133 Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas Senior 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
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
11/15/2019 Embarkation went smoothly. Everyone on the staff of the Empress was always friendly and helpful. The ship is of the smaller variety which we find to be better for our needs. Everything is always close by. Very relaxed ... Read More
11/15/2019 Embarkation went smoothly. Everyone on the staff of the Empress was always friendly and helpful. The ship is of the smaller variety which we find to be better for our needs. Everything is always close by. Very relaxed feeling aboard. Service by staff was outstanding. Our stateroom was adequate. It had a nice size TV with a sleep timer. You did not have a TV guide list of what was being shown. It was the luck of the draw trying to find a movie. There were news Channels to keep you informed, children’s’s shows for the kids and shopping channels. The beds were a little hard so they added some padding for us to make it more comfortable. Our cabin lacked a refrigerator. First time we ever had that happen. They supplied an ice bucket upon request but no tongs to lift the ice. Finally obtained some tongs thru a housekeeping request. The tongs were huge and the ice bucket was small. Our cabin steward kept our room neat. We hardly ever saw her. The life boat drill was held in an area where you had to stand. Since we are unable to stand for more than 5 minutes we asked if there was some place else we could go to sit and we were directed to the Royal Theater in the balcony. It seemed strange that the main level of the theater was completely empty. They could have saved many of the cruisers from standing by using those seats. The food on board was excellent. Our favorites in the dining room was the beef tenderloin. It was so tender you hardly needed to chew it. Wonderful flavor. Next best was the coconut shrimp and the crab cake appetizer. Lobster night was a real treat. All the lobster tails you could eat. French onion soup was excellent. The shrimp cocktail was chilled to perfection. In the buffet each night we were greeted by Jess, the washy, washy host. He was everyone’s favorite. Wonderful personality and so helpful getting everyone to clean their hands so they would not contaminate the buffet. Our favorites were the hot dogs reminiscent of Costco’s hot dogs. The London beef pie was excellent. The chocolate chip cookies were the best ever. Our waitress in the dining room was excellent. She was from India and her name was Minakshi. She remembered everyone’s name and welcomed us each night asking us about our day. She went out of her way to please us. We had asked about the blueberry muffins that were on the room service menu that never appeared when we ordered them. She went to the cook and found out they were only prepared on a certain day and had the chef send us a big plate filled with blueberry muffins to our stateroom the next day. They tasted great. It was a pleasure to see Mina every night welcoming us with her warm smile and her wonderful personality. The trivia games were great and held often. Their staff made the games even more fun including Andy, Kacy, Michael and Bonita. The prizes were repetitive, a pen, a key chain or a high lighter. Rarely given was a cap. Everyone was up for the challenge of winning. A tee shirt or an RCL lanyard would be our suggestion for a prize to help advertise RCL. The Quest game was a lot of fun led by Elvis, the Cruise Director. We had a Meet and Mingle Party on the first sea day led by Orlando. Only a few officers attended. They had a table of refreshments. We had 41 cruisers who registered for the party. It was a nice way to meet everyone. Following the party about 20 Cruisers on our roll call went to the casino for a Slot Pull. Shawn, Casino host, was very helpful in setting up the Slot Pull. We all had fun. Free drinks for all who participated as well as a gift bag for the 4 top winners which included a Royal Casino tee shirt, a room key holder and some free slot coins. The shows were okay. Nothing spectacular. There were movies on the big screen by the pool as well as in the theatre. Our favorite was Strange but True. It was a movie from 2019 that we never heard of but it was excellent. One problem we had on the ship was that my husband developed a cough which seemed to be related to the pillows in the cabin. Evidently they were not hyper allergenic pillows. When we asked for a replacement pillow that might help they said they only had the one type of pillow. I tried rolling up a blanket and covering it with a fresh pillow case but it seemed to help a little but not enough. We found that if we went on the pool deck under the stars he was able to stop coughing. As soon as we went back to the cabin his cough would return. We tried taking Benadryl which seemed to help a little. But whatever it was causing the cough is still in our cabin. He was fine everywhere else on the ship. Really surprised they only had one type of pillow. On our last night on the cruise an announcement was made but only heard it in Spanish. There was no English translation in the main dining room. It was relayed to us later in the theater that a cruiser was taken ill and we were heading back to Key West to take him to a hospital for treatment. We