We have sailed on just over 50 cruises. We are Diamond members on Royal Caribbean. The price for this ship was a real value and we live in Ft. Lauderdale so we decided to give it a try despite some negative reviews. Empress of the Sea is well worth your time and money. It is well maintained, run by an excellent crew and a ship you will feel great about upon conclusion of your trip. The entire crew wants you to be there. It is obvious and energizes all the passengers aboard. The food is very good, the shows are well done and our cabin (inside) served us well. It is always a mystery to me to read negative reviews about a ship and see none of them during my cruise. We have been on all the 4 giant ships of Royal and a sampling of the other sizes. Empress of the Seas hold its own against them in these ways. The ship only has 1600 passengers so no waiting for anything. It is a good starter ship for young families. Many were on board. It is a value price for the young marrieds, singles traveling in a group and middle aged and seniors looking for a cruise for their hard earned money. The ship has no flow riders, sliding water tubes, race tracks, or garden to walk thru. But it has a crew that provides numerous activities thruout the day that you will find worth your time. We were lucky to have Steve from Canada as our Cruise Director. He is a dynamo and keeps everyone engaged. Our cabin steward Jose Fernandes was possibly the best we ever had with his hard work, attention to detail and enjoyable daily interaction. We came across a staff member that we met on the Symphony of the Seas. She now works in the Empress Windjammer restaurant. She told us I just love being on this ship. You will find the entire crew feels that way. The Allure, Oasis, Harmony and Symphony have problems from time to time. That is life. But you still have a great cruise. The same will occur on the Empress. Give it try. You will be pleased you took that action.