Passion steers the newest addition to the Princess love boats – the Ruby Princess. As one-on-one interviews with Ruby officers in this issue will attest to, there is a passion imparted by management for hospitality, cuisine, and service. A true premium product, the Ruby Princess will challenge luxury and upscale ships.
It was the itinerary that attracted us to this cruise, which started in Barcelona and ended in Venice. The timing was right (mid-July) in terms of work and family duties and a chance to spend some extended time on the Ruby (having been at the naming ceremony) all fit into place. Ports of call included Monaco, Livorno (Florence), Naples, Civitavecchia (Rome), Istanbul, Kusadasi, Athens and an overnight in Venice.
All passengers got the VIP treatment on this ship, as we took in the non-intrusive attention given us and our fellow cruisers walking through the long hallways, on deck and in the dining rooms. While the attention on some ships it can seem forced and even annoying or non-existent, on this ship it was genuine and warm – happy and giving.
While passengers came from 62 countries, the crew was also diverse – from 27 countries, which meant not one nationality dominated – an interesting and deliberate deviation from many other cruise experiences. It appeared to be a true harmonious microcosm and admirably so. Observing casual moments in the Lido, for example, when crew had a few “down” moments, we always witnessed camaraderie among them – joking around while going about their jobs.
Food presentation and quality was exceptional on this ship for every meal. While portions may be smaller for dinner as on many ships today, the quality on the Ruby did not disappoint. Contrary to some critics that the specialty restaurants would detract from the standard dining rooms, this was simply not the case. Service may be a notch up on the alternative restaurants, but the food and presentation were equal across the board.
In this age of cost-cutting and careful money management it isn’t unusual to see some cruise lines cut corners on entertainment. However, the Ruby once again excelled in our estimation. The variety and level of talent was wonderful – ranging from the Ruby Princess Production numbers, several excellent comedians, a comedy hypnotist act, comedy juggler and opera/pop tune singer. In addition to nightly 8:30 and 10:30 shows in the Princess Theatre, another show with top performers was held in the Explorer’s Lounge – comedy, blues/pop band, game shows.
Furthermore, there was "Movies Under the Stars" – the ship version of drive-in movies! For a couple of "boomers" this was the ultimate in relaxation and fun – complete with attentive waiters serving refreshments, popcorn and taking orders for anything under the stars and aboard a smooth-sailing sparkling gem of a ship.