199 Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas Romantic Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise for the itinerary and value. Only problem is that on this small vessel the only balcony cabins are mini suites and above. The ocean view cabins and inside cabins are pretty small. No couch or easy chair, only the ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and value. Only problem is that on this small vessel the only balcony cabins are mini suites and above. The ocean view cabins and inside cabins are pretty small. No couch or easy chair, only the bed and vanity chair to sit on. However, if you are out of your room enjoying the activities and only need to use the bathroom and the bed, it's OK. The ship itself is really nice for the smallest ship in the fleet. The crew does an outstanding job of keeping it well maintained and very clean. It only has one specialty restaurant; Chops, but that's OK too. The bar hubs are the Schooner, and Boleros, with the casino bar handling that area. Viking Crown lounge is not the greatest when comparing to larger ships but it is a very nice area to relax in during the day, unless it's being used for a kids activity or something like that. The fitness area is above the lounge on a balcony that runs around it, accessible only by stairs in the back of the lounge. No criticism, it is what it is. Food: Our service and food in the main dining room was outstanding. We always choose my time dining so we can eat early, and we got the same table, same waiters and outstanding service every night. We didn't go to chops this time because we always enjoyed the menu the chef selected. Only downside was windjammer lunch. it was good but not outstanding. My breakfast is light, simple and was always good. One huge exception: Chef Kennedy on two days set up a hot dog station. Amazing!!! He makes the best sauce I've ever eaten in my life. Shows: The production team does two shows. Baileros and Three. Don't miss them. The singers and dancers were amazing. I hope you get this crew. They sing with passion and power and don't scream. Costuming and choreography are perfect. the band is terrific. Our headliners were outstanding. Cruise director and staff. Steve (from Canada) does a great job. He is experienced, funny, and very well prepared and informative, His activities director Tanya is in a word: "Special." Not short bus special, but she's crazy, fun, wild, outgoing and a great lady. She will make a great cruise director. One team member, Andy, from Great Britain does an Elton John show that will astound you. Hotel Director John and his staff are to be highly commended for their efforts on keeping the ship clean, safe and sanitary. No one on this cruise came down with so much as a case of indigestion much less a virus. He and his officers were accessible and available for any questions or concerns, no matter how dumb. And believe me, on this cruise I did hear some dumb questions. So to RCCL, the staff and crew of the Empress of the Seas: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
So many people have written about the size of the cabins and bathroom and how cold it is in the cabins, and I always commented saying " come on you're not moving in you'er just staying for the week", how right they ... Read More
So many people have written about the size of the cabins and bathroom and how cold it is in the cabins, and I always commented saying " come on you're not moving in you'er just staying for the week", how right they were! I have 51 cruises under the belt, with that said, I had to ask the cabin steward to separate the beds just so we could get in the room and have room to move and store our suitcases under the bed with ease. The smallest, coldest cabin at sea for sure, and lets not get talking about the bathroom size, it was like an RV and the tiniest shower as well. If you are size challenged please keep this in mind (I had an inside cabin). The ship is definitely for people who want to sit around and relax. If you need constant simulation then you need to get on one of the larger more active ship on the RCI fleet. The Bands were great, the food and service in the main dinning room were great. The buffet food during the sea days was tasteless and lukewarm at best. It is a very good looking ship on inside, but not up to Royal standards on the outside as it resembled a rusted Carnival ship on the outside. There were a lot of smoking areas which ruined beautiful outdoor areas for the 90% non smokers. I had fun meeting really nice passengers on board as well as interacting with really friendly staff members throughout the ship. Again bands were great, shows and comedians were great, people seems happy overall. A zero for outside look of the ship, and a zero for daytime buffet food. Remember you may experience a much different cruise so cruise with an open mind always no matter what you read. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We have always cruised with another company wanted to try Royal. We chose this particular cruise for an anniversary trip, it was priced well with all the ports we wanted to visit in one ship and in one trip. Getting on and off was very ... Read More
We have always cruised with another company wanted to try Royal. We chose this particular cruise for an anniversary trip, it was priced well with all the ports we wanted to visit in one ship and in one trip. Getting on and off was very easy. There are at least TWO dress to impress nights and the rest are casual. We had no idea what nights to expect what so had to play it by ear would like to know that info in advance. The Pros: for a small ship... she seemed sturdy only felt movement one of the days. The upgrades looked nice and refreshed and I didn't feel like i was on a 20 year old ship at all. The service: Great and Positive. Most of our servers, bartenders and attendants were always smiling, happy and helpful. one or two here or there meh they might have had a rough day that day. Carlo in Schooners was our fav bartender and Sanjay in the main dining room. Ying-Ying is a great conversationalist. Dining: Dining Room and Chops were very good... we ate there or ordered room service most of the time. service was fast and efficient. Entertainment: All of the shows we saw were great. from dancing to a Juggler to comedians. belly flop contests and other pool deck contests, Trivia was not well explained the time we decided to go and participate but perhaps we were running late for instructions. The same team won all of the trivia's we went to. Trivia Quest was very entertaining to watch we didn't have enough to form a full team. Ports: WE LOVED THEM ALL Excursions: only in two of the 4 ports but both were fun. All of the ports were easy to get around in. The cons: The stateroom: TINY TINY TINY but if all your doing is sleeping and showering it was fine... i couldn't imagine having more than 2 people in the room thou! The food was GROSS at the buffet- i tried it twice and decided to eat in the main dining room or not at all the rest of the time. Not only was the food gross but it was very crowded and confusing. there were passengers reaching over me to get food and the directional of the buffet was ALL over the place. it was hard to find a table to sit at in the windjammer we ate on the pool deck area. The average age of the passengers on the ship was a much older crowd then our previous cruises but still had a good variety of ages and everyone we encountered was friendly. Entertainment: There weren't enough things to do on board. Pool Deck: not enough loungers and the pool is small, the hot tubs seemed to be always crowded. The upper deck was nice to sit and read.... if you are lucky to find a seat not next to very loud talkers. All in All we had a GREAT time, met some really great people, shared a ton of laughs and made new memories, even with the cons we would absolutely go again. However for us we would like to try one of the larger ships that has more options to keep us entertained. Family members booked the same cruise on the same ship next year. 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
Let me start by saying this ship was supposed to go to Cuba but now that port is closed to ships from the US. I'm hoping that if Cuba reopens RCI will give this ship the facelift it deserves. At this point the ship really damages the ... Read More
