury, a Christian church, a mosque and an ammunition dump. It had been bombed, burned, scavenged, pillaged, and all but destroyed. Our visit to the new Acropolis Museum nearby helped to set the record straight. Open since 2009, the goal of the new museum is to house every artifact from the site. The museum itself sits over an extensive archaeological site. The floor is, in places, made of glass, allowing visitors to see the excavations below. Forget about taking photos of anything inside, though. There were more security guards and cameras than I'd ever seen before in one place -â€" including airports -â€" all to make certain that you do not get too close to anything or to take a picture. For lunch in Athens, we visited a restaurant called Ancient Tastes, where they serve only dishes that might have been eaten by Greeks long ago. So, no potatoes or tomatoes, which came later from the New World, and no forks -â€" the ancients used only knife and spoon. The entrees featured ingredients such as honey, pomegranate and thickly ground barley. Between courses we were entertained by a dancer in traditional costume. The meal was a welcome departure from the usual hotel-style buffet typically served to tour groups. The day concluded in the Plaka, the oldest neighborhood in Athens, with narrow twisting streets of shops, bars, homes and few cars, which are not allowed in most areas. We were given 45 minutes of free time for shopping and exploration. The majority of the stores sell tourist junk, and after we'd perused a handful of nearly identical stores we quickened our pace and went off in search of something more meaningful. The streets were narrow and the buildings tall and plentiful enough to block the big-picture view, but I figured that my innate sense of direction would lead us back to the meeting point in plenty of time. My wife, ever the worrier, began to get nervous the first time a street didn't take us where I thought it would. As we walked, I glanced at my watch from time to time and soon I had to admit that our time was running out, and that I had no idea where we were. Armed with a simple map showing the meeting point and without the ability to speak Greek, our pace ever quickening, I had to do something most guys do only reluctantly: ask for directions. Then ask someone else. Then, to start running -â€" and to ask yet a third person. We came, trotting and out of breath, into the square where the rest of the group waited -â€" with a minute or two to spare. As it turned out, we waited another ten minutes for two ladies who had misunderstood the meeting time and who were slowly strolling up the street, oblivious. Our call in Kusadasi showed me why we try to get as far away from the pier as possible when selecting a tour, for the area around the dock and the surrounding countryside could not be more different. When you step off the ship, you are greeted with shops aplenty and their aggressive proprietors, hawking everything from Turkish carpets to "genuine fake" watches to Turkish Delight and "saffron" - heavy on the quotes - because it is not the famously expensive spice painstakingly collected from the crocus but dried safflower. But as our motor coach headed out to Mt. Koressos to visit The House of the Virgin Mary, a shrine believed to be the last earthly home of the Mother of Jesus, our impressions of the place changed. Enroute, the plains give way to rolling hills and while it looked a bit dry, it reminded me of southern California. Visiting the shrine was an obviously moving experience for many as they walked silently through the building and continued past a wall where prayers, written on slips of paper, were tied into knots and packed tightly together to form a mural of human hope, love and devotion. Then it was down the hill again and out to Ephesus, which in the 1st century BC was the second largest city in the Empire and in the world, with a population of more than a quarter-million. Ephesus is in Asia, but just barely -â€" still, it meant we could check off another on our continents visited list. Ephesus is sprawling, but 85% of the site remains to be uncovered. The highlight was the magnificent Library of Celsus. Next, our tour visited the Basilica of St. John, built over what may have been the apostle's tomb. The past has an almost palpable presence here. Rhodes is not often on cruise ship itineraries so we were lucky to be able to see this rare gem of the Dodecanese islands. Rhodes is best known for something which no longer exists, but our guide pointed out the place where the Colossus may have once stood. That was about all she did right -â€" for many reasons we thought of her as the worst guide we've ever been stuck with, and I will specifically name the Princess tour entitled "Rhodes, Grand Masters Palace & Lindos" as one to be avoided. Why? Lindos is spectacular, and worth the trip, but the rest is either not -â€" or easily within walking distance of the ship. The tour featured a stop at a "gold museum", which was actually simply a store. You can tour the Grand Masters Palace on your own -â€" it's a 10-minute walk from the dock, and by the way, it was never used as a palace. And the "old town" was, once again, a warren of tourist traps. Lindos, though, on the east coast south of the port, is home to the acropolis of Lindos, an ancient fortress high on a hill with spectacular views of the surrounding harbor on one side and the town on the other. If the steep, sloping path up the hill discourages you, there are donkeys for hire that seemed to know the way. Then, Santorini. The weather was perfect. Yes, it was crowded with five or six cruise ships anchored that day, but somehow this beautiful island made me forget about that. It was amazing how alone we could feel just by veering off the heavily congested main shopping street and heading down a small lane or staircase, where we could take in the breathtaking view of the caldera in near solitude. I held up my camera and the pictures practically took themselves. We stopped at Santo Wines, where the samples were generous and the view was unbelievable. Their best wines were made from Assyrtiko grapes, which have adapted to the unique conditions in Santorini, by growing low to the ground to best collect the morning dews, which are often the only moisture available for months at a time. We'd love to come back to this island for a longer stay, and I scouted around and collected a few business cards from hotels with stunning views, but it will have to wait until Greece gets its economy straightened out and the surprise protests and airport closings stop. The day ended with an hour-long wait for the aerial tram back down the hill to the tender dock. Sailaway from Santorini was especially sweet, not only for the views, but also because we had nowhere to go the next day! Our one sea day of the twelve gave us a welcome break and we spent a few hours on the balcony with the wine we'd bought the day before. We had an ambitious day planned for our final port before disembarkation, Naples. When we booked the tour, I wondered how anyone could possibly fit Capri, Sorrento and Pompeii into a single day. But the Princess excursion covering all three was tempting. In the end, we sacrificed quality for quantity -â€" and opted for shorter stays in more places. Visiting the ruins of Pompeii, buried in 79 A.D. when Mount Vesuvius erupted, had been a lifelong goal for us, and we'd have been satisfied if that was all we saw. Of course, you could spend an entire day at Pompeii, but we did catch all the highlights. Ironically, while we were at the site, an exhibit of artifacts from Pompeii opened in a museum back home. It's eerie to visit the excavations with the volcano in view on the horizon. Vesuvius has erupted many times through the centuries, most recently in 1944. Earlier, we'd begun our day with a hydrofoil ride to Capri, which has served as a resort since Roman times. As we strolled along the narrow pedestrian lanes, we realized that in Capri it would be handy to be wealthy. The crowds boarding the ferries back to the mainland were incredible - I thought someone would end up in the water as we struggled along the pier to the boats -â€" but we survived and arrived in Sorrento, in time for a disappointing lunch. The portions were small, which was perhaps for the best as