and I had the opportunity to sail on a 5 Night Mediterranean Cruise aboard the Navigator of the Seas on 6/2/08.
We departed from Barcelona and decided to spend one night enjoying the city. If you have more time,
I would recommend 2 nights as you may arrive a bit tired as we did! We stayed at the Hotel Turin which is located right
off Las Ramblas. After a wonderful dinner of Paella and Sangria, we enjoyed the street performers on Las Ramblas.
We then walked to the old port area of Barcelona. The architecture was stunning! A word of caution about Barcelona…pick
pocketing is very common here! You should always be cautious now matter where you travel, but this is especially
important in Barcelona.
After a great night's sleep we headed
from the hotel to the ship via taxi. It was only a 15 minute ride. My husband had not been on Royal Caribbean
since our honeymoon and my kids (age 9 and 10) had never sailed with Royal Caribbean. They were in awe of the amenities
aboard the Navigator of the Seas! We spent the afternoon exploring this floating city. One of our first stops
was to the kids' area, Adventure Ocean Youth Program. We met a couple and their 2 ten year old sons. It is
truly a small world as they live in Atlanta, GA too! We enjoyed their company for the rest of our cruise.
Our first port of call was Cannes, France. We decided
to do this port on our own as opposed to doing an organized shore excursion. We walked from the dock area to the train
station. We then purchased tickets and headed to Monaco.
What a stunning municipality! We walked to the Casino, and then up to "The Rock" to see the Palace. During
our brief visit, we marveled at the magnificent views. We then hopped on the train and headed back to Cannes.
The train was approximately one hour each way. We walked a different way to return to the ship. We saw the
site of the famous Cannes Film Festival and the kids enjoyed the carousel before heading back to the Navigator of the
Our second port of call was Livorno
which is the port city for Pisa and Florence. We purchased
a shore tour from Royal Caribbean called "Florence and Pisa on your own." This included transportation
to Florence and Pisa, but not a guide in each city. However, there was a guide onboard the motorcoach who shared great
travel tips with us. This worked well for us as we wanted to be on our own schedule, but have the security
of the cruiseline's transportation. We boarded a motorcoach and made the one hour ride to Pisa. Along
the way, the guide prepared us for our visit to the "Field of Miracles" which is where the Leaning tower of
Pisa is located. We had 45 minutes which is really plenty of time to explore and take photos. We then headed
to Florence via the motorcoach which took about an hour. Our sights included the Duomo, Bapistery, Ponte Vecchio, and
many unique sculptures. Yes, my kids received an art lesson they'll never forget! We had time to have lunch
at an outdoor cafe'. My first meal in Italy did not disappoint! After some more exploring, we stopped for
gelato (a great incentive for tired kids) and headed back to the motorcoach for the 1 1/2 hour ride back to Livorno.
Our final port of call was Civitavecchia
which is the port city for Rome. We purchased a "Rome
on your own" shore tour with Royal Caribbean. I had thought of taking the train from Civitavecchia, but I had a
concern about missing the ship, etc. It takes 1 1/2 hours to get from Civitavecchia to Rome. Once there, we had
6 hours to explore. Rome wasn't built in a day and it can't be seen in a day! Our tour guide dropped us
off in Saint Peter's Square. I was amazed at the size...pictures don't do it justice! We then walked to
the Collosseum, Forum, and Pantheon. We regret that we didn't have time to go through the Collosseum as the lines
were very long and we had more sighseeing to fit in! We then headed to Trevi Fountain. We tossed in our coins
so we'll be sure to return to Rome some day! After a quick lunch, we made our way to St. Peter's Basilica.
Although the line was long to get in, we had plenty of time to spend here. This was the highlight
of our day in Rome! We treated the youngest travelers to gelato and headed back to the meeting point for our group.
Wow, what a day!
We were really looking forward to our day at sea after 3 days
of busy sightseeing. In fact, I had promised my kids they could swim, climb the rock wall, rollerblade, play miniature
golf, etc. Mother Nature had other plans. The kids did get to climb the rock wall and play a bit of miniature
golf, but no pool. Luckily, the kids' room was open and they joined their new friends for one last day of fun.
Steve and I had a relaxing day enjoying the Navigator of the Seas indoor amenities.
