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patrickmoran

Ruby Princess March 8 New Zealand Cruise Review

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My wife and I took this cruise.  We are Elite and had an oceanview cabin, E207, and late (7:15pm) Late Seating TD (table for 2).  We flew to LA on the 5th, stayed at a Comfort Inn and visited the Aquarium of the Pacific before our 10:15 pm Delta flight to Sydney. We had booked round trip flights to Sydney through EZ Air.  With sales and promos, the fares were less than $500 pp round trip (economy)! Flight was fine (15 hrs) though I think Delta overhypes their "new" Economy service. We arrived around  8 am and found the Princess transfer guy.  We were at the ship by 11 am.

Well, we ran into 1st coronavirus problem.  Debarkation from the previous cruise was delayed so sick people could be checked for the virus. (Fortunately, no confirmed cases.) We were told to return not before 1 pm.  We checked in all our luggage and headed off to Circular Quay to have lunch. Had a nice lunch and returned to the terminal. Come back after 5 pm. Found a 2 hr harbor cruise that left a little after 3 pm.  I enjoyed the cruise around the harbor (lots of sail boats out) and my wife slept through the trip.  Back to the terminal. Oops, huge line waiting to board and not moving.  Found a bench nearby in the shade.  Left the wife there with the backpacks and I went up to the Harbor Bridge and walked across and back. By the time I got back (`6:30 pm) the line was gone. We boarded the ship by 7 pm. Medallion made boarding super quick. No medical checking; no collection of medical disclosure forms that we had been given earlier. Dinner at the buffet.  Tasty and quick, unpack, muster drill, and wait.  We finally left around 11:30 pm.  Sydney is a spectacular harbor to sail out of at night!

Two days at sea to catch up on sleep and try to adjust to the 17 hour time change. Seas were a bit rough. 3rd day was fjord cruising.  Nice; not as spectacular or scenic as Norway or Alaska but enjoyable.

 

More later

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Just now, patrickmoran said:

My wife and I took this cruise.  We are Elite and had an oceanview cabin, E207, and late (7:15pm) Late Seating TD (table for 2).  We flew to LA on the 5th, stayed at a Comfort Inn and visited the Aquarium of the Pacific before our 10:15 pm Delta flight to Sydney. We had booked round trip flights to Sydney through EZ Air.  With sales and promos, the fares were less than $500 pp round trip (economy)! Flight was fine (15 hrs) though I think Delta overhypes their "new" Economy service. We arrived around  8 am and found the Princess transfer guy.  We were at the ship by 11 am.

Well, we ran into 1st coronavirus problem.  Debarkation from the previous cruise was delayed so sick people could be checked for the virus. (Fortunately, no confirmed cases.) We were told to return not before 1 pm.  We checked in all our luggage and headed off to Circular Quay to have lunch. Had a nice lunch and returned to the terminal. Come back after 5 pm. Found a 2 hr harbor cruise that left a little after 3 pm.  I enjoyed the cruise around the harbor (lots of sail boats out) and my wife slept through the trip.  Back to the terminal. Oops, huge line waiting to board and not moving.  Found a bench nearby in the shade.  Left the wife there with the backpacks and I went up to the Harbor Bridge and walked across and back. By the time I got back (`6:30 pm) the line was gone. We boarded the ship by 7 pm. Medallion made boarding super quick. No medical checking; no collection of medical disclosure forms that we had been given earlier. Dinner at the buffet.  Tasty and quick, unpack, muster drill, and wait.  We finally left around 11:30 pm.  Sydney is a spectacular harbor to sail out of at night!

Two days at sea to catch up on sleep and try to adjust to the 17 hour time change. Seas were a bit rough. 3rd day was fjord cruising.  Nice; not as spectacular or scenic as Norway or Alaska but enjoyable.

 

More later

Awesome! Thanks for your review!  

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The Ruby is a full Medallion class ship. I would say the app/systems are really starting to click.  This was the 3rd M ship in the past 12 months, 4th overall.  It was the best. The app components were reliable and worked smoothly and quickly. The internet service was fast and reliable, even when everyone was given unlimited internet access for 1 device late in the cruise. (More on that later.)

 

After we were on the ship for a day or 2, I notice my wife and I both had been given $100 AUD OBC. There was no explanation for this.  I suspect it was because P gave cruisers who sailed on cruises starting a day later than ours a $200 or $300 OBC.  So in theory our cruise was left out in the cold. So P threw us a bone.