Let me start by saying this ship was supposed to go to Cuba but now that port is closed to ships from the US. I'm hoping that if Cuba reopens RCI will give this ship the facelift it deserves. At this point the ship really damages the Royal Caribbean brand. We choose this sailing because it was convenient embarkation around some business meetings. We knew it was a small ship but did not expect the poor condition, low quality accommodations and poor quality and inadequate food choices. The dining room was very pretty and had a nice piano player during dinner. We met some amazing people who we have become fast friends with. The Windjammer was horrible: dated and worn furniture, horrible line management, and overall poor quality food. The staff in all facilities were wonderful, especially the entertainment team. While we're didn't attend the ship performances, the headliner and comedian were very good, the piano bar player was spectacular and we went to schooners every night. The entertainment facilities were outdated, in need of repair and uncomfortable to sit in and took away from the great entertainment. The silent disco was fun however it would have been better with two DJs battling it out instead of one DJ and two channels with preset playlists. The most disturbing thing was the muster drill where attendance was done on paper, the crew member doing the life jacket demonstration couldn't even put the lifevest on and the muster signal given by the bridge didn't match the signal we were told it should be. The gym is located above the Viking lounge on a upper balcony. The equipment is jammed into the space obviously not designed to be a gym. The equipment looked to be in poor condition. The running deck required people to walk / run through a large smoking area. The casino was smoke-free, which was very nice. However, during the learn to play session, no one was available to teach me how to play craps. I would not recommend this ship for children as there is only one small pool and not a lot of other activities available for kids. I would not recommend this ship for anyone who's interested in a newer ship as the ship is very old, worn-out, and outdated. If you're just interested in getting away and you don't care about ports, or quality of the ship, have at it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Worst cruise experience of my life. The boat smelled of sewage throughout. The food would be considered subpar in a cafeteria. A crew member blocked my wife on the stairs to try and get her attention. The show we tried to watch was so bad ... Read More
Worst cruise experience of my life. The boat smelled of sewage throughout. The food would be considered subpar in a cafeteria. A crew member blocked my wife on the stairs to try and get her attention. The show we tried to watch was so bad we left after 5 minutes. Royal Caribbean ran a special for this cruise but gave us far inferior quality that doesn't reflect other RC cruises I've been on. They should be ashamed to have served the food they did. My wife and I were sick from the second day because of how nasty the food was. We tried everything in the main dining room from breakfast through dinner. It was all disgusting. Tasted like microwave dinners. I'm not sure how you can make prime rib taste like rubber other than putting it in a microwave. Every piece of "grilled" chicken tasted like it was boiled and then thrown in some sauce. Every piece of cake tasted the same no matter what the label said. I'll never cruise with rc again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We booked this originally when we were supposed to go to Havana. When that got cancelled, we should have taken our money back when offered instead of taking the half price cruise. Big mistake. With the hurricane coming, they ended up ... Read More
We booked this originally when we were supposed to go to Havana. When that got cancelled, we should have taken our money back when offered instead of taking the half price cruise. Big mistake. With the hurricane coming, they ended up changing out itinerary again. Despite this, they wouldn't let us cancel. We were stuck going to the Bahamas, the very same place getting devastated by the hurricane... The ship itself is the oldest in the fleet. We were willing to take it to Havana, but it is unsuitable for any other journey in my opinion. The amenities are few and far between. The one tiny pool was full on the one day we were "cruising" (I will get to this later) despite the ship being half full. The food was not up to the standards I've come to expect from Royal in both the windjammer and the fancy dinners. Now onto the worst experience part: Day 1: We get on the ship easily enough, get some drinks, go to the windjammer. Here is where the fun begins. We were accosted 2 times to buy their steak house dinner in a matter of 10 mins while trying to enjoy our lunch. I don't know about you, but I like to be left alone when eating my meals. Moving along to later that afternoon. We are in our tiny cabin resting and we finally get our find our bags which were delivered to the wrong room. My wife goes to take a shower and the bathroom floods. I go to the front desk to ask for help and to possibly move to another cabin (since the cruise was half full). They call maintence which responds quickly enough, but we were told that they were still waiting on passengers. "We don't know if we will have any open rooms". The cruise was half full, they knew it was going to be half full. We didn't ask for an upgrade, just a lateral move. They never followed up. At dinner, the food was underwhelming and we were accosted a third time that day to reserve their steakhouse dinner. We still hadn't left port that night because we were loading supplies for the Bahamas. Fine with us. We were happy they were making an effort to provide aide. If we only knew what that meant for the passengers. That night in the AM the ship was rocking and rolling on the waves as they went full speed to the Bahamas. I don't get seasick, but that is difficult to sleep through. Day 2: We are anchored outside the Grand Bahama Island the whole day offloading supplies. This is causing the whole ship to shake as they gun the engines to keep us straight. So we were really "cruising" at all. It was blazing hot and the pool was packed full. No wind to enjoy from a moving ship. The other passengers were all malcontent as well from being forced on this ship causing a very tense atmosphere. Thank god their spa was run by a third party because it was the only enjoyable hour of the cruise. At lunch, for the fourth time we are accosted by the steakhouse. My wife polietly said, thanks, but we already know about this, we are not interested. The guy starts to walk away and then turns around to give us another pitch! I with my mouth full of food, put my hand up to stop him. He decided this was a very rude action and made a snide comment about waving at him. That just the icing on the cake. It confirmed to us that not even the crew wanted any part of this cruise. Dinner was okay (besides the shaking mentioned earlier) but they were missing ingredients for my wife's entree and they didn't seem to know about it or care to inform her before she ordered it. The show was good, but since everyone was malcontent, the crowd was very lifeless. Day 3: Port of Nassau We were not interested in getting any excursions due to the hurricane so we got off the ship briefly to call home. This is the only time the pool was empty, so we were able to enjoy a relaxing swim. Dinner was actually good for once. We didn't really take offense to anything that day because we grew used to the standards of this non-vacation. We did order an excursion in Miami that would take up part of the day and drop us right at the terminal to fly away. Of course this was cancelled, leaving us 8 hrs of nothing to do in Miami. Once again, we were just used to the awfulness. Customer Service: We logged our complaints with their customer service line. They didn't care. Just told us, nothing we can do. Well there is something we can do, and that is not book a cruise with Royal again who don't care about their customers or their experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
My husband got this cruise as a surprise for my birthday. Unfortunately , I found out due to the travel agents app (used last yr for trip to Antigua) sent me an email about it. I was super excited, he was highly upset. Nonetheless, we ... Read More
