Saturday, February 11, 2017

Thoughts After Our Second Mexican Riviera Cruise

As I wake to the sounds of cabins around us waking up and preparing for our arrival in San Pedro.  My mind starts to ponder the last cruise and what I should write about.

After tossing and turning for an hour I finally grab the tablet and start to write while it is fresh.

We are on for three cruises in total that all do the Mexican Riviera.  We have just finished our second leg and have one more to go.

First off we are really enjoying the demographics of these 7 day voyages on the West Coast.  Lots of first time cruisers and newer cruisers with over half of the ship having done less than five cruises.  This last trip had only 200 elites!

It is so lovely to see the excitement and fun that the people on board are experiencing.  Many more people are out late, drinking in the bars, playing in the casino, attending shows, participating in events and dancing into the evening.

I am guessing when I say I think the average age is around 45 with more kids and famillies (multi generational families) and seniors too.  It makes for a great dynamic that we don't find often on longer voyages.

It does take more patience as people learn the learning curve of cruising.  For example where all the washrooms are, how it is a cash free environment, getting coffee with your coffee card, to the flow of using a non lined Horizon Court.  It is interesting and does take some patience for those of us who come by this skill after so many cruises. I offer assistance when asked or when they look desparate.

I can't tell you how many times we have sat with people on board and chat and they proudly disclaim they are on their 3rd, 5th, 11th or even proudly tell me that they are elite and tell me the beneifts of being elite.  With them never asking me how many cruises I have done, nor do I tell them.  It is just nice to see how excited they are and proud they are too.

Sadly the dining room has not improved and even got worse - see post from second sea day dinner.  No matter if it is breakfast or lunch (open seating) or dinner, wait staff are overworked and can't provide the service we have come to love with Princess.

The head waiters are totally different that what we have had on other ships.  They are not very friendly (even the ones we know from previous cruises) and not once in the two weeks have we had a head waiter come to our table to see how things are going.  Nor do they welcome us very friendly when we arrive or anyone else for that matter that we have seen.

I understand tables for two are a premium and don't mind waiting if necessary but boy do they make you feel like you are doing them a diservice by asking for one. 

I totally see that this is a staffing issue and lack of team work.  Where some waiters are not busy in their section are not told to assist those that are busy.

The other issue with lack of tables for all meals is that a large section of the dining room is closed off for Club Class.  Each meal that we have eaten there sees only a handful of tables being used with over 75% sitting empty in that section.  Waiters standing around with nothing to do.

I will add before people slam me is that we have done a lot of cruises with Princess and this service is not the norm and not what is expected when we choose Princess.  Yes we could address it and I am sure it will improve for us but it does not fix the overall problem for everyone.  This is obviously a big problem and needs to be address from the top down.

For some reason we have had more issues with our bill this week.  Three different errors have appeared on our bill.  All have stemed from the dining staff.  I believe this is because they still do paper tickets here and write your folio number and errors can happen there.

Once we were charged twice for a specialty restaurant and the other two were charges for beverages in the dining room when we had not even dined in the dining room.

But make sure you are always checking your account, either with paper print outs or on line.  I love the online version as it shows up very quickly if not immediately and you can address it.

The Horizon Court has been very good.  Great selection and the service has been fast and efficient unless it is packed.  I have especially enjoyed the themed buffets.

Again we dined at both Share and Salty Dog (in fact twice at Salty Dog this voyage).  We are enjoying the different food options on board.  Share is a lovely addition and is a special meal that I encourage you to try if you call yourself a foodie (thinking of my friend Jim in NS).  If you are not really into specialty restaurants then you certainly can find great food all over for free.  But if you are a seasoned Princess Cruisers and looking for a bit of change sail the Ruby and enjoy Share and/or Salty Dog.

The International Cafe is still the hub of the ship and even though at times service is better than last week is still very poor.  For example yesterday I sat in the Atrium along the outer circle of the Piazza in one of the heavy chairs for twenty minutes and not once did a waiter even come by even though there were at least four waiters working. I finally gave up and left and was going to get my own drink but the line was at least ten deep.  Not sure what is going on here but the staff definately need direction here and more supervision.

Entertainment on board is very good.  Actually I would say the entertaiment is similar to what we see on a ten day voyage but this is packed into a 7 day.  Three production shows!  Comedians, magicians, deck party, trivias, games, folklore show, movies and way way more.  The team seem happy and friendly and all over the ship. 

The early show still seems to be the busiest.  So if you want to go to that one go early. But normally the later show you can find seats closer to start time.  Oh and bar service in here is very good too.

We got to attend the Platinum/Elite Lounge more this voyage and enjoyed it.  Staff here are so helpful and friendly and the food is just right for a pre dinner snack.

This trip we enjoyed the open decks more too.  The weather was very good - a bit hotter than last week (I felt).  The open decks were busy but not too crazy.  You could always find a chair.  It might not be right at the pool but a deck higher or forward was no issue. 

Sad to see not only people saving chairs with a towel but some people thought it was okay to have a chair in one spot and a chair in another spot.  One day up on the Sun deck we had a couple in front of us use two chairs in the sun, then two others over in the shade.  Really!  Also people seem to think that staff are there to pick up after them at all times.  If you leave your chair for  good take your towel/s.  Don't leave them there for deck staff to pick up.  One they don't know necessarily if you are done.  Second someone probably would love to use that chair so take the towels so others can use them when you are done!  It is very easy to dump the towels in the used towel bin that is located all over the place.

