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Sail Date: November 2018
The Ruby Princess has 4 dance areas, three are wooden floors and we thought we could find some decent music somewhere to dance to, but we were wrong. The food was good, but there were too many games(like Carnival) in the dance venues, ... Read More
The Ruby Princess has 4 dance areas, three are wooden floors and we thought we could find some decent music somewhere to dance to, but we were wrong. The food was good, but there were too many games(like Carnival) in the dance venues, so the floors were taken up with dumb stuff. We will definitely not do this cruise again. Embarkation in San Pedro was smooth, disembarkation was exceptionally smooth. Service was good, ship was beautiful. If you don’t dance and only want to eat good food, wander around and drink in the bars and not get too far from the west coast, you might like this cruise. I haven’t been on a 7 day cruise for a while(usually do over 20 day cruises), but my friends only wanted a short cruise. One couldn’t be gone longer and it was another’s first cruise. Maybe dumb games are played on all short cruises, but they were loud and everywhere! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Having done quite a few princess cruises, the Ruby is one of our favorite ships. The size is perfect; the large theatre can hold everyone if they do two shows ( which they typically do). The shows were spectacular-from the dancers and ... Read More
Having done quite a few princess cruises, the Ruby is one of our favorite ships. The size is perfect; the large theatre can hold everyone if they do two shows ( which they typically do). The shows were spectacular-from the dancers and singer to the comedian and Magician. Amazing employees that act like they really like their jobs. The food was excellent in the dining room. We never felt rushed. There are spots all over the ship that you can be alone outside your cabin. We love the grill topside. We run thru the buffet at lunch a load up greens; then have them grill a chicken breast for on top (resisting the fries of course). International cafe was a little crowded this cruise ( I think it was because of their new coffee card system). There seemed to be a line often and I don’t do lines! Love love love this ship. We already have booked another in February. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Royal Caribbean Explorer I might have originally put this under “you get what you pay for”, but on reflection it’s more complicated. My wife and I have sailed Princess four times and Regent Seven Seas Explorer most recently. ... Read More
Royal Caribbean Explorer I might have originally put this under “you get what you pay for”, but on reflection it’s more complicated. My wife and I have sailed Princess four times and Regent Seven Seas Explorer most recently. That said, we left our last spoiled. A two week all inclusive on one of their newest boats can do that to someone. Yes... we paid for it. But in fairness it was our 25th wedding anniversary and THAT should date us for those younger readers whom may be checking my/our compass. We found an amazing deal via email for a four day three night Seattle to Victoria B.C. on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer mid September (‘18). Basically $200 (x2). You can’t find a hotel in Seattle for two nights for that price. I got the ok from “management” and we booked a month before. Doing the usual specialty restaurant reservations and single excursion to Butchart Gardens. Really, how could it go wrong?. Well, like it sometimes does in the Northwest (we live in Oregon), fall came in all at once. Our record number of ninety degree days dropped to our first rain filled fifty degree week. We took the train to Seattle the night before, and bought umbrellas the day of departure. Getting to the port (pier 91) was painless. Boarding was easy and we were very surprised that we could carry our luggage onboard ourselves. No matter the ship, I just LOVE boarding. Ships are just amazing and mysterious (initially) to me and always inspire a feeling of awe. However once onboard Explorer, I felt a bit more of a feeling of “oh dear”. In a word, old. Though her last referb was 2015, she looks a bit tired. Faded pink pastels and tired carpets. We grabbed a late lunch up at the buffet and I must say - which using Princess as a comparison - was horrible. But again, for what I paid.. ok fine. I felt like I was at a cheap all you can eat American buffet: limp French fries, well done sausage size burgers, pasta pasta pasta and of course all the sweets you can stuff your plate with. For September, the fruit looked more like March - pale and flavorless. Like most chow wagons, the mood was “get and go people... get and go!”. I would be in trouble with “management” at this point if I didn’t mention the awful “stink” the linen napkins all seem to have (to be fair, I don’t smell my napkins much, but full disclosure at this point will make future sailing... um happier). There are “chow” lines on both sides of the dining area as you enter - but - the “different” food is all the way in the back. Go there first. Less crowded and an over all better mix of food. And expect some diversity.. imagine what appears to be a sweet little old lady (85ish?) turning and growling at you as she cuts in and grabs the last piece of ham. Back girl back!. Inspired to look beyond, I decided to round up a couple drinks after lunch and before we sailed. The pool side bar (but not the recently rained on pool) was full. The hot tubs looked like large “tail gater cocktail cups – filled with drink package warriors loudly arguing about upcoming football games. I ponied up to an available spot and ordered two drinks of the day (no idea what they were, but knew they had vodka and allot more of other stuff – per the menu - aka weak cocktail. What came back was two three inch narrow clear plastic cups and a bill for $34. OMG!!!!!. “Where’s your gun?!”