Ruby Princess Reviews

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11 User Reviews of Ruby Princess Cruise Ship

great time on first cruise
Publication Date: November 21, 2013

This was my very first time ever on any Cruise Ship and it was on the Ruby my dad and a friend of ours in the family went with us and we had the time of our lives.

We left Dec 2nd 2012 for Princess Cays we did a tour there and it was so much fun - I have never seen the whole island before and it was a experience for us.

The next day we were at sea and it was so much fun being on a ship for the first time in one whole day I met alot of new people i went swimming and it was wonderful, the next day we went to st Maarten and did a tour there to that was alot of fun then the next day we went to st thomas the island was so beautiful i have never been there before i did a tour there to but don't remember what it was but it was so much fun. the last stop was the grand turks seeing the island was alot of fun the tour was awesome and hope

to go back there sometime soon.

The last day we were at sea and there was a pool party and a band from England played they were my favorite the whole Cruise i saw them like more then once and count how many times but it was plenty they knew me by name and i keep in contact with once of them they were very sweet girls. All in all the first time on my first cruise will be something i will always remember it was hard to leave everyone because they were so nice.

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by Marcia
Publication Date: April 10, 2011

Princess Cruises Ruby Princess by Marcia Eastern Caribbean April 10, 2011

Food NOT fit for a Princess

Over all summary: Food was poor. Room steward was fabulous. Princess shore excursions were OK but costly. Onboard activities were varied and available. Both embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze in Fort Lauderdale. However, if you put aside the food [why would you? you are on a cruise for goodness sake!], the shows were good, there was a good selection of current movies, there were plenty of activities onboard and all the usual cruise ship things [photographers, pools, casino (even had a non-smoking night), exercise room, etc.] I looked forward to 2 things: great food and spending a few hours in the Sanctuary enjoying peace and quiet, but they had the nerve to charge $10 for each half day [0800 - 1230 or 1300 - 1700] and it was closed for 30 minutes at noon. I guess you have to go somewhere else for that 30 min. They do not charge for the pool so why charge for peace and quiet.

As an experienced traveler, cruiser and great cook, I was extremely unhappy with the food

throughout the ship, the Ruby Princess. Our first night we chose from the nightly menu and had good prime rib. That was the last good meal in the dining room or buffet. On 3 of the 7 nights we chose to eat in the buffet because nothing on the menu in the dining room sounded good. What a shame! On the last night I had beef tenderloin medallions cooked rare in the dining room. I have no idea what cut of meat it was; neither texture nor flavor were what I expected. Being a nightowl, I tried their buffet served from 2300 to 0400 one night. I was astonished that they had the audacity to serve left-overs from lunch and dinner. {Note: the 24 hour buffet is only 22 hours.} I love ice cream and the only way to get it was as dessert in the dining room. It was a good quality, but not available any other place or time. They only had soft serve in the ice cream shop or gelato for $1.50 a scoop in the pastry shop. A coke was $2 whenever you wanted one with a meal or at other times unless you paid $40 [$6 a day] for an insulated coke tumbler that you could have refilled all week with coke, diet coke, club soda or water. If you wanted to spend $56 [the kids cup, $8 a day] you could also get fruit juice, smoothies and milkshakes. You could get pineapple juice for breakfast by asking/begging for it but not at any other time without a kids cup. The extra "nickel and dime" for everything is terrible. Why don't they charge an extra $25.00 in the fare include the items and let the crew focus on doing their jobs rather than selling.

As for the stateroom: The best part of the cruise was our cabin steward. He was fabulous. When that is the best you can say about a cruise, it is a sad thing indeed. We had a balcony on the port side, forward, Riviera deck, R210. It was the first time we had a balcony and enjoyed it a lot. Also the port side of the ship had the better view at all ports. Since we have a nice RV the shower did not seem tiny. The shower, toilet, vanity area was adequate. Plenty of hanging space, about 6.5 feet, for a 7 day cruise; had a shelf above; a 12x14" cupboard with the safe with about 7 shelves. Each night stand had 2 drawers and a shelf. There was room for luggage under the bed. The desk had a cupboard with 2 shelves, mirror, phone, hairdryer and desk chair. There was a small refrigerator in another cupboard with a top that doubled as a bar and a flat panel TV on the wall above it. There was a club chair with arms and a small oval table for drinks or treats. The deck had 2 chairs and a small table.

In St Thomas do not bother with the B.O.S.S. underwater scooter trip. I thought it would be unique and it was, but it was not worth the time and money. The boat owner and his crew were exceptional and accommodating, but the scooter is difficult to maneuver and your view is restricted. The place they take you , Turtle Cove, is terribly overused and overpopulated with snorkelers so there is very little to see. The water is about 15 feet deep and your head is about 8 feet below the surface. I saw more while snorkeling while waiting for my turn than while on the scooter. I am a certified diver and should have gone SCUBA diving. I never have trouble clearing my ears while diving, but on this scooter I was clearing them the entire time. Later I found out that it is because your ears are under air pressure being inside the bubble helmet and your breathing is constantly changing the pressure rather than in the open water where once you get them cleared you are finished because you have equalized then to the water pressure.

We booked a tour with AAA for a tour of the island on St Maarten and were very happy with the driver and the tour. He made a point of telling us that he was our driver for the day and would take us anywhere we wanted as long as we were back by 1600. There were 8 of us in the van at about $50 a head. Next time we will hire a taxi when we get ashore as many other reviewers have suggested.

