1,507 Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas Cruise Reviews

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
My friend has never been to Key west and I wanted to see the new Coco Cay. So we were fine with itinerary but a lot of people on the cruise were still disappointed about not going to Cuba. The entertainment was great. Keve was the ... Read More
My friend has never been to Key west and I wanted to see the new Coco Cay. So we were fine with itinerary but a lot of people on the cruise were still disappointed about not going to Cuba. The entertainment was great. Keve was the comedian very funny. They had the Diva of the Seas come on board she does a tribute to Whitney Houston. Wow, what a singer and great entertainer. Loved it. Cruise director and staff really worked hard. Loved how they got the 70's party rockin and a rollin, so fun. Food was good for the most part. There was always hits and misses, but could always find something to please the pallet. Room steward James was really good. Yes there are plumbing problems. Could smell sewage periodically on deck 5 and on deck 2. Also one not brown water came out of the tap ewww gross. Also black gunk bubbled up through our toilet last night. Other than that ship was nice. Little ship with some problems but staff really are very friendly and made the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We chose this cruise for just the wife and I. We have both been on about 12 RC cruises over the past 13 years or so. Our daughter is in school this time of year so she stayed back home and got grandma time. Couldn't beat the price ... Read More
We chose this cruise for just the wife and I. We have both been on about 12 RC cruises over the past 13 years or so. Our daughter is in school this time of year so she stayed back home and got grandma time. Couldn't beat the price for this cruise, we booked not long after the Cuba cancellations. The ship is small and you can notice a few areas where it has some age but overall its in excellent condition. We noticed right away that there were very little if no crowds or waiting in line, this continued throughout the cruise. The first afternoon is always a little busy on any ship but I compare it to a sponge, by late evening and the next morning everyone kind of gets "absorbed" into the ship. Going through the Windjammer for breakfast or any other time that would usually mean waiting in lines like on other ships was non existent here. Same with the elevators. Never had to wait at any bar and the bar staff quickly learned and remembered my order. We didn't use the pool but watched some of the activities around it like the belly flop contest and sexiest man contest and was easily able to get close to see. The single pool was small but never appeared to be too crowded. One thing I found unusual was the lack of a second level along the sides of the pool deck. This kind of limits some shady area there but not a big deal. There are several big hammocks and comfortable large lounge type chairs at the ends of the pool area deck on the second level. The layout of the ship is easy to learn and you can be anywhere you want within minutes of walking. There are lots of large windows throughout the interior decks to see outside and great views of the ocean and couches to sit on nearby, it feels very open and airy. We tried an interior guaranteed cabin (they pick the room) because we aren't picky and were trying to make this affordable as possible. Ended up with 3109 which was your standard interior room for two. We were notified of the room selected about a week before the cruise. We were offered an ocean view or junior suite as a "Royal Up" but declined. The cabin was small but we had no problems. We asked the cabin steward if he would separate our bed which made him give us a confused look since we are married but it was a smart move as it opened up a lot more floor space and made getting in and out of the beds much easier with an aisle in the center. The shower is definitely the smallest I've encountered but then again it was sufficient. Overall the cabin was in excellent shape, clean, and there was a surprising amount of room in the closet compared to the rest of the small cabin. We don't spend much time in our cabin on a cruise anyway so it was plenty sufficient. We always bring some magnetic hooks and a hang over door organizer to better manage space....it helps! We did notice a slight sewage odor from time to time from our sink and toilet but it never lasted long and there was also an odd smell occasionally on deck 6 which is where the open deck area is below the life boats. The port side of the ship is the smoking area on this deck which seemed opposite to most RC ships I've been on. The food and food selection was good, your typical Royal Caribbean dinner menu in the main dining room and standard things you'd expect in the windjammer. There are sinks right at the entrance to windjammer to wash your hands. However you still see people who don't bother and walk on by and I always seem to end up near a person licking their fingers and then handling the serving utensils at the buffet which makes me instantly lose my appetite but thats not the fault of the staff. The staff in both areas were great and we never had any trouble finding a seat right away in the windjammer even at the busiest times....that seemed very refreshing to me. We ate breakfast in the main dining room once. We usually do that on larger ships to avoid the hassle and chaos in the windjammer but found it not necessary on this cruise. My wife misses the "savory bites" that used to come in the bread basket for dinner in the dining room so we asked and our waitress had them at our table every evening for dinner after that....very nice! The casino is split into a main level and half a level down which is interesting and is all non smoking. There are a small amount of table games but as with everything else it never seemed overly full and there was always room to play whenever we wanted to. The fitness center/gym is above the back of the viking crown lounge....quite small but they have a good selection of equipment. There always seemed to be various activities going on during sea days like trivia and similar things that are typical of RC. The staff did a wonderful job at this and were engaging and friendly. There were some kids onboard but