1,538 Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas Cruise Reviews

Like the reviews say, this ship is smaller. If you have been on the larger ships, you may be disappointed with lack of things to do. We missed having the big open mall with lots shops and restaurants. I will say that the crew seems to go ... Read More
Like the reviews say, this ship is smaller. If you have been on the larger ships, you may be disappointed with lack of things to do. We missed having the big open mall with lots shops and restaurants. I will say that the crew seems to go the extra mile in good and friendly service to make up for lack of amenities. I would only go on a 4 or 5 day cruise at most on this ship. Just not enough to do on sea days, especially if you are trying to keep kids entertained. The shows were good, the food was great, I don’t have anything negative to say about this ship, its just simply a consequence of going on a smaller ship, and no one forced me to go on Empress. And just because its small. it did not feel any less crowded than the larger ships we have been on. However, if you are an adult and you are there to relax, sun, eat, and see good shows, you will like it just fine. Not everyone wants or needs a shopping mall or a skating rink or all those extra things on their ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
I chose this cruise because I wanted to sail on a cruise for New Years (which I do often with my husband) plus, this year I wanted to go somewhere I’ve never been-Cuba. So, we chose the Empress. Warning: if you are a modern cruiser where ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to sail on a cruise for New Years (which I do often with my husband) plus, this year I wanted to go somewhere I’ve never been-Cuba. So, we chose the Empress. Warning: if you are a modern cruiser where you expect to experience a Disney type of ship with rides, slides or roller skating rinks, don’t go on the Empress. If you are someone who loves the ocean, loves sailing and enjoys classic style cruising, this cruise is for you. I’ve been on over 50 cruises. I’m an avid cruiser. First, I booked an ocean view cabin and about 4 weeks before sailing, I received an e-mail from RCCL about an auction for an upgrade to a junior suite. So I did it, I bid $1000 and got a great junior suite 9126. The best thing about this cruise was our cabin. It had a spacious balcony, a lot of space, a great bed, a small walk in closet, a small couch area and a roomy bathroom. It was well worth it. We slept well and truly relaxed. Also, our cabin steward was superb. The next best thing about this cruise is the staff. Bobby, the cruise director is great. Our waiters were wonderful-Melvin and Ma. The enfire staff is professional, warm and friendly. The ship is clean and inviting. The food was delicious. NOW CUBA- it is not for everyone. We were 2 days in Havana. Food and basic nutrition in Cuba is non-existent. Best tip for you- eat on the ship. My first day in Havana I was afraid. I was lost and did not know what to do so we set off walking into Old Havana. Some streets are breathtaking but other streets look like a war zone. My best advice for Havana is hire the prettiest old car right when you get out of the port. For $40 an hour they will give you the most amazing tour of the REAL Havana and you will not regret it. About 4 people fit in the car and 3-4 hours is more than enough for an all encompassing and thorough tour of the real Havana. Do not be afraid. The people are friendly. Everyone on cruise was complaining that the cruise excursions were not worth the price. We ended up having a splendid and unforgettable day 2 in Havana. In Grand Cayman, there’s no need to splurge. The swimming area right by the tender / dock (walking distance) shopping area and is a nice swimming, snorkel area. Don’t go to Calico Jacks or anywhere else. Those areas are overcrowded and not worth it. Grand Cayman is clean and pretty. Back on the Empress, I recommend the sushi making class BUT here is my TIP: buy one class which is enough for two or even three people and they let you share. The class makes so much sushi enough to share with 2 other people. A couple can take turns making the different types of rolls and so on. What I didn’t like about the Empress was that there is an odor on the port side of the ship like ballast water. The bon voyage party was exactly like the white hot party-boring. They need new activities. They have the same ole love n marriage show, Quest. The bingo was lame as well. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
This was a good cruise. People have to understand your not going on a mega ship. ALSO this is not a cruise to take with 16-20 year olds, UNLESS they are truly into visiting Cuba. There is no disco club, sports deck (other than rock wall) ... Read More
This was a good cruise. People have to understand your not going on a mega ship. ALSO this is not a cruise to take with 16-20 year olds, UNLESS they are truly into visiting Cuba. There is no disco club, sports deck (other than rock wall) and only one small pool. We did not go to key west as there was an accident earlier in the month closing part of the port so we were changed to an overnight in Havana The food was excellent both in the MDR and Windjammer. Again, this is not a mega ship. The cabins reflect the ships age.. No balconies, except for suites. The cabins are small as are the bathrooms and showers. There is not a lot of technology like on the newer ships. The staff was very friendly and bent over backwards to make sure you were happy. Dinner in the MDR was very good. There was a Cuban themed menu every night along with the classics. Windjammer had it usual fare. It is smaller and a bit more crazy especially on days when everyone wants to get off the ship, but they had a great choice of dishes. The gym, if you can call it that, looks like an add on above the Viking Lounge. Small and lacking equipment. Overall it was a great time. This cruise is about going to Cuba. If you have teens who want to party and play sports this is not the ship for you. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We wanted to go to Cuba and only the smaller ships can do that. The ship was small, including the state rooms. The bed was not very comfortable and the shower was tiny. However, the crew was great and there were many cozy areas to ... Read More
We wanted to go to Cuba and only the smaller ships can do that. The ship was small, including the state rooms. The bed was not very comfortable and the shower was tiny. However, the crew was great and there were many cozy areas to sit outside of your room. The ship was kept clean and the crew worked hard to keep everyone happy. Entertainment was good but not great. Some shows were very entertaining and others not so much. The lack of lounge chairs on the decks was a problem for those who wanted to sit in the sun, but at least there were usually chairs to be found near the Windjammer around tables near the pool. The food was average with dinner being the best. Breakfast/brunch in the restaurant was fair. The buffet food lacked flavor and variety and seemed to be mostly re-purposed entrees from the previous night's dinner. Cold foods could have been chilled more and hot foods were barely warm. The children of our table mates loved the kids center. Overall, about what I expected from the oldest and smallest ship in the fleet. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
The only real reason for choosing this cruise was for the chance to visit CUBA and the time span allotted (2 of my kids are school teachers so had two weeks at Christmas to enjoy) suited our schedule. However, the itinerary was changed ... Read More