My husband got this cruise as a surprise for my birthday. Unfortunately , I found out due to the travel agents app (used last yr for trip to Antigua) sent me an email about it. I was super excited, he was highly upset. Nonetheless, we were both looking forward to our 1st cruise. Then the president stopped all US travel to Cuba. That was my hubby's main purpose for booking this particular cruise; he left it up to me to say go or cancel. I decided to keep it and stay excited and not have to wait on another trip. We left out of Miami, cruised to Key West, Costa Maya (LOVED THIS PORT), Cozumel. We traveled from home (NC) to Miami the night before. It was just my husband and I. We did not explore Miami since we've gone there so many times for our anniversary. Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze. We bought the Key Program which eliminated a lot of wait time and included internet. A MUST HAVE for any cruise! The ships is smaller than most, but big enough for a first time. I loved that we saw the staff in different roles, like the gift shop and then performing. The entertainment was phenomenal. The spa experience my hubby bought me (special on day 1) was GREAT!The food in the dining room was magnificent. The food in the buffet (Windjammer) was decent. (Nothing to write home about) The one thing I definitely appreciated were the staff members at each buffet entrance reminding and ensuring your hands were washed before getting a plate to begin. That speaks volumes for someone who is a germaphobe like myself. We chose the Salsa/tequila tasting/beach break in Costa Maya (Mahuhual). I could have stayed there all day! We made guacamole, hot salsa, and sweet salsa, did tequila tasting and salsa dancing. (included 1 free drink) We both had coke. We aren't drinkers, but the taste of that family's mango tequila was unbelievable! We chose the dolphin experience excursion in Cozumel. It includes lockers for your belongings, buffet and lunch, and seal show. The memory pictures are EXPENSIVE. No cameras allowed!There's imitation Mayan ruins at this state park, but we didn't opt to see them because it was so hot. I enjoyed time at the pool. I've already been looking for another cruise to take. I would definitely go back on Royal Caribbean again, even if it was the same ship. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We booked this cruise as part 1 of our honeymoon (then onto Cancun after) as it originally went to Cuba. Although Cuba was then off the cards (and beyond the control of Royal Caribbean) we still went ahead with the cruise. RC we're ... Read More
We booked this cruise as part 1 of our honeymoon (then onto Cancun after) as it originally went to Cuba. Although Cuba was then off the cards (and beyond the control of Royal Caribbean) we still went ahead with the cruise. RC we're very good and put 50% of cruise fare into on on-board credit for the cruise. This was our first time cruising and it certainly wont be our last. We had a great experience and I would go with RC again in a heartbeat! Check-in was very smooth, we arrived early and just walked through with no ques/line whatsoever. We knew this was one of the smaller ships but also had read that this was good in terms of not have to wait in lines etc. At Check-in we received our Sea-pass card which is also you drink package card. I would recommend the delux alcohol package even if you want 2-3 alcoholic drinks a day (this combined with the inclusion of soft drinks plus coffees will certainly be good value). Onboard the cabin was small but we knew it would be and to be fair we only used it to sleep and shower as we were up and about for the rest of the cruise. The same can be said for the gym, it is very small but again, there were no lines so no wait for any of the equipment. I also used the running track on deck 5 most morning and there was a great atmosphere/camaraderie on the track every morning as faces became familiar! We had booked excursions through RC (We looked at booking 3rd parts as we both travel a lot) but it wasn't much more expensive booking through RC and your covered if anything goes wrong. We booked Key West Bike Tour, Cozumel Sailing on Catamaran (including snorkeling), Belieze Bus tour and CocoCay 1/2 day pass for the water-park - all excellent tours and I would recommend each and every one of them. Having reviewed Costa Maya online (and confirmed with a 60min walk around) there inst a whole lot there (for us anyway) so we stayed on the ship and enjoyed rock-climbing wall, gym, haircut etc. The at-sea days were excellent and the staff work so well to create a holiday atmosphere. The shows were good in the theater, we're not into dance so on those evening we just watched a movie or enjoyed a late dinner. The food was excellent but I see were some of the comments mean in regard to the Windjammer. Great for breakfast but lunch can be a bit repetitive. No complaints about dinner though as staff were fantastic as was the food (although don't be in any rush, but we were never in a rush and enjoyed the dinner/atmosphere). We didn't smell the odors that people mentioned apart from the last day (where we were checking out - so I guess they now have some system where they clean the septic system on the check-out day. But certainly have no issues throughout the cruise. Some comments (they are more comments that criticism as we had a wonderful cruise): - It would be good to have a better que system for slides in COCOCAY, some of the slides had a line that took 90mins and it seemed like they could let people through the slides slightly faster as well as staff changes at the slides could have been done quicker. - Costa Maya is a waste of time, its a fake tourist trap. terminal was built as a fake village where all prices are highly inflated. We looked at hiring bikes to go to the real village but even this bike rental was extortionate. Also the swim with dolphins is a disgrace in Costa Maya and RC should actually do something about this an request that this is ended at the terminal (there are maybe 8 dolphins in a tiny pool and thats it as there are shops one side and a concrete wall the other and its cruel and horrible to watch). - The wait at the bar for a drink was sometimes a bit long, which was frustrating at times when it was really warm out - Self check-out was the only line we encountered and for no reason apparently, I couldn't not see how it took so long as the line winded around the theater etc. This could be seeded up easily. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We wanted to go to Cuba and I had always loved RC. However, this was the a terrible ship. The smell of sewage was overwhelming. During the disembark the crew blamed the smell on Keywest. If I weren't a local Floridan I might have ... Read More
We wanted to go to Cuba and I had always loved RC. However, this was the a terrible ship. The smell of sewage was overwhelming. During the disembark the crew blamed the smell on Keywest. If I weren't a local Floridan I might have believed them. Also, it didnt explain the gut wrenching smell on the 4th floor at sea. The room was a interior nightmare. The ceiling was multi-colored stained old smoke room. The Anniversary package we purchased was late and left a lot to be desired. The AC was broken , except for 1 night out of 5. The bathroom , had old scum on the walls and the previous guest hair hanging from the shower head - upon arrival. The carpet was definitely in need of replacement. The door handle to the bathroom had several screws sticking out - that took the crew 3 days to repair. Into say the room was a let down was completely and understatement. The whole room needs a scrub down and new paint The ports were excellent . Keywest, cozumel and Cuba. The excursions we had to cancel because of running late / lack of information were quickly resolved and the staff were very helpful. The pool bars and staff were overwhelmed and it showed. The crew is usually upbeat and get the party started. Unfortunately, this crew looked over worked and stressed. They weren't going out of their way to show a smile or make you feel important. The wind jammer had standard cruise buffet food. The only happy person was the washy-washy young lady. They guarded the ice cream machine with the smallest cones, I'd ever seen. My poor boyfriend resorted to getting two at a time. The main dining room was just blah... the crew again looked stressed and asked me to give a positive review. Just kinda hoped for more since I'm a seasoned cruiser and this was my boyfriend's 1st cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise as my husband is Cuban and we wanted to see and share in Cuba beauty. The Empress is the smallest ship but it is the best ship. The entertainment was fabulous along with the cruise Director (Elvis) the dinning and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as my husband is Cuban and we wanted to see and share in Cuba beauty. The Empress is the smallest ship but it is the best ship. The entertainment was fabulous along with the cruise Director (Elvis) the dinning and ship service was excellent. We did not utilize port of Miami destinations for either embarkation or debarkation only arrived to board the ship. We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and chose Cuba since my husband is Cuban and we had heard a lot of beautiful stories from Cuba. Our first stop was Key West where my family is from and we took a trolley ride to the Southern most Point. Then the sail to Cuba was smooth and when we arrived everything went well from the exchanging of the monies to meeting our tour guide in Havana. In our second port we encountered an equally smooth transfer as with our 4th to Labadee. We even took a tour of the Ship which was amazing! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I’m a “Diamond Plus" member with RCL. The opportunity came up to visit Cuba, and it has always been on my bucket list. Having recently retired, I added this to the list of future cruises I booked with the cruise line. We were ... Read More