thought that was very thoughtful of the Captain to do this to help save the passenger’s life. Debarking was a mess because we arrived late in Miami due to stopping off in Key West to drop off the cruiser who was in critical condition. We thought they would go full speed ahead to make up for the time loss but I guess it would cost too much to go full speed. We were told that we had to be out of our cabins by 8:30AM so the stewards could make up the cabins but since we did not arrive in Miami until 9 AM Deck 5 was a mob scene with not enough room for all the people waiting with their luggage to walk off. I never realized so many people did walk off. The line went from one end of the ship and wrapped around into the photo gallery. We were waiting for wheelchair assistance and it seemed like they were very short on pushers and we did not get off the ship till around 11AM. Then there were not enough porters to get the luggage. The only thing that went right was the Lyft driver who arrived in 5 minutes. It was a great cruise except for debarkation. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
It was our first cruise experience. We were a little disappointed with the food. The food from Windjammer Cafe was okay and sometimes it's salty. Although it claimed to be a different theme for each night, I found the variety of food ... Read More
It was our first cruise experience. We were a little disappointed with the food. The food from Windjammer Cafe was okay and sometimes it's salty. Although it claimed to be a different theme for each night, I found the variety of food didn't change much. We also tried the starlight dining room and chop grill restaurant. The foods were nicer there. My 5-year-old daughter enjoyed the kids club very much. The teacher invited her to join ball games but she preferred to do quiet activities. The teacher gave her lots of coloring pages and she loved doing it very much. I do not have much to say about the entertainment and activities. We only spent 30 min at the theatre during our stay because our younger daughter was only two and she was too young for the kids club. It was a hilarious talk show and we enjoyed it very much during the 30 minutes. Our best memory on the ship was the "washy washy" guy at the front door in Windjammer Cafe. He was the landmark on this ship. He welcomed everyone entering the cafe. He entertained us and we laughed so hard with his famous phrase "Go washy washy, no sicky sicky. Get foodie foodie and make your tummy happy happy." I think everyone on the ship loved him. The service was the best ever. The crewmembers greeted us and provided lots of information about the events on the ship. Overall, we enjoyed staying here very much Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this ship as it was a very economical choice. We sailed two back to back cruises. The cabin had plenty of storage space for our belongings even though it was small. A bit of a struggle to get into bed at nights but doable. The ... Read More
We chose this ship as it was a very economical choice. We sailed two back to back cruises. The cabin had plenty of storage space for our belongings even though it was small. A bit of a struggle to get into bed at nights but doable. The food was fine, much better than stated in many reviews. We enjoyed sharing a table every night during My Time dining. We never waited more than a few minutes to be seated. We found the hot tubs and pool easy to access. The ship was very clean. We found the entertainment mediocre with the exception of a juggler who was an excellent comedian also. We found the "washee washee" employee in the Windjammer very irritating. I think adults know enough to have clean hands without being greeted every time with him. The staff was excellent - very friendly and efficien. We won a bottle of champagne on the first cruise. Our room attendant found a champagne bucket and kept it filled with ice until we finished it. We found the music (too much reggae) much too loud at the pool so we escaped to the sixth floor to sit outside in a quiet area. If you were a musician you would know what I mean by boring 2-chord "music." Overall the cruises were a very pleasant experience. Read Less
Sail Date November 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
We just got off this excellent ship after a six day cruise. Both my husband and I have physical limitations, he used a scooter the entire time, and I used a cane. This was the first cruise I can remember where when you went to get on the ... Read More
We just got off this excellent ship after a six day cruise. Both my husband and I have physical limitations, he used a scooter the entire time, and I used a cane. This was the first cruise I can remember where when you went to get on the elevators, people held the door for you, stepped off to let you on, and helped you in ever way they could. No pushing and rushing in front of you to get on! A much different attitude. In the Windjammer, people were polite, and the crew always tried to help you in carrying your food to your table, and then even once you were seated they came over to see it they could go and get you anything. I can't remember a nicer, caring crew. When I spoke to one of the supervisors about the attitude, he told me that because it is a small ship, the crew is like family and like