. $34 for a combined total of 6oz of liquid?! No, the only thing pointed at my face was a nice kids smile (from Uganda) and a very genuine “thank you sir”. I pointed my invisible gun to my own head and shot a “buyer beware” bullet into my brain. Remember, the server is only the messenger. This may also be another consequence of sailing all inclusive last time... but still, COME ON ROYAL CARIBBEAN.. REALLY??!!. Those that know need no further explanation of why some cruise lines do this.. it (and the casinos) feed the beast. But, you could buy - as was heavily pushed by the bar staff - a $200 drink package. Four days (which really is three since you arrive at 6am on the fourth) to drink as much as you can.. hmmm, maybe the food improves?.. Moving on. The balcony room really wasn’t too bad. Dated yes (no USB ports and old cabinetry etc..) but not bad. Bed was stiff, but linens clean (no napkin stink per management.. sleep was allowed .. The shower is more like a “beam me up Scotty” Star Trek transporter - but the water pressure and volume of nice hot water was amazing. Cabin steward was warm and attentive. Balcony on this class of ship is very old school. Alcove style with half steel wall with a small glass lip in front. If it were sunny (god forbid) we’d never feel it on our balcony until mid morning or afternoon depending on the position of the ship. Neither a positive or a negative, just an observation compared to other ships. Television had a few stations, but nothing to hang out for. Decent over all room storage. The mini fridge was barely below room temp and clearly was part of the original “mini bar” era it was built for. Two power outlets and a small vanity had barely enough room to charge our electronics and still have room for managements hair “tools”. A small hair dryer was provided as well as a small room safe. Management & I like an early gym workout. Here we were not disappointed. Nice space, good equipment. We did not get to use the steam or sauna, but they looked great. Being such a short cruise no spa for “management” was attempted either.. but they looked ok. In an environment like this (unlike the slightly snootier class ships) we have no problem walking through the morning buffet in our workout clothes. In fact, at no time was “dress code” an issue. I would say as long as you had clothes on in the morning, the general meal areas were open to what ever you choose to wear. The specialty restaurants had some breakfast options that had a few more restrictions, but not many. No change here on food quality (general dining -= never did a specialty breakfast other than the kitchen tour brunch), but so be it. If we were bringing young kids along (as we did once on Princess) it would be just fine. We took the galley/brunch tour as well. Again, tour documents say closed toes shoes required, but upon arrival a few had flip flops and were told “no problem” (really!? Why print it?!). Here again, a tad disappointing. We’ve done one on every ship and while the actual galley tour was great, here the food was a total let down. Hard boiled eggs benedict and runny bland “something sauce”. The table was graced with nacho chips and guacamole (but no salsa), sushi (but no soy sauce or ginger/wasabi), charcuterie meats, cheese but just sliced bread, Oh well. Fun company at our table and champagne flowed freely (about $40 each I think). Ok - the MAJOR bummer spoiler alert - the smoking sections are basically wide open and flow everywhere. Up on the pool deck it’s on one side, in the casino it’s on one side. Basically all the smoke wafts freely all over the place. HEY ROYAL CARIBBEAN!! STOP IT!!!. STOP THE POISON!. STOP THE STINK!. Put those that can’t quit in a boxed off area to stink peacefully and get cancer to themselves. Really, they don’t care where they smoke, just that they can. We air lovers however DO care that our air not give us cancer or stink. DO YOU HEAR ME?!. Go ahead smokers.. dig in if you must, but really you shouldn’t. This addiction affects all those around you as well... and second hand smoke is just not fair. And I guess in this case that’s not really enough said.. but that’s for you all to realize and enough for me to have said. No No... move on smokers!. We wish it were warm and dry enough for us to try out the many outdoor activities available on this ship. Flow rider surfing, wall climbing were out of our reach -because of weather-. But when the weather allowed we got in some putting on the golf greens and almost got some shuffle board in. Indoors the video arcade was great (had to pay :( ) but it was a nice option during the rain. The ping pong tables (three) were a great diversion. The casino has lots of options, but as I mentioned you’d better like the STINK and have a change of clothes available afterwards. By accident while waiting to get a table on our first night we stumbled into the ice rink and watched part of the show going on there. AMAZING!. Likewise after dinner that night we stood in the back and watched part of the comedy show in the main theater. But we’re not night folks anymore, so I’ll leave reviews of the night life to those that partook. We watched a great match of dodge ball and heard fun stories of the ping pong tourney. In these areas the ship crew were (and actually have been through out) GREAT!. Asian theme restaurant Izumi was ok. But ala-carte adds up