I’m a “Diamond Plus" member with RCL. The opportunity came up to visit Cuba, and it has always been on my bucket list. Having recently retired, I added this to the list of future cruises I booked with the cruise line. We were told we could start embarcation at 11:30, but a representative came out and told us that there were going to be delays letting us onboard as the ship "wasn't ready to receive us yet." I found out later that this was the first day it had been our from drydock. Let me start by saying if this had been my first cruise with RCL, it would have been my last. The ship was in such disrepair. The first issue was the pool. The water was green and they covered it with a net so no one could use it for the first two days, and the hot tubs were empty. When we went to use the gym, three of the seven treadmills were out of order and there wasn’t enough equipment to satisfy the demand, so we opted to use the walking deck. This was partially closed off so there was mixed direction because everyone had to turn around and go in a different direction. This resulted in chaos on the deck as joggers tried to dodge the casual walkers going in both directions. We wanted to enjoy a soft-serve cone, but the machine was tagged (just like the treadmills) with a "Out of Order" sign. We had breakfast in the Specialty restaurant CHOPS. When I ordered my eggs benedict, the egg yolks were solid. I ordered an omelet with mushrooms, bell peppers and cilantro, and I received an oil laden omelet with tomatoes, spinach, and onions. While waited for our meal, we observed the paint peeled from the ceiling and beams, as well as missing ceiling tiles. When we went into the Windjammer to get coffee, there were no coffee mugs or soup bowls. We had to hunt them down. In some areas of the the ship, you could smell chemicals, as it was still undergoing renovations such as painting, and carpet removal/replacement. In the hallway where our cabin was located, the halls were extremely hot because the contractors left the doors to the workrooms open and all the heat from there filled the hallways. Certainly not conditions for anyone to be working in, so I understand why they left the doors open to let some of the heat into the hallways. As for our Cabin, it was very tight! You couldn't walk around the bed as the end of the bed was abutted against a small table that held the TV. The location was not desirable, and I'm not sure how we ended up at the front of the ship, when I specifically stated we don't like the front of the ship, we prefer the middle or back. With that being said, we were located directly beneath the theater, so twice nightly we were entertained with the noise of the performers dancing on the floors over our heads. If that wasn't enough to irritate someone, there was the added feature of the anchors going down which rattled our cabin and filled it with noise. Every time we got underway, our room rattled and roared as well. (This wouldn't have been so bad if we didn't get underway at 1:00 a.m. or if it occurred when we weren't in the room) When we ordered drinks from the bar, we asked for a MasterCard (a red and yellow drink) but the bartender used coconut instead of mango when he made it. We had to stand there and watch him the second time to make sure that it didn't have coconut and sure enough, he almost did it again! We booked two tours, but one was cancelled before we even got on the ship. I suppose you could say it was a blessing because the tour that we did book, was a huge disappointment. We were led by a guide about three blocks from the ship to a local restaurant (we walked there), and we sat in a group table. We were served two drinks each (mojito, and cuba libre), and an appetizer (four slices of coldcuts, and cheeses, and shredded carrots and lettuce). There was a band playing in the restaurant - one that Simon Cowl would very quickly shut down - and a couple of dancers. All of this came at the bargain price of over $200/couple. WHAT???? SERIOUSLY!!! This was so bad, that everyone left within an hour. The tour was supposed to start at 9:00 and end at 12:00, but no one was there when we walked past it at 11:00. When we walked out, we went across the courtyard to another restaurant that had a band playing. We ordered two drinks each and an appetizer and the total (including tip) came to $35.00. What a mark-up. If anything, this was an important lesson in NOT BOOKING with the cruiseline for tours in the future. We went for dinner the next night in the same neighborhood and had a lobster dinner and drinks, and the total came to $34.00. (Lobster was $12/plate and drinks were $2.50 ea. (Again, mojitos and cuba libre). Overall a huge disappointment and completely missed all the marks for the amenities that we use while traveling and not what we’ve come to expect from. RCL Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
So we wanted to visit Cuba and thought a cruise would be a stress free way to experience it. While Cuba was great, the cruise part was horrible. The ship had just gotten out of dry dock and was clearly in no way ready to sail with ... Read More
So we wanted to visit Cuba and thought a cruise would be a stress free way to experience it. While Cuba was great, the cruise part was horrible. The ship had just gotten out of dry dock and was clearly in no way ready to sail with passengers. When we first arrived, there were rust stains on our carpet in our state room from the sprinkler, things were dusty, the closet door was off the hinge, our hot water and water pressure didn't work, some drawers didn't open and some did but were old and rickety. There was even an exacto-knife blade left in one of the drawers. Our balcony floor had some sort of grime on it to the point that we didn't even want to step foot out on it. They corrected the stain and water pressure situation. That night however, at about midnight, we began hearing banging and noises that sounded like hammering that went on until 4 in the morning at which time loud moving of table and chairs began. Sure enough, there was a construction crew working in the middle of the night on the pool deck immediately above our cabin. This went on for 3 nights in a row, despite being told it would not happen again. Even when that stopped the 4th night, we would continue to hear the moving of the table and chairs when the cleaning crew began around 4a.m. We go no uninterrupted sleep the entire time! At one point we began to smell very strong sewer stench that went on for two and a half days. There was a maintenance crew working on pipes during that time so clearly there was a problem. We heard from several people that their toilets overflowed and one lady said her hair dryer even caught fire! The entire ship is very dated, with cabinetry in the cabins that don't work, stains on apolstry, musty smells in many areas of the ship, no shade on the pool deck, pool not even filled or working the first two days. The staff did the best they could with a horrible situation and the food was actually quite good. The ship itself was beyond horrible and Royal Caribbean should be ashamed of themselves to send it off in this condition. It absolutely reflects on the quality of this corporation and we will not longer give them our business. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We are seasoned cruisers, are used to the mega ships, but we wanted a little getaway cruise to break up the time, and I’ve been wanting to go to Cuba. In researching, I found that this 6-Night cruise in January, which was the month we ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers, are used to the mega ships, but we wanted a little getaway cruise to break up the time, and I’ve been wanting to go to Cuba. In researching, I found that this 6-Night cruise in January, which was the month we wanted to travel, was an excellent value, so we went with the Owners Suite. After booking, I realized that Empress of the Seas used to be Nordic Empress, which we sailed on in 1997! Now I had become quite skeptical, but kept an open mind. Thankfully, the weather held out for us, because prior to our departure week, there were several itinerary diversions due to weather. It’s been ages since I’ve cruised out of Miami, but it was so smooth and organized. And luckily for us, because there was damage to a pier in Key West, we were informed several weeks earlier that we were now stopping in Havana, replacing Key West. I was absolutely thrilled! What a bonus that was! We have been on several sailings where the tables were turned, and we missed a stop we really wanted, and this just made the cruise that much more special. Upon boarding the ship, I was pleasantly surprised at how clean it was! I couldn’t understand why it has gotten so many terrible reviews, other than some guests may not have ever sailed the smaller ships, and could only compare Empress to the mega ships. The service was exceptional! Everyone in every area was so welcoming towards us. The ship is the oldest and smallest, but it was a breath of fresh air. It was wonderful not waiting in lines for any activity, show, or at a bar. Our suite steward went above and beyond, as did our dinner servers, each and every night. The Owners Suite was wonderful, with a delightfully large balcony overlooking the front of the ship, it was amazing! The suite itself was not huge, but certainly large and spacious enough for two people.The Loyalty Ambassador onboard made sure everything was taken care of, not only for us, but for everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed our three ports of call: Havana, Cienfuegos, and Grand Cayman. We did two shore excursions in the Cuba ports being novices there, but now that we’ve gone, our next cruise to Cuba, we will venture out on our own. It was so easy getting around and conversing with the locals, we have mapped out what we will do next time. Back to the locals, I found them to be so engaging, easy to talk to, and friendly. Havana is such colorful a city, I highly recommend it. Cienfuegos is a bit more primitive, but the tours will take you out to the beautiful countrysides. The shopping there is limited, but I found the little stalls near the ship had the best little remembrances at better prices! In Grand Cayman, we just walked around, shopped, stopped at the Paradise Grill overlooking the water, it was wonderful, and one of the best days just hanging out, relaxing with a beverage, enjoying the scenery. The shows on the ship were okay, we went to more than we usually do, as we aren’t real show goers. We also went on the Bottomless Galley Brunch which was by far, a highlight of the week, and I highly recommend it. This cruise was one of the best trips ever, I can’t stop thinking about it and how much we enjoyed it! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
It is not that the Empress of the Seas is bad, it is decidedly average. We selected Empress for the itinerary (Cozumel, Cienfuegos Cuba and an Overnight in Havana). We were happy with the cruise and would sail on her again if the ... Read More
It is not that the Empress of the Seas is bad, it is decidedly average. We selected Empress for the itinerary (Cozumel, Cienfuegos Cuba and an Overnight in Havana). We were happy with the cruise and would sail on her again if the itinerary and price were right. Overall the ship was in good repair. One thing I really didn't like was that I noticed a small error in the final bill and the guy at guest services went out of his way to be unhelpful in straitening it out. Still not sure it is correct. First, the ship is small as cruise ships go these days. I and my wife prefer that and I would consider that a plus. I wouldn't go trans-Atlantic in a ship this size however, I think it is fine for the Caribbean. You can walk from one end of the ship to the other in a few minutes. It only has 11 decks. This ship has a rock climbing wall and a sprinkle pool for the kiddies however no pool slides, etc. My only real pet peeves with the ship overall is that they don't wash the windows in the main dining room (can't get a nice view out the window)) after embarkation, there are a few elevator buttons that are broken, and some of the doors required extra effort to push. Also, at times the pool (only one pool) can get a little crowded. Most of the time there seemed to be some room in at least one of the 3 hot tubs. They do make you check out and check in pool towels which is an annoyance. They didn't make us do that on Princess and Cunard. Besides lounge chairs there were a few hammocks on deck 11 which was a nice touch. They have a full promenade on deck 6 which was nice. I personally didn't like the type of lounge chair on deck 6 however that is personal preference. FYI, the ship is a direct drive diesel powered twin propeller. They have WiFi internet access for a fee (can be purchased in Cruise planner, price goes up and down so keep a watch). We purchased the basic version for one device used it to get email, surf the web, and WiFi calling on an android phone. Worked fine. Cabins are small. However, we managed. Again we picked the ship because of the Cuba itinerary. FYI, no refrigerator in our cabin. I am not sure anything below a suite has a refrigerator however on our departure I noticed a small refrigerator outside a nearby cabin. FYI, they will bring you ice if you call. We did. Used it to cool off the bottles of wine we brought onboard. At embarkation one of our wine bottles didn't look like a standard wine bottle so it took an extra couple of minutes to explain it really was wine. There is free continental breakfast in the cabin, no comments since we didn't try it. Dinning. There are two free dining areas. The Starlight room for a sit down dinner (my time and the standard 2 sittings) and at sea brunch. The Windjammer buffet. We did My Time and booked dinning times in advance. We never really waited however I did notice that some people who didn't make a reservation had to wait. Dinner in the Starlight room was always good. We sat on Deck 5. Near the entry door. (Deck 4 towards the stern may experience some engine vibration. The food in the MDR ranged from average to very good. I thought everything was a little salty (this is my general complaint about most restaurants at sea and on land). My worst meal was tuna which was overcooked. FYI, for those who have an interest, they had lobster tail on the last night of the 8 day cruise. It could always be ordered for extra money. Service in the MDR was always good. We generally sat in the same area and they got to know what we wanted to drink. FYI, the menu for dinner in the MDR has a fixed part which remained the same for the whole cruise and a part that changed every day. I think they always had a vegetarian dish of the day. The specialty restaurant onboard is Chops which we didn't try. They do not have a sit down breakfast (except there might be something for those in a suite) in the MDR. At sea days they have a brunch which we tried once and didn't like. Therefore, although we prefer sit down breakfasts on sea days we had to do breakfast at the Windjamer. It was OK. They have made to order omelets. The toast was always cold. They have fresh squeezed orange juice (free on the refreshment package) however it always took some doing to get someone to make it for me. FYI, they had smoked salmon for breakfast however I was not thrilled with the quality. They had gravlax as a dinner appetizer once and I thought it much better. Lunch in the Windjammer was OK. Decent selection of hot and cold items. Also they always had a carving station. The Winjammer is open late (till 1:30AM, more of a selection till 12:30AM). There was a decent selection until around midnight. Never went later. FYI, the coffee in the MDR and Windjammer was drinkable. However, there is very little coffee I won't drink. There are a couple of bars onboard and while we never ordered a mixed drink it looked like the bartenders knew what they were doing. We purchased the "Refreshment Package" when it went on sale for $17 per person per day plus tips. For us that made sense as it gave us