the tastes and textures were nothing special. Afterward, we had a short time to explore the nearby streets and to pick up a few souvenirs. We disembarked the next morning in Civitavecchia and began a three-night visit to Rome, and we kept up a frantic pace right through the weekend. We walked mile after mile through the city, from the Colosseum, to the Parthenon, to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, to Saint Peter's Basilica where we climbed the dome and admired the view of the Eternal City from the top. One day, we visited Ostia Antica, the ancient port of Rome, reached easily by train, and spent an afternoon wandering excavations at least as extensive as those in Pompeii. We found some wonderful restaurants, loved the hotel where we stayed, were thrilled with the private transfers that we'd booked, and flew home directly from Rome without problems. It was hard to believe that our long-awaited, fifteen night European odyssey was over. If we had it to do over again, we'd only make a few minor changes, so I'd guess that's a sign of successful planning. If you like history, if you can tolerate crowds, if you don't mind doing some waiting and standing in line, if you can remember that you're there to see some of the most memorable and beautiful sights in all the world, then you'll enjoy every moment. We may never pass that way again, so we made the most of it all, and brought home memories to keep and to treasure. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Embarkation was a nightmare at Venice. Apparently, we later found out, there had been some problems with computers. This meant that we were held in a hot hall with insufficient seating for about 2 hours - not good on top of a 4.00 a.m. ... Read More
Embarkation was a nightmare at Venice. Apparently, we later found out, there had been some problems with computers. This meant that we were held in a hot hall with insufficient seating for about 2 hours - not good on top of a 4.00 a.m. start in the morning!! We were provided with no information about the reason for the hold up, which we would have found useful. Problem or not, we should have been provided with food and drinks after a long journey. However, that's the only real beef we have. Our cabin was c701 - the cabins on Caribe deck have a much larger balcony than those on other decks - probably about double the size. It means that you usually have both shade and sun on the balcony as well as comfortable seating for six people. The cabin was adequate in size and it was nice to have a fridge which was actually cold. There was plenty of storage space for our twelve night cruise. The bathroom was very compact but everything was there. The cabin was very close to the lifts so provided good access. We took the Princess tours. The ones which included lunch and a tour guide were pretty pricey we thought. $249 for Rome but we felt it was the only way to ensure that we got into the sites. How right we were! Queues at the Vatican etc were hours long and we just wouldn't have got in without a pre-paid ticket. However, Princess also offered 'on your own' tours - these got you to the site, let you have several hours to explore and then got you back to the ship. Much more reasonable and allowed us to go at a faster pace than if we'd been on an organised tour. The tours were well organised and to interesting destinations. Entertainment - we were rather put off by the first night production in the theatre which included a comedian who still thought that humour comes from smutty jokes and stereotyping. Having said that, there was plenty of variety during the day and evening. The food was excellent in all restaurants. The Boticelli restaurant offered silver service and a good variety of menus. We tended to eat more in the self-service Caribe and Horizon restaurants. These were more relaxed and offered a wide range of extremely well prepared and presented food. The service was good too. We spent most of our time aboard ship on the balcony or at one of the bars - we're not great swimmers. We never felt crowded or overwhelmed by numbers of people. However, space did seem to be at rather a premium around the main pools but then it was the hight of the school holidays so there were a lot of children around. The fitness centre was well equipped although there were a large number of treadmills out of action most of the time. All in all, we were well satisfied with Princess and would use them again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
When we booked, we used Princess EZ-Air as it was cheaper than booking on our own. It was very easy to use, and the ability to pick our flights and departure date was great. The cruise boarded in Venice on August 8. We were late ... Read More
When we booked, we used Princess EZ-Air as it was cheaper than booking on our own. It was very easy to use, and the ability to pick our flights and departure date was great. The cruise boarded in Venice on August 8. We were late getting on board due to some type of techinal program. However, we were in our cabin by 1:00. Part of the problem was they collected passports as you boarded. This really slowed down the process. They need to rethink this process. The cabin was wonderful. We actually had booked a guaranty mini-suite AE cabin, but we were upgraded to a penthouse suite. It came with a lot of additional perks like free Internet, free laundry, and priority tender embarkation in tender ports. Our cabin steward was wonderful. He fully explained all the suite perks and answered all our questions. The ports were wonderful. We took shore excursions through Princess in all but two ports. The tours where well organized. The only one that we really had a problem with with the Pisa and Florence on your own. The guide took off at Pisa and never stopped to make sure everyone was with her. It wasn't just that she walked too fast, there were other groups arriving and mixing in with our group. She did a better job at Florence, but she talked way too much on the bus. The guides in Rome were amazing. This was our most crowded port, and they both did a great job keeping everyone together. The food was good. We never went hungry, but I do think the quality was slightly lower than on previous cruises. We did anytime dining, and with the exception of the last night, we had very good service. The last night, the waiter seemed to have some type of attitude and wasn't very friendly. It was the first time we'd had this waiter so I don't know if he was just having a bad night or if he was always that way. We did eat at the Crown Grill one night. The food was good, but in my opinion, not worth the money. The steak was only slightly better than the one I had in the main dining room. The other options on the menu are pretty limited and most were not items I cared for. Sea days did not seem to have as many activities as normal. There were things here and there, but overall, there were pockets with very little going on. It is a Med cruise so I know many people just like hanging out at the pool. We're not pool people so that wasn't an option for us. The evening entertainment was hit and miss. The Welcome aboard show was basically a commercial for the ship. The only exception was a couple of numbers by the Princess dancers and singers and a juggler (who was not very good). However, later in the week, the show Broadway Ballroom and Once Upon a Dream were excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. There was also a comedian and a magician. I didn't really care for either of them either. There was someone on board that talked about the different ports. These were recorded sessions shown on TV. However, Hutch was great! He was a wealth of knowledge about each port. And, he wasn't annoying! The overall look of the ship was good. They did a great job of keeping it very clean. I didn't see any areas that looked like they needed updating. Overall, it was a great cruise. I'd recommend the cruise line and ship to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We have just arrived home from our Grand Mediterranean Cruise on Ruby Princess and I am eager to write this review before I forget details! From the minute we boarded in Venice, to the time we disembarked in Barcelona, we were ... Read More