The only real reason for choosing this cruise was for the chance to visit CUBA and the time span allotted (2 of my kids are school teachers so had two weeks at Christmas to enjoy) suited our schedule. However, the itinerary was changed and the two & half days allotted to Havana were subsequently cut by a day. We took a private tour the first day arranged by ;Shore Trips which was interesting, fun and very insightful The second day we planned a visit with an NGO organization with a number of donations; this however was foiled due to the fact the ship sailed at 1 am that day not the 5 pm as originally scheduled! Cayman Island? the submarine excursion (only one booked thru cruise line) was cancelled due to mechanical error!!!..REALLY? We were travelling with 2 year old and no nursery was available (understandably, as this was not a "kid cruise") However there was a "toy bag available" to take to the cabin (in fact a variety of kid bags) which we really appreciated. Swimming pool was adequate and the few evenings we checked into entertainment found it t be average. There did appear to be an excess of "selling" (all variety of items at high prices) but guess tht is the norm! Overall service across the ship was average with but outstanding in the dining areas. To be fair, while the food was very mixed, some evenings very good, others just passed the test!. John & Ryan our waiters were superb and went far beyond the call of duty to serve at the dinner table. CUBA...interesting, enjoyable and quite safe. Plan on returning but NOT on a cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Where do I begin. Had a horrific time booking 2 rooms: -- $50 Cuba discounted from one room but not the other. Agent 1 told me no way, discount expired. Agent 2 was more congenial. -- Took 3 tries including one to a supervisor ... Read More
Where do I begin. Had a horrific time booking 2 rooms: -- $50 Cuba discounted from one room but not the other. Agent 1 told me no way, discount expired. Agent 2 was more congenial. -- Took 3 tries including one to a supervisor to get the occupant names squared away. Itinerary was changed 3 times. In all of the times I've cruised, I've never had this many changes. Original was Labadee, Santiago, Cienfuegos, Grand Cayman. In the end, we ended up with 4 sea days and only 3 ports ... UGH! -- Labadee was dropped for Coco Cay. Ok, not bad. -- Santiago was dropped for Havana ... 2 full days. Whoohoo. -- One week before sailing. "Because of a mistake that nobody at RCI caught for more than a week, we're only going to be in Havana 1 day 2 nights AND we're dropping Coco Cay. Here's a $100 for your troubles." -- Cienfuegos was also moved up a day to the 27th, although there was no direct mention of that in any communications. RCI publishes the itinerary without dates, so I didn't realize the change. Missed our Cienfuegos independent excursion. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. No issues. I suspect due to such a small passenger roster. The ship itself was pleasant. Enjoyed the overall decor and the crew really kept the ship tidy. The rooms are small. Our rooms were 8 floor aft. I had a window view, children interior. Plenty of nooks and crannies to stash things away. Because of the inordinate amount of sea days and lack of activities for such a small ship, we were in constant search for something to do. Thank goodness I ordered the high speed internet package for the family. It's the fastest internet by far of all of our cruises to date. I think if I didn't have internet, my family would have mutinied. Even the Captain said it was designed for 3-4 day cruises not 8 days. Bobby the cruise director tried his best to keep things lively. The entertainment on board was top notch. The entire entertainment staff needs to be commended. All of them top-shelf acts. Actually the entire crew needs to be recognized. Efficient and competent, they made a real effort to know your name, and I enjoyed talking to them. The food is so-so. Windjammer buffet is ok. Formal dining was above average. Nothing really memorable except for our waiter and waitress who's service made the dining experience notable. I was taken aback when the Maitre d' told us we had to make reservations. This is our first cruise with RCI, 11th cruise overall. I've never had to make a reservation for anytime dining. The ports of call was spectacular. Havana was something else. The Cuban people are fiercely proud of their culture. I booked independent excursions with Shago Tours and they did not disappoint. The food was oh so delicious and inexpensive. Go to the Tropicana, but be aware it's a very touristy destination. Because of the RCI screw up, we missed our Cienfuegos tour and had to do it on the fly. Thankfully, the Cuban people were easy to deal with and we managed to make it to the beautiful waterfalls of Nicho. Make Nicho your destination and do a drive by of Cienfuegos. You will not be disappointed. I traveled with my children age 21 and 17. Because of the lack of space, the "Teen Club" doesn't have a physical space and is actually where ever a space was available. I'm really glad my 17yr old managed to find a gang to hang out with, BUT RCI has a 1am curfew and strictly enforces it, which is baffling. My children have never been hassled by security on other cruises if they were just hanging out quietly. Bobby, the CD, says they've had too many issues with juvenile delinquents running around knock on doors. Bobby also mentioned there were more than 260 children on board. I was quite surprised. So in summary, RCI shore side customer service was abominable. Ship was ok as long as you keep and open mind and realize it's size limitation. The crew was superior. Entertainment was very good. Food was average. Teen activities so-so. Cuba is a must see destination. I will probably not sail with RCI again unless they have one of their mega ship Oasis class departing from Galveston (my home port). Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We choose this cruise because we try to do something new every time we cruise. We had never done Cuba so it seemed perfect. I did my research so I knew that we were dealing with an older smaller ship, but figured it would be fine. We ... Read More
We choose this cruise because we try to do something new every time we cruise. We had never done Cuba so it seemed perfect. I did my research so I knew that we were dealing with an older smaller ship, but figured it would be fine. We we're wrong. It all started with the itinerary changes. They changed the itinerary three times. The first time we were replacing Labadee with Coco Cay. We had done Cay before so we were a bit disappointed, but got over it when we planned a great excursion for Coco Cay. Then they got rid of Santiago De Cuba and replaced it with Havana. Not there fault it was construction at the port that caused the problem. The third change was the one that really killed us. Only three days before the cruise we got an email saying that Royal had messed up. They had listed the wrong departure time from Havana. They listed it as 5pm when it should have been 5am. They sold excursions and everything. Some how no one figured this out until the week before we were supposed to leave. So there solution was to cut out Coco Cay all together and give us the full day in Havana after the overnight. We were bitterly disappointed. We wound up having only 3 1/2 port days on an 8 day cruise. Had that been the original itinerary we would not have booked this cruise. I do have to say that Havana was very nice as was Cienfuegos Cuba. Grand Cayman was to die for. So we did make the best of a poor situation. Royal did give us $100 onboard credit to try to resolve the situation, but that did not make much of a difference to me. In terms of the ship itself it was old and dated. The service was only ok and the entertainment was lacking. The worst part for me was the food. The main dining room was good, but not great. The problem was the buffet. The food was horrible. I am a healthy person and honestly the food was so poor it gave me stomach problems every time I ate at the buffet. It is also they only option for lunch most days. We wound up spending the money to have lunch at chops buy the end of the cruise because the buffet was making me sick. Overall we made the best of this cruise and had a good time, but I must say it is my only cruise vacation so far that I would not go back and book again. We have tried Royal twice now, and been disappointed both times. We are going to try again in Summer 2020 with Freedom of the Seas, but we keep being reminded why we are loyal to Norwegian for the most part. I must say the reason we were willing to try an older smaller ship was because we had such a fantastic time on Norwegian Spirit, which is NCL'S oldest smallest ship. Could not have been a morw different experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We booked this cruise because it had Cuban Itinerary. If I had know that the ship was one of the oldest and rundown fleet of Royal Caribbean, I would not have booked the cruise. I have cruised many times with other cruise lines as well ... Read More