working together. You could tell! Yes, the cabins are small and do not have a lot of storage. Lacked a refrigerator,but would supply ice if you asked. There were a lot of hangers in the cabinet, but wished there were more drawers, also the handles to open the drawers were on the bottom, so in order to open the bottom drawer, the handle was on the floor. The bed was very hard, and was a problem after a couple of days. The bathroom was small, and the shower was the smallest ever, but the shower curtain was heaver so it did not stick to you. The entertainment was good, a nice variety with two comics, a magician, and one night of a variety show of dancers and singers. i did like that Royal Caribbean on this ship did not hound you to buy things. In fact there was never any announcement of BINGO, the only thing was a listing in the activity paper, also there are NO Art auctions! We cant wait to go back on this ship, and would book the same cabin, we were on the 4th floor, right at the elevators, but did not hear much noise. Also the only time I smelled anything smelly, was when we had to go out on deck six for the life boat drill. and then there was a sewerage smell. Read Less
Sail Date August 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
This was our 46th cruise and we are Diamond members. Allow me to begin this revie with The pros: The service was the best of any cruise ship we have ever been on. The staff was eager to please. The production shows were terrific. ... Read More
This was our 46th cruise and we are Diamond members. Allow me to begin this revie with The pros: The service was the best of any cruise ship we have ever been on. The staff was eager to please. The production shows were terrific. Very professionally done and entertaining. The ship was in good shape considering the fact that it is almost 30 years old. The cons: There was a sewerage smell the entire five days on the ship. The food in the buffet was just plain BAD. Same food every day, very limited selection and it was not tasty. Food in the main dining room was just OK. Our outside cabin was more like a closet. When getting off the bed, we had to walk sideways. No ref ridge in cabin. Very little drawer space. We found the drinks in the Schooner bar to be watered down. Much better drinks when ordered in main dining room. Our waiter Milton and Head waiter Nick were excellent. the embarkation and debarkation was very fast and orderly. The embargo on Cuba began while we were docked in Havana. We left the following day and learned that we were the last ship to leave Cuba. The country itself was run down as the communist government owned everything. We learned that they pay Medical Doctors $53 per week so most of them have to hold additional part time jobs. Our tour guide was an engineer with a Doctorate degree but claimed she made more money as a tour guide because of the tips. I would normally rate this ship as 3 stars, but because of the smell, I cannot rate it better than 2 stars Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Chance to visit Cuba and feel safe about it. We just took the 5 night cruise to Cuba on the Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas. I had read many of the reviews from past passengers and had a view of an old run down ship. This was our 20th ... Read More
Chance to visit Cuba and feel safe about it. We just took the 5 night cruise to Cuba on the Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas. I had read many of the reviews from past passengers and had a view of an old run down ship. This was our 20th cruise but the 1st with Royal Caribbean and based on the reviews was not expecting much. This ship is old and small but really a nice ship. It is well maintained and good looking inside and out. The staff was wonderful and some of the friendliest of any ship we have been on. Our room steward Ike was the best we have ever had. The food and selection in the dining room was very good and some of the best compared to other shops we have sailed. Our waiter Leonard was fantastic. The buffet for breakfast was typical and good. But, the buffet for lunch was the disappointment when it came to food. Selection was small and mediocre to bad. On other ships we have been on, they have a grill for burgers and hot dogs that are quite good. This ship just served them from pans on the buffet and were not good. Other reviews made it sound like the seating in the buffet was tight and hard to find a seat. We did not encounter this. Activities were the usual trivia and games that were handled well. Shows were good. Especially the Lionel Richie cover singer Derik Floyd. Casino was small but not crowded. Several tables and a good variety of slots. Cocktails and drinks on the ship seemed more expensive than other shops we have been on. $8 for a beer plus tax and gratuity made it almost $10. Frozen drinks were typically $15. Maybe all cruise lines are like this now but 9 months earlier we paid about 6 for a beer and $10 for a frozen drink. We visited Cienfuegos and took a tour with Royal that was a typical excursion. Visited a fort, had lunch in a beautiful newer hotel, visited the city center square with several historic buildings. Not sure what we expected but reminded of somewhere in Mexico like Mazatlan. In Havana we did another Royal excursion. Again, not sure what I expected but the tour was fine but Havana reminded us of a post war war zone. The buildings are in total disrepair and look abandoned but yet people live in these buildings. Lines of people at bus stops. Lines to get into the grocery stores. Very sad and sorrowful. All in all, we really enjoyed our cruise and learned about Cuba. Encourage others to go. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Went on this cruise for several reasons, first cruise,never been to Key West and Cuba and travel with friends. For some reason Key West was changed to Grand Cayman, not happy. Once onboard the staff at every step of cruise did all they ... Read More