Do NOT go to the shops recommended by the cruise, not even for the 'free' trinkets they offer. They are not worth the time or trouble. Some shops gave them freely, but others made it difficult to get the freebie. AND different people got different treatment even in our small group of 4. We each went at different times and got different hassles. Furthermore, the cruise line is getting a kick back from the stores so you are not getting the best price. Do some research before you go to find some stores to patronize. Also be sure you know the price of gold and the price of whatever jewelry you think you might consider [diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, etc.] before you go. In one shop I had on my new diamond and ruby ring and I asked him how much it would cost there. He said $2500; I paid $2600 for it in Vegas so I would not have been worth the cost of the cruise to save $100.

On Princess Cays, check out the Bahamian shops behind the Princess store. They will appreciate your business.

I completed their post cruise survey and they called me to acknowledge my responses. They did not offer any kind of compensation or inducement to return for another cruise. I have a 3 page letter that I will send by email and snail mail and they gave me the addresses. I also wrote a one page letter of commendation for our steward. I gave him a copy before disembarking and will send copies of it to the addresses also. They printed it from my thumb drive at the customer service desk. Strangely, she blew on the USB connector before she inserted it into their computer.

It is not likely that I will travel with Princess again. This was a last minute, spur of the moment trip. I'll think harder and read some reviews before I spend this kind of money again.

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by Bud Lockwood
Publication Date: November 21, 2010

Princess Cruises Ruby Princess by Bud Lockwood Eastern Caribbean November 21, 2010

My wife and I sailed on the Ruby Princess Thanksgiving week (November 21st to 28th ) from Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to the Eastern Caribbean ports of Princess Cays, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Grand Turk.

OUR ARRANGEMENTS We booked cabin D219, a mini-suite on the Dolphin deck, and selected "anytime dining" for our dinner dining option. The cabin was nicely appointed, comfortable and conveniently located on deck 6. It should be noted that the balcony is totally exposed overhead unlike the balconies on higher decks. This leaves you exposed to the elements and to people on balconies just above.

Any time dining worked well for us. We tend to dine early and the Michelangelo dining room opened at 5:30 PM for anytime dining. Reservations for dining are advised for formal nights and sea days if you plan to dine at 7 PM or later. We had no significant wait earlier.

EMBARKATION & DISEMBARKATION

We drove from the Melbourne area (near Port Canaveral), therefore we entered the Port Everglades via auto and parked in the garage adjacent to the embarkation terminal 2.

There was minor congestion getting into the port at noon. Parking was easy and the walk from the vehicle to the terminal was short.

The embarkation process was smooth. Princess checks passengers in by deck with a special line for preferred customers. Just hope that everyone on your deck doesn't show up at the same time. After check in photos are taken and you are free to go to your cabin. Interestingly, Princess did allow us to go to our cabin before 1:00 PM which allowed us to leave our carry-on bags and freshen up before lunch.

Disembarkation was a mess! The ship returned to terminal 29, a shuttle ride from the parking garage at terminal 2. This may be caused by the fact that the Emerald Princess shares terminals and takes 10 day cruises.

The instructions for disembarkation preferences were unclear to us so we ended up being scheduled to disembark at 9:30 AM when we would have preferred, and could have had, an earlier time. We finally disembarked at 10:30 AM because the regular ramp wasn't working. Not good! We collected our bags from the baggage area and checked through Customs with no unusual problems. We then lined up for the shuttle, along with a lot of other passengers. Our bags were loaded on the shuttle along with those of 15 to 20 other people and we were taken to terminal 2 where the reverse baggage process took place. It was not a pretty process. Leaving the port was easier than arriving.

THE SHIP & STAFF

The Ruby Princess is a beautiful ship with elegantly appointed public areas including the restaurants, lounges, casino, theater and pools. There were no unexpected crowds at any of the venues. Unexpected means there were crowds at the normal times. For examples, the theater and lounges were crowded during after dinner times. The atrium also attracted large crowds because of the entertainment.

The staff were excellent. Everyone we encountered was cheerful and helpful, even during high stress times. They were obviously well trained and seemed to enjoy their work.

DINING AND FOOD

Like most modern cruise ships the Ruby Princess offered several dining options with the main dining rooms being the centerpieces, followed closely by the specialty dining options. The food was very good with a couple of exceptions. Highlights included: Sabatini's. The Italian themed restaurant is excellent! Plan a before dinner cocktail at the adjacent, elegant Adagio lounge then enjoy their multi-course dinner complete with samples of all the pre and post-entrée choices. The entrees were very good. Crown Grill. The "steakhouse" is an elegant setting with excellent service and food. It is adjacent to the Explorer's lounge. If you like lobster, steak or chops this is an ideal place! Reservations are needed and can be a problem so make them on embarkation day. Pub Lunch. A pub lunch was served in the Wheelhouse Bar on sea days. The Wheelhouse bar is a nice pub setting. The food included fish and chips and ploughman's lunch along with a selection of English beers. International Café. The café is a nice setting for people watching as well as tasty snacks. We stopped by almost every day to sample the good food. Michelangelo restaurant. Our choice for "anytime dining" with a nice selection of food. The traditional Thanksgiving dinner was disappointing . Must have been someone else's traditional dinner. The salmon, one of the daily alternative choices, was excellent. The daily alternative choices are frequently some of the best choices and often overlooked.

WORTH NOTING Grand Turk. This is a recently developed port complex and promises to be a very good one as it grows. It is anchored by Ron Jon's Surf Shop and a Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville with several other shops right at the end of the relatively short pier. There are also beaches at the end of the pier. The facilities are similar to those at the end of the pier at St. Maarten, but more extensive. Safety Drill. The Ruby Princess still requires taking life jackets to the safety drill. Many other ships no longer require that, reasoning that dragging the jackets with their straps is dangerous. Gratuity Envelopes. Gratuities are "automatically" charged to the shipboard accounts and no envelopes are provided. You can obtain envelopes if you desire to give additional gratuities. Satisfaction Surveys. They are emailed to your home after the cruise. Special recognition cards are provided should you want to recognize and individual. We did that for our room steward who was "old school" excellent. Electronic Casino Accounts. This is a good and growing trend on cruise ships. Casino Hours. The slot machine hours were extended beyond those published on a couple of days so if you enjoy the slot machines checking the unannounced availability is a good idea. Formal Nights. They were on Tuesday and Thursday. These are good to know if you are planning specialty restaurant or other events. Evening Buffet. The buffet was extremely busy on port evenings! The ship's planners could have done a much better job accommodating the crowds for these days.

