What’s not to like about a cruise ship? On some ships not much, but there’s usually something. Of course the likes and dislikes of any particular ship vary from one person to another. I found a lot to like and not much to dislike on the Ruby Princess.
Food was definitely a hit on the Ruby Princess. We didn’t try any of their specialty restaurants, but we did enjoy the dining room and buffet. Cruising with my two gluten free sisters can make dining a challenge, but the dining room crew did a great job of serving them tasty and gluten free meals. They were quite happy to discover a different gluten free dessert each night at the late night buffet and ended up having a second dessert every night since finding those on the buffet was a rare treat for them. It was the first cruise for one sister, but the other has cruised a couple other lines and said Princess did the best job of catering to special diets of the three lines she’s cruised on. For passengers not on special diets they had chocolate journeys, with a different fancy chocolate dessert offered nightly in the dining room.
While we didn’t actually use the self-serve guest laundry since we were just on a one-week cruise, I always count it as a plus when a ship has one, and have used them often on longer cruises. I even used one once on a 4-day cruise because we had just gotten off a longer cruise on a ship without one.
Although I’m allergic to tobacco smoke and would never set foot inside it, I thought the cigar lounge was a great idea and something every cruise ship should have. Sitting unobtrusively in one corner of the casino, this fully-enclosed lounge gave people a place where they could smoke comfortably without spreading smoke throughout any of the rest of the ship. The smoke odor was present when walking past it, but not the smoke itself. It’s win-win for everyone – a nice place for smokers to go and no smoke for anyone else to have to breathe or walk through.
Entertainment was good and plentiful on the Ruby Princess. Besides shows, music, and movies, they also had different things going on in their central piazza area. Whether it was horse (or moose) racing done with wooden horses and dice, a country band made up of volunteer (sort of) passengers with jars and things, a champagne tower, or in Skagway real live husky puppies, there was often something interesting happening there.
The ship had a different outdoor promenade than I’ve seen before with the bow area up one level from the rest and covered over the top with an open viewing area around the edges. This area came in very handy on glacier cruising day. Though a fairly cold place to stand, we had an excellent view and no crowd.
Navigating around a ship can sometimes be difficult, especially for first time cruisers. The Ruby Princess went a step beyond having different artwork or carpets on the different staircases. It actually had different coloring in the carpet boarders on the port and starboard sides in the hallways through the cabin areas. For anyone who noticed (or was told about it) this made it obvious at a glance if you somehow ended up on the wrong side.
That great upper level of the promenade at the bow was closed in the early mornings, which meant walking or jogging the full distance around the outside of the ship for morning exercise was a no-go. Whether because ship’s gyms don’t open all that early, or because the promenade deck is just nicer and far more scenic, there’s always quite a few people out there first thing in the morning on ships with a promenade deck circling completely around.
Had we been cruising to a warmer place rather than Alaska where we weren’t spending much time sitting on an outside deck, we would have been a bit disappointed that the nicest lounging area (called the Sanctuary) cost extra. That extra cost meant we never would have used that area no matter how nice the weather or how comfortable the deck chairs. On this cruise even anybody who bought the full-cruise sanctuary package still had to pay a separate fee to sit out there on glacier cruising day.
This was my first cruise with Princess, but I really liked them so it won’t be my last.