Went on this cruise for several reasons, first cruise,never been to Key West and Cuba and travel with friends. For some reason Key West was changed to Grand Cayman, not happy. Once onboard the staff at every step of cruise did all they could to make you feel comfortable. They were knowledgeable and helpful. The ship is old and showed it's age. There was constant maintenance being done such as painting,replacing windows and repairing plumbing issues in bathrooms. By the way bathrooms were smelling like urine. The ice cream machines were constantly breaking down and some became inoperable. The pool did not open until the second day and the whirlpool after first day did not open any more. The entertainment was good to great as it was diversified. Something for everyone. The positive side of sailing on a small ship was the opportunity to meet new folks. Will cruise again but definitely not on Empress of The Seas. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The ship was okay, but you already know it's their oldest and smallest. Entertainment was mediocre when it came to stage shows, but the magician, comedian and Stephanie Parks were all great. If you have cruised mega ships, this ... Read More
The ship was okay, but you already know it's their oldest and smallest. Entertainment was mediocre when it came to stage shows, but the magician, comedian and Stephanie Parks were all great. If you have cruised mega ships, this will be a real come down, but it's "okay". And just "okay". Lower your expectations, focus on Cuba and you'll be fine. Coco Cay was good fun, but Atlantis was disappointing. Food was average at all locations, not terrible but nothing to write home about. Stevo our attendant was great and the staff was uniformly pleasant, it's just a smaller older boat. Passport control in Cuba was strange. They photographed checked everyone on day one, but on day two the booths were empty and everyone walked in unchecked. Same with customs going out. No one asked (until you got to the US) what you brought back from there. Havana CLub bar is a lot of fun and close to the ship. The old car tour with Alex was also awesome. 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 chose this cruise because we wanted to visit Cuba. All other ports were not as important to us. Empress of the seas is a small enough ship to dock in Havana. In Cienfuegos we tendered in. The ship may be old in years but you could ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to visit Cuba. All other ports were not as important to us. Empress of the seas is a small enough ship to dock in Havana. In Cienfuegos we tendered in. The ship may be old in years but you could not tell from it’s condition. All common areas looked to be in very good or excellent shape. My cabin had an ocean view on deck 8. The cabin was small and had no other furniture except for a chair in front of a mirror and a small desk. The walls of the cabin had no art work or pictures. There was an excellent flat screen tv. Where the room loses lots of points is the bathroom. It is very tiny. Can hold one person only. Not much space in shower. However, we made do. Breakfast and lunch are always a buffet. Food is okay. Dinner in the dining room was pretty good. Plenty of choices. Plates at the buffet could have been collected sooner. Service at dinner was excellent but wine brought to the table could have been delivered in a more timely manner. Entertainment at night was very good to excellent. We really enjoyed every show. In Havana we arranged a private tour which was a lot less costly and offered more than the ships tours. After a full day of touring which included a ride in a 1950s era Dodge convertible, the tour guide returned us to the ship and came back at night to take us to a show that we bought tickets for. Royal Caribbean charged triple for the same show. In Cienfuegos we took a ship excursion to Trinidad which we enjoyed. All in all we enjoyed our experience in Cuba. The Cayman Islands and Labadee in Haiti were our other 2 visits. Disembarkation could have been handled more smoothly. The ship had us gather way to early to leave the ship. (I was leaving with my luggage.). Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Over-all rating 10: Ports of call, small number of guests 1400, quality of service, food, activities..it all was great Areas of Improvement: Beverages: Pre-paid adult beverage pkg: $45/day must include both adults so $90/day/6 days. ... Read More
