Here are some of my observations of the 3 night Caribbean Sampler Ruby Princess Cruise last week.
The Ruby Princess is really a beautiful ship. The artwork, flooring, metal work were all very elegant and nice. The lounges were spectacular as were all the public areas and cabins. We had a nice balcony cabin midship on the Riviera deck. I found the balcony itself to be a little larger than the standard balcony on a RCI ship. The food was better quality, including the buffet. Just to give you an example, the Ruby Princess buffet had steak and eggs available one morning, and the steaks were juicy and tender, just like you could get in the dining room! The dining in the Crown Grill was spectacular in both the food and the service. The service overall was really good, but I found it lacking in some areas, and I will expound on that later. Not as good as the service I have see on RCI, but still very good.
The layout of the ship was also a big plus. Plenty of elevators and stairs and well placed. There was plenty of space at the desks for shore excursions, Purser's desk and the photo areas.
Since this was just a 3 night sampler cruise, I noticed some things I found lacking, and I generally atribute this to it being a 3 night cruise, and not the usual 7 or more night cruise Princess is usually known for. On our debarkation morning, we met a couple of very nice elderly women at breakfast that were veteran Princess cruisers and they noticed a lot of the same stuff we noticed, and told us this was not the usual way things are done on a Princess cruise, which is why I say these are probably just because this was a 3 night sampler cruise.
First was the dining room. We choose traditional dining with a 6pm seating. Of the 3 dining rooms, 2 were used for anytime dining, and 1 was for traditional dining. However, on both the nights we used the traditional dining room, it was treated as an anytime dining room. We were not seated either night at the table that was designated on our card, and we were not seated with others and had a different wait staff each night. We like traditional dining, and choose it because we like eating with others and having the same wait staff each night. Also, they clearly didn't enforce any kind of dress code in the evening dining room. The way some people were dressed in shorts, torn blue jeans, t-shirts with vulgar writtings on them and baseball hats, if they did sit down at our table, we probably would've gotten up and left. We ate in the Crown Grill on our final evening and that was really worth the $25 a person we paid, the food was REALLY spectacular and the service was as well, but they also did not enforce any kind of dress code in the Crown Grill either.
We didn't use the spa, on our 1st day on the ship we stopped at the spa to look around and we saw one of the spa personnel after she showed a nice lady where to sit and wait for her appointment, turn towards us and away from the customer and roll her eyes and shake her head. We thought, if this is how they treat their customers with their backs turned, we really don't want to use the spa.
We had a couple very nice days by the pool. Our stop in Princess Cays was canceled due to heavy sea swells and wind, so we spent the entire cruise onboard. We were a little dissappointed, but the ship itself was really nice and the Cruise Director, Lisa Ball, and her staff were outstanding. We loved the entertainment, games, activities and shows. They really did a great job and the Cruise Director and her staff were the real highlights of this cruise! The "Movies under the Stars" were just great, we saw one movie and the Princess crew put nice red velvet coverings on the deck chairs with warm blankets, and brought around popcorn and later on cookies and milk! The Movies under the stars are not to be missed onboard!
The pools were nice, although they didn't seem to enforce any of the pool deck rules either. We spent our time at the Terrace pool at the very back of the ship, which was supposed to be adults only. They didn't enforce the rules, we had kids running around.
Here is my "saving deck chairs" rant. I really hate it when people do this, they show up early in the morning and throw a towel on a chair, and then disappear for hours at a time. The Terrace pool only had about 20 - 25 chairs around the pool to begin with, and with the stop at Princess Cays canceled, space at the pools was at a premium. For me, when people do this and they have been gone for more than an hour, I just move their towels and take the chair. I also gave away some chairs next to us when other people came by and asked if the chair was taken, if no one had been in the chair for a couple of hours, I just told them it was free and moved the offending towel and gave them the chair. It just isn't right to do this I think.
One incident that really ticked me off was a couple that saved 2 deck chairs by the pool, AND saved a set of table and chairs up one level by the bar. They would sit in one, and if anyone dared to use the other, they would run over and say "No No, we have those chairs saved!" They would run between the 2 and never let anyone else use them. As I said, there were only 20 - 25 deck chairs and maybe 10 sets of table and chairs. This one couple's actions I felt were very rude in not letting others use those chairs and tables when they weren't using them. I know a couple of people complained to them that they weren't using the deck chairs, they were up at the tables by the bar, but there was no security or deck attendants to do anything. My last couple of cruises on RCI, they did have deck attendants and the rules of no kids at the adult pools and the no saving of deck chairs was enforced.
So overall we had a really nice 3 night cruise. We are looking at booking a 7 night on Princess for this coming spring or summer to see what a 7 nighter on Princess is like.