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We are retired and have never been to Cuba before. We thought this would be the perfect cruise for us. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Our first impression was great disappointment. The pool was netted and the water was green. The hot tubs were netted and empty. This was to be the theme of our experience as there so many time things were out of order or closed for maintenance. The soft serve machine was down, three of the seven treadmills were inoperable and the gym was insufficient for the number of guests wanting to use it. We resorted to walking on the walking deck, which was also closed for maintenance in some areas. This ship just came out of dry dock and it was evident. The Windjammer and bars were lacking in supplies that had not been restocked in time for the cruise, but we’re eventually restocked by day five. The shore excursions left a lot to be desired as one was canceled just days before we boarded the ship. Actually after experiencing one of RCL tours with this cruise, we were blessed that it was canceled. We booked a tour for a night in Cuba with RCL and it was so bad, the majoryof people walked out. The music was amateurish at best. We paid $109 per person to walk to a local restaurant and get two drinks and an appetizer that consisted of sliced cold cuts, cheese, grated carrots, and lettuce. We walked across the courtyard to another restaurant had two drinks, an appetizer and tipped our server and the cost of that was about $35 total ( not per person). What a huge mark up for profit, especially when you can get a Lobster dinner in town between $12-15 per person. If anything we’ve reminded ourselves of why de shouldn’t book tours with the cruise line and continue booking thru Airbnb. Our tours in Cienfuegos and Havana that we booked thru them were simply amazing and so much more affordable. We had a three hour walking tour with a small group of five and the cost to us was $45. Our guide even bought us gelato and mojitos as we toured. We had breakfast in Chops and they were slow and didn’t listen to what I requested. I asked for an omelet with mushroom, bell peppers and cilantro and I got an oil covered omelet with tomatoes, onions, and spinach. I ended up not eating it. As we waited we observed ceiling that were missing, paint that was peeled or incomplete. The size of the ship was nice, however, as we didn’t feel overwhelmed by the number of passengers on the ship and there were plenty of areas to go for a quiet retreat if we needed it. With all that being said, I would probably sail again on this ship, but would wait a year so that all the issues could be resolved. I certainly WOULD NOT book another shore excursion thru the cruise line. Airbnb experiences had won my loyalty and business for shore excursions.

Not the place to be, no bargain here!

Empress of the Seas Cruise Review by Diamond At Sea

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2019
  • Destination: Cuba
  • Cabin Type: Interior Stateroom
We are retired and have never been to Cuba before. We thought this would be the perfect cruise for us. We couldn’t have been more wrong.

Our first impression was great disappointment. The pool was netted and the water was green. The hot tubs were netted and empty. This was to be the theme of our experience as there so many time things were out of order or closed for maintenance. The soft serve machine was down, three of the seven treadmills were inoperable and the gym was insufficient for the number of guests wanting to use it. We resorted to walking on the walking deck, which was also closed for maintenance in some areas.

This ship just came out of dry dock and it was evident. The Windjammer and bars were lacking in supplies that had not been restocked in time for the cruise, but we’re eventually restocked by day five.

The shore excursions left a lot to be desired as one was canceled just days before we boarded the ship. Actually after experiencing one of RCL tours with this cruise, we were blessed that it was canceled. We booked a tour for a night in Cuba with RCL and it was so bad, the majoryof people walked out. The music was amateurish at best. We paid $109 per person to walk to a local restaurant and get two drinks and an appetizer that consisted of sliced cold cuts, cheese, grated carrots, and lettuce. We walked across the courtyard to another restaurant had two drinks, an appetizer and tipped our server and the cost of that was about $35 total ( not per person). What a huge mark up for profit, especially when you can get a Lobster dinner in town between $12-15 per person. If anything we’ve reminded ourselves of why de shouldn’t book tours with the cruise line and continue booking thru Airbnb. Our tours in Cienfuegos and Havana that we booked thru them were simply amazing and so much more affordable. We had a three hour walking tour with a small group of five and the cost to us was $45. Our guide even bought us gelato and mojitos as we toured.

We had breakfast in Chops and they were slow and didn’t listen to what I requested. I asked for an omelet with mushroom, bell peppers and cilantro and I got an oil covered omelet with tomatoes, onions, and spinach. I ended up not eating it. As we waited we observed ceiling that were missing, paint that was peeled or incomplete.

The size of the ship was nice, however, as we didn’t feel overwhelmed by the number of passengers on the ship and there were plenty of areas to go for a quiet retreat if we needed it.

With all that being said, I would probably sail again on this ship, but would wait a year so that all the issues could be resolved. I certainly WOULD NOT book another shore excursion thru the cruise line. Airbnb experiences had won my loyalty and business for shore excursions.
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Cabin Review

Interior Stateroom
Cabin 6V 4503
Cabin space was very tight. We were fortunate that we brought smaller suitcases so they could be stored beneath the bed. The bed was almost wall-to-wall with just enough room for 1/2 size end tables. The noise was constant as we were beneath the theater so ever night we were rattled by the sounds of dancing for two performances nightly. Then there was the rumbling of the engines as we got underway. The room vibrates and shook, and when we got into port the engines again let us know they were there. If that wasn’t enough, the anchor chain as it was being released and retracted was extremely loud. This certainly wasn’t designed to be a quiet and relaxing place to retreat.

Our cabin steward, Mula, was very efficient and made sure all of our needs were taken care of.
Deck 9 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Cienfuegos
    We booked a tour thru Airbnb that took us up into the mountains to see El Nicho. Absolutely beautiful. We didn’t realize that tendering and clearing the ship would take so long. We arrived at 7:00 am but didn’t get off the ship and thru the terminal until 8:50. Fortunately our guide was understanding and waiting for us. When going into this port, allow two hours to get off the ship.
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  • Grand Cayman
    Saved money by getting a gel mani/pedi in port and not on the ship. We’ve been to this island many times so didn’t feel the need to take any of the tours. We would recommend taking the rum factory tour. We still laugh about our experience to this day at the Six Fathoms rum distillery.
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  • Havana
    Hugest rip off. $218 per couple for a brief walk to a restaurant for two drinks each and an appetizer plate with 3-4 slices of cold cuts and cheese and grated carrots with lettuce. It was so bad, everyone walked out and elsewhere. It was supposed to go from 9-12, but no one was there after 11:00. Will NEVER book thru cruise line again. We went to another restaurant in the same area, had two drinks and appetizers and listened to some awesome music and our cost was only $35 which included the tip.

    Save your money, my friends. Don’t book thru the cruise line, book they Airbnb. You will get a much better more intimate tour for a whole lot less cash.
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