75 Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas Caribbean - Eastern Cruise Reviews

Well, I suppose you get what you pay for...See my review about the cabin size, however the rest of the cruise was a bit of a let down. The entertainment on board was to say the least poor apart from a comedian on the second night. The ... Read More
Well, I suppose you get what you pay for...See my review about the cabin size, however the rest of the cruise was a bit of a let down. The entertainment on board was to say the least poor apart from a comedian on the second night. The production shows would have bee great for my dad in 1970 but not for today's family audience and as for the magician things went from bad to worse when he got a nine year old girl up from the audience to act as his stooge. Positives.. The Argentinian music and dancing group, they saved the best till last. The bar prices on board are the same for all RCI ships( expensive) however the bartenders on this vessel must be under strict orders to dispense the bare minimum of alcohol into any cocktails, you've herd of bang for your buck...This was more a whimper for your buck! Out excursion to Amiga island at the port of Labadee, was value for money, but this was the only ship excursion we took, striking out on our own for the rest of the ports of call. The crew were the highlight of the cruise most of them in a happy and positive mood. All in all, if you want to recreate a cruise from the1980's this may be for you... However we will never book a cruise on this ship again, that being said, we're looking forward to our RCI transatlantic in April Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We choose this cruise for our January girls cruise based on itinerary and price. Mainly because the Empress was scheduled to go to Virgin Gorda (notice the word "scheduled"). Upon arrival at the pier at check in we were ... Read More
We choose this cruise for our January girls cruise based on itinerary and price. Mainly because the Empress was scheduled to go to Virgin Gorda (notice the word "scheduled"). Upon arrival at the pier at check in we were informed that due to high winds and rough seas we would not be going to Virgin Gorda but to St. Croix instead. In addition, they changed our day in St. Thomas from Thursday to Wednesday which complicated the fact that I had a rental car booked for St. Thomas. After several attempts to reach the rental car company I was successful in changing the booking by one day before we ever left Miami. The ship is very small but very well kept, the furniture and rugs were in good condition, the bedding was also good. After boarding with very low expectations we all came to love the Empress over the period of our 8 night cruise. The amount of public space was wonderful and we loved the little lobbies with furniture outside the aft elevators. Since the rooms are quite small we spent extra time in our personal lounge but by mid trip others were taking advantage of this great space. The food and service in both the windjammer and dinning room were excellent - way better than we experienced on the Explorer just a few months ago. Even with such a tiny space the windjammer offered a great selection of food. The omelet station was wonderful and you never waited more than a few minutes for a great omelet - once again very unlike our experience on the Explorer where a wait of 15 min was short to get your omelet. We had rough seas and high winds the first few days so the deck was pretty empty and many people were sick. It didn't bother me, I guess I was one of the lucky ones. We had one sea day then we visited Labadee, a personal favorite of mine. We spent the day at Columbus Cove and had a great time. It was a bit crowded since the Independence was also there that day. When we left Labadee heading towards San Juan once again the seas and winds started up - according to the captain we were experiencing 5m waves (or about 18 feet) not choppy but very large swells coming at us at an angle. The captain slowed us down to 14 knots to try to ride it out a little smoother but the ship was really moving around. We didn't see very many people out and about. Due to the slower speed we didn't arrive in San Juan until 6 pm rather than 3 pm. The one thing we wanted to do was the Forts and they were closed before we could get off. There were five ships in San Juan and the street right along the piers was packed. We sailed overnight (much calmer) to St. Thomas - we docked at Crown Bay right next to our biggest sister - Symphony of the Seas. It was kind of neat to see the smallest ship in the fleet next to the biggest. We explored the island with our rental car and ended up at Brewer's Bay because everywhere else was packed (once again five ships in port!!). If we had arrived the next day as originally scheduled we would have had only 1 other ship in port with us. We spent the next day at St. Croix, the ship docked in Fredrickstad. With such little notice we didn't really plan on anything that day just took the shuttle to Rainbow Beach, it was crowded but we had a great time. We all wished we had more time to spend and wished we had rented a car there so we could have explored a little more. The two sea days back were great. Still a little choppy (2m) but not bad at all. The cruise director Steve was great and all the staff on this littlest of RCI ships is excellent. Best service I've experienced on Royal for awhile. It is like the staff is all family and they work hard and work together really well. The only disappointment (beside missing Virgin Gorda - which I understand was necessary due to weather conditons) was the lack of Diamond Lounge on the ship. I knew this before choosing this ship but if this ship continues to be part of the fleet - Royal Caribbean needs to add or designate a space for the Diamond Lounge. Was skeptical at first but would sail on her again anytime. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We have sailed on just over 50 cruises. We are Diamond members on Royal Caribbean. The price for this ship was a real value and we live in Ft. Lauderdale so we decided to give it a try despite some negative reviews. Empress of the Sea is ... Read More