unlimited soda, specialty coffee (small cafe in the back of Boleros that uses Cafe Bustelo), virgin cocktails, bottled water, etc. Willy and all the staff at the Cafe did a nice job with the expresso based drinks. I really liked the expresso based drinks, especially compared to the coffee they served in the MDR and Windjammer. Entertainment and Activities: There were two main musical groups on board: Bamboleo Band (Latin Music) and Mellow Mood (seemed to have a Jamiacan sound). Really liked both of them, although Bamboleo singer did a better job on latin songs. There was also piano music by Olga at dinner. Cruise Compass was not always accurate where they were playing. We went to two shows in the Royal Theatre: a comdey show with 2 brothers and on the final night a las vegas review. Liked both shows. FYI, if you do night arrive early you will not get a good seat. At night they have movies under the stars on the outdoor movie screen. It was not that well attended however we enjoyed it the couple of times we went. Joana (I think that is her name, she is Argentinian with curly hair) made the musical trivia games alot of fun. Again, not that well attended. Might be because about a quarter of the passengers were part of a special group. I did a behind the scenses tour (extra cost) with Karla. I really enjoyed that. Karla did a very nice job. They should however put in the description that there is no time for bathroom breaks during the tour. The cruise director seemed OK however, I thought the one on Princess was better. In general there was enough to keep busy on sea days and we went ashore on port days. I will put more info in the specific port sections however we liked Cozumel although the shopping is not that good and Tequila is overpriced. Really liked our tour in Cienfuegos. Our first day in Havana we really liked our daytime walking tour. We used the ships tour for the Havana Parisien Cabaret Excursion although it was overpriced we did enjoy it. The second day it rained so it was not as enjoyable, had to stay on the bus in the Colon Cemetery Did Miami before and after on our own. Stayed in Southbeach he night before which we enjoyed. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We love cruising, and DH being a big cigar smoker- Cuba was at the top of our bucket list. Like everyone else, we wanted to go before there was a Starbucks on every corner. We went with 2 other couples- 1 being a real classic car fan. ... Read More
We love cruising, and DH being a big cigar smoker- Cuba was at the top of our bucket list. Like everyone else, we wanted to go before there was a Starbucks on every corner. We went with 2 other couples- 1 being a real classic car fan. Price was certainly right, so we went on Empress on a B2b to see more of Cuba. At first we were disappointed that Santiago was replaced with another Havana stop, but found that 3.5 days was certainly not enough to see everything. After following reviews for several months we had pretty low expectations...the ship, Cuba, tours, etc. Were we wrong! Yes, the ship is old and small. We knew that, and weren't expecting The Edge (our next cruise!). We found it clean, and as we don't use alot of the newer ship stuff anyway. It was full the first week (Thanksgiving), but never once did it seem crowded. Some of these reviews just seem to nitpick every little flaw- look at the entire picture! However, the service and food more than made up for it! I think our cabin steward, Gusti, lived outside our door! He couldn't do enough for us. And our waiter was so good we followed him the second night to another table! He insisted we try everything, and was never wrong. He kept bringing us more appetizers, another main dish, etc, yet we were still one of the first to leave the dining room! We were going to try the specialty restaurant, but the MDR food was so good we cancelled. Cruise director Bobby and the rest of the activities staff also helped make the cruise exceptional. Everyone was very friendly and really seemed to enjoy their jobs. Cuba itself was clean, but poor, as was expected. Our lunches at Paladars were exceptional and such fun (and cheap!). The people were very friendly and helpful. The experience was like something 100 years ago! It truly was experiencing a different culture, which we don't see enough of in our travels. Architecture was beautiful, and restoration efforts for their 500th anniversary next year were amazing. We took 3 private tours with 2 different operators- FerTours and Cuba Connections. I will go into more details on reviews of each later. Cuba Connections would be my recommendation. Most memorable moments in Havana (so many to choose from!)- Rum Museum- do the cocktail tour. Regular tour is 7 cuc, but for 15cuc includes a stint behind the bar learning to make drinks (and drinking them!). Feeling no pain, joined in with the band on the maracas. Had a fantastic tour of Hotel Nacionale and got tickets for the Cabaret Parisienne that night. Show was very good, and paid 35cuc rather than over $100 through the ship. Got great seats down front, Also went to the Jewish synagogue, which was a surprise. Very modern and beautiful. Again, they made us feel very welcome. From Cienfuegos also went to Trinidad. Don't do it! Too long of a drive for not much! During a full day in Havana went to Pindar del Rio- Vinales- to the tobacco plantations. Fantastic! That truly was a journey back in time. Spent 2 hours on a highway 1 lane each way, often behind horse-drawn carts. At the plantation went into a barn to learn about the cigars, then went for a smoke. I even had a Montecristo! Government takes 90% of the tobacco, but the farmers can keep/sell the other 10%. Got Montecristos for 3cuc each! Ended up with 7 boxes of different cuban cigars! During a RCI sale we booked 2 ship excursions, which we normally don't do. Even these exceeded my expectations. In Cozumel did the swim with dolphins- fantastic time, fantastic value! Included the swim (much longer and more intimate than I thought), beautiful grounds at Chokobban, and a great open bar & buffet ($70pp!). The snorkel in Georgetown was one of the best! Bit of a drizzle in the morning, but by the time we got to the protected reef the sun was shining. 20 of us on a boat that held 80 was perfect, the rum punch at $3 (mostly rum) was great, the depth was perfect (not too shallow and not too deep) and the guides were great, always feeding the fish. All in all, the perfect trip (if we ignore the horrible American airlines flight back home)! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Recently back from 8 nights best of CUBA.Never again with Royal Caribbean .We originally were to have 2 days in Cuba Ten days before we went we got an email stating we were not going to Santiago Cuba as there was something wrong with the ... Read More
Recently back from 8 nights best of CUBA.Never again with Royal Caribbean .We originally were to have 2 days in Cuba Ten days before we went we got an email stating we were not going to Santiago Cuba as there was something wrong with the port. Now we only had one day in Cuba.. .We still went as it was to late to change flights as we had transatlantic flights.The ship was to dock at 2 pm the day we were to be in Havana Cuba. We arrived at 3 pm .On arriving in Havana we were stopped getting of the ship by the crew as they wanted to accommodate the people that had booked day tours to leave the ship first.We eventually got of the ship at 5 35 We had a night excursion booked with the ship for the evening time, so we saw one hour of Cuba in daylight after paying 75 dollars each to get of the ship to enter Cuba.You must have this visa for Cuba if you want to leave the ship. . We also bought Cuban money which was advised by the ship. We could not spend this money as everywhere was closed by the time we got of the ship..You can not get Cuban money changed back to dollars nor can you take Cuban money out of the country.My advice to whoever is doing this trip book your own trips before you go or just walk of the ship as people are waiting there to do exactly the same trips that royal Caribbean are charging an arm and a leg for.We felt on this particular trip with Royal Caribbean we were really ripped off. We have cruised on numerous occasions with this company and had no problems whatsoever. This ship is extremely small and has no wow factor whatsoever..However the good things on this ship .Cabin crew excellent,main dining hall excellent.Windjammer although food was good queuing was an issue for me. There is lots of activities on board this ship if you want to do them. Me personally on sea days just love to chill on deck..No problem with sun loungers.Pool service and bar service very good. Shore excursions from this ship was not good for me. No problem disembarking from ship only in Cuba.Entertainment on this ship was just OK for me. May be if you are a first time cruiser you will find entertainment great.I have been on the bigger ships and there is no comparison.I did enjoy some of the entertainers.Some of the musicians are very good. I felt we did not get value for our money on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We chose this eight night cruise specifically because it had two stops in Cuba. A couple weeks before we set sail they changd the itinerary and removed one of the stops in Cuba and replaced it with Key West. Although disappointed, we were ... Read More
