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Empress of the Seas Cruise Review
3.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,390 Reviews

Small ship with great crew and no crowds

Empress of the Seas Cruise Review by kcamp317

12 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Oct 2019
  • Destination: the Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Interior Stateroom

We chose this cruise for just the wife and I. We have both been on about 12 RC cruises over the past 13 years or so. Our daughter is in school this time of year so she stayed back home and got grandma time. Couldn't beat the price for this cruise, we booked not long after the Cuba cancellations. The ship is small and you can notice a few areas where it has some age but overall its in excellent condition. We noticed right away that there were very little if no crowds or waiting in line, this continued throughout the cruise. The first afternoon is always a little busy on any ship but I compare it to a sponge, by late evening and the next morning everyone kind of gets "absorbed" into the ship. Going through the Windjammer for breakfast or any other time that would usually mean waiting in lines like on other ships was non existent here. Same with the elevators. Never had to wait at any bar and the bar staff quickly learned and remembered my order. We didn't use the pool but watched some of the activities around it like the belly flop contest and sexiest man contest and was easily able to get close to see. The single pool was small but never appeared to be too crowded. One thing I found unusual was the lack of a second level along the sides of the pool deck. This kind of limits some shady area there but not a big deal. There are several big hammocks and comfortable large lounge type chairs at the ends of the pool area deck on the second level. The layout of the ship is easy to learn and you can be anywhere you want within minutes of walking. There are lots of large windows throughout the interior decks to see outside and great views of the ocean and couches to sit on nearby, it feels very open and airy.

We tried an interior guaranteed cabin (they pick the room) because we aren't picky and were trying to make this affordable as possible. Ended up with 3109 which was your standard interior room for two. We were notified of the room selected about a week before the cruise. We were offered an ocean view or junior suite as a "Royal Up" but declined. The cabin was small but we had no problems. We asked the cabin steward if he would separate our bed which made him give us a confused look since we are married but it was a smart move as it opened up a lot more floor space and made getting in and out of the beds much easier with an aisle in the center. The shower is definitely the smallest I've encountered but then again it was sufficient. Overall the cabin was in excellent shape, clean, and there was a surprising amount of room in the closet compared to the rest of the small cabin. We don't spend much time in our cabin on a cruise anyway so it was plenty sufficient. We always bring some magnetic hooks and a hang over door organizer to better manage space....it helps!

We did notice a slight sewage odor from time to time from our sink and toilet but it never lasted long and there was also an odd smell occasionally on deck 6 which is where the open deck area is below the life boats. The port side of the ship is the smoking area on this deck which seemed opposite to most RC ships I've been on.

The food and food selection was good, your typical Royal Caribbean dinner menu in the main dining room and standard things you'd expect in the windjammer. There are sinks right at the entrance to windjammer to wash your hands. However you still see people who don't bother and walk on by and I always seem to end up near a person licking their fingers and then handling the serving utensils at the buffet which makes me instantly lose my appetite but thats not the fault of the staff. The staff in both areas were great and we never had any trouble finding a seat right away in the windjammer even at the busiest times....that seemed very refreshing to me. We ate breakfast in the main dining room once. We usually do that on larger ships to avoid the hassle and chaos in the windjammer but found it not necessary on this cruise. My wife misses the "savory bites" that used to come in the bread basket for dinner in the dining room so we asked and our waitress had them at our table every evening for dinner after that....very nice!

The casino is split into a main level and half a level down which is interesting and is all non smoking. There are a small amount of table games but as with everything else it never seemed overly full and there was always room to play whenever we wanted to. The fitness center/gym is above the back of the viking crown lounge....quite small but they have a good selection of equipment.

There always seemed to be various activities going on during sea days like trivia and similar things that are typical of RC. The staff did a wonderful job at this and were engaging and friendly. There were some kids onboard but I would think it would be difficult to keep them entertained during sea days as there a limited amount of things geared towards them. We had two sea days on this cruise. The ship was very stable and we barely noticed any wave and swell movement.

The evening shows were good. Love and Marriage, the Quest, good comedian show, etc., all the things you'd expect on an RC cruise.

So....yes, we would definitely book this ship again for just us two or even a group. We are right around 40 and found enough to do and really enjoyed the lack of crowds and lines, super easy to get around. Its a great and clean small ship and like I said the personal level that you get to know the staff and interact with them was great. Embarkation and disembarking were both done very quickly and efficiently. We carried off our own bags since all we had were carry on size luggage and were off the ship just before 8:00am.

We stopped at Key West, we usually get the hop on/hop off trolley. I got a cuban sandwich at Caroline's and the necessary visit to Kermit's for frozen key lime pie covered in chocolate. Went to the rum distillery and got a few free samples that were good and spent the rest of the day just exploring.

This was our first time back to Coco Cay since the Perfect Day renovations. We didn't want to pay for the thrill side so we just hung out on the chill side. The huge new pool is amazing the swim up bar is fun. I'm glad they kept the one side non molested the way it used to be with the beaches and tons of chairs and scenery. We were the only ship there that day so it was great and not crowded. Plenty of empty space and beach chairs to choose from. I can imagine it gets pretty busy with a few ships there at once. It is nice to not have to tender in anymore and risk missing the port if the winds are up and the tender boats can't run.

kcamp317's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Interior Stateroom
Cabin 2V 3109

Small but clean and quiet. Shower is smaller than most. Staff did a good job of keeping the room clean. Bring overdo shoe organizer for your random stuff and some magnetic hooks. Closet has quite a bit of room to hang clothes and store suitcases. We had the room steward separate our bed and that seemed to open up alot more room.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews


I always enjoy the sights of coming and going from port of Miami. Great and efficient port to use.

Key West

We always just take the hop on/hope off trolley when we are here and do our own exploring. Great place to visit.

Perfect Day at CocoCay

The new renovations for the "Perfect Day" are awesome. We didn't go to the thrill side as we didn't feel like paying for it and didn't really care to do the huge water slides and things. We also did not see the hot air balloon they advertise. Must have been out of service that day. The chill side has alot of the same wide open beaches and scenery along with some of the older little straw market shops just like it used to be. The Oasis Lagoon pool is included without extra cost and is absolutely massive. It also has a cool swim up bar. We were the only ship there on this day but I could see the place getting quite crowded if there were multiple large ships there at once. The lunch served is awesome. They have a few different things like a taco bar and a grilled sandwich bar with things like cuban sandwiches and portobello sandwiches. You won't go hungry and there are plenty of bars scattered around. Overall I was very pleased with Coco Cay and the changes they made after not having been for two years.

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