Over-all rating 10: Ports of call, small number of guests 1400, quality of service, food, activities..it all was great Areas of Improvement: Beverages: Pre-paid adult beverage pkg: $45/day must include both adults so $90/day/6 days. My fiance does not drink and the alternative offered of the regular beverage pks did not interest her. Essentially, we were off the ship boarding/departure/tours about two days so could not use pkg. Suggest a daily package even if a bit more for one. Phone service: Not on hold long, Unfortunately, all week long we could not hear what the other person was saying so it was of little use to us. Check-in/check-out: seems they might have more agents on duty, long lines. Handicap Rooms: not enough with balconies Service: Outstanding in all areas but a few of the staff did not know location questions when asked and had trouble with English We are handicapped so we could not participate in all activities. We did, however, find other things to do and the trip over-all was fantastic. Highly Recommand. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
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
Chose this cruise because it had two ports of call in Cuba. Called We never saw cuba in the daylight. The first port of call was cancelled and the second was Havana. The ship arrive late and left at 5am. It was dark when we got off the ... Read More
Chose this cruise because it had two ports of call in Cuba. Called We never saw cuba in the daylight. The first port of call was cancelled and the second was Havana. The ship arrive late and left at 5am. It was dark when we got off the ship and dark when we left. RC will do nothing to compensate us. RC knew the first port was closed 3 weeks before departure and never notified the passengers nor their travel agencies. No cooler in the rooms No TV, missed all of the national elections No telephone messaging services Visited Key West-a waist of time for the purpose of the trip. Very old boat they have recommissioned and needs a lot of upgrades. Considerable amount of rust and over paint. Home office management not helpful nor caring. On the positive side the entertainment was the best. Food was great. Staff was very hospitable and responsive. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We wanted to see Cuba while we still could.We had a very good embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly and was well organized. The ship is smaller and we liked it. The ship is older and is probally updated the most it can be for her ... Read More
We wanted to see Cuba while we still could.We had a very good embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly and was well organized. The ship is smaller and we liked it. The ship is older and is probally updated the most it can be for her size. Our cabin was clean and what we expected for the price we paid we were not disappointed. We were on deck 3. We usually are on an upper deck. We understand that the ship was filled to capacity however we never felt crowded. The dining was very good actually better then most of the bigger ships. The food in the dining room was very good and the service was excellent. It was fast and our server Inyoman was very attentive. The food in the windjammer was good the breakfast bar however could try to remember the first in first out rule when serving potato's and some items that can get dry if left to long. kudos to the windjammer food prep for the variety of veggies and the great ribs. And the menu changed most nights. I thought it was very good. Also the late night dining was open and we never had a time when food wasn't available. They opened the dinning at 10:30 PM and it was open until late with quite a few choices to keep one satisfied. The vegas show was good and the comedy show was very good. Shore excursions through the ship in cuba were expensive. So i would recommend booking on your own online and paying in person DO NOT DEPOSIT. We booked at home the old cars tour. It was great we saw a lot of the area although the driver spoke very little english it allowed us to see cuba Havana and know where we wanted to go the next day. WE had drinks in Cuba and they were inexpensive and very good in a local cafe. Mojitos. Of course Mexico is fun in cozumel and the excursions are well planned and both on the ship and at the pier you can find good deals and because cozumel has been providing these excursions for a long time you will get an organized and well planned excursion sometimes repetition has its value. All of the things we did were well worth the money we paid for them. We have been there several times. It is safe in cozumel. Yes i would take this cruise again. Hope i helped you all Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was my first cruise with Royal Caribbean. I really wanted to check out Cuba in a ‘group’ environment. And this cruise which overnights in Cuba and offers night shore excursions was my best bet. The Cuban people were warm and ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Royal Caribbean. I really wanted to check out Cuba in a ‘group’ environment. And this cruise which overnights in Cuba and offers night shore excursions was my best bet. The Cuban people were warm and welcoming and I felt safe even walking back to the ship past midnight. The day time shore excursions i chose were 4 to 5 hours but were too short as we didn’t stay at each location more than 15 mns. I traveled in July and it was hot too hot for some of those shore excursions especially the walking tour. So consider that when booking. I’d