470 Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise for the itinerary and value. Only problem is that on this small vessel the only balcony cabins are mini suites and above. The ocean view cabins and inside cabins are pretty small. No couch or easy chair, only the ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and value. Only problem is that on this small vessel the only balcony cabins are mini suites and above. The ocean view cabins and inside cabins are pretty small. No couch or easy chair, only the bed and vanity chair to sit on. However, if you are out of your room enjoying the activities and only need to use the bathroom and the bed, it's OK. The ship itself is really nice for the smallest ship in the fleet. The crew does an outstanding job of keeping it well maintained and very clean. It only has one specialty restaurant; Chops, but that's OK too. The bar hubs are the Schooner, and Boleros, with the casino bar handling that area. Viking Crown lounge is not the greatest when comparing to larger ships but it is a very nice area to relax in during the day, unless it's being used for a kids activity or something like that. The fitness area is above the lounge on a balcony that runs around it, accessible only by stairs in the back of the lounge. No criticism, it is what it is. Food: Our service and food in the main dining room was outstanding. We always choose my time dining so we can eat early, and we got the same table, same waiters and outstanding service every night. We didn't go to chops this time because we always enjoyed the menu the chef selected. Only downside was windjammer lunch. it was good but not outstanding. My breakfast is light, simple and was always good. One huge exception: Chef Kennedy on two days set up a hot dog station. Amazing!!! He makes the best sauce I've ever eaten in my life. Shows: The production team does two shows. Baileros and Three. Don't miss them. The singers and dancers were amazing. I hope you get this crew. They sing with passion and power and don't scream. Costuming and choreography are perfect. the band is terrific. Our headliners were outstanding. Cruise director and staff. Steve (from Canada) does a great job. He is experienced, funny, and very well prepared and informative, His activities director Tanya is in a word: "Special." Not short bus special, but she's crazy, fun, wild, outgoing and a great lady. She will make a great cruise director. One team member, Andy, from Great Britain does an Elton John show that will astound you. Hotel Director John and his staff are to be highly commended for their efforts on keeping the ship clean, safe and sanitary. No one on this cruise came down with so much as a case of indigestion much less a virus. He and his officers were accessible and available for any questions or concerns, no matter how dumb. And believe me, on this cruise I did hear some dumb questions. So to RCCL, the staff and crew of the Empress of the Seas: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We truly enjoyed the staff on this ship. Last sailing for a month due to covid19 virus. The ship took extra measures to keep us safe. Yes the pool and bathroom is small but how much time is actually spent there. Cruisers seemed to ... Read More
We truly enjoyed the staff on this ship. Last sailing for a month due to covid19 virus. The ship took extra measures to keep us safe. Yes the pool and bathroom is small but how much time is actually spent there. Cruisers seemed to mingle more maybe because it is smaller. I only wish there was a designated room to iron. You can send out to be done for a fee but needed to be done by second day. Downey wrinkle release to the rescue. Our room steward was awesome. We chose any time dinning but ate the same time every night, so we had the same waite staff. Our young ladies were spot on. Remembered our names and what we liked. Comedy shows were good . Offered a good selection of movies under the stars. Wish they had popcorn. I need ten more words to be able to post....was a great vacation with a great crew all around. Would definitely sale on this ship again Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We choose this cruise for our January girls cruise based on itinerary and price. Mainly because the Empress was scheduled to go to Virgin Gorda (notice the word "scheduled"). Upon arrival at the pier at check in we were ... Read More
We choose this cruise for our January girls cruise based on itinerary and price. Mainly because the Empress was scheduled to go to Virgin Gorda (notice the word "scheduled"). Upon arrival at the pier at check in we were informed that due to high winds and rough seas we would not be going to Virgin Gorda but to St. Croix instead. In addition, they changed our day in St. Thomas from Thursday to Wednesday which complicated the fact that I had a rental car booked for St. Thomas. After several attempts to reach the rental car company I was successful in changing the booking by one day before we ever left Miami. The ship is very small but very well kept, the furniture and rugs were in good condition, the bedding was also good. After boarding with very low expectations we all came to love the Empress over the period of our 8 night cruise. The amount of public space was wonderful and we loved the little lobbies with furniture outside the aft elevators. Since the rooms are quite small we spent extra time in our personal lounge but by mid trip others were taking advantage of this great space. The food and service in both the windjammer and dinning room were excellent - way better than we experienced on the Explorer just a few months ago. Even with such a tiny space the windjammer offered a great selection of food. The omelet station was wonderful and you never waited more than a few minutes for a great omelet - once again very unlike our experience on the Explorer where a wait of 15 min was short to get your omelet. We had rough seas and high winds the first few days so the deck was pretty empty and many people were sick. It didn't bother me, I guess I was one of the lucky ones. We had one sea day then we visited Labadee, a personal favorite of mine. We spent the day at Columbus Cove and had a great time. It was a bit crowded since the Independence was also there that day. When we left Labadee heading towards San Juan once again the seas and winds started up - according to the captain we were experiencing 5m waves (or about 18 feet) not choppy but very large swells coming at us at an angle. The captain slowed us down to 14 knots to try to ride it out a little smoother but the ship was really moving around. We didn't see very many people out and about. Due to the slower speed we didn't arrive in San Juan until 6 pm rather than 3 pm. The one thing we wanted to do was the Forts and they were closed before we could get off. There were five ships in San Juan and the street right along the piers was packed. We sailed overnight (much calmer) to St. Thomas - we docked at Crown Bay right next to our biggest sister - Symphony of the Seas. It was kind of neat to see the smallest ship in the fleet next to the biggest. We explored the island with our rental car and ended up at Brewer's Bay because everywhere else was packed (once again five ships in port!!). If we had arrived the next day as originally scheduled we would have had only 1 other ship in port with us. We spent the next day at St. Croix, the ship docked in Fredrickstad. With such little notice we didn't really plan on anything that day just took the shuttle to Rainbow Beach, it was crowded but we had a great time. We all wished we had more time to spend and wished we had rented a car there so we could have explored a little more. The two sea days back were great. Still a little choppy (2m) but not bad at all. The cruise director Steve was great and all the staff on this littlest of RCI ships is excellent. Best service I've experienced on Royal for awhile. It is like the staff is all family and they work hard and work together really well. The only disappointment (beside missing Virgin Gorda - which I understand was necessary due to weather conditons) was the lack of Diamond Lounge on the ship. I knew this before choosing this ship but if this ship continues to be part of the fleet - Royal Caribbean needs to add or designate a space for the Diamond Lounge. Was skeptical at first but would sail on her again anytime. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We have sailed on just over 50 cruises. We are Diamond members on Royal Caribbean. The price for this ship was a real value and we live in Ft. Lauderdale so we decided to give it a try despite some negative reviews. Empress of the Sea is ... Read More