I would think it would be difficult to keep them entertained during sea days as there a limited amount of things geared towards them. We had two sea days on this cruise. The ship was very stable and we barely noticed any wave and swell movement. The evening shows were good. Love and Marriage, the Quest, good comedian show, etc., all the things you'd expect on an RC cruise. So....yes, we would definitely book this ship again for just us two or even a group. We are right around 40 and found enough to do and really enjoyed the lack of crowds and lines, super easy to get around. Its a great and clean small ship and like I said the personal level that you get to know the staff and interact with them was great. Embarkation and disembarking were both done very quickly and efficiently. We carried off our own bags since all we had were carry on size luggage and were off the ship just before 8:00am. We stopped at Key West, we usually get the hop on/hop off trolley. I got a cuban sandwich at Caroline's and the necessary visit to Kermit's for frozen key lime pie covered in chocolate. Went to the rum distillery and got a few free samples that were good and spent the rest of the day just exploring. This was our first time back to Coco Cay since the Perfect Day renovations. We didn't want to pay for the thrill side so we just hung out on the chill side. The huge new pool is amazing the swim up bar is fun. I'm glad they kept the one side non molested the way it used to be with the beaches and tons of chairs and scenery. We were the only ship there that day so it was great and not crowded. Plenty of empty space and beach chairs to choose from. I can imagine it gets pretty busy with a few ships there at once. It is nice to not have to tender in anymore and risk missing the port if the winds are up and the tender boats can't run. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We originally booked this cruise with the sole purpose of going to Cuba. Like most other reviews have stated, the laws changed and the itinerary was changed to a 6 day Western Caribbean, which we were fine with. We received 50% of our ... Read More
We originally booked this cruise with the sole purpose of going to Cuba. Like most other reviews have stated, the laws changed and the itinerary was changed to a 6 day Western Caribbean, which we were fine with. We received 50% of our cruise fare back, which was more than generous for still being able to go on the full trip. Flash forward to 2 days before our departure. Hurricane Dorian was on track to hit Florida directly, so Royal Caribbean shortened our trip by 3 days (leaving on the following Wednesday now rather than Sunday.) While we were disappointed, we understood the safety concerns and decided to sail anyway since they stated they would give us a refund for the 3 days we missed, and a future cruise credit. I'll go ahead and get the negatives out of the way (none having to do with the actual ship.) While we were thankful for the refunds, they did not inform the Empress passengers on what that refund would actually look like. On the first day of the trip, the guest services attendant stated we were getting two 50% refunds based on the original cruise fare, basically meaning we got a 100% refund. We were ecstatic. However, on the last night, we learned that Empress passengers got a refund based on the already refunded trip from the Cuba change. So for missing 3 days of our cruise, we received less than $200 back, and our cruise credit was in the same amount. Obviously there isn't any 3 day cruises you can book for under $200. We tried not to be greedy, but we felt that the compensation was misrepresented between different RC staff. We are overall satisfied with the compensation, especially since both circumstances were out of RC's control, but the communication (or lack thereof) made it confusing and frustrating. The ship itself is very well maintained. It is very small, but the layout is different than any other RC I've been on. There is an ocean view in almost every common area, which made it beautiful. The pool is small, and I could see that it would be an issue for a full sailing (we only had 600 on board, so it was perfect for us.) Most of the loungers are in the sun. I wish there were a few in the shade. The pool bar and the attendants walking around were on point. Drinks were much stronger and tasted better than on any other ship. The crew was absolutely phenomenal. I was surprised with how many crew members remembered our names right off the bat, our drink orders, etc. Friendly, talkative, and didn't seem frazzled and overworked like I've seen other crews on other ships. The Chops Grille promoters were pretty pushy, but we ended up booking since we had a cruise credit and finally understood the hype. We had a great experience. The food was amazing, service was very personal, and we didn't have to share a table with strangers. I told my boyfriend that we would have to budget for a night at Chops for every cruise in the future. I'd definitely recommend checking it out. Main dining room and Windjammer were above average compared to other RC ships. The main dining room has a wonderful view with a ton of windows at the back of the ship. If you can, try to go to dinner around sunset. The view is spectacular! We also utilized the spa. There was no sauna or steam room, unfortunately. I booked a massage with seaweed detox, and my boyfriend booked a haircut. My massage was unreal and incredibly relaxing. If you ever find yourself with a large cruise credit, the spa is certainly the place to use it! They do try to sell you some products at the end, which kind of throws off the zen you just spent 100 minutes trying to achieve, but at the end of the day I would absolutely recommend investing in the spa services. They're overpriced, but you're on vacation! :-) Our cabin was decently sized. Small bathroom. Cruise cabins are meant to be tiny, so we weren't bothered. Not a lot of storage space on this ship. Bring an over the door shoe hanger, it saved our sanity on this boat! We booked a forward, ocean view cabin. Since the ship is smaller, we felt MAJOR effects of the hurricane winds. I could feel the waves much more significantly on this boat. If you are prone to sea sickness, it's important to book a mid cabin on this ship since it's so small! Entertainment was fun. They had a solo singer that was great (Lou Gazzarra), a pretty decent comedian, and a great cast for the shows. Trivia was kind of clumsy, but always a good time. The casino was laid out differently than any other ship (split between two decks). What I loved about this ship was that it was a non-smoking casino since it wasn't necessarily contained. We spent a lot more time in there due to that fact alone. Despite its size, I don't feel like we would've been bored if we had the full 6 days (which I was originally worried about) We didn't do any shore excursions since we've been to Nassau more times than we can count. We looked in to it, but they were way overpriced for what you got. We noticed the sewage smell on the lower decks (outside, mostly), but I wouldn't say it was overwhelming. Just normal for a cruise, to us. Overall we had a great experience on the ship and would have loved for it to have been the full 6 days! Read Less
