Cruising The Ruby Princess – Day 2

One of the things I enjoy most about cruising is that it’s so easy to just head out to eat whenever you are ready and I don’t have to wait for my travel companions or try to decide where to go.  This morning I decided to just order room service and got a breakfast sandwich, banana, juice and milk.  No charge except for a tip to the delivery person.  I love that!

I met up with my group to get off the ship and take the tender ashore.  Pam had gotten a clamshell (little cover with 2 chairs) and we were renting aqua chairs and snorkel equipment.  When you get onto Princess Cayes (their private beach area on theislandofEleutherain theBahamas) you head left for the free, unreserved chairs or right for the clamshells and beach bungalows.  We headed to the right and dropped our stuff at the clamshell and Dennis and I snorkeled up and headed into the water.  The others got a cocktail and headed out in their aqua chairs.  I was somewhat surprised at how many fish we saw in the roped off swimming area.  There were not a lot of swimmers on this side so the water was pretty clear.  We saw some fairly big blue fish with yellow stripes on the side, some flat blue fish that looked like the kind you see in aquariums (one turned on it’s side and waved at me), some yellow & black fish, plus more.  I also enjoyed looking at the plant life on the bottom of the sea. 

This is really a great place for a beach day.  They have some shops so you can do some souviner shopping; a couple of bars so you can get drinks – as well as waiters on the beach which I loved; you can go just outside of the Princess property for some more shopping (we didn’t do this because everything we needed was inside); they serve lunch (no charge – just like on the ship) on both sides – hotdogs & hamburgers, with salads and desserts on our side and a BBQ on the other side; watersports rentals; even a few excursions.  You can go back and forth to the ship if you need to.  I think the last tender back was around 3:15.  Here is the one picture I took this day – our ship from shore.

This day was Pam’s actual birthday so we went out and partied.  We stayed very late in the disco.  There was a lot of ship movement on this cruise so the dance floor was pretty interesting.  As time went on people seemed to adjust and when the ship rocked, we all went with it.  As a group we’d dance from one side of the floor to the other – almost like a line dance.   A good time was had by all.

Cruising on the Ruby Princess – Getting There

My friend, Pam, decided last year that she would like to take a cruise for her 40th birthday.  She chose the Ruby Princess because it sailed the day before her birthday and had a nice itinerary.  We hoped for a big group, but ended up with 6 of us which turned out to be a great number for doing excursions together and dining together.

Disclaimer: as soon as I left my house I went into extreme vacation mode.  I took very few pictures during this vacation which is odd for me.  Usually I have pictures of the hotel rooms from every angle, airport shots and lots of scenery.  I am hoping to get my travel mates to post some on my Perfect Paradise Vacations Facebook page so you might check there occasionally to see if they do.

I was traveling with 3 others and since our flight was at 7:30 Saturday morning we decided to stay near the airport.  We stayed at the Doubletree at Seatac and we had a really nice room (and yes, we got warm chocolate chip cookies on check in).  We had a suite – the main room had 2 queen beds, a little seating area, flat screen TV, good size closet and bathroom.  The 2nd room had a king bed, seating area, flat screen TV, and a sink – but no bathroom.  Very comfy beds, but we weren’t there for very long – just a short nights sleep.

We flew on Delta and since Dennis travels a lot for business we got to do VIP check in and boarding – I love that.  Our flights went well.  We did have a long layover inDetroit, but it gave us time to stretch our legs and get something to eat.  This is a large airport – we arrived at gate A2 and our connecting flight was at A65 or something like that.  As we were walking through the terminal my 12 year old nephew noticed that gate A55 looked like it said ass – we all got a chuckle out of that. 

We got intoFort Lauderdaleat about 10:30 Saturday night so we just had another nights sleep at our hotel.  We stayed at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina.  We are pretty sure our room was downgraded because the Oakland Raiders were staying there before their game withMiamithe following day.  Our room was tiny.  Barely room for the 2 double beds, and once we got a rollaway for my nephew we were wall to wall beds.  I did take a picture of the closet which didn’t even have room for us to put one of our suitcases in. 

