01 of 09
Ruby Princess in a Nutshell
Ruby Princess is a big, beautiful ship that joined the Princess Cruises fleet in November 2008. She incorporates all the current cruising trends that couples appreciate: balcony cabins, anytime dining, specialty restaurants, behind-the-scenes tours, seminars, movies-under-the-stars, high-tech production shows, a thermal spa facility, gym, and a willingness to host special occasions. There is such an extensive array of activities, both free and for-a-fee, that you may feel guilty for just doing nothing aboard.
Love is definitely in the air on this Princess ship. Romance-themed activities for couples are available day and night, and the daily program even incorporates quotes on love.
Our sailing, which took place over Valentine’s Day and during the President’s Day school break, was fully booked. Yet most of the time, in most places, the ship didn’t feel crowded, despite the 3,080 passengers she carried.
See a Cabin >Continue to 2 of 9 below.
02 of 09
Ruby Princess Cabins
It's always a pleasure to board a new ship, and we were among the earliest passengers on Ruby Princess, where cabins range from inside at 163 square feet to a suite topping out at 687 square feet. Some 80 percent have balconies.
Our mini-suite (324 square feet) on the Dolphin Deck was spacious. The balcony was large enough for four chairs and a table. But caveat emptor: balcony cabins on the Dolphin and Caribe decks have a big negative: the balconies are exposed to passengers on the decks above them.
The mini-suite has two flat-panel TV’s, and the sofa in the sitting area could open to accommodate a third person. There is no dividing curtain between the sitting and bedroom areas.
All cabins have amenities from the ship’s Lotus Spa. There is a safe, hair dryer, flat-panel TV, and a mini-fridge big enough to hold a full-sized bottle of champagne. In-cabin wi-fi is available (fee).
Hairdryers are located inside the cabin at the desk/ mirror area. There are also two outlets that can be used to plug in chargers, laptops, etc. But they are so close together only one can be used at a time.
The king-sized bed was delicious. The size and mattress are upgrades from the standard balcony/ocean view/inside cabin, with two twin beds that can make up into a queen.
Linens for all cabins are soft duvets and sheets. A pillow-menu option becomes available at the mini-suite level, either feather or therapeutic.
Shower/tub combos also begin at that level, but you have to move up to a full suite for a lighted magnifying mirror, massaging shower head, bathrobes and slippers, whirlpool tub, DVD/CD player and library, one free mini-bar setup, and fresh flowers.
There is ample space for a week’s worth of clothes, even with two formal nights. Full suites have a walk-in closet.
Check Out the Dining >Continue to 3 of 9 below.
03 of 09
Dining on Ruby Princess
Food onboard the Ruby Princess is uniformly delicious, with the special offerings we tried falling into the outstanding category. Passengers can eat well without spending more at the Michelangelo and the Da Vinci dining rooms, which are set aside for anytime dining. Botticelli is home to two fixed-dinner seatings. Menus are the same in all, and you can request a quiet table for two.
More casual dining options include the Café Caribe, Horizon Court, Trident Grill, plus a pizza and ice cream bar. And on sea days a pub-style lunch is available in the Wheelhouse Bar, at no extra charge.
Good Taste at Sea
Sailing aboard Ruby Princess also offers passengers opportunities to dine in a variety of restaurants. A fee is charged for all of the following:
If you are in a balcony cabin, start your day with a Champagne Balcony Breakfast or end it with the Ultimate Balcony Dinner, which features lobster tails, Champagne, and chocolates to help set the mood. Regular room service is available 24/7.
The Chef’s Table dinner is a unique opportunity to visit the galley during dinner hour, meet the executive chef for pre-dinner cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and feast on a specially created menu.
Sabatini’s, the ship’s Italian restaurant, is open for breakfast for suite passengers at no extra charge, and for dinner to everyone for a per-person charge, which is well worth it. If this is your choice, don’t have lunch…the fare is delicious and plentiful.
The Crown Grill offers premium beef and seafood and has an open kitchen where diners can view chefs at work preparing their dinner.
Vines is a wine, seafood, and cheese bar where you can take refuge from the sometimes overwhelming amount of food offered elsewhere. The small-plate seafood items are very tasty, especially the lobster cocktail.
Getting Married on Princess Cruises >Continue to 4 of 9 below.