We have sailed on just over 50 cruises. We are Diamond members on Royal Caribbean. The price for this ship was a real value and we live in Ft. Lauderdale so we decided to give it a try despite some negative reviews. Empress of the Sea is well worth your time and money. It is well maintained, run by an excellent crew and a ship you will feel great about upon conclusion of your trip. The entire crew wants you to be there. It is obvious and energizes all the passengers aboard. The food is very good, the shows are well done and our cabin (inside) served us well. It is always a mystery to me to read negative reviews about a ship and see none of them during my cruise. We have been on all the 4 giant ships of Royal and a sampling of the other sizes. Empress of the Seas hold its own against them in these ways. The ship only has 1600 passengers so no waiting for anything. It is a good starter ship for young families. Many were on board. It is a value price for the young marrieds, singles traveling in a group and middle aged and seniors looking for a cruise for their hard earned money. The ship has no flow riders, sliding water tubes, race tracks, or garden to walk thru. But it has a crew that provides numerous activities thruout the day that you will find worth your time. We were lucky to have Steve from Canada as our Cruise Director. He is a dynamo and keeps everyone engaged. Our cabin steward Jose Fernandes was possibly the best we ever had with his hard work, attention to detail and enjoyable daily interaction. We came across a staff member that we met on the Symphony of the Seas. She now works in the Empress Windjammer restaurant. She told us I just love being on this ship. You will find the entire crew feels that way. The Allure, Oasis, Harmony and Symphony have problems from time to time. That is life. But you still have a great cruise. The same will occur on the Empress. Give it try. You will be pleased you took that action. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I think the empress of the seas is perfect for anyone looking for a smaller ship with a great itinerary. I think the only way you could be disappointed being on the empress of the seas is if you expect the big ship amenities. The ports ... Read More
I think the empress of the seas is perfect for anyone looking for a smaller ship with a great itinerary. I think the only way you could be disappointed being on the empress of the seas is if you expect the big ship amenities. The ports of call were great food was amazing and shows were fun to watch. We stayed 2 nights in Miami Beach before the cruise and took an uber over to the terminal the morning of. Easy embarkation process. Really love the new app to help with embarkation and to explore the daily itinerary. The staff was some of the best I've ever gotten to cruise with and the ship was very well kept up for being the oldest ship in the fleet. The ship is small compared to any other ships I've been on however since its size there are fewer guests onboard so it all evens out. The ship shows its age and size in my opinion in some of the walkways in the dining room and theatre. They are very tight and not as accessible for older cruisers. We stayed in cabin 8167 which is an inside room. It was very small which is to be expected but It honestly was one of the most comfortable rooms I can remember being in. We really enjoyed the cabin. In all even though I do enjoy some of the features found on bigger ships we LOVED the empress of the seas. We always found a place to sit by the pool, dining room and at a show. I loved the small ship feel. The ship did feel old but It was never an issue. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Overall Rating = 4.5 We have been on a total 19 cruises on many different lines, including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, Disney, and Carnival. This was our fourth cruise on Empress, beginning in her inaugural season in 1990. ... Read More
Overall Rating = 4.5 We have been on a total 19 cruises on many different lines, including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, Disney, and Carnival. This was our fourth cruise on Empress, beginning in her inaugural season in 1990. Reviews never cease to amaze me. Reviewers will complain about everything. Do these people eat gourmet style dishes with scrumptious desserts at home? Are they constantly waited on and cleaned up after? Do they have a variety of activities and entertainment choices every day? If you think the world revolves around you and you have expectations that can’t be satisfied; Stay home! Cruise experiences are very different depending on the cruise line, ship, destinations, and time of year. Do your research (Cruise Critic is a great resource); know the cruise line; know your destinations; and, most importantly know your ship, its’ restaurants, entertainment options, amenities, and it’s age and renovation history. NEVER pay attention to any reviews written before your ship’s last refurbishment. Ship: Empress is 30 years old in 2020, was last refurbished in 2016 and had a routine dry dock in 2019. It is less than half of the size of most cruise ships in service with the major lines and 1/5 the size of Royal Caribbean’s largest ships. At that size, there simply isn’t room for all of the amenities you see on larger ships. Some view these facts about Empress as limitations, while others view them as positives. The cruise experience is quieter, slower, and more intimate than others; this doesn’t make it better or worse, just different. You should know what experience you prefer and choose your ship accordingly. Empress is maintained like other Royal Caribbean ship, clean and inviting. Restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, shopping area, and the casino may be smaller in scale and not as shiny and new, but the quality is still up to Royal Caribbean standards. Embarking and Debarking: With Royal Caribbean’s infrastructure set up to accommodate much larger ships, getting on and off of Empress was a snap. We docked in Fort Lauderdale and were off the ship and in the Miami airport by about 9:30. Cabin: Empress doesn’t have the myriad of cabin choices of larger newer ships. The only balcony cabins are suites. We had an ocean view cabin, #8156. It was smaller than similar cabins on newer ships, which was most noticeable in the shower and closet space. The window was a large picture window with a clear, unobstructed view. The cabin was cleaned twice per day by our excellent steward, Sethko. He was virtually invisible and never disturbed us for any reason. Dining: We had dinner in the main dining room at one of the standard seating times. Empress also offers “my time” dining and I believe three specialty restaurants. Our food and service in the dining room was excellent. We did not visit any of the specialty restaurants, but a filet from Chops Grille was offered for $15, much less than a full meal at Chops. This is the first time we had seen an entree from a specialty restaurant in the dining room. It was a good, thick cut that was cooked absolutely perfectly. We had buffet style breakfast, lunch and late night snacks at the Windjammer Cafe, which offers a wide variety Hot and cold items and desserts. The Cafe was always clean and the old hot and plentiful, but Hey Folks, this is a buffet not a gourmet menu. Entertainment and Activities: Empress offered Las Vegas style shows, as well as two guest comedians, a guest singer, and a guest juggler. The production shows were of smaller scale than larger ships, but the quality of the entertainers was very good. All of the guest performers were excellent. Each comedian performed a “family show” one night and a late night “adult” show another night. All of these shows were hilarious. Many other entertainment and participatory activities were