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irvinejohn

Ruby Princess Alaska Jun 28 - July 5 2015 Photo Review

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Nice review. I am learning some new things from it. We will be on the Ruby in four weeks, so, glad that you are doing it. :D

 

BTW, I think you would have had a larger audience had you posted this in the Princess Cruises forum. :cool:

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Nice review. I am learning some new things from it. We will be on the Ruby in four weeks, so, glad that you are doing it. :D

 

BTW, I think you would have had a larger audience had you posted this in the Princess Cruises forum. :cool:

 

Enjoy your trip. Maybe the salmon will be running in Ketchikan by then. If the salmon are at Mendenhall you might see a bear too.

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The magician//illusionist we saw Monday night, Garry Carson, was playing at the Princess Theater, but the 8PM show was full. We heard it was a good show. Since the next day was a sea day, we thought it was OK for everybody to watch the 10PM show.

 

I must have brought the twins to Pelicans because my youngest twin was wearing his Pelicans t-shirt in the theater later.

 

The show was called “An Evening of Illusions” and it was not as intimate a performance as before because of the larger venue. He had two assistants and lots of props as there were a lot of illusionist type disappearing tricks. Like before he went into the audience to get volunteers. I think this was the best entertainment act during our stay on the Ruby and it was Las Vegas worthy. His bio states that he had performed 8,000 shows at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. I thought it was similar in nature to the Nathan Burton Magic Show at Planet Hollywood. If you see only one show during your trip, this is the one to see.

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Day 6 – At Sea

 

I had earlier stated that the time changes were not listed in the Patters, but I am mistaken. On the Monday Patter, the time was set back one hour Monday night. On the Thursday Patter, the time was set back one hour forward.

 

I don’t think my phone synched so it was likely showing the time in the Alaskan cities, one hour behind. So I think it was 9:30AM when I left the cabin. I was worried we were going to miss breakfast and went down to the International Café to get the doughnuts and other breakfast treats there.

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I was also mistaken about missing breakfast. The Patter shows that the Horizon Court served breakfast until 11:30AM. My sister noticed that there was an Oriental & Sushi Buffet in the Café Caribe today for lunch. I was so happy that we will finally have something different for lunch and wondered if we missed out on any other differences at Café Caribe. Based on the Patters, this was the first day a different lunch was offered at the buffet. Café Caribe does not open every day which is too bad since I was bored with the Horizon Court buffet at this point.

 

The buffet line for Café Caribe started on the left side of the aft section of the Ruby and ended on the right side, so it was very long. It seemed like a longer walk to get back to our tables on the left side. The variety was much improved, but the taste was OK for the Asian themed lunch.

 

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It seemed my parents did not know about the different lunch at Café Caribe and since they were not with us there, I went to look for them in the Horizon Court. They had already started lunch and I asked them to come over to Café Caribe with the rest of us.

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After lunch the twins wanted to visit Pelicans again but it was not open until 2PM during their lunch break. So we decided to the Arts & Crafts: Flower Making class at Sabatini’s at 1:15PM. It was a time filler but we all got to experience the layout at Sabatini’s.

 

The Italian restaurant is located on Deck 16 at the back of the ship. Since it was at the back of the ship, there was a lot of natural light from the windows and it seemed that restaurant had tall ceilings so there was a very airy feel. In addition, Sabatini’s had the largest flower decorations I seen and also the most as well. Although we did not eat any meals at any of the specialty restaurants, I thought Sabatini’s was a very classy establishment with the best ambience.

 

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Since I was here I took a picture of the menu. I don’t know if it changes at all, but it is interesting to compare the menus since it was lobster night in the MDR.

 

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Since we just took a look at the menu for Sabatini’s, here is the menu for the Crab Shack. It seems a portion of the Café Caribe becomes the Crab Shack for dinner. There is a fee of $20 per person for the Crab Shack. While my wife and I were looking at the menu, another passenger saw us and raved about it. She said the appetizers were great and you can order extra items if you like. She wanted just four more crab legs but the servers brought her another full order instead.