Sail Date September 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
NEGATIVES Photos cant only get on disc when complained of this manager said only corporate can make modifications and only pkgs starting 1 hundred on up or 19 for 1 Bingo 3 sheets $42 must be 21 but can gamble in casino at 18 Beer ... Read More
NEGATIVES Photos cant only get on disc when complained of this manager said only corporate can make modifications and only pkgs starting 1 hundred on up or 19 for 1 Bingo 3 sheets $42 must be 21 but can gamble in casino at 18 Beer sampling additional and drinks cant ask for a double only a single Lbgq limited to one area and only to limited times that allowed straights to be in same room only advised on a flip screen in one area not on daily itinerary sheet Captain doesn't come down to dinner even on captain dinner night Sushi making class additional and not offered elsewhere on menu. When weather service forecasted that hurricane Dorian was going to hit port same as our return cs did not have any information until 3 days into it and was not announced till 3 days prior to departure date nothing was pre arranged causing hundreds of people to pay more to get off in a different port and make flight arrangements costing more. Limited 18 to 20 have limited things to do for their age group. One pool only deep end no shallow end with small water park. Salt water. putting kids and adults in pool and 3 jacuzzi together. Fancy app for royal however it is not available or supported on the ship Express of the seas They offer a tour of the kitchen but its additional of course. They have a decent comedian show. The ship is small so its easy to find your way around but takes forever for a elevator 2 smoking sections deck 6 and 10 both outside but no smoking in the casino. Future credit is given instead of present credit when on board when Hurricane Dorian kept us out to sea and was only 1 days worth of credit for the hassle of having to change flights, take additional time off work, kids off school and spend additional money that was not planned for. POSITIVES The dinner staff has excellent customer service Shiv and Xiangying were our food servers and they really made our Birthday and Anniversary special. Decent entertainment 80s dancing, karaoke , juggling acts, ragge music (loved the ragge band) the best shows are doable for early dinner but not unless you rush to get to the show from the pm dinner. More shows should be at 10pm not dinner at 8 and show at 9pm. Deals in the onboard shops Nurse and Dr available but times available not so great. Rooms are upgradable for a small charge of 1 hundred on up The room service is excellent and very clean. But we didn't have our beverage pkg cups until we asked for them. Laundry service good but slow Security is good and ontop of things but often I would smell marijuana onboard and sat next to a guy on my tender boat back to the ship who admitted it was in his bag. No issues with the stuff but if you're gonna say that you can't have it onboard then that obviously wasn't being monitored enough. Excursions are very good and easy to book , well organized but additional in cost range from $40 on up in the hundreds. Safety is of their biggest concern this is responsible and good . It would be nice if someone could give better insight to crew and guests in tough weather conditions other than headquarters holding up information till last minute. There is a gym and spa nice there is acupuncture that I showed interesting and helpful if in pain, facials, massage therapy and hair, nails but no sauna, no mineral pool, no steam rooms or hot chairs. The gym is small very busy in the morning and cruise days. Limited equipment and the jogging areas are limited around the deck. There is a rock climbing wall small one but no frills like mini golf or water boarding. Onboard credit is given before you board if your trip is changed example not able to go to Cuba and given credit to encourage people not to cancel. Casino nice but limited poker machines mostly tables. The bar in the casino has the best drinks on the ship. Schooner bar has good drinks the pirate burbon drink was a nice touch. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I was in a oceanview with 3 people. Two twin beds and bunks. The room was smaller than other ships but liveable. Dont expect to stay in the room and watch anything worth watching on t.v. Getting on the ship took a little longer because ... Read More
I was in a oceanview with 3 people. Two twin beds and bunks. The room was smaller than other ships but liveable. Dont expect to stay in the room and watch anything worth watching on t.v. Getting on the ship took a little longer because we were early. Got off a little late but we were able to sit in the theater until they called our tag number. Once they did, it was pretty smooth. The food: Breakfast was mostly not great. bacon is disappointing. Even the sit down is just ok. The one great plus is the Brunch in the main dining on sea day. They give a complimentary mimosa or bloody Mary. Lunch in the Windjammer is just ok. The pizza and the french fries are actually good. The nachos were good also. Dinner in the main dining is good. The appetizers I had that were yummy are shrimp cocktail, shrimp ceviche, escargot. The 2 main dish that were really good are beef tenderloin and pork chops. They had a lobster tail night!! This is not offered on some ships. I ordered two. Do not miss Caribbean night in Windjammer