Recently I had the chance to sail on Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess on a five-night Western Caribbean cruise from Port Everglades, Florida. The ship’s itinerary was one day at sea, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, another sea day, before heading back to Port Everglades.
When I got the invitation to sail Ruby Princess I had no clue what to expect. I’ve sailed on quite a few different cruise lines and recently had a taste of the Princess brand aboard Royal Princess, but that was all.
I can name five people off the top of my head that are Elite in Princess’ Captain’s Circle, so I figured I’d be in for a great cruise. But the overall cruise experience is so subjective, so would I like it as much as my older friends? I’d soon find out.
Here is my Ruby Princess review and be sure to check out our live broadcast aboard Ruby Princess here.
This is my second time embarking from Terminal 2 in Port Everglades, and both times were more than efficient. I arrived at the pier just after 1pm and after a brief security checkpoint, a document check and the check-in process, I was on the ship. From pier to the ship was under 15-minutes.
I was very impressed when I first walked onto the ship. You walk into an area called The Piazza, or the main atrium, as it’s referred to on most ships. There were three levels of bars, lounges, dining and entertainment in the area. The ship was very clean and had a classy feel to it. It was time to drop my bags and gear off in my stateroom.
The stateroom on Royal Princess really wowed me and I felt the same in my balcony stateroom (#10718) on Ruby Princess.
There’s one thing I need when I travel and that’s space. I have clothes, gear and more gear, so I really enjoyed the walk-in closet. On every cruise ship I’ve been on there’s always been a closet in the hallway. Typically the closet in the hallway between the living quarters and the door can make a three-way jam for people trying to pass, go in/out of the bathroom or come into your cabin.
On Ruby Princess the walk-in closet is right when you exit the bathroom so you have a little changing area and a place to hang your clothes all in the same spot.
The balconies on Ruby Princess were tiered like a pyramid. Each balcony overhung the balcony below you. This was by far is the biggest balcony I’ve seen on a cruise ship, with the exception of an aft balcony stateroom across the different brands.
I was very pleased with the accommodations and felt like I could enjoy this cabin from five-nights to 35-nights.
I didn’t get to catch a lot of the entertainment in the main show lounge on our voyage because this was a special cruiseing for a cause sailing with the American Heart Association, so there were seminars and classes all day. One night I did peek my head in to see an illusionist performing and another night was the welcome aboard show with the Cruise Director and a sampling of entertainment that was to come. It was catchy at first glance.
There was plenty of nightlife throughout the ship in the disco (deck 18 aft) and in The Piazza (deck 5, 6, and 7 midship), where a band performed nightly.
The Ruby Princess has an extensive kids program on board as they are teamed up with the California Science Center.
Being on the ship five nights I had an opportunity to check out quite a few of the restaurants onboard like: Sabatini’s (Italian), Crown Grill (steakhouse), International Café (salads, soups and sandwiches), the Main Dining Room, Horizon Court (buffet area) and the Pizza and Ice Cream joint located on deck 15.
Food is so subjective but the dining was comparable to other cruise ships I’ve been on during the last few years. There were two venues that really stuck out the most. The first venue was the Crown Grill where I ordered a 22oz Porterhouse steak, I finished the steak and then I was down for the count!
The second venue that really stuck out that I didn’t get to eat at but would have loved to was the Crab Shack. This venue is held in the back of Horizon Court and is a seafood lovers dream with Alaskan crab legs, chowders and more. The cost per person is $20 but from the looks of it, it was worth every penny!
Two features really stuck out to me on Ruby Princess, the first one being Movies Under the Stars. There is a big movie screen on deck 15 that plays first-run movies at night and concerts and movies during the day. Two of the movies I saw were Captain Phillips and Last Vegas at nighttime and Momma Mia and a Paul McCartney show during the day.
The next feature that I enjoyed was Skywalkers Nightclub, this club is located on deck 18 aft and goes into the wee hours of the morning. It wasn’t just the flashy dance floor lights and theme parties that caught my eye, it was the panoramic daytime view. If you were in a port of call you could easily get a great photo from Skywalkers Nightclub.
The ship carries some 3,000-guests but there was plenty of space to go around. Even on sea days there wasn’t an issue getting a deck chair because of so many open areas around the ship and The Sanctuary located all the way forward. If you really don’t want to be bothered you can pay $10 for a half day or $20 for a full day to enjoy peace and quiet in The Sanctuary.
Grand Cayman, Stingray City and Snorkel Stop. This was my second time doing this excursion and would recommend it to any love of wildlife or the outdoors. You take a boat to a sandbar, getting in the water with stingrays (they’re safe) and then head to a coral reef area and snorkel. You can read the full review of the excursion here.
Cozumel – Day pass at El Cid Resort. This is one of the best deals in Cozumel when it comes to getting a day pass. For $20 cruise passengers can purchase a day pass that is good for access to the pools, free internet, loungers and recreation area. Of the $20 you pay to get in, $12 is returned to you in form of a food and beverage credit to use at the bar or Mexican restaurant on the property. You can read our review of El Cid day pass program here.
When it came time to disembark the ship, things went quite smoothly. The ship requests that you leave your stateroom by 9am and make your way to a public area on the ship or somewhere to have breakfast. Since I pack light, I didn’t check my luggage the night before and did the self-assist disembarkation. I walked off the ship with bags in hand, proceeded to U.S. Customs and went out pier side to catch my shuttle to the Fort Lauderdale airport.
Pre-cruise or Post-cruise Accommodations
Since I am a firm believer in arriving at the cruise port a day early, I stayed at the Embassy Suite Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port. Besides the fact that you’re overlooking the cruise pier, the hotel offered plenty of amenities that suit my travel needs. I enjoyed free cocktail hour the evening before my cruise, the free hot breakfast the morning of my cruise and the one room suite. I was first turned onto to Embassy Suites here in Jacksonville in 2008, and since then they have won me over when it comes to looking for the whole package with one price. They also offer transportation from the airport and to the cruise pier. You can check out more about the Embassy Suites Fort Lauderdale here.
Princess Cruises overall impressed me. So much that I could see myself vacationing on the brand when I’m ready to relax and just chill out when I sail. The average age on my sailing was late 40’s and up, but there was definitely a mix of younger couples, families and multigenerational.
At the end of the day my expectations were far exceeded. I walked on the ship not knowing really what to expect and walked off the ship blown away by the service, experience and friendliness of the crew. I can’t say enough good things about the crew onboard Ruby Princess, from the stellar service in the Horizon Court dining area to the attention to detail when cleaning your room, it was the whole package. Read my 5 first impressions of Princess Cruises here.
Princess has a new slogan, “Come Back New,” and I have.