This is the first part in Laura Pedrick’s three-part series on- and off-board the reimagined Ruby Princess. Check out part 2 here and part 3 here.
There’s nothing like having the blizzard of the season nipping at your heels in Philadelphia to heighten the excitement of leaving for a seven-day cruise to Mexico! As winter storm Jonas barreled toward the east coast back in January, the press trip I was to be a part of—flying to and then disembarking from LA via a refurbished and rebranded Ruby Princess cruise ship—was rescheduled to leave New York a day earlier in anticipation of up to two feet of snow. Thank God, because all air travel was grounded along the northeastern seaboard and my group most certainly would’ve missed the boat!
Pre-sail: Two nights at Terranea Resort in LA
That extra day in LA before departing port meant an additional night at the Terranea Resort in scenic Palos Verdes, California.
Pulling up and checking into this luxurious hotel with gorgeous moonlit views of the Pacific gave me more than just a tinge of guilt knowing my family was doing battle with a major snowstorm back east.
Only 17 miles from LAX and a mere seven miles from the ship’s port, Terranea is an ideal place to decompress after a long flight and to rest up before embarking on a cruise.
The Mediterranean-style resort sits high atop a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island—a 120-acre site that was once home to Marineland, the world’s largest oceanarium from 1954 to 1987.
And perhaps in homage, a lone whale spouted off in the distance, which I was lucky to see on my walk along one of Terranea’s cliff-edge paths.
The golden light that poured into my guestroom in the morning was a preview of what I could look forward to all week at sea: pink sunrises, full moons and glorious sunsets.
In addition to guestrooms, Terranea offers residential-style accommodations: bungalows, casitas and villas. My sister Deb and I explored the grounds, swam in one of four saline pools, and enjoyed a glass of California chardonnay while sharing the heirloom tomato and burrata lunch at the Lobby Bar & Lounge—one of five choice spots for casual dining.
The morning of our departure, before gathering in the lobby and meeting the rest of our press contingent, we indulged in the Sunday brunch buffet ($58) on the patio of the Catalina Kitchen—an insanely fabulous array of fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, sushi, omelets prepared on the spot, fluffy pastries, cheeses, and more.
The list is truly endless.
The whole group then hopped on a waiting bus and headed off to what we all came out for in the first place: the Ruby Princess.
To the ship!
This ship, one of 18 in the Princess fleet, was selected to launch the company’s “Come Back New” campaign with a major press event at the port before departing for Mexico.
At the Piazza (the heart of the ship)—a gilded three-story atrium with mosaic tiling, a stain glass ceiling and a pair of circular marble stairs—about 50 journalists gathered to hear about the new features the cruise line had added to enhance the guest experience.
The main highlight was the unveiling of Share, Chef Curtis Stone’s inspired restaurant, and his “Crafted by Curtis” creations now included on the main dining room menu.
He was on hand to give details about each dish we were sampling and the accompanying wines.
Then, with full stomachs and feeling a bit sleepy, we moved on to the next presentation, which was the introduction of the Princess Luxury Bed, a newly designed mattress created exclusively for Princess Cruises in collaboration with sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus and designer Candice Olson. This new design has replaced most of the beds in all of the state rooms and I was looking forward to trying it out that night as the day was becoming quite long.
Before completely passing out we were revived with decadent chocolate cocktails and artful confections paired with teas and wine by renown chocolatier Norman Love.
The food and drink didn’t end there; the group continued on to the Salty Dog Gastropub, a new restaurant that features small-plate upscale favorites (“Lobster Mac & Cheese,” “Beef Short Rib Poutine”) inspired by award-winning chef Ernesto Uchimura of LA’s Umami Burger restaurant. He too was there to answer questions regarding his partnership with Princess and the creative process involved in introducing a signature menu for the restaurant.
The press event came to a close. Most journalists left the ship, but a group of about ten North American press and another ten who had flown in from the UK (almost all of which brought a guest: moms, dads, and boyfriends)—stayed on to depart for the sailing.
We lucky ones could look forward to experiencing all that Ruby Princess had to offer while at sea and at three Mexican ports of call: Puerto Vallarta, Mazlatan, and Cabos San Lucas.
Our group, along with about 1,200 guests, settled in our staterooms, unpacked our bags, and set out for a seven-day voyage.
Laura Pedrick’s Ruby Princess series continues here.
Like most cruise lines they forgot about the impression one gets when you drive up to the check in area. Some cruise lines make it extremely quick and easy to check in and board the ship. Some treat you as cattle until they hand you the glass of champagne. What do they say about first impressions?