offered, including bingo, several game shows, live music, trivia games, karaoke, competitions, Christmas caroling, pool games, cooking demonstrations, slot machines and casino table games. We participated in several of these activities and enjoyed them all. We most enjoy relaxing in the sun which we were able to do as much as we wanted. Service: Service was excellent, from our cabin steward to our waiter and assistant in the dining room, to bar service around the pool and at shows. Ports and Shore Excursions: The ports for our cruise were Coco Cay, Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Key West. The transformation of Coco Cay is amazing. We first visited Coco Cay 30 years ago when it was literally a deserted island. Now your visit to Coco Cay can be as relaxing or adventurous as you want. There are now multiple barbecue venues and bars scattered around the island, as well as the water park, a massive pool, a protected lagoon for swimming, and multiple beaches. We lounged in some of the free loungers with umbrellas, swam in the ocean, layer in loungers on the pool’s tanning ledge and played some lawn games. The barbecue lunch was excellent, providing many options for your main course and desert. We did not visit the water park. There is a wide variety of things to do at Cozumel. We went on our own and chartered a private 35’ catamaran through an operator called “Deluxe Private Boats Tours”. It was for a half day and cost $1,200, or $120 each for our group of ten. It included food and drink, a nice cruise along the coast, a stop for snorkeling and a stop at a beach. It was one of the best island experiences we have ever had. I would highly recommend a private charter if you are traveling in a group of six or more. We did not book any activities at Costa Maya or Key West. Both stops offer shopping and dining options right off of the pier. Children: We did not travel with children. Summary: We vey much enjoyed our cruise on Empress. It offered a quiet, relaxing experience with plenty of entertainment and activity options. Empress does not have the options and amenities of a new mega-ship, but the cost of our seven day cruise was only $550 each for an ocean view cabin. Do your research, know what your ship has to offer and you will not be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
When I booked this cruise I immediately had buyers remorse after seeing the reviews about the boat. I recently went on a Norwegian Cruise that was smaller and I hated it: so I was worried this would be the same. WRONG. This cruise was ... Read More
When I booked this cruise I immediately had buyers remorse after seeing the reviews about the boat. I recently went on a Norwegian Cruise that was smaller and I hated it: so I was worried this would be the same. WRONG. This cruise was fantastic. I originally got an inside cabin but was upgraded through the Royal Up program which I highly recommend doing because I’m so glad we for a window view instead. The room in my opinion was perfect size for two people. We had plenty of space and storage. The bathroom is very small, but an average size person can fit in there fine(idk about larger people). I even brought an over the door shoe rack hanger because people made it seem like there was no space but there was plenty. The food was amazing. Yea the windjammer had the usual adequate food but welcome to cruising people. The starlight dinners were spectacular. Highly recommend the French onion soup and prime rib. Lobster night was ok the lobsters are very small so my friend and I split a second entree. Vikki and Ignacio took care of us and I can’t brag about them enough. Entertainment was crazy good. They had a comedian the first few nights that had me almost peeing my pants. I would pay to go see him anywhere. Now unfortunately the second comedian wasn’t as good. The game shows were absolutely hilarious. Such a good time. Cococay is my new favorite place. I would seriously take a cruise just there and back lol. We got off the boat early and got on ALL the slides within a half hour because no one was there that early so def recommend getting off the ship the second they let you. Once we did all the slides we paid by some pools. We laid in the pools. They have amazing food for lunch. Taco stations, salad, burgers, everything. Highly recommend going here, also they’re expanding so it will just keep getting better and better. The gym was smaller and upstairs from the dance club but it has everything I needed. And the treadmills face the water so that’s a nice perk. They also provide too with towels The crew on this ship are awesome. It is a small ship but it’s a comfortable ship. Easy to navigate and never too full. I will say tho if you get sea sick easily do not go on this boat. You feel EVERYTHING. We were on deck 8 and I could feel the boat shake when it was slowing down. It rocks a lot so just be ready for it. Again you’re on a boat so if that bothers you then don’t go on a cruise. Embarking was horrible because they were running behind and everyone was complaining so instead of doing sections they basically let the entire boat get off at once, which you can just imagine how horrible that was. But that was the impatient people fault not the boat. Overall I would 100% recommend going on a cruise on this boat. My 7 days were perfect and I already miss it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Small ship experience at modest prices...I would give Empress an A+ for guest services , housekeeping, dining ( limited venues) , spaces to chill/ relax, best Schooner Bar space, superior shore excursions and activities staff , spacious ... Read More
Small ship experience at modest prices...I would give Empress an A+ for guest services , housekeeping, dining ( limited venues) , spaces to chill/ relax, best Schooner Bar space, superior shore excursions and activities staff , spacious Shops area Our room was a junior suite with a balcony. It was clean with excellent lighting especially for reading in bed HOWEVER if one wants quiet rooms/ junior suites on Deck 9 are a BAD choice. One deals with extensive pool noise from bands or movies shown on pool deck10 or pounding of little feet from Adventure Ocean with very bad sound attenuation We did not do our homework to see what was above us. Would we return to the Empress? Certainly... but we would get a Deck 9 suite far aft or suites off the aft part of the ship or even settle for a smallish ocean view (136sq ft) The Empress has wonderful public areas although the Centrum is small(but well utilized ) The ship is showing its age. We love this size ship but RCI seems to be moving to LARGE ships. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We chose this cruise for just the wife and I. We have both been on about 12 RC cruises over the past 13 years or so. Our daughter is in school this time of year so she stayed back home and got grandma time. Couldn't beat the price ... Read More
We chose this cruise for just the wife and I. We have both been on about 12 RC cruises over the past 13 years or so. Our daughter is in school this time of year so she stayed back home and got grandma time. Couldn't beat the price for this cruise, we booked not long after the Cuba cancellations. The ship is small and you can notice a few areas where it has some age but overall its in excellent condition. We noticed right away that there were very little if no crowds or waiting in line, this continued throughout the cruise. The first afternoon is always a little busy on any ship but I compare it to a sponge, by late evening and the next morning everyone kind of gets "absorbed" into the ship. Going through the Windjammer for breakfast or any other time that would usually mean waiting in lines like on other ships was non existent here. Same with the elevators. Never had to wait at any bar and the bar staff quickly learned and remembered my order. We didn't use the pool but watched some of the activities around it like the belly flop contest and sexiest man contest and was easily able to get close to see. The single pool was small but never appeared to be too crowded. One thing I found unusual was the lack of a second level along the sides of the pool deck. This kind of limits some shady area there but not a