04 of 09
Ruby Princess Weddings and Vow Renewals
For a long time, Princess was the only cruise line where the captain could perform legally recognized marriage ceremonies at sea. A few other lines now provide this service, but Princess is still the best known.
Through Princess' Tie-the-Knot program, couples can choose to marry harbor-side at the embarkation location, at sea, or in one of the ship's ports of call.
A shipboard wedding is definitely not something you can do on the spur of the moment. Princess' wedding coordinators can help you to acquire the necessary paperwork to ensure your ceremony is legal and handle all the celebratory details of the event as well.
Your ceremony at sea can be held in either the Hearts and Minds Wedding Chapel or one of several other shipboard locations.
The captain officiates at all at-sea weddings. The standard fee includes champagne, live music, tuxedo rental, bouquet and matching boutonniere, wedding cake, souvenir champagne glasses, wedding certificate, photo package with album. Thanks to a web cam, ceremonies held in the wedding chapel can be viewed live by the folks at home.
Prices for harbor-side and port-of-call weddings vary depending on location, and you will have to secure your own officiant to perform the ceremony.
Princess offers two romantic marriage vow renewal packages, both including a ceremony officiated by the ship's captain. The standard package includes a commemorative certificate, orchid and boutonniere, champagne, souvenir glasses, and a photo. A champagne breakfast in bed, two cotton bathrobes to take home, a 25-minute spa treatment, in-room canapés or petit-fours, and a visit to the bridge come with the deluxe package.
Celebrating Honeymoons and Anniversaries Onboard >Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Honeymoons and Anniversaries on Ruby Princess
As if being on a cruise weren’t romantic enough, the cruise line that boasts a Department of Romance has created several ways to make it even more so, whether you are on a honeymoon, celebrating an anniversary, or have just left the daily grind behind for some alone-time together.
There are invitation-only cocktail parties for honeymoon couples as well as for those married 50 years or more.
For the fun of it, there’s a Marriage Game Show…you don’t have to be married to participate and see just how well you know your honey (or not).
If you tell Princess you are celebrating an anniversary ahead of time through your online booking form, you will find Happy Anniversary balloons on your cabin door and a special cake presented at dinner on the night you request.
You can also purchase more comprehensive honeymoon/anniversary celebration packages. The standard package includes two long-stemmed roses, a bottle of champagne, two souvenir glasses, chocolate-dipped strawberries, a framed photographic portraid, and a card from the captain.
The deluxe package adds champagne breakfast in bed, two cotton bathrobes, a 25-minute spa treatment, in-room canapés or petit fours, and a visit to the bridge.
If you are neither honeymooning nor celebrating an anniversary but want to let your sweetheart know how much you care, there are special occasion and grand occasion packages.
The special occasion package includes champagne breakfast in bed, bottle champagne and either canapés or petit fours delivered to your cabin, and a portrait photo. The grand package upgrades the champagne to Dom Perignon and adds two cotton bathrobes to keep, a 25-minute spa treatment, and a visit to the bridge.
When You're at Sea >Continue to 6 of 9 below.
06 of 09
Onboard Ruby Princess
Whatever your age or interest, Princess’ has activities likely to suit you.
The Lotus Spa complex is a relaxing place to spend time together. You can work out in the gym or unwind in the spa’s thermal suite (daily fee).
We booked a couples Aroma Stone Massage (fee), which took place in the Sanctuary, a private adults-only lounge area (usage fee). After champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries (included in massage price) in our ocean-view cabana-for-two, we felt pampered and relaxed.
The spa pool and hot tub, also adults-only, was never crowded. Most people don’t know it is open to anyone, even if you are not having a spa treatment.
The terrace pool was less crowded than the two main pools, the Calypso and Neptune. At those, families gathered and the lounges were almost always taken up by early in the morning.
There were two formal nights during the cruise. The second one included a champagne waterfall, set up at midnight in the Piazza.
Twelve lounge areas are spaced throughout the ship. Skywalker’s, a quiet spot for reading or talking during the day, is a great place to drink and dance the night away. Movies-Under-The Stars brings back all that’s good about going to a drive-in movie.
Two above-average production shows are in the Princess Theatre. "Once Upon a Dream" uses a new cinematic projection technique set to music. "Broadway Ballroom" is a more traditional show featuring music and dance.
