Sail Date: September 2018
We chose this cruise because it was two full days in Havana. The ship is much older and smaller than ships I’ve been on. Perhaps due to this, even though I was wearing a patch I felt unsteady and dizzy most of the trip. Additionally ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was two full days in Havana. The ship is much older and smaller than ships I’ve been on. Perhaps due to this, even though I was wearing a patch I felt unsteady and dizzy most of the trip. Additionally having made reservations through Cruises.com we were never informed we would be getting an obstructed view cabin. There aren’t any balconies on the ship so ocean view was our only choice. The room was cramped due to the fact that additional loft type beds were on both sides of our bed so we had to crouch into bed. That being said the crew was wonderful and the food and service were great! The drinks are expensive so consider the beverage package if you are a drinker! Shore excursions aren’t cheap but necessary in Havana. The Tropicana Night club was $199 per person and not worth it! Beautiful costumes and great dancers but overall a little dated Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We just got back from the 8 day "Cuba Immersion" cruise on Empress of the Seas. We are long-time Royal Caribbean cruisers and have done all the ship classes. By far (like a factor or 2) this is the smallest boat in the fleet. ... Read More
We just got back from the 8 day "Cuba Immersion" cruise on Empress of the Seas. We are long-time Royal Caribbean cruisers and have done all the ship classes. By far (like a factor or 2) this is the smallest boat in the fleet. By no means did it feel like we were missing anything. The facts are, the staff more than made up for the ship size in the quality of food, service, and access to really cool ports. The cabins are small, we had a junior suite, which was nice - but it was about the size of any other balcony. Our friends had an "ocean view", which was just a window, so go in expecting small and older and you'll be fine. Don't expect a modern fancy ship. But this one is clean, well equipped and has all the basics. We visited Havana, Cienfuegos (Trinidad) and Santiago de Cuba. In looking at these ports, there's really no practical way to think a larger could not even get into these ports. In the port entry to Santiago de Cuba, the ship almost reaches power lines going over the water. So, in all fairness, Royal NEEDS to run a smaller boat here. The food was great, probably some of the best we've had on Royal and the size allowed us to get to know some of the service staff. We thoroughly enjoyed it. The facilities are small but adequate. Now, on Cuba, don't expect fancy or beaches. Cuba is 60 years behind. Go to Cuba because you want to learn about Cuba not to be pampered. If you want to be pampered go on another cruise and don't complain about this one. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
I rate this cruise 1/10 Guest relation desk not helpful at all Room tiny, not suitable for one person Room can not fit one bag Restroom very small Rooms facilities are minimal, no facial tissue box, no fridge ... Read More
I rate this cruise 1/10 Guest relation desk not helpful at all Room tiny, not suitable for one person Room can not fit one bag Restroom very small Rooms facilities are minimal, no facial tissue box, no fridge Communication among the staff are not statisfactory Window stateroom 4520 is a tube and not a window although we paid for a window stateroom Very noisy room because of the engines Excursions are not successful eapecially in cienfuegos Bahamas was an alternate stop, no excursions was published Excursion disembarkation is awful had to wait 3 hrs to get off in cientfuegos Night Shows are basic Check in is quick Food is nice Dinner restaurant is nice Cleaning and hygien is high Staff/waiters are nice but limited responsibility Onboard shopping is basic Entertainment is very basic Pool is small 3 Jacuzzi are good Save your money for better cruise or other RC ship Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This was the best way to see Havana. Two days in port and it was so easy to get on and off the ship and in an out of Havana! Wonderful time. It was like going back in time to 1959! One of the best trips I have been on and will go back ... Read More
This was the best way to see Havana. Two days in port and it was so easy to get on and off the ship and in an out of Havana! Wonderful time. It was like going back in time to 1959! One of the best trips I have been on and will go back for sure! Everybody was so worried about the paperwork to get into the country and it was easy and nobody really checked. The ship took it at the Miami port and that was it. It really is for the US and you to hold for up to five years in case you would get audited. The exchange process was easy and I used Euros to get a better rate as US dollars get a 10% reduction off the top! The visa process the ship handled and it was billed to the onboard account. You give to the Cuban officials when you leave the ship the first time and that is it. You can take up to 100 cigars per person and a liter of rum per person. Lots of great cigar stores but go to the authentic. Casa De Habanos for the best! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
