Ruby and Liberty Equal Serene Sailings

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Carnival Liberty Pool Deck.JPG
Carnival Liberty Pool Deck--Photo by Martin Sandler

Between the accommodations, meals, entertainment and activities, a 2-night stay at a resort is expensive. Often costing less than a resort, a 2- to 3-night cruise getaway can offer more value. Everything is inclusive, and aside from the luxury and pampering, there are the stops at island ports.

Last month, because the prices and dates were right, Marty and I indulged in a 2-night “cruise to nowhere” on Ruby Princess, followed by a 7-night Caribbean cruise vacation aboard Carnival Liberty. The 3,070-passenger, 15-deck Ruby Princess sailed round trip from Fort Lauderdale, and it was an ideal, relaxing mini-escape for us.

This ship is a beauty. Our mini-suite included a full bathtub, walk-in closet, sofa and desk, mini-bar and two TVs. Our balcony was the largest we’ve seen on a ship. Boredom is a non-existent word on the ship.

Martin SandlerRuby Princess Atrium
Martin Sandler
Ruby Princess Atrium

Ruby’s piazza-style atrium features small-bite eateries and “street entertainers” – unicyclist, juggler, etc. – in addition to performances by a classical music trio.

Call it “dive-in movies.” This is the Movies Under the Stars outdoor movie theater (a huge LED screen) on the pool deck. Activities? Sure, thanks to trivia games, a 9-hole putting course, five pools, three main dining rooms, myriad cafes, sports court and jogging track, ScholarShip@Sea classes and a spa-inspired, adults-only outdoor relaxation area called The Sanctuary.

Many of the abundant commissioned paintings around the ship reflect scenes of Italy, and the quality of the artwork enhances the ship’s luxurious ambiance. This is a multi-million dollar collection that I think is surpassed only by the artwork I’ve seen on Holland America ships. The collection is only part of what makes Ruby Princess so pretty, but I wish I were as enthralled by the two alternative restaurants on this ship.

We dined the first night at Sabatini’s, which offers seafood specialties, but the service was lacking and the food was so-so. The second night, we dined at Crown Grill, where the food and service were much improved. Compared to other ships, Ruby’s cigar bar is tiny, but very impressive is the Wheelhouse Bar, which becomes an English-style pub on sea days.   

Speaking of alternative restaurants, Harry’s, a steakhouse named for jeweler Harry Winston, is one of Carnival Liberty’s best attributes.

Martin SandlerThe Gold Dining Room in the Carnival Liberty
Martin Sandler
The Gold Dining Room in the Carnival Liberty

Decorated with lights that represent diamond bracelets and other gems, Harry’s offers top-notch service and fare. We loved the corned beef and pastrami sandwiches at the pool deck’s New York Deli, and savored the lobster and yummy soups served in the gold and silver dining rooms.

As Carnival Liberty took us from Miami to San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Marten, we marveled at perhaps the best production we’ve seen on any ship. Called “Around the World,” it features the Carnival dancers performing dances from all parts of the globe. Between the Can Can, masquerade ball, Flamenco dance, Irish step dance and more, we can’t recall seeing more gorgeous costumes or talented shipboard dancers.    

This is only part of why, for us, cruising is the ultimate vacation.

- Roberta Sandler is an award-winning writer/author. Her newest book is A Brief Guide to Florida's Monuments and Memorials, published by University Press of Florida. She and her husband live in Wellington,

posted at 04:27:42 PM

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