SUMMARY

The Ruby Princess was very good overall. Every venue and all the staff were excellent. The disembarkation process, highlighted by the shuttling to another terminal and a malfunctioning gangway, was a significant negative.

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by Bob O.
Publication Date: December 20, 2009

Princess Cruises Ruby Princess by Bob O. Eastern Caribbean December 20, 2009

Avid cruisers with multiple cruiselines, and our third time with Princess, two on the Coral and our first on Ruby. We cruise to relax and so we did. Cabin steward, dining room staff right up there with the best. As a nmatter of fact our Head Waiter Thomas, Waiters Claudio and Bamba always went above and beyond to make our cruise that much more enjoyable. We've visited these particular port numerous times in the past and as i stated earlier we cruise to relax. Fourteenth Deck Balcony cabin (R747)as good as any, and real convenient to the aft deck pool and the Lido.

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by Scott
Publication Date: December 17, 2009

Princess Cruises Ruby Princess by Scott Bahamas December 17, 2009

This was my 1st cruise on Princess after 9 cruises on RCI and 1 on Carnival. This cruise was a 3-night Caribbean Sampler cruise on the Ruby Princess to the Princess Private Island in the Bahamas and back from Ft. Lauderdale. However, due to winds and choppy waters, our stop in Princess Cays was cancelled and we spent the cruise onboard.

Embarkation We flew into Ft. Lauderdale on Wednesday and stayed overnight in a local hotel near Port Everglades. We caught the free shuttle to the Port about 11am and arrived at the pier about 11:20am. We checked in, had a short wait in the terminal and were onboard about 11:45am.

The Ship The Ruby Princess was launched by Princess in 2008, so we were on a ship less than 1 year old. The Ruby Princess is an absolutely beautiful ship. The best way to describe it is elegance. The tile work, the art work and the metal work all throughout the ship was spectacular! The public areas and lounges were spacious and nicely decorated. The lounges in particular had great chairs and couches,

very comfy. There are 3 main pools, 2 in the center of the ship on deck 15, and the adults’ only pool in the aft portion of deck 14. This ship has the large movie screen and the “Movies under the Stars” is not to be missed!

The Cabin We had a category BB balcony on deck 14, midship. A nice queen size bed and a huge closet in the room. The larger closet did take away from the living space and the bathroom. Just a toilet and standup shower. The balcony itself was nice and fit 2 chairs and a table very easily.

The Staff The staff was very courteous, although they didn’t seem to be inclined to enforce the rules like dress codes or keeping kids out of the adults’ only areas. The wait staff and room steward did good jobs and we were happy with the bartenders, lounge staff, shore excursion and pursers personnel.

Dining We enjoyed the food, the dining room food was good and plentiful, and we really enjoyed the Horizon Court buffet. The best food we found was the Crown Grill. The food and service in the Crown Grill was spectacular! Mere words cannot do the Crown Grill justice.

Entertainment The highlight of this cruise was the Cruise Director and her staff. We didn’t go to the production show, but the comedian and magician were great. The Movie under the Stars we really enjoyed, as they put nice red velvet coverings on the deck chairs, passed out free popcorn and cookies and milk. The cruise director staff put on some great activities, including trivia, funny games shows like the “Liars Club” and other great activities.

Disembarkation We decided to use the self-disembarkation for this cruise since we only had 1 piece of luggage for both of us. We had our last breakfast in the dining room and walked off the ship without any delays or problems.

Overall I would rate this cruise a 7.5 out of 10. We really enjoyed the ship and the entertainment, the food and staff was good. We are looking forward to taking a 7 night or longer cruise on Princess Cruises.

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by Onemantax
Publication Date: December 17, 2009

Princess Cruises Ruby Princess by Onemantax Bahamas December 17, 2009

This was a 3 day cruise from Thursday to Sunday from Port Everglades. Princess normally does not schedule sailings this short but we were told that the 3 day mini-voyage was in lieu of a planned wet-dock for the ship. This was the second of two consecutive 3 day cruises.

My wife and I were on our 10th Princess cruise and we were accompanied by a couple who was on their first Princess cruise. Embarkation was easy and we were on the ship by 11:45 a.m. We were able to go directly to our cabin as soon as we boarded.

The ship was supposed to have 1 day at sea and 1 day at Princess Cay. Due to windy conditions, the stop at Princess Cay was scratched and we enjoyed an extra day at sea. The captain announced at 8:00 a.m. throughout the ship that he had tried to find another port of call but Nassau, Freeport and Key West were full.

The ship was beautiful and in excellent condition. It was decorated for the holidays but in a very muted and

tasteful way. The focal point of the ship is the 3 deck atrium in the middle (decks 5,6 and 7) including 2 glass elevators. Many events including street performers took place here.

