1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
The itinerary for this 7 day cruise originally included stops in Havana, Santiago, Nassau and Cococay (Royal Caribbean's private island). Two weeks prior to sailing, the stop in Santiago was cancelled and an overnight stay in Havana ... Read More
The itinerary for this 7 day cruise originally included stops in Havana, Santiago, Nassau and Cococay (Royal Caribbean's private island). Two weeks prior to sailing, the stop in Santiago was cancelled and an overnight stay in Havana was substituted. While we were disappointed, all in all it worked out fairly well with the exception of our dinner reservations. Specifically, with the unexpected overnight stay in Havana, we asked the Maitre d' to change our late seating to an "anytime" seating just for one night so that we could leave the ship for an early show at the Tropicana in Havana. For some reason, they couldn't accommodate us. I must say, however, that the entertainment on the Empress of the Seas was terrific! Their nightly shows included dancers, a magician and a comedian. In our opinion, the shows were even better than what we saw at the expensive Tropicana! Lastly, the ship is a little smaller than what we were used to, carrying less than 1800 passengers and crew. While the stateroom was a bit tight, we found this small size to be very comfortable, almost quaint, and easy to get around! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
just back from recent Cuba cruise...emerald level on Royal's loyalty program and have to say I am not likely to cruise Royal again. Have not cruised for the last two years and my previous two cruises experiences were going downhill ... Read More
just back from recent Cuba cruise...emerald level on Royal's loyalty program and have to say I am not likely to cruise Royal again. Have not cruised for the last two years and my previous two cruises experiences were going downhill but they tanked this time. Poor menu in the dining room. Lots of fried foods and french fries? Are you kidding me? In the dining room? A greek salad served with no oregano or lemon juice and green olives instead of kalamata (when they had kalamata available at the Windjammer) and a caprese salad without basil? Service has gone downhill too while expense has increased. Bought a 10 drink card for draft Heineken and 4 days into cruise they ran out and then had to fight with every bartender to honour it in some way? Late dinner seating and almost all the entertainment geared toward early seating. On a bright note had a great room attendant and decent dining room service who were a bit embarrassed by the menu and our complaints. I started cruising in the early 2000's because you received great service with great food while all inclusives were struggling to come anywhere close. Lately I have found it reversed...all inclusives have discovered great service and great food and I am getting more for my vacation dollar with them. Good bye cruising (at least until you figure out) Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We pick this cruise because we wanted to see Cuba. Ship was small, but still had good time. Lines were shorts in dinning room and Windjammer. There was a older crowd and the shows & the events after 9pm only had about 50 or 60 people ... Read More
We pick this cruise because we wanted to see Cuba. Ship was small, but still had good time. Lines were shorts in dinning room and Windjammer. There was a older crowd and the shows & the events after 9pm only had about 50 or 60 people at them. We had a suite on the 9 deck and we will never take a room below the pool deck again.Sitting on the ballancy we could hear the musie during the day and night. All the walking, running & moving of chairs you could hear. Even in the middle of the night when the crew was working out there.Everynight we would be waken The excursions in Cozumel The buggy ride and Snorkeling was good. It was a very Windy so we were told that we couldn't snorkel but we could ride longer and get a free lunch. The riding was great and the gulids were very good. We also did a excursion in Havana Cuba that was four hours long and took us thought the city. was good did take 5 1/2 hours but still good. Wish we had a see day after leaving Cuba to rest some but trip was very good Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This ship's customer service desk was terrible. Many many times their answer was "I don't know". Never said but let me find out. Just think of deer in the headlights. I had multiple eventful times where they were No ... Read More
This ship's customer service desk was terrible. Many many times their answer was "I don't know". Never said but let me find out. Just think of deer in the headlights. I had multiple eventful times where they were No help at all. The scheduling of events overlapped in the same areas causing great frustration for many passengers. The cruise director was only visible during major events and could not be found when I asked to talk to him. My cabin staff was GREAT, could not have asked for more. Too many times when all food service was not available. Cabins are really really really small. In Grand Cayman we docked many many miles from the city and it cost each passenger 12 dollars just to get back and forth to town. The answer at the customer service desk was too bad. This is my fourth cruise and probably my last cruise on Royal Caribbean Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We wanted to go to Cuba and only the smaller ships can do that. The ship was small, including the state rooms. The bed was not very comfortable and the shower was tiny. However, the crew was great and there were many cozy areas to ... Read More
