Ruby Princess | Cabin Review | Mini Suite and Accessible Staterooms


Ken and I had booked a mini suite with a balcony on the Ruby Princess. This was our third cruise together. On our first cruise (a Caribbean cruise), we had a balcony. But on our second cruise (a Mediterranean cruise), we had opted for no balcony to save some money. We really regretted the decision on that cruise. So we decided that for all cruises in the future, we’d book a balcony.

This review will cover our mini suite, as well as a handicapped accessible, obstructed view outside cabin that my dad booked. My sister and her family also booked a mini suite, so no separate review is required there! My sister and I decided to book cabins nearby one another on the same deck, but on opposite sides of the ship (one on port, one on starboard). That way, regardless of the side of the ship with the best scenery, we’d have access to a balcony!

Review of Mini Suite onboard the Ruby Princess

This was the view of the room immediately upon entry. The small doorway on the left leads to the closet and the bathroom door.

View of Mini Suite o the Ruby Princess

And here was the closet. There was a hanging part of the closet, as well as tons of shelving behind the mirrored doors.

Closet in the Ruby Princess Mini Suite Shelves in the mini suite | Ruby Princess review

The bathroom was basic, but had plenty of countertop storage space, as well as some small shelf space too. The mini suite had a shower / tub combo.

Bathroom in mini suite Sink and countertop in mini suite bathroom on Ruby Princess

I wish there was a little more space for shampoo and soap bottles in the shower, but I feel like those tiny shelves are pretty standard in all accommodations these days. Boo.

Shower and tub in the mini suite

The queen size bed was comfortable, and there was a desk area right next to the bed. The desk doubled as the nightstand for the one side of the bed.

Queen bed in Mini Suite Desk in mini suite

The other side of the bed had a small nightstand with two drawers.

nightstand in mini suite

The “seating area” also had plenty of storage, along with a small couch, a sitting chair, and a small coffee table.

Sitting area in mini suite Sitting area in mini suite Sitting area in mini suite

The storage area was great for things like charging our cameras and cell phones, and we kept things like bottled water and sodas on the lower shelves (that we had brought with us onboard the ship).

Storage shelves in seating area

And, of course, the balcony! There were two small chairs and a small table on the balcony.

Balcony on the Ruby Princess mini suite

It’s worth noting that we were on the Emerald deck. Not all ship cabin balconies have fully covered “roofs.” We definitely wanted to be on a deck where our balcony was fully covered, to shield us from the rainy Alaska weather as much as possible. We were really lucky and only had one day of rain, but I’d still recommend the fully covered balconies.

Here are a few other miscellanous photos of the cabin, just from other angles.

Mini Suite onboard the Princess Ruby | Cabin review Mini Suite onboard the Princess Ruby | Cabin review Mini Suite onboard the Princess Ruby | Cabin review

Ruby Princess Accessible Cabin Review (Outside cabin, obstructed view)

My dad was going on this cruise, and since he has some pretty extensive mobility problems these days, we booked him an accessible room. It had large open floor space in between the furniture, a no-threshold shower, and plenty of grab bars in the shower and next to the toilet.

Bed and seating area in cabin Bedroom in accessible cabin | Ruby Princess

There was plenty of room for the motorized scooter that we rented for the duration of the cruise.

Plenty of room for motorized scooter

The storage was low to the ground, with the exception of the safe that was higher up in the closet. Luckily my dad can still stand up and everything just fine, it’s just something to keep in mind if traveling with somebody who can’t stand at all.

Desk area in handicapped accessible cabin

The bathroom was fantastically spacious and easy for my dad to get around in.

Accessible bathroom in Ruby Princess Cabin Accessible bathroom in Ruby Princess Cabin

Like I mentioned, there were plenty of grab bars in the shower, as well as a good size bench for him to sit on. (Which was good for the two fairly rough seas days we encountered).

Bench seat in accessible shower

I also liked that there was a “help” button next to the toilet.

Help button in accessible cabin

Although it’s not the best picture, hopefully this gives an idea of the “obstructed view.” Basically right outside the window is a deck walking area (in other words, the window port hole is not directly on the side of the ship). There was also a lifeboat right outside the railing of the walking area. But, at least you get sunlight in your cabin! It was only a few dollars more than an inside cabin.

