25 Venice Princess Ruby Princess Cruise Reviews

We really enjoyed this cruise – primarily because of the interesting ports and the tours we took. This cruise was unique because so much time was spent off ship. This cruise was more about the ports and onshore experiences rather than ... Read More
We really enjoyed this cruise – primarily because of the interesting ports and the tours we took. This cruise was unique because so much time was spent off ship. This cruise was more about the ports and onshore experiences rather than shipboard experiences. We will always remember the things we saw. We are late 50’s and early 60’s, Platinum cruisers on Princess and Carnival. Our last cruise was a 15 Day Panama Canal repositioning cruise aboard the Carnival Miracle. This cruise has been on our “to do” list for some time and we booked it for the great price and ports of call offered. It was a 12 day Grand Mediterranean cruise departing from Venice with ports of call at Athens, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Mykonos, Naples, Rome, Florence, and Toulon ending at Barcelona. The Ruby Princess is a beautiful ship and was in great condition. It was very easy for us to find our way around. The crew is great. Our cabin was Dolphin 218 – a mini-suite with an uncovered balcony. We used our balcony very little during this cruise but the extra room was greatly appreciated and worth the cost. Our Cabin Steward was Catharine and she was wonderful. We bought air transportation through Princess Air but probably won’t do so again. Three weeks before departure our flights were changed to less favorable flights. Cruise Critic’s Cruise Air board was a very useful source of information about the Paris and Barcelona airports. Upon arrival at Venice, there was no immigration or customs check. We used the Princess transfers which went very smoothly and thankfully, we didn’t have to wait for the bus to be completely full. Embarkation went very quickly and we were on the ship in less than 30 minutes. We spent the afternoon in Venice and took the evening gondola ride and serenade offered by Princess. It was expensive but an excursion we’ll always remember. Venice is a quaint, charming, and picturesque city but a city that dumps its sewage directly into its main attraction. Muster drill was held the following morning at 845am and the ship set sail shortly. The departure from Venice was spectacular. The weather the next two days was windy and overcast and would be that way most of the cruise. It was quite cold in Florence. We took Princess shore excursions in every port. Six of them were all day tours that included a lunch. We enjoyed all of them. Our tour guides were excellent and the food was good. Most of the tours required quite a bit of walking. A couple of the tours were late returning due to traffic so it was comforting to know the ship would be waiting on us. Several times we had to wait for people that showed up late from “on your own time”. During several tours people just disappeared and were left. I don’t know how they found their way back to the ship. The most irritating episode was at the completion of our Rome tour. The missing persons were crew members. We must have waited 30 minutes waiting for approval to depart without them. When we returned to the ship, the two were already in line and laughing. They had taken another tour bus instead. Wendi and the entire shore excursion staff were very helpful. Jet lag and long excursions made this a tiring rather than relaxing cruise. Several of our excursions met as early as 645am in the Princess Theater. 7am to 730am was average. As tiring as it was, it was a very satisfying experience. We really liked Dan Styne, the Cruise Director, and his staff. They were very personable and entertaining. All the production shows were great and well attended. Shows were scheduled for 7, 8, and 9pm meaning those of us with late seating could go to the 7pm show. This helped tremendously considered that some excursions met in the Princess Theater at 645am. There was plenty of musical entertainment throughout the ship in the evenings. The entertainment was the best we have seen on a ship in some time. We had dinner in the Botticelli Dining Room – late seating. Our waiters were Art and Bryan and they were very good. We thought the food was very good although sometimes we had difficulty finding something interesting on the menu. There were several evenings I almost opted for the “always available” hamburger. We requested a table for four but were seated at a table for six. We dined by ourselves during 10 of 12 nights. There were numerous vacant tables and couples dining by themselves at large tables. We ordered room service four or five times for breakfast on early tour days. The first time it was 20 minutes late – outside the 30 minute delivery window. Three other times it was early – only once did it arrive within the 30 minute delivery window. Breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Court was chaotic. The Horizon Court on the Ruby seems to be approximately the same size as on smaller ships such as the Grand and Golden and always seemed crowded during breakfast and lunch. The routine was . . . look for a table and if you are lucky enough to find one it normally needs clearing and cleaning so you have to find someone to clean it; then have one person save the table while the other goes through the line and then look for someone to serve you drinks. The week before the cruise, I dined at a restaurant in Iola, Kansas and its salad bar was comparable to what I saw in the Horizon Court. Princess’s salad bar offerings have declined greatly over the last 10 years. I am thinking that a cruise ship should be able to run a buffet as effectively as say - the Golden Corral. We filled out the forms for Future Cruise Credit – ordering two for each of us and left them at the office. Several days later we received our letters and noticed we had only been sold one each. We went back and talked with the Future Cruise representative and she told us she would take care of it. She didn’t take care of it. This is the first time I’ve been on a cruise ship and they didn’t want my money. Princess Air scheduled our departing flight from Barcelona at 955am. I had concerns but they assured me it would be no problem. We were told to meet at 6am on debarkation morning. The Horizon court was open for full breakfast at 5am but only one person was there serving drinks. Princess needs to rethink how we get our drinks at the buffet. Thankfully, there were plenty of juices available in the VIP lounge that morning. We were off the ship by 610am and at the airport by 650am. There were no customs or immigration checks at Barcelona and no problem making that early flight. We used the Princess transfers at Barcelona. The European porters do a very professional and efficient job of handling baggage. At Venice, they picked our luggage up in the airport lobby and they delivered it to the airport lobby at Barcelona. Aside from our issues with the Horizon Court, we really enjoyed this cruise. We have reservations on the Ruby for a 12 day British Isle cruise in 2014. However, the price is nearly double what we paid for this cruise and we aren’t certain it makes sense to pay that much for a port intensive cruise. Our next cruise is on the Carnival Legend out of Tampa on January 5th.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
I have mixed feelings about this cruise. We booked it because of the all the great ports and the slamming airfare deal that Princess Air gave us. But, a month or so before the cruise, we are informed that we now have a five (5) hour ... Read More
I have mixed feelings about this cruise. We booked it because of the all the great ports and the slamming airfare deal that Princess Air gave us. But, a month or so before the cruise, we are informed that we now have a five (5) hour layover in Germany. Princess Easy Air had us walking across the tarmac 5 different times and FAR away from our next connecting flights. In this case, Princess Easy Air was NOT EASY and we probably won't be booking anything other than a direct flight with Princess Air again. We arrived in Venice the evening before the cruise and took the airport bus to Piazza Roma. We stayed at the Hotel Arlecchino. It is perfectly located near Piazza Roma and the People Mover that takes you to the cruise ships . We booked and got a corner room with a double canal view. Very nice hotel, full of Venetian charm! . This hotel was clean, affordable and the staff was VERY helpful and welcoming. The rooms here are small but cozy and the included breakfast was good. We would definitely stay here again. Embarkation was a breeze, as usual, this is something that Princess has down to a fine art. We were checked in and dropping our bags off in our cabin in about 15 minutes. The Ruby Princess is a beautiful ship and is in great shape. The crew works hard to keep her clean and shiny! The crew on this ship was great. Everyone we came in contact with was very friendly and welcoming. I have to say, that this may be the best cruise for "service with a smile" that we have ever had. And the entertainment was absolutely the best ever! Now onto the downright BAD. The food on this cruise was terrible. We ate in the Crown Grill four (4) times trying to avoid the dining rooms. The food in the Horizon Court was even worse than the dining room. We ate onshore or ate hot dogs and pizza most of the time. We weren't trying to sneak booze back onboard with us, we were bringing back food! I filled out our Princess feedback surveys and complained about the food. I think they've taken the cutbacks too far in this area. I was searching the menu each night for the entree that I thought sounded the least offensive. If we had been in a regular restaurant, I would have walked out without ordering. Ox -tails and floppy potatoes??? Have you ever seen them on a menu (anywhere) before? I don’t think I’m a food snob and I understand that food is a very subjective area… but they took the NY Strip off of the “anytime” menu and replaced it with a hamburger. A hamburger for dinner and you still want me to change out of my blue jeans before I come to the dining room? Hamburgers are for lunch and I don’t have any clue when Ox-tails and floppy potatoes are for. The