big deal. There are several big hammocks and comfortable large lounge type chairs at the ends of the pool area deck on the second level. The layout of the ship is easy to learn and you can be anywhere you want within minutes of walking. There are lots of large windows throughout the interior decks to see outside and great views of the ocean and couches to sit on nearby, it feels very open and airy. We tried an interior guaranteed cabin (they pick the room) because we aren't picky and were trying to make this affordable as possible. Ended up with 3109 which was your standard interior room for two. We were notified of the room selected about a week before the cruise. We were offered an ocean view or junior suite as a "Royal Up" but declined. The cabin was small but we had no problems. We asked the cabin steward if he would separate our bed which made him give us a confused look since we are married but it was a smart move as it opened up a lot more floor space and made getting in and out of the beds much easier with an aisle in the center. The shower is definitely the smallest I've encountered but then again it was sufficient. Overall the cabin was in excellent shape, clean, and there was a surprising amount of room in the closet compared to the rest of the small cabin. We don't spend much time in our cabin on a cruise anyway so it was plenty sufficient. We always bring some magnetic hooks and a hang over door organizer to better manage space....it helps! We did notice a slight sewage odor from time to time from our sink and toilet but it never lasted long and there was also an odd smell occasionally on deck 6 which is where the open deck area is below the life boats. The port side of the ship is the smoking area on this deck which seemed opposite to most RC ships I've been on. The food and food selection was good, your typical Royal Caribbean dinner menu in the main dining room and standard things you'd expect in the windjammer. There are sinks right at the entrance to windjammer to wash your hands. However you still see people who don't bother and walk on by and I always seem to end up near a person licking their fingers and then handling the serving utensils at the buffet which makes me instantly lose my appetite but thats not the fault of the staff. The staff in both areas were great and we never had any trouble finding a seat right away in the windjammer even at the busiest times....that seemed very refreshing to me. We ate breakfast in the main dining room once. We usually do that on larger ships to avoid the hassle and chaos in the windjammer but found it not necessary on this cruise. My wife misses the "savory bites" that used to come in the bread basket for dinner in the dining room so we asked and our waitress had them at our table every evening for dinner after that....very nice! The casino is split into a main level and half a level down which is interesting and is all non smoking. There are a small amount of table games but as with everything else it never seemed overly full and there was always room to play whenever we wanted to. The fitness center/gym is above the back of the viking crown lounge....quite small but they have a good selection of equipment. There always seemed to be various activities going on during sea days like trivia and similar things that are typical of RC. The staff did a wonderful job at this and were engaging and friendly. There were some kids onboard but I would think it would be difficult to keep them entertained during sea days as there a limited amount of things geared towards them. We had two sea days on this cruise. The ship was very stable and we barely noticed any wave and swell movement. The evening shows were good. Love and Marriage, the Quest, good comedian show, etc., all the things you'd expect on an RC cruise. So....yes, we would definitely book this ship again for just us two or even a group. We are right around 40 and found enough to do and really enjoyed the lack of crowds and lines, super easy to get around. Its a great and clean small ship and like I said the personal level that you get to know the staff and interact with them was great. Embarkation and disembarking were both done very quickly and efficiently. We carried off our own bags since all we had were carry on size luggage and were off the ship just before 8:00am. We stopped at Key West, we usually get the hop on/hop off trolley. I got a cuban sandwich at Caroline's and the necessary visit to Kermit's for frozen key lime pie covered in chocolate. Went to the rum distillery and got a few free samples that were good and spent the rest of the day just exploring. This was our first time back to Coco Cay since the Perfect Day renovations. We didn't want to pay for the thrill side so we just hung out on the chill side. The huge new pool is amazing the swim up bar is fun. I'm glad they kept the one side non molested the way it used to be with the beaches and tons of chairs and scenery. We were the only ship there that day so it was great and not crowded. Plenty of empty space and beach chairs to choose from. I can imagine it gets pretty busy with a few ships there at once. It is nice to not have to tender in anymore and risk missing the port if the winds are up and the tender boats can't run. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We just got off this excellent ship after a six day cruise. Both my husband and I have physical limitations, he used a scooter the entire time, and I used a cane. This was the first cruise I can remember where when you went to get on the ... Read More
We just got off this excellent ship after a six day cruise. Both my husband and I have physical limitations, he used a scooter the entire time, and I used a cane. This was the first cruise I can remember where when you went to get on the elevators, people held the door for you, stepped off to let you on, and helped you in ever way they could. No pushing and rushing in front of you to get on! A much different attitude. In the Windjammer, people were polite, and the crew always tried to help you in carrying your food to your table, and then even once you were seated they came over to see it they could go and get you anything. I can't remember a nicer, caring crew. When I spoke to one of the supervisors about the attitude, he told me that because it is a small ship, the crew is like family and like working together. You could tell! Yes, the cabins are small and do not have a lot of storage. Lacked a refrigerator,but would supply ice if you asked. There were a lot of hangers in the cabinet, but wished there were more drawers, also the handles to open the drawers were on the bottom, so in order to open the bottom drawer, the handle was on the floor. The bed was very hard, and was a problem after a couple of days. The bathroom was small, and the shower was the smallest ever, but the shower curtain was heaver so it did not stick to you. The entertainment was good, a nice variety with two comics, a magician, and one night of a variety show of dancers and singers. i did like that Royal Caribbean on this ship did not hound you to buy things. In fact there was never any announcement of BINGO, the only thing was a listing in the activity paper, also there are NO Art auctions! We cant wait to go back on this ship, and would book the same cabin, we were on the 4th floor, right at the elevators, but did not hear much noise. Also the only time I smelled anything smelly, was when we had to go out on deck six for the life boat drill. and then there was a sewerage smell. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This was originally a cruise to Cuba which was the only reason we chose this ship. When the Cuba ports were cancelled we decided to take their offer of 50% off but didn't expect much from this "old" and "small" ... Read More