for dinner. That was the only night we did not do sit down dining. The jamaican dishes were authentic. Oxtail , rice and peas(beans), plantains, jerk pork, jerk chicken, curry chicken(more Indian style). The oxtail was excellent. The coffee is excellent! if you like strong coffee. One negative is that food ends at 1:30 a.m. But they do have chicken wings on the late night buffet. that was surprising. they were pretty good. Music - The piano bar guy was just ok. The DJ was just ok. I mean he played some great tunes but he was not consistently good. You will be able to get an hour of good dancing. I guess I wanted 3 hours. There was a good band that played some good reggae. Getting around the ship was easy. They do a great job with safety drill. It was quick and instructions were clear. Staff was friendly I dont normally go to shows so I cant rate them. The casino is small but laid out nicely. Not many of the popular games. One disappointing thing- they dont have a basketball court or the basketball throw game in the game room. So to summarize... I would sail Empress again if the price is right, for the following reasons: Caribbean food night (oxtails) Complim. mimosa/bloody mary brunch on sea day Lobster tail night Chicken wings on late night buffet Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I scheduled the cruise when it was going to Cuba. When the laws changed, the cruise itinerary changed to Mexico. I really wanted to go to Cuba, but Mexico was just fine. It's a small ship with one pretty small pool that was super ... Read More
I scheduled the cruise when it was going to Cuba. When the laws changed, the cruise itinerary changed to Mexico. I really wanted to go to Cuba, but Mexico was just fine. It's a small ship with one pretty small pool that was super crowded on sea days. There were plenty of lounge chairs, but zero were in the shade. They only had tables and chairs in the shade. The pool deck was nice, but they played movies super loud and pretty much everyone was complaining about the volume. I still had a great time. The people and the staff were quite friendly and helpful. The ship was clean and the food was good as usual on Royal Caribbean. I prefer a ship with nightly dancing and although they had some, it wasn't a big activity on the ship. I didn't eat at any of the specialty restaurants so I can't review any of the restaurants. The lobster in the main dining room was fantastic and the casino had some great machines and tables. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We are fans of RCCL and after my cruise on the Harmony next month I will be Diamond. But this ship was the WORST experience ever! The smell on the lower decks is awful. The 4th night of the cruise our cabin flooded. Our luggage was ... Read More
We are fans of RCCL and after my cruise on the Harmony next month I will be Diamond. But this ship was the WORST experience ever! The smell on the lower decks is awful. The 4th night of the cruise our cabin flooded. Our luggage was under the bed and it got wet and now smells moldy. We put everything on top of the bed. They put a huge fan in our cabin telling us that by the time we got back from Cozumel the carpet would be dry. No such luck. They gave an inside room so we could take a nap, assuring us the carpet would be dry. Nope. So they told us they would compensate us and change our room. Big deal, there was no way we could have stayed in that cabin with the wet carpet and the smell. They moved us from our outside cabin to the 8th floor in the bow of the ship. There were bunk beds on either side of our bed that were closed but did stick out 3 - 4 inches from the wall. We are in our 70’s and had to bend and duck to get into our bed. We were not happy at all. I feel like the guest services on that ship should have made us a little more comfortable, Having said that, I went to guest services the day we were getting off the ship and told them how unhappy we were. The only thing that did was give us a 30% off coupon on our next cruise which I get in my email at least once a week anyway. By the way we paid for this cruise unlike many on that ship that got it for free. Stay away from the Empress of the Seas! Read Less
Sail Date August 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
The good—Ship was easy to navigate, clean, and nice crew in all areas. Variety of entertainment options. Quick on and off in Miami. No long lines anywhere on ship. Shows in theatre were pretty good, ranging from RCI singers and ... Read More
The good—Ship was easy to navigate, clean, and nice crew in all areas. Variety of entertainment options. Quick on and off in Miami. No long lines anywhere on ship. Shows in theatre were pretty good, ranging from RCI singers and dancers, comedians, hypnotist, and individual singers. No large crowds anywhere on the ship. The bad—food was not good in both windjammer and dining room. Limited selection, not proper temperature, dry baked goods. Sprinkles machine didnt work properly for the entire cruise and had limited hours. Jr suite was really just balcony cabin with limited storage, small bathroom with no tub, and tv that froze up every few minutes. Warning—dont book on 9th floor—right below pool so VERY noisy. We never smelled the odors that other reviewers mentioned. Pool was very small (max 24 people)—great on port days, but so crowded on sea days. Repeated same movies many times and most were more suitable for kids. Read Less
Sail Date July 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
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 choose this cruise because of Cuba, and stayed with new itinerary (Costa Maya/Cozumel) after Cuba closure on June 5th. Each person received 50% of their cruise fare credited to their seapass card. Which wasn’t right, it should’ve ... Read More
