This was my 63rd cruise, itinerary is usually my main focus and wanting to visit Cuba there was only a few ship offerings. I have always had very good experiences sailing RCL and despite the numerous negative reviews and the size of the “Empress” I decide to give it a try, lucky my sailing was the last Cuba sailing before the new travel restrictions were put into place. Having recently sailed the mega ships the boarding process could not have been any easier. Navigating the ship is fairly easy and the hub of activity is on decks 5 and 6. Even-tough this is a small ship I found lots to do as there are numerous activities throughout the day. In the evening there was two venues with music and the usual fill of activities to participate. There were a number of bars, but “Balleros” was my main hangout plus the music was very good. I ate in main dining room , windjammer and the only specialty restaurant Chops, all were very good to excellent. Staff and service throughout were amazing. Even tough this was a small ship I never felt any rocking throughout the voyage. I did encounter that sewage smell on mid deck 8, but it was occasional. My only complaint was the cabin(the worst in 63 cruises.. but more below).
Overall, the Empress is an underrated ship, it has much to offer, food, activities, staff and yes character.
The WORST cabin I have ever stayed in, yes very small and hard to get from the bed to the bathroom, the ocean view is a tiny porthole that has ZERO view. But the worst thing is that this cabin is VERY noisy. It is located next to the crew and maintenance access door, so doors are opening and closing throughout the day and evening. The cabin which is located at the very front of deck 4 is close to the anchoring and mooring mechanism, so plan of massive amount of noise when docking or leaving port. Awful cabin. Had I known I would have NEVER booked this cabin.