This was originally a cruise to Cuba which was the only reason we chose this ship. When the Cuba ports were cancelled we decided to take their offer of 50% off but didn't expect much from this "old" and "small" ship. We had a wonderful time. No way did the ship seem old. All of the public areas and our cabin were very clean and just lovely. We loved that the ship was smaller since it was so easy to get around and there were no crowds anywhere. You could walk into the buffet area, the showroom or the pool area and always get seats. We have been on many cruises where getting seats anywhere is always a hassle. The entertainment was top notch. We especially enjoyed the many beautiful costumes. The food was very good and our wait staff friendly and very efficient. In fact every service person we encountered was super friendly. Since we always take a balcony room and there are no regular balconies on this ship we opted for a junior suite which in actuality was the same as a regular balcony on any other ship. If you are thinking of going on the Empress, don't even hesitate. You will enjoy it! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
My husband got this cruise as a surprise for my birthday. Unfortunately , I found out due to the travel agents app (used last yr for trip to Antigua) sent me an email about it. I was super excited, he was highly upset. Nonetheless, we ... Read More
My husband got this cruise as a surprise for my birthday. Unfortunately , I found out due to the travel agents app (used last yr for trip to Antigua) sent me an email about it. I was super excited, he was highly upset. Nonetheless, we were both looking forward to our 1st cruise. Then the president stopped all US travel to Cuba. That was my hubby's main purpose for booking this particular cruise; he left it up to me to say go or cancel. I decided to keep it and stay excited and not have to wait on another trip. We left out of Miami, cruised to Key West, Costa Maya (LOVED THIS PORT), Cozumel. We traveled from home (NC) to Miami the night before. It was just my husband and I. We did not explore Miami since we've gone there so many times for our anniversary. Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze. We bought the Key Program which eliminated a lot of wait time and included internet. A MUST HAVE for any cruise! The ships is smaller than most, but big enough for a first time. I loved that we saw the staff in different roles, like the gift shop and then performing. The entertainment was phenomenal. The spa experience my hubby bought me (special on day 1) was GREAT!The food in the dining room was magnificent. The food in the buffet (Windjammer) was decent. (Nothing to write home about) The one thing I definitely appreciated were the staff members at each buffet entrance reminding and ensuring your hands were washed before getting a plate to begin. That speaks volumes for someone who is a germaphobe like myself. We chose the Salsa/tequila tasting/beach break in Costa Maya (Mahuhual). I could have stayed there all day! We made guacamole, hot salsa, and sweet salsa, did tequila tasting and salsa dancing. (included 1 free drink) We both had coke. We aren't drinkers, but the taste of that family's mango tequila was unbelievable! We chose the dolphin experience excursion in Cozumel. It includes lockers for your belongings, buffet and lunch, and seal show. The memory pictures are EXPENSIVE. No cameras allowed!There's imitation Mayan ruins at this state park, but we didn't opt to see them because it was so hot. I enjoyed time at the pool. I've already been looking for another cruise to take. I would definitely go back on Royal Caribbean again, even if it was the same ship. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise because we wanted to go to Cuba. We were disappointed when we learned we would not be able to go to Cuba, but Royal Caribbean really went above and beyond for us. The 50% refund was extremely generous. While I was on ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to go to Cuba. We were disappointed when we learned we would not be able to go to Cuba, but Royal Caribbean really went above and beyond for us. The 50% refund was extremely generous. While I was on this new itinerary, I never once felt that I was missing out on anything. In fact, it was the best vacation I've ever had. Since I'm a planner, I had done a lot of research on the Empress of the Seas, and I was a little nervous about the ship. That was all for nothing! The ship is amazing! Yes, it is a smaller ship - the smallest in the fleet - but guess how many lines we waited in during this vacation? None. That includes our embarkation. We walked in, went right up to the counter and were on the ship in a matter of minutes. When we got to our cabin, we noticed that it was small, but we knew it would be. We had plenty of room in our cabin. I did bring magnetic hooks with us and that helped to provide some additional space by hanging things on the walls. Bringing these hooks was probably the best tip that I got from my research. I've read in a few places that there was a weird odor on deck 5. I smelled it, but it wasn't a big deal. The dining room was great and I was happy with the food quality and selection. The best part is if you don't like what you ordered, you send it back and get something else. Or, if you like it a lot, you order another! We went to Chops on my birthday and that was fantastic too. It was a step up from the dining room and my 9oz filet was so tender that I could cut it with a butter knife. First class entertainers on this ship! Loved the shows I went to! The music around the ship was always fun and lively. I booked some of my shore excursions through the ship and thought those were fantastic. We did the behind the scenes tour of the ship and loved everything we learned. It was great to learn about what goes on behind the scene on this ship! My daughter found a great group of friends with the teen group. This really provided an opportunity for her to get to know the other teens and she really had a great time. The pool was usually crowded, but it was still really great. I loved it! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We booked this cruise as part 1 of our honeymoon (then onto Cancun after) as it originally went to Cuba. Although Cuba was then off the cards (and beyond the control of Royal Caribbean) we still went ahead with the cruise. RC we're ... Read More
We booked this cruise as part 1 of our honeymoon (then onto Cancun after) as it originally went to Cuba. Although Cuba was then off the cards (and beyond the control of Royal Caribbean) we still went ahead with the cruise. RC we're very good and put 50% of cruise fare into on on-board credit for the cruise. This was our first time cruising and it certainly wont be our last. We had a great experience and I would go with RC again in a heartbeat! Check-in was very smooth, we arrived early and just walked through with no ques/line whatsoever. We knew this was one of the smaller ships but also had read that this was good in terms of not have to wait in lines etc. At Check-in we received our Sea-pass card which is also you drink package card. I would recommend the delux alcohol package even if you want 2-3 alcoholic drinks a day (this combined with the inclusion of soft drinks plus coffees will certainly be good value). Onboard the cabin was small but we knew it would be and to be fair we only used it to sleep and shower as we were up and about for the rest of the cruise. The same can be said for the gym, it is very small but again, there were no lines so no wait for any of the equipment. I also used the running track on deck 5 most morning and there was a great atmosphere/camaraderie on the track every morning as faces became familiar! We had booked excursions through RC (We looked at booking 3rd parts as we both travel a lot) but it wasn't much more expensive booking through RC and your covered if anything goes wrong. We booked Key West Bike Tour, Cozumel Sailing on Catamaran (including snorkeling), Belieze Bus tour and CocoCay 1/2 day pass for the water-park - all excellent tours and I would recommend each and every one of them. Having reviewed Costa Maya online (and confirmed with a 60min walk around) there inst a whole lot there (for us anyway) so we stayed on the ship and enjoyed rock-climbing wall, gym, haircut etc. The at-sea days were excellent and the staff work so well to create a holiday atmosphere. The shows were good in the theater, we're not into dance so on those evening we just watched a movie or enjoyed a late dinner. The food was excellent but I see were some of the comments mean in regard to the Windjammer. Great for breakfast but lunch