definitely do Cuba again but 2 days is not enough. The local guides were extremely knowledgeable their accents might be an issue for some but not for me. They were also very frank about their daily lives and answered our questions honestly. The amenities were in line with a ship of this size. Not as many onboard activities as the larger vessels. It may be an older ship but i saw no wear and tare. The Cabin was quite small but we aren't meant to spend much time in them, are we? We had breakfast at the windjammer café the fresh omelet station was wonderful. I never lunched there but the late night buffet we just enough for those late night cravings! The spa was relaxing and the masseuse was knowledgeable. We dinned in the dinning room each night the food was so-so the service was excellent. The entertainment was what you'd expect on a ship, dance productions. I would have liked more variety. The comedian was good. Service was impeccable, staff very friendly not all very knowledgeable however. The 'photographers' produced an inordinate number of blurry images and that is not acceptable given the price paid for the package. it's like they thrust a camera in anyone's hand, they should know the basics of lighting and how the camera works. I was very disappointed in this, very! This was a mother daughter trip both adults. Our main focus was Cuba, I may try another part of the globe on a larger vessel with more amenities before i give up on this cruising thing all together. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Initially I was concerned I wouldn't like this ship because of its age and lack of balconies. Boy was I pleasantly surprised! We have taken 15+ cruises and this one rates up at the top. From the moment we entered the ship, the ... Read More
Initially I was concerned I wouldn't like this ship because of its age and lack of balconies. Boy was I pleasantly surprised! We have taken 15+ cruises and this one rates up at the top. From the moment we entered the ship, the entire crew did all they could to make our trip a great experience. Although the number of menu selections have been pared down in recent years, the food in the main dining room was delicious, hot and beautifully presented. Service was outstanding and ourr waiter and assistant waiter greeted us by name each night. The waiter even did so when we ran into him in the Windjammer buffet one morning. The first night I asked for lemon in my water and from that moment on, lemons were in my water without my need to ask. Cruise director, Hugo was entertaining and has done an excellent job of booking great acts. Ususally there is one or two bands/singers we like and the rest, we feel, are just so-so, On this cruise, we loved all the bands/singers. The only negative on the trip was the guest lecturer. He was suppose to give educational talks on various aspects of Cuba. Unfortunately a google search would have provided much more information on the intended subject matter . The lecturer's monotone delivery and limited knowledge of the subject were a painful reminder of some of my worst college professors. Our first stop was Costa Maya. The shopping area near the port reminded us of Epcot Center in Disney World so we hopped the tram into the small town and strolled the street by the beach. We enjoyed a couple of beers while watching the locals fish and headed back to the ship. Our second stop was Cozumel. Since we have been there many times, we decided to do something different and signed up up for a Mexican Cooking Class. It was so much fun! We made a shimp appetizer, grouper entree and a dessert of plantains with a chocolate sauce. Each dish was unique and flavorful. I will definitately make them again. Complementary ,margaritas and beer flowed freely throughout the day as well. Our last stop was in Havana. Shortly after arriving, we went off the ship, cleared immigration and exchanged our US dollars for Cucs. (Although we later learned most venders will accept US dollars although they do so reluctantly). We then walked to the San Jose Market which was about a mile from the port. We picked up a couple of souveniers and returned to the ship to get ready for our evening excursion to the Tropicana. Although pricey, it was a spectacular show and we enjoyed it immensly. For two hours, 100 dancers and singers performed elaborate dance numbers in extravagant costumes. A complimentary bottle of rum and bottles of coke were provided so we could make our own Cuba Libres. At the entrance they sold $5 photo permits. While we went ahead and paid the $5 so we could take pictures, I didn't see anyone ever check to see if we had a permit. Our second day in Cuba the tour we had booked was cancelled. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We simplly went off the ship and paid $10 CUC fee to ride the Hop on/off bus. It was a great way to see the city. We got off at Revoultion Square and hopped in a Coco Cab to the Cigar Factory and then back to the San Jose Market . We then took the hop on/off bus back to the ship. The cost of the bus ride and Coco cabs was a 10th of the cost of the tour we had booked and we had a great day. After dropping off the things we had bought, we still have a couple of hours before the ship left so we decided to walk down to a floating restaurant near the ship. We enjoyed a wonderful meal of shimp and grouper and a couple of local beers before heading back to the ship. Although I love the big mega ships, I really enjoyed our time on the Empress of the Seas and I can't wait to return to Cuba Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