We choose this cruise because of Cuba, and stayed with new itinerary (Costa Maya/Cozumel) after Cuba closure on June 5th. Each person received 50% of their cruise fare credited to their seapass card. Which wasn’t right, it should’ve been credited back to main account holder. The ship is small and it smelled like sewer by main elevators for the duration of the cruise. It has 1main dining room. Lido deck buffet was very limited in selection.The pool was drained every evening for maintenance. If you are sitting anywhere else besides poolside, be prepared to never see waitstaff. We had an interior cabin, super compact, beds were comfortable. Tv had only 4 channels and 3 of them were of RC ads. The bathroom was very small, had a couple of corner shelves for our personal items. The toilet flooded every night. We were told to flush throughout the night to keep it from overflowing. The same activities every night at the 2 bars on board, Boleros had karaoke for 1hr every night, Played live music for about 3hrs every afternoon. Schooner had piano player couple of hrs every night. The theater nightly act was either a comedian, a dance show or a movie, fairly entertaining. One thing for sure is that we won’t be booking this ship again, and maybe not even RC. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise because we wanted to go to Cuba. We were disappointed when we learned we would not be able to go to Cuba, but Royal Caribbean really went above and beyond for us. The 50% refund was extremely generous. While I was on ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to go to Cuba. We were disappointed when we learned we would not be able to go to Cuba, but Royal Caribbean really went above and beyond for us. The 50% refund was extremely generous. While I was on this new itinerary, I never once felt that I was missing out on anything. In fact, it was the best vacation I've ever had. Since I'm a planner, I had done a lot of research on the Empress of the Seas, and I was a little nervous about the ship. That was all for nothing! The ship is amazing! Yes, it is a smaller ship - the smallest in the fleet - but guess how many lines we waited in during this vacation? None. That includes our embarkation. We walked in, went right up to the counter and were on the ship in a matter of minutes. When we got to our cabin, we noticed that it was small, but we knew it would be. We had plenty of room in our cabin. I did bring magnetic hooks with us and that helped to provide some additional space by hanging things on the walls. Bringing these hooks was probably the best tip that I got from my research. I've read in a few places that there was a weird odor on deck 5. I smelled it, but it wasn't a big deal. The dining room was great and I was happy with the food quality and selection. The best part is if you don't like what you ordered, you send it back and get something else. Or, if you like it a lot, you order another! We went to Chops on my birthday and that was fantastic too. It was a step up from the dining room and my 9oz filet was so tender that I could cut it with a butter knife. First class entertainers on this ship! Loved the shows I went to! The music around the ship was always fun and lively. I booked some of my shore excursions through the ship and thought those were fantastic. We did the behind the scenes tour of the ship and loved everything we learned. It was great to learn about what goes on behind the scene on this ship! My daughter found a great group of friends with the teen group. This really provided an opportunity for her to get to know the other teens and she really had a great time. The pool was usually crowded, but it was still really great. I loved it! 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 took this cruise with our best friends. The whole reason we booked this cruise was to go to Havana, and the week before we were scheduled to leave, the government shut it down. RC offered us a full refund or a 50% refund if we chose ... Read More
We took this cruise with our best friends. The whole reason we booked this cruise was to go to Havana, and the week before we were scheduled to leave, the government shut it down. RC offered us a full refund or a 50% refund if we chose to cruise. We were all so desperate for a vacation that we went for it. We opted for The Key program, which I can't recommend enough. Because of this, we got on the ship early and had a complimentary lunch at Chops. It was ok, and service there was soooo slow. We were in there two hours. Food was only ok, but our service team in the main dining room was great, Rommel and Stanmore. We really enjoyed the games and dance lessons, and the entertainment staff was great. They were all engaging and so much fun. Our cruise was not crowded at all, and I felt like I got to know some of them. We did a Fury snorkeling excursion in Key West and spent the day at Mr. Sanchos in Cozumel, which we did by ourselves. Other reviewers aren't kidding about the smell. It was really bad in certain places. We had a great time because we got away and spent time with each other. I wouldn't go on this ship again because I feel like there are better options out there. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise, and the small ship, because of the Cuba itinerary. 11 days before we were scheduled to sail, the new US restrictions were put in place. Royal Caribbean did a great job coming up with an alternate itinerary with three ... Read More
We chose this cruise, and the small ship, because of the Cuba itinerary. 11 days before we were scheduled to sail, the new US restrictions were put in place. Royal Caribbean did a great job coming up with an alternate itinerary with three stops in the Eastern Caribbean on short notice, although the time for arrival in San Juan changed only a few days prior. This left us unable to do the activity that we had planned, and when we got on board (since we were within the window where we could no longer book online), most of the shore excursions in San Juan were already sold out. We were able to take the "St. Johns on your own" tour from St. Thomas where you were able to climb aboard a chartered ferry "Island Girl" over to St. John. The guide on board was terrific and the convenience of leaving right from where the ship docked, rather than having to go over to red hook to catch the ferry, was terrific! Embarkation at the Port was a breeze, but the common areas felt overcrowded and chaotic until rooms were opened. The ship definitely had a smaller feel, with smaller cabins and less amenities, but the smaller ship also seemed to lead to more of an intimate feel, both with getting to know other passengers and interactions with the ship staff. In terms of activities, the ship entertainment staff had a full schedule offered (trivia, dance classes, games, etc.) that would rival other ships we have been on. There were several headliner shows, but mostly comedians, with