Our cabin steward is wonderful.  He is the quiet type but is what I call the nija steward.  As soon as I open my door his head pops out somewhere nearby to say "hi miss Vickie".  I swear I leave the cabin for a bit and the bed is made and towels changed. He is like a nija, sneaking around changing towels, making beds, replenishing ice! 

Bar staff again are fabulous. So friendly, helpful and kind. They are busy with so many people getting the drink package but even if you just want a glass of water they are very helpful and ready to say hi and see how you are doing.

This is the handover cruise for our current captain - Marco has been so nice and so visible all over the ship.  He is approachable and friendly and even willing to answer questions - even the simple ones.

Even posing for pictures with passengers in the elevator when I got on one day.

Purser staff are patient and helfpul but you can see that these 7 day voyages and newer cruiser issues are tiring.  But they handle them patiently.  Although I will add that we do notice that sometimes their answers (from what we have overheard at the desk) are stock answers and sometimes more to quiet the passenger.

All our issues we have encountered, mainly with errors on our bill, have been dealt with and corrected and usually followed up with a call to the cabin to state that it has been corrected.

This voyage we did go into the boutiques and buy a few items - cologne and Tommy Bahama T-shirts.  We recognize some of the staff here from previous cruises and all are very friendly and helpful and again very patient.  But boy can some passengers be mean - so just remember if you have an issue take it up with the Shop Manager not the sales staff as usually their hands are tied.

Laundry for elites has been coming back the next day (again with only 200 elites it is understandable).  But we have been using the Laundry facilities each turn around day too to do a large load.  Often if a mark does not come out from the onboard laundry it will come out when we do the regular wash.

The ports have been great.  I really enjoy visiting Mexico.  Just wish our Cabo stop was longer.

We are excited to have one more voyage to go and we are even more excited for our friends Barb and Craig to come on.

So stay tuned.


  1. As always, enjoy reading your blog. And Ruby is still our favorite ship in the fleet. Your main dining room comments were interesting. As you know, we have not been in the main dining room on Princess, Celebrity, or RCI for over ten years, and I see we aren't missing anything. Casual dining and a few specialty restaurants each voyage are the way to go! Our next cruise - Celebrity - is a full Panama Canal transit from Florida to California, so we'll check out the blogs for those Mexican west coast ports. We did a Panama Canal transit in the '90's from Acapulco, so that is the extent of our west coast experience.

    1. Excellent enjoy your panama cruise. One of our favorites.

  2. our last cruise in dec and jan we had several problems with them for billing sure to check your bill everytime after a couple times we started checking it on our phone as soon as they did it.

  3. Vickie, thanks again for your has inspired me.... lol I will be on the Ruby for 3 back to backs in 2018...2 going to Mexico and then the 3rd is a 3 day leaving LA and going to Vancouver....I know it is a lot of work to write and post these blogs, so I want you to know they are appreciated

    1. Thanks for your comment. Really appreciate.

  4. Thanks for your blog. We're leaving soon for the same cruise (first time). Currently we're scheduled for anytime dining. Would you recommend a set dining time?

  5. Thanks for your blog. We are going on the same cruise soon. We're currently scheduled for anytime dining. Would you recommend a set dinner time? We like flexibility, but sounds like wait times to be seated may be an issue. thanks!

    1. no don't switch, there is an issue in the traditional dining room too with service. Also even with traditional all passengers dine in the same dining room for lunch and breakfast with a portion cut off for club class.

  6. wait times vary... of course some times are more popular and remember the doors open at 5:30 and it fills by 6:30 so if you go before 6:30 probably not an issue, otherwise wait till after 730 when the first group has cleared up. But each cruise has it's own ebb and flow

  7. We enjoyed our time on this cruise as well. Had several billing issues - none of our purchased OBC or prepayed tips were applied, we had the AIBP but were charged several times for drinks and did not have our elite discount applied when the gift shop receipts were handwritten. As you say, the staff at the PSD were very helpful and all the issues were resolved.

  8. We disembarked the Ruby the same day you embarked -- Jan 28. We experienced very similar issues in the MDR and with billing. I'm special dietary needs for a medical condition, but the Head Waiter REFUSED to come talk to me. The first waiter was stunned. Future waiters berated me for not ordering my meals the previous day, even though I had. Having the head waiter provide continuity for this process is critical. I was also refused dietary accommodation in the MDR at other meals, so started eating breakfast and lunch at the buffet, even though it's not my preference.

    In general, our staff interactions left us feeling like we were an imposition. Getting an extra glass for our cabin, getting in touch with coordinator for our renewal (I was supposed to just sit in my cabin until he had time to call) or arranging our UBD. We didn't have a lot of asks, but I do expect a more positive attitude when I do. Even if they can't do it, if it's reasonable, I at least hope for a "we'll try" response, not "NO".

    Service in the MDR was quite variable -- either excellent or horrible. Food the same. We were billed for 3 drinks in a bar we never went to the entire cruise, and it was extra curious,because we were in the middle of our vow renewal while these drinks were being ordered. Took a month to get a refund, although we tried to handle it onboard.

    It was our first Princess cruise. For years I had been hearing great things about the line so was excited to try it. While the ship is lovely, we just didn't leave thinking we would book again with Princess. However, due to schedule issues, our next cruise in March will be on Ruby again. (We have a large group coming with us). Fingers crossed that the issues have been resolved and that we will have a better experience.