My wife and I were in an AB category mini-suite on the starboard side of the ship on deck 9. Our friends had a balcony cabin one flight up all the way in the front of the ship (this was not a problem according to them even though we hit some 6-8 foot seas). Our room had plenty of storage space for a 10 day cruise let alone a 3 day cruise. The bathroom was quite roomy and included a shower/tub. A little more storage space in the bathroom would have been nice as would a little more headroom in the shower (I am 6'1). Our room included 2 televisions, a 3 person sofa, a chair and a refrigerator. The balcony had 2 chairs, 2 reclining chairs (not loungers) and a small table. Our balcony was not covered at all. The mini-suite included a welcome aboard glass of champagne upon embarkation. Our cabin steward was excellent and Princess still leaves a chocolate on your pillow at night. Our friends who had the room with balcony had a bigger balcony that was partially covered and a shower only (no tub) with more headroom.

We had any time dining which was a first for my wife and me. We usually arrived at 5:45 for dinner (dining room opened at 5:30)and had no problem getting a table for four each meal. Despite having different servers each night, the service was excellent. The food was excellent but the choices more limited then I would have expected. The buffet was nice and we had lunch there each day. Be sure to check out the back buffet as they served themed lunch buffets on the days at sea. On our cruise, one lunch buffet was Mexican and one was German. The Mexican food was especially good. Many of the dishes at the back buffet were not on the 2 normal buffets. We did not try the specialty eateries (Italian and Chophouse). Our friends went to the Wheelhouse Bar one day for the British lunch. They both had fish and chips and enjoyed it. We did not order room service. As always, the pizza at the pizzeria was wonderful. At the pizzeria, they also had free soft serve ice cream. The International Café looked wonderful but we did not get a chance to stop by on such a short cruise. Our friend enjoyed the sandwiches and pastries from the International Café. They sold gelato for only $1.50 but never got around to getting any. Our entire party enjoyed the Vines Wine Bar where we had sushi and cheese and crackers before dinner one night. The food was free but you had to buy wine to get the free food. Wine flights were only offered after 6:00 p.m. Our friends bought the coffee card (two for one with a coupon from the Princess coupon book) but were unable to use up all of the punches on the card. They sold soda cards but we did not purchase any.

The entertainment was above average. The show "Once Upon a Dream" was incredible. DO NOT MISS IT. The comedian was good. We skipped the juggler/illusionist on the last night. The rock/pop band and the alleged dixieland band were poor. The two pianists on board were great. We enjoyed the champagne waterfall in the Piazza where they served free hors d’oeuvres including caviar and champagne by the glassful. We are not gamblers but we thought the casino was very large but too smoky.

The perfume shop on board was very large and had an excellent selection. If you spent over $150, you got an extra 10% off. One of our friends attended both art auctions and had a lot of fun sipping free champagne and learning about art. She even won a free painting io the raffle but had to spend $20 to ship it home.

The gym was roomy and well kept. Towels were plentiful and there were enough exercise machines for all. On the first day at sea, my wife and I purchased an all day pass for the Thermal suite for $15 each. We used it 3 times that day and enjoyed it thoroughly. The room can comfortably accommodate about 12-15 people at a time. Only once did we find the room too crowded to enjoy. We thought the staff should have checked up on this room more often as dirty towels piled up on occasion. My wife had a reflexology treatment for $119 plus tip and enjoyed it.

We chose walk off for disembarkation. We were group 7 and were off the ship by 7:45 a.m.. Since we did not stop at any ports, we did not have to go through customs. As usual, we thoroughly enjoyed this short cruise and would strongly consider another short Princess cruise if offered. Our friends also thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and gave it rave reviews. All of us wanted to stay on for the 10 day cruise that was about to start.

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Ruby Princess
Publication Date: December 17, 2009

Princess Cruises Ruby Princess by Scott Bahamas December 17, 2009

This was my 1st cruise on Princess after 9 cruises on RCI and 1 on Carnival. This cruise was a 3-night Caribbean Sampler cruise on the Ruby Princess to the Princess Private Island in the Bahamas and back from Ft. Lauderdale. However, due to winds and choppy waters, our stop in Princess Cays was cancelled and we spent the cruise onboard.

Embarkation We flew into Ft. Lauderdale on Wednesday and stayed overnight in a local hotel near Port Everglades. We caught the free shuttle to the Port about 11am and arrived at the pier about 11:20am. We checked in, had a short wait in the terminal and were onboard about 11:45am.

The Ship The Ruby Princess was launched by Princess in 2008, so we were on a ship less than 1 year old. The Ruby Princess is an absolutely beautiful ship. The best way to describe it is elegance. The tile work, the art work and the metal work all throughout the ship was spectacular! The public areas and lounges were spacious and nicely decorated. The lounges in particular had great chairs and couches,

very comfy. There are 3 main pools, 2 in the center of the ship on deck 15, and the adults’ only pool in the aft portion of deck 14. This ship has the large movie screen and the “Movies under the Stars” is not to be missed!

The Cabin We had a category BB balcony on deck 14, midship. A nice queen size bed and a huge closet in the room. The larger closet did take away from the living space and the bathroom. Just a toilet and standup shower. The balcony itself was nice and fit 2 chairs and a table very easily.

The Staff The staff was very courteous, although they didn’t seem to be inclined to enforce the rules like dress codes or keeping kids out of the adults’ only areas. The wait staff and room steward did good jobs and we were happy with the bartenders, lounge staff, shore excursion and pursers personnel.

Dining We enjoyed the food, the dining room food was good and plentiful, and we really enjoyed the Horizon Court buffet. The best food we found was the Crown Grill. The food and service in the Crown Grill was spectacular! Mere words cannot do the Crown Grill justice.

Entertainment The highlight of this cruise was the Cruise Director and her staff. We didn’t go to the production show, but the comedian and magician were great. The Movie under the Stars we really enjoyed, as they put nice red velvet coverings on the deck chairs, passed out free popcorn and cookies and milk. The cruise director staff put on some great activities, including trivia, funny games shows like the “Liars Club” and other great activities.