We booked this cruise because it had Cuban Itinerary. If I had know that the ship was one of the oldest and rundown fleet of Royal Caribbean, I would not have booked the cruise. I have cruised many times with other cruise lines as well as Royal Caribbean and this was by far the smallest and oldest ship we ever sailed on. There were very few activities during the sea days to occupy our time so most of the time was spent in our cabins. The shows/entertainment were so-so compared to other cruise lines shows/entertainment. In addition, since our cabins were towards the back of the ship, we really felt the rough seas and the people we were sailing with got sick and vomited for a couple of days due to sea sickness We were originally suppose to have two stops in Cuba (Havana and Cienfuegos) and one stop in the Cayman Islands. Within hours on day of cruise departure, we were notified that we would not be visiting Cayman Islands and instead spending more time in Havana because of bad weather that was going to be in Havana when we were suppose to originally visit towards end of the cruise. Then, on day 2 or 3 of the cruise after visiting Havana, we were told that we would not be visiting Cienfuegos, and instead be going to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, due to the weather conditions in Cienfuegos and the fact that we had to tender in Cienfuegos. They only gave a 6 hours to spend in Ocho Rios, which obviously was little time to have an enjoyable visit and do things. The one good thing that came out of this changed itinerary was that the Empress was able to rescue two fishermen that were stranded at sea for 30 days. If we had stuck to our original itinerary these fishermen would have never been found and who knows what would have happened to them. The only good thing about this cruise ship was that the food and customer service were amazing! To accommodate not visiting all the ports in Cuba, Royal Caribbean was able to refund our Cuba Visa fee which was admirable from the customer service aspect. If you do end up taking this cruise and are eating at the main dining room, try to recommend getting the table that is served by Randoll and Shiv! I went with my family and friends that had multiple vegetarians. Randoll and Shiv were able to accommodate the vegetarians by requesting to the chef to serve Indian vegetarian meals. They went above and beyond to accommodate this request. Now to talk about the rooms! Don't even get me started. These rooms were tiny. By far the smallest rooms of any cruise I have been on. If I had known the inside rooms were that small, I would have splurged a little more to get an oceanview room, which was also small, but had more space/room to maneuver around. With the inside cabin, my wife and I were barely able to unpack our luggage and fit both of us in the room at the same time. The bathroom was tiny and the shower we even smaller (I don't see how an obese person could comfortable take a shower because of how small it was). Even after we unpacked there was little room to walk around and store our luggage. In addition, the close space was small and the in-room safe was also small, so big things could not be safely secured (laptops, ipad, etc). My overall experience from this trip was below average. I will definitely sail with Royal Caribbean again, but will never book a small boat with them again because of the experience on the Empress. I also learned that, never get a room towards the back of the boat because you will fell every time the boat shakes or wobbles! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose this cruise for its 2 day ports in Cuba, one day in Havana the other in Cienfuegos, it also had a day in Grand Cayman. On checking in we were told no stop at Grand Cayman, but we would be doing the 2 stops in Cuba. After departing ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its 2 day ports in Cuba, one day in Havana the other in Cienfuegos, it also had a day in Grand Cayman. On checking in we were told no stop at Grand Cayman, but we would be doing the 2 stops in Cuba. After departing Miami, we were told no Cienfuegos, only Havana, which would be an overnight stop, the following day we were told we'd now have a stop from 7am-2pm in Jamaica. So instead of 3 ports we only had 2, with extra days at sea. No compensation, no free wi-fi, no free drinks, nothing offered. This ship only has 2 restaurants on board, unless you chose to pay extra, and twice during the day, and after 11pm there is not food available, unless you pay for room service. There is very little on ship entertainment, the kids club is horribly restrictive with hours of 9-12, then 2-5 and 7-10pm only, Its an additional $7 per hour after 10pm. Have never been in a cabin so small - its ridiculous, with the Pullman bed for our 8 year, the adult on one side could not even sit up in bed without hitting your head, you had to scooch across to the other side of the bed to get out. The shower was a joke, its more of a wet room, as an average size person struggles to show with the curtain closed. And to top it off, our first cabin had a MOUSE in it....yes a MOUSE. Our son saw it first, it came from his top bunk, onto the floor and under the bed, he then saw it again under the bed. Maintenance came, couldn't see anything so put down a trap. Later that evening we cam back to the cabin and the blasted MOUSE was in our luggage eating some snacks we had. At that point we demanded a change of cabin....it took hours, we had to move from up on the 7th deck down to the 4th deck...and they had the gall to offer us a $50 on board credit as compensation for the inconvenience!! Clearly that was unacceptable, and after more time spent with Customer Servces than it shoud have taken,we reached a compromise - but what a cruise, from the port changes, to the lack of entertainment, poor kids club, restrictive meal times, a paddling pool for an excuse of an onboard pool and a MOUSE!!! we doubt we will ever sail with Royal Caribbean again...we have cruised over a dozen times, mostly with Carnival due to their superb kids club for our son..we'll be back with them later in the year. Be warned..this ship is sadly lacking in way too many areas. Choose another that sails to Cuba, which was amazing by the way... Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We wanted to go to Cuba and were well aware that this was Royal's oldest and smallest ship. The age and size of the ship were no surprise. The biggest negative to me was the lack of hot water. There was no hot water prior to 7 a.m. ... Read More
We wanted to go to Cuba and were well aware that this was Royal's oldest and smallest ship. The age and size of the ship were no surprise. The biggest negative to me was the lack of hot water. There was no hot water prior to 7 a.m. From 7 a.m. on it was hit and miss to get a tepid (and I do mean tepid) shower with no really hot water at any time, day or night. Embarkation and disembarkation were fantastic even though it was during the government shutdown and there were almost no immigration officers. We had several itinerary changes on this cruise due to weather, I can't complain about that, they had our safety uppermost in mind. The captain went off course one evening to save two fishermen's lives--how cool is that? There were many positives on this ship, the top one was the food and service in the dining room, for which I'd give 5 stars. Pebri and Ryan were great waiters and we loved almost every dish we were served. Those that we didn't like were quickly replaced if we asked. The layout of the ship was super easy to navigate and there were numerous quiet places to hang out any time of the day or night. The entertainment was a notch above most other cruises we've taken. Doug Cameron and his electric violin were a highpoint. Most other acts were comedians of some sort (musician-comedian, juggler-comedian) which were all entertaining. Just a note--because of the numerous itinerary changes, we got the opportunity to go to the Tropicana which I would give zero stars to. Super overpriced and so boring I probably consulted my watch fifty times in two hours. I would strongly recommend you save your $200 per ticket and spend it on...any possible other thing in the world. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