We have just arrived home from our Grand Mediterranean Cruise on Ruby Princess and I am eager to write this review before I forget details! From the minute we boarded in Venice, to the time we disembarked in Barcelona, we were treated with consistent, friendly, professional hospitality. Embarkation was a breeze - we were through the line and in our cabin in about 15 minutes. Cabin: Beautiful! We had a mini-suite and had plenty of room to spread out. The cabin is beautifully appointed in light wood trim and sage accents (bed pillows, curtains). There was plenty of room for our clothes - the closet has a shelving cupboard that easily fit all out things, even though there were more drawers and cupboards in the room. Bed was configured to queen as we had requested, with snowy white sheets and good pillows. Very comfortable! The bathroom was immaculate. Service: Our steward, Danilo, met us the moment we arrived and showed us around the cabin. Throughout the cruise, we didn't ask much of him, but when we did, it was taken care of immediately. He kept our room clean and tidy - not easy with MY husband; fresh towels twice a day (not necessary, but appreciated). we were always greeted with a smile upon returning from shore or running into him in the hall. I honestly don't know how these guys do it...I don't know how many other cabins he had to take care of, but he was pleasant the whole way through. Same goes for dining room staff - they were EXCELLENT. Accurate orders, friendly, even joke-y at times which I like - I don't like "stiff" waiters. No matter what crew member you ran into on the ship, you were greeted with a smile and a "hello", at the very least. Food: Ok now listen...if you're a foodie, and you're expecting knock-your-socks-off cuisine, don't take a cruise. Consider the sheer AMOUNT of food that is being prepared, constantly, for 3,000+ passengers, (plus crew - they eat too!!). The quality and variety of food and dining options onboard the Ruby is excellent, given the amount of food that must be prepared and I can't think of a single meal where I was disappointed. Did it blow me away? No. Was it nicely presented and reasonably tasty? Absolutely. The buffet had a wonderful selection of different foods for every appetite, and all around the ship were choices choices choices for different dining options. To be honest, the only meal I didn't really like was at Sabatini's, but through no fault of their own - I just didn't like anything on the menu. Activities: I wouldn't know...If I wasn't on shore, I was in the casino. ;-) (Actually...I DID catch a few shows and participated in some of the trivia games. The shows were "eh" but the games were fun.) I didn't make use of any of the pools (too crowded and I don't like sitting in the sun). I DO know, based on the Princess Patter that arrived in our room box each night, that you were never lacking for something to do - there appeared to be lots going on all over the place! Ports: Will fill out individual port reviews but let me say that this cruise is PORT-INTENSIVE!! bring walking shoes!! If you're leaving from Venice, DO NOT miss the sailaway - trust me - I am not an early riser but this was absolutely worth getting up for - I almost cried, it was so lovely! We had a blast and we met great people and saw cool stuff - what more do you want??!! UNFORTUNATELY, however...this will be our first and last Princess cruise due to the new smoking policy effective in October. I know this is a hot button issue here so I won't go into it, but I am very sorry to have to cross this cruise line off my list. If you're a non-smoker and considering Ruby, by all means book and ENJOY!! You're in for a real treat! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Embarkation was brutal. The ship was very noisy and our bedroom wall would actually move when our neighbors bumped it. The excursions,for the most part, were fine although over priced. The food was not nearly as good as other ... Read More
Embarkation was brutal. The ship was very noisy and our bedroom wall would actually move when our neighbors bumped it. The excursions,for the most part, were fine although over priced. The food was not nearly as good as other ships. Excursion tickets had to be duplicated because the originals "were lost". All excursions were booked at least a month prior to the cruise. With all of the sophisticated computer capabilities, seems like they could see couples that are traveling alone and not place kids in adjoining rooms. The real problem was the acute gastroenteritis that hit me on day ten and my husband on day eleven. The cost was more than a US emergency room, if you can believe that. Servers, though plentiful in numbers, were scarce when a beverage was needed. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
After having cruised on a no-name line (first cruise), RCI and NCL, we were looking for a cruise that gave us good value. Because we do not seek the cheapest rate - our minimum requirement is a balcony - we want our money to go as far as ... Read More
After having cruised on a no-name line (first cruise), RCI and NCL, we were looking for a cruise that gave us good value. Because we do not seek the cheapest rate - our minimum requirement is a balcony - we want our money to go as far as possible. Our second requirement is that we are able to have dinner by ourselves, just the two of us. We found when we cruised with RCI several years ago that there was no option for that. Now they have introduced an any time dining option. We chose NCL because we felt that we could dine as we wished, but actually found that if we wanted top quality food, we had to pay a premium. On one cruise, our concierge even joked that if we tried the main dining room once, we would never return to it. We read reviews complaining about NCL food - our complaint was different - we always had great dinners, but we had to pay extra. When we did the math, we were dismayed. With what we paid for a suite, we should not have had to pay extra for dinner every night. We were delighted, therefore, that Princess easily allowed us Traditional Dining at a table for two. Then, when we experienced it, we were even more delighted. The quality, imagination and variety of food was excellent. It was difficult to find a night to try the premium restaurants, but when we did, we found Sabatini's even more incredible than the main dining room. Crown Grill was good too. One thing that no one mentions about the food on Princess is the fact that there are such healthy choices for dinner every night. I practically stayed with Lotus Spa choices - which were great - and I did not come home ten pounds heavier than when I left. The ship was more elegant and formal than NCL or RCI. I feel that Princess has managed a wonderful balance between mainstream appeal and refinement. It was very comfortable to be on the ship, whether you were casual or dressed up for a special night. What could be improved? The Internet! There was no WiFi available in my room and I could not access it on my laptop even in public spaces. Based on my previous shipboard experience, I overspent on the Internet package. Accessing the Internet was so constrained and difficult, we did not come close to using up our time. Also, coffee and orange juice in the buffet could be better. The coffee is not as horrible as some reviews say, but NCL does have espresso machines in the buffet - stocked with Lavazza beans! That is a food tip Princess could take from its competitor. The orange juice is also not up to the standard of the rest of the food on board. Best parts? The jazz piano of Ron Coleman in the Adagio Lounge every night before dinner. He is a sophisticated interpreter of standards and it was a joy to have a pre-dinner aperitif listening to him. Also, Hutch - the Port lecturer - gave excellent information that allowed people to get a lot out of going ashore without an excursion. By the way, the ship did offer a GLBT Get-Together every day at 5:15 p.m. My partner and I were the only passengers the first night. We were welcomed warmly by ship crew. We tried two more times, but no other passengers showed up. Kudos to Princess for persevering. We look forward, in the future, to meeting more GLBT cruisers on Princess. All in all, excellent value for the money. Our cabin steward Marlon was efficient and thoughtful and our waiters, Edgar and Marjoe were highly professional and made dinners in the main dining room a "special" enough experience that we did not feel "forced" to use premium dining rooms. When we did go to the premium dining rooms it was for an even more special experience and we were delighted with them. Would we cruise Princess again? Yes. Hopefully again and again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
