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Food Not Fit for a Princess

Author: nightowl
Date of Trip: April 2011

Over all summary: Food was poor. Room steward was fabulous. Princess shore excursions were OK but costly. Onboard activities were varied and available. Both embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze in Fort Lauderdale. However, if you put aside the food [why would you? you are on a cruise for goodness sake!], the shows were good, there was a good selection of current movies, there were plenty of activities onboard and all the usual cruise ship things [pools, photographers, casino (even had a non-smoking night), exercise room, etc.] I looked forward to 2 things: great food and spending a few hours in the Sanctuary enjoying peace and quiet, but they had the nerve to charge $10 for each half day [0800 – 1230 or 1300 – 1700] and it was closed for 30 minutes at noon. I guess you have to go somewhere else for that 30 min. They do not charge for the pool so why charge for peace and quiet. As an experienced traveler, cruiser and great cook, I was extremely unhappy with the food throughout the ship, the Ruby Princess. Our first night we chose from the nightly menu and had good prime rib. That was the last good meal in the dining room or buffet. On 3 of the 7 nights we chose to eat in the buffet because nothing on the menu in the dining room sounded good. What a shame! On the last night I had beef tenderloin medallions cooked rare in the dining room. I have no idea what cut of meat it was; neither texture nor flavor were what I expected. Being a nightowl, I tried their buffet served from 2300 to 0400 one night. I was astonished that they had the audacity to serve left-overs from lunch and dinner. {Note: the 24 hour buffet is only 22 hours.} I love ice cream and the only way to get it was as dessert in the dining room. It was a good quality, but not available any other place or time. They only had soft serve in the ice cream shop or gelato for $1.50 a scoop in the pastry shop. A coke was $2 whenever you wanted one with a meal or at other times unless you paid $40 [$6 a day] for an insulated coke tumbler that you could have refilled all week with coke, diet coke, club soda or water. If you wanted to spend $56 [the kids cup, $8 a day] you could also get fruit juice, smoothies and milkshakes. You could get pineapple juice for breakfast by asking/begging for it but not at any other time without a kids cup. The extra “nickel and dime” for everything is terrible. Why don’t they charge an extra $25.00 in the fare include the items and let the crew focus on doing their jobs rather than selling.

As for the stateroom: The best part of the cruise was our cabin steward. He was fabulous. When that is the best you can say about a cruise, it is a sad thing indeed. We had a balcony on the port side, forward, Riviera deck, R210. It was the first time we had a balcony and enjoyed it a lot. Also the port side of the ship had the better view at all ports. Since we have a nice RV the shower did not seem tiny. The shower, toilet, vanity area was adequate. Plenty of hanging space, about 6.5 feet, for a 7 day cruise; had a shelf above; a 12×14″ cupboard with the safe with about 7 shelves. Each night stand had 2 drawers and a shelf. There was room for luggage under the bed. The desk had a cupboard with 2 shelves, mirror, phone, hairdryer and desk chair. There was a small refrigerator in another cupboard with a top that doubled as a bar and a flat panel TV on the wall above it. There was a club chair with arms and a small oval table for drinks or treats. The deck had 2 chairs and a small table.

In St Thomas do not bother with the B.O.S.S. underwater scooter trip. I thought it would be unique and it was, but it was not worth the time and money. The boat owner and his crew were exceptional and accommodating, but the scooter is difficult to maneuver and your view is restricted. The place they take you , Turtle Cove, is terribly overused and overpopulated with snorkelers so there is very little to see. The water is about 15 feet deep and your head is about 8 feet below the surface. I saw more while snorkeling while waiting for my turn than while on the scooter. I am a certified diver and should have gone SCUBA diving. I never have trouble clearing my ears while diving, but on this scooter I was clearing them the entire time. Later I found out that it is because your ears are under air pressure being inside the bubble helmet and your breathing is constantly changing the pressure rather than in the open water where once you get them cleared you are finished because you have equalized then to the water pressure.

We booked a tour with AAA for a tour of the island on St Maarten and were very happy with the driver and the tour. He made a point of telling us that he was our driver for the day and would take us anywhere we wanted as long as we were back by 1600. There were 8 of us in the van at about $50 a head. Next time we will hire a taxi when we get ashore as many other reviewers have suggested.

Do NOT go to the shops recommended by the cruise, not even for the ‘free’ trinkets they offer. They are not worth the time or trouble. Some shops gave them freely, but others made it difficult to get the freebie. AND different people got different treatment even in our small group of 4. We each went at different times and got different hassles. Furthermore, the cruise line is getting a kick back from the stores so you are not getting the best price. Do some research before you go to find some stores to patronize. Also be sure you know the price of gold and the price of whatever jewelry you think you might consider [diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, etc.] before you go. In one shop I had on my new diamond and ruby ring and I asked him how much it would cost there. He said $2500; I paid $2600 for it in Vegas so I would not have been worth the cost of the cruise to save $100.

On Princess Cays, check out the Bahamian shops behind the Princess store. They will appreciate your business.

I completed their post cruise survey and they called me to acknowledge my responses. They did not offer any kind of compensation or inducement to return for another cruise. I have a 3 page letter that I will send by email and snail mail and they gave me the addresses. I also wrote a one page letter of commendation for our steward. I gave him a copy before disembarking and will send copies of it to the addresses also. They printed it from my thumb drive at the customer service desk. Strangely, she blew on the USB connector before she inserted it into their computer.

It is not likely that I will travel with Princess again. This was a last minute, spur of the moment trip. I’ll think harder and read some reviews before I spend this kind of money again.

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