Let me start by saying we are loyal Crystal cruisers but Princess' itinerary attracted us, so we thought we'd give it a try. To compare Princess to Crystal would in no way be fair, so I'll try to be objective as possible.
EMBARKATION: As easy as it gets. We got there early and once we checked in,we sat in a waiting area. Ruby Princess is a gigantic ship and with 3,080 passengers, we sailed full. Most of the nationalities were U.K., Spanish, Australian, Canadian and American along with a small contingent from the Phillipines. There were only 16 children on board and we hardly saw them.
At 1:00 pm, we were allowed to board.
Plaza Deck cabins are extremly small with bed pushed against one wall and nightstand at other side. Small desk at end of bed had an outlet for blowdryer and housed a mini fridge. Small flat screen TV on shelf above. Long closet divides bath from sleeping area. Shower was very small but water pressure was good. Single sink in the middle of counter and 3 small shelves holds stuff.
We experienced Barcelona after the cruise when we returned from Venice. The smart people arrived a few days before the cruise which helped with jetlag. However, Barcelona is a richly cultural, artfilled city dominated by the most unique architecture in the world. Antonio Gaudi's influence is everywhere as is Picasso. The absolutely best introduction to this complex city is to take the Bus Turistic with it's 3 colored routes. You can buy tickets at your hotel at a discount. Each route takes about 2 - 2 1/2 hours and they give you earbuds to follow the narration at each stop. I think the narration was in 7 languages. At anytime, you can hop on/off the bus. We saw the first two longest routes but I got separated from my group for the last leg. Actually, it was okay since I was getting bored & needed some serious retail therapy. The Barcelonians are very friendly people who are fiercely proud of their city. We had no run-ins with pickpockets, but just in case, I kept my money in my front pocket and my pocket safety pinned shut.
We did much better by taking the train from Civitavecchia to San Pietro where we took a taxi to Vatican. We spent the day sightseeing Rome on our own and ended up near the main Rome train station where we took an afternoon train back. Buy first class tickets. They're a little more but a lot more comfortable.
We felt we would rather take the nearby train into Rome and explore on our own which is what we did. It was very easy and we took a taxi to the four things we wanted to see. By 4 o'clock, we were back on the train returning to the ship. By the way, should you decide to do same, buy first class tickets whenever possible. They're a little more but you get a lot more comfortable seats.
Despite the many times we have visited Italy, we have never been to Capri, so we made it a point to see it this time. We took a ferry to Capri and a public bus up to Anacapri. The winding road up with it's hairpin turns was scary. No wonder they call it The Mama Mia Road. Anacapri was teaming with tourists. We took the chairlift up to Mt. Solero which is a MUST. Unbelievable views of the Bay of Naples, i Folgana and Anacapri! We did not like Villa San Michele. It was underwhelming, but we found Chiesa San Michele with its beautiful tile floor. For 2 euro,it's the best bargain in Anacapri. Off in a separate room were small figurines of people doing everyday chores. The detail was fantastic as they depicted a butcher, fish monger, laundresses and just everyday people. Back in the main plaza, many retailers sell lemon scented everything, tee's and the usual tourist stuff. Took bus back down MaMa Mia and went back to ship. I would've liked Anacapri more if it hadn't been so crowded but there were many people packed into small spaces.
Unfortunately we never made it to Mykonos because the winds were just too strong that day. About 10:00 am the captain made the announcement. We had booked a trip to the beach and Ruby credited everyone back their money. I wasn't too upset since I was tired and could've use a restful day at sea.