bar has been lowered. Ok, enough of my food rant. We attended the Cruise Critic meeting and met all the wonderful people we had been writing to online. It’s so much fun, finally putting a face to the name! We also attended a wedding on board. Well, not really a wedding, they were already married. It was a recommitment of their vows. The Captain “re-married” them in a very nice ceremony. Had a good time, glad I went. PORTS: This was our 2nd and/or 3rd time to these ports, so we didn't really do the big touristy stuff this time around. Venice was amazing as usual. We explored away from the tourist areas and found ourselves walking through the parks with the locals on a Sunday afternoon. Great day! In Athens, we joined other CC members for a tour to the Corinth Canal and Ancient Corinth. We also stopped in Athens at the Parthenon and the Olympic Stadium. We ended the day with an amazing view of the Acropolis and Parthenon at sunset, seen from another hill in Athens. Istanbul and the Grand Bazaar were awesome! I bought some very nice pashmina scarves (at least they are tagged pashmina) and think I got a pretty good deal. If you don't like to haggle on prices, just walk the bazaar, don't shop it. The scarf price started out at 20 Euros each. I ended up paying $7.50 American. I bought a couple pair of silver earrings, a nice Turkish tile to frame and a couple of woven tote bags and make-up bags. So many neat shops to browse! We got to go up to the 2nd level of the Bazaar and see where they filmed the latest James Bond movie scenes. Pretty neat. Istanbul is a very cosmopolitan city, don't worry about wandering around by yourself. Take a good map and hop the tram to see an amazing city. Naples was a great day. We took the tram to the train, to get to Herculaneum. Herculaneum is amazing, smaller, but much more complete than Pompeii. Then, we took the train back in to the subway stop. We took the subway to the Naples Archaeological Museum. This really is a top museum, but, I was a little miffed that so many of their ancient mosaics were currently on loan to other museums. Mykonos was just a wander around the city day. It was too cold to eat a gelato on the beach, so we just searched the back streets for Petros. When we found him, he boldly posed for us. What a ham, he loves the attention! In Rome, we set up a tour with other CC members to see some of the "different" tourist areas in the city. We traveled the Appian Way to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, went to the Castel Sant Angelo, saw the Pantheon, got some great view of the forum and other monuments. But, the most unusual thing we did was to visit the Church of the Immaculate Conception where the bones of 4000 Capuchin Monks are decoratively arranged on the walls and ceilings. Honestly, this place is jaw dropping! Florence was cold…very cold. (This is the chance you take traveling in November) So, I had to buy a pair of gloves…Italian leather with cashmere lining, naturally. :) We visited Santa Croce Basilica and there was a huge Christmas market in the square in front of the church. Countries from all over Europe were represented in the market. They were selling hot mulled wine and it made the weather seem much more bearable. We had a great day wandering the streets of Venice. Barcelona and the end of the cruise. We stayed 2 nights here before we flew home. This has become one of my favorite cities. We wandered around and soaked up all the Christmas displays, street musicians and holiday markets set up in the squares. We learned the "interesting" customs of this area of Spain. The Caganer or “the crapper” was a hot item and was sold everywhere...as was the Tió de Nadal, or pooping log. Who knew? Google these two items, it’s hysterical! All the weird Christmas customs aside. The city was lit and fully decorated for Christmas and we walked it day and night, stopping in for Tapas and wine all along the way. La Boqueria was about a block from our hotel and we literally ate our way through this massive food market, not once, not twice, but three times! We had the best food of the whole trip here. I’d like to spend more time in Spain and explore some of the smaller cities and towns. There you have it, great ports, great ship, great crew…terrible food.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We went on the Ruby Princess a few weeks ago, The ship has some good features which were different from other ships such as the Cinema under the stars. The entertainment was excellent with top quality shows and a brilliant entertainment ... Read More
We went on the Ruby Princess a few weeks ago, The ship has some good features which were different from other ships such as the Cinema under the stars. The entertainment was excellent with top quality shows and a brilliant entertainment director. The food on the other hand was not up to standard, we found poor choice and quality, and rarely found we had a hot meal. Variety was not order of the day and found only mashed potates was our only choice on most days which look very unappietizing. We also for that breakfast was tasteless, greasy and of poor quality with strange selections such as lasagne, yes lasagne, noodles and soup . the cruise was geared up to its american guests and took little heed to the fact that it also had guest from europe. The formal dining rooms were pleasant enough and service varied from dining room to dining room, but wine was expensive as was drinks of any kind. The itinerary was good however, although on the last day we were required to vacte our rooms by 8.00am and were transported to the airport being dropped off at 9.30am for a 3pm flight this was totally unacceptable and we felt that PrIncess Cruises had completely abandoned us with atotally unacceptable long wait in the airport. Would we reccommend the cruise to others, well possibly, but we would not return as passengers because there were too many issues which made us unhappy and feel that we were not valued enough . We have been on cruises before and have had better expirences both on board and at the airport. Princess clearly need to improve thier quality where food is concerned and when it comes to airport arrangements, a five hour wait for a flight is clearly not acceptable and makes you feel that they just dont care once you have done your time and spent your money. Dispite the poor food, we had a good time and enjoyed the entertainment so we would rate it as a mixed review and one where people may be happy to be fed in a way that food is not important to them, we fel that it is an important part of our holiday. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Despite being fully booked with 3000 passengers there was no time We ever felt crowded or had to wait an excessive time. The ship seems to have the right balance between space and passengers in the lounges and decks. The cruise was port ... Read More
Despite being fully booked with 3000 passengers there was no time We ever felt crowded or had to wait an excessive time. The ship seems to have the right balance between space and passengers in the lounges and decks. The cruise was port intensive ie 10 ports in tens days ( and the ship made them all ) with only one tender day at santorini. Independent touring in the ports was very easy and interesting with hop on hop off buses in several cities. If you do your homework touring in the Mediterrean can be significantly cheaper than using Ship tours.The ship was beautifully clean and the staff of course could not have been nicer and more accomodating. The main dining food was good but not exciting which was suprising as the buffet restaurant always had very interesting food Asian, Indian, Continental and British/American. The international cafe is a good place for coffe/cakes and good salads. However in common with many other cruise lines if you want to have top class food you may find yourself spending more money to eat in the Speciality restaurants . I do believe that cost cutting in the Carnival Fleet is having a detrimental effect on standards of food and entertainment. It may mean spending an extra $100 on top of your cruise price but it could be well worth it These cabins are more than adequate for port intensive cruising as you tend not to spend much time in them.Also as the ships now dock in commercial ports you willl often have a view of some container ships or warehouses. There is plenty of storage and hanging space . The cabin has american and european sockets ( look behind the bed ) Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We sailed on the Ruby Sept.18-Oct.5, 2013...Venice to Rome. We are experienced cruisers, having sailed on several cruise lines, to many ports of call but this was our first trip to Europe. The Ruby is a beautiful ship, well taken care of, ... Read More