A day or 2 later, another $50 AUD credit showed up.  That I believe was to compensate us for lunch and such for the delayed boarding. 

Every little bit helps!

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, patrickmoran said:

Well, we ran into 1st coronavirus problem.  Debarkation from the previous cruise was delayed so sick people could be checked for the virus.

We were on the disembarking ship on the 8th March so are very interested to hear what happened between our arrival on the 8th, when we had to complete a form about our health and take it to Guest Services before 11pm on the 7th. Incidentally, those who at that time didn’t “think” they qualified (passengers and crew) didn’t have to hand in a completed form???? First stumble by both Princess and NSWH

First thing next morning the ship was boarded by NSW Health, and those of us who had ticked yes had to wait to have temps taken and be cleared before leaving ship.

As you saw patrickmoran - this took until after 5PM on the 8th. 
BUT - did passengers/crew slip through on the 8th because we were allowed to self diagnose that time? All for the sake of saving time ? 
Why didn’t they  (NSWH) take the time to at least take the temps of “everyone” on the ship that morning?? We were a captive community at the time.

Anyway - more interested to see the difference between that morning and your arrival into the OPT  🤔
NB: Interestingly - we were being checked for a “reported cough” on board, not the virus 🤷‍♀️

Edited by Porky55

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1 hour ago, patrickmoran said:

The Ruby is a full Medallion class ship. I would say the app/systems are really starting to click.  This was the 3rd M ship in the past 12 months, 4th overall.  It was the best. The app components were reliable and worked smoothly and quickly. The internet service was fast and reliable, even when everyone was given unlimited internet access for 1 device late in the cruise. (More on that later.)

 

After we were on the ship for a day or 2, I notice my wife and I both had been given $100 AUD OBC. There was no explanation for this.  I suspect it was because P gave cruisers who sailed on cruises starting a day later than ours a $200 or $300 OBC.  So in theory our cruise was left out in the cold. So P threw us a bone.

A day or 2 later, another $50 AUD credit showed up.  That I believe was to compensate us for lunch and such for the delayed boarding. 

Every little bit helps!

I agree! Any OBC is good.

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Thanks for taking the time to write up your review.  Really looking forward to the reading the rest!

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Posted (edited)

Trying to delete and keep adding posts..so sorry!!  

Edited by BRANDEE

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19 hours ago, patrickmoran said:

My wife and I took this cruise.  We are Elite and had an oceanview cabin, E207, and late (7:15pm) Late Seating TD (table for 2).  We flew to LA on the 5th, stayed at a Comfort Inn and visited the Aquarium of the Pacific before our 10:15 pm Delta flight to Sydney. We had booked round trip flights to Sydney through EZ Air.  With sales and promos, the fares were less than $500 pp round trip (economy)! Flight was fine (15 hrs) though I think Delta overhypes their "new" Economy service. We arrived around  8 am and found the Princess transfer guy.  We were at the ship by 11 am.

Well, we ran into 1st coronavirus problem.  Debarkation from the previous cruise was delayed so sick people could be checked for the virus. (Fortunately, no confirmed cases.) We were told to return not before 1 pm.  We checked in all our luggage and headed off to Circular Quay to have lunch. Had a nice lunch and returned to the terminal. Come back after 5 pm. Found a 2 hr harbor cruise that left a little after 3 pm.  I enjoyed the cruise around the harbor (lots of sail boats out) and my wife slept through the trip.  Back to the terminal. Oops, huge line waiting to board and not moving.  Found a bench nearby in the shade.  Left the wife there with the backpacks and I went up to the Harbor Bridge and walked across and back. By the time I got back (`6:30 pm) the line was gone. We boarded the ship by 7 pm. Medallion made boarding super quick. No medical checking; no collection of medical disclosure forms that we had been given earlier. Dinner at the buffet.  Tasty and quick, unpack, muster drill, and wait.  We finally left around 11:30 pm.  Sydney is a spectacular harbor to sail out of at night!

Two days at sea to catch up on sleep and try to adjust to the 17 hour time change. Seas were a bit rough. 3rd day was fjord cruising.  Nice; not as spectacular or scenic as Norway or Alaska but enjoyable.