I chose this cruise because of their ports of call. Istanbul and Athens are always a good option. I have cruised before with Princess and know the drill. Big crowded ships. I traveled with my wife and teen (16) boy. We found this cruise to ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of their ports of call. Istanbul and Athens are always a good option. I have cruised before with Princess and know the drill. Big crowded ships. I traveled with my wife and teen (16) boy. We found this cruise to be very familiar and full of activities. We flew Atlanta Venice on Delta. Old Boeing 767 crowded airplane. Multimedia did not work but since it was an overnight flight, you don't need it. We stayed in an hotel close to Piazzola di Roma which is close to the port. People mover from this piazza to port makes it easy. Since there were like 8 bid ships departing Venice, I would have appreciated more signs from Princess. I found many big and clear from Royal Caribbean. Princess uses small ones with people that are chatting with signs down. After we asked, walked at 90F and pushed crowds found the right way, check in was easy. The Welcome entrance photo was all sweaty for most people. Nice reminder. Crew was warm and welcoming. Since we knew our way to our cabin, it was ok and fast. Since we would touch many ports and many had activities one ship, we chose and inside cabin. Very few time spent inside. Cabin is nice. Nothing special. The overnight on ship at Venice is a good option since you get to have night views of the city. Transportation from the ship is US$15.00 per person. Using Vaporetto is $17 Euro per three. You find that fee is already charged and departs just from side of ship, so use it. Depart from Venice is early in the morning and 2 days of sailing to Athens. Arriving to Athens we were told that since there was a Taxi Drivers strike, no disembark was going to happen. This was very frustrated. There were about 10 cruise ships at Piraeus port. Only American companies did not allow disembark. All the European companies disembarked and some American companies left the port to other cities. Princess just stayed on port with all passengers on board. This meant a 3rd day on ship. I think this was a wrong decision from the captain/commodore. He should have given a Waiver and let us go down. We you travel to other countries, you confront social unrest. Athens is bigger than a Taxi drivers strike. There is subway, walking, etc.. After meeting other cruise passengers at different ports they did not tell any problems at Athens. This is my second port cancellation with Princess. I think they lack decision speed to change ports. We are sad. This was the major trouble we had on the cruise. On the other hand, ship was good and crew was friendly. The most rude are the Maitres at the dinning rooms. They think they own the ship. We chose any time dinner since we are late dinners and arriving from tours at 6-7 pm leaves you little time to change for dinner. Ship was full of families from all ages. Big noisy families from Latin America and Russia. This made a Happy Cruise. Since ship is big, crowds were only at upper pool decks. The rest was OK. Crooner's bar is my favorite at this ship. As for night shows at the Theatre, nothing new or impressing. The same ones that you will see at big cruise lines. For big cities we chose tours on our own. You get much to see this way but have to do some before research in order to make the most of time. At Istanbul (beautiful, friendly City) we used the Tram to Sultanahmet. Two more stops is Grand Bazaar. Tram is just outside from ship terminal. Most museum entrances can be paid using debit/credit card so you don´t need many Turkish Lira. Just for tram. At the Bazaar they accept any currency. Rome we used the ship transport from Civitavecchia to Rome (1:30hrs). They leave you at the Vatican. Close is Metro station (Ottaviano). You can purchase a 1 day use for Subway and buses ($6 Euro per pax) or buy the Rome Pass for 24 hours that will let you use subway, buses and entrance to two museums/ruins avoiding lines $21 Euro. Since we had just 6 hours, we chose the first option. There are Subway stations to any landmark at Rome. Note that on Sundays, Vatican Museums are closed. On Monday, Florence Museums are closed and on Fridays at Istanbul many things are closed. Use this to plan your cruise. Mykonos was so-so. My personal opinion is that Princess can avoid this port and spend more time at big cities like Istanbul and/or Rome. Kushadasi very interesting going to Ephesus and Mary's Shrine. Expect crowds in all the main points of interest at all ports. By crowds I mean big ones. This was expected since it was summer time. August is worst. At Barcelona we disembarked on our own. At ship they try to sell you transportation scaring you about crowds at port. The truth is that cabs are outside of ship and many. Wait is just 5-10 mnts and you don't disembark at 6am. Can wait until 9-10am. Fare to any downtown hotel is $8-$10 Euro per ride 3-4 pax. We used this option and are happy to have made it. We had a quiet breakfast and disembarked OK. Hope this helps. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was probably our thirtieth cruise and our first on the Ruby Princess (we have been on several other Princess ships). We arrived in Venice a day early to allow extra sightseeing and in case of travel problems. A water-taxi ride ... Read More
This was probably our thirtieth cruise and our first on the Ruby Princess (we have been on several other Princess ships). We arrived in Venice a day early to allow extra sightseeing and in case of travel problems. A water-taxi ride ($150USD) to our hotel was interesting, and though expensive, was not outrageous for the four of us and certainly easier then the vaporata(sic). Venice is pretty and we enjoyed St. Marks and the Doges Palace. The food in Venice is very expensive and just okay. Getting to the ship from our hotel was a pain. We took the vaporata to Plaza de Roma and then the people mover to the ship which was docked in the closest berth. It still was a fairly long walk over rough pavement to the actual terminal. It was very hot and they do not make it easy to find out where to leave your luggage. They will tell you in the terminal to drop your luggage about a city block away in a somewhat unmarked building. Once in the terminal the embarkation went very quickly and smoothly. With the exception of the "internet manager?", all of the princess employees we dealt with were friendly, helpful, and truly seemed concerned that we had a nice cruise. It was always very difficult to get connected on the internet as the "too many subscribers" notice kept popping up. The "internet manager" on duty could care less and made it clear that it wasn't his problem as "he only worked here". If I had paid for an internet package, I would have demanded my money back. Our cabins (balcony) were very clean and comfortable and our steward was very professional and always had a smile. We chose anytime dining, which was a good choice as we were always tired after the ports. The service in both dining rooms was very good, with some waiters being better than others, but, the better ones were truly outstanding. We had no complaints about the wait staff, whatsoever. Due to a taxi strike in Athens, the captain did not let anyone leave the ship, so Athens was a complete waste. Costa did allow their passengers off, apparently without incident. I personally disagreed with the captain's decision, but, as he is ultimately responsible for the ship, crew, staff, and passengers, I could not really fault him for playing it safe. We thought the food in the dining room was outstanding, consistently good. Breakfast and lunch were just okay, and we tried to have lunch on shore as much as we could. However, even if the lunches were very good, we would have eaten ashore anyway. Debarkation in Barcelona went smoothly and we spent the night in Barcelona, flying home the next day. Note that the airport bus from Cataluña Plaza was inexpensive and very easy to use. A highlight of Barcelona was watching the Gypsies hustle the tourists with the old pea under the three matchboxes game, it was truly educational. We enjoyed the cruise and felt it was money well spent. We have booked another Princess cruise in December in the Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Having decided to finally return to Europe after many years, it was a cruise that came to mind. We had already done two Princess cruises in the past year to the Caribbean so I knew that Princess was the way to go. The itinerary was what ... Read More
