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The excitement of going to Cuba, something I have wanted to do for many years, faded very fast. We booked the cruise on Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas specifically because it had two stops. The first was Santiago de Cuba, an all day stop, and the second was Havana, which was Afternoon and evening. The cruise was entitled, the Best of Cuba. One week before our cruise, we received notification that the dock in Santiago de Cuba had been damaged and was not yet repaired. We would be going to the Florida Keys instead. When we called customer service to see if there was anything we could do, we were told we could not get a refund or change to another cruise because corporate had the right to change any port at their discretion. It was in the contract we signed. They did not offer any thing to appease their guests Such as an onboard credit for free Wi-Fi. In fact they said that there would be nothing offered because of the change. Planning to make the best of it and knowing we would at least see Havana, we were upbeat and determined to enjoy ourselves despite our disappointment. At this point, I will say that the food, entertainment, and staff were wonderful. The empress of the seas is a very old And, as expected, the rooms were very small. However, the friendliness of the staff and quality of entertainment and food rectified this. Upon arriving in Cuba, we were delayed getting off the ship and going to our tours by customs. We had one hour of daylight on our tour and did not see much of Cuba at all. Our tour guide was wonderful and tried to make the best of it. However, when they bill this cruise as the best of Cuba and you get one hour to see it in daylight, it is very, very disappointing. The guests were very upset and the next day, those who complained received a refund on the tours. The main frustration was that corporate knew about the damaged dock and did not let the guests know in time to make any changes in their schedules. We were told to write a letter to corporate to see if they would compensate us in any way. I have just been notified that corporate had a meeting and decided this was not their fault and the guests will get no compensation for their cruise. They did not even offer a certificate with a discount on an upcoming cruise. In other words, the underlying theme was: We put you on a ship, took you over the ocean, fed you, entertained you and you got a cruise. It did not matter that 100% of the people on that tour booked it because they wanted to go to Cuba And probably would not have gone on this ship if it were not for the stops. Not only did this seem unethical but it was morally wrong. I am very disappointed in the executive staff of Royal Caribbean. I have always enjoyed RCCL but will no longer be cruising with them in the future.

A disappointing experience

Empress of the Seas Cruise Review by dnrlarson

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: November 2018
  • Destination: Cuba
  • Cabin Type: Junior Suite with Balcony
The excitement of going to Cuba, something I have wanted to do for many years, faded very fast. We booked the cruise on Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas specifically because it had two stops. The first was Santiago de Cuba, an all day stop, and the second was Havana, which was Afternoon and evening. The cruise was entitled, the Best of Cuba.

One week before our cruise, we received notification that the dock in Santiago de Cuba had been damaged and was not yet repaired. We would be going to the Florida Keys instead. When we called customer service to see if there was anything we could do, we were told we could not get a refund or change to another cruise because corporate had the right to change any port at their discretion. It was in the contract we signed. They did not offer any thing to appease their guests Such as an onboard credit for free Wi-Fi. In fact they said that there would be nothing offered because of the change.

Planning to make the best of it and knowing we would at least see Havana, we were upbeat and determined to enjoy ourselves despite our disappointment. At this point, I will say that the food, entertainment, and staff were wonderful. The empress of the seas is a very old And, as expected, the rooms were very small. However, the friendliness of the staff and quality of entertainment and food rectified this.

Upon arriving in Cuba, we were delayed getting off the ship and going to our tours by customs. We had one hour of daylight on our tour and did not see much of Cuba at all. Our tour guide was wonderful and tried to make the best of it. However, when they bill this cruise as the best of Cuba and you get one hour to see it in daylight, it is very, very disappointing. The guests were very upset and the next day, those who complained received a refund on the tours. The main frustration was that corporate knew about the damaged dock and did not let the guests know in time to make any changes in their schedules. We were told to write a letter to corporate to see if they would compensate us in any way. I have just been notified that corporate had a meeting and decided this was not their fault and the guests will get no compensation for their cruise. They did not even offer a certificate with a discount on an upcoming cruise. In other words, the underlying theme was: We put you on a ship, took you over the ocean, fed you, entertained you and you got a cruise. It did not matter that 100% of the people on that tour booked it because they wanted to go to Cuba And probably would not have gone on this ship if it were not for the stops. Not only did this seem unethical but it was morally wrong. I am very disappointed in the executive staff of Royal Caribbean.

I have always enjoyed RCCL but will no longer be cruising with them in the future.
dnrlarson’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Junior Suite with Balcony
Cabin J4 9114
The state room was very small for a Junior suite. It was clean and our room steward was exceptional.
Deck 9 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • City Tour
    As stated in my review, we arrived in Havana at 3 o’clock. We had to meet up at customs at 2:30 so did not even get to see the port as we docked. We waited for customs to clear the ship and then went through individually. We did not board our bus to get started until 4:30 PM. Sunset was at 5:20 PM. Therefore, we had one hour of daylight. Other tours did not get cleared from the ship until after 6:30 P.M. so they did not see anything in the daylight.

    Our tour guide was absolutely fantastic. She provided us with lots of information and answer any questions we had. She told us she was trying to make the best out of a bad situation. She knew we were very disappointed that we couldn’t say much .
    View All 212 City Tour Reviews