 

More later

 

Hi..Did you receive a question survey from the NSW Health Dept yesterday (Tues) regarding the cruise.  As soon as I entered the date it said thank you and no questions asked.  My husband's survey does not even open.  Thank You

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I thought the food was very good.  There were a smattering of new items on the dinner MDR menu, mainly lamb.  I had 3 excellent lamb dishes, 2 were NZ-inspired dishes plus the regular lamb shank.  I love lamb and usually only get it when cruising.  Over the past few years, to me it seems P has replaced most lamb dishes with pork.  That being said, most soups were pretty watery, a trend I've noticed for the last couple of years. Desserts were kind of weak.  Pies had less fruit and more gelatin filling.  There were fewer Curtis Stone Chocolate desserts.  

Service in our section was very good. In the next section, the waitress had way too many tables.  We would be done in 1 hour (1 1/2 hrs at the latest) and that section were just having their dinner plates cleared! See had a table of 6 and 7 2 tops.

The buffet was fine, pretty typical. We would eat sea day lunches in the MDR which was fine.

We ate at the Salty Dog Gastropub one night.  P was offering buy one, get one dinner free through the Medallion app. That was pretty good deal: price was $18 AUD pp (~$12 US) so ~$6 pp.  It was a good value.  I had the crab cake (very good), the burger (good but a little rare for me) and salty caramel (excellent). Service was good.  The place was empty most nights. Fortunately on the Ruby, P only converted a small section of the Wheelhouse Bar.  This leaves a larger useful area available for bar patrons. 

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11 minutes ago, BRANDEE said:

 

Hi..Did you receive a question survey from the NSW Health Dept yesterday (Tues) regarding the cruise.  As soon as I entered the date it said thank you and no questions asked.  My husband's survey does not even open.  Thank You

I did and immediately deleted it. I don't open unknown or unsolicited links.

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32 minutes ago, patrickmoran said:

I thought the food was very good.  There were a smattering of new items on the dinner MDR menu, mainly lamb.  I had 3 excellent lamb dishes, 2 were NZ-inspired dishes plus the regular lamb shank.  I love lamb and usually only get it when cruising.  Over the past few years, to me it seems P has replaced most lamb dishes with pork.  That being said, most soups were pretty watery, a trend I've noticed for the last couple of years. Desserts were kind of weak.  Pies had less fruit and more gelatin filling.  There were fewer Curtis Stone Chocolate desserts.  

Service in our section was very good. In the next section, the waitress had way too many tables.  We would be done in 1 hour (1 1/2 hrs at the latest) and that section were just having their dinner plates cleared! See had a table of 6 and 7 2 tops.

The buffet was fine, pretty typical. We would eat sea day lunches in the MDR which was fine.

We ate at the Salty Dog Gastropub one night.  P was offering buy one, get one dinner free through the Medallion app. That was pretty good deal: price was $18 AUD pp (~$12 US) so ~$6 pp.  It was a good value.  I had the crab cake (very good), the burger (good but a little rare for me) and salty caramel (excellent). Service was good.  The place was empty most nights. Fortunately on the Ruby, P only converted a small section of the Wheelhouse Bar.  This leaves a larger useful area available for bar patrons. 

Love my lamb fix when I sail Princess!  😁

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We were scheduled for 1 day of scenic cruising and 6 ports.  We missed 3 ports (Tauranga, Auckland and Bay of Islands) after New Zealand banned cruise ships on late on March 15th.

As mentioned above, we cruised Milford Sound and then around the southern tip of NZ.  I believe the pilot and naturalist came onboard about 8 am as we approached MS.  The fjord was scenic and the naturalist was broadcast on the open decks and in cabins over the TV. My hearing is bad so I cannot tell you how he was.  He did a presentation in the theater that my wife attending and liked. I was out on the decks admiring the scenery.  We cruised into the Sound, dropped off some people for excursions and sailed out.  As we sailed throughout the day there was scenery either on the portside or on both when we sailed among the islands.

 

First port was Dunedin. We were doing our own thing around town. There was a shuttle into town ($20 NZD or AUD) round trip or return as the rest of the world says. Found an ATM for some NZ$s, (I had gotten AUD$s at the Sydney airport) and walked over to the see the train station.  Then we walked over to the history museum, Toitū Otago Settlers Museum. Then to the Speight Alehouse for lunch.  I had a 6 beer sampler and one of their lamb dishes.  Anne had a Coke and fish and chips.  Very good.  Then back to the ship for a nap.

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Next port was Akaroa. This was tender port. I had booked a 12:45 pm dolphin and harbor cruise with Akaroa Dolphin.  We leisurely got a tender as we are Elite very easy.  We were on the dock by 10 am and right next to our tour provider.  They were boarding for a 10:15 am cruise and we asked if we could change to the cruise. No problem.  Nice boat and less than half full.  Cruised around the harbor, sailed with the dolphins, saw penguins and seals.  Perfect weather though cool and breezy.  Enjoyed it.