Disembarkation We decided to use the self-disembarkation for this cruise since we only had 1 piece of luggage for both of us. We had our last breakfast in the dining room and walked off the ship without any delays or problems.

Overall I would rate this cruise a 7.5 out of 10. We really enjoyed the ship and the entertainment, the food and staff was good. We are looking forward to taking a 7 night or longer cruise on Princess Cruises.

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by Harry F Smith
Publication Date: June 9, 2009

Princess Cruises Ruby Princess by Harry F Smith Eastern Mediterranean June 9, 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.

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 that 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 at 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 to 40 people, not exactly relaxing.

Food Food was hit or miss, overall I would rate it 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)

Onboard Experience Overall Princess gets 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 dining rooms, very disappointing. If you are planning a cruise on Ruby, skip the opening show unless you like to be shaken down to spend money. On the first formal night there were no less than six photography stations set up, two blocking main passageways. I made no apologies for waling right through a photo shoot taking place directly in the path of passengers along the main Promenade deck. Spirits, beer and wine are reasonably priced from $3.50 to $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.

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by Ken T.
Publication Date: May 28, 2009

Princess Cruises Ruby Princess by Ken T. Eastern Mediterranean May 28, 2009

We were on back-to-back cruises aboard the Ruby Princess from 28 May to 9 June and 9 June to 21 June 2009. We are Elite Captain's Club members so we are familiar with a lot of their ships and the services provided. Our overall impression of both cruises was that they were excellent, but there were some limitations regarding the ship and the services.

Cabins Our most serious complaint concerns the outside cabins. We have purchased inside, outside, balcony and suite cabins on various Princess ships and have always been satisfied with what we received -- up until these cruises. On these two cruises, we reserved outside cabins without balconies and expected to receive a cabin with a configuration like that shown on the Princess web site. NOT SO -- BE WARNED. The outside cabins are nothing like the one shown on the web site. That representation is much like all the cabins we have had on other Princess ships and it is what we expected on these cruises, but Princess has made some radical changes to their outside cabins and

the result is nothing less than horrible.

We were given a cabin that had a queen bed pushed into a corner of the room with the head of the bed under the window. On the left side of the bed was a single nightstand with two attached lamps. Obviously, the nightstand was supposed to be used between two single beds. When the two beds were pushed together to form a queen, the nightstand provided light and storage for only one person. The other person could not read in bed and was forced to climb over the top of the bed to enter and exit.

There was one small table and one chair in the room and the table was blocking the door to the refrigerator. The only drawers in the room were those very small ones in the nightstand. All the other storage was in the form of shelves under the vanity or in the closet area. The bathroom storage was almost non-existent with two small, exposed shelves in one corner.

The inside cabins on the Ruby Princess are better than the outside cabins. We looked at several of them on the first day of the second cruise when all the doors were left open to greet the new guests boarding for that cruise. We also showed our cabin steward a copy of the configuration shown on the web site and asked him if any of the outside cabins looked like it. He said he had never seen an outside cabin on the Ruby Princess like the one represented.

We, of course, made our way to the Purser's desk immediately upon seeing the cabin and made known our displeasure. We were at first told that they might not be able to do anything about the situation as the ship was full and no other cabins were available. As it turned out, the head of Passenger Services did eventually come up with an upgraded cabin that had the configuration that we wanted. It was a balcony cabin. However, it was necessary for us to spend a couple of uncomfortable days in the first cabin before the other one opened up. On the second cruise, we had to go back to the first cabin for one day before another balcony cabin became available for us. It took some shuffling and a lot of wasted time, but we were finally satisfied with the result. The head of Passenger Services was very cooperative and did everything she could to satisfy our needs. She is to be commended for her efforts.

The one redeeming factor regarding the cabins was the closet space. It was excellent in all the cabin categories. The cabins also had nice vanities, but they lacked drawer space.

Food We took anytime dining on both cruises and ate almost all of our meals in the restaurant that provided that option. That included breakfast, lunch and dinner. We felt that the food on both cruises was excellent, even a cut above some of the other Princess ships we have been on. Strangely, it seemed like the food in the restaurant was better prepared and tastier on the first cruise and the deserts were better on the second cruise. We noticed a lot of crew people leaving the ship at various ports and surmise that we may have lost or gained some cooks and pastry chefs along the way.

We liked the fact that the dining rooms were opened every day for all meals. Some ships don't open their dining rooms for meals other than dinner on port days and everyone is forced to use the lido restaurant. We prefer to take as many meals as possible in the more formal restaurants. On those few occasions when we did use the lido restaurants, we found the selection and quality to be good.

Service The room stewards all did good jobs. Those servicing the balcony cabins seemed to be a bit more experienced. Whatever is lacking in the room service seems to be the fault of the people working at the Princess on-land offices. We are asked for our onboard preference at the My Princess web site regarding robes, beverages, fruit, etc. Apparently, this information was not transmitted to the room stewards as nothing in the room matched what we had ordered. It was necessary to contact Room Service to correct this situation. It is not a huge issue, but we wonder why Princess asks for our preferences if they don't intend to follow though and satisfy our requests.

The dining room service was excellent on the first cruise, but extremely slow on a few nights of the second cruise. There did not seem to be any noticeable reason for the slowness on the second cruise. Everyone was commenting about it but nobody knew what was going on. On two occasions, we spent nearly 3 hours having a normal dinner. Most of that time was spent waiting to order or for the next course to be brought. The waiters seemed to be having a good time and were under no noticeable stress. We were told that both cruises were full, but there seemed to be a lot more people on the second cruise. I am not sure how that could happen unless there were multiple cabins with more than 2 people to a cabin. We missed two shows because we were unable to get out of the restaurant in time.