quick. But over all nice food. Did Chops steak house last night on board. GREAT views and really decent food. Service was over the top wonderful. We never had time to try the burger place, though it seemed at least themed nicely. Never got to try the pub fair on deck 5 but heard ok things. On the whole, food for 3800 guests is surely a task. The overall size of your ship will obviously dictate the quality of your food - at least if this cruise showed us anything. And actually, this is one of their smaller ships. AND... AND please understand as a culinary school instructor I realize what makes food “good” is subjective to each individual. I preach only to those who find some common ground in what I’ve laid down here. Some of my best friends find equal happiness in a bag of Doritos and a cheap beer just as equally with a perfectly cooked steak. Neither is better than the other in their eyes. It often revolves around those they share the meal with. I get that, I truly do. And I also am very versed in the economics of large production meals. But the truly best apples are often highest up on the tree. Those that take the challenge to reach those deserve my finest critiques. Little bits: coffee- free if you look for it (deck 5) behind the pay for espresso coffee shop - bring a large insulated cup. Coffee itself is really never been great on any cruise so far. For gods sake don’t pay for it - because they will let you. Water- bring your own bottles... fill at buffet restaurant or in gym. All tips are by default added to your bill...add or not accordingly but look at your tab!. Bring a usb hub or plug bar... there are two (maybe) plugs U.S. . There are a million YouTube videos giving suggestions on “what to bring on a cruise”... many have great ideas and therefore worth checking out. Bringing booze on the cruise.. hmmm, well we’ve done it in the past and I will say there is a comfort knowing you’re not paying $11 for a Dixie cup worth of watered down liquor. A two inch pour of wine for $14 leaves me grumpy. That said, ethically NO, don’t “rob” the cruise line of their margin. They make their money back (after all the other costs of running a ship) on booze and the casino. In most cases you’re allowed to bring one unopened bottle of wine on board. However, if you feel a tad righteous about being ripped off related to your ROI (return on investment) on adult beverages, than I say it’s probably worth the risk. But you must be sneaky and you don’t want to be obvious... just pretend you’re a teenager again and don’t want to get grounded. “ No car for a week!”. The bottom line on a 4 day 3 night Royal Caribbean Explorer cruise from Seattle to Victoria B.C.: A long weekend in a hotel that moves to different locations and feeds you for (in our case) far cheaper than a two night stay in a hotel in Seattle without food or entertainment is by itself a reason to go for it. There is most likely no one reading this that is in a class of folks that wouldn’t consider it in the first place (those guys are over on the Regent or Silver Seas boards). There are issues to be sure, but overall our “long weekend” was great. In and out of Seattle was easy and worth an extra day on either side… so much to do. Would I want to be on this ship for a week or more, sadly probably no. However to be fair, we never got to experience her on a sunny fully functional cruise (meaning all the outdoor amenities were useable). Nor have we ever not been on a warm sunny cruise. If choosing Alaska or a cruise like this, look for the interior reviews. There ARE ships that do it right. There are obviously thousands more critiques on this ship out there. Please Please Please look at least a few more before making a decision one way or the other. Getting off the ship was a piece of cake. As when we boarded, they allowed us to carry off our own luggage allowing for an immediate and crowd free departure, and almost no slowing or questions at customs. Probably because of it being Canada and such a short cruise. We found 13 Coins restaurant (newly built under a Embassy Suites next to the train station and stadium) was (is) open 24/7. GREAT FOOD !..GREAT PRICES!. Just say’n. I love cruising. I take each new cruise (never have done the same ship or cruise twice) as an adventure and an investment. I use this venue as a way to express to myself what I think or thought of it as I went. I hope all that read along found it useful or at least.... Not Boring. Thanks. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
We did a 3 nights cruise from van to lax and it was the best relaxation ever! The ship is good and clean. Our check in was smooth and we had a very nice balcony room overlooking the ocean. The staff were attentive, friendly and helpful. ... Read More
We did a 3 nights cruise from van to lax and it was the best relaxation ever! The ship is good and clean. Our check in was smooth and we had a very nice balcony room overlooking the ocean. The staff were attentive, friendly and helpful. Our housekeeper was superb and cleaned our room at least 3 times a day. Haha. The food was great and there was a good selection of everything. The Italian restaurants were great as well. The boat is no slouch when it comes to entertainment. The comedy and broadway shows are at par with Las Vegas shows. There is always something going on in every hour. The live band was good and the night club is bumping. There is absolutely no point in staying in your stateroom unless you are sleeping or sick. Overall a great experience and will definitely do a cruise with them again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