We have sailed on just over 50 cruises. We are Diamond members on Royal Caribbean. The price for this ship was a real value and we live in Ft. Lauderdale so we decided to give it a try despite some negative reviews. Empress of the Sea is well worth your time and money. It is well maintained, run by an excellent crew and a ship you will feel great about upon conclusion of your trip. The entire crew wants you to be there. It is obvious and energizes all the passengers aboard. The food is very good, the shows are well done and our cabin (inside) served us well. It is always a mystery to me to read negative reviews about a ship and see none of them during my cruise. We have been on all the 4 giant ships of Royal and a sampling of the other sizes. Empress of the Seas hold its own against them in these ways. The ship only has 1600 passengers so no waiting for anything. It is a good starter ship for young families. Many were on board. It is a value price for the young marrieds, singles traveling in a group and middle aged and seniors looking for a cruise for their hard earned money. The ship has no flow riders, sliding water tubes, race tracks, or garden to walk thru. But it has a crew that provides numerous activities thruout the day that you will find worth your time. We were lucky to have Steve from Canada as our Cruise Director. He is a dynamo and keeps everyone engaged. Our cabin steward Jose Fernandes was possibly the best we ever had with his hard work, attention to detail and enjoyable daily interaction. We came across a staff member that we met on the Symphony of the Seas. She now works in the Empress Windjammer restaurant. She told us I just love being on this ship. You will find the entire crew feels that way. The Allure, Oasis, Harmony and Symphony have problems from time to time. That is life. But you still have a great cruise. The same will occur on the Empress. Give it try. You will be pleased you took that action. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I chose this cruise for the ports of call. Specifically for Puerto Rico and Virgin Gorda BVI. Two places I had never visited on the 12 previous cruises I had taken. I always wave the Royal Caribbean flag and tried Carnival ONCE and went ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the ports of call. Specifically for Puerto Rico and Virgin Gorda BVI. Two places I had never visited on the 12 previous cruises I had taken. I always wave the Royal Caribbean flag and tried Carnival ONCE and went back to Royal for all future cruises but this cruise was only HALF my dollar value. I get that weather can't be predicted BUT Royal KNEW that the weather was bad in the areas we were heading BEFORE we sailed because the moment we arrived, they had changed our ports of call due to "weather". So BVI was out. Weather was horrific. People were sick all over the ship and we never had access to the upper deck of the ship until the last 4 days (of an 8 day cruise). For two days we didn't have access to the pool. At one point the pool was completely empty. Then we arrived at Puerto Rico 3 hours late which meant it was now NIGHT. No chance we are roaming around Puerto Rico at night with only two women. St Thomas was ok but my excursion which was a Snorkel and Beach excursion turned into snorkel only and the cruise line only gave me a 10% discount even though I only received HALF of the excursion experience. Called Royal Caribbean customer service to inquire about compensation. Even a credit towards my next cruise. The answer was basically "go away". Wow. I did not get my money's worth and they won't even give me a credit towards another cruise to keep my loyalty. Airlines now have to compensate travellers that experience more that 4 hour delay or if they are stranded. The same thing should apply to cruises. So disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We decided to try RC again after a VERY BAD experience in 2015. I am happy that we did. Most of the staff weref friendly, welcoming, and professional. The only exceptions were the guest relations desk who felt the need to tell me that ... Read More
We decided to try RC again after a VERY BAD experience in 2015. I am happy that we did. Most of the staff weref friendly, welcoming, and professional. The only exceptions were the guest relations desk who felt the need to tell me that the question I had asked they had answered two days before - clearly I didn't remember; one of the cruise director staff members - he was a little snarky, and one bartender at Labadee who told me that the drink hut that I stopped at was only for the other RC ship in port (another bartender apologized and said that all huts were for all RC ships). Cabin had a beautiful large window on deck. One con was that the movie pool side was difficult to view due to pool cabana set up and they had the prime seats blocked for their cigargs and cognac promotion which no guests were attending. Another con was ice cream was stopped at 6pm - I lke ice cream with my movies. Food was teriffic and wait staff was as good as a 5 star. Bathrooms incredibly tiny - toilets set at an angle due to small space. I just wish that on sea days there were more things to do on ships during the day except sitting in the sun or gambling - this one and all cruise ships Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I think the empress of the seas is perfect for anyone looking for a smaller ship with a great itinerary. I think the only way you could be disappointed being on the empress of the seas is if you expect the big ship amenities. The ports ... Read More
I think the empress of the seas is perfect for anyone looking for a smaller ship with a great itinerary. I think the only way you could be disappointed being on the empress of the seas is if you expect the big ship amenities. The ports of call were great food was amazing and shows were fun to watch. We stayed 2 nights in Miami Beach before the cruise and took an uber over to the terminal the morning of. Easy embarkation process. Really love the new app to help with embarkation and to explore the daily itinerary. The staff was some of the best I've ever gotten to cruise with and the ship was very well kept up for being the oldest ship in the fleet. The ship is small compared to any other ships I've been on however since its size there are fewer guests onboard so it all evens out. The ship shows its age and size in my opinion in some of the walkways in the dining room and theatre. They are very tight and not as accessible for older cruisers. We stayed in cabin 8167 which is an inside room. It was very small which is to be expected but It honestly was one of the most comfortable rooms I can remember being in. We really enjoyed the cabin. In all even though I do enjoy some of the features found on bigger ships we LOVED the empress of the seas. We always found a place to sit by the pool, dining room and at a show. I loved the small ship feel. The ship did feel old but It was never an issue. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We choose this cruise because of timing with families schedule. The idea of a small ship was appealing. Pros - super nice, fun, helpful crew. Trivia’s in the Scooners Lounge was an everyday thing. Getting on and off the boat was super ... Read More