We wanted to see Cuba while we still could.We had a very good embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly and was well organized. The ship is smaller and we liked it. The ship is older and is probally updated the most it can be for her ... Read More
We wanted to see Cuba while we still could.We had a very good embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly and was well organized. The ship is smaller and we liked it. The ship is older and is probally updated the most it can be for her size. Our cabin was clean and what we expected for the price we paid we were not disappointed. We were on deck 3. We usually are on an upper deck. We understand that the ship was filled to capacity however we never felt crowded. The dining was very good actually better then most of the bigger ships. The food in the dining room was very good and the service was excellent. It was fast and our server Inyoman was very attentive. The food in the windjammer was good the breakfast bar however could try to remember the first in first out rule when serving potato's and some items that can get dry if left to long. kudos to the windjammer food prep for the variety of veggies and the great ribs. And the menu changed most nights. I thought it was very good. Also the late night dining was open and we never had a time when food wasn't available. They opened the dinning at 10:30 PM and it was open until late with quite a few choices to keep one satisfied. The vegas show was good and the comedy show was very good. Shore excursions through the ship in cuba were expensive. So i would recommend booking on your own online and paying in person DO NOT DEPOSIT. We booked at home the old cars tour. It was great we saw a lot of the area although the driver spoke very little english it allowed us to see cuba Havana and know where we wanted to go the next day. WE had drinks in Cuba and they were inexpensive and very good in a local cafe. Mojitos. Of course Mexico is fun in cozumel and the excursions are well planned and both on the ship and at the pier you can find good deals and because cozumel has been providing these excursions for a long time you will get an organized and well planned excursion sometimes repetition has its value. All of the things we did were well worth the money we paid for them. We have been there several times. It is safe in cozumel. Yes i would take this cruise again. Hope i helped you all Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Getting on the ship was smooth the food was great in the dining room and in their chops steakhouse. The food was basically what we look forward to every night. The shows weren’t that great and didn’t really interest us and we ... Read More
Getting on the ship was smooth the food was great in the dining room and in their chops steakhouse. The food was basically what we look forward to every night. The shows weren’t that great and didn’t really interest us and we are big show goers. The movie nights that they gave either in the theatre or pool deck was great because the shows and movies they had on TV were lacking. The pools was the size of 4 state rooms put together !!!! For 1200 guest. It looked like sardines packs up in the pool and around the pool because there wasn’t enough room for everyone to go in at once. It honestly looked like a cesspool waitkng to give you an infection due to all the bodies in it at once. Stayed away from the pool. Key west was amazing, Cuba was rich in culture and history but the check in process was ridiculous going through customs just to get into Cuba we were on line for two hours just to get through immigration and customs. The ship was very old and needs to be retired, the drink packages or overly expensive and not to mention my room sucked.The lack of privacy me and my husband had in our room during royal caribbean cruise was so uncomfortable. royal caribbeans Response was we decline your compensation and give them another chance. Check out the photo attached of the “low traffic staircase that only maintenance uses”. we were told that when booking the room it was shown with a symbol that this room had an obstructed view. A stair case with high traffic was not an obstruction that’s a privacy issue and a symbol upon booking telling me about and obstruction does not give a proper warning that while my window shade is open people can look in my room while I try to relax or sit on the stairs and watch us. That was a complete lie, we counted almost 50 people, couples, children including a lady that sat on the stairs and proceeded to look in our room !!!!but not ONE staff or “Maintenance” person. A pole, beam, or the deck that’s between the window and our ocean view is an obstruction not a damn staircase. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We have only sailed on RCCL once before and usually use HAL, Princess or Oceania. Our reason for choosing this cruise was to have a rather inexpensive and quick trip to Cuba. We got a really good price on the cruise and our 4 night ... Read More