The great thing about this hotel is that it is very close to the Port Everglades pier.  We dropped our checked bags and then went and did some shopping for bottled water, wine and a few things we had forgotten.  Got onboard around 1:30 I think.  Check in was very smooth, we walked right on and our rooms were ready so we dumped our carry ons and headed to the poolside bar.  We did a little wandering around the ship to sort of orient ourselves, and later in the afternoon we bumped into Pam and Rosanna and had another cocktail or two.  Enjoyed dinner in the main dining room and then some of us went out and listened to some karaoke after dinner.  It was a pretty early evening for me after all the traveling.

I booked an obstructed view room so that I could see what it was like – not bad on this ship.  What do you think?


Azamara Cruise Lines

A bright star in the deep blue sea. I was at an event last night for home based travel agents.  Our local sales rep for the new Azamara Cruise line did a short workshop prior to the main event.  I had not really taken the time to check out this cruise line, but was extremely impressed with everything that is included, the beautiful ships themselves, as well as the Itineraries. 

I’d like to share a few things that I learned with you. Most people who have cruised have been on one of the so called “mass market” cruise lines such as Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean, etc.  All of these offer a wonderful experience – included in your cruise price are your accommodations, nightly entertainment, all meals (unless you choose to eat in a specialty restaurant), art auctions, captain’s cocktail parties, superb service, and all sorts of day time activities.  What more could you possibly want or expect? 

Well, to start with, the ships are much smaller at about 30,000 tons.  What the heck does that mean?  Well, rather than 2000 passengers and 1000 crew members, Azamara Quest has only 694 passengers with 407 staff members.  The ships are much smaller and can get into some much more out of the way ports than the bigger ships. 

There is butler service in all staterooms and suites.  Your butler will help schedule spa treatments, specialty dining reservations, shore excursions, assist with unpacking and packing, afternoon tea, evening hors d’oeurves, and more! 

Speaking of speciality dining – did I mention that one Speciality Dining Experience is included with your stateroom price; 2 with your suite.  There are 2 fabulous specialty restaurants on each ship – Aqualina which has regional cousine and Prime C which is steak and seafood.  Both of these restaurants have well stocked wine bars where you can do wine tastings.   

The main dining rooms do things a little differently as well.  There are lots of tables for two and the others are for 4 and 6.  If you want a table for 8 you have to ask to have two tables put together.  There are no formal nights – country club casual is the style aboard these ships. 

Ahh, the spa.  Azamara’s spa is operated by Elemis Spa – they don’t just carry the products, they are operated by them so you get the same fabulous treatment you would get on Crystal, Cunard or Celebrity ships. 

Shore excursions are another area where things are done differently than you may be used to.  There are a maximum of 18 guests on the excursions – most are even smaller than that.  There are “excursion experts” to accompany you and make sure you learn about the destination that you are visiting.  The tours are accented by onboard experiences that relate – you really learn about the culture of a destination, instead of where to shop and which beach to visit. 

The ships themselves are luxurious.  Fresh flowers in all of the staterooms as well as throughout the ship.  Double lounge chairs by the pool.  Intimate lounges.  A non-smoking casino!  A computer center that offers classes in Excel and other programs because so many people today don’t have time to stay up to date on technology and take a vacation (I knew I had a good idea with my Cruise to Learn series.)  Words can’t do these ships justice, you need to go onboard and check them out for yourself.  

I mentioned Itineraries – there are many ports that you won’t see with other cruise lines.  Puerto Rico for instance, most of the ships stop in San Juan, Azamara stops in Ponce: in the US Virgin Islands, you will visit St. John rather than St. Thomas; Jamaica – Port Antonio; other unusual ports of call include the islands of Guadalupe, Tobago, Turks & Caicos, Virgin Gorda in the Caribbean; in South America you can visit Buenos Aires, Camarones, Comodoro Rivadavia, Ushuaia; Brazil ports of call include Ilhabela, Itaiai, Parati, Porto Belo, Rio; in Chile you can visit La Serena, Puerto Chacabuco, Punto Arenas, Valdivia; and the Falkland Islands or Uruguay. 

I could go on and on or you could check out their website and see for yourself.  Although I don’t want to miss mentioning that their prices are still very reasonable.  As time goes on and the line gets more well known that will change, so now is a perfect time to consider cruising with Azamara!