My main complaints about the cruise to Key West and Havana have nothing to do with the fact the ship is small and old. Yes, my cabin 8016 was small, but separating the beds gave us a lot more room and we were comfortable. This was my ... Read More
My main complaints about the cruise to Key West and Havana have nothing to do with the fact the ship is small and old. Yes, my cabin 8016 was small, but separating the beds gave us a lot more room and we were comfortable. This was my first and LAST cruise with Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean mislead their guests by stating at the opening lecture and, according some other guests who had asked multiple times, that guests who had not booked a tour with them would not be allowed off the boat in Havana. This was NOT TRUE. My husband and I did NOT book any tours with Royal Caribbean as they are massively over-priced (2-3 times what is available on line). We are well-traveled and felt we could easily see what we were interested in on our own. The night before arrival in Havana, the tour leader modified the Royal Caribbean stance stating that if you had booked before President Trump changed the policies, you did not need to book a tour, otherwise you did. We had not and did not. The law states you must go on an organized tour run by an authorized American company. I checked before I left with independent sources on the internet and the cruise itself is an organized tour. According to my sources and the fact that my husband I got off the boat twice and toured on our own should be proof enough. We have cruised before on Carnival and Princess preferring Princess probably because we are Senior Citizens. Both companies annoyingly push products during the cruise, but Royal Caribbean takes it to a new level, particularly the first night. Also annoying: The Windjammer Café, that has some very good food, most average and all served lukewarm to cool closed a couple of times during the day, which means you might not be able to get a snack when you return to the boat (particularly when the ice cream machine breaks). TV is very limited. Available are about 4 ship channels with more things to buy, 2 sports channels, two news channels (Fox and CNN) and only a couple of channels in English, mostly with reruns. Very few movies and the movies shown on the deck are repeated (one at 3 times on a 5 day cruise). In other words, if you like baseball or basketball you will be fine. The only thing that was better than Princess was the elevators worked well. Also excellent as with Princess was the service. As for doing Havana alone. The first night we walked around the town, felt very safe and loved it. The next morning we hopped on the Hop on Hop off bus which stops at the terminal. The cost was $10 per person, was supposed to last 1 ½ hours actually last two and we at least felt like we saw the whole city including, downtown, neighborhoods of varying degrees of wealth, the beach area and the Malecon. A very good tour. On our own we took the little yellow motor cycle driven taxi, which we negotiated a rate of $12 from the handicraft market to the National Hotel and a ride back to the boat in one of the Convertibles for a negotiated price of $15. One other word of advice – if boarding in Miami. Once you are past the first check point and waiting in line about 1 ½ hours – there is no bathroom. I did ask and was told there would be one available when I completed the check in. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We chose this cruise because of the chance to see Cuba for the first time. The ship was adequate, but the cabin were not. The storage space was limited and there was no refrigerator. The food was horrible, the worst ever. I had a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the chance to see Cuba for the first time. The ship was adequate, but the cabin were not. The storage space was limited and there was no refrigerator. The food was horrible, the worst ever. I had a steak that looked like it had been frozen for a year and tasted like a shoe. The rest of the food was barely edible. Most of the waiters looked like they were being trained. Entertainment was excellent, the best part of the cruise. The service at the front desk and shore excursion was very good. The shore excursions in Cuba were very good, but probably overpriced. They didn't inform us that we could go off the ship on our own. What was the purpose of having a day at sea between Miami and Key West since they are so close to each other? Would we go again ? We would love to go to Cuba again, but not on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
(Sorry so lengthy! Tried to be as thorough as possible!!) We chose this cruise because we wanted to celebrate my mother's upcoming 60th birthday and since she had never cruised before this would be the perfect time to do so. The ... Read More