We have only sailed on RCCL once before and usually use HAL, Princess or Oceania. Our reason for choosing this cruise was to have a rather inexpensive and quick trip to Cuba. We got a really good price on the cruise and our 4 night cruise went to Havana for two days and then one sea day which was just what we wanted. Embarkation was really easy and parking at the Miami port was easy but expensive at $22 per day. We were able to get into the shorter line for check in since my brother is a Diamond level and we had already filled out our cruise information online so checkin was really quick. We went right up to the buffet and had some lunch which was fine and our bags were at the room about a hour later. The ship itself is rather small and dated in decor. Our oceanview cabin was really small and on Deck 3. I would not recommend a cabin on one of the lower decks as we hit some rough water on the return and it sounded like canon balls hitting the outside of the ship most of the night....very noisy. The cabin itself was clean and neat and we had enough storage space but the bathroom was very tight. The only amenities that we had in the bathroom were bars of soap and a shampoo/conditioner combination from a dispenser on the shower wall....no lotion. Thankfully I had brought my own shampoo and conditioner and lotion. We also brought bottles of water and sparkling water aboard in a carry bag without any problem. The only drinks we had on board were one pina colada and a virgin mojito which was $20. The drink packages are very expensive. I also found the temperature of the ship very cold. I wish I had brought a jacket with me as many others did. The thermostat in our room was broken so the room was very cold all of the time. They finally fixed it the last night. The bed was comfortable enough and other than the noise from the water outside it was quiet. Evidentlly there has been a lot of confusion about getting off of the ship in Cuba and whether you were required to take a RCCL exursion to get off. We had to complete a form to hand in at check in indicating what we were going to do in Cuba. We were going to take private excursions each day and that was not a problem. RCCL took care of the Visa (for $75 pp) and all we had to do was fill out a simple card to hand over to immigration. It was very easy. I booked our tours with Blexie-Havana Tours which I had found on Trip Advisor and he charged 130 CUC for the four of us....way cheaper than a ship excursion (great excursion by the way). We had no problem or wait getting off of the ship in a reasonable amount of time and you can exchange your dollars for CUCs once you pass immigration. They give you 87 CUC for every $100. We found that most merchants and restaurants take dollars but evidently that isn't advertised. The ship docks right in Old Havana so you can just walk off and there you are. It's surreal seing all of the old cars and horse drawn carriages. If you had a guide book it would be possible to walk around by yourself and see a lot of the signts. The classic car taxis were plentiful when you walk out of the port area if you want to do that on your own. We felt very safe in Havana and wouldn't have been afraid to walk around alone. The food and service were very good in the dining room for dinner-----not so much for breakfast. It took a really long time to get breakfast and coffee and the selection was pretty limited. We ended up in the Windjammer for breakfast after two days of trying the dining room and that had better options. No problem getting a table there and the buffet didn't seem overly crowded. Unlike some other cruises we have been on, I didn't experience people shoving and butting in line to get their food. I really liked the people on this cruise. There was a $7.95 plus 18% gratuity charge for room servcie which I thought was exorbitant so we didn't indulge. What I really loved about this cruise was how much fun it was and the fellow passengers were really nice. The average age of our fellow cruisers on this cruise was probably somewhere in the 40s. Seemed like there were a lot of younger people but not many children. The children that were there were very well behaved. Although I am over 60, I liked that there was a younger crowd that were having a lot of fun. The activities were really fun and well run....lots of games, Trivia and music. They didn't have many sport type of activities but you could sign up for the climbing wall and they had ping pong. There is only one pool which was very crowded but everyone seemed to be enjoying it and they had a couple of group games out by the pool that were fun. We watched a movie one night when there wasn't a lot going on and also went to Karaoke several nights which we enjoyed. The last day they had Latin dancing (like Zumba) which was really fun and great exercise. They had a comedian the first two nights who was pretty funny but I thought he was a little crude for my taste the second night....but that is a matter of taste. They had a group that featured Journey the third night which were very good but really loud. The last night was a production show and it was amazing....especially for such a small ship. The cruise director was very good and very visible as well. So my bottom line on this ship is that the price was right for seeing Cuba and fun as well. I don't think I would like to have taken a longer cruise with such a small cabin but it was fine for a 4 night cruise. There were several quiet spots on the ship where you could read without lots of noise around you. We have been using Princess and HAL for trips with our grandkids and I am thinking seriously of switching to Royal when we bring the kids next time as I think they would have a lot more fun on Royal. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Decided to take a cruise from Miami to Havana. Havana was marvelous. Exotic, colorful, magical, musical, a tarnished jewel suspended in time. The Cubans were warm, helpful and welcoming. Food marvelous, cultural attractions plentiful ... Read More
