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We [two couples] selected this cruise because we wanted to experience the St Lawrence and the Thousand Islands during the fall. We knew from the brochure and company website that the ship was small but both depicted a cozy environment with small but reasonably comfortable cabins. We paid extra for the Premier Cabins, a huge mistake. We selected the Premier cabins, 24 and 25 and paid a premium for the extra space. What a joke! The cabin was small with a double bed against a wall requiring that the inside occupant crawl out the foot of the bed or over the outside occupant when getting up. Not an easy task for older passengers. At best the cabin could be described as shabby, the furnishings and the cabin itself had all seen better days. The cabins were located directly over the bow thrusters which were extremely noisy, a special delight when leaving port at 4:30 AM. There were portholes, not windows in the cabin which were locked shut and could not be opened without tools and certainly could not be opened when sailing. The real horror was the bathroom, it was barley large enough to sit on the john and the shower was extremely tight. The toilets were marine toilets that evacuated into a holding tank that emitted an odor that required you to run the bathroom fan continuously and to close the shower drain with a supplied cover. There is no TV or internet available in the ships cabins. The ship itself is extremely small. The only enclosed public space is the dining room which doubles as the bar and lounge. It is barely large enough to accommodate all of the passengers. The kitchen is extremely small, making it difficult for the cooks to prepare food in a timely manner. We had two services for lunch and dinner with half of the dining room set up for meals and the other half set up as a lounge. Half the passengers literally watch the other half eat because there is nowhere else to go on the ship. It was too cool to lounge on deck and the cabins are claustrophobic. The few times they attempted to serve everyone at one time emphasized the kitchens limitations. It took over an hour and a half from salad to dessert for the Captains Dinner despite the best efforts of the chefs and servers. I should note, the crew from the captain on down did everything they could to make up for the ship. They were friendly, accommodating and hardworking, but were fighting a losing battle. Food was good but the cooks were clearly hampered by the size of the kitchen. The entertainment was also handicapped by the space limitations. For example, the last evening we had a dance featuring a local trio. In order to set up for the dance they asked the passengers to clear the dining room and either visit the bridge or go to their cabins will the crew set up for the dance. Neither option was particularly enticing given the time of night or the size of the cabins. Land tours were interesting but limited. Transportation was via school buses and the ships scheduled did not allow for much free time in port. Internet was available only in the main dining room and streaming services like Facebook were blocked. The internet was weak or nonexistent at times but that is not unusual on river cruises. There is no TV service on board. Overall, I would not recommend this cruise. Another cruise line might be an alternative but given our experience I'd suggest driving the route and staying in hotels along the way. The river towns including Montreal and Quebec offer a wide variety of restaurants and accommodations and you are in view of the river most of the way. There are numerous day cruises available in various ports if you want to sight see from the river. Clearly, for what we paid for "premium rooms" we could have stayed in five star hotels for a seven day road trip.

An Extremely Disappointing Experience

Canadian Empress Cruise Review by ampariso

17 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We [two couples] selected this cruise because we wanted to experience the St Lawrence and the Thousand Islands during the fall. We knew from the brochure and company website that the ship was small but both depicted a cozy environment with small but reasonably comfortable cabins. We paid extra for the Premier Cabins, a huge mistake.
We selected the Premier cabins, 24 and 25 and paid a premium for the extra space. What a joke! The cabin was small with a double bed against a wall requiring that the inside occupant crawl out the foot of the bed or over the outside occupant when getting up. Not an easy task for older passengers. At best the cabin could be described as shabby, the furnishings and the cabin itself had all seen better days. The cabins were located directly over the bow thrusters which were extremely noisy, a special delight when leaving port at 4:30 AM. There were portholes, not windows in the cabin which were locked shut and could not be opened without tools and certainly could not be opened when sailing. The real horror was the bathroom, it was barley large enough to sit on the john and the shower was extremely tight. The toilets were marine toilets that evacuated into a holding tank that emitted an odor that required you to run the bathroom fan continuously and to close the shower drain with a supplied cover. There is no TV or internet available in the ships cabins.

The ship itself is extremely small. The only enclosed public space is the dining room which doubles as the bar and lounge. It is barely large enough to accommodate all of the passengers. The kitchen is extremely small, making it difficult for the cooks to prepare food in a timely manner. We had two services for lunch and dinner with half of the dining room set up for meals and the other half set up as a lounge. Half the passengers literally watch the other half eat because there is nowhere else to go on the ship. It was too cool to lounge on deck and the cabins are claustrophobic. The few times they attempted to serve everyone at one time emphasized the kitchens limitations. It took over an hour and a half from salad to dessert for the Captains Dinner despite the best efforts of the chefs and servers. I should note, the crew from the captain on down did everything they could to make up for the ship. They were friendly, accommodating and hardworking, but were fighting a losing battle. Food was good but the cooks were clearly hampered by the size of the kitchen.

The entertainment was also handicapped by the space limitations. For example, the last evening we had a dance featuring a local trio. In order to set up for the dance they asked the passengers to clear the dining room and either visit the bridge or go to their cabins will the crew set up for the dance. Neither option was particularly enticing given the time of night or the size of the cabins.

Land tours were interesting but limited. Transportation was via school buses and the ships scheduled did not allow for much free time in port.

Internet was available only in the main dining room and streaming services like Facebook were blocked. The internet was weak or nonexistent at times but that is not unusual on river cruises. There is no TV service on board.

Overall, I would not recommend this cruise. Another cruise line might be an alternative but given our experience I'd suggest driving the route and staying in hotels along the way. The river towns including Montreal and Quebec offer a wide variety of restaurants and accommodations and you are in view of the river most of the way. There are numerous day cruises available in various ports if you want to sight see from the river. Clearly, for what we paid for "premium rooms" we could have stayed in five star hotels for a seven day road trip.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 25
We selected the Premier cabins, 24 and 25 and paid a premium for the extra space. What a joke! The cabin was small with a double bed against a wall requiring that the inside occupant crawl out the foot of the bed or over the outside occupant when getting up. Not an easy task for older passengers. At best the cabin could be described as shabby, the furnishings and the cabin itself had all seen better days. The cabins were located directly over the bow thrusters which were extremely noisy, a special delight when leaving port at 4:30AM. There were portholes, not windows in the cabin which were locked shut and could not be opened without tools and certainly could not be opened when sailing. The real horror was the bathroom, it was barley large enough to sit on the john and the shower was extremely tight. The toilets were marine toilets that evacuated into a holding tank that emitted an odor that required you to run the bathroom fan continuously and to close the shower drain with a supplied cover. There is no TV or internet available in the ships cabins.