(Sorry so lengthy! Tried to be as thorough as possible!!) We chose this cruise because we wanted to celebrate my mother's upcoming 60th birthday and since she had never cruised before this would be the perfect time to do so. The cost was right for us since we brought some other family with us and needed a trip that fit everyone's budget. The ship as has been mentioned before is an older model. It is not as big with all the bells and whistles many come to expect like from the newest ships. As someone who has cruised before, I was a bit nervous about that aspect. I have only ever been on new ships that have much to offer. HOWEVER, Empress did not disappoint. I actually think the smaller size worked in our favor. It allowed for our group to quickly find certain areas to meet on the ship and locate the activities with ease. Sometimes you can get lost on larger ships. Not a problem with Empress. Dining was good. They offered steak nearly every night in the main dining room. We were satisfied with the options and liked that they had a theme, i.e Cuban, American, etc for each night. Service is a tad slow. Dinner from start to finish was always an hour or longer. The Windjammer had many offerings of different types of food, surely something for everyone. My only gripe is the dessert. I did not like any of the desserts, they tasted very artificial for some reason. Empress had many different activities and events on ship. We appreciated that they had something for everyone (young and old). It is a laid back type of cruise but there were parties in one of the common areas nearly everyday and we enjoyed every single one of them. It was cute how they had themes such as 70s party, white party, etc. Very good music! The comedian was probably the highlight of our trip. He was hilarious!! The service is superb. Everywhere you go on the ship the workers spoil you with their customer service. Our stateroom attendant made our beds and tidied our room EVERY time we left. They were all so friendly and accomodating. We have no complaints about service. They really go out of their way to make sure you are taken care of in every aspect. Please note, if you go to Nassau there will be plently of ppl trying to get you to buy something. It is very uncomfortable and annoying to say the least. You cannot walk 10 steps without someone hassling you. I am glad that we did an excursion bc if you decide to try to explore on your own, that is what you have to deal with. Not knocking the locals, I understand that tourism is their top income-just know this is what to expect. Key West on the other hand, was amazing. I see why many people go there to vacation and never leave. It is a quirky town with friendly people, lots of shops, GREAT FOOD (Charlie Mac's has outstanding BBQ-HUGE portions!) and interesting things to see. I would love to go back if given the chance. I said all this to say, Empress of the Seas exceeded our expectations and we would surely cruise on her again! Hopefully next time going to CUBA! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This cruise caught our attention because it was going to Cuba and the Bahamas, somewhere we had never been. The price was excellent and fit our budget. The ship was the right size for us, giving us excellent personal attention. Everything ... Read More
This cruise caught our attention because it was going to Cuba and the Bahamas, somewhere we had never been. The price was excellent and fit our budget. The ship was the right size for us, giving us excellent personal attention. Everything was at our fingertips. Our cabin gave us everything we wanted and was kept clean. The food service was fantastic and our waiters were wonderful. They were friendly and did everything they could to please us. The 2 fellows were so polite. In fact, they became personal friends. The service on the ship was top of the line and everyone was anxious to help. We loved the shore excursions and they exceeded our expectations. The shows at night were very good. We've been married 57 years and my husband said it was the best vacation he had ever had. There is nothing I would change about this cruise. dardonn1 Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Everything was excellent except the noise in the cabin and the entertainment going on the Centrum till 11PM. We were in the Card Room on deck 8 and when the music starts, it’s impossible to continue playing cards. We could not understand ... Read More
Everything was excellent except the noise in the cabin and the entertainment going on the Centrum till 11PM. We were in the Card Room on deck 8 and when the music starts, it’s impossible to continue playing cards. We could not understand each other’s. The other persons at the other tables left too!!! The employees at the Starlight Dining room were professionals. They treated us like kings and queens. The food was excellent. We had lobster tails, lamb 2 nights, plus salmon and all the rest. The dessert were excellent too. We had an excellent excursions in Key West and Cozumel. Royal Caribbean Cruise is the best. We went to see the 2 shows in the Royal Theater and it was really great performances. The music in the gym is very very loud. We did not stay longer because of this, it is really noisy and annoying. We are a retired couple so that kind of music is not our preferred one and when it is very very loud, we can not stand it anymore unfortunately. Read Less
Sail Date February 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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