Decided to take a cruise from Miami to Havana. Havana was marvelous. Exotic, colorful, magical, musical, a tarnished jewel suspended in time. The Cubans were warm, helpful and welcoming. Food marvelous, cultural attractions plentiful and up to par with many American cultural museums and institutions. It was simply, beautiful. The short time in Havana wetted the appetite to return for a more in-depth experience in this fascinating country. The Empress of the Seas was a completely different story. From the outset, everything seemed okay. The boarding process was a bit more chaotic than other cruise lines, but nothing that would set off alarms. Getting our luggage took some time, and instead of the bags being left in front of our stateroom, we had to wander around looking for them. No big deal. We mingled with other passengers on the top deck as we departed Miami, did some exploring of the ship, which is small, and is of the older variety, but is clean and we thought well maintained. First red flag was the safety drill. First, you were told NOT to bring your life vest. We gathered at our assigned area and that was the end of control. We could barely hear or understand the person speaking on the loudspeaker system. People were so confused they kept talking in numerous languages throughout the entire drill. At some point a man in front of us who was wearing a life vest, tied it and that was that. Folks literally did not know if the drill was over or if it was about to start. We returned to our cabin, to unpack and a short rest before dinner. We had been surprised to find out that there were no formal evenings on the ship, but none the less we dressed in casual attire for dinner. On this ship a linen shift with heels and open color shirt with Kakhi’s for my husband is over, over dressed. The Starlight Dining Room is massive, but tables have been pushed into every nook and cranny, so you are literally dining inches from other tables. The tables are so close you bump into those dining near you upon entering and leaving. We were given our table and greeted by our waiter Simplicio who was warm and friendly. We choses from a rather limited menu and expected to have the quality of cruise meals we have experienced in the past. We were dead wrong. My escargot was drowning in some sort of oily green/yellow slop. The strip steak we both ordered appeared to have been cooked in a convection oven, not grilled. Over it was a gloppy brown mess which was supposed to be gravy. I had three very sad looking pieces of potato and some carrots. Those carrots and potatoes were the best thing on the plate. The crème brulee I had for desert tasted like vanilla pudding over which sugar had been caramelized. Thinking it was the first night and things needed to settle down, we made no complaints and ate the misery in front of us. The second night we had a marvelous dinner in Havana, and the third night we splurged on board the ship eating at Chop’s Grill. These two restaurants are near one another but worlds apart when it comes to the food. We were going to opt out of dinner the fourth night but thought we should give them a second-chance. It was lobster night and Simplicio guided us on what appetizers and deserts to order. We were thrilled to enjoy everything. Having had such a good experience, we headed back to the Starlight for the fifth and final evening. Major mistake. First, we were not seated at our usual table, we didn’t even have the same waiter or assistant waiter. We had been looking forward to chatting with both of them on our final night. From here things took a decidedly downward turn. As bad as the food was on day one, this food was ten times worse. The Caesar salad was awash in dressing, and not good dressing. The fish we ordered was horrible, wet cardboard would have been an improvement. It was so bad, we got up and left the dining room. We were going to go back to Chop’s Grill but we had forked over enough money to eat something decent. Instead we headed to the Windjammer Buffet on the 10th deck where we went for breakfast and a quick lunch. To our shock we found very edible food and pleasant deserts, so did not have to go to bed hungry. To add to the abysmal food, we had toilet problems. Starting day three our commode would not flush. We called maintenance and were impressed with the prompt response. After about an hour, things were once again running smoothly. For a while. The next morning, the same issue. Called again, prompt response, and correction. For a bit. On the last morning, our final act was to call maintenance and once again report a non-flushing commode. The only saving grace of this ship is the staff. Our cabin Steward, Humphrey was wonderful, helpful, friendly and a delight. Simplicio was great as was his assistant waiter, whose name unfortunately I have forgotten. Beyond that I don’t really have much to say that is positive. It appears Royal Caribbean is more interested in pushing shopping, tours, booze and the wares they sell in the tiny shop on board than anything else. We go cruising to experience new adventures and a bit of glam. Doesn’t have to be formal