We choose this cruise because of timing with families schedule. The idea of a small ship was appealing. Pros - super nice, fun, helpful crew. Trivia’s in the Scooners Lounge was an everyday thing. Getting on and off the boat was super easy. Pool band was awesome! Ports Of Call- Labadee was awesome. Set up camp at Nellies Beach. Explore the area but stay away from the market. There is a donation drive if u want to help the locals. Get to buffet early it was good. St. croix don’t explore alone if female. Men on Frederiksted Pier will ask u to drink and smoke weed. Don’t go to Frederiksted Beach by the pier rocky, loud music and shady men. St. Thomas Crown Center pier is better than the other one. It’s next to the Marina where u can hop water taxi $10 round trip to awesome Honeymoon Bay. Drive to Brewers Bay and snorkel e sea turtles and rays. Cons- food was terrible and this WAS NOT THE WAIT STAFFS FAULT. Management went over board addressing the complaint every single night. I should have lied when they asked how it was. Cabins are very very small and out dated. No fitted sheets, bedding constantly came off and it was old. I thought this ship had a makeover recently, if so it didn’t show. Constantly bombarded by Chops sales people, annoying. Can’t enter the tiny pool without everyone starring. Pool games were lame, they didn’t show on the big screen. Shows were not good. No grandeur of a promenade. No pizza shop . Late night eats were in Windjammer with flocks of people at the pizza station. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Embarked Miami - we spent 2 nights there, one them a full day and night to explore - that was good and I enjoyed Miami for the day / evening and I think this was maybe enough time too. We stayed in the Hotel of South Beach and the food ... Read More
Embarked Miami - we spent 2 nights there, one them a full day and night to explore - that was good and I enjoyed Miami for the day / evening and I think this was maybe enough time too. We stayed in the Hotel of South Beach and the food there was good. Overall, very nice. Embarkation was pretty easy and I don't recall any issues at all. I was a little concerned as I’d read a fair number of bad reviews. To some extent I needn’t have worried, but it did also have some negatives as well. So, for those that might be interested I thought I’d just share my own personal opinion. Pros: for me, was that regardless of the size of the ship, the areas I was most interested in (eg the bars / public areas etc) was mainly the same as on a bigger ship, albeit less of them and less busy. There are nice sitting and quiet areas. The waiters and service staff are superb. The main deck has lots of shaded areas which is great if like me you need shade. Overall it’s a good ship with lots going for it. MDR was lovely and I enjoyed the food and service. Shops: Only a couple but some little bargains to be found on the rails if you suddenly realise you forgot your beach cover. Excursions: $85 for a snorkeling trip to Star fish island, Belize - was a great day over all. Cons: There was a few negatives for me. The first was the low temperature of many public areas. I was perishing in the Royal Theatre for example. Many women had wraps and even jumpers on. I’ve been cold a LOT and I’m from UK too so am used to a colder climate yet I found this uncomfortable. My second issue was much of the food in Windjammer was barely warm. Also on Buffet area: The washy washy guy annoyed me and there was no let up - not being able to go into the dining room without being accosted by someone singing washy washy and prancing around eventually gets tiresome - some love it.. but I hated it. Ignoring it made me feel rude... I don't like feeling like that but less in your face might be nice. Theme night entertainment team - terrible. The theme nights 100% orchestrated - eg on the Caribbean night the dancing was ALL follow the leader style dancing in lines copying the staff... not just some of the night, the whole time! Now, the following night was 70’s night in Viking and being a 70’s teen myself looked forward to it. However, this was the same with the young team doing current day line style dancing the entire time. I’d have loved a proper 70’s freestyle / do what you want dance floor. I stayed the entire evening and this concluded with no 70’s music which was mainly rap and suchlike. So, the entertainment team, including the boss, need a few tips of how to ensure the paying customers actually have a nice time - because they sure as heck don't know. Dress code: In addition to the above the formal night was basically none existent which is a personal choice I know. I like them and on the Indy earlier this year (UK/Italy) the ship was strewn with tuxedos and suits. This time I saw not one. This may be usual on Caribbean cruises from Miami so I’m not sure why and it’s only a personal thing but seeing people walking out of the dining room in flip flops and tees was unexpected for me. I think formal should mean that in the dining room at least - here, it didn't. Spa / Hair etc: We went one visit - I was happy... my sister had to come back and rewashed and restyled her hair because they 'finished' it with 'oil' - Now, bear in mind she has straight reasonably thin to medium thickness hair and was having it curly - so how on earth do you finish that with an oil?? She didn't complain - I thought she should... anyway, that was yet another let down... although, it was just one of those things and not necessarily a reflection of the usual service there perhaps. But at $93 it wasn't a cheap experience for nothing, for her! So there are definitely pros and cons but for your average middle age to older couple wanting a smaller ship this might be a good choice. I’ve done it now and I’m glad I did but I wouldn’t return. We originally booked for Cuba and the itinerary changed. All the stops were lovely though. Oh, I remember some have mentioned the sewer smell and it definitely does exist on some decks. Overall a nice cruise as far as the staff and the ship stand. However, it did leave me a little wanting... I think 3 stars is fair. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Small ship experience at modest prices...I would give Empress an A+ for guest services , housekeeping, dining ( limited venues) , spaces to chill/ relax, best Schooner Bar space, superior shore excursions and activities staff , spacious ... Read More