Obstructed view port hole on Ruby Princess

The only real complaint about the room was that the door to the room was incredibly heavy, just like all the other cabin doors. That made it really difficult for my dad to open the door, which opened inward toward the room, and maneuver his way out the door on his scooter. It would have been really nice to have a button that would automatically open the door for a few seconds to give him a chance to get out the door without having to try and open it.

One other minor complaint. Like most cruise ships, the cabin/stateroom hallways and corridors are very narrow. And throughout most of the day, cabin stewards keep cleaning carts along the walls of the corridors as they clean the cabins in the morning and do things like turn down the beds in the evening. When these cleaning carts were in the hallway, which was much of the waking hours, my dad had an incredibly difficult time moving around the hallways. Luckily my dad’s room was right by the elevators, but sometimes it was more convenient to use another elevator bank, or if he was coming to our cabin or my sister’s cabin.

Anyway, I don’t think that is specific to Princess cruise lines, and it’s definitely nothing I had noticed on previous cruises, but that was only because I was never traveling with somebody who had mobility problems before.

In the next post in this series, I’ll cover a review of the ship and the ship amenities, like the pools, restaurants, and bars!

Last December on SuperNoVAwife

Here are some highlights from previous Decembers on the blog!

2015

2014

2013

  • December 2013 was a pretty light month of posts. Why? It might have had something to do with my eight day battle to pass a kidney stone. Yee-ouch!
  • I talked about how I was going to sign up for a Hyatt Diamond Status challenge to get better amenities during our stay at the Park Hyatt Moscow a few months from then. (Spoiler alert, it didn’t work.  But, here’s our review of the Park Hyatt Moscow anyway).

36 Hours in Seattle


We had less than 36 hours to spend in Seattle before our Alaska cruise boarded. We’ll definitely have to go back in the future to spend more time there, but we tried to squeeze in a few highlights.

Ken and I are huge Dale Chihuly fans. We’ve seen his work in so many places in Atlanta, Las Vegas, and in Pittsburgh (not blogged about). So, when we heard there was an entire Chihuly museum in Seattle, we put that at the top of our to-see list!

Chihuly Garden and Glass

The Chihuly exhibit is located right next to Seattle’s famed Space Needle. After getting acquainted with that area for a bit, we stood in a short line to get our tickets and made our way into the entrance.

Chihuly Garden and Glass sign at entrance

As always, the combination of glass work and accompanying lighting made for really stunning sights!

Artwork on display at Chihuly Museum Blue and yellow glass sculpture floor to ceiling Closeup of the sculpture Closeup of the sculpture

One room had glass work and lights on top of a clear glass ceiling. The walls were white, and the colors of the glass created beautiful designs on the wall!

Glass ceiling exhibit at Chihuly museum in Seattle Glass ceiling exhibit at Chihuly museum in Seattle Glass ceiling exhibit at Chihuly museum in Seattle Glass refractions on white walls Colored glass artwork

The next room was also gorgeous and expansive. It was called the Mille Fiori installation.

Mille Fiori installation at Chihuly Museum Sign describing the room Mille Fiori exhibit Mille Fiori exhibit Mille Fiori exhibit

The rooms were fairly dark allowing for all the focus to be on the glass artwork.

Chihuly Museum exhibits Chihuly Museum exhibits Chihuly Museum exhibits Chihuly Museum exhibits Chihuly Museum exhibits Chihuly Museum exhibits Chihuly Museum exhibits Chihuly Museum exhibits

After the indoor portion of the museum, you exited through the “Glasshouse,” which, according to their website, is “a 40-foot tall, glass and steel structure covering 4,500 square feet of light-filled space.”

Wide angle shot of the Chihuly Glasshouse

And here’s how the glasshouse looks from the outside:

Chihuly Glasshouse as viewed from outside

It was really amazing.

Chihuly Glasshouse Chihuly Glasshouse Chihuly Glasshouse Chihuly Glasshouse Chihuly Glasshouse

Then, the gardens contained even more glass artwork.

