A Mexican Cruise in Three Parts, Part 1: Los Angeles and the Ruby Princess

Morning mist in Palos Verdes: a view of the Terranea property

Morning mist in Palos Verdes: a view of the Terranea property

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!

First light from my room at Terranea

First light from my room at Terranea

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.

Courtyard at Terranea

Courtyard at Terranea

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.

Terranea Resort

Terranea Resort

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.

In case you were thinking of getting a closer look, signs remind of the dangers along the cliffside paths at Terranea

In case you were thinking of getting a closer look, signs remind of the dangers along the cliffside paths at Terranea

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.

Blossoms along the Terranea path

Blossoms along the Terranea path

Paths lead Terranea visitors to the ocean below

Paths lead Terranea visitors to the ocean below

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.

Moonlight over Palos Verdes: the evening view from my room at Terranea

Moonlight over Palos Verdes: the evening view from my room at Terranea

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.

Morning at Terranea Resort on the day of our cruise departure

Morning at Terranea Resort on the day of our cruise departure

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.

View offerings off the Terranea Lobby Bar & Lounge terrace: whale sitings, sunsets

View offerings off the Terranea Lobby Bar & Lounge terrace: whale sitings, sunsets

Tomatoes and burrata at Lobby Bar

Tomatoes and burrata at Lobby Bar

Sunday brunch
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.

Sunday brunch buffet on the patio of the Catalina Kitchen

Sunday brunch buffet on the patio of the Catalina Kitchen

Choices are fabulously many at the Sunday brunch buffet at Catalina Kitchen

Choices are fabulously many at the Sunday brunch buffet at Catalina Kitchen

The list is truly endless.

Cheerful sushi chefs at the Sunday brunch buffet at Catalina Kitchen

Cheerful sushi chefs at the Sunday brunch buffet at Catalina Kitchen

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.

The Ruby Princess ready to take on passengers in LA

The Ruby Princess ready to take on passengers in LA

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.

Media event in the Piazza

Media event in the Piazza

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.

From left: CEO Princess Cruises Stein Kruse, Chef Curtis Stone, Designer Candice Olson, Sleep Expert Dr. Michael Breus, Chef Ernesto Uchimura, and President of Princess Cruises Jan Swartz

From left: CEO Princess Cruises Stein Kruse, Chef Curtis Stone, Designer Candice Olson, Sleep Expert Dr. Michael Breus, Chef Ernesto Uchimura, and President of Princess Cruises Jan Swartz

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.

Share, a Curtis Stone-inspired restaurant aboard the Ruby Princess

Share, a Curtis Stone-inspired restaurant aboard the Ruby Princess

"Shrimp salad" at Share: lemon gel, turnip, citrus salt, brioche

“Shrimp salad” at Share: lemon gel, turnip, citrus salt, brioche

He was on hand to give details about each dish we were sampling and the accompanying wines.

Chef Curtis Stone unveils his restaurant Share

Chef Curtis Stone unveils his restaurant Share

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.

Relaxing on the Princess Luxury Bed

Relaxing on the Princess Luxury Bed

Before completely passing out we were revived with decadent chocolate cocktails and artful confections paired with teas and wine by renown chocolatier Norman Love.

Desserts created by Master Chocolatier Norman Love

Desserts created by Master 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.

Travel journalists and food writers can't get enough pictures of the food on the Ruby Princess

Travel journalists and food writers can’t get enough pictures of the food on the Ruby Princess

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.

The protocol for the beginning of each voyage is a mandatory safety drill

The protocol for the beginning of each voyage is a mandatory safety drill

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 stateroom with a balcony was snug and waiting with a basket of flowers and champagne

Our stateroom with a balcony was snug and waiting with a basket of flowers and champagne.

Our group, along with about 1,200 guests, settled in our staterooms, unpacked our bags, and set out for a seven-day voyage.

The first night: heading out to sea from LA en route to Mexico

The first night: heading out to sea from LA en route to Mexico

Laura Pedrick’s Ruby Princess series continues here.

Laura Pedrick

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About the Author

Laura Pedrick
Laura is a photojournalist who for most of her career has been assigned to cover New Jersey for The New York Times. Stories have included the Statehouse, political campaigns, and a wide range of hard news and features for all sections of the paper, including the Travel section. More recently she has focused on clients in the healthcare industry and education. She lives in Titusville, NJ, with her daughter and sometimes assistant, Lana. And oh yeah, has known Johnny Jet (dare she say it) since he was in diapers and is excited to be working for him as one of his latest contributors!

1 Comment on "A Mexican Cruise in Three Parts, Part 1: Los Angeles and the Ruby Princess"

  1. William Chinn | March 1, 2016 at 11:29 am | Reply

    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?

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