can be a bit repetitive. No complaints about dinner though as staff were fantastic as was the food (although don't be in any rush, but we were never in a rush and enjoyed the dinner/atmosphere). We didn't smell the odors that people mentioned apart from the last day (where we were checking out - so I guess they now have some system where they clean the septic system on the check-out day. But certainly have no issues throughout the cruise. Some comments (they are more comments that criticism as we had a wonderful cruise): - It would be good to have a better que system for slides in COCOCAY, some of the slides had a line that took 90mins and it seemed like they could let people through the slides slightly faster as well as staff changes at the slides could have been done quicker. - Costa Maya is a waste of time, its a fake tourist trap. terminal was built as a fake village where all prices are highly inflated. We looked at hiring bikes to go to the real village but even this bike rental was extortionate. Also the swim with dolphins is a disgrace in Costa Maya and RC should actually do something about this an request that this is ended at the terminal (there are maybe 8 dolphins in a tiny pool and thats it as there are shops one side and a concrete wall the other and its cruel and horrible to watch). - The wait at the bar for a drink was sometimes a bit long, which was frustrating at times when it was really warm out - Self check-out was the only line we encountered and for no reason apparently, I couldn't not see how it took so long as the line winded around the theater etc. This could be seeded up easily. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
The service was impeccable. When my husband stopped by Guest Services to pick up the Assistive Listening device they got overzealous and installed blinking lights and bed vibrator in the room. That was very kind but I didn't need all ... Read More
The service was impeccable. When my husband stopped by Guest Services to pick up the Assistive Listening device they got overzealous and installed blinking lights and bed vibrator in the room. That was very kind but I didn't need all that ( and it changed the set up of the room) so they took it right back out. We loved having the assigned seating at 6pm. We loved having the same wait staff each night. I emailed special requests ahead of time---They were able to give us a private table away from the piano so I was able to enjoy without trying to explain my deafness to people They handled my food allergies easily. The main dining room was my something I looked forward to everyday. We loved every single thing about the size of this ship. We never felt crowded, never waited in line, never felt rushed. We asked Guest Services and they said it was fully booked and had 1600 people on board when we sailed.There are rumors about Royal taking it out of commission with Cuba off the table. I hope not-- I would sail this ship again in a heartbeat. The biggest surprise--- the teen club. As you know, they have little to nothing on the website about having a teen club. I was very, very worried that my 13 year old would be bored. We made him go to the teen meet and greet the first night promising to pick him up in 2 hours. We were thrilled to find out that instead of a dedicated room---they have a "roaming" teen club. Fabian had the kids all over the ship from morning until midnight. They played hide and seek, uno, scrabble, a scavenger hunt, went to the shows as a group and played a days long spy game called paranoia. My son was gone from sunup to curfew and had the best time. Added bonus--- no electronics were involved so it really was a throw back to the childhood of disconnect. I think Royal is missing a huge marketing opportunity and parents would sign up for this ship just to get their kids off the devices. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
EVERYONE with Royal Caribbean made us feel like we were so important to them and they would do anything within their power to accommodate our every need. The service, entertainment, and food was all excellent! We had a few meals in Chops ... Read More
EVERYONE with Royal Caribbean made us feel like we were so important to them and they would do anything within their power to accommodate our every need. The service, entertainment, and food was all excellent! We had a few meals in Chops Grill and they were good, but the food and service in the main dining room was so good, we probably will not spend the extra money next time. A larger pool would be nice, but that was not the goal of our trip or we would have booked a larger ship. We had three adults in an ocean-view cabin and had plenty of room. We purchased The Key and felt like the benefits were great compared to the cost. After a lot of research, I also found that most excursions were actually less expensive booking directly through Royal Caribbean, contrary to many review warnings. We loved the ports of Key West, Cuba, and Cozumel! Definitely agree with "small ship, HUGE heart". We did walk by a few small areas with a less-than-pleasant odor a few times, but I have never been in a venue accommodating over 2,000 total people where you couldn't find a few spots that were not exactly pleasant. If given the chance, I would do this exact trip again next week, no questions asked!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose this cruise as my husband is Cuban and we wanted to see and share in Cuba beauty. The Empress is the smallest ship but it is the best ship. The entertainment was fabulous along with the cruise Director (Elvis) the dinning and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as my husband is Cuban and we wanted to see and share in Cuba beauty. The Empress is the smallest ship but it is the best ship. The entertainment was fabulous along with the cruise Director (Elvis) the dinning and ship service was excellent. We did not utilize port of Miami destinations for either embarkation or debarkation only arrived to board the ship. We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and chose Cuba since my husband is Cuban and we had heard a lot of beautiful stories from Cuba. Our first stop was Key West where my family is from and we took a trolley ride to the Southern most Point. Then the sail to Cuba was smooth and when we arrived everything went well from the exchanging of the monies to meeting our tour guide in Havana. In our second port we encountered an equally smooth transfer as with our 4th to Labadee. We even took a tour of the Ship which was amazing! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This was our 4th cruise - and 4th different cruise line. The Empress of the Seas is an older and smaller ship. If you accept that fact, you will have a great time. The service was outstanding, and the food in the main dining room was ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise - and 4th different cruise line. The Empress of the Seas is an older and smaller ship. If you accept that fact, you will have a great time. The service was outstanding, and the food in the main dining room was excellent. The Cuba cruise is too short to spend much time or place much emphasis on shows, or alternate dining venues, or activities. Hence, trying to compare those to other ships seems pointless.There are stage performances, a spa, a casino, several bars, and both adult and child activities. While all are on a smaller scale, the staff is excellent and the reduced population makes it easier to navigate. Likewise, a smaller cabin was not a problem as you are rarely in it. I recommend this cruise for those wanting a quick get-away with some new sight seeing and some quality service. If you rally want the the deluxe cruise experience or lots of on-board activities, you should look at longer cruises and larger boats. Overall, we had just as nice an experience as we have had on longer European cruises. Final note: we met a number of staff who had 15-30 years experience. It definitely showed, The staff was the key to an enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
My family and I specifically chose the Empress of the Seas for its itinerary-Cozumel, Havana (overnight), and Nassau. After reading some of the reviews on Cruise Critic, I was a bit worried about sailing on this specific ship. No ... Read More