Chihuly Glass Gardens Chihuly Glass Gardens Chihuly Glass Gardens Chihuly Glass Gardens

Pike Place Market

After the Chihuly museum, Ken and I met up with my sister and her family, and my dad (they were also going on the cruise and had traveled separately from us to Seattle).

We set out to Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market. Ken, my sister, my niece and nephew, and I all walked to the market from the Grand Hyatt Seattle (about a 20 minute walk, the weather was lovely). My brother-in-law took an Uber with my dad since my dad has a lot of mobility problems these days.

Seattle Public Market Sign Outside of Pike Place Market | Seattle Outside the market

Pike Place Market was a fun (albeit very crowded) place to walk around. Lots of fresh flowers, meats, spices, fish, and bakeries all throughout the market corridors.

Meat sign at Pike Place Market Pike Place Market fish storefront Bakery Hallways at Pike Place Market Hallways at Pike Place Market Crowds inside Pike Place Market

Adjacent to Pike Place Market is the “Original Starbucks.” There were lines out the door. (However, I later learned that the original Starbucks was actually destroyed in a fire, so this isn’t the “original original.”

Original Starbucks in Seattle

The next morning, I even walked back to Pike Place Market to get some breakfast foods for my family (from Piroshky Piroshky. So delish!). It was a lot less crowded early in the morning! However, the shops were still all set up:

Public Market Center sign Vegetables Fish market at Pike Place Market Fish market at Pike Place Market

One thing about walking back TO the hotel from Pike Place Market … those hills. Goodness gracious, the hills. I feel like Seattle gives San Francisco a run for its money!

Steep hills in Seattle

The Pike Place Market area also had lots of picturesque old store fronts and other places to walk around. We also stopped at a nearby Target to get some stuff to take with us on the cruise ship, like some sodas and bottled water. (A lot cheaper to bring it onboard than to pay for it on the ship!)

Buildings near Pike Place Market Buildings near Pike Place Market

After I walked back to the hotel, we all ate our breakfast, and before long it was time to hope in a taxi on our way to the Port of Seattle to board the Ruby Princess for our Alaskan cruise! Although we would’ve loved to have had more time in the Pacific Northwest, we’ll be sure to go back in the future and have the proper time to experience more of what it has to offer.

Bourbon Street Balcony Party during Mardi Gras 2016 (Bourbon Vieux)


Bourbon Street Balcony Party During Mardi Gras

When I first started researching things to do in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, a Bourbon Street balcony experience was near the top of my list. But, strangely, it was difficult to find any consolidated information on the different balcony options during Mardi Gras. I was able to find like two or three options, but that was it.

View of Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras

I actually resorted to Google Street View. I’d look at the names of the restaurants and bars along Bourbon Street, see if they had a balcony, and then google the name of the resturant. Then, I’d email the restaurant for information. I must’ve emailed like 15 places. And not a single one ever responded.

One of the balcony options that I had consistently seen all along was Bourbon Vieux. They had pictures of their balcony party, online ticket ordering, and other good information available. It just seemed SO DAMN EXPENSIVE. That is why I wanted to comparison shop a little bit. But, since no other places ever responded to my inquiries, I went ahead and booked Bourbon Vieux.

I was really happy with that decision!

There was plenty of seating available inside. (One of the more common complaints in the online reviews for Bourbon Vieux was that they oversold their balcony parties, leaving people without seats.). I’m pretty lazy, so the idea of having to stand for 5 hours straight at party was not appealing. But, luckily, my worries were unfounded!

Inside the Balcony Party at Bourbon Vieux

Ken and I sat at a small round table inside Bourbon Vieux. The decor was great, and I thought the lighting was really well done and added a lot of Mardi Gras ambiance!

Inside Bourbon Vieux during Mardi Gras Balcony Party Table arrangements

There were quite a few people at the party, but many tables were empty, so I definitely don’t think it was a sellout.

Plenty of seating at round tables

There was a good food spread set up.

Buffet food at Bourbon Vieux’s Bourbon Street Balcony Party Food spread at Mardi Gras Party Buffet foods

There was also a dessert table, which unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of, that included different desserts including New Orleans’ famous King Cake!

The bar was well stocked and luckily there was never a long line. (The Bourbon Vieux balcony party included all food and beverages, including alcoholic beverages).