The boat was really small therefor I got sea sick because of the weather. In addition to this, instead of visiting 3 ports, we only got to visit 2 ports; which meant 4 days at sea and 2 days off of the boat instead of 2 days at sea and a ... Read More
The boat was really small therefor I got sea sick because of the weather. In addition to this, instead of visiting 3 ports, we only got to visit 2 ports; which meant 4 days at sea and 2 days off of the boat instead of 2 days at sea and a possible 4 days off of the boat. Although, I know the weather can not be controlled other things that could be controlled were not up to par. The air condition in my room did not work. Drilling took place at 8:45 in the morning above my room which awakened me out of my sleep. The advertising was false. You do not need an excursion booked to get off the boat in Cuba. You just need a visa. The teen activities were cancelled because just like babysitting, no cruise ship staff stepped up to host the events. The customer service staff did not explain the dining experience correctly to me. The explained that the only option that I had for dining was the top deck (Windjammer) and if I made reservations for the other dining experience on the 4th floor. When I responded I couldn't remember if I did or not they told me "Well if you didn't they're all booked up now." They never explained to me or bothered to research (which I now see on the card after the fact), a first time cruiser, that you already had reservations to eat in this restaurant everyday at 8. When I asked, "Well it has to be something to eat other then the top deck because I know were supposed to have 2 formal nights..." they responded, "Oh, the formal nights are just for you to get dressed up and take a picture with the captain when he comes out." This cruise was an horrible experience! To top things off, the weather was not even updated in a timely manner on the ship's television. On Saturday the weather guy was still updating us on the weather from Tuesday-Friday, not SATURDAY. The only three positive things that I have to say about this trip was Havana was beautiful, I got to swim with the dolphins in Ocho Rios (that was something that I didn't do last time I visited Ocho Rios), and I witnessed immigrants being rescued. Other than that, this cruise sucked. It was best described as such by a lovely older couple I met on the ship. "This ship is the nursing home ship of all other ships." Then I was further disappointed when I called customer service today to try and resolve some of these issues before leaving a negative survey but Jaycee told me, "She apologizes but all of these things were listed in the contract." This cruise ship sucked! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I was hoping for a great relaxing 6 day cruise to Cuba with my family but turned out really disappointed in our Cuban Cruise experience on the Empress of the Seas with Royal Caribbean in December 2018. Our main issue resides in Royal ... Read More
I was hoping for a great relaxing 6 day cruise to Cuba with my family but turned out really disappointed in our Cuban Cruise experience on the Empress of the Seas with Royal Caribbean in December 2018. Our main issue resides in Royal Caribbean’s inability to properly accommodate and plan around a common storm system that lasted all of 1 day. I want to start by saying that we certainly understand the need to plan around a storm for a safe and comfortable Caribbean cruise for passengers but the contingency plan that was enacted was completely unacceptable based on the original expectations we had for our 6 nights in Cuba Cruise with Royal Caribbean. Not to mention, the storm that we needed to plan around lasted all of one day and was as common as any other storm that goes through the region. Basically, our 6 Night Best of Cuba (Miami roundtrip) cruise turned into a 1-day in Havana and a 1/2 day in Jamaica cruise nightmare. I would most certainly not have booked this royal Caribbean cruise if I knew that if there was even a chance that the resulting trip would turn out this bad. To illustrate, here is our ORIGINAL itinerary we booked: Day Port of Call Arrival Departure Day 1 - Depart Miami dock, At Sea Day 2 - At Sea Day 3 - George Town, Grand Cayman 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Day 4 - Cienfuegos, Cuba 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Day 5 - At Sea Day 6 - Havana, Cuba 7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Day 7 - Head home to Miami dock, At Sea Here is the ACTUAL itinerary: Day 1 - Depart Miami dock, At Sea Day 2 - Havana Cuba 8am-5am (nothing is open after midnight in havana btw) Day 3 - At Sea Day 4 - At Sea Day 5 - Ocho Rios Jamaica 7am-2pm (half day) Day 6 - At Sea Day 7 - Head home to Miami dock, At Sea 4.5 days stuck at seas in a cramped and outdated 30-year old artifact of a cruise ship was not my idea of an acceptable contingency plan for the CUBAN cruise we paid $1800 for (2 people, normal cabin). Btw, you PAY FOR EVERYTHING on the boat. From $5 water bottles to $7 beers at the bars, no expense is spared from your final bill on the Empress of the Sea. The only thing I can say we really appreciated was the very friendly crew and the customer service they provided. Without them, we surely would have had a full-on mutiny on our hands. We stopped to rescue a lost ship of fisherman at sea which was pretty cool (this rescue in no way affected our itinerary as the crappy contingency plan was already in place). In addition, the Incredibly slow and expensive wifi, mediocre cruise ship food, and a tiny room makes me wish they just dropped us off at Guantanamo Bay for 6 days and picked us up on the way back to Miami for a truly authentic Cuban experience (the jail cells are likely larger than our cabin room). We also saw a mouse in the hall outside our door in the hall which was just icing on the proverbial cake. Jeez, I normally hate to complain and ramble on but there is just so much disappointment to list when it comes to the last few days. BUYER BEWARE: Royal Caribbean is a terrible choice for your next Cuba cruise or trip to Havana or any Caribbean cruise for that matter. You have been warned. We have subsequently filed complaints with the front desk for our group but was informed that we need to follow up with the office in Miami for any type of refund or credit requests. *Updated Dec 22nd 2018 (still in the middle of this nightmare Caribbean cruise to Cuba) by your royally pissed off passenger in room 7518. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. It was scheduled to stop in Havana and Cienfuegos, Cuba, as well as Grand Cayman. On our way to the port, we received a text telling us they were going to have to shift the itinerary due ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. It was scheduled to stop in Havana and Cienfuegos, Cuba, as well as Grand Cayman. On our way to the port, we received a text telling us they were going to have to shift the itinerary due to bad weather predicted later in the week. Our visit to Grand Cayman was cancelled and to compensate they planned on extending our stay for several hours in Havana. We were a little disappointed, but we really booked the cruise for the Cuba ports. The next day a letter was left in our cabin while we were in port in Havana. They informed us we would be unable to go to Cienfuegos. Apparently tenders are required at that port and the seas were too rough to make it feasible. Needless to say, we were extremely disappointed. They chose Ocho Rios, Jamaica as an alternate stop. We had already been there on a previous cruise. Due to all these last minute changes, we were at sea for 3 1/2 days. This ship is the oldest and smallest ship owned by RCCL. There is very little to do on board. Our consolation was a refund of the $75 we paid for our visas to visit Cuba. They have refused to offer us anything else despite repeated phone calls to their offices. This was my 5th RCCL cruise and it will most likely be my last. I do want to say that the dining room and housekeeping staff were excellent. The food was mediocre, typical for RCCL ships. Our cabin was extremely small and I have been on numerous cruises. The entertainment (comedians mainly) was very good. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We just got off Empress of the Seas yesterday after an 8 day Best of Cuba cruise. It was wonderful. The embarkation process in Miami went very smoothly. We were there quite early and they got us inside in an organized line. There ... Read More