Small ship experience at modest prices...I would give Empress an A+ for guest services , housekeeping, dining ( limited venues) , spaces to chill/ relax, best Schooner Bar space, superior shore excursions and activities staff , spacious Shops area Our room was a junior suite with a balcony. It was clean with excellent lighting especially for reading in bed HOWEVER if one wants quiet rooms/ junior suites on Deck 9 are a BAD choice. One deals with extensive pool noise from bands or movies shown on pool deck10 or pounding of little feet from Adventure Ocean with very bad sound attenuation We did not do our homework to see what was above us. Would we return to the Empress? Certainly... but we would get a Deck 9 suite far aft or suites off the aft part of the ship or even settle for a smallish ocean view (136sq ft) The Empress has wonderful public areas although the Centrum is small(but well utilized ) The ship is showing its age. We love this size ship but RCI seems to be moving to LARGE ships. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Was originally scheduled to go to Cuba, but due to recent changes by the US government, the itinerary was changed. I followed the reviews for this ship for a few months and was very leary about going anywhere on this ship. Put your mind ... Read More
Was originally scheduled to go to Cuba, but due to recent changes by the US government, the itinerary was changed. I followed the reviews for this ship for a few months and was very leary about going anywhere on this ship. Put your mind at ease, the ship was great! It is small, but it is personable. The crew is great. You could not ask for a better wait staff. The servers were very friendly. Basically, I did not encounter any bad personalities. The guest were just as friendly, and very respectful of the staff. I have been on many cruises where that was not the case. As for the odor that some folks complained about, there is a whiff of a sewage smell on certain decks, but it is not overpowering or unbearable. Did not experience any plumbing issues in the cabin. I had an interior room and no roommate so space was not an issue for me. My sister and niece shared a room and they appeared to be able maneuver in the room without any issues. Entertainment was good. For the 8 days they had a nice variety. Juggler, violinist, Celine Deion impersonation, comedian, production show. Small casino with decent machines. Was cruising during Halloween and RCCL really did a nice job with the decorations and entertainment for that night. Had a blast at the 70’s party. Food was typical cruise food, but I would say one thing, best hot dogs, burgers and fries I have ever tasted on a cruise ship. Better than the Guy Ferier burger stand on the Carnival line. Caribbean night is also a good night to eat in the Windjammer. Very good oxtails....yummy! Did one excursion through RCCL in San Juan. Tour of old and new San Juan with a 2 hr stop at the mall. Two hours is not enough time for this mall. You need at least 4 hrs. This is a huge mall. All in all, this ship is the little ship with a big heart. So book your cruise and have a wonderful time. Go with an open mind and enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and timing. The price was right as well. The activities staff were fun, personable, and lively. We enjoyed the main dining room as well as the Windjammer. The food was very good to excellent as ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and timing. The price was right as well. The activities staff were fun, personable, and lively. We enjoyed the main dining room as well as the Windjammer. The food was very good to excellent as was the food service staff. We were aboard the Empress for Halloween -great decorations! While the gym was small, remember this is the smallest ship in the RCCL fleet, there were more cardio machines than on some larger ships and they worked. I could always find one available. Here’s the only real negative experience on the ship. We were on the 9th deck, mid-ship, starboard side. We think there were elephant races above us at night. Sometimes as late as 2:00 a.m. There was a constant banging of heavy footsteps above us. Others in cabins nearby thought the noise was caused by children running in the youth area, Adventure Ocean and vigorously complained to guest services. We would sail on the Empress of the Seas again, but AVOID deck 9 mid ship, starboard side. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
I'll start with the good. We loved the food (I seriously don't know how they had the variety for that many people-truly amazing and something for everyone), entertainment, the very small size of the ship, our HUGE balcony (only ... Read More
I'll start with the good. We loved the food (I seriously don't know how they had the variety for that many people-truly amazing and something for everyone), entertainment, the very small size of the ship, our HUGE balcony (only 4 on the ship this size from what I could tell), our room attendant was beyond amazing, our room was well laid out and we had a ton of storage, it felt like a small apartment (especially with the balcony) which we enjoyed just spending time alone. We also liked that it did NOT have a lot of kids activities (again small ship) so there were not too many children although there were some. We also really enjoyed getting to know other passengers and bumped into the same people quite frequently which was nice. The bad- We paid over 4500k just for our room (2 people), another 2500k on airfare and bookend hotels $700, car rental, ubers, excursions etc and spending cash which totaled about a 10k vacation. We did not get what we paid for and the ships description of amenities is absolutely false. My guess there are so few owners suites while the majority of ship booked the "cheap" rooms, everyone is treated like they booked the lesser rooms. Priorty seating for shows - NOPE, it was a free for all, priority embarkation/disembarkation - NOPE again, told to go to the back of the line, breakfast on last day - Not unless you get up at 5am, NOPE again, Concierge lounge with appetizers and adult beverages - DOES NOT EXIST, stocked mini bar - NOPE only if you pay for it. I get nickel and diming the cheap rooms but when you pay 4500k for the promise of certain service, you should get those services and this just was not the case and there is no excuse for it. What really sent me over the edge was we did share our concerns on day one about not having the concierge lounge (because this was precisely why I booked this cruise) and was told oops our bad but we give you 2 free drinks from 6-8. How in the world does that rank up to a 24/7 converge lounge with 24/7 alcohol? It also took them 2 or 3 days to work it out which they graciously agreed to let us purchase the beverage package for the rest of the cruise at 2 for 1 which was another $400 and we had already paid over $200 for the soda package. So we basically were gifted to PAY EVEN MORE and I think we maybe only had 1 coke and maybe 10 drinks for the entire trip and NOT per day. It was just so unbelievable, I'm getting upset just thinking about it. I will cruise again but absolutely not with RC, instead of fifth ave we got the back alley. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was originally a cruise to Cuba which was the only reason we chose this ship. When the Cuba ports were cancelled we decided to take their offer of 50% off but didn't expect much from this "old" and "small" ... Read More
