If you’re of a certain age then the mention of the iconic television series “The Love Boat” will either make you smile or cringe. My father, who worked constantly, never watched much television, but on Saturday evenings he would sit down with us and watch the misadventures of the Captain, Doc, Isaac, Gopher, and Julie. As a kid I didn’t mind the ubiquitous laugh track, but the thought of it now makes me wince. I remember one time when we were out shopping and we passed a travel agency, I ran inside and grabbed a brochure on the Pacific Princess. That was the first time I had ever seen a deck plan and I was sold! I used to sit with the brochure in front of the television and when the guests would board the ship and ask which way to their cabin, I would check to see if they were giving the correct directions. So I guess in a way I was not only a fact checker, but also learning the deck plans at the same time. And yes, they were giving the correct information to the “guests.” If you didn’t now, the show was taped in a production studio. In case you’re interested, the Pacific Princess is still sailing although not with Princess Cruises. She was sold in 2002 to Pullmantur Cruises of Spain, which is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises, LTD. Update 7/27/11: Well, that was wrong — the Pacific Princess is still owned and operated by Princess Cruises and is currently sailing in the Mediterranean as one of the “small ships of Princess.
Fast forward to 2011 and I had the opportunity during the recent Cruise3Sixty conference in Florida to attend a ship inspection on the Ruby Princess. Built in 2008, she is the cruise line’s newest and biggest ship and since their next ship isn’t due out until 2013, if you want to sail the newest and the best on Princess, this is the ship to go on. The Ruby Princess joined the Princess Cruise line fleet with her inaugural date of November 6, 2008. She was officially names at Fort Lauderdale, Florida by Trista and Ryan Sutter from “The Bachelorette” television series. The 3,070 passenger vessel features the familiar favorites that have become passenger pleasers aboard its sister ships Crown Princess and Emerald Princess but, in addition, other special touches and innovations will be found throughout the service, dining, and entertainment areas. With a gross tonnage (GRT) of 116,000, passenger capacity is at 3,080 and carries a 1,200 person crew. Ruby Princess features many signature Princess innovations, including Movies Under the Stars® poolside theater, The Sanctuary private retreat just for adults, and a glittering piazza-style Atrium with entertainers and an array of casual eateries. There are also multiple dining venues, specialty restaurants, nightclubs and a theater, freshwater swimming pools, the rejuvenating Lotus Spa® and nearly 900 staterooms with private balconies.
What did I like about the Ruby Princess? I loved the opulent look of the ship without being gaudy or tacky like some cruise lines can be. It always kills me that the cruise lines spend so much money on their ships and then hire a design firm that would get booted off instantly from one of those reality shows on HGTV. The colors are soft, the lighting appropriate, and it looks and feels like a resort instead of just another cruise ship at sea. Here the beautiful staircase that winds down to the Promenade Galleria and other decks is accented by the beautiful decor and lighting for an overall relaxing and stylish ambience.
Something else that I really liked was the two separate, but close by pools on this huge 19-deck ship. Yes, there is a pool on deck 16 (the Sun deck) inside the Lotus Spa and on deck 17 (the Sports deck) in the Sanctuary, but on deck 15 (the Lido deck) there are two pools relatively close to one another. If you take the stairs or the Panoramic Lifts, you can exit out one side to Neptune’s Reef and Pool with two hot tubs or exit out the other side to the Calypso Reef and Pool with two hot tubs. You can see the large screen is visible even in bright light for movies or in this case, George Michael?
One of my favorite finds was the hidden pool on deck 14 (the Riviera deck) and the Terrace Pool. If you love going in the pool and can’t bear the thought of traveling too far, you could get an aft-facing cabin and be just steps away from this pool. It’s not a huge pool, but it’s big enough and there are certainly enough chairs available to lay out, too. No need to walk down the hall, down a flight of stairs, or past anyone in your bathing suit with a pool nearby. The Horizon Terrace from deck 15 (the Lido deck) overlooks the pool as do decks 16 and 17.
If you’re interested in where the Ruby Princess sails, she’s usually in the Mediterranean in the summer and back in the Caribbean in the Fall. Here’s where she’ll be April 2014:
9-night Grand Caribbean Sampler Cruise on the Ruby Princess
Depart Ft. Lauderdale 4/3/14 Thursday
Princess Cays® 4/4/14 Friday
Grand Turk 4/5/14 Saturday
At Sea 4/6/14 Sunday
Ft. Lauderdale 4/7/14 Monday
At Sea 4/8/14 Tuesday
Grand Cayman (George Town) 4/9/14 Wednesday
Cozumel 4/10/14 Thursday
At Sea 4/11/14 Friday
Arrive Ft. Lauderdale 4/12/14 Saturday
Balcony cabins start at only $1598, oceanview cabins start at only $1148, and inside cabins start at only $1048 per person plus taxes, fees, and port charges.
Next time we’ll take a look at the cabins, public areas, and of course, dining options. Until then, have you started thinking about your next cruise?