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Jan. 23-27, 2014
by Mary & Vincent Finelli
Five years ago we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary on the
Princess. We remembered well the wonderful time we had then and
we decided to book a cruise for our 45th anniversary on this ship.
However, this was a four day cruise, not a seven day like the other
one. We would have booked a back-to-back cruise, but a wheelchair
accessible cabin similar to the one we had on the first leg was not
available at booking time. We had a short cruise, but still a
memorable one, thanks to several old friends we found aboard.
This ship still departs from Port Everglades in Ft.
Lauderdale, where we often find slow moving lines at the security
gates. This time was one of the slowest moving traffic, at least for
our lane, it took about 30 minutes to clear the gates. Once through
the security gates, we dropped the luggage curbside at the pier and
proceeded to priority check-in which went smoothly and fast with
assistance to our cabin in less than 10 minutes. The only problem
entering the ship was the unnecessarily steep gangway, where both
Mary’s motorized wheelchair and Vincent’s scooter got stuck and we
needed help from the crew.
Ruby Princess is little more than five years old, since her
inaugural cruise was on Nov 8, 2008. Our first cruise on her was in
Jan 23, 2009, during her inaugural season in the Caribbean. She
still looks immaculate as she did on our first cruise. The last time
she was inspected by the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program she scored
100 points. Evidently, Commodore Giuseppe Romano runs a tight ship
as did Captain Tony Draper, who commanded her in 2009. Other
information on the Ruby has been reported extensively in our review
published on this web site in Jan./Feb. 2009, so we refer the reader
for the deck-by-deck description to the
Our cabin, Riviera deck #14302 is a wheelchair accessible
cabin, similar to the one we had five years ago, on the Baja deck
#11301. For the description of the cabin we refer the reader to the
earlier review. Our steward Calixto was very efficient and prompt in
assisting us in every thing, even to opening our cabin door whenever
he saw us approaching. However, we had asked him for a chaise lounge
on the balcony, but he was told by his boss, the Head Housekeeper,
that there was none available. This was our first time on a Princess
ship that Vincent could not enjoy the many hours lounging on the
spacious balcony. Maybe, during the next cruise on a Princess ship
we’ll find a more understanding Head Housekeeper, who will satisfy a
passenger with limited mobility like Vincent, thus letting him spend
comfortable time on the balcony.
SERVICE & FOOD
For us the aspects that have a major attraction to the
Princess Cruises are the excellent service and high quality cuisine,
especially for the Italian dishes, which we select every time we
come aboard. On this cruise we found our old friends, Maitre d’
Nicola Furlan and the Head Waiter Franceso Memeo. We were originally
assigned for the evening dinner to the Botticelli Restaurant which
is located all the way aft on deck 6. Knowing the ship’s deck plan,
we preferred a centrally located restaurant, either the Michelangelo
or the Da Vinci, deck 5 or 6, respectively. No problem! In the
afternoon we met our friend Maitre d’ Nicola who assigned us an
easily accessible table (for us on wheelchair and scooter) in the
Michelangelo. He also told us that our friend Francesco was in
charge in the Michelangelo. Thank you, Nicola and Francesco for the
VIP treatment you gave us. Needless to say, the service at that
table was excellent, thanks to the waiters Charlie and Victoria.
Most of the Executive Chefs on Princess ships are Italians and that
explains the quasi gourmet quality of all the Italian dishes, which
the Italian born Vincent appreciated, since they are prepared with
original ingredients made in Italy and not imitations (e.g., if the
recipe requires Parmigiano or Grana they use the Parmigiano Reggiano
or the Grana Padano but not the generic parmesan or some other
substitutes which will never match the taste of the genuine
product). We remember that the Executive Chef on the first cruise on
the Ruby was Manlio Cuzzolin and on this cruise we met Executive
Chef Paolo Merio: Both great chefs, who keep up the high quality
standard of Princess.
We usually order our breakfast from the room service menu: Juices,
such as orange, grapefruit, apple and prune; coffee, hot chocolate,
tea and milk; fruit like half grapefruit or melon; pastries
including croissants and Danish; marvelous strawberry, orange and
apricot marmalade; and finally an English muffin sandwich with egg,
Canadian ham and cheese. Vincent even got his lactose-free milk.