My travel is, for the most part, independent so read what I have written here with that in mind. On occasion, I’ve tried a cruise or a guided tour in the hope that traveling with experts would enrich the experience even if it means being ... Read More
My travel is, for the most part, independent so read what I have written here with that in mind. On occasion, I’ve tried a cruise or a guided tour in the hope that traveling with experts would enrich the experience even if it means being tied to a large group of travelers that may not share my interests. When I’ve done this, I’ve kept it short, understanding that if it is good, I can always go on a longer trip with the same company. In early January, my teen son and I traveled with Lindblad’s Base Camp Baja: Espiritu Santo trip. The cruise was a partnership with Exhale, a company focused on wellness via yoga, meditation, and exercise programs. Lindblad pitches their program as an education-driven experience that gives insight into the natural world you are sailing through and the challenges of conservation. National Geographic co-markets the cruises and provides onboard photographers to deepen the experience for the guests through ongoing photography advice. Personally, I was hoping it would be a photography seminar of sorts provided by a professional. Taken together, I couldn’t imagine a better combination of activities. The cruise left La Paz, on the National Geographic Sea Bird, a 62-guest ship with 31 cabins, and circled Espiritu Santo an island wildlife preserve in the Gulf of Mexico. Stops on the trip were made for snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, and paddle boarding as well as on-beach yoga. We learned from the staff that including Exhale in the program did attract a younger demographic to the trip than on their other cruises (which tend to be retirees and their families). The most memorable parts of our trip were: 1) Snorkeling with the sea lion pups. This encounter with the playful and acrobatic pups brought us close up to an iconic part of the ecosystem. The pups would dive, dart, and dodge around the snorkelers while also wrestling with one another and occasionally nibbling on a snorkel fin. Fortunately, there was no reward provide to the sea lions (in food) and our visit was not disrupting their lives except a long snooze that was ongoing during our time there. 2) Seeing the sea glow with bioluminescence as we returned from dinner on the beach. The zodiac pilot stopped, turned out the lights and shared with us what was happening to create the water to sparkle green in the wake of the boat. This was magical. 3) A chance encounter with a small pod of orca whales hunting rays. It was our first time seeing orcas and the boat was abuzz as they corralled the rays together. At one point, they swam alongside the boat and we could clearly see their distinctive white and black patterns. Apparently, this was a rare sighting with few of the staff or crew having seen orcas onboard. 4) Sunrise yoga on the aft deck. The instructor was excellent and the setting simply beautiful. The areas that Lindblad needs to improve: 1) Although the food onboard was good it fell short of expectations. The salads available for lunch and dinner and were excellent. Breakfast was also good. Fish entrees lacked flavor or adequate searing (tuna). The chicken also lacked flavor and was dry. The beef was excellent for one meal and poor the next. Accepting the challenge of cooking for the whole ship in a limited space, I am satisfied with the meals but did expect more. 2) Lindblad did not follow through on their partnership with Exhale and failed to provide the promised programming (as per their marketing materials). During the trip, the single Exhale employee onboard lead sunrise yoga classes (2), paddleboard yoga (2), and evening chill yoga classes (2). There was no Exhale core fusion boot camp, mindfulness hikes, post-hike stretching, or meditation sessions (all promised). In other words, lots of yoga and nothing else. There should have been two people from Exhale onboard and Lindblad should have taken their promises seriously. 3) Hire better photographers and naturalists. The lead photographer onboard was not a professional and had a basic knowledge of photography. Add to that she was not the friedliest person and we quickly learned to steer clear of her while onboard. The naturalist shared little beyond the obvious and the names of islands we didn’t really need to know. Pair that with him being out of shape and our hike became a tedious walk. Near the top, the naturalist told us we wouldn’t be going to the top for fear of disturbing the ecosystem even though a footpath was clearly visible curling up the hillside. If photography and observing the natural world are going to be Lindblad’s trademarks, they need better staff. 4) Staff that talked less about their experience working for Lindblad and more about nature, photography, and wellness. It’s only natural for people to talk about themselves but I lost interest eventually and was left asking why we weren’t talking more about sea life, etc. Training would give the staff the tools to turn the guests’ attention to what is truly meaningful on the trip. Unacceptable parts of the trip: 1) This trip was about nature but Lindblad insisted on having a videographer operating a drone again and again. In case you’ve not been around one, drones will drown out the sound of birds, disturb the wildlife, and make you wonder if there is a very large bee buzzing around your head. Understandably the videographers asked us just to ignore them as they captured footage for their marketing videos. Easier said than done. Lindblad sacrificed the guests’ experience for their own marketing needs and it sucked. 