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Short review - You get what you pay for! We didnt pay the top RCI dollars for their mega ships so we cant complain too much about it. Its a very small ship and maybe the worst of the RCI family. If you don't like to walk too far and don't mind plumbing problems and noise issues, then it the one for you. Also, being a smaller ship the staff knew almost everyone in our table by their names and gave top quality service. That was the single most happy time of our cruise as we saw smiling faces greeting us at every meal. As for us this was our first and last cruise on this particular ship. Long review - I totally agree with most reviewers about the size and quality of the ship - Small and Disappointing. Here are our good, bad & ugly remarks - The Good: The wait staff, the servers, the greeters, the cleaners - All from various parts of the world made us feel welcomed and were always smiling in-spite of their hard day's work. The port of Miami check-in was a breeze and we were on the ship within 15 minutes of being dropped off by an Uber / Lyft ($35-$40 for 4 of us total from FLL, compared to $30 per person that the cruise ship wanted for airport transfer) at the gate. The entry and exit on port-calls was also very fast compared to other ships we have traveled in the past. The main show of the night was fantastic each night, specifically Elton John tribute on the 3rd night and the Showgirls at the last night. The Headliner show / comedian was OK. Not great but not bad either. The Cruise director and his staff were great and tried very hard to please. The overall food at main dining was not the best we have had, but not bad either. Windjammer food was sometimes better than the the main dining, so we skipped our My-Time dinner twice. The Brunch buffet was decent but overcrowded as the ship had only one place for it. The Bad: The showers were extra small and lacked hot water even early in the morning or late at night. The plumbing was terrible at the very best. Several common ladies room were always in bad shape. The cushion seats at Windjammer were the ugliest thing we have ever seen. We always sat on the wooden ones. The condition of the ship needed to be much better considering it was refurbished just a year ago. The dessert selections at the Windjammer and the main dining needs some inspiration, as we saw same items every day. Also, NO 24-hour pizza place or soft serve ice-cream corner. The ice-cream machine frequently broke causing them to operate only for few hours everyday. The Casino lacked variety, quality and space. It was so hot inside due to crammed up slot machines that they had about 20 fans running every 10 ft just to keep it bearable and breathable. The main tables were always full as they only had one of each - Blackjack, Texas Holdem, 3-Card Poker, Craps..! The slot machines were dated and not fun at all. The Gym was also tiny and had few choice of machines. There was NO Steam / Sauna rooms, that bummed my wife out as we had used them both in all our past cruises. The only activity place was the rock-climbing wall which again was packed with teenagers and time slots were taken up everyday. There was NO formal night or advance information about the dress-code (there was all white night, that would have been fun if we knew in advance before packing our clothes) The three hot water whirlpools were crowded most of the time, so we had to pick early morning (7am to 9am) or late evening (8pm to 9 pm) to use it. The walls of the cabins were paper thin and we had trouble sleeping every night. Some idiots next doors always rang their rooms between midnight trying to find their non existent family member and then eventually come to their room after partying hard at 2am. That woke us up each night and guest relations didnt do much about it. (its not their fault, just our luck to be stuck near loud and stupid neighbors) The Ugly: We had a terrible experience with our room. On the very first night smelly water was logged on the entrance of the room. We brought it to the notice of the guest relations and their reply was sorry the ship is full! They put two huge dryer fans to fix the issue. It worked fine during the day, except for the problem to return every night and it was a huge puddle on night-3. Now they offered me a room - interesting since the ship was full two days ago. The reasoning given was some passengers left due to emergency - very possible, but too late for me. My family was out and i didnt want to move without notifying them, so survived the nights. It was only on the last night when i went to check my dues, i realized that no offer of apology or waiving of some charges was presented to us. Thats when i got angry and got diverted to talk with their guest relations manager. She was a very nice lady who was shocked to hear our horror story and promised to get to bottom of it and revert back to us. After her investigation she confirmed our problems and expressed dismay over inaction of her staff. She offered us onboard credits towards our bill and a future discount on RCI (On condition that i need to book something within a year). The offer was not close enough to our miseries, but did not have not much choice on it. It was just enough to cover for some body massages for us!! N/A : We didn't use the Bar or the Spa so cant say anything specific about it. Shore Excursions : Day 2: Key West - We booked the Key Lime Bike Tour ($45 pp) through the cruise and were picked up by an awesome guide - Clint. It was a perfect tour to see the island and know its history. Clint made it entertaining and funny for all of us. Every single person in the group loved this excursion. The highlight of the tour was the description of the bloody battle of the "Conch Republic" vs "USA" and the free Key-Lime Pie served at the end of the tour. 5/5 for Clint and the tour. Day 4: Nassau, Bahamas - We booked the Pearl Island day tour ($79 pp) through the cruise also and were picked up right outside the ship ramp via a boat that took about 40 mins to the island. A very tiny but beautiful island had got damaged in the last hurricane (Matthews), but didn't got its spirit damaged. The guide and the 5 other people serving us in the island more than made up for the perfect last day of the cruise. The tour included lunch (food) was great and enough for a fill and so were the free drink and paid drinks. They even included 2 photo ops that were printed and given to us as souvenirs. There was a tiny beach and about the perfect size for the 30 people on the tour. There was plenty of shaded and open chairs. There were 3-4 games available to play but we all were in the perfect blue water. The fun and attitude of the staff there was pleasing and made us promise them to come back again after they renovate in future!

Unimpressed & Disappointed!!!