Having decided to finally return to Europe after many years, it was a cruise that came to mind. We had already done two Princess cruises in the past year to the Caribbean so I knew that Princess was the way to go. The itinerary was what finalized the decision..they offerd the most time in the most interesting places on a cruise that is very port intensive. We flew from Houston to Newark to Frankfurt to Venice...lucky to go first class in the new lie down seats on Continental...all was great until we got to Frankfurt.....terrible place to connect. They post inaccurate gate info and the airport is huge; we almost missed the Lufthansa connection to Venice and that was also a joke....no boarding order. just cattle rushing the gate...really funny. Spent two days in Venice prior to boarding the ship. Stayed in Mestre at the Hotel Tritone strictly for thr convenience of not hving to haul all the luggage over the bridges and canals...worked out well as Venice was extremely hot and humid. Mestre is not exactly a tourist attraction but has the easiest access to the port. Boarding the Ruby was simple. Princess has this process down to a science and it is always easy....very little waiting. Checked out the cabin and then headed for lunch and then the shuttle back into Venice. The shuttle is easy and convenient..took the people mover back over to Piazza Roma to buy some wine and then just settled in to watch the water taxis hurrying passengers to the ship. We always get a mini suite midship and this was no exception. Our only complaint was the cabin steward ( Edgardo ). He was very lax and almost disinterested in his job...Previous Princess stewards have been fantastic We asked Edgardo for an extra ice bucket and he asked " why"? Well, that is not his place to ask...maybe we like a lot of ice. The only other request during our trip was for him to bring some lotion. We use mainly our own toiletries and had run out of lotion....had to ask twice. There were several nights that we told him to skip the turn down as it was late and still not done...had to ask repeatedly for a room service morning ticket for the door. Other than that the dining room staff is very attentive . We took the Ultimate Ship Tour on the last sea day. It is $150.per person and worth every penny. It was great to meet Commodore Romano and spend time on the Bridge having him answer so many questions. Met all the ship officers of each division...loved going throught the galley and seeing how they organize all the food, bakery, etc. It is quite amazing. In return, we got a lovely album of 8x10 photos posed with the various ship officers, the big thick Princess robes, a Pricess chef jacket, personalized stationary and a wonderful experience. The itinerary was busy...our favorite place was Turkey. Kusadasi and Istanbul need to be revisited. In Livorno, we did our own trip to Pisa and then on to Lucca via train. It is easy and Lucca is a great alternative to Florence if you have already been there..we rented bikes and biked arond the city and the walled enclosure. Visiting Pompeii was a real highlight of the trip. It was overcast and a bit drizzly, so it was cool and the photos came out perfectly. The only downside to our itinerary was AThens...ther was a taxi strike that day and we were not allowed to leave the ship. Costa lines right next to us allowed their passengers to disembark. It was frustrating having to stay onboard and miss the great sights. What was puzzling to me was that they knew about the strike ahead of time and should have made a different stop as I know the Celebrity line did that. My taxi driver that we had booked in Athens sent me an email the previous day telling me that our tour was cancelled because of the strike so I am certain that the ship also knew. All in all, a fantastic itinerary and wonderful trip. We visited the casino and met our old friend, Marek, who works in the casino..had met him on the Caribbean Princess earlier this year. What a nice coincidence. We never made it to the shows because we had such busy active days..In the evening, there was dinner and then enjoying wine on our balcony as we sailed away to a different place. Anytime dining is our favorite way to go....we enjoyed one formal night but the other one we just dined at the Cafe Caribe...usually going outside to watch the ships wake..the water is so blue and clear , it is a totally relaxing way to end the day. So I give Pricess a gold star for another wonderful trip. We will be looking to the Caribbean in the next few months as those are our favorites for the great beaches. Highly recommend Princess!!! In closing, if you are adults and do not wish to be bothered with a lot of noise from kids running around, then do this cruise anytime but the summer. There were so many children and the parents do not discipline them..constant running in the cabin over head and we heard this from so many other cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
After reading a few reviews about Ruby Princess. I was ready for a 'so-so' experience. No so! The best vacation my wife and I ever had. The crew, the food, the cabin and the ship were all great. I have no complaints about any ... Read More
After reading a few reviews about Ruby Princess. I was ready for a 'so-so' experience. No so! The best vacation my wife and I ever had. The crew, the food, the cabin and the ship were all great. I have no complaints about any part of our vacation. You do get charged for almost all beverages. Coffee, tea, ice tea are free, but you pay for all alcohol. Since my wife and I do not drink, this was not an issue. We paid to use the 'Sanctuary' the quiet, no children section for sunning, which I was fine with. Paying for the few of Princess's 'add ons' works to my advantage. The staff was just wonderful; kind, professional, well groomed and helpful. Our wait staff in the dining room was also great. I'm a caterer and have been in the food service business my whole life. The food was excellent. The ship is feeding 3000+ guests 3 meals a day, a feat in itself, the food was well prepared, great selections and high quality. Don't miss the afternoon tea. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our dream cruise. 30 years of marriage and a wish to see the countries of the Mediterranean. The Ruby Princess was unlike our other Princess cruises . . . which were all good and nothing to complain about. This time was different. ... Read More
