The final ship to launch in Princess’ highly successful Grand-Class series of vessels, the 3,080-passenger Ruby Princess is a sparkling jewel from top to bottom. Travel Agent sailed onboard during a two-night preview cruise for agents, media and industry VIPs in November.
The Ruby Princess' top-deck movie screen allows passengers to sit back and enjoy such TV shows as "The Love Boat"
The ship delivers a familiar aura for clients who have sailed on previous Grand-Class ships, as the spaces are essentially the same. But Ruby Princess, which will sail from Port Everglades on western Caribbean itineraries this winter, has a host of new features as well. Here’s our list of the best of Ruby Princess.
Space, Blessed Space: “Even though there were 3,000-plus people onboard, we never felt crowded,” says Trish Martin, co-owner along with her husband, Tim, CruiseOne, Beaverton, OR. “Our clients appreciated the diversity of spaces so people could just go and experience the cruise the way they wanted to experience it.” The Martins escorted a group of 33 clients on the seven-night November 8 sailing of Ruby Princess.
Breakfast at Sabatini’s: One new Ruby Princess perk exclusively for suite guests is a new breakfast in Sabatini’s. Guests might enjoy a “Good Morning Mimosa,” and chow down on such entrees as brioche French toast with apple-and-cinnamon compote; yogurt and super-granola parfait with raspberry swirl; and Belgian waffles. This suite guest breakfast is from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., so your clients don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to enjoy it.
The Ultimate Ship’s Tour: For $150 per person, your clients can take the ultimate tour of the ship. In a small group of 10 to 12 guests, they’ll be escorted on a behind-the-scenes visit to such spots as the ship’s laundry, funnel, photo lab, galley, bridge, engine control room and other normally off-limit spaces for guests. Along the way, your clients will receive such gifts as a fluffy robe in the laundry and a cookbook in the galley. Why is this tour at a high price point? Princess says it’s very labor-intensive, and the line also expects strong passenger demand for the tour. The price will help limit the number of people taking it.
New Pub Lunch: Princess has a new complimentary pub lunch on sea days in Ruby Princess’ Wheelhouse Bar. Travel Agent sampled the new pub lunch, sharing a table with Brenda L. Cahill, CTC, district manager, AAA Western and Central New York. If you go, you’ll find fish ‘n chips, which we would describe as light, flaky and cooked just right for our taste.
Clients might alternatively try cottage pie or bangers and mash, both entrees that Cahill and her mother found to their liking. Or, they might order a ploughman’s lunch. Pub-lunch meal service will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Guests around us seemed to truly enjoy their traditional British meal in a very clubby, informal and comfortable setting.
Crown Grill: In our opinion and that of several agents we chatted with, this is one of the top alternative restaurants at sea. “We ate for the first time [having taken many Princess cruises] at the Crown Grill,” says Tim Martin, “and we thought they did an excellent job.” Travel Agent found the service stellar, the menu creative and the cuisine tasty, and the portions were just right. We’d recommend the medallions of beef and pork. Crown Grill has a $25 per person cover charge.
New Enrichment Programs: Clients have multiple new [email protected] enrichment programs onboard this ship. For example, your clients might opt for the hands-on [email protected] course; passengers will learn bartending under the tutelage of the ship’s bar manager. Alternatively, they might also pick up party-planning tips, immerse themselves in art history or explore the night sky by telescope under the direction of a bridge officer.
Big Screen Fun: Yes, Princess has massive movie screens on other ships, so that’s not new. However, the big screen is a popular highlight of Ruby Princess. Guests love it. Martin relished getting comfortable in a top-deck lounge chair and nibbling on popcorn as she watched the New York Giants on the big screen during an NFL Football Under the Stars showing. On our sailing, we observed dozens of guests glued to the big screen during the day to watch old "Love Boat" TV episodes.
New Buffet Options: In the Horizon Court buffet, new waffle stations now offer fresh cooked-to-order waffles at breakfast and throughout lunchtime. The ship’s buffet also has complimentary lemonade as a beverage choice.
Updated Entertainment: Two new stage shows have debuted in the Princess Theater. “Broadway Ballroom” pairs songs from hit musicals with dance numbers ranging from foxtrot to rumba, while “Once Upon a Dream,” uses multidimensional cinematic projection. Basically, theatergoers follow along with a young woman as she dreams of everything from an English garden tea party to singing camels in the desert, from a trip through a waterfall to a brief nightmare—before waking to a new day.
Artisan Cheeses in Vines: Vines, a wine bar in the piazza-style atrium area, is extremely popular with guests. It’s a superb place to relax and “go people watching” as other guests stroll through the atrium. Newly introduced at Vines is “Artisan Cheeses.” For a nominal fee, guests may select from 12 varieties of domestic and imported cheeses, including boschetto al tartufo bianchetto, reblochon and cambozola. Our choice was a tasty Parmigiano Reggiano.