Bar at Bourbon Vieux

They also had beads for sale at the bar. We had bought some beads from Oriental Trading Company to bring with us to Mardi Gras. We figured that beads in New Orleans during Mardi Gras would be at crazy inflated prices. However, the beads we ordered online were pretty junky and tangled easily. So, we did end up buying some of the nicer beads they had for sale at Bourbon Vieux. (The junky beads we brought with us are on the right).

Beads we purchased at Bourbon Vieux

The Balcony!

Okay, so let’s get to what REALLY matters at a Mardi Gras Bourbon Street balcony party … the BALCONY!

When we arrived at Bourbon Vieux, we were given wristbands. All party guests had one of two colors. Every 45 minutes or so, there would be an announcement that it was time for the Purple wristband group to go outside on the balcony and the other wristband color to come inside. Then it would alternate every 45 minutes or so. That way, the balcony was never overly crowded.

(You could, of course come inside at any time regardless of what color you were wearing. It was just a restriction on who could go outside to the balcony. That was good because, like I mentioned in previous Mardi Gras posts, it was quite cold during our time there! Sometimes 45 minutes outside would be too much! There were space heaters just on one section of the large balcony)

Here’s how the balcony looked:

Balcony at Bourbon Vieux during Mardi Gras

We were generally able to get right up to the balcony railing. But sometimes not, we’d have to squeeze in after somebody abandoned their spot. But it never felt overly crowded or annoying.

We had a great view down Bourbon Street:

View of Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras

And we had lots of fun throwing beads to the folks down below.

Throwing beads from Bourbon Street Balcony Throwing beads during Mardi Gras People catching beads thrown from Balcony People catching beads during Mardi Gras Crowds on street below Bourbon Vieux Balcony Me throwing beads from balcony during Mardi Gras Ken throwing beads from Bourbon Vieux balcony Beads closeup

And, as had been the recurring theme of what we saw during Mardi Gras, lots of religious stuff. A bunch of men in red hats carrying a cross down Bourbon Street:

Men carrying cross down Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras Bible sign on Bourbon Street

It was great people-watching.

People on Bourbon Street People on Bourbon Street

Overall, we were really pleased. Although the tickets were expensive at $160 each, the fact that it included food and and all drinks was great. We liked that it wasn’t crazy crowded, and that everyone got plenty of time to spend on the balcony.

Have you gone to a Bourbon Street balcony party during Mardi Gras? Which one did you go to? How did you like it?

Modern Spoon Display

Way back in the day, I used to collect spoons. Yes, spoons.

It all started when I was 11 years old, and my then–21-year-old sister had gone on a trip to Paris. As a souvenir, she brought me back a spoon. And like an 11 year old brat, my reaction was something like, “A SPOON?? WHAT A LAME GIFT! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH A SPOON.”

But, after getting over my initial bratty disappointment, the spoon spawned a collection hobby over the course of 10+ years. Everytime I traveled, whether with my family or by myself, I bought a spoon. Pretty soon, my spoon racks at childhood home were packed to the gills.

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I stopped collecting spoons sometime in the 2002 range. I started traveling to more diverse destinations, and spoons weren’t always available in gift shops. Plus, I learned the value of buying locally made souvenirs, or souvenirs with some cultural meaning. (Although I still like to buy my Christmas ornaments!)

But, that still left all my old spoons. Still sitting in their display racks at my dad’s house. I wanted to keep the spoons. And I liked the idea of displaying them in our house now instead of my dad’s. But I wanted to figure out a more modern way of displaying them. Plus, I thought that the racks always looked too cluttered:

Old spoon rack displays Old spoon rack displays

Plus, some of the spoons were too “fat” and couldn’t even fit in the slots. So, they just kinda laid at the bottom of the rack.

Old spoon rack displays

A little old fashioned, no?

Old spoon rack displays Old spoon rack displays

So, after considering many different options for displaying my spoons, I kept coming back to this image as inspiration that I found via Pinterest. I really liked the display option. Clean, modern, uncluttered.

But, unfortunately the photo was sorely lacking in any sort of explanation or tutorial about how the spoons were mounted. After trying many different solutions (all of which failed), I settled on plain old hot glue. (I’ll talk more about my experimentation with different materials at the very end of the post).