 

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Continuing no the menu theme, here is the one for the Crown Grill, the steakhouse on deck 7. There is a small sign saying the Crown Grill is a game room until 4PM. There were plenty of cards available and a few groups were playing some board games I didn’t recognize. I don’t know if those games were supplied by the Crown Grill or the passengers themselves.

 

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The Crown Grill is a very dark venue with a lot of wood. It was open to the Promenade side on the left only so there was only one side with natural light. It could make a good place for a romantic dinner.

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The Photo Gallery is located on the other side of the Crown Grill along the right side of the Ruby. We have been checking on the ship photographer pictures since they have been posted. I thought any outdoor pictures or indoor pictures with the large studio set ups were fine. Somebody in the family already purchased our first boarding picture and first formal night studio picture and also bought the digital copy so we could all share.

 

I think each print cost $25 for an 8” x 10” print and the digital file was an extra $10. You also had to purchase a USB drive for $15 for the electronic print, but the first digital file was free so it really only cost $5. My father’s USB drive only had a 2GB capacity, but the one we bought on the cruise was 8GB. My father probably bought his on a previous cruise. We didn’t specify, but we got the USB drive shaped like a Princess cruise ship.

 

Another bonus with the digital file was that it was the larger original copy. For our group picture from the formal night, the people on the ends were cut off because we spilled out beyond the backdrop of the Ruby ship. We asked them to reprint it in the larger size and also to lighten up the picture. Everybody wore dark outfits against a night backdrop scene of the Ruby. There was almost no detail in the suits in the first print. It was just a giant black blob. The reprint fixed these issues for us.

 

The port pictures taken indoor, such as the one with the lumberjack and fisherwoman at Ketchikan, were poorly executed in my opinion. It had the cave miner look to it were the foreground was lit up by the flash but the background was too dark. I thought it was an amateur level photograph. The portraits taken of individuals during the first formal night suffered from the same flaw and had a nasty looking shadow from the portrait orientation as well. Direct flash is usually a bad idea indoors. I wouldn’t recommend buying these kind of pictures.

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This time when I brought the twins to Pelicans, I asked our pre-teens if they wanted to go to Shockwaves. They were only interested if they had the ability to sign themselves out. When we went there to ask, all I had to do was change their permissions to allow this. The three of them went to Shockwaves for the second time. My only requirement was to not leave immediately. At this point in the cruise, I wasn’t worried about them getting lost on the ship if they were on their own.

 

Later my brother and SIL found these kids on Lido eating pizza. They stayed about forty minutes before leaving on their own, and never went back to Shockwaves. They just didn’t like it.

 

My brother’s older teenagers automatically had the right to sign themselves out of the older teen club. They did attend occasionally and made friends there.

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Thanks for the extensive and helpful review.

 

My family (11) is taking this Ruby Princess Alaska cruise on August 2 and our deck (Aloha) has been assigned a late (2:30) staggered boarding time. I would greatly like to get on early for the benefit of the kids. What was your assigned time? Did they give you a hard time about boarding before your assigned time? What time did you get to the dock?

 

On a different note, do you know if the pools are open during embarcation. Might be the only chance for the kids to swim.

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Thanks for the extensive and helpful review.

 

My family (11) is taking this Ruby Princess Alaska cruise on August 2 and our deck (Aloha) has been assigned a late (2:30) staggered boarding time. I would greatly like to get on early for the benefit of the kids. What was your assigned time? Did they give you a hard time about boarding before your assigned time? What time did you get to the dock?

 

On a different note, do you know if the pools are open during embarcation. Might be the only chance for the kids to swim.

 

I didn't bother to check our "assigned" boarding time until well after the trip on our travel planner. Like your situation, our Riviera deck was not scheduled to board until 2:30PM.

 

Our family did not want to be stuck in lines like we experienced with our Zaandam boarding, and I heard that early boarding was OK through these Cruise Critic forums, so we decided to go early. There was absolutely no issue with showing up early.

 

I know we left Bellevue at 10AM so we were likely at the passenger drop off zone around 10:30AM. There was practically no standing in lines for the health questionnaire, baggage check, on check in with our early arrival. We sat in the waiting area for a short while and I think we started boarding at 11:45AM.