My family and I specifically chose the Empress of the Seas for its itinerary-Cozumel, Havana (overnight), and Nassau. After reading some of the reviews on Cruise Critic, I was a bit worried about sailing on this specific ship. No worries! My family and I were presently surprised at the service and how well maintained the ship was. The ship is the smallest in the NCI fleet, which was fine by us! Mega ships are overrated; being on a smaller ship makes it much easier & quicker to learn the layout of the ship and you can walk from one end to the other in 5 minutes! Excellent dining experience in both the dining room and the Windjammer cafe! Huge selection of foods available...and quality of the food was very good to excellent. Desserts at the buffet were much better than I remember from my past experiences on NCL and Carnival. There were options for beverages at the Windjammer for those who chose not to purchase the pricey drink packages-lemonade, iced tea, fruit punch, water, and coffee. The coffee was much too strong for my taste, but it was decent. Staff on the ship couldn’t have been more helpful-from Deny (our room attendant), to our waiters in the dining room-Valento and Viny, and who can forget the hilarious activities staff who made playing trivia every day a hoot! Our accommodation was an oceanview stateroom. Yes, the rooms are small, but how much time do you actually spend in your room!?! I don’t know about anyone else, but I go on cruises to spend time in the ports of call, on the sun decks, and at activities, not wasting away in my room!!! Past posts indicate the ship is in poor repair and musty/dirty. I can tell you that I found none of this on the Empress of the Seas. I am a neat freak so I would have definitely noticed these things! No areas of the ship were closed off due to maintenance when we sailed (as I had read in previous posts). The pool and hot tubs were well maintained and were never shut down. Embarkation and debarkation when stopped at ports of call was quick and painless. I was a tad worried about getting sick on a cruise, given what is publicized in the media so often. The staff went above and beyond to encourage passengers to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before meals to help with the spread of germs. I can tell you as a nurse I sincerely appreciated this! Shout out to Neilbert for greeting us at the Windjammer Café multiple times a day and encouraging us to “washy washy”!!! I would definitely consider traveling on the Empress of the Seas in the future! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
A group of 28 of us were on the Empress the last week of March 2019. Embarkation and debarkation was easy and fast. We all took this cruise to go to Cuba this week we were spending 2 days in Havana. Although its is an older ship and ... Read More
A group of 28 of us were on the Empress the last week of March 2019. Embarkation and debarkation was easy and fast. We all took this cruise to go to Cuba this week we were spending 2 days in Havana. Although its is an older ship and not a mega ship the ship has been kept in very good condition. Before going we read a number of negative reviews of the ship, food and service on board. We found none of the negative reviews to be true except that the cabins are a little smaller than the mega ships. The food was excellent both in the main dining room and buffet in the Windjammer. Our steward Martin Smith kept our cabin spotless. All the ships personnel were courteous and helpful and always with a smile. We have been on many of the mega ships and it was a welcome change not to have to walk 15 minutes to get from the front to the back of the ship and no long lines at the buffet or to get into a shows. We all agree "absolutely" we would go on this ship again especially with the overnight in Havana. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We are seasoned cruisers, are used to the mega ships, but we wanted a little getaway cruise to break up the time, and I’ve been wanting to go to Cuba. In researching, I found that this 6-Night cruise in January, which was the month we ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers, are used to the mega ships, but we wanted a little getaway cruise to break up the time, and I’ve been wanting to go to Cuba. In researching, I found that this 6-Night cruise in January, which was the month we wanted to travel, was an excellent value, so we went with the Owners Suite. After booking, I realized that Empress of the Seas used to be Nordic Empress, which we sailed on in 1997! Now I had become quite skeptical, but kept an open mind. Thankfully, the weather held out for us, because prior to our departure week, there were several itinerary diversions due to weather. It’s been ages since I’ve cruised out of Miami, but it was so smooth and organized. And luckily for us, because there was damage to a pier in Key West, we were informed several weeks earlier that we were now stopping in Havana, replacing Key West. I was absolutely thrilled! What a bonus that was! We have been on several sailings where the tables were turned, and we missed a stop we really wanted, and this just made the cruise that much more special. Upon boarding the ship, I was pleasantly surprised at how clean it was! I couldn’t understand why it has gotten so many terrible reviews, other than some guests may not have ever sailed the smaller ships, and could only compare Empress to the mega ships. The service was exceptional! Everyone in every area was so welcoming towards us. The ship is the oldest and smallest, but it was a breath of fresh air. It was wonderful not waiting in lines for any activity, show, or at a bar. Our suite steward went above and beyond, as did our dinner servers, each and every night. The Owners Suite was wonderful, with a delightfully large balcony overlooking the front of the ship, it was amazing! The suite itself was not huge, but certainly large and spacious enough for two people.The Loyalty Ambassador onboard made sure everything was taken care of, not only for us, but for everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed our three ports of call: Havana, Cienfuegos, and Grand Cayman. We did two shore excursions in the Cuba ports being novices there, but now that we’ve gone, our next cruise to Cuba, we will venture out on our own. It was so easy getting around and conversing with the locals, we have mapped out what we will do next time. Back to the locals, I found them to be so engaging, easy to talk to, and friendly. Havana is such colorful a city, I highly recommend it. Cienfuegos is a bit more primitive, but the tours will take you out to the beautiful countrysides. The shopping there is limited, but I found the little stalls near the ship had the best little remembrances at better prices! In Grand Cayman, we just walked around, shopped, stopped at the Paradise Grill overlooking the water, it was wonderful, and one of the best days just hanging out, relaxing with a beverage, enjoying the scenery. The shows on the ship were okay, we went to more than we usually do, as we aren’t real show goers. We also went on the Bottomless Galley Brunch which was by far, a highlight of the week, and I highly recommend it. This cruise was one of the best trips ever, I can’t stop thinking about it and how much we enjoyed it! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Over-all rating 10: Ports of call, small number of guests 1400, quality of service, food, activities..it all was great Areas of Improvement: Beverages: Pre-paid adult beverage pkg: $45/day must include both adults so $90/day/6 days. ... Read More