Walked into town looking for fish & chips for lunch.  Saw a sign for Murphy's on the Corner, got directions and found it 2 blocks off the main drag.  It's a little hole in the wall place that serves great f&c!  No beer but bought a couple of sodas and sat outside in the shade.  Walked around "town", had an ice cream cone and went to the public library to use the internet, very good connection.  Then back to the ship

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On 3/24/2020 at 5:11 PM, patrickmoran said:

My wife and I took this cruise.  We are Elite and had an oceanview cabin, E207, and late (7:15pm) Late Seating TD (table for 2).  We flew to LA on the 5th, stayed at a Comfort Inn and visited the Aquarium of the Pacific before our 10:15 pm Delta flight to Sydney. We had booked round trip flights to Sydney through EZ Air.  With sales and promos, the fares were less than $500 pp round trip (economy)! Flight was fine (15 hrs) though I think Delta overhypes their "new" Economy service. We arrived around  8 am and found the Princess transfer guy.  We were at the ship by 11 am.

Well, we ran into 1st coronavirus problem.  Debarkation from the previous cruise was delayed so sick people could be checked for the virus. (Fortunately, no confirmed cases.) We were told to return not before 1 pm.  We checked in all our luggage and headed off to Circular Quay to have lunch. Had a nice lunch and returned to the terminal. Come back after 5 pm. Found a 2 hr harbor cruise that left a little after 3 pm.  I enjoyed the cruise around the harbor (lots of sail boats out) and my wife slept through the trip.  Back to the terminal. Oops, huge line waiting to board and not moving.  Found a bench nearby in the shade.  Left the wife there with the backpacks and I went up to the Harbor Bridge and walked across and back. By the time I got back (`6:30 pm) the line was gone. We boarded the ship by 7 pm. Medallion made boarding super quick. No medical checking; no collection of medical disclosure forms that we had been given earlier. Dinner at the buffet.  Tasty and quick, unpack, muster drill, and wait.  We finally left around 11:30 pm.  Sydney is a spectacular harbor to sail out of at night!

Two days at sea to catch up on sleep and try to adjust to the 17 hour time change. Seas were a bit rough. 3rd day was fjord cruising.  Nice; not as spectacular or scenic as Norway or Alaska but enjoyable.

 

More later

We were also on this cruise and were waiting around that Sunday afternoon to get on the ship too. We had done the harbour cruise a few days earlier. I too left my wife in the shade with our carry-on, while I crossed the Harbour bridge and back and went up the Pylon look-out. (an hour or 2 earlier than you). We also got on the ship about 7pm, (and we had got our medallions earlier in the day) but I remember them taking our health forms with one or two "are you healthy" type questions. We did a Norway cruise last year and those Fiords werethe best. Have not done Alaska.

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On 3/25/2020 at 12:22 PM, BRANDEE said:

 

Hi..Did you receive a question survey from the NSW Health Dept yesterday (Tues) regarding the cruise.  As soon as I entered the date it said thank you and no questions asked.  My husband's survey does not even open.  Thank You

I also had problems with the NSW Health email survey, but did eventually get it to work. I suspect, the first question was to enter "today's" date, but for those of us in North America, that is different from Australia's date (the day before), and it was rejected by their system. There was only one question on the survey I saw, something like, are you healthy, Yes or No. I said Yes and that was it.

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29 minutes ago, cruisingthomas said:

I also had problems with the NSW Health email survey, but did eventually get it to work. I suspect, the first question was to enter "today's" date, but for those of us in North America, that is different from Australia's date (the day before), and it was rejected by their system. There was only one question on the survey I saw, something like, are you healthy, Yes or No. I said Yes and that was it.

Not much of a survey.

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On Saturday we arrived at Wellington.  We took a morning ship's tour of W.  This worked well and was a good value (~$50AUD for 3+ hrs).  We got a city drive, a scenic stop on top of Mt Victoria, time at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and time at the botanical gardens.  We parked at the Rose Garden.  Unfortunately, the roses were well past their peak. The time at Te Papa was too short but we could have come back in the afternoon on the free shuttle.  We didn't.

 

Sunday we arrived at Napier.  We took the free shuttle into town, went to church, walked around a bit, took the shuttle to the aquarium and toured it (for a fee). 

