Embarkation went smoothly. Everyone on the staff of the Empress was always friendly and helpful. The ship is of the smaller variety which we find to be better for our needs. Everything is always close by. Very relaxed feeling aboard. Service by staff was outstanding.
Our stateroom was adequate. It had a nice size TV with a sleep timer. You did not have a TV guide list of what was being shown. It was the luck of the draw trying to find a movie. There were news Channels to keep you informed, children’s’s shows for the kids and shopping channels. The beds were a little hard so they added some padding for us to make it more comfortable. Our cabin lacked a refrigerator. First time we ever had that happen. They supplied an ice bucket upon request but no tongs to lift the ice. Finally obtained some tongs thru a housekeeping request. The tongs were huge and the ice bucket was small. Our cabin steward kept our room neat. We hardly ever saw her.
The life boat drill was held in an area where you had to stand. Since we are unable to stand for more than 5 minutes we asked if there was some place else we could go to sit and we were directed to the Royal Theater in the balcony. It seemed strange that the main level of the theater was completely empty. They could have saved many of the cruisers from standing by using those seats.
The food on board was excellent. Our favorites in the dining room was the beef tenderloin. It was so tender you hardly needed to chew it. Wonderful flavor. Next best was the coconut shrimp and the crab cake appetizer. Lobster night was a real treat. All the lobster tails you could eat. French onion soup was excellent. The shrimp cocktail was chilled to perfection. In the buffet each night we were greeted by Jess, the washy, washy host. He was everyone’s favorite. Wonderful personality and so helpful getting everyone to clean their hands so they would not contaminate the buffet. Our favorites were the hot dogs reminiscent of Costco’s hot dogs. The London beef pie was excellent. The chocolate chip cookies were the best ever. Our waitress in the dining room was excellent. She was from India and her name was Minakshi. She remembered everyone’s name and welcomed us each night asking us about our day. She went out of her way to please us. We had asked about the blueberry muffins that were on the room service menu that never appeared when we ordered them. She went to the cook and found out they were only prepared on a certain day and had the chef send us a big plate filled with blueberry muffins to our stateroom the next day. They tasted great. It was a pleasure to see Mina every night welcoming us with her warm smile and her wonderful personality.
The trivia games were great and held often. Their staff made the games even more fun including Andy, Kacy, Michael and Bonita. The prizes were repetitive, a pen, a key chain or a high lighter. Rarely given was a cap. Everyone was up for the challenge of winning. A tee shirt or an RCL lanyard would be our suggestion for a prize to help advertise RCL. The Quest game was a lot of fun led by Elvis, the Cruise Director.
We had a Meet and Mingle Party on the first sea day led by Orlando. Only a few officers attended. They had a table of refreshments. We had 41 cruisers who registered for the party. It was a nice way to meet everyone. Following the party about 20 Cruisers on our roll call went to the casino for a Slot Pull. Shawn, Casino host, was very helpful in setting up the Slot Pull. We all had fun. Free drinks for all who participated as well as a gift bag for the 4 top winners which included a Royal Casino tee shirt, a room key holder and some free slot coins.
The shows were okay. Nothing spectacular. There were movies on the big screen by the pool as well as in the theatre. Our favorite was Strange but True. It was a movie from 2019 that we never heard of but it was excellent.
One problem we had on the ship was that my husband developed a cough which seemed to be related to the pillows in the cabin. Evidently they were not hyper allergenic pillows. When we asked for a replacement pillow that might help they said they only had the one type of pillow. I tried rolling up a blanket and covering it with a fresh pillow case but it seemed to help a little but not enough. We found that if we went on the pool deck under the stars he was able to stop coughing. As soon as we went back to the cabin his cough would return. We tried taking Benadryl which seemed to help a little. But whatever it was causing the cough is still in our cabin. He was fine everywhere else on the ship. Really surprised they only had one type of pillow.
On our last night on the cruise an announcement was made but only heard it in Spanish. There was no English translation in the main dining room. It was relayed to us later in the theater that a cruiser was taken ill and we were heading back to Key West to take him to a hospital for treatment. We thought that was very thoughtful of the Captain to do this to help save the passenger’s life.
Debarking was a mess because we arrived late in Miami due to stopping off in Key West to drop off the cruiser who was in critical condition. We thought they would go full speed ahead to make up for the time loss but I guess it would cost too much to go full speed. We were told that we had to be out of our cabins by 8:30AM so the stewards could make up the cabins but since we did not arrive in Miami until 9 AM Deck 5 was a mob scene with not enough room for all the people waiting with their luggage to walk off. I never realized so many people did walk off. The line went from one end of the ship and wrapped around into the photo gallery. We were waiting for wheelchair assistance and it seemed like they were very short on pushers and we did not get off the ship till around 11AM. Then there were not enough porters to get the luggage. The only thing that went right was the Lyft driver who arrived in 5 minutes.
It was a great cruise except for debarkation.