Each evening brought comedians, magicians, and special theme nights in Club Fusion. Karaoke is also available, and the couples we saw participating enjoyed seeing each other in a new light. 24-hour Internet access is available in the Internet lounge and in wi-fi hotspots throughout the ship, all for a fee.
All About Excursions >Continue to 7 of 9 below.
07 of 09
Ruby Princess Excursions
Ruby Princess sails the Mediterranean and Greek Islands in the summer and Southern and Eastern Caribbean journeys in the winter. Princess offered a broad variety of shore excursions in each port our Western Caribbean cruise called at.
In Ocho Rios we met the Jamaican Dogsled Team, comprised of dogs rescued from the Jamaica SPCA. It is a no-exertion, feel-good excursion. The dogs were well cared for, loved, and eager to run.
Our next stop was Grand Cayman, home of Stingray City, so we took a catamaran out to swim with the stingrays. This has been going on for a long time, and word has gotten out among the rays that there’s a free lunch to be had for a few minutes of fraternizing with the tourists. The rays are wild but gentle, and are able to go back to their home on the reef at any time.
We visited the ancient Mayan city of Tulum as part of our stop in Cozumel, an island off the Yucatan Peninsula’s Mayan Riviera.
A ferry took us to the mainland at Playa del Carmen. The ruins are then about an hour by bus. Tulum was a crossroads for trade between Mexico and Central America. Its location on a beautiful beach was a perfect spot for commerce. Today, the grounds are park-like, and a population of engaging iguanas has taken up residence.
Princess Cay is Princess’ private beach in the Bahamas. Here you can snorkel, sunbathe, have a drink with an umbrella in it, and a barbecue lunch.
There are fees for some drinks and for all equipment rentals. Two-person “clamshells” (fee) provide shelter from the sun and a bit of privacy. If you are more adventurous, rent a two-person ocean kayak and paddle over the crystal-clear water.
Room for Improvement >Continue to 8 of 9 below.
08 of 09
What Could Be Better on Ruby Princess
Non-smokers may be frustrated by the lack of non-smoking cabins. I woke up stuffed up after one night onboard. The occupants of the mini-suites on either side of ours were smokers. When they opened their doors to the hallway, the smell of smoke was apparent. We often could not use our balcony because they were smoking cigars outside on theirs.
I would like to see designated non-smoking cabins at all levels, and I would suggest grouping them together. And a non-smoking deck would be a boon.
Other complaints are minor: I could not charge my camera batteries and use my laptop at the same time because the two plugs provided in the cabin for personal electronics were placed too close together.
For exhibitionists only: those hoping to do a little nude sunbathing (or anything else that requires no clothes) on the balcony would be advised not to try it from a cabin on either the Dolphin or Caribe decks… unless you enjoy the possibility that someone is watching. Those balconies are visible from all decks above, and from the Bridge, too.
Budget-conscious passengers may bristle at the fees for specialty dining and other services and upgrades that can substantially add to the cost of a cruise. Some can be avoided with no sacrifice of fun. For example, if you have your own snorkel gear, bring it with you rather than renting on Princess Cay.
Check Out the Vibe Onboard >Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Ruby Princess Vibe
The fun factor is high onboard, with both passengers and crew getting into the act. The popular passenger talent show drew a big crowd on our cruise. And the special crew show was enthusiastically performed and received.
The executive chef and the maitre d’hotel have perfected their own comedy pas-des-deux, on display during a cooking show that had more laughs than cooking tips. Passengers poured the bubbly for the champagne waterfall.
Our cruise was a mix of romance and families. It spanned Valentine’s Day and the President’s Day school break. There were a lot of kids and teens onboard, but after the first day, the younger set found their activities and set about the business of having a good time. There is both a children’s program and special activities for teens.
There was a good passenger mix of Americans and Europeans, which made for many interesting onboard conversations.
Access-friendly design is evident onboard the Ruby Princess. Elevator doors are wider than standard and public-area doors open as you approach so there is often no need to push an access button. There are 31 accessible cabins, 21 with balconies. Some include wheel-in showers and other maneuverability designs.
You can also do some good while you have fun: Princess has partnered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and holds an On Deck for a Cure walk/run that benefits the Komen organization’s efforts to fight breast cancer during each sailing on each ship in the fleet.
Across the board, staff was friendly, helpful, and eager to do their part to make our cruise a memorable experience – in a good way.
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