As Elite members of the Princess Captain Circle we were served in
our cabin every afternoon at 3:45pm a formal English High Tea: The
butler sets the table with a linen cloth and serves it. Mary felt
like a queen! Mary’s favorite tea was the Earl Gray Black with
At sea days lunch was served in the Da Vinci dining room or as a
buffet at the Horizon Court, Pizzeria, Trident Grill and Cafe’
Caribe. We always prefer to eat in the dining room, where we have
enjoyed some delicious dishes such as the English mixed grill with
diverse cuts of meat including lamb, pork and veal, and fritto misto
(fried calamari, shrimp, cod, etc.). In addition, there were soups
and salads and delicious pasta dishes.
We had dinner at the Michelangelo Restaurant every night at 6:00.
The menus were long and varied with several always available dishes
such as the shrimp cocktail and our favorite “Fettuccine Alfredo”
served in a roasted Parmigiano bowl, simply exquisite! Other
favorite dishes to us were the following ones. Appetizers: Spring
Rolls, Beef Carpaccio, Prosciutto di Parma and Melone, etc; Pasta
dishes: Four cheeses rigatoni, potato gnocchi, Farfalle a la Rustica,
Bucatini all’ Amatriciana, etc; Main Courses: Gamberi alla Fra
Diavolo and Prime rib roast cooked to perfection; Desserts:
Delicious gelati and sorbet, cream puffs, creme brulee and tiramisu.
On our anniversary dinner, Head Waiter Tiziano and the waiters
Charlie and Victoria brought us a small but very delicious chocolate
cake that Mary referred to a “death by chocolate”.
Various performances, events and activities went on
throughout the day at different venues from the Piazza to the
Princess Theater, the Explorer Lounge and the Lido Deck, where were
shown several times a day Movies Under the Stars and other
activities. Vincent enjoyed the Piano Melodies performed in the
Piazza throughout the cruise by Jan Gulbicki. Among the shows
offered in the theater we saw “Magical Showtime” performed by the
illusionist Landon Swank.
There is plenty to do for every passenger, just read the Princess
Platter and choose among the many events at different venues.
PORTS OF CALL
Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL Sail Away 5:00 p.m.
Day 2. At Sea
Day 3. Cozumel, Mexico Arrival 8:00 a.m. Depart 6:00 p.m.
Day 4. At Sea
Day 5. Ft. Lauderdale, FL Debarkation 8:00 a.m.
We had a nice breakfast in the Botticelli dining room and by
8:00 a.m. we were back in our cabin waiting for assistance. In
addition to the wheelchair and scooter we have a walker which we use
in the cabin. We went to the Casino, deck 6 where all passengers in
need of wheelchair assistance wait until their numbers/colors are
called. At around 8:30 our number was called and we proceeded with
the assistant to the gangway. Here we had the same problem as when
we embarked, both Vincent’s scooter and Mary’s wheelchair got stuck
on the unnecessarily steep gangway. This time was worse, since the
right pedal of Mary’s wheelchair touched the side of the gangway and
broke off. She had to go all the way through customs with one pedal
only. At least we were at the end of our cruise, so it was not too
This was our 19th cruise on Princess ships, although a short
one, it has been a very pleasurable one. We enjoyed our “Dolce far
niente” (Sweet do nothing), since our time on the ship now is mainly
spent in relaxation. Rarely, do we go down in the ports of call
since we prefer to enjoy the ship by visiting the various areas,
especially on port days, when most of the passengers go out. The
Ruby is wheelchair friendly, with smooth thresholds and lots of
automatic door openers throughout the ship, thus we were able to
easily access every areas, from the Promenade to the Lido, from the
Piazza to the theater, etc. However, the most difficult aspect was
to opening our cabin door, since it does not have an automatic
opener and we are both operating our vehicles. Many times we were
lucky to have our steward in the corridor who ran to help us, other
times some passengers helped by holding the door open. The other
problem is the gangway, which we have described above in this
review. However, we believe the gangway can be easily modified by
eliminating the sharp angles and flattening the walking plane. We
have cited this problem before, but without any response.
Next cruise will be on the Norwegian Epic, Feb. 9; after that we
have booked one on the MSC Divina. March 15th, with our
grandchildren Nicolas and Marcello. Happy Cruising!
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