We did enjoy the food and service on Royal Caribbean. Most of our breakfasts were in the Windjammer. There was
a nice selection and we were able to get in and out in time to catch our shore tours. We ate in the regular dining room
for 4 nights. The service was excellent and the food was good. The highlight of our dining experience was our
dinner in one of the specialty restaurants, Portofino. We had a table for 2 by a window and our dining time coincided
with the ship's departure from Cannes. Fantastic food, wine, service, view, and company!
As I mentioned, the Navigator of the Seas is a floating city! Since our itinerary was so port intensive, we didn't
feel like we spent a lot of time aboard the ship. However, we did enjoy the Viking Crown Lounge in the evening.
It was a great place to catch up with our new friends from Atlanta while our kids enjoyed the Adventure
Ocean Youth Program.
After a very quick disembarkation, we headed to the Barcelona
airport and flew to Riga, Latvia for 3 nights. We were here 3 years ago to complete the adoption of our son, Oskar.
It was great to reunite with his former caretakers and experience the charm of downtown Riga.
I can't wait to return to Europe! A cruise is really the way to go as we got to see so much and only have to pack
and unpack once! Also, the cruise was a much better value than if we had to pay Euro prices for all meals and accommodations!
November 6, 2008
I had the opportunity to sail aboard the Ruby Princess two night inaugural.
The festivities began with an exciting naming ceremony during which Gavin McLeod (Captain Stubing of the Love Boat)
served as Master of Ceremonies. In addition, Trista and Ryan Sutter (from the TV show “The Bachelorette”)
had the honor of christening this beautiful 113,000 ton baby!
The Ruby Princess is a sister ship to the Crown and
Emerald Princess. The center of the ship features a lively piazza-style atrium which is home to the International
café and Vines wine and seafood/sushi bar. While enjoying a glass of wine and artisan cheeses I
was amused by entertainers such as a juggler on a unicycle, acrobats, and talented singers. The piazza
is a taste of Europe at sea!
The pool areas on the Ruby Princess offer much more than swimming! Neptune’s
Reef and Pool is lively during the day with tropical music. By day, the Calypso Reef and Pool is a great
choice for taking in the Caribbean sun and fun. At night, this area is transformed into “Movies Under the Stars”
complete with padded deck chairs, popcorn, and more! For the ultimate in relaxation and privacy, I recommend
the Sanctuary. For a nominal fee, guests enjoy luxuriously cushioned lounge chairs, soothing music, and
the services of “Serenity Stewards.” This oasis is located on the aft of the Ruby Princess
and offers both sun and shade.
The Ruby Princess features a scrumptious array of dining options! Dinner
is served in one of 3 main dining rooms. With Princess, guests have the choice of fixed dining (6PM or
8:30PM) or Personal Choice Dining. With Personal Choice, guests have the option to dine when, where and
with whom they choose. The Ruby Princess offers unique specialty restaurants. My favorite
is Sabatini’s which specializes in fine Italian Cuisine. The views from Sabatini’s are stunning.
The Crown Grill offers the finest steaks, chops, seafood, and desserts in a Manhattan inspired ambiance.
Horizon Court and Café Caribe offer informal dining with a variety of options for breakfast,
lunch, dinner or snacks. The Ruby Princess will be the first Princess ship to serve a traditional “Pub
Lunch” in the Wheelhouse Bar. This was a huge hit on my short sailing. I always
have a slice of pizza on every cruise I take. Princess took over the award from Costa Cruise Line as the
best pizza at sea in my book!
I truly enjoyed my brief time on the Ruby Princess. The spa
and gym were outfitted with the most modern amenities and equipment. Our accommodations were spacious and
comfortable. And, I’m still laughing at the shows the comedians put on! The Ruby
Princess will spend this winter sailing from Fort Lauderdale to the exotic Caribbean islands. She will
then make her way to Europe this spring and offer an extensive Greek Isle and Mediterranean itinerary. In
fact, I have access to many sailings with extra savings and on board credit opportunities.
A special thanks
to my host agency, American Discount Cruises, for allowing me the opportunity to sample the Ruby Princess. I
hope you have the opportunity to sail with Princess too! Thanks again for allowing me the privilege to
assist you with your vacation plans!