 

We too had thought that embarkation day would likely be the best day to use the pool, but the thunderstorms in the area made us cancel that thought.

 

Have fun with the big family on your trip on the Ruby!

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For the second and final formal dinner, we wanted to get an earlier start so we planned on meeting at 4:30PM to take our own pictures. We choose the Piazza stairway to take our shots but the view from deck 7 was obstructed by wiring for the balloon drop later that night. So instead of taking photos along the stairway, we took it at the top of the lesser used stairway on the left.

 

Afterwards we choose to take another studio picture near the Piazza with a plain simple white backdrop. Since most of us were wearing dark formal attire again, I thought the white would balance against the dark colors better and it did.

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Tonight was lobster night and beef wellington night. This was the other meal that the kids were waiting for based on watching Hell’s Kitchen and all the kids ordered it and loved it.

 

For starters I got the tomato bisque soup and a salad.

 

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The lobster was served with two large prawns, which were almost as large as large as the lobster. Our assistant server removed the shells. The shellfish was good and the large prawns put yesterday’s surf and turf shrimp to shame.

 

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Since all the kids we ordering beef wellington, I had to order this as my second entrée as well. We were creating a second surf and turf night. I thought the beef wellington could have been better if the sauce was served separately since it made the pasty soggy.

 

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At the adult table, more people ordered the short rib dish as the turf portion. This one looked tasty too.

 

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Tonight we also received the parade of chefs and servers. The following evening was another open table situation so this was the best time to acknowledge all the staff that made these meals possible.

 

I believe I initially wrote that I didn’t need to bring a fast prime lens for the trip. However at 6400 ISO, my F4 zoom lens could not keep up with the parade as most the lights were dimmed. So this would have been an ideal opportunity to use a fast prime.

 

Maitre d Generoso Mazzone and Executive Chef Naveen Quadros happened to be standing nearby our table when the parade stopped.

 

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I don’t remember the formal name used for this desert but it was the baked Alaska that was featured during the parade of servers.

 

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And I don’t remember what this one was.

 

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I had taken pictures of the menus at the different venues today but I didn’t have the opportunity to tonight’s menu because there were a lot of people reading it outside. By the time I remembered to take the picture later in the evening, it was already switched to the breakfast menu.

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“Once Upon a Dream” a Princess production played in the Princess Theater. We went there a little late so the show was already in progress and we made some room in the aisles at the back of the theater. It was an OK show with some modern music mixed in with dream sequences. It was more elaborate with more participants than the production shows we saw on the Zaandam.

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We knew there was a balloon drop at 10:45PM and the kids were excited on seeing it. The next day, our final full day, was mostly a sea day with a very late visit to Victoria, so we thought it was OK for the kids to have another late night.

 

We changed into casual wear after the Princess show and then I took the younger kids to play miniature golf on the Princess Links. At the beginning of the week, it was always occupied but it became less crowded over time.

 

Skywalker’s NIghtclub was directly below us and the bass was really thumping through the roof and the ground of the Princess Links. By this time I think we have gotten used to the long days although it was odd to feel the nightclub in full action with the sun still up. It was also quite warm with the sun and the protection from the wind on the links.

 

The sun was setting directly behind us in the wake of the ship. It was a bittersweet realization that the cruise was mostly over and that we were returning to reality. It wasn’t that long ago the Ruby was sailing generally North with the setting sun on the left or right but now the sun was reminding us that this vacation was almost over.

 

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After the sunset, we went to the International Café where we found the rest of the family. We played cards, which was a popular activity for us during the cruise, while we waited for the time for the balloon drop. My oldest twin was already tired so my wife took him back to the cabin.

 

I had not read the Patter carefully regarding the balloon drop and may not have noticed it was a night of dancing and a balloon drop. I only heard “balloon drop” during the public announcements. At about 10:30PM, a group of kids were batting a loose balloon like a beach ball on the floor of the Piazza. A band, Passion, started to set up and more the Piazza started to fill up to standing room only capacity.

