This was my first cruise and my 2 brothers and brother-in-law (veteran cruisers) recommended this tour and this ship. Twelve nights in the Mediterranean with an extra day on either end to get to know these cities as well. That means our plane landed in Venice where we were enthusiastically greeted by my brother-in-law's nephew,wife and great niece, who live outside of Venice.
How wonderful it was to have someone at the airport to show you how to get our bags, water-taxi, speak Italian, etc... After dropping off bags at the Locando Orseolo(see review) we were escorted by David to a charming lunch spot a few blocks away. It was off the tourist beaten track and as I was still somewhat jet-lagged I did not get the name of it. But the food? I remember the food and it was awesome.Our dinner in venice was awesome as well...Traveling the streets ,shopping (you want to invest in some Murano glass jewelry) began my love affair with Venice and it is one city to which I will long to return.
We received a call on our cell phones from Princess advising us that our first port call (Athens) had been cancelled and we would therefore be spending an overnight in Venice. This gave us an extra day in this fair city while sleeping aboard the Ruby Princess. We gave Venice another spin in the morning then went to embarkation area (a smooth process) and had our bags,etc...checked in.
First day- just spent exploring,and oohing and aahhing over the accoutrements of the ship. The sheer size, the number and quality of restaurants, the bars and nightclubs, the food, the spa, the exercise facility,the shopping, the casino boggled the mind!
Second day- still docked in Venice and loved this- gave me time to relax, walk the promenade deck,but we did take a water taxi provided by the ship and went back into Venice to shop and take more pix. Wechecked out the buffet and even attended a wonderful WIne-Tasting where I learned useful information and tried a variety of wines. Tonight- Dress up night for those who care to indulge!
3rd- First Day at Sea! I absolutely loved being at sea-gave time to check out everything Princess had to offer
4th Day-Ship docked and our tour buses (Princess booked) were available immediately to whisk us away. Our first stop Kusadasi, the purported last home of the Blessed Mother. It is a very inspiring, quiet retreat and I enjoyed it although no pictures were allowed inside the home.(I had forgotten my camera that day anyhow). Next stop was the restored Roman ruins of Ephesus- truly a spectacle for anyone interested in Roman architecture and history.(see story).
5th Day- Istanbul- We chose to take our own tour by catching a bus/tram right outside of the port and using maps to navigate our way to our various destinations. Back on the ship we enjoyed recounting our days adventures.(there were many-see story).
6th day-At sea again! took advantage of more ship activities likeanother wine tasting, international cafe offerings, pools and pool bars ,casino and just general relaxing.
7th day-Mykonos-we had to take a "tender" to Mykonos ( a small boat to go into small harbors). Loved Mykonos (read review) and would have loved to have spent more time there,especially an evening,but the cruise schedule did not allow and we had to be back on board by 6:00.(see story)
8th-Next stop -Naples- now we start getting busy as all of the ports where we have excursions booked come back to back with no "sea days". Island of Capri, Sorrento for lunch then Pompeii brings us back to the ship around 3:00. Just in time for pre-dinner cocktails and dinner prep.
9th- Civatechia- port for Rome- our wonderful Limo driver Vincenzo met us at the dock and whisked us away for a frantic but fantastic tour of Rome and Vatican City. Highly recommend a privet limo!(see story).
10th-Livorno-port for Florence, Pisa and Tuscany. We split up for this tour- the girls went to Florence-(1 hour away for glorious shopping) and the guys took a private wine tour of Tuscany which they said was absolutely the best!(see story).
11th-Last port-Monte Carlo- I didnt think I would care that much about it but this was a perfect half day trip. Monaco and Monte Carlo are BEAUTIFUL and hold lots of photo ops. (see story).
That night-Dress up and we said our goodbyes to our unbelievable wait staff,leaving a little extra cash to supplement the daily tips that are included in your bill.
Since we paid by credit card we did not have to settle our bill but did receive a printout for all of our ship's charges($10.50 per day for tips to be distributed among all wait staff, charges for alcohol and bottled water, extra charges for 2 specialty restaurants - $20 each but WELL worth it. Aso charges for our cruise-booked tours are included in this as well the trip to the ship doctor I to take for an upper respiratory infection.($125 including medication- not covered by insurance).
Pictures taken by ship photographer are displayed and any that you choose to keep are added to this final bill. Any spa treatments, shopping ,etc...is included in this
bill.Internet access is also part of this bill.
Be careful becuase it can quickly add up- check it at customer service every few days to make sure there are no disputes at the end of the tour.
12th- Silent Disembarkation. This simply means you meet at a certain location and,sorrowfully, depart the glorious Ruby Princess with fond memories, pictures and souvenirs of the unbelievably wonderful trip! Goodbye Ruby Princess! I cant wait to sail you again!