We just got off Empress of the Seas yesterday after an 8 day Best of Cuba cruise. It was wonderful. The embarkation process in Miami went very smoothly. We were there quite early and they got us inside in an organized line. There was some waiting, but only because we were so early. We were on the ship about 11:00. The Windjammer opened at 11:30. Our room was ready at 1:00 and luggage arrived before dinner. It was a very smooth process. While the Empress of Seas is an older ship and small, it has a lot going for it. It is very clean and the crew was extremely friendly and motivated to make the cruise a great experience. There are a lot of floor to ceiling windows and a lot of window seating throughout the ship. There are many quiet places to hide away while reading a book or napping. We enjoy smaller ships so this one was just our size. We had an inside cabin and it was quite small, but we expected this. Although it was small, it sufficed. Ours was on the 4th floor fairly close to the diningroom and very quiet. It was perfect for sleeping and we didn't need it for much more since we didn't spend much time there. The closets are smaller than on other ships (even the smaller ships) and there was no refrigerator. Just things that are helpful to know. Our cabin attendant was Dilcia and she did a great job keeping our cabin clean. The main diningroom staff was fantastic as was the food. Our waitress, Houibo, was friendly, competent, and a great dancer ;) They have Cuban food choices on the menu every night. The Windjammer buffet was about what we have experienced on other ships. The way the buffet is set up doesn't allow for a smooth flow of the line of people and there are rails that make getting to the tables a maze. But it was about as expected otherwise. They serve afternoon snack, late night snack, and late night dinner, which is nice. There aren't any other "included" restaurants and we did not go to Chops. All in all, it was as expected. Entertainment and Activities were as expected, as well. Being a smaller ship, there are not a ton of activities, so, if you need to have something going on constantly, this may not be the ship for you. We don't need a lot of activities as we like to lounge by the pool with a book, so perfect for us. We went to about half of the shows and they were good and about normal for what we would expect. We aren't super into the shows, either. Service was excellent. I think every crew member we encountered was friendly and wanted to make sure we were having a great cruise experience. I was very impressed by that. Our itinerary was changed, which was a bit disappointing. But, after we got over it, we definitely enjoyed all of the ports. Havana is wonderful with the classic cars and literally being stuck in the 50's. We took an independent tour from Cuba Outings that included a walking tour and classic car tour. It was excellent. In Cienfuegos, we had a ship tour that went to Juegos fortress and included city highlights. The tour was ok, but not outstanding. We had been to Grand Cayman before, so we just walked around and shopped. We had also been to Labadee and really, really love it there. It's such a nice, lazy beach kinda place and that's just what we do! I would go on this cruise again, but probably won't only because there are so many places I want to go that I haven't been. But I definitely recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
When I walk onto a ship for the first time, my rating is 100. It’s up to the ship, crew, and overall experience to keep it that way. How did they do? To start off, ports of Havana and Cienfuegos in Cuba were fascinating. I was very glad ... Read More
When I walk onto a ship for the first time, my rating is 100. It’s up to the ship, crew, and overall experience to keep it that way. How did they do? To start off, ports of Havana and Cienfuegos in Cuba were fascinating. I was very glad we were able to go to both ports. However, I do not recall that there were any enrichment activities on the ship, and was surprised about that. Other ports were pretty typical for the Caribbean. I liked that the ship had places on deck to sit that were in the shade (there are also plenty of sunny places). The promenade on Deck 6 wrapped all the way around the ship, and one could walk four complete laps to reach a mile. That deck also had plenty of deck chairs to quietly sit and read, doze, or contemplate the azure seas. Smokers had about as much deck space as non-smokers, which was apparently by design because of the Cuban ports of call and plans to offer freshly rolled cigars. (There turned out to not be any cigar rolling, but still a few guests smoked cigars out on deck). If you are someone who likes to find places on deck at night where you can see the stars, head forward on Deck 6, and climb the stairs to Deck 7 or Deck 8. Tender operations went smoothly, as did embarkation from Miami. Disembarkation back in Miami was a little mixed up: we were told to wait in specific public rooms and watch the screens to know when our group could leave (no overhead announcements). Alas, there were not any screens in our designated public room, and our projected time to leave came and went. Finally, a crew member came into the room, and hollered for certain groups to follow her. We did, then entered another public room, where we waited until another crew member came to lead us off. We were finally off about a half hour after we thought we would be. We took a taxi to the airport, which was $27 plus tip. We had dinner in the dining room 6 out of the 8 nights, where the food was usually good; there were just a few times that it wasn’t good enough to finish or try to finish. The cod on the second night was not good (but the sauce was), and the French onion soup off the always available menu wasn’t good, at all. The filet of sole about the fifth night, however, was excellent. It would have been nice to have the dining room open for lunch because the Windjammer Café was very crowded for the first hour or so at lunchtime. One day, the main lines in the Windjammer were so crowded that we went to the burger line; there were pork and chicken burgers but the hamburger tray was empty. I took a chicken burger, then discovered there wasn’t barbecue sauce. Alas, even the ketchup bottles were empty. The chicken burger turned out to be quite dry, so it could have benefited from some sort of sauce. Another day at lunch, there was fish and when I asked for tartar sauce, was told there was none. At breakfast, the orange juice and apple juice were very strong. I do not care for watery juices, so for me to feel like I needed to add water was extraordinary. Cleanliness in the Windjammer Café didn’t reach a top score: on more than one occasion, when I reached for the salt shaker, it had not been cleaned lately and was crusted with food from other peoples’ fingers. Even in the evening, dress on board was quite casual, which was fortunate considering there wasn’t a lot of space in cabins to store gowns, cocktail dresses, tuxedos and dark suits. On at least one evening, recommended dress was above smart casual, and many ladies did wear fancy dresses while men wore suits and ties. I also saw people in shorts and blue jeans in the dining room, but no one blinked and eye. The library was small, and appeared to be comprised of books that had been donated by guests on previous cruises. By the second or third day, however, they were nearly all checked out. There are many comfortable places around the ship to sit and read, both indoors and on deck. Front desk staff was nice, but didn’t go out of their way to find answers to unusual questions. Excursion staff didn’t know a lot of about the excursions that wasn’t printed in the brochure. I signed up for one shore excursion, but it was cancelled because of equipment failure. Would I go to Cuba again? Heck, yes! Would it be on the same ship? Probably not. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose this cruise because we wanted to visit Cuba. All other ports were not as important to us. Empress of the seas is a small enough ship to dock in Havana. In Cienfuegos we tendered in. The ship may be old in years but you could ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to visit Cuba. All other ports were not as important to us. Empress of the seas is a small enough ship to dock in Havana. In Cienfuegos we tendered in. The ship may be old in years but you could not tell from it’s condition. All common areas looked to be in very good or excellent shape. My cabin had an ocean view on deck 8. The cabin was small and had no other furniture except for a chair in front of a mirror and a small desk. The walls of the cabin had no art work or pictures. There was an excellent flat screen tv. Where the room loses lots of points is the bathroom. It is very tiny. Can hold one person only. Not much space in shower. However, we made do. Breakfast and lunch are always a buffet. Food is okay. Dinner in the dining room was pretty good. Plenty of choices. Plates at the buffet could have been collected sooner. Service at dinner was excellent but wine brought to the table could have been delivered in a more timely manner. Entertainment at night was very good to excellent. We really enjoyed every show. In Havana we arranged a private tour which was a lot less costly and offered more than the ships tours. After a full day of touring which included a ride in a 1950s era Dodge convertible, the tour guide returned us to the ship and came back at night to take us to a show that we bought tickets for. Royal Caribbean charged triple for the same show. In Cienfuegos we took a ship excursion to Trinidad which we enjoyed. All in all we enjoyed our experience in Cuba. The Cayman Islands and Labadee in Haiti were our other 2 visits. Disembarkation could have been handled more smoothly. The ship had us gather way to early to leave the ship. (I was leaving with my luggage.). Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Other than seeing Havana, the rest of this cruise was awful. I won't repeat what others have said about the ship (old) but it was clean. Pros: Havana and the people who live there. Go with an open mind. Some of the service staff ... Read More
Other than seeing Havana, the rest of this cruise was awful. I won't repeat what others have said about the ship (old) but it was clean. Pros: Havana and the people who live there. Go with an open mind. Some of the service staff in the bars and restaurants provided excellent service on board. Cons: Mostly the on board experience was bad. I have taken cruises before and knew what to expect. My main purpose was to see Cuba. The food on board was mediocre at best. Other than drinking, gambling, and shopping, there were NO activities on board. There was one lecture on sugar cane that they called a "series". Be aware, if you book a cabin on Deck 9 you are directly below the pool deck and it is very noisy day and night. Also incessant loud musak in all public rooms (mostly country western). The tour guide in Havana(booked through RC) was also bad. Very difficult to understand and did not provide much useful information. Other passengers who booked tours independently seemed to have a better experience. Only attended one evening performance on board. It was OK. Not interested in jugglers, comedian, etc. Service: some of the service people were excellent but many walked around like they were in a trance (ie never asked if we needed something,etc.). Made you feel like you were bothering them if you asked for something or had a question. Summary: I think there are better ways to visit Cuba. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Over-all rating 10: Ports of call, small number of guests 1400, quality of service, food, activities..it all was great Areas of Improvement: Beverages: Pre-paid adult beverage pkg: $45/day must include both adults so $90/day/6 days. ... Read More
Over-all rating 10: Ports of call, small number of guests 1400, quality of service, food, activities..it all was great Areas of Improvement: Beverages: Pre-paid adult beverage pkg: $45/day must include both adults so $90/day/6 days. My fiance does not drink and the alternative offered of the regular beverage pks did not interest her. Essentially, we were off the ship boarding/departure/tours about two days so could not use pkg. Suggest a daily package even if a bit more for one. Phone service: Not on hold long, Unfortunately, all week long we could not hear what the other person was saying so it was of little use to us. Check-in/check-out: seems they might have more agents on duty, long lines. Handicap Rooms: not enough with balconies Service: Outstanding in all areas but a few of the staff did not know location questions when asked and had trouble with English We are handicapped so we could not participate in all activities. We did, however, find other things to do and the trip over-all was fantastic. Highly Recommand. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This cruise was originally scheduled to go to Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba with a stop the following week overnight in Havana. Santiago was supposed to be changed from a port where they could dock to a tender port, due to damage at the ... Read More
This cruise was originally scheduled to go to Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba with a stop the following week overnight in Havana. Santiago was supposed to be changed from a port where they could dock to a tender port, due to damage at the pier. Shortly before departure I received an email stating that Santiago would be canceled and an overnight in Havana substituted. While it is true that the contract of carriage gives the cruise line great latitude to do this, it was unfortunate that no consideration was offered to the passengers for whom this represented an unwelcome change. Often cruise lines will do so voluntarily in the interests of customer satisfaction. Royal Caribbean chose not to do so. Disappointing. Havana was a great place to visit. The ship tour "Easy Panoramic Havana" was a bit expensive, but we had a very good guide and the tour took about six hours including visits to Revolution Square, the fortress and a shop with an introduction to the fine points of Cuban cigars and rum. This was very helpful if you wanted to buy such souvenirs, but did not have experiences with these products. A stop at Fusterlandia, filled with Gaudi-like mosaics was truly a big surprise and a highlight. Our guide said that we were free to ask any questions and she would answer them. I was not expecting such candor. Her English was excellent, so much so that I asked her if she had lived in an English speaking country. She replied no, she had only ever lived in Cuba. A couple on the tour inquired about tickets for the show at La Taberna and she walked there with them after the tour and assisted with booking. This tour gave an excellent introduction to Cuba and the city of Havana. I was not sure what to expect in Havana and I was pleasantly surprised to find the city in considerably better shape than might have been expected from some comments on this site. While there are undeniably some rough edges, there are many beautiful buildings and the history was very interesting as well. Our tour guide had mentioned that it was perfectly safe to walk around at night and this proved to be the case. Many elegant European style buildings were fully lighted as well as the pedestrian only streets in the city center, the plazas and the Malecon. There were many lively restaurants and it seemed every block had a band playing Cuban music. Some of the areas had rough spots on the sidewalks so you had to watch where you were going! Some people may not be used to areas that are not designed just for tourists, but I found Havana to be very similar to many cities in Italy, Spain and other parts of Europe. Keep an open