Shows We are not big on production shows and only saw one. It was well done. We prefer the comedians, magicians, jugglers, etc. Unfortunately, Princess seems to be cutting back on some of the shows and replacing them with games provided by the cruise staff. In the past most of the Princess ships had two venues for shows; the Princess Theatre where the production shows are shown and a smaller venue like the Explorer's Lounge where comedy and magic acts were performed. They would usually have the same show repeated for two nights so everyone had an opportunity to see both shows on one or the other night. Each show was usually performed at least twice each night. On these cruises, there were times when only one show was presented in the Princess Theatre and the acts in the alternative venue were replaced with game shows or art auctions. We did not understand why this was done as all the entertainers were onboard and could have performed.

Tours We took Princess tours in 13 ports. They all had very knowledgeable guides that spoke excellent English although some had heavier accents than others. The buses provided were all in excellent condition and most of the drivers did a good job. Some were a little aggressive and scared the devil out of pedestrians as well as passengers that were watching the pedestrians jump out of the way of the oncoming bus. Drivers in this part of Europe have a lot of faith in other drivers. Pedestrians need to beware. One guide told us there are two kinds of pedestrians in Italy, the daring and the dead.

Be forewarned that there is a LOT of walking on most of the tours provided on these cruises and a lot of it is up some very steep hills and/or over uneven ground. Several people on each cruise required medical treatment as the result of falls taken while on various tours. Some of them were fortunate that the injuries were not more severe. Pickpockets were also very active and few days passed without someone mentioning that they had lost property while on a tour. These crooks are very professional and you don't even notice them being part of your group until it is too late.

Docks and Shuttles Many cruisers would like to go into the nearest town at some ports rather than take a Princess tour. Shuttles are often provided. Some charge a minimal fee and some are free. It is often very difficult to find this information before you arrive at a port. The information below pertains to our cruises only. It can vary by company and on each cruise with the same company. This information is taken from the Princess Patter. We took Princess tours in most of the ports and only took a shuttle on a couple of occasions.

Monte Carlo: We were under the impression that we would tender into Monte Carlo, but we docked. There was no shuttles provided, but it was not far to walk to town. The Princess Patter stated that walking around the harbor to the Casino would take about 30/40 minutes.

Livorno: Shuttles were provided by a private operator. Cost to the Livorno train station was 12 Euro ($15.00) per person for cruisers wanting to take a train to Pisa or Florence.

Civitavecchia: A complimentary shuttle was provided from the ship to the Port Gates in Civitavecchia. From there it was about a 10-minute walk to the railway station. Information was also provided about the cost of trains to Rome, but there is too much of it to include here.

Naples: On our first cruise, a complimentary shuttle was provided from the ship at Pier 21 to the Stazione Marittima (Maritime Station) where public ferries to Capri and Sorrento depart. On our second visit to Naples, no shuttle was provided, but it was only a short walk to the ferry depot. We took the ferry to Capri and back and it was an easy day once we found out where and how to purchase tickets and where to get on the boat. The Princess tour office onboard has a printed sheet available that provided the names of the boat companies servicing Sorrento and Capri. It also provides the cost of tickets, but the information was outdated and the cost was higher than stated. Just use this information as a general guide. The Princess Patter stated, "Please be advised that return tickets from Capri on the independent hydrofoil can only be purchased whilst in Capri on a first come first served basis -- please be careful when returning as hydrofoils do get very busy in late afternoon." The boat going to Capri was full. We returned on a boat in the early afternoon and it was less than half full. Later boats may have had more passengers.

Mykonos: On the first cruise, we anchored off shore and a shuttle boat was provided at no cost. On the second cruise, the boat docked at Tourlos Pier about 1.2 miles from town. A private shuttle was provided and the cost was Euro 7.00 per person round trip. Princess advised against walking into town, because there is no sidewalk.

Istanbul: Salipazari Cruise Port is located approximately 2.5 miles from the main tourist attractions. There was an independent shuttle bus service from the pier to a drop off point in the Grand Bazaar area. A guide was aboard the bus. She walked us into town and showed us where we would meet to return to the bus. The cost was US $12.00 per person for a round trip ticket. Tickets were purchased at the Shuttle Desk inside the terminal.

Kusadasi: The ship docked a short walk from the center of town. Kusadasi has the second largest bazaar in Turkey after Istanbul. It is a very clean and interesting area to shop and bargains are available. Bargaining is encouraged. Taxis to Ephesus are about $60.00 to $70.00 each way.

Athens: The ship docked at Kanelos Pier (Piraeus). A complimentary shuttle service was available between the ship and the Main Cruise Ship terminal. At the main Terminal taxi service was available.

Venice: Princess has a water shuttle available that goes from the cruise ship pier to St. Marks Square. The cost is $15.00 per person and it can be used all day and the next morning. The vendor provides maps of Venice. Be sure you get one. You can take a local waterbus down the Grand Canal to Piazzale Roma where it is about a 20 minute walk back to the pier. Be sure to get directions from a knowledgeable local about the route back to the ship. It can be confusing. Taxis are also available at the Piazzale that will take you back to the ship for a fee.

Dubrovnik: The ship docks about 3 miles from downtown. A local shuttle bus ran between the ship and Pile Square. Cost was 5.00 Euros each way.

Corfu: A shuttle bus was provided from the ship to the terminal building. Outside the terminal building, there was a local bus at the other end of the parking lot that took us into downtown Corfu for one Euro twenty. The bus was a little hard to find because it was always parked behind another bus. Ask the lady handing out information brochures just inside the terminal building. She walked us out to the parking lot and showed us where to find the bus. Princess did not provide information about this local bus. I learned about it from the lady mentioned above.

