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Jan. 24-31, 2009
by Mary & Vincent Finelli
We booked our 40th (ruby) Wedding Anniversary cruise on the Ruby
Princess--very fitting. The Ruby is a most elegant ship; while
berthed in Port Everglades, she is unmistakable with the distinctive
logo of a Princess with flowing hair. She is the newest of the fleet
and a credit to Fincantieri her constructors. Captain Tony Draper
(Scotland and Cornwall) is a very personable and erudite
gentleman--we look forward to sailing with him again in the near
Ft. Lauderdale Port is a highly secure one, so on the way to
the pier allow time for up to 30 minutes for security checks. We
arrived at 12:45pm and had wheelchair assistance; we were through
check-in, which is done by separate counters for each deck. This
system makes the lines shorter and faster. We were on board by 1:15
and in our cabin. After checking on our dinner arrangements with our
old friend Maitre D' Generoso Mazzone, we reserved a table for two
at 6:00pm each evening. We were off to the buffet, Princess pizza
served out on the Horizon Terrace. Excellent! Then we went back to
our cabin to rest until the boat drill, which was well organized and
orderly. Our station was the Wheelhouse, we were comfortably seated.
Princess does not make passengers line up in the sun facing the
elements on the Promenade deck as other lines do, rather it assigns
public areas inside the ship for muster stations.
The Ruby Princess (Hull # 6150) was built in Fincantieri,
Cantieri Navali, Monfalcone, Italy, like her sisters the Emerald and
the Crown Princesses. Her inaugural cruise was on November 8, 2008,
thus making her only three months old. She is 948.0 ft long, 118.1
ft wide (165.7 ft including stabilizer wings), with a draft of only
27.88 ft. The Ruby Princess is 113,561 tons and her height is 219.8
ft, with a total of 18 decks and a passenger capacity of 3,150
(3,175 this cruise), with a crew of 1,200 from 54 countries around
Decks 1, 2, 3, & 4 are for crew only--except for the Medical Center
on the latter.
Decks 5, 6, & 7 are all public areas. Deck 5 aft has the
Michelangelo Dining Room, with the wood panel walls and sconces for
lighting; in the ceiling there are miniature lights that twinkle on
and off like stars. The room is elegant in a subdued manner. The
walls have murals of Italian pastoral scenes. Next, midship is the
impressive Piazza, an atrium three decks tall, with a waterfall and
a huge Tiffany light covering almost the entire ceiling. The floor
is a mosaic of arcs and circles. This is a popular gathering place
with a Cafe` serving specialty coffees and delicate pastries
including marzipan “Pasta Reale” (miniature fruits), etc. There is
also a wine, cheese and sushi bar which encourages sampling of many
savory delights. Forward on Deck 5 are a Laundromat and cabins.
Deck 6, all the way aft is the Botticelli Dining Room and toward
midship is the Da Vinci Dinning Room. Here, midship are located the
Reception desk and the shops, then the Gatsby Casino and the
Speakeasy Cigar Lounge (this tiny area keeps the Casino smoke free).
Forward is the Princess Theater with a red Austrian tucked curtain
and red and gold embossed seats. There is a clear, unobstructed view
of the stage from every seat. Bravo! The Walnut wood walls add to
the understated elegance of the theater.
Deck 7 aft has the Club Fusion, the Photo Gallery, the Explorers
Lounge (nightly live shows and music) and the upscale restaurant
Crown Grill. Midship there are the Wheelhouse Bar and a well stocked
Library with convenient hours. Forward is the Princess Theater
balcony with a reserved area in the rear for wheelchairs.
Deck 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, & 14 are all passenger cabins.
Deck 15 has the Horizon Terrace, the Cafe`Caribe and the Horizon
Court Buffet. Next, midship is the Calypso Reef and Pool, Pizza and
Ice Cream Bar, Neptune Reef and Pool, Mermaid's Tail and Trident
Grill. Forward there are other passenger cabins, Thermal Suites and
the Lotus Spa.
Deck 16, all the way aft is the upscale Sabatini's Restaurant which
is bigger and more impressive than the Sabatini's found on other
classes of Princess ships. Here, midship is “Movies Under the Stars”
giant screen, and forward are the Lotus Spa, Fitness Center and
Aerobics, and the Wedding Chapel (8 weddings this week). During
dinner in Sabatini's, we spoke with one of the brides, who was
having the reception dinner there, and she expressed high praise for
the Princess royal treatment.
Decks 17 has aft the Chill Out, the Fun Zone, Off limit and the
Video Arcade for the young ones, midship the Sun Terrace, and
forward the posh Sanctuary, an exclusive relaxing oasis, a “Pocket
of Tranquillity”, with a nominal charge of $10.00 for a half day or
$20.00 for a full day pass.
Deck 18 aft has Skywalkers Nightclub.
Deck 19 aft has Cyber golf.
The ship overall is stylish and elegant with lovely murals like the
“Reef Scene” Deck 16 by Morandi Studios, Sassuolo, Italy (a white on
white tile design with accents of the palest pastels, all portraying
a dream of an underwater scene). Also in the stairwell in this same
area is a painting of two Kimonos in red and black on a gold
background. There are many lovely decorations on board to enjoy,
interspersed with fresh floral bouquets and live orchid plants.