mind and give it a try! Cienfuegos is a smaller city and seemed more of a work a day place than the capitol city. The town square has some pleasant buildings and the pedestrian shopping street was lively, full of local shoppers buying every day things. Just don't go expecting expensive boutiques and designer label shops. The walk back to the ship is anything but scenic, but the distance is not far. The Cuban visa is issued at check in and the $75 fee assessed to the on board account. The Cuban Travel Certification form is not too difficult to fill out and you need to bring two copies with for check in. Although the visa states it is good for thirty days, it is in fact a one time visit visa and is collected before leaving Cuba for the last time. Even Royal Caribbean did not provide correct information about this prior to departure. Guest service staff explained it fully on the ship. Prior to that it was a source of confusion that the cruise line could have avoided for the guests if they had provided correct information to the guests prior to departure. The Empress is one of my favorite ships. I have been on it many times and some of the things that people on this site have complained about are valid concerns. Yes it has some limitations and rough edges, much like Cuba itself. But the food and service in the dining room (unfortunately not in the buffet) are some of the best in the line. The two productions shows in the theatre are the hottest anywhere. The one time only show featuring just the musicians on board was a great show and the closing number by the ships orchestra was one of the most rousing renditions of When the Saints Go Marching In I have ever heard. The big ships have a big lesson to learn from the Empress! But the one truly noticeable thing about the Empress is the quality of the crew. While no ship is perfect in this regard, this ship generally excels in this area. If you are thinking about Cuba the one thing I would emphasize is that selecting a cruise itinerary that docks in Havana overnight is a must. The look and feel of the city at night is something that should be experienced and contrasted to the daytime. No visit to the Tropicana night club this trip-something to save for next time.. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We love cruising, and DH being a big cigar smoker- Cuba was at the top of our bucket list. Like everyone else, we wanted to go before there was a Starbucks on every corner. We went with 2 other couples- 1 being a real classic car fan. ... Read More
We love cruising, and DH being a big cigar smoker- Cuba was at the top of our bucket list. Like everyone else, we wanted to go before there was a Starbucks on every corner. We went with 2 other couples- 1 being a real classic car fan. Price was certainly right, so we went on Empress on a B2b to see more of Cuba. At first we were disappointed that Santiago was replaced with another Havana stop, but found that 3.5 days was certainly not enough to see everything. After following reviews for several months we had pretty low expectations...the ship, Cuba, tours, etc. Were we wrong! Yes, the ship is old and small. We knew that, and weren't expecting The Edge (our next cruise!). We found it clean, and as we don't use alot of the newer ship stuff anyway. It was full the first week (Thanksgiving), but never once did it seem crowded. Some of these reviews just seem to nitpick every little flaw- look at the entire picture! However, the service and food more than made up for it! I think our cabin steward, Gusti, lived outside our door! He couldn't do enough for us. And our waiter was so good we followed him the second night to another table! He insisted we try everything, and was never wrong. He kept bringing us more appetizers, another main dish, etc, yet we were still one of the first to leave the dining room! We were going to try the specialty restaurant, but the MDR food was so good we cancelled. Cruise director Bobby and the rest of the activities staff also helped make the cruise exceptional. Everyone was very friendly and really seemed to enjoy their jobs. Cuba itself was clean, but poor, as was expected. Our lunches at Paladars were exceptional and such fun (and cheap!). The people were very friendly and helpful. The experience was like something 100 years ago! It truly was experiencing a different culture, which we don't see enough of in our travels. Architecture was beautiful, and restoration efforts for their 500th anniversary next year were amazing. We took 3 private tours with 2 different operators- FerTours and Cuba Connections. I will go into more details on reviews of each later. Cuba Connections would be my recommendation. Most memorable moments in Havana (so many to choose from!)- Rum Museum- do the cocktail tour. Regular tour is 7 cuc, but for 15cuc includes a stint behind the bar learning to make drinks (and drinking them!). Feeling no pain, joined in with the band on the maracas. Had a fantastic tour of Hotel Nacionale and got tickets for the Cabaret Parisienne that night. Show was very good, and paid 35cuc rather than over $100 through the ship. Got great seats down front, Also went to the Jewish synagogue, which was a surprise. Very modern and beautiful. Again, they made us feel very welcome. From Cienfuegos also went to Trinidad. Don't do it! Too long of a drive for not much! During a full day in Havana went to Pindar del Rio- Vinales- to the tobacco plantations. Fantastic! That truly was a journey back in time. Spent 2 hours on a highway 1 lane each way, often behind horse-drawn carts. At the plantation went into a barn to learn about the cigars, then went for a smoke. I even had a Montecristo! Government takes 90% of the tobacco, but the farmers can keep/sell the other 10%. Got Montecristos for 3cuc each! Ended up with 7 boxes of different cuban cigars! During a RCI sale we booked 2 ship excursions, which we normally don't do. Even these exceeded my expectations. In Cozumel did the swim with dolphins- fantastic time, fantastic value! Included the swim (much longer and more intimate than I thought), beautiful grounds at Chokobban, and a great open bar & buffet ($70pp!). The snorkel in Georgetown was one of the best! Bit of a drizzle in the morning, but by the time we got to the protected reef the sun was shining. 20 of us on a boat that held 80 was perfect, the rum punch at $3 (mostly rum) was great, the depth was perfect (not too shallow and not too deep) and the guides were great, always feeding the fish. All in all, the perfect trip (if we ignore the horrible American airlines flight back home)! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We chose this cruise because it happened to fall during Thanksgiving week. We've been on a Cuba cruise 2 years ago and weren't thrilled to be visiting Santiago rather than Havana. We were told that the dock in Santiago has been ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it happened to fall during Thanksgiving week. We've been on a Cuba cruise 2 years ago and weren't thrilled to be visiting Santiago rather than Havana. We were told that the dock in Santiago has been damaged and is under repair. We were given 2 days in Havana as a substitute, which was perfect. There is no Diamond Lounge but we were allowed 3 drinks per person in any bar during the nightly Diamond event. There was a cocktail party on the open deck of the Boleros bar on embarkation night and we had an exclusive breakfast daily in the Starlight dining room. The bar service was slow during the Diamond Happy Hour and the Boleros bartender was anything but friendly. Havana is an easy city to get around in on your own and since we visited before, we did our own thing. We booked a salsa class on both days with a local studio in central Havana, and while the streets were dirty and the area run down, no one bothered us and we had a good class, although there was no air conditioning in the studio. We ate at the San Cristobal paladar nearby and highly recommend it for excellent food and service. Note that Presidient Obama and his family had dined there during their visit and there are photos on the wall of that visit. Cienfuegos is a beautiful city with historical architecture and in much better condition than Havana. We did some shopping at the open air market next to the central plaza and ate at the Dona Nora paladar nearby. We had a balcony table and enjoyed an amazing meal with drinks, full dinners and dessert for under $50 with the tip. We enjoyed a rare 15 year old rum for only 6 cucs! We also booked a visit to the Hotel Nacional for their cabaret show. It's easy to reach by taxi and the hotel is glamorous and very historical. The show was amazing and reasonable at $35 per person, which included a mojito and a seat near the stage. We'd seen the Tropicana on our last visit and this is a good second and certainly not as crowded. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We booked the ship for the destinations. RC must have taken note of all of the customer complaints. We did the Best of Cuba trip on Thanksgiving week and it was unforgettable. Our Santiago stop was replaced with Havana. We stopped in ... Read More