Empress of the Seas Cruise Review by AMP72

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2016
  • Destination: Bahamas
Short review - You get what you pay for! We didnt pay the top RCI dollars for their mega ships so we cant complain too much about it. Its a very small ship and maybe the worst of the RCI family. If you don't like to walk too far and don't mind plumbing problems and noise issues, then it the one for you. Also, being a smaller ship the staff knew almost everyone in our table by their names and gave top quality service. That was the single most happy time of our cruise as we saw smiling faces greeting us at every meal. As for us this was our first and last cruise on this particular ship.

Long review - I totally agree with most reviewers about the size and quality of the ship - Small and Disappointing. Here are our good, bad & ugly remarks -

The Good: The wait staff, the servers, the greeters, the cleaners - All from various parts of the world made us feel welcomed and were always smiling in-spite of their hard day's work. The port of Miami check-in was a breeze and we were on the ship within 15 minutes of being dropped off by an Uber / Lyft ($35-$40 for 4 of us total from FLL, compared to $30 per person that the cruise ship wanted for airport transfer) at the gate. The entry and exit on port-calls was also very fast compared to other ships we have traveled in the past. The main show of the night was fantastic each night, specifically Elton John tribute on the 3rd night and the Showgirls at the last night. The Headliner show / comedian was OK. Not great but not bad either. The Cruise director and his staff were great and tried very hard to please. The overall food at main dining was not the best we have had, but not bad either. Windjammer food was sometimes better than the the main dining, so we skipped our My-Time dinner twice. The Brunch buffet was decent but overcrowded as the ship had only one place for it.

The Bad: The showers were extra small and lacked hot water even early in the morning or late at night. The plumbing was terrible at the very best. Several common ladies room were always in bad shape. The cushion seats at Windjammer were the ugliest thing we have ever seen. We always sat on the wooden ones. The condition of the ship needed to be much better considering it was refurbished just a year ago. The dessert selections at the Windjammer and the main dining needs some inspiration, as we saw same items every day. Also, NO 24-hour pizza place or soft serve ice-cream corner. The ice-cream machine frequently broke causing them to operate only for few hours everyday.

The Casino lacked variety, quality and space. It was so hot inside due to crammed up slot machines that they had about 20 fans running every 10 ft just to keep it bearable and breathable. The main tables were always full as they only had one of each - Blackjack, Texas Holdem, 3-Card Poker, Craps..! The slot machines were dated and not fun at all. The Gym was also tiny and had few choice of machines. There was NO Steam / Sauna rooms, that bummed my wife out as we had used them both in all our past cruises. The only activity place was the rock-climbing wall which again was packed with teenagers and time slots were taken up everyday. There was NO formal night or advance information about the dress-code (there was all white night, that would have been fun if we knew in advance before packing our clothes) The three hot water whirlpools were crowded most of the time, so we had to pick early morning (7am to 9am) or late evening (8pm to 9 pm) to use it. The walls of the cabins were paper thin and we had trouble sleeping every night. Some idiots next doors always rang their rooms between midnight trying to find their non existent family member and then eventually come to their room after partying hard at 2am. That woke us up each night and guest relations didnt do much about it. (its not their fault, just our luck to be stuck near loud and stupid neighbors)

The Ugly: We had a terrible experience with our room. On the very first night smelly water was logged on the entrance of the room. We brought it to the notice of the guest relations and their reply was sorry the ship is full! They put two huge dryer fans to fix the issue. It worked fine during the day, except for the problem to return every night and it was a huge puddle on night-3. Now they offered me a room - interesting since the ship was full two days ago. The reasoning given was some passengers left due to emergency - very possible, but too late for me. My family was out and i didnt want to move without notifying them, so survived the nights. It was only on the last night when i went to check my dues, i realized that no offer of apology or waiving of some charges was presented to us. Thats when i got angry and got diverted to talk with their guest relations manager. She was a very nice lady who was shocked to hear our horror story and promised to get to bottom of it and revert back to us. After her investigation she confirmed our problems and expressed dismay over inaction of her staff. She offered us onboard credits towards our bill and a future discount on RCI (On condition that i need to book something within a year). The offer was not close enough to our miseries, but did not have not much choice on it. It was just enough to cover for some body massages for us!!

N/A : We didn't use the Bar or the Spa so cant say anything specific about it.

Shore Excursions :

Day 2: Key West - We booked the Key Lime Bike Tour ($45 pp) through the cruise and were picked up by an awesome guide - Clint. It was a perfect tour to see the island and know its history. Clint made it entertaining and funny for all of us. Every single person in the group loved this excursion. The highlight of the tour was the description of the bloody battle of the "Conch Republic" vs "USA" and the free Key-Lime Pie served at the end of the tour. 5/5 for Clint and the tour.

Day 4: Nassau, Bahamas - We booked the Pearl Island day tour ($79 pp) through the cruise also and were picked up right outside the ship ramp via a boat that took about 40 mins to the island. A very tiny but beautiful island had got damaged in the last hurricane (Matthews), but didn't got its spirit damaged. The guide and the 5 other people serving us in the island more than made up for the perfect last day of the cruise. The tour included lunch (food) was great and enough for a fill and so were the free drink and paid drinks. They even included 2 photo ops that were printed and given to us as souvenirs. There was a tiny beach and about the perfect size for the 30 people on the tour. There was plenty of shaded and open chairs. There were 3-4 games available to play but we all were in the perfect blue water. The fun and attitude of the staff there was pleasing and made us promise them to come back again after they renovate in future!
AMP72’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 16+
Service
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