2) The captain set sail on the second morning midway through the sunrise yoga. I had the impression he hadn’t gotten the memo that this was a wellness cruise and that maybe it was best to wait half an hour so the 20 guests on the aft deck didn’t need to worry about toppling over as the ship swayed as it steamed north. As we disembarked the next day, I overheard the captain speaking with a crew member about how terrible “these short trips” were and I realized that he hadn’t given a thought to the yoga taking place. Lindblad needs to take seriously the core principles of their business (not just print them in their marketing materials) and hire staff that is dedicated to it. The trip leader needs to have an itinerary for each trip that actively pursues those principles and, if it is a wellness trip, make sure that is central. The company’s goal is to be the best in class and this will not happen without sustained attention to staffing and how that staff executed onboard. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
Great ports in all our favorite NW cities. Great food both onshore and in Infinity’s restaurants. Superb butler service in our suite Entertainment was way above average. The magician was outrageously funny and accomplished. The ... Read More
Great ports in all our favorite NW cities. Great food both onshore and in Infinity’s restaurants. Superb butler service in our suite Entertainment was way above average. The magician was outrageously funny and accomplished. The aerialists were an unexpected surprised - like watching ballet. Couldn’t believe how big the work out area was. Lots of machines, free weights and awesome views off the bow. The observation lounge had the best view I’ve every experienced. Awesome sail away views in Vancouver and Seattle. Butler service for the Royal Suite was superb - our every request cheerfully fulfilled. Can’t save enough about Singh who was personable and articulate and intelligent without a hint of subservience. Qsine was the best food by far that I’ve had on a cruise ship and rivals onshore restaurants. Tuscan was also very good with an excellent steak for me. Luminaire was an excellent choice. Best food overall for any cruise that we have taken. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2015
I found most of the staff to be great and the food ranged between acceptable and good depending on the day. I was not impressed to find two extra beds attached to the walls in our already tight interior stateroom (this was not mentioned ... Read More
I found most of the staff to be great and the food ranged between acceptable and good depending on the day. I was not impressed to find two extra beds attached to the walls in our already tight interior stateroom (this was not mentioned anywhere during booking or thereafter). As a young couple, we found the entertainment to be lacking as it catered to the older crowd. This ship's passengers were predominantly retired, 70+ passengers. I guess that is the norm with cruising, but on a 7-day cruise we hoped for a better mix of passengers. I was pleased with the decor on the ship, it is quite nice. I don't mind the odd leak here and there as long as it isn't posing a threat (or in my stateroom!) Ensenada, Mexico did not have much to offer. I would recommend foregoing the mandatory daily tip (you can opt out) and tipping the staff yourself. For example, if you eat mostly in the buffet, you're not getting as much service as the folks in the dining room. With that being said, the food in the dining room was great but each meal was a 2-hour experience so we mostly avoided it. They add 15% extra tip on top of all bar tabs also, so where is the $11.50 USD per day really going? I'd rather have more say in who deserves it (90% of the staff were fantastic, especially our cabin steward). Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
This ranks as the worst ship management in my 16 cruises. Ship just returned from dry dock, but management was horrendous including: 1) 100+ waiting line for just in time dining the first three days or 20+ minutes to get a phone ... Read More
This ranks as the worst ship management in my 16 cruises. Ship just returned from dry dock, but management was horrendous including: 1) 100+ waiting line for just in time dining the first three days or 20+ minutes to get a phone reservation; 2) over one hour wait to board the tender in Santa Barbara as there were only four lifeboats; 3) On one excursion, we were in line at the back of the ship waiting to get a ticket at the very front Princess Theatre; and 4) Ship's policy is to not have Purell sanitizers in the gym. This will be a future health hazard, although fitness classes were great. It took many passenger complaints for senior management to correct these people management problems and that may have been due to new management personnel. Overall the trip was quite enjoyable. The weather and crew service were excellent. Dinner food quality was very good, although the formal breakfast consistently needs improvement. Our C104 balcony cabin's heating was partially inoperable. There are two heating units and one was disconnected, so in the evening it got very cold. The dry dock refurbishment replaced many carpets and the ship was in great shape. There were many entertainment options and movies. There is a handout for each day's TV programs including a great list of historical art programs. Of the ports, Astoria was the most pleasant surprise although you really need to rent an auto to see Cannon Beach and Ft Clapsot. Victoria's Buchart Gardens is always picturesque. Read Less

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