This was originally a cruise to Cuba which was the only reason we chose this ship. When the Cuba ports were cancelled we decided to take their offer of 50% off but didn't expect much from this "old" and "small" ship. We had a wonderful time. No way did the ship seem old. All of the public areas and our cabin were very clean and just lovely. We loved that the ship was smaller since it was so easy to get around and there were no crowds anywhere. You could walk into the buffet area, the showroom or the pool area and always get seats. We have been on many cruises where getting seats anywhere is always a hassle. The entertainment was top notch. We especially enjoyed the many beautiful costumes. The food was very good and our wait staff friendly and very efficient. In fact every service person we encountered was super friendly. Since we always take a balcony room and there are no regular balconies on this ship we opted for a junior suite which in actuality was the same as a regular balcony on any other ship. If you are thinking of going on the Empress, don't even hesitate. You will enjoy it! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise, and the small ship, because of the Cuba itinerary. 11 days before we were scheduled to sail, the new US restrictions were put in place. Royal Caribbean did a great job coming up with an alternate itinerary with three ... Read More
We chose this cruise, and the small ship, because of the Cuba itinerary. 11 days before we were scheduled to sail, the new US restrictions were put in place. Royal Caribbean did a great job coming up with an alternate itinerary with three stops in the Eastern Caribbean on short notice, although the time for arrival in San Juan changed only a few days prior. This left us unable to do the activity that we had planned, and when we got on board (since we were within the window where we could no longer book online), most of the shore excursions in San Juan were already sold out. We were able to take the "St. Johns on your own" tour from St. Thomas where you were able to climb aboard a chartered ferry "Island Girl" over to St. John. The guide on board was terrific and the convenience of leaving right from where the ship docked, rather than having to go over to red hook to catch the ferry, was terrific! Embarkation at the Port was a breeze, but the common areas felt overcrowded and chaotic until rooms were opened. The ship definitely had a smaller feel, with smaller cabins and less amenities, but the smaller ship also seemed to lead to more of an intimate feel, both with getting to know other passengers and interactions with the ship staff. In terms of activities, the ship entertainment staff had a full schedule offered (trivia, dance classes, games, etc.) that would rival other ships we have been on. There were several headliner shows, but mostly comedians, with some being better than others. There were only a couple of nights put on by the ships entertainment crew themselves. (Perhaps it was a longer itinerary than most for this ship, or due to the itinerary change.) In general, the food was excellent! The head chef was the most present that we have seen on any ship. In addition to seeing him on the Galley tour, we saw him walking through Windjammer and Starlight Dining room at different times of the day throughout the cruise. Our biggest disappointment with the food was our dining experience at Chops. Although we have enjoyed Chops on other ships, our steaks were overcooked and our waiter was absent during this dining experience. The Bottomless Brunch and Galley tour was a fun sea day activity and it was interesting to see the full operation. We had the filets from Chops (much better cooked this time), but to our dismay, the same absent waiter. The head waiter in starlight noticed and quickly made sure that our table, and the others he was serving, were accommodated. We have come to have very high expectations of dining service on Royal Caribbean ships and our first few nights on board we had servers that were pleasant, but nothing exceptional. When we were sat with Eri and Charles on night five, they were so exemplary that we asked the hostess to seat us with them the rest of the cruise. Eri described food with such a passion that you were he got everyone excited about the food before your first taste. Charles remembered personal details about your dining preferences that made you feel like a regular in your favorite restaurant. Staff members like these made the experience! Our last hours on board were a little hectic as a medical emergency caused an unplanned stop in Nassau on our final evening. While this stop seemed to be executed very well (we were in and out of Nassau in 20 minutes), the delayed arrival back into Miami seemed to cause disembarkation chaos. The staff assisting seemed overwhelmed and several of them left the theater while one person tried alternating trying to sing songs in the microphone, and ask trivia questions, while guests were seeking out information due to the change. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
I chose this cruise due to its sailing date and my school schedule. I figured an 8 night cruise would be a good way to finish my summer before returning to class full time. When we were approaching the ship it was dirty with rust staining ... Read More