Over-all rating 10: Ports of call, small number of guests 1400, quality of service, food, activities..it all was great Areas of Improvement: Beverages: Pre-paid adult beverage pkg: $45/day must include both adults so $90/day/6 days. My fiance does not drink and the alternative offered of the regular beverage pks did not interest her. Essentially, we were off the ship boarding/departure/tours about two days so could not use pkg. Suggest a daily package even if a bit more for one. Phone service: Not on hold long, Unfortunately, all week long we could not hear what the other person was saying so it was of little use to us. Check-in/check-out: seems they might have more agents on duty, long lines. Handicap Rooms: not enough with balconies Service: Outstanding in all areas but a few of the staff did not know location questions when asked and had trouble with English We are handicapped so we could not participate in all activities. We did, however, find other things to do and the trip over-all was fantastic. Highly Recommand. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We love cruising, and DH being a big cigar smoker- Cuba was at the top of our bucket list. Like everyone else, we wanted to go before there was a Starbucks on every corner. We went with 2 other couples- 1 being a real classic car fan. ... Read More
We love cruising, and DH being a big cigar smoker- Cuba was at the top of our bucket list. Like everyone else, we wanted to go before there was a Starbucks on every corner. We went with 2 other couples- 1 being a real classic car fan. Price was certainly right, so we went on Empress on a B2b to see more of Cuba. At first we were disappointed that Santiago was replaced with another Havana stop, but found that 3.5 days was certainly not enough to see everything. After following reviews for several months we had pretty low expectations...the ship, Cuba, tours, etc. Were we wrong! Yes, the ship is old and small. We knew that, and weren't expecting The Edge (our next cruise!). We found it clean, and as we don't use alot of the newer ship stuff anyway. It was full the first week (Thanksgiving), but never once did it seem crowded. Some of these reviews just seem to nitpick every little flaw- look at the entire picture! However, the service and food more than made up for it! I think our cabin steward, Gusti, lived outside our door! He couldn't do enough for us. And our waiter was so good we followed him the second night to another table! He insisted we try everything, and was never wrong. He kept bringing us more appetizers, another main dish, etc, yet we were still one of the first to leave the dining room! We were going to try the specialty restaurant, but the MDR food was so good we cancelled. Cruise director Bobby and the rest of the activities staff also helped make the cruise exceptional. Everyone was very friendly and really seemed to enjoy their jobs. Cuba itself was clean, but poor, as was expected. Our lunches at Paladars were exceptional and such fun (and cheap!). The people were very friendly and helpful. The experience was like something 100 years ago! It truly was experiencing a different culture, which we don't see enough of in our travels. Architecture was beautiful, and restoration efforts for their 500th anniversary next year were amazing. We took 3 private tours with 2 different operators- FerTours and Cuba Connections. I will go into more details on reviews of each later. Cuba Connections would be my recommendation. Most memorable moments in Havana (so many to choose from!)- Rum Museum- do the cocktail tour. Regular tour is 7 cuc, but for 15cuc includes a stint behind the bar learning to make drinks (and drinking them!). Feeling no pain, joined in with the band on the maracas. Had a fantastic tour of Hotel Nacionale and got tickets for the Cabaret Parisienne that night. Show was very good, and paid 35cuc rather than over $100 through the ship. Got great seats down front, Also went to the Jewish synagogue, which was a surprise. Very modern and beautiful. Again, they made us feel very welcome. From Cienfuegos also went to Trinidad. Don't do it! Too long of a drive for not much! During a full day in Havana went to Pindar del Rio- Vinales- to the tobacco plantations. Fantastic! That truly was a journey back in time. Spent 2 hours on a highway 1 lane each way, often behind horse-drawn carts. At the plantation went into a barn to learn about the cigars, then went for a smoke. I even had a Montecristo! Government takes 90% of the tobacco, but the farmers can keep/sell the other 10%. Got Montecristos for 3cuc each! Ended up with 7 boxes of different cuban cigars! During a RCI sale we booked 2 ship excursions, which we normally don't do. Even these exceeded my expectations. In Cozumel did the swim with dolphins- fantastic time, fantastic value! Included the swim (much longer and more intimate than I thought), beautiful grounds at Chokobban, and a great open bar & buffet ($70pp!). The snorkel in Georgetown was one of the best! Bit of a drizzle in the morning, but by the time we got to the protected reef the sun was shining. 20 of us on a boat that held 80 was perfect, the rum punch at $3 (mostly rum) was great, the depth was perfect (not too shallow and not too deep) and the guides were great, always feeding the fish. All in all, the perfect trip (if we ignore the horrible American airlines flight back home)! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
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
We chose this cruise mainly to visit Cuba. We have cruised on many ships with many companies in the past. On this occasion our focus was Cuba and not the ship. We chose the Empress of the seas as it fitted the dates we wished to travel. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly to visit Cuba. We have cruised on many ships with many companies in the past. On this occasion our focus was Cuba and not the ship. We chose the Empress of the seas as it fitted the dates we wished to travel. We are UK residents and were unsure of the visa policy. I contacted Royal Caribbean and basically if you travel from an American port you are treated as an American person visiting Cuba in relation to the visa application. Royal Caribbean kindly sort this out for $75 per person. We boarded the Empress and were pleasantly surprised. Although the ship is older and smaller than some other cruise ships it is in immaculate condition and all members of staff were fantastic. The pool bar is large and we never had to wait to get served. The food at the restaurant and buffet were as per usual standard for Royal Caribbean, very good. We didn't visit chops grill. The ship is not crowded and we spent our time on board just enjoying the peace, the pool and the view. There are bacon and suite rooms but inside or ocean view rooms. We chose an inside room which was great. Very clean and maintained well. Myself, wife and son had lots of laughs and enjoyed the special time we had together. We visited Costa Maya and paid for the water park. $50 for entry and an extra $48 if you want to do the zipwires. We loved this water park. Very different to other ones we have visited but just as much fun. It did help that there was hardly anyone there no queues whatsoever and the staff were very friendly. We have visited Cozumel before and just spent the day walking and having food at a great little restaurant on the front near to the submarine tour office. Also key West which I didn't mention was fantastic. We have been here a few times before. We love Key West. So to the main event Cuba. We booked a private company fertours. The company is run by Fernando and he has many guides and drivers. We arrived in Havana at 1pm. Straight through customs passport stamped for entry for 30 days if required. Zulia our guide took us to all the squares in Havana followed by an open top tour in 1952 Chevy. Later that evening we toured round in a 1952 Chevy Bellaire hardtop with Zulia and driver Joseph. The 9 o clock cannon shot was great and we ended up at the Buena Vista social club. Awe drinks lots of great Cuban music and dancing. The following day we toured further afield to the home of Ernest Hemingway. Lunch at a fabulous Cuban restaurant. We also visited the home of Cuban artist José Foster. This is a must see as he has turned his entire neighbourhood into a beautiful art installation. Back to the ship and return to Miami. Cuba was amazing and I cannot wait to go again. The Empress of the seas also gets top marks. As long as you don't expect loads of restaurants and watermarks like some of the larger ships this is a beautiful ship. All round fantastic cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 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

Find an Empress of the Seas Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click