This was our dream cruise. 30 years of marriage and a wish to see the countries of the Mediterranean. The Ruby Princess was unlike our other Princess cruises . . . which were all good and nothing to complain about. This time was different. Don't get me wrong. There were a LOT of goods, but customer service is broken on the Ruby and it needs fixing. First, the good things: Our luggage was lost and we didn't receive it until Athens (three days into the cruise). That may sound bad, but the good thing is Princess stayed on the airlines and kept us informed daily. Not only that, but they washed our clothes for free every day and and offered free formal wear should we desire to go to the formal night. We were not the only ones who did not receive their luggage (it was a BAD trip for the airlines) but Princess treated us as if we were. Our steward Jack was unbelievable. I wish I could have packed him in my luggage and brought him home. He was always available and whatever we asked for was immediately provided. AND he ALWAYS had a smile on his face (and some days it couldn't have been easy to do that!). Most of our tour guides were excellent, especially in Rome, Ephesus and Istanbul. We had two who were awful-we submitted comments and Princess gave us 20% back on one and 15% back on the other. However, BELIEVE Princess when they describe the excursions and they say they are physically challenging. Folks, they MEAN it. These places are NOT the USA. We are talking ruins, thousands of years old in some cases and they aren't going to suddenly start paving over the uneven, rocky paths. There are NO handicapped ramps, no handicap access, no paved sidewalks, etc. People do fall, they do break bones. I sprained my ankle at the beginning of the trip and I am fit and active. DO NOT go on the excursions if you are not able. You only hurt yourself and hold back the other tour members. Ryan and Jason of the cruise director staff were phenomenal. Be careful playing trivia with them. They do not give away anything. You EARN your "crappy ship prizes!" Disembarkation was excellent! The best we have ever experienced. Off the ship, picked up our luggage in the terminal, walked straight to a Delta counter set up there, checked in, walked out to the bus, drove to the airport, went through security and poof! we were at our gate ready to head home. We couldn't believe how easy it was. The bad: Food was mediocre at best and we don't go on cruises for the food so to say it was mediocre says a lot. Cold in the buffet on many occasions and unappetizing in the dining room (I had one decent meal- turkey pot pie - in the dining room). As mentioned in a previous review, the deck staff is AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL. My husband and I got to the point where we joked that we would have to trip someone to get service. All I wanted was a Diet Coke-they would see me waiting and literally turn their heads to not make eye contact with me. We couldn't get orange juice in the morning for breakfast in the buffet, I couldn't get chocolate milk at night (we don't have that-yes, you do, I just had it last night-no we don't) and on the last day when we disembarked NO ONE would wait on us, period. I even had a waiter snap at me during afternoon tea when all I said was "she (the lady witting next to me) would like some more tea as well." Lack of attention and rudeness was systemic throughout the dining rooms, buffet, etc., but the deck was the worst. We would see the crew members standing around talking, laughing, joking. Anything but waiting on us. I am not a demanding person. I always say please and thank you. I was never given the opportunity because they simply looked the other way. We have NEVER had this experience on Princess before. Usually they almost knock you down to be nice and helpful. Not on the Ruby. I filled out the email review when I got home and asked to have someone from Princess call me because we were so stunned at the appalling lack of courtesy and concerned with the wait staff. Princess did call (after I left a message saying I would like to talk to them BEFORE I wrote my review)and we discussed the issues stated above. I believe Princess was concerned as well and I hope they will make changes. This is not the Princess I have come to know and love. Will I cruise with them again? Yes, absolutely, because I believe the Ruby to be an aberration and not indicative of the entire cruise line. However, you need to be aware of what you might face and make sure the supervisors know of your concerns. If I had it to do over again, I would have asked for a supervisor and made my concerns known right then. Perhaps changes could have been made immediately and so many of us would not have been upset. It is just sad that our one in a lifetime trip was marred because of the wait staff. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Ruby Princess May 28, 2011 from Venice to Barcelona, 12 nights My husband, 59, our son, 16 and I, 57, all frequent cruisers, second time on Princess. Cabin E420, outside. We were accompanied by four other adults. Arrived at ... Read More
Ruby Princess May 28, 2011 from Venice to Barcelona, 12 nights My husband, 59, our son, 16 and I, 57, all frequent cruisers, second time on Princess. Cabin E420, outside. We were accompanied by four other adults. Arrived at Venice airport the day of the cruise and used the ATM to get euro. Paid 5 euro to take the bus to Venice and paid 1 euro to take the People Mover to near the Ruby Princess. After getting off the People Mover, it's a bit of a walk on semi-rough ground to get to the ship. I first had to drop my checked baggage at a white tent and then walk over to the embarkation building. Once inside, it was a very easy process to get on the ship, probably the easiest ever, no lines. Got on board around 5pm and the stateroom was ready. On my bed were our tour tickets and a boat ticket for each of us that we could use that day to go between the ship and St. Mark's square. We could use it all day and it costs $15 each. If these tickets were not used, we were to return them to the Guest Services for full credit. If we had gotten on board earlier, we would have used them for our sightseeing. My brother and his wife arrived early that day by train and when they exited the train station, there was a Ruby Princess man there collecting luggage and taking it to the ship for $5 each. Saved them the trouble of storing the luggage and gathering it later and getting it to the ship. That was a good and unexpected perk. We met with the other four members of our group on board. We all ate with Anytime Dining and had dinner that night in the Michelangelo or DaVinci dining room. We ate there almost all dinners and breakfasts and some lunches. We made reservations on the first formal night only. Only one night did we have to wait about 30 minutes. All other times we just walked in and were seated immediately. We sailed away the next morning and had the lifeboat drill with no problems. We then had two days at sea. There were lots of activities and they were varied. Our son was one of very few teens on board. The few times he went to the teen center, he was the only one there. There were a variety of events but he mostly played the video games. We had one more day at sea before Naples. Our cabin was an outside with obstructed view but the lifeboat was very low and we had a good view out the window. Our steward was very good and the cabin was always tidy. I sent two tux shirts out to be ironed and they came back on time for the first formal night. I used the self-serve laundry four times. There were four washers and dryers on our floor. Sometimes I had to wait to use them and sometimes not. The change machine was empty twice. I got change in the casino and the casino didn't seem pleased about that. I found out later that I could have called Guest Services from the laundry and they would have sent someone there to help me. I brought my own soap but they also sold it for $1.25. Wash and dry were each $2. Washing took almost one hour. There were four ironing boards and irons. I say remove two ironing boards and put in one more washer and dryer. I never saw even two irons being used at the same time. Food was usually very good. I wasn't excited about the turkey pot pie as it was bland and warm. One of the steaks my son ordered was very tough and stringy. The lobster was very good. The shows in the Princess Theater were very nice, there was always plenty of room there. We took the behind the scene tour of the theater. There was a cooking demo with the Executive Chef and the Maitre D. Then we had a tour of the kitchen. We took ship tours of Delos which is at the Mykonos port and Effeses. We took private tours in Athens, Istanbul and Rome. We stayed in Livorno and Monte Carlo and walked around. The tours we took with Princess were very nice. When we disembarked in Barcelona, we took a cab to our hotel, the TRYP Apolo. The cost was less than 12 eruo for three people and three bags in the trunk. The hotel was not very far away. We were happy with the hotel room but would skip the optional breakfast next time. The clerks were a bit heavy on trying to sell us tours. The location was nice for walking to Las Ramblas. The next day we took the subway and aerobus to the airport. It was drizzling and the elevators to the subway were ALL broken. Total per person was less than 7 euro. If you can handle your own bags, this is a good way to get to the airport. There is one drop