Finally, here's my review of the Ruby Princess....enjoy!
Ruby Princess, Day 1, Ft. Lauderdale March 11, 2012
One of the highlights of this particular cruise for me, was the day before, when we flew in to Ft.Lauderdale and met up with a long-lost cousin of mine at the hotel. Sherill is a 1st cousin of my late mom's, and we had not seen each other for some 30-odd years!
Sherill and her husband Dave had just returned from a cruise on Celebrity, and instead of heading for their winter home in Florida, stayed at our hotel so that we could have a visit.
We enjoyed a lazy afternoon chat by the pool, a dinner in the hotel dining room, and breakfast together the next morning before they set off for home and we set off for our cruise. On the morning of the 11th, we set off from the Rodeway Inn & Suites on their very efficient shuttle service to the port, arriving around 10:30, and were surprised to see many people still disembarking. There was no line up at the entrance, nor at security or check-in, but then we were led to a large seating area where we waited from 10:35 to 12:05, when they began calling our numbers to be boarded. After the obligatory embarkation photo, we were boarded and we took some time to photograph the beautiful "Piazza", the main lobby of the Ruby Princess.
Our cabins were ready by 12:30, so we went directly there (Riviera Deck 14, forward), directed along the way by very friendly and helpful staff. We found our cabin spacious and light, with a small but efficient balcony, and much more bathroom counter space and closet and storage space than on our previous cruise on Celebrity.
As usual, our first visit was to the Lido deck and the Horizon Court buffet for lunch. Not as open-concept as Celebrity's buffet, in fact a bit crowded, but the food choices were good, and we enjoyed a nice first lunch. My only (small) complaint was that in addition to coffe and tea, the only other free drink option was water and iced tea (which is just awful), instead of the choice of juices and lemonade that I remember them having. Lemonade was advertised as available, but you had to ask your server. I'm guessing they got tired of people filling up their huge thermal cups with lemonade and juice, and are trying to limit consumption and save money.
One of the things we were given at check-in was a Treasure Hunt card. You were supposed to take this card with you as you explored the ship, and have it stamped at various shops, bars, and places of interest around the ship, then turn it in at sailaway to possibly win a prize. It was a fun and interesting way to explore the ship, find different places, meet the staff who would stamp your card, and get to learn your way around. We spent most of the afternoon doing just that, photographing the various areas along the way.
Before sailaway, there was the requisite muster drill, only instead of standing in rows out on deck under the life boats, we were directed to the Princess Theatre for a quick safety drill and life jacket demonstration.
Then it was time to party! Princess did not disappoint, organizing a wonderful sailaway party, with excellent pool band "Accent", and a fun entertainment staff who had everyone up line dancing and boogeying as we sailed out of Ft. Lauderdale.
There was also the giveaway of prizes for completed Treasure Hunt cards, and James won the first prize, a coupon worth $25 for the casino. Other prizes included flower arrangements, specialty restaurant dinners, spa treatments, photo packages, etc. Nice idea, and nice prizes!
Our first evening dinner was "free-choice" or anytime dining, in the Michaelangelo Dining Room. There was no line up, no waiting, and the service was quick and attentive. Upon presenting the Head Waiter with my (previously arranged) "special dietary needs" card, he was most helpful in assisting me in choosing gluten-free menu choices. Not only did he bring me special gluten-free bread, but also brought me the next night's menu to help me choose for tomorrow. I was very impressed with the service! I was even more impressed with the food. I started with a cold Pina Colada soup, served in a hurricane glass with a straw. What a treat!
This was followed by Barramundi with onion, eggplant, red pepper and tomato sauce, which was delicious. James had an excellent Porcini Mushroom soup, followed by Texas Chili served with rice. For dessert he had Chocolate Mousse and I had the recommended flourless Chocolate Cake with cream. A wonderful first dinner on board!