Tutorial

First, I bought some shadowboxes. After many MANY trips to places like Michael’s and AC Moore, I concluded that A) Pretty much every shadowbox was poor quality. B) Despite being poor quality, large shadowboxes were still quite expensive, even when using Michael’s regularly-offered coupons. C) And finally, even ignoring the quality and cost, I couldn’t find a shadowbox in a wide enough size that I was hoping for.

So, I ordered a custom size shadowbox from PictureFrames.com, and I was really pleased with the quality. They weren’t exactly cheap, but they were exactly the dimensions that I wanted, they cut a high quality mat precisely to size, and the frame and glass were great quality.

In case anyone is looking to get something similar, this is what I ordered:

  • Shadowbox with outside dimensions of 39×10.
  • White Custom Suede Mat

First, I laid out the spoons on the white suede mat until I found an arrangement that I liked. I staggered the spoons from the approximate middle of the matboard, which I thought looked nice considering that they vary so much in side.

Modern spoon display tutorial Arranging spoons for display on the matboard

Next up, it was time to hot glue the spoons to the mat. Using the tiniest dabs of hot glue that I could manage, I put a dab on the “most convex” part of the spoon (is that a thing?). Basically the back of the spoon that has the most surface area that would touch the mat. Then I also put a tiny dab of glue on the top of the spoon. This part was really tricky for some of the spoons that had dangling ornaments in that area.

Hot gluing spoons to matboard for display Hot gluing spoons to matboard for display

I repeated the process for each spoon, until all the spoons were glued to the matboard. Then came the process of cleaning up all the little hot glue boogers and strings. This was fairly tedious, looking for mostly translucent pieces of glue against a white background. I had the most success when I pointed an adjustable floor lamp directly at the matboard. The hot glue strings would create shadows on the matboard, and I was able to clean off even the less obvious pieces.

Cleaning off hot glue strings Cleaning off hot glue strings

Then, I just let the spoons sit and dry on the matboard for about 24 hours. After 24 hours, I leaned the matboard up against the wall for another 24 hours to test that the spoons were glued strongly enough to the matboard that they wouldn’t fall down when hanging vertically. After 24 hours and no falls while leaning vertically, it was time to put them in their shadowboxes.

I bought two total shadowboxes, which are at different spots around the house now. Here’s one leaning on a ledge shelf in our basement. Pretty snazzy!

Modern spoon display frame

And much better than the old display, don’t you think?

Old spoon display shelf

How I decided what materials to use

This project took me FOREVER to finally implement. Mostly because of how many options I mulled to mount the spoons.

In the inspiration image that I shared, it looked like the spoons were mounted using some sort of clips. Well, after searching high and low, I did finally find and order something that looked similar. Unfortunately, the clips were way too big for most of the spoons that were narrow.

Back to the drawing board. Then I considered “threading” the spoons to the matboard. In other words, taking a needle threded with some wire or fishing line, and adhering the spoons to the matboard that way. Well, it was extremely difficult to “tie” the spoons tightly enough to the matboard without bending or warping it. Plus, after threading just a few spoons, I could tell that it would be very time intensive to do it for the 100 spoons that I had!

Next, I tried an option that I hadn’t been crazy about … hot glue. I was so afraid of permanently damaging my spoons. Or, if I ever wanted to disassemble the frames, bending or ruining the spoons if I tried to remove them from the matboard.

So, what I did was I looked for a spoon that didn’t have much sentimental value. It was from a location I had never visited, and had probably been given by a family friend who had gone on vacation somewhere. I couldn’t even remember who would have given it, so clearly there was no sentimental connection to the spoon. I used some hot glue and glued that spoon to a scrap piece of matboard. And, I let it dry. A few days later, I was able to easily “snap” the spoon off the matboard. Yes, it ruined the matboard, but not the spoon. And, I was also easily able to scrape off the hot glue on the back of the spoon without damaging it or bending it. I tried it for all the other remaining spoon materials, like the pewter spoons too. Zero damage to the spoons, all very easy to remove.

So, I was sold. No, I don’t know if there might be very long term damage thanks to the hot glue, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take to put my spoons on display!