some being better than others. There were only a couple of nights put on by the ships entertainment crew themselves. (Perhaps it was a longer itinerary than most for this ship, or due to the itinerary change.) In general, the food was excellent! The head chef was the most present that we have seen on any ship. In addition to seeing him on the Galley tour, we saw him walking through Windjammer and Starlight Dining room at different times of the day throughout the cruise. Our biggest disappointment with the food was our dining experience at Chops. Although we have enjoyed Chops on other ships, our steaks were overcooked and our waiter was absent during this dining experience. The Bottomless Brunch and Galley tour was a fun sea day activity and it was interesting to see the full operation. We had the filets from Chops (much better cooked this time), but to our dismay, the same absent waiter. The head waiter in starlight noticed and quickly made sure that our table, and the others he was serving, were accommodated. We have come to have very high expectations of dining service on Royal Caribbean ships and our first few nights on board we had servers that were pleasant, but nothing exceptional. When we were sat with Eri and Charles on night five, they were so exemplary that we asked the hostess to seat us with them the rest of the cruise. Eri described food with such a passion that you were he got everyone excited about the food before your first taste. Charles remembered personal details about your dining preferences that made you feel like a regular in your favorite restaurant. Staff members like these made the experience! Our last hours on board were a little hectic as a medical emergency caused an unplanned stop in Nassau on our final evening. While this stop seemed to be executed very well (we were in and out of Nassau in 20 minutes), the delayed arrival back into Miami seemed to cause disembarkation chaos. The staff assisting seemed overwhelmed and several of them left the theater while one person tried alternating trying to sing songs in the microphone, and ask trivia questions, while guests were seeking out information due to the change. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
I chose this cruise due to its sailing date and my school schedule. I figured an 8 night cruise would be a good way to finish my summer before returning to class full time. When we were approaching the ship it was dirty with rust staining ... Read More
I chose this cruise due to its sailing date and my school schedule. I figured an 8 night cruise would be a good way to finish my summer before returning to class full time. When we were approaching the ship it was dirty with rust staining by the anchors. We were told we were getting an upgrade when we arrived to the port as we had requested it and they said the employees at the port can get you into your upgraded room. When we checked in we were told there wouldn’t be an upgrade like the employee said there would be. So we went to our room and it was very tiny and hard to navigate with both people in it. Once we were settled in the room we went to explore the ship some. We went to get a quick snack then walk some more after that. The pool was about the size of my living room. Our luggage was held for a while too, for no reason that could be explained but we know it can be chaos too sometimes. As we were sailing out of port we noticed a rather strong sewage smell on the pool deck. We went back inside and finished walking the ship and finding things to do(which wasn’t much). We went back to the room and showered, the water was presently warm, the only down side was it didn’t drain quickly. I asked our steward why it wasn’t draining fast and he said it’s an older ship, which I understand and said thanks, he did say if it starts to spill out to let him know and they would definitely fix it at one of the ports. We went to bed relatively early due to the fact we had to drive from Daytona down to Miami. When I woke up the next morning it was due to the fact my hip was in pain(have had 2 procedures done on it at 25) which isn’t their issue, the room steward got me an additional pillow to put under my hip with a blanket which I was very grateful for! I went and had some breakfast and sat up on the front deck to wake up some and enjoy the ocean and nice breeze. With the days at sea it usually was a better idea to go to the pool early if possible or late before it closed as it was pretty crowded. If you were on the pool deck you got a smell of sewage, if you went up to the bow area it was fine as you were up wind. We had met some friends and had a few drinks with the day at sea and planned for the first stop at Coco Cay. When we arrived into Coco Cay it was overcast which was AMAZING as it had a nice breeze and would have been rather hot. We walked around did some shopping and enjoyed the lounge chairs on the beach. Our next stop was in San Juan Puerto Rico. We got into Puerto Rico in the afternoon which didn’t leave too much time to explore. I definitely would consider going back to Puerto Rico when there was more time to explore as there was TONS to see! I was headed to the Windjammer Cafe and stopped by the restroom. When I walked in the urinals were overflowing onto the floor(it happened rather frequently at least daily from what I saw). I went and notified the staff who said they’ll address the issue soon. I went to eat dinner they only had water and tea to drink, so I ate dinner and decided to go buy the drink package. We decided to tough out the smell and join people down on the pool deck to have a drink and talk about the next stop. When we got to St. Croix we went on a dive excursion, it was extremely well priced and the staff running it were great too! There are some shops there that have very unique things to buy which was also nice. Upon entering the boat after our day of exploring I went to shower and get freshened up. We decided to go get dinner and head up to the bow area to enjoy the departure. When we got into the cafe they had a chef making meals for everyone. We gave him four tries at cooking food and it still didn’t click and come out right. He kept adding additional things that we didn’t want even though we were standing there saying yes and no to ingredients, partially due to an allergy. I sat up on the bow and did some work on my laptop and enjoyed