We chose this eight night cruise specifically because it had two stops in Cuba. A couple weeks before we set sail they changd the itinerary and removed one of the stops in Cuba and replaced it with Key West. Although disappointed, we were still determined to have a great trip and time in Cuba. In the end, we came to port in Cuba at 3 PM and could not get through customs and off the ship until 5 PM. Within 45 minutes the sun set and we never got to visit Havana, Cuba in the daylight. Our entire time spent in Cuba all of the stores were closed and it was darkness. The ship left at 5 AM the next morning. Ultimately we had a few hours in Cuba in the darkness. This does not constitute a “Best of Cuba” experience to me. I have written to the cruise line twice and have receive the same form letter email response each time and they have not addressed my concerns. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
I have cruised with RCCL at least 4 times over the years, on various sized ships, to include the Oasis of the Seas. This past week, we took a short 4D/3N cruise out of Miami, which originally was supposed to go to Bimini (RCCL changed ... Read More
I have cruised with RCCL at least 4 times over the years, on various sized ships, to include the Oasis of the Seas. This past week, we took a short 4D/3N cruise out of Miami, which originally was supposed to go to Bimini (RCCL changed that destination to CocoCay). We arrive to the port terminal, one of their representatives ("German") totally rude, sent us back outside (stated that our standard luggage was too large to go up the escalator), but then allowed the male passenger behind us, to take his larger suitcase thru. So then we are waiting in line in the terminal, the ship and computers in the terminal lose power. Hundreds of passengers were stuck in the terminal, everyone is starting to get hungry, as it's lunch time; in no time, all of the snacks & drinks from the vending machines were depleted. The crew walked in with 7-8 pizzas (it was not for the passengers), after 90 minutes of waiting in line, they brought out a couple 24-bottle packs of water and a tray of cookies. 3-4 hours later, we finally get onboard, but the ship is delayed in leaving Miami by approximately 3 hours, which delays our arrival in Nassau the next morning. Guest services assured all the customers that there would be some sort of compensation (onboard credit, etc.) - but when I called the RCCL to complain of the incident; the lady told me that the "executive leadership has decided NOT to offer any compensation for the incident", and all she could do was apologize. Well, the executive leadership is going to lose a lot of customers, because people save to take vacations, and there are many different cruise lines out there who actually DO appreciate their customers, so maybe they will take notice when folks take their business elsewhere. The food onboard was mediocre, with the exception of Chops Grille (which I paid extra for). They also charge for room service now (to have it delivered), and nickel & dime everything they can. Every morning we ordered french toast, and every morning we had to send it back because it wasn't fully cooked (to the extent that the kitchen staff sent us 4 chocolate covered strawberries on the 3rd day of our cruise, because the chef's couldn't seem to cook the french toast right). In the main diningroom, the items that were good (bread, orange juice, NY Strip steak, baked potato, fresh fruit, and the jumbo shrimp). The marsala chicken was dry (and didn't taste like Marsala at all), the keylime pie - didn't taste like keylime. Excursions were great, except they should be a little longer for the amount of $$ you spend for them (they charge around $100/pp to go to the beach for the day - if you're going to do that, you may as well spend an additional $20-$40 to do an animal encounter, which includes going to the blue lagoon beach in Nassau). CocoCay was far from being a relaxing environment (they are building a pier for ships to dock at, as well as building a big waterpark so they can probably charge extra for that as well). There was the constant noise of golf carts and 4-wheelers (side by side) driving by, the beach BBQ left much to be desired. The beach area is nice and spacious, and it was good that the photographers were out walking around to get pictures of guests. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We chose this cruise mainly to visit Cuba. We have cruised on many ships with many companies in the past. On this occasion our focus was Cuba and not the ship. We chose the Empress of the seas as it fitted the dates we wished to travel. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly to visit Cuba. We have cruised on many ships with many companies in the past. On this occasion our focus was Cuba and not the ship. We chose the Empress of the seas as it fitted the dates we wished to travel. We are UK residents and were unsure of the visa policy. I contacted Royal Caribbean and basically if you travel from an American port you are treated as an American person visiting Cuba in relation to the visa application. Royal Caribbean kindly sort this out for $75 per person. We boarded the Empress and were pleasantly surprised. Although the ship is older and smaller than some other cruise ships it is in immaculate condition and all members of staff were fantastic. The pool bar is large and we never had to wait to get served. The food at the restaurant and buffet were as per usual standard for Royal Caribbean, very good. We didn't visit chops grill. The ship is not crowded and we spent our time on board just enjoying the peace, the pool and the view. There are bacon and suite rooms but inside or ocean view rooms. We chose an inside room which was great. Very clean and maintained well. Myself, wife and son had lots of laughs and enjoyed the special time we had together. We visited Costa Maya and paid for the water park. $50 for entry and an extra $48 if you want to do the zipwires. We loved this water park. Very different to other ones we have visited but just as much fun. It did help that there was hardly anyone there no queues whatsoever and the staff were very friendly. We have visited Cozumel before and just spent the day walking and having food at a great little restaurant on the front near to the submarine tour office. Also key West which I didn't mention was fantastic. We have been here a few times before. We love Key West. So to the main event Cuba. We booked a private company fertours. The company is run by Fernando and he has many guides and drivers. We arrived in Havana at 1pm. Straight through customs passport stamped for entry for 30 days if required. Zulia our guide took us to all the squares in Havana followed by an open top tour in 1952 Chevy. Later that evening we toured round in a 1952 Chevy Bellaire hardtop with Zulia and driver Joseph. The 9 o clock cannon shot was great and we ended up at the Buena Vista social club. Awe drinks lots of great Cuban music and dancing. The following day we toured further afield to the home of Ernest Hemingway. Lunch at a fabulous Cuban restaurant. We also visited the home of Cuban artist José Foster. This is a must see as he has turned his entire neighbourhood into a beautiful art installation. Back to the ship and return to Miami. Cuba was amazing and I cannot wait to go again. The Empress of the seas also gets top marks. As long as you don't expect loads of restaurants and watermarks like some of the larger ships this is a beautiful ship. All round fantastic cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Getting on the ship was smooth the food was great in the dining room and in their chops steakhouse. The food was basically what we look forward to every night. The shows weren’t that great and didn’t really interest us and we are big ... Read More