We sailed on the Ruby Sept.18-Oct.5, 2013...Venice to Rome. We are experienced cruisers, having sailed on several cruise lines, to many ports of call but this was our first trip to Europe. The Ruby is a beautiful ship, well taken care of, with a terrific crew. All staff seemed genuinely happy in their jobs. We did not find the usual "upsell" push (for casino, coffee,soda cards etc) that we have experienced in the past...I actually had to search out the coffee card. This was a pleasant surprise and Princess seems to have listened to others who have complained in the past. The major design flaw with this series of ships is that sometimes "you just cant get there from here"! You may find yourselves riding elevators or climbing stair to get to another floor that actually goes through to the floor/area that you need to get to! Our balcony room was the usual size room and the usual tiny bathroom. However the space was adequate and with the balcony we never felt "closed in". Our room steward kept everything clean and tidy and seemed to anticipate things we didnt even know we needed yet! We used the ship laundry service 3 times and she had our laundry sent out and returned in less than 24 hours. Room service was polite and prompt. The entertainment was the usual at sea fare with comedians, singers, dancers etc with one of the highlights being the performance form the string section of the Venice Orchestra. Ports of call were what sold us on this cruise. VERY port intensive so be prepared. We took mostly organized Princess tours and a few beach days on our own in the Greek Islands. Pompei and the Amalfi coast were highlight. Our biggest disappointments were the shore excursion desk and the dining room food and service. The staff of the shore excursion desk either knew what they were doing or they didnt. Princess seriously needs to consider staffing the desk ONLY with staff that have travelled to the ports and experienced the tours they offer. I realize not all staff can go on all the tours but between the entire excursion staff there should be SOMEONE that can answer specific questions. I was constantly having to wait for a supervisor or waiting for a phone call back to get answers. Frustrating. This was the first time we have done anytime dining. We usually have second seating traditional dining. We found that the traditional dining just did not fit with the entertainment and the early morning shore excursions. The service at anytime dining is definately different. The waiters see so many different cruisers over 2 weeks,that they cant possibly give the personal attention given to those on traditional dining. We missed this aspect of the dining option. We always felt rushed so the next guest could be seated. The food overall was a disappointment. The Horizon Court is a zoo at all times and food quality was average. In the dining room, there is so much on the "always available" list that there is little left for the chef to come up with. Whenever there was a new item on the menu it was never what we expected when we ordered it. The repeat in the menu during the second week was "cheating" and not what one would expect from Princess. Princess is still our favourite cruise line and we will sail them again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
My wife and I are experiences cruisers with thirteen ocean cruises and two river cruises in the past. We have sailed with RC, Celebrity, Norwegian, Carnival, and Princess previously. Our only previous experience with Princess was the ... Read More
My wife and I are experiences cruisers with thirteen ocean cruises and two river cruises in the past. We have sailed with RC, Celebrity, Norwegian, Carnival, and Princess previously. Our only previous experience with Princess was the Golden Princess in 2001 shortly after it entered service. We picked this cruise because of its wonderful itinery - Venice, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Sea day, Instanbul, Mykanos, Athens, Santorini, Rhodes, Kusadisi, Crete, Sea, Naples and finishing at Rome. We had a great overall cruise but were dsiappointed with the dining room and the buffets. In my opinion, the food quality has gone down considerably since our last Princess cruise in 2001 and is not as good as RC or Carnival. We had a table of eight in the Boticelli dining room and two couples did not go to the dining room at all because of the food the during last week of the cruise. We ate twice at the extra cost Crown Grill and it was excellent. Our cabin was on deck 11 aft. We like to go to the casino before dinner, but it is awkward from this location. You need to travel to mid ship before you go to deck 6 because if you take the aft elevator to 6 6 you can't get there because the kitchen blocks your access. After we are done at the casino we needed to go up to deck 7, head aft and then drop down to 6 for dining. The Golden Princess is the same as I recall. Shore excursions and departure day were very well organized. The quality of the excursions including the guides was very good. Overall, I would rate the service quality as average at best. We have had better service on other cruise lines.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
It was our second cruise with Princess and the Ruby was everything we wanted. Had marvelous staff loved the Italian Nights especially the "lemincello". Our inside cabin was quite a decent size and it was great to be woken ... Read More
It was our second cruise with Princess and the Ruby was everything we wanted. Had marvelous staff loved the Italian Nights especially the "lemincello". Our inside cabin was quite a decent size and it was great to be woken up in the morning with hot coffee and whatever one felt like to eat by a friendly staff member. It was a 21 day cruise in three segments. Got to see a fair bit of the Mediterranean some ports were places we had been to before but it was great going back for a second time. We just love Sicily and calling into Palermo and have a donkey cart ride was the icing on the cake. As my husband speaks Sicilian the driver just couldn't do enough and the ride lasted over an hour. It was a fairly busy cruise with 18 ports in 21 days and well worth it so apart from the movies and stage concerts we really didn't have much time for any onboard activities but I know there were quite a few things to do. We really enjoyed the entertainment provided. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
My wife and I have just returned from our first real cruise (did a 5 day out of Florida previously). PROS: The staff excelent nothing was too much trouble and all well trained, The facilities, food etc all excellent. Even got pizza ... Read More
My wife and I have just returned from our first real cruise (did a 5 day out of Florida previously). PROS: The staff excelent nothing was too much trouble and all well trained, The facilities, food etc all excellent. Even got pizza served to us watching a film in the cinema under the stars! Great mix of fellow guests from all over the world and the average age must have been about 40. Only 1 small wheel chair in sight! CONS: Disappointed with the costs of the internet (to be expected) but the HORRENDOUS COST OF DRINKS on board. We had freedom dining and used both the allocated restaurants at various times, electing to share a table. We had super people from USA, Canada, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Mexico and Chile and some Brits - share our table throughout the cruise BUT NOT ONE PERSON BOUGHT A DRINK WITH DINNER - TOO EXPENSIVE!! Surely Princess 10% of something is better than 100% of nothing. For example the basic cost of a glass of wine was $8 plus 15% service charge for a SMALL glass - I worked as a hotel inspector for over 20 years and i know that the bottle of wine was costing less than that - if not their buyers need replacing. Yes I know us Brits are known for being tight (its just that we do not like being mugged - we like value for money) but the Australasians, Canadians and even the Americans we were with, decided it was too expensive. Also extra for cappucino or latte coffee - why? FINALLY - yes I would recommend Princess cruises but with the proviso you could remain t'total for the voyage! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
This was our first cruise on a Princess ship but we have cruised on other lines many times. It is not my intent to compare Princess with other Cruise lines. This trip was from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale, transatlantic. We arrived a few ... Read More
This was our first cruise on a Princess ship but we have cruised on other lines many times. It is not my intent to compare Princess with other Cruise lines. This trip was from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale, transatlantic. We arrived a few days early in Venice and totally enjoyed the extra time. Embarkation was somewhat slow. After checking in and receiving our cruise cards we were given a number and waited for over an hour to board. When we did board the cabin was ready and our luggage was delivered soon after. The Ruby Princess was staying overnight in Venice and not sailing until the next afternoon so there was time for further adventures in Venice. On the negative side, there were tours during the morning and the muster was held at 1:00 and the dining room closed at 1:30 that meant that all the people who toured Venice was sent to the Horizon Cafe since the dining room had closed. Needless to say that dinning venue was a zoo. The sail away was awesome, down the Grand Canal. Ports and tours: All the ports were as expected. Princess tours were handled very well with the exception of Casablanca. More on this later. The one down side was the cost in several ports of having to take a shuttle bus to the city center. Princess charged for this service, from $5.00 to $8.00 each way. That is a case of nickel and diming. Seems just like the airlines. Now for Casablanca. I don't know if this was true on other tours in Casablanca, but the one that we were on was a disaster. At one stop the tour company sent our bus, with belonging on it, to another location. When we went back to go to the next stop the bus was not there. It took 45 minutes to find it and return it to our location. Beyond belief our belongings were still there. However, the rest of the tour was very rushed and not at all enjoyable. It took many complaints from the passengers to get Princess to take action and they did refund part of the cost of the excursion cost. But passengers had to demand it rather than having them identified and the refund posted automatically. We had to divert to the island of Madeira instead of Ponta Delgarda to avoid a tropical storm. This little island in the middle of the Atlantic off the coast of Africa is a jewel. Well worth a visit. Dinning: The food on this trip was uniformly excellent. Service in the dining room was great. Down side, Princess has a dress code for evening in the dining rooms. The problem is they don't enforce it. Where smart casual was mandated men in tee shirts and hoodies were allowed in. On formal nights, open collared shirts were permitted. If you are going to have a dress code, please enforce it or don't have a code. At the start of transatlantic portion of the trip it was announced that Norovirus had been identified on the ship and the number of cases tripped the CDCs protocols. All the signs seem to point to Casablanca as the place where the virus came aboard. This caused extra work for dining room staffs and they were over taxed. We were not allowed to even touch a salt shaker. The outbreak also curtailed activities during the long transatlantic days. We were even not allowed to get playing cards in the fear of spreading the virus. Disembarkation: This was a total disaster. 3,200+ passengers were herded into the arrivals hall without any organization. Speaking to the Head of Station in ft Lauderdale, she blamed the Port and a faulty gangway, then the Captain of the Ruby Princess for wanting to get all the passengers off the ship so that decontamination could began and not impact the next cruise and then the US Custom and Immigration for not having enough agents in place to handle the situation. Princess did a poor job in this situation and many people missed flights because it took over 90 minutes to clear Customs and Immigration from the time you left the ship. This situation almost ruined a great experience. In summation given the few problems the cruise was well worth the effort and I would give Princess a chance to redeem its reputation as a upscale cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