We wanted to go to Cuba and only the smaller ships can do that. The ship was small, including the state rooms. The bed was not very comfortable and the shower was tiny. However, the crew was great and there were many cozy areas to sit outside of your room. The ship was kept clean and the crew worked hard to keep everyone happy. Entertainment was good but not great. Some shows were very entertaining and others not so much. The lack of lounge chairs on the decks was a problem for those who wanted to sit in the sun, but at least there were usually chairs to be found near the Windjammer around tables near the pool. The food was average with dinner being the best. Breakfast/brunch in the restaurant was fair. The buffet food lacked flavor and variety and seemed to be mostly re-purposed entrees from the previous night's dinner. Cold foods could have been chilled more and hot foods were barely warm. The children of our table mates loved the kids center. Overall, about what I expected from the oldest and smallest ship in the fleet. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was a good cruise. People have to understand your not going on a mega ship. ALSO this is not a cruise to take with 16-20 year olds, UNLESS they are truly into visiting Cuba. There is no disco club, sports deck (other than rock wall) ... Read More
This was a good cruise. People have to understand your not going on a mega ship. ALSO this is not a cruise to take with 16-20 year olds, UNLESS they are truly into visiting Cuba. There is no disco club, sports deck (other than rock wall) and only one small pool. We did not go to key west as there was an accident earlier in the month closing part of the port so we were changed to an overnight in Havana The food was excellent both in the MDR and Windjammer. Again, this is not a mega ship. The cabins reflect the ships age.. No balconies, except for suites. The cabins are small as are the bathrooms and showers. There is not a lot of technology like on the newer ships. The staff was very friendly and bent over backwards to make sure you were happy. Dinner in the MDR was very good. There was a Cuban themed menu every night along with the classics. Windjammer had it usual fare. It is smaller and a bit more crazy especially on days when everyone wants to get off the ship, but they had a great choice of dishes. The gym, if you can call it that, looks like an add on above the Viking Lounge. Small and lacking equipment. Overall it was a great time. This cruise is about going to Cuba. If you have teens who want to party and play sports this is not the ship for you. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
I chose this cruise because I wanted to sail on a cruise for New Years (which I do often with my husband) plus, this year I wanted to go somewhere I’ve never been-Cuba. So, we chose the Empress. Warning: if you are a modern cruiser where ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to sail on a cruise for New Years (which I do often with my husband) plus, this year I wanted to go somewhere I’ve never been-Cuba. So, we chose the Empress. Warning: if you are a modern cruiser where you expect to experience a Disney type of ship with rides, slides or roller skating rinks, don’t go on the Empress. If you are someone who loves the ocean, loves sailing and enjoys classic style cruising, this cruise is for you. I’ve been on over 50 cruises. I’m an avid cruiser. First, I booked an ocean view cabin and about 4 weeks before sailing, I received an e-mail from RCCL about an auction for an upgrade to a junior suite. So I did it, I bid $1000 and got a great junior suite 9126. The best thing about this cruise was our cabin. It had a spacious balcony, a lot of space, a great bed, a small walk in closet, a small couch area and a roomy bathroom. It was well worth it. We slept well and truly relaxed. Also, our cabin steward was superb. The next best thing about this cruise is the staff. Bobby, the cruise director is great. Our waiters were wonderful-Melvin and Ma. The enfire staff is professional, warm and friendly. The ship is clean and inviting. The food was delicious. NOW CUBA- it is not for everyone. We were 2 days in Havana. Food and basic nutrition in Cuba is non-existent. Best tip for you- eat on the ship. My first day in Havana I was afraid. I was lost and did not know what to do so we set off walking into Old Havana. Some streets are breathtaking but other streets look like a war zone. My best advice for Havana is hire the prettiest old car right when you get out of the port. For $40 an hour they will give you the most amazing tour of the REAL Havana and you will not regret it. About 4 people fit in the car and 3-4 hours is more than enough for an all encompassing and thorough tour of the real Havana. Do not be afraid. The people are friendly. Everyone on cruise was complaining that the cruise excursions were not worth the price. We ended up having a splendid and unforgettable day 2 in Havana. In Grand Cayman, there’s no need to splurge. The swimming area right by the tender / dock (walking distance) shopping area and is a nice swimming, snorkel area. Don’t go to Calico Jacks or anywhere else. Those areas are overcrowded and not worth it. Grand Cayman is clean and pretty. Back on the Empress, I recommend the sushi making class BUT here is my TIP: buy one class which is enough for two or even three people and they let you share. The class makes so much sushi enough to share with 2 other people. A couple can take turns making the different types of rolls and so on. What I didn’t like about the Empress was that there is an odor on the port side of the ship like ballast water. The bon voyage party was exactly like the white hot party-boring. They need new activities. They have the same ole love n marriage show, Quest. The bingo was lame as well. Read Less
Empress of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.5
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 2.5 3.4
Family 2.0 3.4
Shore Excursion 4.5 3.8
Enrichment 4.0 3.5
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.8

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