Immediately following dinner, we went to the Princess Theatre for the Welcome Aboard Show. The Ruby singers and dancers proved to be excellent in both singing and dancing, and performed a nice medley of Sailing and Seas Cruise songs, followed by the very funny comedic acrobatic/juggling act of ROCKBERRY. Our Cruise Director, Sam (Samantha Hawker-Thomas), our very first female CD, also gave a preview of all the wonderful shows lined up for the week, and we looked forward to them all.
From the theatre, we headed to the Crooner's Lounge to see our old friend Bert Stratton.
He was not singing this first night, just playing piano quietly, and occasionally engaging the audience in conversation or "participitation". It was decidedly low-key for Bert, and odd, but he still had us laughing when he played the well known "Charlie Brown" theme, the one where Snoopy dances and the kids all dance with that shoulder-shrugging movement, and a couple of middle aged men in front started to do the dance. Bert recognized me finally, and came over for a big hug, and sat and talked with me and a woman named Reggie, his "groupie" who was on her 16th Bert cruise! Then it was off to bed and a particularly rocky night at sea....
Royal Princess Innaugural Caribbean
Royal Princess Back-to-Back
Last edited by rollerdonna; March 26th, 2012 at 09:53 PM.
Thanks Mike, but I am copying them directly from facebook; I used to put them in the CM gallery first, but it took FOREVER to re-size them to fit, it is faster this way, but still way too slow going back and forth copying and pasting....it'll take me all week to finish!
Thank you Donna. I feel like I'm on a cruise again only this time from land. We have done the Emerald Princess the last two years, and Ruby sounds very much the same. Loved the Emerald! In fact if memory serves me correctly you were on it with us a few years ago.
NCL Epic 2012, Eastern Caribbean
Explorer of the Seas 2009, Eastern Caribbean
Explorer of the Seas 2007, Eastern Caribbean
Explorer of the Seas 2006, Eastern Caribbean
OMGoodness, Donna, I was on that same cruise. We were on Baja Deck, all the way in the stern. 3/11 was my bd and as we had a great time celebrating on the Crown Princess in Jan for hub's bd, decided to do the same for me!
We tended to eat each night in the specialty restaurants (we had reservations each evening in Sabatini's but the last three nights went to the Crown Grill instead) so perhaps our paths did not meet. --I found myself looking at your photos to see if I was in any of them. I will look thru mine to see if you are in any and forward to you.
Didn't you just love Sasha and "Yo" Adrien in Crooners? Our waiter in Sabatini's was Marian who was extremely professional and very personable. Ali Baba, our waiter in CG, kept us in stitches very night. Our cabin steward, Marianna, was superb but could not be bribed to come home with us.
I found the ship lovely, even prettier (although they are both the same configuration) decore wise than the Crown.
We tended not to go to any shows in the evening, but did enjoy shore excursions in StTom, StMaarten, and GT and on sea days, I participated in many shipboard activities. Cruise staff were excellent and I played the all-week Scavenger Hunt wherein one had to get signatures from all types of crew members/passengers on board, look and retrieve things from the ship, and write down things which were happening/had happened. This, in my opinion, was a great marketing PR tool as in order to play, you got very familiar with the ship, its crew, who did what/when/how, and what was going on at all times. Kuddos to Princess for it!
With the exception of one person on board (and the problem was recognized and rectified the same evening, and later followed up with two phone calls from the customer service department), I had a great time.
Thanks for sharing your comments and photos (brought back alot of memories!)
2katz3fsh, isn't it funny that we were on the same cruise but didn't know each other? We could be found at almost every trivia game, and I could kick myself for not doing the week long scavenger hunt, it sounds like fun.
We did do the 1st day "stamp your card" hunt and that really helped us find our way around the ship!
I'm still writing and loading pics on facebook, so stay tuned for Part 6 & 7 coming up, you may see yourself in my photos yet!
ps. I didn't see Sasha and "Yo Adrian" in Crooners, only Bert Stratton.What did I miss?