Getting on the ship was smooth the food was great in the dining room and in their chops steakhouse. The food was basically what we look forward to every night. The shows weren’t that great and didn’t really interest us and we are big show goers. The movie nights that they gave either in the theatre or pool deck was great because the shows and movies they had on TV were lacking. The pools was the size of 4 state rooms put together !!!! For 1200 guest. It looked like sardines packs up in the pool and around the pool because there wasn’t enough room for everyone to go in at once. It honestly looked like a cesspool waitkng to give you an infection due to all the bodies in it at once. Stayed away from the pool. Key west was amazing, Cuba was rich in culture and history but the check in process was ridiculous going through customs just to get into Cuba we were on line for two hours just to get through immigration and customs. The ship was very old and needs to be retired, the drink packages or overly expensive and not to mention my room sucked.The lack of privacy me and my husband had in our room during royal caribbean cruise was so uncomfortable. royal caribbeans Response was we decline your compensation and give them another chance. Check out the photo attached of the “low traffic staircase that only maintenance uses”. we were told that when booking the room it was shown with a symbol that this room had an obstructed view. A stair case with high traffic was not an obstruction that’s a privacy issue and a symbol upon booking telling me about and obstruction does not give a proper warning that while my window shade is open people can look in my room while I try to relax or sit on the stairs and watch us. That was a complete lie, we counted almost 50 people, couples, children including a lady that sat on the stairs and proceeded to look in our room !!!!but not ONE staff or “Maintenance” person. A pole, beam, or the deck that’s between the window and our ocean view is an obstruction not a damn staircase. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
The opportunity to visit Cuba was very attractive to me, and having cruised with RC in the past I thought this would be an amazing trip. I was half right. Visiting Havana was a dream come true in many ways. The service provided by Royal ... Read More
The opportunity to visit Cuba was very attractive to me, and having cruised with RC in the past I thought this would be an amazing trip. I was half right. Visiting Havana was a dream come true in many ways. The service provided by Royal Caribbean was a nightmare in many ways. From lost luggage to bad food to inaccurate tour descriptions to a poorly maintained ship and an utterly unapologetic (to the point of rudeness) service staff, they cruise line did everything possible to try to ruin my and my family’s vacation. I get it that Empress is an older and smaller ship with fewer amenities. But to me that means the service has to be that much better. Instead I found myself surrounded by churlish and impatient staff, some of whom openly admitted they hoped to not have to work on that ship much longer and get “promoted”to a bigger ship. In Havana our first tour was good, if not exactly as described. The second tour we took though was a complete rip off that barely touched on the original itinerary we were sold on and ran twice as long as it was supposed to with detours to inappropriate “cultural” attractions where we got high pressure sales pitches to buy art and to make donations to performers we never asked to see. Furthermore, the tour took us to many of the same attractions we had seen the day before even though they were not listed on the itinerary. And this was the most expensive tour they offered. If you go choose ANY other cruise line (they couldn’t be worse than this one) and be very cautious about what shore excursions you buy. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I specifically chose this cruise because of access to Havana Cuba. I have taken a few Royal Caribbean Cruises, and trust the brand. I knew the Empress of the Seas was an older ship, aging well. The cruise had ports of call of Key West ... Read More
I specifically chose this cruise because of access to Havana Cuba. I have taken a few Royal Caribbean Cruises, and trust the brand. I knew the Empress of the Seas was an older ship, aging well. The cruise had ports of call of Key West and Havana. I would recommend the cruise, however, search for a good deal, and definitely purchase the Booze Package. Its SUPER EXPENSIVE - however, the prices on board, are "New York City" or Stadium type pricing. Two beers, $18! Insane! Staff was fun, food was adequate. Be prepared for Havana. Its the capital of a country ruined and abused by bad politics. The people were nice, and its pretty safe! Not very clean, which was expected. A great experience. Recommend to purchase cigars and Rum at well known places only. Avoid the street vendors. Also recommend hiring one of the old 50's convertibles for a few hours. Negotiate with them! Remember CUC's are Monuments - avoid the Faces on the currency. Similar exchange rate as Euro's (87 CUC's per 100 USD). Havana can be an absolutely wonderful place when private smart business people make investments...! The Cuban people are very proud of their heritage and artistic ways. Highly recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Nice and small boat, superb itinerary, Habana and Nassau were great. Good service, small distances to walk, a little bit crowded restaurants. We misses the Royal Promenade to meet and walk at night. Enough elevators and stairs throught the ... Read More
Nice and small boat, superb itinerary, Habana and Nassau were great. Good service, small distances to walk, a little bit crowded restaurants. We misses the Royal Promenade to meet and walk at night. Enough elevators and stairs throught the ship. Miami offers a lo of entertaintment so you can arribe before the day of departure to enjoy the night life. Embarcation process was good, received an special service for our gold status with Royal Caribbean. Pool was crowded is not Enough for all the psssengers. Music was very loud at some momentos. Awesome animation team, very cheerful and enthusiastic.At night they make a big diferencie at the Pool parties. Exercises clases were good at mornings. We decided to do our own activities at porta and were awesome. You can save a lo of money and have great experiences at your own pace. Food can be better compared to other other Royal Caribbean ships, disembarcation was terrible. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We flew into Ft. Lauderdale the night before departure and arrived about 2am. Embarkation was at 11am that same day. I required handicap access and the port employees in Miami were right on it. They whisked me right through check in. ... Read More
We flew into Ft. Lauderdale the night before departure and arrived about 2am. Embarkation was at 11am that same day. I required handicap access and the port employees in Miami were right on it. They whisked me right through check in. The ship itself was small. It had recently been renovated but only had one pool for 1800 guests. We only had 1 sea day but still. I'm used to a Solarium where I can be away from the children or the ones who get overly "drunk" and loud. I enjoy my relaxation and there was none. Entertainment was okay. The comedian was hysterical. Service was excellent. Food was excellent. Ports were great. Loved Nassau, Atlantis! and Cuba. That's why we need a small ship so we can get into Cuba's small port. Our room? Horrid. The smallest cabin we ever had. My husband went and got the square footage of all "rooms" for our future bookings. We couldn't even maneuver around each other. We booked this cruise on the spur of the moment so an inside cabin was fine. Well, it wasn't. And it hadn't been renovated. The decor was old and tired. I didn't get my monies worth. However, I would go again. On Royal Caribbean, on a different ship to different ports. If I was going to Cuba again, I'd get a bigger room and get to the poolside earlier with my iPod. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Empress of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 3.0 N/A
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness & Recreation 2.5 N/A
Family 2.0 3.4
Shore Excursions 4.5 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 4.5 4.3
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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