Katakolon: The ship docked about 700 yards from the fishing village of Katakolon. The village had a couple of blocks of tourist stores. One storeowner said that she closed up as soon as the ship left. The stores were all very nice and had good merchandise.

Rhodes: The ship docks at Rhodes Commercial Harbor about 300 yards from the Old Town Entrance (it is a flat walk to town). This is another fun place to walk around and check the shops.

Santorini: Independent passengers will be tendered to the port of Skala where there is a cable car that goes up the mountain to Thira. The cable car is 4 euros per person each way. You can also walk up or down the donkey path if you don't mind dodging what the donkeys leave behind. Expect lines and crowds at the cable car. Thira is another fun place to take a walk and window shop.

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by Mary & Vincent Finelli
Publication Date: January 24, 2009

Princess Cruises Ruby Princess by Mary & Vincent Finelli Western Caribbean January 24, 2009

We booked our 40th (ruby) Wedding Anniversary cruise on the Ruby Princess -- very fitting. The Ruby is a most elegant ship; while berthed in Port Everglades, she is unmistakable with the distinctive logo of a Princess with flowing hair. She is the newest of the fleet and a credit to Fincantieri, her constructors. Captain Tony Draper (Scotland and Cornwall) is a very personable and erudite gentleman -- We look forward to sailing with him again in the near future.

Embarkation The Ft. Lauderdale Port is a highly secure one, so on the way to the pier allow time for up to 30 minutes for security checks. We arrived at 12:45pm and had wheelchair assistance; we were through check-in, which is done by separate counters for each deck. This system makes the lines shorter and faster. We were on board by 1:15 and in our cabin. After checking on our dinner arrangements with our old friend Maitre D' Generoso Mazzone, we reserved a table for two at 6:00pm each evening. We were off to the buffet, Princess pizza served

out on the Horizon Terrace. Excellent! Then we went back to our cabin to rest until the boat drill, which was well organized and orderly. Our station was the Wheelhouse, where we were comfortably seated. Princess does not make passengers line up in the sun facing the elements on the Promenade deck as other lines do, rather it assigns public areas inside the ship for muster stations.

Ship The Ruby Princess (Hull # 6150) was built in Fincantieri, Cantieri Navali, Monfalcone, Italy, like her sisters the Emerald and the Crown Princesses. Her inaugural cruise was on November 8, 2008, thus making her only three months old. She is 948.0 ft long, 118.1 ft wide (165.7 ft including stabilizer wings), with a draft of only 27.88 ft. The Ruby Princess is 113,561 tons and her height is 219.8 ft, with a total of 18 decks and a passenger capacity of 3,150 (3,175 this cruise), with a crew of 1,200 from 54 countries around the globe.

Decks 1, 2, 3, & 4 are for crew only -- except for the Medical Center on the latter.

Decks 5, 6, & 7 are all public areas. Deck 5 aft has the Michelangelo Dining Room, with the wood panel walls and sconces for lighting; in the ceiling there are miniature lights that twinkle on and off like stars. The room is elegant in a subdued manner. The walls have murals of Italian pastoral scenes. Next, midship is the impressive Piazza, an atrium three decks tall, with a waterfall and a huge Tiffany light covering almost the entire ceiling. The floor is a mosaic of arcs and circles. This is a popular gathering place with a Cafe` serving specialty coffees and delicate pastries including marzipan "Pasta Reale" (miniature fruits), etc. There is also a wine, cheese and sushi bar which encourages sampling of many savory delights. Forward on Deck 5 are a Laundromat and cabins.

Deck 6, all the way aft is the Botticelli Dining Room and toward midship is the Da Vinci Dining Room. Here, midship are located the Reception desk and the shops, then the Gatsby Casino and the Speakeasy Cigar Lounge (this tiny area keeps the Casino smoke free). Forward is the Princess Theater with a red Austrian tucked curtain and red and gold embossed seats. There is a clear, unobstructed view of the stage from every seat. Bravo! The Walnut wood walls add to the understated elegance of the theater.

Deck 7 aft has the Club Fusion, the Photo Gallery, the Explorers Lounge (nightly live shows and music) and the upscale restaurant Crown Grill. Midship there are the Wheelhouse Bar and a well stocked Library with convenient hours. Forward is the Princess Theater balcony with a reserved area in the rear for wheelchairs.

Deck 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, & 14 are all passenger cabins.

Deck 15 has the Horizon Terrace, the Cafe`Caribe and the Horizon Court Buffet. Next, midship is the Calypso Reef and Pool, Pizza and Ice Cream Bar, Neptune Reef and Pool, Mermaid's Tail and Trident Grill. Forward there are other passenger cabins, Thermal Suites and the Lotus Spa.

Deck 16, all the way aft is the upscale Sabatini's Restaurant which is bigger and more impressive than the Sabatini's found on other classes of Princess ships. Here, midship is "Movies Under the Stars" giant screen, and forward are the Lotus Spa, Fitness Center and Aerobics, and the Wedding Chapel (8 weddings this week). During dinner in Sabatini's, we spoke with one of the brides, who was having the reception dinner there, and she expressed high praise for the Princess royal treatment.

Deck 17 has aft the Chill Out, the Fun Zone, Off Limits and the Video Arcade for the young ones, midship the Sun Terrace, and forward the posh Sanctuary, an exclusive relaxing oasis, a "Pocket of Tranquillity," with a nominal charge of $10.00 for a half day or $20.00 for a full day pass.

Deck 18 aft has Skywalkers Nightclub.

Deck 19 aft has Cyber golf.

The ship overall is stylish and elegant with lovely murals like the "Reef Scene" on Deck 16 by Morandi Studios, Sassuolo, Italy (a white on white tile design with accents of the palest pastels, all portraying a dream of an underwater scene). Also in the stairwell in this same area is a painting of two Kimonos in red and black on a gold background. There are many lovely decorations on board to enjoy, interspersed with fresh floral bouquets and live orchid plants.