I chose this cruise due to its sailing date and my school schedule. I figured an 8 night cruise would be a good way to finish my summer before returning to class full time. When we were approaching the ship it was dirty with rust staining by the anchors. We were told we were getting an upgrade when we arrived to the port as we had requested it and they said the employees at the port can get you into your upgraded room. When we checked in we were told there wouldn’t be an upgrade like the employee said there would be. So we went to our room and it was very tiny and hard to navigate with both people in it. Once we were settled in the room we went to explore the ship some. We went to get a quick snack then walk some more after that. The pool was about the size of my living room. Our luggage was held for a while too, for no reason that could be explained but we know it can be chaos too sometimes. As we were sailing out of port we noticed a rather strong sewage smell on the pool deck. We went back inside and finished walking the ship and finding things to do(which wasn’t much). We went back to the room and showered, the water was presently warm, the only down side was it didn’t drain quickly. I asked our steward why it wasn’t draining fast and he said it’s an older ship, which I understand and said thanks, he did say if it starts to spill out to let him know and they would definitely fix it at one of the ports. We went to bed relatively early due to the fact we had to drive from Daytona down to Miami. When I woke up the next morning it was due to the fact my hip was in pain(have had 2 procedures done on it at 25) which isn’t their issue, the room steward got me an additional pillow to put under my hip with a blanket which I was very grateful for! I went and had some breakfast and sat up on the front deck to wake up some and enjoy the ocean and nice breeze. With the days at sea it usually was a better idea to go to the pool early if possible or late before it closed as it was pretty crowded. If you were on the pool deck you got a smell of sewage, if you went up to the bow area it was fine as you were up wind. We had met some friends and had a few drinks with the day at sea and planned for the first stop at Coco Cay. When we arrived into Coco Cay it was overcast which was AMAZING as it had a nice breeze and would have been rather hot. We walked around did some shopping and enjoyed the lounge chairs on the beach. Our next stop was in San Juan Puerto Rico. We got into Puerto Rico in the afternoon which didn’t leave too much time to explore. I definitely would consider going back to Puerto Rico when there was more time to explore as there was TONS to see! I was headed to the Windjammer Cafe and stopped by the restroom. When I walked in the urinals were overflowing onto the floor(it happened rather frequently at least daily from what I saw). I went and notified the staff who said they’ll address the issue soon. I went to eat dinner they only had water and tea to drink, so I ate dinner and decided to go buy the drink package. We decided to tough out the smell and join people down on the pool deck to have a drink and talk about the next stop. When we got to St. Croix we went on a dive excursion, it was extremely well priced and the staff running it were great too! There are some shops there that have very unique things to buy which was also nice. Upon entering the boat after our day of exploring I went to shower and get freshened up. We decided to go get dinner and head up to the bow area to enjoy the departure. When we got into the cafe they had a chef making meals for everyone. We gave him four tries at cooking food and it still didn’t click and come out right. He kept adding additional things that we didn’t want even though we were standing there saying yes and no to ingredients, partially due to an allergy. I sat up on the bow and did some work on my laptop and enjoyed the night. Our next stop was St. Thomas! When we left the ship we walked some and also did a van excursion and met up with some people we know in the area! The staff were very friendly, they also let us experience how some of the natives do things! Once we were done for the day we headed back to the boat. Some of the iguanas were rather tame, I got to pet one that was randomly roaming. (We have exotic animals at our home) We had two days at sea on the way back to Miami. Unfortunately we had to make an emergency stop in Nassau, hopefully the passenger was okay. Overall I would like to recommend RCI, I wouldn’t recommend the Empress of The Seas. The sewage smell was horrendous, the ship was rather old and dingy, and the amenities were sub par. Our steward was absolutely amazing! He helped make this cruise halfway tolerable. Next time I sail I will definitely be looking at all the reviews of the ships and cruise line making sure the room is in fact the room we want. This was not a good first experience on RCI. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
My wife and I had always wanted to go to Cuba. We booked this cruise especially because it was billed as the best of Cuba. Whilst it only had 2 stops we were very excited and we made the long flight from Australia to the States full of ... Read More
My wife and I had always wanted to go to Cuba. We booked this cruise especially because it was billed as the best of Cuba. Whilst it only had 2 stops we were very excited and we made the long flight from Australia to the States full of anticipation. With only a week before to cruise, RCCL emailed to say that the intinery was being changed and that instead of going to Cuba de Santiago, the full day stop, we would instead be going to Key West as there was a problem with the dock which was under repair. We subsequently found out that the problem with the port was due to the Empress hitting it on the last cruise! Key West was fun but it wasn't what I booked. I wouldn't have travelled all the way from Australia for an afternoon in Havana! The ship left Key West and travelled very slowly towards Cuba, in fact it sailed so close that Havana could be seen before it turned away and sailed in a circle before returning. Given that the main part of Cuba had been lost WHY didn't the Captain get us into Cuba earlier? Instead we arrived as scheduled at 3pm. Getting off the boat was a joke. It was so slow. RCCL blamed this in Cuba. RCCL knew it would take hours to get us off the ship so they should have got us earlier. We didn't clear customs until 5:30. By the time we had changed money over it was almost dusk. Little did we know that pretty much CV all shops would be shut and that all bars and cafes and restaurants stop serving at 10. We were left with worthless money that we couldn't change back. NO Apology was made by the Captain for the Cuban debacle. NO on board credit was offered. We paid $75 USD for less than one hours daylight. There were long lines of people complaining on board. We were told that there was nothing the dhiy could do but that corporate would compensate all passengers. Surprise, surprise RCCL Corporate are refusing any compensation. We were left so angry and disappointed. The food, the service, the entertainment on the ship were very good. The only apology made on board was from the cruise director. Poor bloke he had no control over shore events but took a stick over it. Bottom line is that the Empress is an old, tired ship run by a line that doesn't care about its passengers. Fine another way to get to Cuba. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