off at the Barcelona Airport so no need to figure out the terminal. Our friends took a taxi for two people for 32 euro to the airport earlier in the day. We all found Barcelona to be a lovely city. All drivers stopped to let us cross streets. We were warned about pickpockets but felt safe in that regards. We did take precautions. However, a woman appeared to try and take my brother's suitcase when we were getting off the aerobus at the airport. After my brother stopped her, she got off the bus without any luggage. Why would she be taking his suitcase if she didn't have one to begin with unless she was stealing it. On the subway, three teenage girls were pushed off the subway when someone accused them of being pickpockets. Port information that I think should be different. Most problems with ports is getting out of the port if not taking a Princess tour. Rome's port had a free shuttle to the port entrance since our ship docked so far away. It should start earlier in the morning. We had a private tour and needed to make the train to get us to St. Peter's. We made it but barely. From the port entrance, we still had a bit of a walk and got our tickets with minutest to spare. The problem with Livorno is similar. Walking through the port is not allowed because of large equipment moving around. A shuttle into town is 5 euro for unlimited rides all day. There was also a direct shuttle to the train station. That one started much later then it should have. I recommend two in the morning, one soon after docking. Instead, there was just one to the station and it was barely in time to get tickets and onto the train in time. Crowds were overwhelming in Athens and Rome, something has to be done. We celebrated our 25th anniversary on the cruise. Princess provided a door sign and balloons and a cake at dinner. It was very nice. Disembarkation was a breeze. We chose self-serve and just walked off with all of our luggage. Taxis were plentiful at the Barcelona port and we were soon at our hotel. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
The Ship: The Ruby was launched in 2008 and still looks new. This ship includes the International Cafe, 3 main dining rooms for traditional and anytime dining, the Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe for buffet dining, Vines for wine and cheese, ... Read More
The Ship: The Ruby was launched in 2008 and still looks new. This ship includes the International Cafe, 3 main dining rooms for traditional and anytime dining, the Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe for buffet dining, Vines for wine and cheese, a Pizzeria, Trident Grill for burgers and hot dogs, Scoops Ice Cream bar, plus Crown Grill and Sabatini's specialty restaurants. There are 5 bars/clubs/lounges. The library has plenty of books to borrow plus some games. There are 3 pools (one adult only near the spa), the Sanctuary for relaxing poolside, a fitness room, a spa, a theater, plus Movies Under the Stars (MUTS). We have been spoiled by the Princess Sun Class ships where the promenade is all on the 7th floor, whereas the Ruby Princess has the promenade on the 8th floor at the front of the ship, requiring stairs up and down to walk around the deck. I did not schedule a spa treatment on this sailing, but loved that I was still allowed to use the spa steam room, pool, showers, and locker room without charge. Stateroom: We had a balcony cabin. It's really nice to spend hours during sea days there. We had also the special dinner on the balcony which was really romantic! Entertainment: Sam, the Cruise Director, kept the schedule full with so many things to do it was difficult to stay idle for long. She is very friendly and nice. Love her jokes. The theater had the usual Welcome Aboard Show on the first evening. There was also "Stardust", "Broadway Ballroom", and "Once Upon a Dream". The comedians, were excellent. We went to see the Magician/Illusionist David Cats, he was simply great, the best show so far. The Orchestra in The Piazza was very cool. The Ports: We stopped at Kusadasi, Istanbul, Mykonos (love it), Naples, Rome, Livorno (Florence) and Barcelona. We loved every single moment of our cruise. All Ports are incredible, unique. Istanbul, Rome, Florence. Very Happy. The Seas: no rocky sea at all!!! Which was great ;) Disembarkation: Princess has really improved the disembarkation process. Instead of everyone crowding the public areas and stairs, passengers are assigned one of the public lounges based on the scheduled departure. When our group was called, it was fast and easy to exit. Our luggage was waiting for us and getting through customs was uneventful. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We've traveled on Princess many times but have never experiences such great and awful service in a single cruise. High points: Chef's Table: Fantastic and feel honored to have been selected. The food ... Read More
We've traveled on Princess many times but have never experiences such great and awful service in a single cruise. High points: Chef's Table: Fantastic and feel honored to have been selected. The food and wine just kept coming with the Maitre D' and Chef being such wonderful hosts. Being recognized by a bartender who was on the Diamond during last year's trip to Alaska on the Diamond - Excellent memory and great service. Production shows - Best I've seen on any ship, great vocalists and dancers. A peticular deck waitress that helped me make fresh (Not cold) popcorn for my wife during MUTS. She did comment that making another batch of popcorn would make her shift end 30 minutes late, but insisted on helping me even after I told her to not bother. That's excellent service from a great employee - it's not her fault the Ruby shuts down the popcorn machine 10 minutes after the start of the late movie - a poor decision by her boss. Low points: As mentioned in other reviews, the Deck Staff is just awful. It's clear many do not want to be there due to the complete lack of warmth and few smiles. In a particular incident, My Wife and I sat at barstools patiently for several minutes with cruise card in hand waiting to be served. Neither bartender acknowledged us, we still figured one would help us after finished with other passengers. To our amazement, (Now with an empty bar) both proceeded to start cleaning up the bar area while completely ignoring us. Eventually I went downstairs to another bar and reported this to the deck supervisor. He immediately apologized saying he saw us upstairs and assumed we were being served. Then mentioned they cannot always pick great employees and that this was apparently a bad apple of the bunch. While our first trip to the Crown Grill was excellent, It cannot be said of our second visit. After 1 hour and 45 minutes we were still waiting for our steaks. Finally my 75 yr. old Mom became too tired and left leaving with only a dinner salad and bread as the night's meal. Another couple celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary was in the same situation. They were still waiting after almost 2 hours and purchasing a very nice bottle of wine from the sommelier, which was now empty without a meal to enjoy. When this was brought up to a manager, he offered to waive the $25 fee, but gave both tables a hard time when asked for consideration on the wine. Finally after waiting another 20 minutes for a higher level manager did they agree to provide us a bottle the next evening. This points to an issue we noticed many times: staff level employees are not empowered to make even the smallest decisions or corrections in favor of a passenger - everything is a big deal and requires one or more supervisiors. An example: My wife ordered a bloody Mary she didn't care for - at any restaurant we've visited, it would be changed out for her drink of choice by any bartender - no questions asked. On the Ruby it took 2 different supervisors to make that decision, that's ridicules and very poor customer service. My overall impression: long term Princess employees have pride in their jobs and enjoy working with the public. The newer ones in many cases come from countries not heavily recruited by cruise lines in the past. The percentage of employees from India and the Caribbean have gone down, being replaced by Eastern Europeans (Previous Soviet Bloc countries) who's culture is simply different - to a degree lacking friendliness and warmth we consider to be essential to good customer service. Does this mean we'll never cruise Princess again? Certainly not, but it points to some disturbing trends Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Arrived in Venice on May 28th and embarkation went smoothly and quickly. Our cabin steward was the very best. He anticipated our every need. The balcony was large with 4 lounge chairs, but the room seemed small compared to other cruise ... Read More