This was a Mediterranean + Transatlantic cruise -- we started in Venice and ended up at Fort Lauderdale for a total of 19 nights. At the outset of this review we should say that we were very appreciative that Princess corporation and the ... Read More
This was a Mediterranean + Transatlantic cruise -- we started in Venice and ended up at Fort Lauderdale for a total of 19 nights. At the outset of this review we should say that we were very appreciative that Princess corporation and the Ruby's Captain successfully kept us away from hurricane Rafael and navigated the ship around Sandy so that we only experienced some roughness the last night of the cruise. Keeping the passengers safe was their first priority and they performed excellently. Any other comments and criticisms are minor in comparison. The main problem with the Italian ports Venice, Naples, Rome, Florence and Pisa was that they were swarming with tourists even in mid-October which was nearly low season. For example, during our visit to Florence the crowds were so thick we could hardly move. Cannes is a nice place but not really all that interesting to visit -- Nice would have been much better. Barcelona now has a very pleasant new cruise ship port and we spent hours just walking around and enjoying the Ramblas. Casablanca was very much a third world city but trying hard to develop there wasn't much to see and it was a shame that some on the Princess sponsored tours to Marrakech apparently got food poisoning. We were pleased that we stopped at Madeira instead of Ponto Delgado - it was just a lovely place to visit.Generally the food was good but not great. We ate at the Crown Grill for dinner one night and found it to be excellent. Since we were in a suite we often ate breakfast at Sabatini's which again was excellent. Generally the food at the Horizon was reasonable but the self service restrictions imposed after the Norovirus appeared made it a much less attractive place to eat. The Trident Grill had good hamburgers and hot dogs and we thought the Pizzeria was very good. The International Cafe in the Atrium was very pleasant but no one we met could understand what the Vines concept was intended to be. Sushi plus tapas with wine wasn't an appealing combination and after it seemed to be implicated in the Norovirus outbreak it was pretty dead at Vines. It needs to be repurposed or dumped. Mostly the dining room was OK but like others we grew tired of it after a couple of weeks. How many of us eat out at restaurant every night at home? We took the "Anytime" dining option but found we still needed reservations which took away some of the flexibility it was supposed to have. The cruise lecturers were very good and we thought that making up a program guide and having an introductory session were really good ideas. Mr. Scott's talks on aspects of the NASA space program were authoritative and interesting because he had personally participated in many of the events he talked about. Mr. Dalton's "adventures" were a bit tame in the sense that the hype was more than the actual content deserved but somewhat interesting. The best talks were from Dr. Detrich particularly on ports. He was honest and forthright in his comments and certainly wasn't selling tours. We took particular note of his negative view of Casablanca (turned out to be true) and his prediction of the long lineups for St. Peter's in Rome (also true). This information was very helpful in making our choices of shore excursions.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
This was my first cruise - Ruby Princess. My father treated us to a cruise for his wedding. This was definitely the way to be initiated into cruising. Transfers. As there were 8 of us converging all from around the world all at ... Read More
This was my first cruise - Ruby Princess. My father treated us to a cruise for his wedding. This was definitely the way to be initiated into cruising. Transfers. As there were 8 of us converging all from around the world all at different times. The reliability, friendliness and amount of organization was great at the airport. The only thing that could have been improved, as a first time cruiser, was maybe a quick briefing of what to expect once we arrived at the port. Embarkation. As they had decided to board by different groups, there was about a 45 minute delay in getting the journey started. I feel that more security staff to increase the rate of passengers boarding would benefit everyone! Although a little lengthy, was a good experience as all the staff were incredibly friendly and willing to assist with any questions or concerns. The Room. The room was great. My brother and I were lodging together in a balcony room closer to the aft of the ship. The room included a safe (punch code), a mini-fridge (very useful), small desk, a chair, nice balcony, and a full washroom. Amenities were included and were refreshed daily - all great (for hotel soaps and shampoos). The room was always clean and comfortable. An incredible experience. The ship itself was huge. I'm happy that the trip took 12 days as it took the first 4 just to become familiar with it. The entire ship was a palace on the water. The restaurants were the most luxurious however it was a little too much (I can take care of my own napkin on my lap, thanks!). The schedule / ports of call were amazing, although I do have to say that as the population on the cruise was more for the 50+ generation, there were very few people on board close to our ages and few activities geared to the younger generation. The staff was phenomenal. Every aspect was incredible. Rod Goodman (the cruise director who is now on the Royal Princess), was amazing as were all of his staff. Friendly, knowledgeable, and fun. The food. The food and culinary staff were exceptional. Throughout the trip, the standards never changed. Although it was a 12 day trip, and some of the fruit and produce was starting to show signs of mold, the taste and presentation was amazing. At the restaurants, the service and food was beyond compare. The steakhouse on the ship was also incredible. With many different special requests from our group, it was so well done. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
My wife and I are just just back from a Ruby Princess Transatlantic cruise Venice, Italy to Fort Lauderdale, Florida - October 19 to November 6, 2011. Our primary motivation for taking this particular cruise was its origination from ... Read More
My wife and I are just just back from a Ruby Princess Transatlantic cruise Venice, Italy to Fort Lauderdale, Florida - October 19 to November 6, 2011. Our primary motivation for taking this particular cruise was its origination from Venice, Italy and to the transatlantic crossing, both of which were new experiences for us. This was also our first cruise with Princess cruise lines, our most recent prior cruise being last year on a Celebrity Constellation Panama Canal full transit cruise. Venice was as wonderful and beautiful as we anticipated, and certainly the highlight of the trip. We did a pre-cruise stay for a couple of days in a B&B, the 3749 Ponte Chiodo, which was fortunate as the ship's overnight at Venice was accompanied by terrible weather. The six sea days of the transatlantic crossing were enjoyable. We had less free time than we thought that we would have. Given dining, entertainment, gym exercise, lectures, etc., we had far less time for reading than we anticipated - Boredom was not a problem. Princess' port stops in the Mediterranean were too hurried. For example, Lisbon was only a 5- hour stop. Princess' target demographic may like as many ports as possible, even if the stay is brief, but my wife and I would prefer fewer ports for longer durations, preferably always an overnight stay. We loved Lisbon and would have really liked an overnight stay. Also, Barcelona deserves an overnight stay, preferably more. We found the food comparable to that of other mass market cruise lines - similar to good quality hotel catered food, such as for a wedding. However, in our experience, Princess' anytime dining didn't run as smoothly as our experience on other cruise lines - long lines were commonly encountered. The entertainment was generally mediocre, but I have read that this is often the case with a relocation cruise. This criticism is caveatted by the fact that my wife and I are not fans of the broadway-style musicals that are so common with all cruise companies. Nonetheless, the alternative entertainment of comedians, magician and juggler were definitely mediocre. We know that better entertainment exists on the seas because we experienced it with, surprisingly, NCL. I should mention that the lecture series was excellent. In summary, the cruise was good but not great. There was no cruise killer problem but rather an accumulation of irritants that got in our way of total enjoyment. On a scale of 1-to-10, we rate the overall cruise experience a 6. Now, given our recent cruise on Celebrity's Constellation, we naturally compared our experience there with what we experienced aboard the ruby Princess experience. Ruby Princess versus Celebrity Constellation Observations: Given that we did a Panama Canal full transit cruise on the Celebrity Constellation one year earlier in a comparably priced cabin (Celebrity Concierge Class vs Princess Mini-Suite), a comparison is appropriate. The ships are similar in size (within 20%) but Princess squeezes in 22% more passengers per ton of ship tonnage (tonnage/passenger_capacity). This means that, on Princess, more people compete for similar sized common spaces: Anytime Dining - In our experience Princess' anytime dining was poorly run with long lines and waits to even get a beeper so that you can wait more - we regretted switching form early seating to anytime dining. Our only salvation was to establish reservations for 6pm for every remaining night through tips to the head waiter - effectively recreating traditional-like dining. Food - The general quality of the food in the main dining room was, on average, comparable to Celebrity if maybe a notch lower. The buffet may be a notch better than Celebrity. Coffee - Celebrity has brewed coffee everywhere. Princess has terrible coffee, made from a concentrate, everywhere except at the extra charge restaurants, and even in the main dining room on formal night. Freshly brewed, real coffee is only possible if you purchase coffee cards for $31. The problem is that the ONLY place that the 3,000 passangers can easily get the brewed coffee is at the one small coffee bar on deck five and it frequently has slow lines. Room service has the same from-concentrate coffee. All dining venues can fetch real coffee (when shown your coffee card) but wherever they go to get it adds an unnecessary delay - the delay at the Horizons buffet is fifteen minutes from some waiters but most simply say that brewed coffee is unavailable. In my opinion, brewed coffee should be available everywhere and the deck five coffee bar should be limited to extra-cost specialty coffees, such as Cappuccino, lattes and espresso Cabins: Celebrity Concierge Class balcony cabin versus Princess mini-suite: These were comparably priced cabins. The Princess mini-suite is larger than the Celebrity Concierge Class balcony cabin and is a very nice cabin and the Ruby is six years newer than the Constellation. However, Celebrity's amenities are superior. Celebrity - welcome bottle of champagne; Princess - welcome glass of champagne. Celebrity - plush, full-length bathrobes in the cabin upon arrival; Princess - no robes unless requested and they are thin waffle weave, short length with 3/4 length sleeves. Celebrity - nice fruit basket in room upon arrival, automatically refreshed every day; Princess - no fruit basket until requested and then a skimpy affair and never refreshed unless requested each time. Celebrity - afternoon canapés every afternoon; Princess - nothing. Celebrity - several Concierge Cabin class events on a 2-week cruise, such as a party/gathering , special galley and bridge tours, etc.; Princess - nothing. Celebrity - special Concierge Class embarkation and debarkation (the debarkation was VERY useful); Princess - nothing. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
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
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 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
My husband and I came 2 days prior to boarding Ruby Princess. Had an excellent tour of Padova and Venice, so we thought it was a good start. The food in Padova were excellent but not in Venice, esp Pizza.The embarkation process of Ruby ... Read More
My husband and I came 2 days prior to boarding Ruby Princess. Had an excellent tour of Padova and Venice, so we thought it was a good start. The food in Padova were excellent but not in Venice, esp Pizza.The embarkation process of Ruby Princess was very organized. Overall, the crew were very good, courteous and helpful and the entire process was excellent.The entertainment were not all very good. The magic show was a little bit obsolete but the other performers were from good to excellent. The daily dancing lessons and exercises were commendable. Bingo added fun to the whole package.Food in all areas esp the buffet were excellent.The shore excursions were generally good except that one that we had a guide who was sick with cold (AnnaMaria). She was not as good as the other guides we had in other excursions maybe because she was sick. A sick guide should have not been allowed to work. Shore excursions that include shopping should allot more than 30 minutes for shopping esp in places like Florence.We stayed in Barcelona for 3 more days. Sorry that I lost some costume jewelries in my checked-in luggage. Can't believe that there are thieves even in Barcelona airport. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We sailed on the Ruby Princess in September 2010 from Venice and enjoyed the cruise and ship, there was one big problem - where our cabin was located. When we found out the cabin number, we checked the deck plans and found a blank space ... Read More
We sailed on the Ruby Princess in September 2010 from Venice and enjoyed the cruise and ship, there was one big problem - where our cabin was located. When we found out the cabin number, we checked the deck plans and found a blank space above the cabin. We mistakenly assumed it was a storage area or equipment room. It turned out to be the galley and the banging and noise from above us started in the middle of the night and made it impossible to get a good night's sleep. We complained several times to the purser but it didn't do much good. One of the people at the purser's desk did let it slip that Princess knows which ones are the noisy cabins, but books them anyway. This was obvious because Princess offered us a $400 credit for our inconvenience. Lesson learned. Never, never book a cabin under an empty space or any of the public areas, including restaurants, theaters, bars, pools, etc. You will be sorry. If you do get stuck with a noisy cabin, complain often and loudly and maybe the cruise line will offer you some sort of compensation. I also noticed that the new Princess ships have smaller cabins. The older ships had more space per passenger. We always used to like Princess because they didn't try to cram as many people on the same size ship as some of the other lines, but not any more. One more observation. If you are taking a cruise with a lot of ports you have never seen before, don't bother paying the extra money for a balcony. You won't have time to use it. Oh, and be aware Princess is now charging $3 to deliver your room service order -- it used to be free. What next, a charge for food! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Our family of four (teen daugher and pre-teen son) just returned from the 12 day Eastern Mediterranean on the Ruby Princess, Venice to Rome. Overall, it was excellent but mainly because of the itinerary. The weather was unseasonably hot, ... Read More
Our family of four (teen daugher and pre-teen son) just returned from the 12 day Eastern Mediterranean on the Ruby Princess, Venice to Rome. Overall, it was excellent but mainly because of the itinerary. The weather was unseasonably hot, but nothing Princess can do about that -- just make sure to wear lots of sunscreen and drink a lot of water. As for each area: Embarkation - excellent. We selected the Princess transfer so as to not have to worry about it ourselves while seriously jet lagged, we got on a bus with many others and were checked into the stateroom just a little over an hour after landing, which is awesome. Cabin - we had a mini-suite with balcony, one double bed for my husband and I, the couch pulled out into a bed for our daughter and they pulled down a bed from the ceiling for our son, with a ladder, which he totally loved. It was roomy enough, and I can't imagine ever going on a cruise without a balcony. The bathroom was significantly larger than bathrooms we have had in the mini-suites on Royal Caribbean, and we had a large closet, so high marks here as well. Dining - we chose anytime dining, which I highly recommend for flexibility. Some nights we went to the dining room, other nights the buffet, room service one night, bottom line - whatever we felt like, when we felt like it. We never ate lunch on the ship except the one day at sea, but ate in the port stops. Thank goodness, otherwise we would never have had Greek food on this Greek island cruise, which is one of our main areas of complaint. On the ship, there was no link whatsoever with where you actually were, a few Greek dinners and desserts would have been nice. An Indian curry buffet? When you are in Athens? Is simply wrong. In other words, I really missed the fact that there was no attept to tie the meals and the entertainment in with the ports of call and think this would have greatly improved the cruise. As for the meals, they were just OK. Not great food, not bad food. We ate at both Sabatini's and the Crown Grill for a change of pace. Crown Grill was great, Sabatini's food was good but the service was ATROCIOUS. We seemed to be repeatedly "forgotten" and, no exaggeration, our dinner took 2 1/2 hrs. without any lingering. And the few times we reminded our waitress that we were still waiting for our pasta course for example, or our main dishes, she was brusque and made excuses about it being busy. Waiters in the main dining rooms were much more pleasant and although this was only one bad service experience in the 12 days of the cruise, it did leave a bad taste in our mouths. Entertainment and public spaces - another caveat here, we aren't big on the entertainment and nightlife aspects of a cruise. We view a cruise as a very convenient method of transporting us from one stop to another, with a pool and areas for relaxation, but we don't get into the deck parties and formal nights and that sort of thing, and never stepped foot on the casino or made significant purchases in the shops. So I won't say much except to say that I LOVED that they had a Venice orchestra perform the first night, great and very unique and that got my hopes up. But they were later dashed, as a few nights later the headliner was one of the cheesiest, corniest, cruise-lounge-singer type of entertainers I have ever seen, almost like a parody of cruise entertainment with the snapping fingers and shuffling around while crooning. The British comedian, British magician, and British opera/showtune singer were all good but, obviously, British -- on a cruise through Italy, Turkey and Greece. More local entertainment and music would have made this far more enriching. I don't mean to beat this point like a dead horse but it was almost bipolar, getting off at these stops stepped in