My wife and I have been on one cruise before with Carnival and wanted something geared more towards a laid-back adult lifestyle rather than the constant 'booze-cruze' party that we found on Carnival (not that it's a bad ... Read More
My wife and I have been on one cruise before with Carnival and wanted something geared more towards a laid-back adult lifestyle rather than the constant 'booze-cruze' party that we found on Carnival (not that it's a bad thing, just not our speed) The empress is the smallest ship they have in the fleet, and one of the older ones. It has a lot of heart and is rather comfortable. There aren't as many fancy extras as the larger ships - but having a lot less space to cover makes for easy walking to and from the various parts of the ship. Also, having less people leads to less crowding at the pinch points during shore time, embarking/disembarking. Our server and assistant server in the main dining room were a hoot - they were very attentive, had a great attitude, made great recommendations and even brought out different food items just for fun. Being that only my wife and I were traveling, we were placed at a table with two other couples (the one couple never showed up, so only one other couple was with us) We're always happy to converse with new people, so we had a great time talking to them. I'm not sure if they offer the ability to be seated alone (if you're looking for a more romantic/intimate meal experience or just don't want to socialize with others) but again, that wasn't a problem for us at all. They offer a nice menu that changes every night, typically at least 5-6 choices for each course, and the option to pay for premium foods that you'd find at the higher end restaurant on board (Chops Grille). For example: you can order the Filet Mignon for $15; I can't shake a stick at $15 for a great steak like that. The cooking instructions were followed perfectly, presentation was exquisite, and the flavours incredible. We had breakfasts in the windjammer buffet, main dining room, and did one day of room service. The dining room is very calm compared to the windjammer, but does have a small buffet available - I found that to be a great option. The room service was fantastic, no complaints at all. The windjammer has staff on hand to prepare toast, bagels, and custom omelettes. The theatre is cozy and comfy, we didn't really partake in any shows beyond the shopping tips things they hosted. Speaking of which; do they EVER push gemstone buying, lol. We were looking for a bit more information about what to do in the area rather than an overly intense selling session, but I understand that making those high markup sales do come first. The stores were pretty good; I would recommend doing some research beforehand if you're looking for something specific. Pricing is comparable to on-shore stores, I can't say I found any bargains (and actually some were above the regular retail price). My experience with Carnival was the same, so I can't say RC was out of line. The weather was ridiculously nice (I know they can't control that either way) every single day was perfect. There are a lot of nice areas go on deck. Deck 6 wraps around the whole ship and offers a great running/walking track. There are smoking areas available all around deck 6. Depending on your speed, you can lounge by the pool on Deck 10, or hide on the top deck of the stern and enjoy a bit more peace and sun. Deck 6 offers either great sun exposure on both sides, or a very sizeable shaded area on the stern. On the bow there are two public access areas that lead to deck 7 and 8 respectively. There are no deck chairs, but there is NO ONE up there, so you can great a great view of the sea, have some private time with your partner, take a smoke break etc. Those two areas are not well noted, but that just makes it more enjoyable for those who take a look around. There is a small gym above the Boleros lounge, for the size of the ship it is more than adequate, and it offers a great view. The boleros and schooner bars offer a different flavor for each, but both were laid back and cozy. Boleros is more of a Cuban themed with lots of Latino music, the schooner was a bit more towards a contemporary lounge and more laid back. On our first day trying to leave Miami there was a repair the ship had to undergo (underwater repairs by a dive team - looked expensive, lol), it delayed us by about 4 hours but had no effect on our arrival at our first port of call. We also had to stop to fuel up near Bain Town, we were not able to disembark as it is purely an industrial marine service dock located in the bay itself. That had us tied up for about 6 hours, but again - had no effect on our port of call visit the next day. Frankly, I rather enjoy the industrial side of things, so I was happy either way. The day of cruising was nice, they offer lots of things to do on the ship but we opted to enjoy time to ourselves *ahem* and spent a great deal of time on the aft of deck 6 reading and enjoying a drink. There was no shortage of options for entertainment on the ship, though. The casino is smoke free by the way; I did not expect that - it was nice to see. Overall I was more impressed with RC than Carnival, many people who are more experienced with doing cruises had nothing but good things to say about RC, and I'm glad they were right. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
My first cruise with Royal Caribbean was nothing but a disappointment from start to finish. First off, my original booking with with a different ship. I noticed three days after I booked that the final docking point was not where I ... Read More
My first cruise with Royal Caribbean was nothing but a disappointment from start to finish. First off, my original booking with with a different ship. I noticed three days after I booked that the final docking point was not where I was leaving from. So, I needed to change the cruise. When I called just to change ships they would not refund me the initial deposit. Second: They changed the itinerary with no explanation. Third: I booked an excursion to depart at 10:15 a.m., went to the dock at 10:05 a.m. and the excursion time was changed to 8:00 a.m. and I was never notified. Missing my excursion. Fourth: The television was mounted in the corner (so it is not flush against the wall) of the room by the balcony door just above eye level and I hit my head on the television. Causing a large bump and a cut on my head. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
