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This is a review by a first-time cruiser who have done many all-inclusives before, and have seen quarter of the world on his own. Bottom line: book the cruise, do it, you will not regret it! Empress is the ship Royal Caribbean brought back to for their Cuba itineraries. It's their oldest and smallest ship in the fleet with the fewest amenities and most cramped interior state rooms. However, this little ship has a crew with a big heart and the overall cruise package delivers a tremendous value. Sailing to Cuba were abruptly restricted before the start of 2019 summer season. Empress of the Seas itineraries got affected. Many people cancelled, and Royal offered significant discounts for cabins that unexpectedly became available. This when we decided to pick up this deal and got superb service for an excellent price. Once aboard and within a day we were being recognized by the personnel who served us. They genuinely cared for us to have a good time on our vacation. Many of the crew members on Empress have many years of service experience. This makes an enormous difference in the level of service you can expect to receive. Many all-inclusive five-star hotels in Mexico (Mayan Riviera, Cancun, Cozumel, etc). have very eager attendants but they lack genuine experience. For example, they simply don't know much about wines or how Escargot should taste or how Creme Brulee should be caramelized. Our server Julio on Empress knew and understood the finer aspects of good cuisine, and he made our experience so much better compared to all our prior vacations. The greatest thing about this little ship is that you'll be surprised by how few people you'll come across who may no care about what they do. It seemed likely every crew member we dealt with genuinely wanted to make our experience on board great. This was very refreshing for an all-inclusive vacation. Other positive things to note compared to an all-inclusive hotel: - food is better - service is better - entertainment is better - you and your kids will not be bored - you will likely have better weather throughout the cruise because if bad weather happens the captain will go to another port (we skipped Key West but spend two days in Cozumel instead) - you get to see and experience more things for about the same money as with all-inclusive - you don't waste good portion of two of your vacation days on getting bus transfers to/from an airport in Cancun or Puerto Plata or elsewhere - there's always something to do, and you get to pick whether you want to be in a nicely air conditioned space or outside basking in the sun Some Empress specific things to note: - You get a huge values by cruising on Empress because Royal Caribbean prices cruises on Empress significantly lower than on their newer and bigger ships - The crew team is awesome. Even experienced cruisers often have this to say about Empress - Internet access greatly disappoints. Expect under 2Mb/s even with the Surf & Stream plan - The interior is very clean but in some areas it is antiquated - Entertainment is entertaining but not inspirational - Going on shore for excursions is a breathe. No need to stand in lines for more than five minutes. Again, this is because the ship is small Overall opinion: Empress is an awesome way to start cruising on a budget.

Exceeded our expectation. Totally would do it again.

Empress of the Seas Cruise Review by PatMunits

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2019
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Interior Stateroom
This is a review by a first-time cruiser who have done many all-inclusives before, and have seen quarter of the world on his own. Bottom line: book the cruise, do it, you will not regret it!

Empress is the ship Royal Caribbean brought back to for their Cuba itineraries. It's their oldest and smallest ship in the fleet with the fewest amenities and most cramped interior state rooms. However, this little ship has a crew with a big heart and the overall cruise package delivers a tremendous value.

Sailing to Cuba were abruptly restricted before the start of 2019 summer season. Empress of the Seas itineraries got affected. Many people cancelled, and Royal offered significant discounts for cabins that unexpectedly became available. This when we decided to pick up this deal and got superb service for an excellent price.

Once aboard and within a day we were being recognized by the personnel who served us. They genuinely cared for us to have a good time on our vacation. Many of the crew members on Empress have many years of service experience. This makes an enormous difference in the level of service you can expect to receive. Many all-inclusive five-star hotels in Mexico (Mayan Riviera, Cancun, Cozumel, etc). have very eager attendants but they lack genuine experience. For example, they simply don't know much about wines or how Escargot should taste or how Creme Brulee should be caramelized. Our server Julio on Empress knew and understood the finer aspects of good cuisine, and he made our experience so much better compared to all our prior vacations.

The greatest thing about this little ship is that you'll be surprised by how few people you'll come across who may no care about what they do. It seemed likely every crew member we dealt with genuinely wanted to make our experience on board great. This was very refreshing for an all-inclusive vacation.

Other positive things to note compared to an all-inclusive hotel:

- food is better

- service is better

- entertainment is better

- you and your kids will not be bored

- you will likely have better weather throughout the cruise because if bad weather happens the captain will go to another port (we skipped Key West but spend two days in Cozumel instead)

- you get to see and experience more things for about the same money as with all-inclusive

- you don't waste good portion of two of your vacation days on getting bus transfers to/from an airport in Cancun or Puerto Plata or elsewhere

- there's always something to do, and you get to pick whether you want to be in a nicely air conditioned space or outside basking in the sun

Some Empress specific things to note:

- You get a huge values by cruising on Empress because Royal Caribbean prices cruises on Empress significantly lower than on their newer and bigger ships

- The crew team is awesome. Even experienced cruisers often have this to say about Empress

- Internet access greatly disappoints. Expect under 2Mb/s even with the Surf & Stream plan

- The interior is very clean but in some areas it is antiquated

- Entertainment is entertaining but not inspirational

- Going on shore for excursions is a breathe. No need to stand in lines for more than five minutes. Again, this is because the ship is small

Overall opinion: Empress is an awesome way to start cruising on a budget.
PatMunits’s Full Rating Summary
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Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
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Shore Excursions
Ages 3 to 6
Ages 7 to 9
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Cabin Review

Interior Stateroom
Cabin 1V 3143
The cabin is in good shape. Enough room for parents and two kids. The fold-away top beds are not meant to be touched by guests. In fact there's a special key that a room attendant has to use to prepare the beds. The beds were ready for us as by magic. Never, and I mean never, we had a moment when the beds were not ready for us when we were ready to use them. Those beds were also folded away for us as soon as we were gone for our breakfast. Even though the room is definitely small we managed just fine, and didn't feel claustrophobic or inconvenienced beyond what we were expecting going in.

The top beds are good for kids. Not so much for adults because they are not long enough if you're taller than about 5'5"/165cm. The mattresses on the top beds are also not comfortable for a grown adult. The kids didn't complain at all.

The shower is really tiny. The position of the shower head and controls make the useful space even smaller. I can't imagine how an overweight person can possibly use this shower comfortably.

The state room has a TV with just enough channels to keep kids entertained if they decided to stay in the room for awhile.

Due to the overall size of the ship there really wasn't any issue with the location of the room. Any place on the ship was always within two minutes away.

3143 is located in a generally quiet location. Our sleep was not disturbed by any activities above or below us. I believe there might be a custodian storage area between a wall and a hallway. Several times over our eight-night cruise we heard intermittent noise beyond the wall but that was around 10 AM time.
Deck 4 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews