The ‘Loveboat’ tradition continues with the newest member of the Princess Cruises fleet

There’s a nautical expression that the most beautiful ship is the one you’re on. This is easily the case with the Ruby Princess, the newest member of the Princess Cruises fleet. From her comfortable staterooms tastefully decorated in soft green, cream, aqua, and muted gold; to the numerous elegant lounges, restaurants, and the Princess Theatre; the Ruby Princess offers an environment of classic elegance and comfort.

The company that inaugurated the original “Loveboat” continues to make romance an integral component of their cruise offerings. A holiday is a chance to fall in love all over again, and Princess Cruises has been in the romance business since 1965. It’s a theme that evidently resonates with the cruising public, because the company has over 6 million people enrolled in their Captain’s Circle repeat passenger program.

The Ruby Princess is the third in a series of ships that includes the Emerald Princess and the Crown Princess. Although she is a large ship with a passenger capacity of 3,600 and 1,200 crew members; the architects have ensured a sense of small-ship intimacy by creating cozy lounges, medium-sized entertainment venues and dining areas.

For example, the largest “main” dining rooms seat just 500 people, compared to 1,000-plus capacity rooms on other ships. Alternative restaurants such as the Italian inspired Sabattini’s and the mahogany-panelled Crown Grill offer guests an intimate dining experience. You’ll find all the amenities and activities available on a big ship – and at the same time enjoy the personalized service and comfort associated with a smaller vessel.

During a galley tour with Master Chef Alfredo Marzi (in charge of the menus and food preparation for the entire fleet of 17 ships), we learned that everything served is made from scratch onboard. Bread, pastries, rolls, muffins, cookies, cakes, pies and even chocolates are all made fresh daily around the clock. Soup stocks are prepared in 700 litre stainless steel cauldrons!

Chef Marzi has a passion for fine food and he is justifiably proud of the quality his staff consistently delivers to Princess guests. He told me that research by Gallop revealed that food quality is the primary reason clients choose Princess.

The Ruby Princess has 258 people working in 18 food preparation kitchens throughout the ship, providing delicious meals 24 hours a day; from fresh croissants and coffee at 4 am to gourmet Maine lobster at the Crown Grill for dinner.

The Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Boticelli Dining Rooms offer identical décor and menus; the goal being to provide a more gracious dining experience than most ships of this size. The Crown Grill and Sabatini’s are alternative restaurants offering a specialized menu. As the name suggests, Sabatini’s has an Italian theme, with traditional elaborate Rococo décor and refined European service. Located aft, the floor length windows overlook Italian cedars on the deck and the ocean beyond.

Something new is the introduction of breakfast in this classically Italian restaurant. I indulged with an inch-thick waffle that was as light as air; weighed down with freshly whipped cream and maple syrup. Might as well go all-in! A new innovation on the Ruby Princess, this exquisite breakfast experience will soon be introduced to the fleet.

The Crown Grill is everything you’d expect in a first-class seafood and beef steakhouse. Mahogany paneling, a marble fireplace and gleaming silverware set the tone for another memorable dining experience. Tender steaks come from Kansas, lobster from Maine and King Crab from Alaska. Highly recommended for that ‘special evening’.

Another popular innovation has been the introduction of an English Pub Lunch served in the Wheelhouse Bar. More mahogany panelling, leather wing chairs and a menu offering Fish ‘n’ Chips, Cottage Pie, and a Ploughman’s Lunch transport you from the sunny Caribbean to the English countryside. The Pub Lunch is hugely popular, and there are plans to roll it out to the rest of the Princess fleet.

“Good evening ladies and gentleman – what do you think of our newest baby girl?” Captain Tony Yeomans referred to his pride and joy, the Ruby Princess, as he addressed the passengers on the formal night. Gentleman in suits and tuxedos, ladies in gowns and cocktail dresses lined the balconies and the spiral staircases of the dazzling three storey Piazza Atrium, the ship’s most popular meeting place.

The Piazza is where many of the special events take place during the course of your voyage; including the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party, Princess Cruises’ signature Champagne Fountain and party, and a wide variety of entertainment options – from pianists, violinists, and variety acts to a band playing soul classics in the evening.

Martin Hall, VP Entertainment comments; “The Piazza gives us an opportunity to hire interesting variety acts whose performance may only be 10 or 15 minutes. Too short for our stage shows, but very interesting for our passengers to enjoy.”

The Piazza is a like town square, complete with a specialty coffee café, sushi bar, and wine & cheese bar. You’ll also find the Internet Café, a variety of Duty Free shops, the Purser’s Office, and most of the guest services you’ll need on the three decks encircling the atrium.

You can shape up in the fitness centre overlooking the deep blue sea. Then indulge yourself in the Lido Spa with a variety of massages, treatments, a therapeutic sauna, steam room and beauty salon. Try the hot Bamboo massage – new to Princess. Adjacent to the Spa is a swim-against-the-current pool – one of four pools onboard.

Directly above on Sports Deck 17, Princess has introduced an adults-only oasis of tranquility called The Sanctuary. With lounge chairs for just 70 people, guests can enjoy massages, light meals and beverage service. At just $10 for the day, you can pretend that you’re on your very own yacht – albeit a very large one!

Movies Under the Stars is a Princess Signature evening event where deck chairs are arranged around a giant 300 square foot LED screen, transforming the surrounding decks into a floating drive-in movie theatre under the Caribbean night sky. Fresh popcorn and drinks are delivered to you so that you don’t have to miss any of the on-screen action.

The Princess Theatre is the entertainment centre of The Ruby Princess. With seating for 900 people, there are no pillars to obstruct views to the stage. The company has invested heavily in providing the audience and performers a state-of-the-art theatre. We were treated to a spell-binding premiere of Once Upon A Dream, a multi-media rock opera and visual extravaganza, with generous use of Beatles music. The largely middle-aged audience jumped to their feet for a standing ovation at the performance conclusion. Broadway-style musicals, laugh-a-minute comedians and seasoned performers like Kenny James (13 time Star Search winner) all bring their talents to the Princess Theatre stage.

Broadway-style musicals, laugh-a-minute comedians and seasoned performers like Kenny James (13 time Star Search winner) all bring their talents to the Princess Theatre stage. You’ll also find musical entertainment in Crooners, a classic piano bar offering 50 types of Martinis, The Wheelhouse Bar, Club Fusion, Explorers Lounge and Adagio Lounge where the legendary Ray Cousins was playing favourites from his years as accompanist to Frank Sinatra. It’s not surprising that Gallop research rates Entertainment as one of the top reasons repeat passengers prefer Princess.

Princess Scholarship at Sea program offers guests computer workshops (learn how to process your digital camera photos), various levels of Photoshop, Dance lessons (from Line dance to Ballroom), culinary demonstrations, wine tasting, Navigation at Sea, Astronomy at Sea, and fascinating guest lecturers.

Just in case you’re running out of things to do, Ruby Princess has a 9-hole mini-put course, two golf simulators where you can play the best holes of the world’s greatest courses, tennis, basketball, table tennis and a dedicated jogging track. And of course, it wouldn’t be a cruise ship without a casino, and you’ll find many ways to try your luck in Gatsby’s onboard the Ruby Princess.

During our port days we enjoyed excursions that included a day at the 5 star Sandals Dunn’s River Resort in Jamaica; a Grand Cayman island tour with a beach break and visit to a fantastic turtle farm and research centre; and drift-snorkelling along the world’s second-largest reef off Cozumel.

Then it was back to our floating resort and sailing off to another evening of fine food, entertainment, waking to a sunrise in a new port and a day of new adventure. The folks at the excursion desk help you select excursions that match your interests and abilities; from island tours in an air conditioned motor coach, to golf, to zip-lining through the Jamaican treetops.

The Ultimate Ship Tour excursion has been introduced onboard the Ruby Princess, taking participants behind the scenes through all parts of the ship. Beginning in the Princess Theatre, you see first-hand how the lighting works, visit the dressing rooms backstage and learn how they manage to keep track of 2,000 costumes; before continuing on to visit the main kitchen galley where 9,000 meals are prepared daily; the engine control room; the laundry; the sophisticated medical centre staffed by 2 doctors and 4 nurses; the photo labs; a climb way, way up into the smokestack area; and finishing up with an informative tour of the bridge and a visit with the Captain. It’s a 2½ hour marathon, but worth every moment if you’d like to know how a cruise ship works.

During her Inaugural Season, the Ruby Princess will be sailing 7 day Western Caribbean itineraries from Ft-Lauderdale to Princess Cays in the Bahamas (the company’s delightful Private Island), Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, plus two relaxing sea days.

Ruby Princess will be moving to Europe this spring for 12 day alternating Grand Mediterranean itineraries that include Italy and the Greek Islands. She’ll then return to the Caribbean in fall 2009 for alternating 10 day Caribbean voyages. Bon Voyage!

Travel Planner
For more information; please visit: The folks at the three Montreal-area CruiseShipCenters have expert knowledge about Princess Cruises.

Montrealer Sylvain Couture – Future Cruise Consultant

The best time to plan your next holiday might indeed be while you’re still in vacation mode. You’re together, available to reflect and discuss options.

Montrealer Sylvain Couture is the onboard Future Cruise Consultant on the Ruby Princess. “I had moved to Vancouver, and was teaching elementary school and working part time in the hotel industry. I thought I’d take a break for six months and work on a cruise ship.”

Sylvain chuckles and continues; “That was in 1998 – and I’m still sailing the world with Princess!”

Sylvain provides some insight into cruise purchase patterns. “The first cruise booking is usually for the Caribbean, although people on the West Coast often start with Alaska because so many ships depart from Vancouver. Then come cruises to the Panama Canal, Hawaii, Europe, South America and more exotic destinations like Tahiti, Australia and Asia. We also find that people like to take longer cruises, especially for destinations like Europe.”

Sylvain is quick to note that he is not competing with your local travel agent. Rather, he complements their efforts. If you decide to make a reservation, your travel agent will receive notification, and you’ll complete the transaction with them, and they will receive their usual commission. Princess has a very appealing onboard deposit system. By making a deposit of just $100 for a future cruise sometime in the next four years, you don’t even have to select your next destination – but you will get the best available pricing and shipboard credits.

Sylvain has worked his way up from the Purser’s Office to enjoying Officer status on Ruby Princess. His sunny disposition makes him a fine ambassador for the company, and his first-hand knowledge of the various Princess itineraries make him a valuable asset if you’d like to plan your next cruise holiday before this one becomes a happy memory!

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