nights, but getting a bit cleaned up for dinner, is fun. On board this ship people are allowed in the dining room in attire you don’t even see at restaurants in beach towns. I am all for dressing for comfort, but there is such a thing as dressing to go wash the car. The Starlight dining room is loud, crowded to the point of being uncomfortable and unwelcoming. It is harshly lit, devoid of any charm, elegance or warmth. If you want a special evening you are forced to pay extra for dining in Chop’s Grill. Other cruise lines offer additional dining experiences in the event a passenger wishes to have a different cuisine or experience. On this ship it is the only way of having a decent meal without having the cafeteria experience. We will continue cruising, and we will return to Havana, which is a true delight, but we will not ever again set foot on the Empress of the Seas and most likely no other Royal Caribbean ship. The non-flushing loo was an analogy for the ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
This was not our first cruise, and we chose this particular cruise over Norwegian which offered significantly more amenities included at no charge because it had an extra day in port at Havana. Our overall experience was average. ... Read More
This was not our first cruise, and we chose this particular cruise over Norwegian which offered significantly more amenities included at no charge because it had an extra day in port at Havana. Our overall experience was average. This ship doesn't have many of the amenities that many other ships have but on a positive note it is much smaller and easier to get around. This was our first sailing on Royal and we did not find it to be better than any other Iine that we have cruised on. This will also be our last sailing on Royal and here is why. With less than 2 weeks until our sail date we received an email stating that the itinerary had been changed and the ship would not be calling on Key West. Additionally, the email claimed that as a result of the itinerary change, the system blanket cancelled ALL shore excursions and refunded the payments of such back to the method originally used to pay for them. To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement as we had not visited Key West in more than 20 years and this being our 25th wedding anniversary we were looking forward to visiting again. I called Royal to try b and learn what had happened. I spent more than 2 hours on the phone, more than 75% of that time on hold, and after all that time the only thing that I learned was the supposedly something was wrong with the message and the ship would indeed still call on Key West. It took almost 36 hours before shore excursions became available again for Key West on the Royal website and in my case I was able to re-book the exact same shore excursion with the astonishing "priveledge" of paying 38% more for it! Royal never explained what happened and would not admit to any fault outside of the lame blanket excuse that a computer glitch had occured. I leave you to draw your own conclusion. Buyer beware! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Do not book this ship! It is in desperate need for maintenance and refurbishment. I have been on 7 cruises in the past 10 years and this has been the worst. Cabin, state of ship, and entertainment: The cabin looked and felt old and ... Read More
Do not book this ship! It is in desperate need for maintenance and refurbishment. I have been on 7 cruises in the past 10 years and this has been the worst. Cabin, state of ship, and entertainment: The cabin looked and felt old and dirty. I imagine it is similar to staying at an old motel. Despite how hard the housekeeping staff may try, there is no fixing this at all. WORST PART: both my girlfriend and I woke up to the smell of engine fumes at night. We stayed at the front of the ship, 4th floor. The rest of the ship is not much better. Much of it is carpeted and looks old and worn. In addition, this ship is TINY. There are three restaurants. 1 buffet, 1 formal dining room, and 1 premium restaurant you have to pay additional for. The entertainment each night was the same cast and band. The only thing saving this cruise from being a totally awful experience is the food, which was decent. Finally, one pool, one hot tub. Excursions: Let me emphasize that you do NOT need to book an excursion via Royal to get off the ship in Cuba. I called three separate customer service reps prior to the cruise, and 2/3 told me it was necessary to book through Royal. They never check if you have excursions booked when leaving the ship. The excursions are a joke. For example, the night in Havana tour which advertised an evening of tapas, two free drinks, and salsa dancing ended up being: Two watered down drinks, cheap cold cut lunch meats and cheese, and a local band while being crammed at a table with 40 other cruise guests. Service: The dining and bar staff was pleasant. Customer service with excursions was not. Customer service with Royal customer was also rather unpleasant and a waste of time. There seems to be a lack of information and training for their team and they are answering questions without knowing for sure. Read Less
Empress of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.6
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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