SERVICE & FOOD
Passenger Services Director Dirk Brand has everything under
control. The ship is immaculate (CDC Sanitary Inspection score is a
perfect 100) and the service is snappy. The passengers are most
acutely interested in the food, of course. Here Princess excels, the
Executive Chef Manlio Cuzzolin (Mortegliano, Italy) is excellent.
Princess accents Italian food with pasta courses served daily. There
is an abundance of fresh fruits and cheeses that add variety and
elegance to the menus. Plating was exquisite and the Always
Available list featured the following: Shrimp Cocktail, Salmon
Fillet, Fettuccine Alfredo, Steak, etc.
Appetizers included : Spring Rolls, Fried Calamari, Fresh Fruit
plates; Soups included both hearty like minestrone and cream of
asparagus and delicate broths, as well as cold ones. Salads were
dressed lightly or at the table. There were at least two pasta
courses (i.e., Puttanesca, Four cheese rigatoni). Vincent liked the
spaghetti alle vongole, especially. Entrees were varied and included
meat (beef filet and prime rib, lamb and veal), fish (lobster tail,
crab legs, shrimp, cod, etc.), fowl (chicken, Cornish hen, duck,
etc.) and vegetarian (stir fried oriental vegetables, egg plant
Dining service on board is under Maitre D' Generoso Mazzone who
epitomizes elegance and style. Service in the Michelangelo was
terrific. There are several options with anytime dining selections
available. Specific restaurants were for personal choice times and
others for fixed times. Our waiters every evening were Sopha and his
assistant Panche under the direction of Head Waiter Rui--impeccable.
There is also “An Evening At The Chef's Table” which includes a
galley tour followed by a multi-course tasting menu with Exec. Chef
Manlio, all for the culinary connoisseur ($75).
We were also very happy to encounter Asst. Maitre D' Pasquale Marino
once again. We have cruised with him several times and are always so
surprised that he remembers us by name--he's very personable. All of
the crew made us feel very welcome. Approximately one third of the
passengers were repeat cruisers on Princess. That is a great
testimonial to the fact that Princess is doing an excellent job.
Baja B301 (deck 11) is a wheelchair accessible cabin with
balcony decorated in blues and aquas with beige cabinetry trimmed in
pecan wood. When entering on the left there is a huge bathroom with
many safety rails and a 4'X4' shower with a folding seat. There is a
large sink and two small shelves for toiletries. Next, there is a
king size bed flanked by two low bureaus with reading lamps. The far
wall is all glass with a sliding door to the balcony on which are
two chairs and a small table.
When entering on the right there is a huge full length mirror, a
triple armoire with two sections for hanging clothes and one section
with shelves and a personal safe. Next, there is a long table with a
TV console, Refrigerator and a cupboard. A desk chair, two beige
leather barrel chairs, and a coffee table complete the furnishings.
On the walls are two large paintings of the Lake Region of Italy.
Our Cabin Steward was Wirot who was helpful and efficient all
through the cruise. Just terrific!
The “Best Smile At Sea” goes to Cruise Director Lisa Ball--energetic and friendly, she keeps everyone on board hopping. We
cruise to relax and rest, and there are plenty of nice quiet places
to sit and enjoy the sea: The promenade has deck chairs conducive to
reading and the library is well stocked! There are several areas
with pianists or small combos. Princess Patter reports daily the
many events at different venues from the Piazza to the Theater, from
the Club Fusion to the Explorer Lounge. In the Piazza there are
always demonstrations (cooking, flower arrangement, etc.), music and
dancing (music each evening with a violinist, piano and bass, and we
especially enjoyed the violinist and Magdalena the pianist).
Princess Theater had two excellent production shows: “The Great
White Way” pairing musical song hits with dance numbers, and “Once
Upon A Dream”. Every cruise Maitre D' Generoso does a Champagne
Waterfall, tall and terrific and a cooking demonstration in the
Theater with Chef Manlio, very entertaining! The Chinese New Year
Eve was celebrated on Jan. 25th; this is the year of the Ox.
In the Explorer's Lounge were comedians, and a lively music group.
There are Bingo and Slots Tournaments, Basketball, Shuffleboard, and
Table tennis, etc. There is something for everyone.
PORTS OF CALL
1-24-09 Fort Lauderdale, FL Sail Away 5:00pm
1-25-09 At Sea
1-26-09 Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrive 8:00am Depart 4:00pm
1-27-09 Grand Cayman Arrive 7:00am Depart 4:30pm
1-28-09 Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 7:15am Depart 5:30pm
1-29-09 At Sea
1-30-09 Princess Cays Arrive 8:30am Depart 3:30pm
1-31-09 Ft. Lauderdale Arrive 7:00am Debarkation
Princess handles debarkation very nicely. We had wheelchair
assistance from our cabin, down to the Gatsby Casino where first
come, first serve ruled and with about a twenty minute wait we were
assisted off and were through passport check, customs and outside by
9:00am and at home by 10:00am.
This was our eleventh cruise on Princess ships, thus with
four more cruises we'll graduate from Platinum to Elite members in
the Captain's Circle program which will mean more benefits and perks
for us: Preferred Service Package (shoe polishing and complimentary
laundry/dry cleaning service), Complimentary Mini Bar Set Up,
Upgraded Bathroom Amenities, Complimentary Wine Tasting, 10%
Boutique Discount, and other VIP treatment including a special
cocktail party with the Captain. These are in part the incentives
that make Princess one of our favorite cruise lines. Happy Cruising!
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