 

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At about 10:45 cruise director Billy Hygate was the MC and started the event. Instead of getting the crowd ready for an immediate balloon drop, he started reciting the history of Princess in accordance with the 50 year anniversary of the cruise line. He would state an important date in Princess history and then the band will play a song from that era. For example one of the earliest songs was the Twist. The Princess attendants encouraged people to dance and the floor of the atrium literally became a dance floor at the very beginning. The cruise director would advance the date with some more facts and another song will play. We figured out then that the balloon drop will not happen until the songs reached the present. It was going to take some time.

 

There were adults dancing with small children waiting for the balloon drop. It really wasn’t an ideal environment for kids so my father joined with me to serve as a barrier between the dancers and our kids. My other twin got too tired waiting around the 90’s so I almost had to drag him back to our room, and then I went back. I had waited too long to give up. I think it was only about three more songs after I returned before the balloon drop, which was about 45 minutes to one hour into the program.

 

It was a visual spectacle to watch the balloons drop. And the noise as people popped the balloons was like firecrackers going off. It was interesting to experience but probably not suited for younger children with the very late time. I thought the band played and performed well. I don’t know if anyone in the cabins near the Piazza were able to sleep early that night. It was very loud and the sound seemed to carry.

 

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Day 7 – Victoria

 

After another late night, I didn’t expect the kids to wake up on time for breakfast again except for my oldest twin who went to bed early. He went with me to breakfast at the Horizon Court and we met up with other family members at our usual spot. We brought back some breakfast for all the sleepy heads still in the cabin.

 

At 10AM, there was kitchen tour preceded by a cooking demonstration by Maitre d Generoso Mazzone and Executive Chef Naveen Quadros at the Princess Theater. On the way there I stopped by the take pictures of the breakfast offerings at the International Café.

 

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Chef Quadros cooked and was assisted by the Maitre d as they prepared four dishes. All four dishes would be available tonight at the dinner buffet and some of it was already served in the MDR. There was a seafood appetizer, a red potato pasta and string bean pasta in pesto sauce, another tomato sauce pasta, and tiramisu.

 

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The two of them had an excellent rapport with each other and the audience. It was an enjoyable cooking presentation. They gave plenty of tips about cooking Italian food such as salting the water used to boil pasta but not adding any oil, don’t strain the pasta and add directly to the sauce etc.

 

The pesto pasta was available tonight in the MDR. Even though the Princess Theater is larger, the wonderful fragrance carried all the way to the back rows. I knew I would be ordering at least the pesto pasta in the evening.

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We were led from the Princess Theater to the kitchen for the Michelangelo Dining Room. On the Ruby there was no central kitchen but each dining venue had its own kitchen with the exception of the Botticelli and Da Vinci dining rooms because they shared the kitchen in between them.

 

The kitchen tour was a letdown however since it was not interactive and did not have an explanation of the kitchen. It was a lot of stainless steel with some carved food decorations. I don’t know if these decorations were used during the evening meal service in the buffet.

 

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The Chef was autographing the book “Courses” for buyers as we exited the kitchen. Various goods were available for sales on the tables in Michelangelo on our way out.

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There was a large display of confections for the July 4th holiday today in the Piazza. Of course every day on a cruise is a holiday.

 

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My wife split off with my oldest soon as they looked for a sit down breakfast in the buffet. Of course lunch wasn’t that far away and we arrived early for the Mexican buffet today at Café Caribe after I rounded up the rest of kids form our cabin. The staff was about to open up the “regular” buffet at the Horizon Court. Café Caribe was not decorated for July 4th but the Horizon Court was.

 

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My wife and son never made it to the Mexican Buffet. Instead they ran into my sister’s group and they all decided to have lunch in the MDR. This is actually my second plate at the buffet. I made a nacho snack. My first plate was a smaller round plate and half of that plate was a fajita for me and vegetables for the kids.

 

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During lunch I noticed the NCL Pearl behind us. It rapidly pulled even with the Ruby and then let us behind. I wanted to take a picture of the Pearl at sea but by the time I made it out on the top deck, she was already gone. I think the Pearl had a 6PM arrival at Victoria while we were scheduled for the more inconvenient 7PM arrival. This was our last lunch on board. Where did all that time go?

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