the night. Our next stop was St. Thomas! When we left the ship we walked some and also did a van excursion and met up with some people we know in the area! The staff were very friendly, they also let us experience how some of the natives do things! Once we were done for the day we headed back to the boat. Some of the iguanas were rather tame, I got to pet one that was randomly roaming. (We have exotic animals at our home) We had two days at sea on the way back to Miami. Unfortunately we had to make an emergency stop in Nassau, hopefully the passenger was okay. Overall I would like to recommend RCI, I wouldn’t recommend the Empress of The Seas. The sewage smell was horrendous, the ship was rather old and dingy, and the amenities were sub par. Our steward was absolutely amazing! He helped make this cruise halfway tolerable. Next time I sail I will definitely be looking at all the reviews of the ships and cruise line making sure the room is in fact the room we want. This was not a good first experience on RCI. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
The service was impeccable. When my husband stopped by Guest Services to pick up the Assistive Listening device they got overzealous and installed blinking lights and bed vibrator in the room. That was very kind but I didn't need all ... Read More
The service was impeccable. When my husband stopped by Guest Services to pick up the Assistive Listening device they got overzealous and installed blinking lights and bed vibrator in the room. That was very kind but I didn't need all that ( and it changed the set up of the room) so they took it right back out. We loved having the assigned seating at 6pm. We loved having the same wait staff each night. I emailed special requests ahead of time---They were able to give us a private table away from the piano so I was able to enjoy without trying to explain my deafness to people They handled my food allergies easily. The main dining room was my something I looked forward to everyday. We loved every single thing about the size of this ship. We never felt crowded, never waited in line, never felt rushed. We asked Guest Services and they said it was fully booked and had 1600 people on board when we sailed.There are rumors about Royal taking it out of commission with Cuba off the table. I hope not-- I would sail this ship again in a heartbeat. The biggest surprise--- the teen club. As you know, they have little to nothing on the website about having a teen club. I was very, very worried that my 13 year old would be bored. We made him go to the teen meet and greet the first night promising to pick him up in 2 hours. We were thrilled to find out that instead of a dedicated room---they have a "roaming" teen club. Fabian had the kids all over the ship from morning until midnight. They played hide and seek, uno, scrabble, a scavenger hunt, went to the shows as a group and played a days long spy game called paranoia. My son was gone from sunup to curfew and had the best time. Added bonus--- no electronics were involved so it really was a throw back to the childhood of disconnect. I think Royal is missing a huge marketing opportunity and parents would sign up for this ship just to get their kids off the devices. Read Less
Sail Date June 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
This was my 63rd cruise, itinerary is usually my main focus and wanting to visit Cuba there was only a few ship offerings. I have always had very good experiences sailing RCL and despite the numerous negative reviews and the size of the ... Read More
This was my 63rd cruise, itinerary is usually my main focus and wanting to visit Cuba there was only a few ship offerings. I have always had very good experiences sailing RCL and despite the numerous negative reviews and the size of the “Empress” I decide to give it a try, lucky my sailing was the last Cuba sailing before the new travel restrictions were put into place. Having recently sailed the mega ships the boarding process could not have been any easier. Navigating the ship is fairly easy and the hub of activity is on decks 5 and 6. Even-tough this is a small ship I found lots to do as there are numerous activities throughout the day. In the evening there was two venues with music and the usual fill of activities to participate. There were a number of bars, but “Balleros” was my main hangout plus the music was very good. I ate in main dining room , windjammer and the only specialty restaurant Chops, all were very good to excellent. Staff and service throughout were amazing. Even tough this was a small ship I never felt any rocking throughout the voyage. I did encounter that sewage smell on mid deck 8, but it was occasional. My only complaint was the cabin(the worst in 63 cruises.. but more below). Overall, the Empress is an underrated ship, it has much to offer, food, activities, staff and yes character. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise to go with a group of friends. The Ship: was nice for the most part. It was comfortable to be on. It generally handled the sea state pretty well. It was nice to not have to walk forever to get from one end to the ... Read More
We chose this cruise to go with a group of friends. The Ship: was nice for the most part. It was comfortable to be on. It generally handled the sea state pretty well. It was nice to not have to walk forever to get from one end to the other. The age of the ship did show though in some public areas. We went on the All Access tour and saw many of the behind the scenes areas. In general, the ship looked well cared for. Controls looked somewhat dated but that's fine since they seemed to work well. The Cabin: Here the disadvantage of an older ship shows. The cabin was small and had only a window. The general condition of the cabin was fine. The bathroom was tiny with a little shower tucked into a corner. You almost had to leave the door open to sit on the toilet. But the shower worked well and seemed to be in very good condition. Dining: Hmmm... Hit and miss. Some of the food was awful. Prime rib was the right color but missed badly on texture and taste. Beef medallions were the same. They did not taste roasted. Lobster bisque was horrific. Chicken was good. Most desserts were quite good. Pork was good and fish was fine. Civiche seemed to be just a kind of shrimp cocktail. The food in the buffet was generally OK if but over cooked. All that said, it wouldn't stop me from taking the ship again. Didn't pay any attention to the entertainment or activities. Service: Excellent all around Ports and Shore Excursions: Ports were good even if to almost seems 70% of the cruises I go in have stopped in Cozumel. Key West was good but the highlight of the cruise was the stop in Havana. The shore excursion of Old Havana was great. We got to see how Cubans actually live. Our tour guide was very open about conditions in Cuba and did not stray into politics or propaganda. I'd love to go back but, as Americans, we can't. WiFi: Hit and miss. Some areas of the ship had great wifi but in the cabin it worked ok for 1 device and poorly for the other. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