certain cultures and music and foods and history and then getting back on the boat which seemed to be in a completely different place. Pools were nice but I wish Princess would actually enforce the "don't save a seat with your towel all day" rule, as there were some times we couldn't get seats by the pool together as a family yet each seat on the deck was "occupied" by a towel and we never saw an actual person go anywhere near it the hours were were there. A pet peeve of mine - the first cruise line that actually does something about this obnoxious behavior will get my future business, it is that simple. Ports of call - this is why I chose this cruise and this ship, for no other reason than that it went to many different stops, including Athens and Santorini (many other lines do one or the other but not both). The only thing that could be better is if we stayed in some a bit longer than late afternoon so you could see the location lit up for the evening. The write-ups on this site allowed me to determine when we should sign up for a shore excursion and when we could go it on our own, which was very helpful. In short: Venice - can easily be done on your own, I highly recommend splurging for a water taxi ride down the Grand Canal, it was one of the best experiences of the whole trip for us, also toured St. Marks' and the Doge's Palace on our own and had a wonderful pasta dinner at a restaurant we stumbled across as this is a wonderful city for just wandering. Split, Croatia - can easily do on your own, the old palace is a 5 min. walk from the ship. Corfu -also manageable on own, excellent archaelogical museum and can tour both the old and new forts, very short cab ride from port to town and cabs easily available to get back to ship. Katalakon - we did a shore excursion to Olympia, which you need because it is an hour or so drive from port and you really need someone to give you the background on what you are seeing, followed by an afternoon at the beach which was great, umbrellas, sand, lunch service to your beach chair, woo-hoo! Athens - here too we did a short excursion to the Parthenon, but could have done with more time there and less at the Plaka, as we aren't big shoppers, and then a drive to the Temple of Poseidon which was interesting but not a must see. If I did it again, I would have done the afternoon on my own after a guided tour of the Acropolis. Mykonos - we took a shore excursion to Delos, also necessary to understand what you are seeing, and then spent the rest of the day exploring Mykonos town on our own, which is very easy and close to the port. We had the best gyro lunch ever there, the kids still talk about it. Kusadasi - here too we took a shore excursion to Ephesus, also necessary as it is a bit of a ride from the port, had a very informative guide. We also saw the House of the Virgin Mary which was very moving and a highlight for us. The included lunch would have been much better had it not been served outdoors, in almost 100 degree weather with no breeze whatsoever. Shopping at the bazaar was fun and we actually bought a beautiful Turkish rug which I never thought I would actually have done but the quality was fantastic and we decided we didn't know if/when we would ever be in Turkey again Rhodes - did it on our own, also very easy to do, the main city is right next to the port, and easily walkable, had a fantastic Greek lunch in a garden restaraunt off the main drag. Here I highly recommend getting off the tourist streets and walking around the side streets which gave us a great view of authentic Greek island life. Santorini - took a shore excursion just up to Oia, which was worth it to get up there for the fantastic views, spend some time up there and then down to Fira, which can easily be done on your own with a return to the boat whenever is convenient for you. Naples - we did this on our own and stayed in Naples, only because we toured Italy last year and spent a few days in Sorrento, and saw Capri, the Amalfi Coast, and Pompeii then. So this time we headed for the archaeological museum in Naples and saw much of the materials found in the homes at Pompeii, so it made a nice coda to last year's trip and is a really great museum. You must have pizza in Naples, it was everything we hoped it would be, then we explored the city on our own. Rome - had to get back to work so didn't tour Rome this time, just went right from the port to the airport, but Rome is, of course, fantastic and in the past, a guided tour of the Vatican was worth every penny. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Beautiful ship with a port intensive 12 days - only one day at sea. The itinerary however was difficult to accomplish- too much each day we found out due to the weather constraints of heat and then more heat. Even with starting out each ... Read More
Beautiful ship with a port intensive 12 days - only one day at sea. The itinerary however was difficult to accomplish- too much each day we found out due to the weather constraints of heat and then more heat. Even with starting out each day early, the hot weather usually slowed us down a bit in our perhaps overly ambitious desire to see as much as possible. Our eight year old did her best the last 2 days of the cruise in Capri/ Naples and then Rome because the cooler air prevailed. Our total experience was weighed against however 2 other recent cruises in the past 16 months- one in the Caribbean, the other Alaska- both on the NCL Jewel and NCL Pearl respectively. I will use bullet type points as my best method of summary. Venice Hotel: Flew Delta, DFW to Atlanta to Venice; Antony Hotel (Airport): 3 or 4 star - worked great for us due to flight/ jet lag - helpful staff- Embarkation: taxi next day to port- Princess was like precision clockwork. Cabin: very nice size interior- rarely in room except to sleep. Activities: Well equipped ship - daughter enjoyed swimming, miniature golf every sail away, bingo with me (Dad), ping pong, (when Princess rarely had the tables set up for use). Service: the usual quirks of great and not so great- but so was NCL. Juan our Cabin Steward was superb. The Captain decided to wake the entire (every cabin intercom) vessel at 3am around the 3rd night at sea with a 45 second non emergency search for an employee. Princess at the gangplank gave me incorrect info in Athens on which pier terminal would be open after our DIY trip. Seemed the gate was locked at 1pm costing us a 13 Euro taxi go around and a family squabble. Many crew members had no idea where a lot of features were on the ship like the ping pong, etc. I had a similar experience on other ships, but this seemed worse. How can you work on a boat and not know where the features are that passengers want? Entertainment: Weak compared to NCL. It had an understandable European bent to it. Movies under the stars was nice sometimes- other times annoying the areas around it. Classical Gypsy style group playing on Promenade lobby was excellent however. Dining: Very good and sometimes great. Dining rooms were nice in ambiance, but I give Norwegian Cruise Lines the nod here with a superior buffet for breakfast especially and better overall food, in particular meats, salads and fruits. Specialty restaurants were limited. We ate ashore some also. Daughter missed hand dip NCL ice cream vs. bland soft serve. Children clubs: it appears Princess does not attract many children - they had programs but it always appeared empty. The teen center had a few every time we went by there. We always went ashore as a family. Disembarkation at 7:30 was flawless, Romepickup.com limo took us to our Hotel 'Sant Anna in Vatican Roma area on time. Rome was cool and inviting. Summary: This was a port intensive trip (we did a lot on our own as we had studied quite a bit months before the trip and visited each port) which I will review OUR experiences separate, so the ship was somewhat secondary. It was very hot 10 of the 12 days but the itinerary Princess set up was why we chose the Ruby. All said and done, it is hard to believe that cruisers in the know choose them over the newer NCL ships where service, food and entertainment were a tad better in my opinion. The Ruby Princess is overall a good experience.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
This was our second Princess sailing. The Ruby Princess is a beautiful ship, and even though it is a large , it was pretty easy to find our way around. The crew that we had contact with, the waiters in the dining room, our room steward and ... Read More
This was our second Princess sailing. The Ruby Princess is a beautiful ship, and even though it is a large , it was pretty easy to find our way around. The crew that we had contact with, the waiters in the dining room, our room steward and the medical staff were always cheerful and helpful.... often going above and beyond to serve us. Our biggest disappointment was the food. Sure, there was plenty of it, but it was mediocre at best. Our waiters went out of their way (finding fresher lettuce for the caesar salad, exchanging bad tasting meat for another dish and just trying to please). If you want a good meal, go to Sabatini's or the Crown Grill. You have to pay a minimal amount, but the food was really good. Why can't they do better in the main dining rooms? Our food was much better last year on the Emerald Princess. Are they cutting back on quality to keep prices low? We loved the ports that we visited. We were very disappointed that we could not go to Athens due to demonstrations there. Instead, we had another day in Venice. For some, this may have been a bonus, but we had gone early and spent two days already in Venice. I wish we had been able to go to another Grecian port. Having an extra day without leaving port (making three ship days in a row) was bad enough, but they charged everyone on the ship to take the shuttle to Venice and individuals had to stand in line to get that fee back if they chose not to go to Venice. We booked Private Tours for the two ports in Turkey and in Napoli to go to the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. All three were wonderful. We took a ship tour to Tarquinio and had a wonderful guide there. On our trip to Cinque Terre, our bus guide from the ship's tour was great, but the Cinque Terre guide spoke very broken English and hardly had much information about the area at all. We were very disappointed in this tour. Overall, we loved the trip, loved the ports and had a fabulous time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Overall we enjoyed the cruise, the ports and transatlantic crossing. There's plenty to eat and activities galore. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather, we were not able to dock in Marseille. We'd recommend the cruise to ... Read More
