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Overall, this was a great cruising experience (as I would expect with Royal Caribbean). Like several other reviewers, I was very concerned prior to our cruise after reading all the negative reviews. If the cruise got off to a rough start, I certainly couldn't tell on my cruise as we had a fantastic experience. This was my third RC cruise and it provided all of the fantastic customer service you expect from the cruise line. The most important thing to know when you book this cruise is what you're getting - an experience on a significantly smaller cruise ship than some of the ships RC offers. That's not a bad thing, it's just different and important to know before you book. We liked that you deal with less people and smaller crowds, however we did miss some of the "big ship" amenities (a promenade, more on-board activities for the kids, full Broadway-style productions, a bigger dining room). The ship still had a fantastic spa, wonderful dining room food and lots of activities. We were the most concerned because we were bringing 3 kids (ages 9, 12 and 15) and wanted to make sure there were things to do at sea. Their biggest complaint was the pool - there is only one and it really is very small for the number of people on the ship. There are not a ton of things for them to do on the boat other than a rock climbing wall, however they thankfully have a great young children and teen program. Our kids met tons of friends and had a great time doing the planned events (capture the flag, game shows, teen only dinners, dances, etc). If I were sailing again with the kids I would most likely book the Oasis class, which is really geared at families and over the top activities. The Oasis class comes at a significant cost difference though, so if you're looking for affordable, I wouldn't hesitate to book Empress with kids (especially if it's a first cruise experience). If you're sailing adults-only - NO hesitation. There are several lounge/bar areas, lots of events, karaoke, a great piano player that engages the audience, great dinners and lots of space to hang out in the sun. The shows were great and really fun, even if they weren't the "Broadway" shows on some of the bigger boats. The rooms were small, like all cruises, but were nice. We stayed in an ocean view room and the only thing we noticed that was missing from the bigger ships was a small couch (we didn't miss it and didn't think the room felt that much smaller). Overall, I would recommend, as long as you are ok with what is offered on a smaller ship. Everything on board is great, but if you're comparing to your experiences and the options offered on the big ships it has no chance to compare. For the value and the amazing RC customer service, it's a great choice for a 5 night cruise.

Great Small Ship Experience

Empress of the Seas Cruise Review by brebes4

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Overall, this was a great cruising experience (as I would expect with Royal Caribbean). Like several other reviewers, I was very concerned prior to our cruise after reading all the negative reviews. If the cruise got off to a rough start, I certainly couldn't tell on my cruise as we had a fantastic experience. This was my third RC cruise and it provided all of the fantastic customer service you expect from the cruise line.

The most important thing to know when you book this cruise is what you're getting - an experience on a significantly smaller cruise ship than some of the ships RC offers. That's not a bad thing, it's just different and important to know before you book. We liked that you deal with less people and smaller crowds, however we did miss some of the "big ship" amenities (a promenade, more on-board activities for the kids, full Broadway-style productions, a bigger dining room). The ship still had a fantastic spa, wonderful dining room food and lots of activities.

We were the most concerned because we were bringing 3 kids (ages 9, 12 and 15) and wanted to make sure there were things to do at sea. Their biggest complaint was the pool - there is only one and it really is very small for the number of people on the ship. There are not a ton of things for them to do on the boat other than a rock climbing wall, however they thankfully have a great young children and teen program. Our kids met tons of friends and had a great time doing the planned events (capture the flag, game shows, teen only dinners, dances, etc). If I were sailing again with the kids I would most likely book the Oasis class, which is really geared at families and over the top activities. The Oasis class comes at a significant cost difference though, so if you're looking for affordable, I wouldn't hesitate to book Empress with kids (especially if it's a first cruise experience).

If you're sailing adults-only - NO hesitation. There are several lounge/bar areas, lots of events, karaoke, a great piano player that engages the audience, great dinners and lots of space to hang out in the sun. The shows were great and really fun, even if they weren't the "Broadway" shows on some of the bigger boats. The rooms were small, like all cruises, but were nice. We stayed in an ocean view room and the only thing we noticed that was missing from the bigger ships was a small couch (we didn't miss it and didn't think the room felt that much smaller).

Overall, I would recommend, as long as you are ok with what is offered on a smaller ship. Everything on board is great, but if you're comparing to your experiences and the options offered on the big ships it has no chance to compare. For the value and the amazing RC customer service, it's a great choice for a 5 night cruise.
brebes4’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 7 to 9
Ages 13 to 15
Service
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Snorkeling
    We booked the combination snorkeling/Stingray City excursion. The snorkeling was very disappointing - we didn't have very long to snorkel and the area the dropped us off at had very little activity or scenery for snorkeling.
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  • Stingray Swim
    We loved Stingray City - definitely a memorable experience, especially for the kids. Our only complaint was that you are not at Stingray City for very long. You spend a majority of your time on a bus and boat traveling. We would have liked more time there and more food for the Stingrays (it ran out very quickly and not everyone in our family got to feed the stingrays).
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  • Snuba
    We enjoyed the SNUBA experience, however we wished we had been in an area that was deeper to really enjoy the air tank option. Since we were in more shallow water our cords got tangled several times, making it hard to really enjoy. Because it was so shallow, a lot of sand got kicked up and made it hard to see. The crew on the boat was great though and were very friendly and helpful. I would definitely like to try it again, especially with the company used through the cruise line.
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