EVERYONE with Royal Caribbean made us feel like we were so important to them and they would do anything within their power to accommodate our every need. The service, entertainment, and food was all excellent! We had a few meals in Chops ... Read More
EVERYONE with Royal Caribbean made us feel like we were so important to them and they would do anything within their power to accommodate our every need. The service, entertainment, and food was all excellent! We had a few meals in Chops Grill and they were good, but the food and service in the main dining room was so good, we probably will not spend the extra money next time. A larger pool would be nice, but that was not the goal of our trip or we would have booked a larger ship. We had three adults in an ocean-view cabin and had plenty of room. We purchased The Key and felt like the benefits were great compared to the cost. After a lot of research, I also found that most excursions were actually less expensive booking directly through Royal Caribbean, contrary to many review warnings. We loved the ports of Key West, Cuba, and Cozumel! Definitely agree with "small ship, HUGE heart". We did walk by a few small areas with a less-than-pleasant odor a few times, but I have never been in a venue accommodating over 2,000 total people where you couldn't find a few spots that were not exactly pleasant. If given the chance, I would do this exact trip again next week, no questions asked!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Empress of the Seas is an older and smaller ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet. The ship was very well maintained. Rooms are very small by todays standards but they are functional. The food and service was up to Royal Caribbean ... Read More
Empress of the Seas is an older and smaller ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet. The ship was very well maintained. Rooms are very small by todays standards but they are functional. The food and service was up to Royal Caribbean standards. Very nice to have a ship that played Caribbean music by the pool when in the Caribbean. Making guests check out towels for pool and returning them worked real well. If some one left the pool they picked up the towels rather than leave them. That way you always knew if a lounge bed was available. Even on sea days this made lounges available by the pool all day. Life guards were great at keeping glass bottles from being taken into pool. No problem getting tables for 2 at anytime dining. Casino was small but adequate. Use of shuffling machines, 6 to 5 black jack payouts and no even money on black jack at black jack tables below $25 minimum is the main complaint. Missed diamond club area, which is not available on the ship. Biggest complaint was the lack of dress code enforcement at the main dining. People were admitted in shorts, tee shirts and tank tops, even on casual sheik night. Don't have a dress code if you're going to allow anything. A lot to see in Havana. Like stepping back in time 70 years. People were friendly. Felt very safe. Very clean. Easy to come and go through customs. Visa was easy with Royal Caribbean @ $75. Cigars were a great bargain. Make sure you buy in a national store or factory or you probably will get counterfeits. Price is the same in all stores. Know how to get to a store. They don't have easily noticed signs. You must use CUC Cuban money. Exchange rate for American money will cost you 13%. It will cost you 4% to change the money back to American. If you have Euro's or Canadian it is even. Exchange is fast and easy right at the cruise pier. Old Havana Heritage Walking Excursion booked with RC was good. It covered pretty much all of old Havana. We weren't happy that they added a bus portion to the tour. We were only told about this when our tickets arrived on board. We didn't want the bus tour but had to take it. It took up an hour of the tour. Cost $62 per person. Cafe Taberna Excursion booked with RC was good. Cost was $98 per person. 10 minute walk from cruise terminal. Nice show from 9:00 to 11:00 with band and dance couple that gets audience involved. 2 drinks and snack were included. Food is available at additional cost. Can get a little boring after 1 hour or so, especially if you don't know the language. You can leave and walk back to ship at any time if you want. Cuba's Classic Cars excursion booked through Vacations To Go, who we booked cruise through, cost $178 for 2 people and lasted about 3 hours. Very nice tour. Viewed most of the Havana Cuba highlights with stops at Revolution Square and Hotel Nacional. Half the cost of similar tour through cruise ship. All convertible cars were provided. Guide spoke English well. He was quite informative. Hotel Nacional was a great stop. Improvements to tour could be a little more time at hotel. Felt a little rushed at that stop. Tour included alcoholic drink at hotel. Meeting location was perfect. Easy to find and guides were there on time. A little disappointed with the fact that tour requires 4 per car. We were a couple and would have liked a car for 2. Maybe an option could be provided for this. If you just want to ride in the classic cars, there are plenty available outside of pier. You can rent them at $40 - $50 per hour for up to 4 people. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Empress of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.5
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 2.5 3.4
Family 2.0 3.4
Shore Excursion 4.5 3.8
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.8

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