Overall we enjoyed the cruise, the ports and transatlantic crossing. There's plenty to eat and activities galore. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather, we were not able to dock in Marseille. We'd recommend the cruise to anyone. We are however not as glowing of some specifics of the cruise as some posters. A summary of specifics follow: Cruise Highlights The following on-board sights were especially memorable: Departure from Venice, transiting through the Straits of Gibraltar and entry into Lisbon. Overall, the employees were friendly and helpful, especially the waiters and waitresses in the Wheelhouse Lounge and Crooner's Lounge. Venice Embarkation While Princess had some sixteen check-in counters, there were only three security scanners. Consequently, we stood around for three hours waiting for our boarding number to be called. Ft Lauderdale Disembarkation All passengers were requested to leave their staterooms by 8:00AM to allow for cleanup. We then waited in a public area for three hours waiting for our turn to officially disembark. Our scheduled departure time was 1.5 hours later than scheduled. Stateroom We had an interior stateroom midship on the Baja deck. It was quiet and well-sized. I would have hated to have had a room further down the hall adjacent to the dish washing area. In walking past that section, you could frequently hear the loud clattering of dishes in the hallway. We also talked to a passenger who boarded at Barcelona and was assigned to a stateroom beneath one of the lounges. After considerable complaining about the noise, he was moved to a different stateroom room in Venice. Public Areas The SkyWalkers lounge was excellent for a quiet reading location and great view. In general, the public entertainment areas for shipboard events and showrooms are generally too small to accommodate 3100 passengers. Consequently, the Princess Theater and the Explorer's Lounge have the same shows multiple times per day over a couple days. Also, the Piazza is woefully inadequate for events such as the Captain's reception. Entertainment The major entertainment was fairly good, especially the comedians and solo singers who were very good. In general, the lounge entertainment was merely "acceptable". An exception however was the rock group "Junction 21" which was very good. Unfortunately, the timing of entertainment in the various venues was awkward. Most of the performances are scheduled at the same time and the entertainers took breaks at the same time, making it difficult for passengers to enjoy the wide variety of groups and a full evening sampling of the different entertainers. Food and Dining You could eat at anytime. We especially enjoyed mid-day snacks consisting of ice cream, cookies, pizza and hot dogs (what a combo!). In the evening, we usually ate in the Michelangelo dining room. The food ranged in quality from excellent to average. It seemed that dining room service was better earlier in the evening. Perhaps as the evening progressed, the staff was getting tired. We tried the Cafe Caribe on the German and Curry buffet nights. Both meals were disappointing. "Movie Under the Stars" We attended one of the movies at night for an authentic theater experience. You need to arrive early to claim a "good seat". The theater event includes a lap robe, popcorn, cookies and milk. Information Desk In general, the ship's information desk was dismal. They gave incorrect information as to when we were passing Gibraltar. Additionally, they were unable to provide any useful information on the upcoming ports. Money My advice is to bring your own shore spending money. The ship's on-board ATM charges a minimum of $6 (or $8) for ATM withdrawals. Transportation in Ports If you are traveling as independent passengers (i.e., not scheduled on a Princess cruise excursion), each passenger is charged approximately $8.00 per person per port for bus transportation from the dock to the town center in several of the ports. Considering the overall cost of the cruise, this seems excessive. In several of the ports, the bus transport was necessary since the ports are large industrial areas lacking other transportation options. The bus drop-off points were located conveniently near rapid transit options and information centers with return schedules maintained throughout the day. Cruise Director James Ibrahim, the cruise director, seemed both patronizing and immature. The ship's "The Early Show" is intended to be an important source of information for passengers. Unfortunately, the television program was frequently frivolous and superficial, lacking quality information concerning ports and events on the ship. You had to intently listen through the whole program to filter significant information from the blather. Communication It used to be that passengers would get a daily news summary of current world events. Princess does not provide that. The assumption is apparently that we will access the internet or watch the news on the television. This however is not always possible. During the Atlantic crossing, most network channels including CNN were not available on the cabin televisions. As for the computer center, it is quite small for the size of the ship, and it was not always easy to access a computer. Also, the cost of accessing the internet promotes cautious, careful use. Laundry The ship has numerous high quality, self-service laundry rooms spread throughout the ship. Most of the laundries are small (2 washers/2 dryers). Our experience was that they were frequently very busy. The machines were efficient. We were able to dry a full load of jeans, t-shirts and socks in one drying cycle. You need to plan a couple of hours minimum depending on how long you have to wait for the machines. The change machine did not work one day, so I'd recommend you come prepared with plenty of quarters. Each machine costs $1.50 (quarters only). You can also purchase soap and fabric softener. The laundry room also had two ironing boards and Rowenta irons with automatic shut-off timers. In this day of luggage weight restrictions, there is no need to pack a personal steamer. In closing The above commentary is intended as an open assessment of the cruise. Overall, the cruise was enjoyable, relaxing and worthwhile. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
My husband and I just got back from 12 days on the Ruby Princess. We left from Venice and cruised to Athens, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Monte Carlo, Naples, Rome, Florence, Mykonos, and ended in Barcelona. Overall we had a great time on the ... Read More
My husband and I just got back from 12 days on the Ruby Princess. We left from Venice and cruised to Athens, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Monte Carlo, Naples, Rome, Florence, Mykonos, and ended in Barcelona. Overall we had a great time on the ship. We had a balcony cabin on the Lido Deck due to a last minute upgrade from Princess. Cabin and staff: The cabin was small but very comfortable with a nice balcony with two chairs and a table which we spent a lot of time outside on. The bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was standard (great shower pressure). There was two dressers and a chair and a TV on top of a cabinet with a refrigerator. A complimentary robe was provided. The walls were a bit thin but overall we enjoyed the cabin and had no complaints. Boarding and disembarking the ship was very easy and Princess has it down pat. They are very organized with regard to tours and getting on and off the ship. Most of the staff was extremely helpful and nice (especially our cabin steward). Food: The food was okay. We ate breakfast in the buffet and it was large and full of hot and cold items. We avoided lunch at the buffet and dinner after the first night. Food wasn't so great. Service at the buffet was hit or miss. The anytime dining was great as we were not hungry the same time each day due to all the ports we visited. The main dining rooms was very organized and the food was good. I would say not outstanding but we didn't expect 5 star food. Most of the food was good and you had a lot of choices. We had pizza and a hamburger at the grill which was very good. We did not pay the extra to eat at their signature restaurants. Entertainment: We are not into the typical cruise shows and spend many nights up on deck watching movies under the stars which were great. I think we watched 6 of 8 movies including Star Trek, Terminator, The Proposal, Angels and Demons, etc. Something for everyone. There was plenty of room and the lounge chairs were cushioned and comfortable. The staff handed out blankets and popcorn and then came by at the end with milk and cookies (a very nice touch). Other than that I cannot comment on the larger shows. Tours: The cruise tours were very expensive and I researched options and we booked private tours at less money. There were a lot of complaints about the tours among fellow passengers (too many people and could not keep up with the guide). I would suggest if you are able to book private tours or find you own company in lieu of Princess. That was you save money and get a much better and more personal experience. For example we paid 350 euro/$500 (4 of us) for a tour of Pisa/Florence and the same tour on princess (only difference was lunch included) was $369 a person. Spa: I did have a massage as there were a lot of special deals. I didn't see that many people using the gym facilities which were clean and very nice. I used the treadmill and stair stepper a few times and there was no wait. The spa staff was very nice and helpful. Overall, the Ruby Princess was a great ship (very large) and comfortable with lots of choices for entertainment and food. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