 

That night the captain announced the bad news: NZ was banning all cruise ships from their ports. By morning it was announced we were returning to Sydney.  Eventually it was announced that we would arrive in Sydney on the 19th, two days earlier than expected. We had booked our flights through P and were not scheduled to fly to LAX until the 24th.  Australia announced that arriving passengers (air or cruise) had to quarantine themselves for 14 days.  We were looking at 5 days in a hotel.  However, on the afternoon of the 17th we were given new returning itinerary. We would leave Sydney on the 19th at 1:30 pm and fly to LAX then on to West Palm Beach, arriving about 6 pm on the 19th, the 20th or whatever day it was going to be. I signed up for the P shuttle to the airport. I was happy with the flights since we had paid our own way to and from LAX from Florida. I was able to cancel our return flight and save some points.

P announced some compensation for the shortened cruise.  Everyone got unlimited wifi for 1 device for the duration which worked very well as I mentioned before. Then there was Option 1 (50% of cruise fare as FCC plus 25% more as FCC) or Option 2 (25% of cruise refunded as "cash" + 25% of cruise fare as FCC), plus refund of nonrefundable expenses or airfare increase for both options.

 

So we had 4 sea days which went fine. The seas were rough for days 2 & 3; the weather: cool & windy.  The last day was warm & sunny and seas calm.  The ship was going into a 60 day hiatus but they had taken the 3 big pools out of service and started repainting them! Only the hot tubs and aft pool were in service.  The hot tubs on the ship need fixing.  Few of the jets worked and water temp was warm at best.  This is problem I have found across the fleet.

 

As most know, we barely dodged the coronavirus bullet on reaching Sydney.  Port authorities let us off with minimal oversight.  Thank GOD!!! 3 or 4 people had the virus and eventually tested positive.  We could still be floating at sea wondering what would become of us!

 

Flights home went fine. LONGGG travel day, fifteen time zones and 27 hrs travel time.

Glad we went. Saw some of NZ and checked it off the bucket list.  Wished we had gotten to Auckland but don't have to go back.  Next Tahiti then Antarctica. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, patrickmoran said:

As most know, we barely dodged the coronavirus bullet on reaching Sydney.  Port authorities let us off with minimal oversight.  Thank GOD!!! 3 or 4 people had the virus and eventually tested positive.  We could still be floating at sea wondering what would become of us!

Just of interest patrickmoran - what time DID you disembark in Sydney?

Edited by Porky55

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8:30 am. 

Very easy; got luggage and straight to the bus. We were at the airport by ~9:30 ; at the gate by 10:30 am.

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, patrickmoran said:

8:30 am. 

Very easy; got luggage and straight to the bus. We were at the airport by ~9:30 ; at the gate by 10:30 am.

Thanks for this, media in Australia are reporting Ruby arriving at 2:30am and passengers disembarking and slinking away under cover of darkness 🙄

Knowing our wharf workers, we should have know that this would have been ‘fake news’.  Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story though. 
Stay well patrickmoran and happy future cruising 👍

Edited by Porky55

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The ship did arrive very early. The captain or cruise director had announced by 1am. So that allowed time to get the ship cleared and start passengers off by 7am.  We were right on scheduled time.

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Forgot to mention, one night P had a Hangi meal on the MDR menu. Hangi is a meal cooked in a buried oven.  Obviously the ship can't do a true hangi meal but I needed to try it for the review.  It consisted of a lamb chop, slice of pork loin, chicken skewer and veggies (kumara and cabbage). As expected it was a bit disappointing.

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The Ruby Princess has had at least 4 passengers die after disembarking this cruise. The government has said 10% of all Covid 19 cases in Australia now came from this cruise ship. It appears that you were embarked on a sick ship and are very lucky to have come through without catching the deadly virus.

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32 minutes ago, sydgal said:

The Ruby Princess has had at least 4 passengers die after disembarking this cruise. The government has said 10% of all Covid 19 cases in Australia now came from this cruise ship. It appears that you were embarked on a sick ship and are very lucky to have come through without catching the deadly virus.

 

You were indeed very lucky to avoid the covid-19. More than 40% of corona deaths here in Australia  have been from the cruiseships. Mostly from Ruby and now over 440 positive cases have been related to the Ruby.The next wave will be of those in contact with these passengers.

Everyone in the whole country is in home isolation and any returning from overseas by air or sea are now being housed in city hotels or a couple of islands under guard. Hopefully this may  help to minimize the spread here.

Hope our US cruising friends stay well.

 

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