Service and Food Passenger Services Director Dirk Brand has everything under control. The ship is immaculate (CDC Sanitary Inspection score is a perfect 100) and the service is snappy. The passengers are most acutely interested in the food, of course. Here Princess excels, the Executive Chef Manlio Cuzzolin (Mortegliano, Italy) is excellent. Princess accents Italian food with pasta courses served daily. There is an abundance of fresh fruits and cheeses that add variety and elegance to the menus. Plating was exquisite and the Always Available list featured the following: Shrimp Cocktail, Salmon Fillet, Fettuccine Alfredo, Steak, etc.

Appetizers included Spring Rolls, Fried Calamari, Fresh Fruit plates; Soups included both hearty like minestrone and cream of asparagus and delicate broths, as well as cold ones. Salads were dressed lightly or at the table. There were at least two pasta courses (i.e., Puttanesca, Four cheese rigatoni). Vincent liked the spaghetti alle vongole, especially. Entrees were varied and included meat (beef fillet and prime rib, lamb and veal), fish (lobster tail, crab legs, shrimp, cod, etc.), fowl (chicken, Cornish hen, duck, etc.) and vegetarian (stir fried oriental vegetables, egg plant Parmigiana, etc.).

Dining service onboard is under Maitre D' Generoso Mazzone who epitomizes elegance and style. Service in the Michelangelo was terrific. There are several options with anytime dining selections available. Specific restaurants were for personal choice times and others for fixed times. Our waiters every evening were Sopha and his assistant Panche under the direction of Head Waiter Rui -- impeccable. There is also "An Evening At The Chef's Table" which includes a galley tour followed by a multi-course tasting menu with Exec. Chef Manlio, all for the culinary connoisseur ($75).

We were also very happy to encounter Asst. Maitre D' Pasquale Marino once again. We have cruised with him several times and are always so surprised that he remembers us by name -- he's very personable. All of the crew made us feel very welcome. Approximately one third of the passengers were repeat cruisers on Princess. That is a great testimonial to the fact that Princess is doing an excellent job.

Cabin Baja B301 (deck 11) is a wheelchair accessible cabin with balcony decorated in blues and aquas with beige cabinetry trimmed in pecan wood. When entering on the left there is a huge bathroom with many safety rails and a 4'X4' shower with a folding seat. There is a large sink and two small shelves for toiletries. Next, there is a king size bed flanked by two low bureaus with reading lamps. The far wall is all glass with a sliding door to the balcony on which are two chairs and a small table.

When entering on the right there is a huge full length mirror, a triple armoire with two sections for hanging clothes and one section with shelves and a personal safe. Next, there is a long table with a TV console, refrigerator and a cupboard. A desk chair, two beige leather barrel chairs, and a coffee table complete the furnishings. On the walls are two large paintings of the Lake Region of Italy. Our Cabin Steward was Wirot who was helpful and efficient all through the cruise. Just terrific!

Entertainment The "Best Smile At Sea" goes to Cruise Director Lisa Ball -- energetic and friendly, she keeps everyone onboard hopping. We cruise to relax and rest, and there are plenty of nice quiet places to sit and enjoy the sea: The promenade has deck chairs conducive to reading and the library is well stocked! There are several areas with pianists or small combos. Princess Patter reports daily the many events at different venues from the Piazza to the Theater, from the Club Fusion to the Explorer Lounge. In the Piazza there are always demonstrations (cooking, flower arrangement, etc.), music and dancing (music each evening with a violinist, piano and bass, and we especially enjoyed the violinist and Magdalena the pianist). Princess Theater had two excellent production shows: "The Great White Way" pairing musical song hits with dance numbers, and "Once Upon A Dream." Every cruise Maitre D' Generoso does a Champagne Waterfall, tall and terrific, and a cooking demonstration in the Theater with Chef Manlio, very entertaining! The Chinese New Years Eve was celebrated on Jan. 25th; this is the year of the Ox.

In the Explorer's Lounge were comedians, and a lively music group. There are Bingo and Slots Tournaments, Basketball, Shuffleboard, and Table tennis, etc. There is something for everyone.

Ports of Call 1-24-09: Fort Lauderdale, FL -- Sail Away -- 5:00pm 1-25-09: At Sea 1-26-09: Ocho Rios, Jamaica -- Arrive 8:00am -- Depart 4:00pm 1-27-09: Grand Cayman -- Arrive 7:00am -- Depart 4:30pm 1-28-09: Cozumel, Mexico -- Arrive 7:15am -- Depart 5:30pm 1-29-09: At Sea 1-30-09: Princess Cays -- Arrive 8:30am -- Depart 3:30pm 1-31-09: Ft. Lauderdale, FL -- Arrive 7:00am -- Debarkation

Debarkation Princess handles debarkation very nicely. We had wheelchair assistance from our cabin, down to the Gatsby Casino where first come, first served ruled. After about a twenty minute wait we were assisted off and were through passport check, customs and outside by 9:00am, and were at home by 10:00am.

Conclusion This was our eleventh cruise on Princess ships, thus with four more cruises we'll graduate from Platinum to Elite members in the Captain's Circle program which will mean more benefits and perks for us: Preferred Service Package (shoe polishing and complimentary laundry/dry cleaning service), Complimentary Mini Bar Set Up, Upgraded Bathroom Amenities, Complimentary Wine Tasting, 10% Boutique Discount, and other VIP treatment including a special cocktail party with the Captain. These are in part the incentives that make Princess one of our favorite cruise lines. Happy Cruising!

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