The Ruby Princess is a beautiful ship. Likes and dislikes of food is subjective so I will not review this subject in length. I do want to say that for those past time cruisers you can see little ways they have cut corners such as the ... Read More
The Ruby Princess is a beautiful ship. Likes and dislikes of food is subjective so I will not review this subject in length. I do want to say that for those past time cruisers you can see little ways they have cut corners such as the desserts are not as varied, etc. The food at the International Cafe was very good and it is free for most items. Vines also has free food and the Wheel House Pub will have free British lunches at different times during the cruise. There is no obvious omelet station in the buffet area, but if you ask one of the cooks, they will make you an omelet. The tours were definitely not for the physically challenged. I am in pretty good shape and every night I was exhausted. Please be aware that everywhere except Venice and Pisa is an uphill challenge. Lots of stairs. At all ruins you are walking on very uneven ground. I think we walked at least 4 of the 7 hills in Rome. Even the Vatican/ Sistine Chapel has an upward spiral staircase. I suggest if you go to Ephesus you wear sneakers and not open shoes. Surprise, someone was stung by a scorpion while we were there. If you sit at a sidewalk cafe in Italy, make sure you know the price before you buy. Sitting down and standing up to eat may reflect 2 different prices. We paid 32euros for a pizza pie and 3 waters in Amalfi. It was delicious and we did not argue over the price, but we saw the price in other restaurants and we know we were ripped off. Also, always bargain at the sidewalk souvenir booths and the bazaars. In Venice you can take a water bus from St. Marks to the Piazza Roma on the Grand Canal. We took a water taxi for a negotiated price of 80 euros because we were exhausted and did not want to stand on the water bus.It is the number 1 bus. On arriving at Piazza Roma it is a good 20 minute hike to the ship, especially when you are already tired. The ship usually left the port when stated on the Patter so make sure you are back to the ship on time. If you did not book a tour, at different ports there was sometimes a free shuttle to the main part of the city or train station. Other times there was a minimal charge. The guide shown on the ship's TV told you how to get around each city independently of a tour. We had a balcony cabin and was very glad we did. We used our balcony more than on any other cruise, so were grateful we spent the extra money. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
The welcome at Venice airport and transfer to the pre-cruise hotel (Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal) was flawless. Bus and water taxi were waiting, luggage handled. Andvantage of this hotel is mainly the fact that you walk off the water ... Read More
The welcome at Venice airport and transfer to the pre-cruise hotel (Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal) was flawless. Bus and water taxi were waiting, luggage handled. Andvantage of this hotel is mainly the fact that you walk off the water taxi directly into the hotel. Since we spent two days in Venice on the pre-cruise, sitting in the port for another day and a half was not exciting but gave us the opportunity to go through the ship. Ruby is a huge, new addition to Princess. Dining, activity, shopping, service ... was not much different from the previous Princess cruises. What was new to us was: - Anytime dining (good but often with lineups) - Sabatini Restaurant ($20 pp. extra) - good but not better then any upscale Italian place in Toronto - Tipping as the part of the price - I find this quite offending - the text justifying this is presumptuous. It is simply an addition to the price. Every time you get a drink and sign, there is a prominent space called Gratuit - Constant and sometime impertinent push of various discount cards - for coffee, beer, wine ... Organization of port tours was flawless as always. We found it annoying that in Istanbul the first stop was a Sales presentation of carpets. Also, the guide was insisting on giving us education in modern Islam but that you listen to or not by choice. The worst part of the trip was the post-cruise (Barcelona) disembarkation and hotel (Merridian) check in. We had to physically load our luggage into a truck (and there was about 60 of us. Then, in the hotel there was a huge lineup for check-in handled by 3 people whose computers did not work all that well. However, the hotel is great, rooms smashing, and in a good, central location. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
About the reviewer I am a 49 Y/O married man with 2 kids ages 11 and 12.   This was our 5th cruise and 2nd with Princess.  I am a Naval Officer.   I selected this cruise due to the itinerary and the brand new ship, Ruby Princess. ... Read More
About the reviewer I am a 49 Y/O married man with 2 kids ages 11 and 12.   This was our 5th cruise and 2nd with Princess.  I am a Naval Officer.   I selected this cruise due to the itinerary and the brand new ship, Ruby Princess.   Embarkation / Disembarkation Embarkation was flawless and fast.  We arrived at the Port of Venice at 1130.  From entrance to the terminal to boarding the ship, total time elapsed was 30 minutes.  Disembarkation did not fare as well.  Specifically, we opted for the "self disembarkation" status since we had our own arrangements to get to our hotel in Rome.  We were off the ship by 0730 only to discover our luggage had been placed in an outdoor tent way too small for all the luggage in pouring rain.  Upon entering the chaos in the tent, we found our luggage sitting in 4 inches of water!   To add insult, everyone and their luggage was so jammed packed under the tent, I had to carry each back at waist level tippy toeing around passengers to get out.  With all our clothes wet, it meant wearing the same clothes for another 2 days.   Service   As in the past with Sea Princess, room and restaurant service was top notch.   Our steward and waiter would do anything to ensure our satisfaction.   One note of difference, the servers in the buffet area were exceptional.   From the moment you sat down till the moment you left, someone was always ensuring your coffee was hot and your juice glasses filled.   If however, you tried to get a drink using your free refill card in any show lounge, FORGET IT, servers avoided us like the plague.    Ruby Princess gets failing grades with the pursers' desk, the two Brazilian individuals in particular were no less than awful, acting annoyed if your needs were not simple and quick.  In addition, another area terribly concerning was the level of response to a legitimate health concern within the room.  Immediately upon initial arrival in our stateroom (235 Aloha Deck) we noticed an overpowering smell of volatile organic compounds (VOC's) like varnish or paint thinner.  My wife was experiencing an immediate reaction of headache, nausea and dizziness.  Princess staff acted as if there was no smell.  It was not until I identified myself as someone with a Masters in Occupational Health they began taking action.  It took 4 hours to get a response to our concern whereby we were offered a temporary alternate cabin for the night.  Needless to say, our port day in Venice was ruined.   Itinerary   This particular cruise was very port intensive, calling on 10 ports in 12 days including Venice where we were docked a day and a half before leaving.   Each stop was very beautiful.  What was very disappointing was how early we were required to pull out each afternoon (4:30-5:30).  Trips between ports of call taking 3-4 hours by regional ferries (such as Athens to Mykonos) required we take 12-14 hours, crawling at 10 knots.   We can only assume Princess wanted us on board to spend money or they were too cheap to burn fuel a higher rate.  With excursions getting back at 3:30 or 4:30, it left little or no time to legitimately explore on your own.   Also of note, when 3080 passengers plus some crew descend upon quaint ports such as Mykonos or Santorini, you will find yourself dodging massive crowds and tour groups of 30- 40 people, not exactly relaxing.   Food   Food was hit or miss, overall I would rate is 3.5 out of five.   In general, we found the food in the buffet area for dinner to be bland and lacking.  I offer some details of foods not to be missed and foods better left alone.   Foods not to be missed -Pizza (YUM!) -Fettuccini Alfredo in main dinning room (best I have ever had anywhere) -Chocolate cake in main piazza pastry shop -Pork Belly in main dining room -NY cheese cake   Foods better left alone -Steaks (any and all) in main dining area, they were bland and tough -mousse -they tasted like eating grease -chocolate cakes in buffet area (bland) -Scrambled eggs in buffet, powered, YUCK.   On board experience   Overall Princess get high marks for keeping 3000 passengers apart using clever tactics such as two show rooms offering the same shows twice in a row so passengers can view both shows over two separate nights.   One feature that really really jumped out at us was how Princess constantly marketed to us. The "Welcome Aboard Show" featured 45 minutes of Princess hocking their wares, showing all the places you could spend additional $$ such as the optional dinning rooms, very disappointing.  If you are planning a cruise on Ruby, skip the opening show unless you like be shaken down to spend money.   On the first formal night there were no less than six photography stations set up, two blocking main passage way. I made no apologies for waling right through a photo shoot taking place directly in the path of passenger along the main Promenade deck.    Spirits, beer and wine are reasonably priced from 3.50-7.00.   Concluding remarks   Overall, the trip was nice, but I would caution expecting rest and relaxation.   With more time in each port and less being marketing to, the experience might have been more enjoyable and relaxing.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Ruby Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 5.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.9
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 5.0 4.2
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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