Arrived in Venice on May 28th and embarkation went smoothly and quickly. Our cabin steward was the very best. He anticipated our every need. The balcony was large with 4 lounge chairs, but the room seemed small compared to other cruise lines in same category. The bathroom was a closet, hardly enough room to turn around in. We had anytime dining and the first night set the mood for the rest of the trip. We were in the Da Vinci and the waiter tried to force us to buy wine. After telling him we didn't want wine with dinner for the 4Th time, he finally gave up. The rest of the meal he was very condescending and we ate the rest of the evening meals in the Michelangelo room. The food was "hit and miss" The Prime Rib was great, but most other nights is was just passable. We had to send several items back because they were either cold or just barely warm. The service on the deck was for the most part very bad. Some waiters would avoid eye contact so they wouldn't have to wait on you. We ask one for coffee and he never came back. The food in the Horizon and Caribe "cafeteria" was passable. If you got there late at night it was not edible. The wait staff tended to be arrogant The coffee was bad. The only good coffee you could get was from room service. The room service was good and prompt. The Ship's tours were very well organized. The tour director was very entertaining. Choose the tours carefully as they can be very exhausting. Some as long as 4 hours of walking. Three nights we were too tired to even go to dinner. We chose Princess because of the Ports and were not disappointed on that score. We will definitely go back to Celebrity for the service and the food. They have Princess beat "Hands Down". Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Where do I start? I researched the different cruse lines and itineraries a long time before deciding on the Grand Mediterranean cruise on the Ruby Princess. I had sailed on Princess (the Crown) before and had no complaints. My other ... Read More
Where do I start? I researched the different cruse lines and itineraries a long time before deciding on the Grand Mediterranean cruise on the Ruby Princess. I had sailed on Princess (the Crown) before and had no complaints. My other favorite cruise line is Norwegian, but I didn't like their Mediterranean itinerary. I booked a balcony stateroom on the starboard side (R605) which was the same one I had on the Crown earlier. It's convenient to eating being one deck below the buffets and close to the mid elevators to take me to the main dining rooms. We decided to book the May 28th cruise from Venice to Barcelona because we thought the weather would be a little cooler at that time. We planned for a couple of days pre-cruise in Venice (probably should have done 3) and a couple of days post-cruise in Paris, before flying home. After seeing some of the sites in Barcelona on the way to the airport post-cruise, we should have planned on a couple of days there as well. In a nutshell, this was a wonderful cruise and I look forward to sailing on the Ruby again! I have absolutely no complaints about the food or the crew. There was food available somewhere around the clock, lots of options, and very tasty. We ate primarily in the Michelangelo dining room, but also frequented both the Horizon and Caribe buffets, the International Cafe, the Trident Grill (for hotdogs), Sabatini's ($20 service charge), and the Crown Grill ($25 service charge). We are early eaters and tried to be in the dining room when it opened. No problem getting a table for 2 by the window at that time. The ship is practically new and is beautifully decorated! Always something going on in the Piazza. We only attended 2 shows at the Theater, but they were enjoyable, especially the Venice Chamber Orchestra the night we were on the ship in Venice. Our stateroom was comfortable and had plenty of room for our needs. After hanging up our clothes in the closet and putting clothes on the shelves, the luggage slipped out of the way under the bed. There are 3 US 115 volt outlets in the room, one in the bathroom, one on the desk, and another behind the TV. The TV worked great and had several news and movie channels. We never had a chance to watch a movie under the stars because after some of the excursions, we were too tired to stay up for a movie (we are in our mid to upper 60's). Ports and Excursions: Venice is a place we never expected to visit in our lifetime but had always dreamed about. It exceeded our expectations and we would love to go back again. We stayed at the Saturnia Hotel booked thru Princess which was within easy walking to St Marks Square and the Rialto Bridge. Athens was disappointing. The city is dirty with grafitti written on every surface you can see. The crowds are huge around the Acropolis and climbing the many steps to reach it was treacherous. I would hate to try it when it is wet. The Temple of Poseidon is also treacherous to walk around, but the views from there are some of the most stunning of the cruise. By the way, all of our excursions were Princess excursions. Kusadasi (Ephesus) was enjoyable. Visiting the Virgin Mary Shrine should not be missed. Istanbul is a beautiful city. It was not what we were expecting. People were friendly and the mosques were beautiful. Mykonos is a quiet, pretty island with lots of shops to visit. We didn't do an excursion there. We tendered onto the island and walked around some of the shops and sat on the sea wall to enjoy the beautiful clear waters. Naples - we took the Amalfi Coast drive and a visit to Pompeii. The Amalfi drive was a great experience with beautiful views of the sea and all kinds of flowers along the route. Pompeii was another ruin, but interesting because it had been so well preserved. Rome is a must see if you haven't been there. We visited the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peters Basilica, all of which were majestic and beautiful. However, the crowds were huge and we were exhausted at the end of the day. Livorno - we opted to just visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa, since that is a place we've always seen pictures of is is a very famous landmark. It's still leaning. And after the long day in Rome, we needed a little relaxation time that afternoon. We didn't go ashore in Monte Carlo, but we enjoyed looking at it from our balcony. Barcelona we visited with a tour from the ship to the airport. Many beautiful and interesting sights there. And by the way, the Barcelona airport is the nicest one we've ever been in. Flying is a pain! The next time we fly across the ocean, we're going business or first class, no matter what it costs. The bigger the plane, the smaller the seats in coach and less leg room. And the anxiety concerning making connections and wondering whether your luggage will be there when you are is huge on a person of our age. We made all of our connections, but one only by seconds after a flight was delayed. One of our bags didn't make it on the plane with us from Barcelona to Paris and we didn't see it for about 24 hours. This was a great cruise and I can't say enough about how much we enjoyed it. We got to see so much and visit so many countries and cities. It's hard to come up with any complaints. I guess the only problem we had was with fellow passengers who insist on smoking. I think smoking should be banned from cruise ships unless there can be an isolated area away from other passengers where smokers can only pollute themselves and not cause health issues to others. Our forward neighbor would come out on his balcony frequently and light up, causing us to have to go back inside and not enjoy the use of our balcony. Read Less
Sail Date May 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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