The crew, food, and cleanliness of ship where outstanding. The service in the dining room was on point. You could choose between different menus every night. Appetizer, main dish, and dessert.The waiters were always friendly. It was ... Read More
The crew, food, and cleanliness of ship where outstanding. The service in the dining room was on point. You could choose between different menus every night. Appetizer, main dish, and dessert.The waiters were always friendly. It was also offered a late night menu after 10 pm. On deck 10 by the Pool, you could have coffee, burgers and hot dogs The cabin was nice and our steward Aaron was always very helpful. He cleaned the room and fixed the bed numerous time a day. The Entertainment Team was great.They gave us a great different show every night.I loved the dancers very much. The Director Hugo had it all well organized and made the evening special. The ship was very clean. When you walked into the dining area, you had to wash your hands, what I liked very much. Also, there was disinfection suspender available everywhere. For Nassau, we had booked an island tour but you can save the money and do the tour on your own. All in all, it was a great experience! Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
I chose this cruise because the promotion at the time was kids sail free (I have 3) and 60% of second guest. So with me, my mom, and 3 kids it felt like a steal! I was first and foremost very pleased with the staff and how helpful they ... Read More
I chose this cruise because the promotion at the time was kids sail free (I have 3) and 60% of second guest. So with me, my mom, and 3 kids it felt like a steal! I was first and foremost very pleased with the staff and how helpful they were. They were extremely kind to my kinds as well. It seems like it must be a requirement to not only tolerate kids but like them! The food was good, but nothing stood out like wow! You have to try this! The room was small of course, but not as small as I feared off of reviews I read. There was plenty of entertainment and things to do and choose from. One thing I wish they had was at least one lower sink at the windjammer for younger cruisers to wash their hands so I wouldn't have to pick up my 2 smallest every time! But overall, I was impressed with my trip and very glad I picked RCI for my first cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
The cruise itself was fine- it was a relaxing vacation. This was our first time on a Royal Caribbean boat. While we will probably try Royal again, I cannot recommend this ship unless you really just like to hang out on a deck chair and ... Read More
The cruise itself was fine- it was a relaxing vacation. This was our first time on a Royal Caribbean boat. While we will probably try Royal again, I cannot recommend this ship unless you really just like to hang out on a deck chair and read or watch people. It is very small boat and the activities are quite limited. I didn't travel with any young children and I'm glad because I saw very few things that were geared towards that age group. We went the entire 5 days without ever having our room steward introduce himself, although he did a nice job of keeping our room clean. The cabin itself was tiny. I mean really tiny. The pictures are deceptive...this room is SMALL. Dysfunctionally small. Painfully small. And we even had a cabin with a window. I can't imagine the interior cabins. I found the drinks to be a lot more expensive than on our previous cruises with Carnival and Holland-America, so be prepared for that. The drink card was a good choice for us for this reason - a coke was almost $4, and frozen/mixed drinks almost $13 - at those prices, it doesn't take long to pay for the beverage card. The activities each day were on par with a boat this size - small boat, small amount of activities. Most of the staff was friendly enough - although most of the bar stuff were rather gruff. It was a first time in each of the three ports we visited (Cococay, Nassua and Key West) and I don't know that we would specifically seek out a cruise with any of these stops again. Nassau is dirty and the public beaches that are close to the cruise terminal are lacking - rough, dirty sand, way too much noise and no activities other than sitting on the sand (no chairs either, bring your own towel). If you wanted a nicer beach, you had to buy an excursion or risk taking off on your own. Shopping was just the same tourist junk over and over again; the straw market was filled with dozens of packed booths that all had the same stuff. Key West was not what I expected at all - tiny, packed streets, more bars than anything else, and very few beaches. Cococay was ok, the same shopping as Nassau, but with a lot more activities and things to do. Overall, this trip was nice. I would like to try Royal Caribbean on a much larger boat and very different stops. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Spa
The spa masseuse took advantage of my mother in the spa and came away with $176 worth of product that she thought they gave to her as a gift because they asked her "Did you like this?" and she said, "Yes, that was really ... Read More
The spa masseuse took advantage of my mother in the spa and came away with $176 worth of product that she thought they gave to her as a gift because they asked her "Did you like this?" and she said, "Yes, that was really nice." They put it in the bag and charged me. They knew by me taking her into the spa that I was the one responsible. Let's go to room service. I had arranged for a cake for my mother. I was told they would present it at dinner. It was in our room and there it stayed the entire time. We rarely saw our room attendant. If we were lucky, we saw him in the morning but never remembered to say something to him. On our last day, all it took was for us to walk down the hallway, without our bags, and he was in the room clearing our stuff out and making the bed sheets. Forget the gym. They had classes but, firstly, it is so small that a spin class is literally five bikes total. The ab class nobody showed up for but the three of us that were there, I don't know where we would have done it. Heard the yoga class was the one thing to do. Had plumbing problems with the boat and toilets in our room as well as some of the public rooms had flooded (fortunately with no waste.) and our hall reeked for a short period of time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Empress of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.5
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 2.5 3.4
Family 2.0 3.4
Shore Excursion 4.5 3.8
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.8

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