We booked the ship for the destinations. RC must have taken note of all of the customer complaints. We did the Best of Cuba trip on Thanksgiving week and it was unforgettable. Our Santiago stop was replaced with Havana. We stopped in Havana for 1.5 days, Cienfuegos for 1 day, and Grand Cayman for 1 day. We had plenty of time to explore each city and were able to go out at night in Havana. I would not recommend purchasing any excursions through the ship. You can purchase the same thing from a local for 1/3 of the price. The staff on the ship was excellent as well, and the dining experience was excellent. Windjammer was slightly disappointing but the main dining room was great. The rooms were older, but again, we booked the ship for the destination. I would highly recommend this cruise to anyone wanting to experience Cuba. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
I'd read many reviews about the Empress of the Seas before I made my booking. After reading them the impression I had was the ship was old and the rooms were unfathomably tiny; virtually unusable. It was like having an old broken down ... Read More
I'd read many reviews about the Empress of the Seas before I made my booking. After reading them the impression I had was the ship was old and the rooms were unfathomably tiny; virtually unusable. It was like having an old broken down rusting ghost ship containing hundreds of dirty broom closets all stuffed with people clawing to get out! After having just returned from a voyage on the Empress of the Seas I can tell you people are probably not wrong in their description of small spaces and aging equipment but they are certainly wrong on their expectations of those things. First of all, It's a real modern working cruise ship! It's not the movie Titanic. You will not be able to unload multiple steamer trunks and address your entire personal staff easily in these small rooms. But how much room do you really need? On my trip to Cuba. The destination was the focus. I viewed the size of the accommodations as being last on my list of priorities. It turned out to be a very nice accommodation and never once did I say I wanted a bigger room. I did find myself thinking, "I wish I had a bigger bed". But I lived and I slept very well each night rocked gently to sleep by the motion of the ship. Even that was fine. As far as aging equipment and a small-sized vessel. It is EASY to understand the comparison to all of the venues of those mammoth sized ships out there. I rather enjoyed the novelty of a more intimate setting. You know people pay a LOT of money to travel on S-M-A-L-L ships all of the time. They are more desirable because the service is more personal and things are more conveniently located. So don't be deterred on the "small size" of the ship comments. They are probably left by people that will never be able to afford a highly personable cruise experience opting instead for huge venues and massive crowds. The ship was refurbished and is absolutely acceptable. The buffet was, for me, one of the weak points. I have to mark them low for that. I think they need to start eating their own meals the food from the buffet themselves and maybe not depend upon the feedback. I think it's common sense when the deserts look amazing but lack any taste, you're serving the wrong stuff. The staff (except for the photo girl that kept interrupting my meals and barking that I remove my lanyard, making me smile to her liking .... for the money making purposes of the ship. That my friends is not good customer service.) The staff is EXCELLENT!! I left the ship on a first name basis with many of the staff members. I loved them all. (except the photo girl from hell). The other low marks I give are for the ship's excursion desk. They were billed as "experts". When I would approach them with questions I was "handled" and told basically if I wasn't doing one of RCI's excursions... they didn't know anything at all about basic Cuban facts. Entertainment was much better than expected! Great!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We choose this cruise because the price was definitely right and we were mildly curious about Cuba. We have cruised lots of times on several different ships -- usually Celebrity Cruises. And now we understand why the price was right. ... Read More
We choose this cruise because the price was definitely right and we were mildly curious about Cuba. We have cruised lots of times on several different ships -- usually Celebrity Cruises. And now we understand why the price was right. The Empress of the Seas is the oldest and smallest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Indeed, RC had previously sold the ship but later bought it back; refurbished it; and uses it for short cruises to Cuba. We were not unhappy. We had a fairly nice experience -- thanks to the staff and our own good travel companions. But we often repeated the same words: "we've been spoiled by our earlier cruises." Why: the ship is smaller so naturally the number of activities and amenities is less. The food was good but we have eaten great on other cruises. Naturally there are fewer shops but the same good prices for what was for sale. Sometimes I asked myself if the ship is the training ship for new employees. The staff was the best part of the ship: they are all so friendly; they remembered my name and my drink and eating preferences. They engaged in conversation even when they did not have to do so. They were responsive to my every request. Note that if one member in the suite buys a drink package, the second person is also required to do so. I can understand why they are doing this but what if you have one drinker and one who does not care to drink over $60 worth of booze on a daily basis?! They only disappointed once: they failed to notify me by letter of the mix and mingle event. They did schedule the event on the final day of the cruise which was pretty useless for some of our members who had hoped to connect with each other. Would I book again on this ship? Yes, but only for a short cruise. Never for a repositioning cruise of longer than a week. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
All around blah cruise (my 19th) compared to Carnival and NCL. Poor plumbing, tiniest shower, pay for yoga class??? And waiting for 3 tenders of people for one overpriced excursion. Chop fine dining for fee was great. No bill copy ... Read More
All around blah cruise (my 19th) compared to Carnival and NCL. Poor plumbing, tiniest shower, pay for yoga class??? And waiting for 3 tenders of people for one overpriced excursion. Chop fine dining for fee was great. No bill copy delivered by 6am in day of depart. 5 days of comedian. Coffee card of $32 for 15 drinks great. Food was never even a C. Main dining room was below average. Food in dining room C, Buffet D, Staff B, Room 4000 D, Tender days D, Front Desk A, Shuttle from MIA $16-lllYoga class All around blah cruise (my 19th) compared to Carnival and NCL. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Empress of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 3.0 N/A
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness & Recreation 2.5 N/A
Family 2.0 3.4
Shore Excursions 4.5 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 4.5 4.3
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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