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600 Cuba Cruise Reviews

Interested in visiting Havana, and traveling there by cruise ship was one of the few options available. Having said this, it is the only way we would have traveled to Cuba our first time. Royal Caribbean did an outstanding job. ... Read More
Interested in visiting Havana, and traveling there by cruise ship was one of the few options available. Having said this, it is the only way we would have traveled to Cuba our first time. Royal Caribbean did an outstanding job. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly. Although an older ship, the extensive renovations done recently made the ship very attractive and comfortable. The crew was outstanding. We have traveled on about 20 cruises, from 5 day duration to several transatlantic cruises. This trip had the best entertainment of all our cruises. It was truly excellent at every performance. The guest entertainers were also excellent. We were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed all the great entertainment we enjoyed in a short 5 day cruise. Our touring experiences in Havana were most interesting. We will likely travel to Cuba again in the not too distant future, and will likely travel there again with RC. However, our advice to other travelers is to make sure that you select a cruise that in port at Havana for two days - only one day will severely limit your ability to tour the city. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We wanted to see Havana, Cuba as it is today before the tourist industry changes it to a diamond shopping location. We never felt unsafe at any time. We wondered around the city on our on several times and never encountered any ... Read More
We wanted to see Havana, Cuba as it is today before the tourist industry changes it to a diamond shopping location. We never felt unsafe at any time. We wondered around the city on our on several times and never encountered any problems, just wear good walking shoes. If you plan to take gifts for the locals don't try to take to many through customs. We had several bags of pens, pencils, paper and shoes. We had to combine to 2 bags and they kept the rest. We left the bags at a church close to the port. There are so many in need and did not know what would happen if we just picked 2 people to give them to. We did the antique car tour through the cruise ship but you can easily walk off the ship and have your pick of the car you would like to ride in. So many cars to chose from. Ship service, food and entertainment was excellent. We also did the walking tour through the cruise ship. I do recommend this but be ready to walk in the heat and stand in the sun. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Loved the Empress of the Seas recent cruise to Cuba with an overnight in Havana. Friendly city, lots to do, and very clean and easy. No issues at all! Loved the old cars and explored the city on our own. The ship was spotless however ... Read More
Loved the Empress of the Seas recent cruise to Cuba with an overnight in Havana. Friendly city, lots to do, and very clean and easy. No issues at all! Loved the old cars and explored the city on our own. The ship was spotless however the cabins and beds need to be updated. I understand that is coming soon. Wonderful staff! This ship was drydocked and refurbished as quickly as they could, so all common areas and restaurants have been completely updated. I would take this cruise again in a heartbeat! The staff and cruise director was very friendly and food was good. However, they could have had a little more variety for breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer Cruise. Overall, very good! A good amount of children on board too. They offer their own children's program, video room, rock climbing wall, gym, and spa. The spa is very small and needs to be soundproofed to give you a more relaxing spa experience. The spa was located next to the pool area so you could hear the band playing if you had a spa treatment during the day. Personal very friendly but very pricey! Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Before you set sail, spend a great deal of time doing as much research as possible about the history and culture of Cuba. There is so much you will learn while visiting Havana so having some context before you go will enrich your ... Read More
Before you set sail, spend a great deal of time doing as much research as possible about the history and culture of Cuba. There is so much you will learn while visiting Havana so having some context before you go will enrich your experience. Also, read as much as you can about traveling in Cuba i.e. currency, food, water, shopping, customs/etiquette, and how to make the most of your time in port. The presentations/lectures about Cuba on the ship are very limited and not very comprehensive. Watch documentaries and movies set in Cuba because the ship programming does include this kind of educational opportunities. Do research about eating in Cuba to taste the local cuisine because the menus and culinary themes on the ship do not consistently focus on Cuban food. The Ernest Hemmingway historic sites are really worth visiting. The historic walking tours are excellent. The local shops are great and the huge craft/flea market is wonderful. Photo opportunities are abundant. Politely ignore local folks trying to sell you a cab ride, cigar, or sketch of yourself and they quickly vanish. People are very friendly, the city is extremely clean, the public gardens and squares are beautifully maintained, the architectural detail is extraordinary. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
I was sceptical about sailing on an older, smaller, ship. I was beyond impressed. The ship was clean, and even though it was sold-out, I never felt crowded, rushed, and there were never any lines.There was always a quiet space if you ... Read More
I was sceptical about sailing on an older, smaller, ship. I was beyond impressed. The ship was clean, and even though it was sold-out, I never felt crowded, rushed, and there were never any lines.There was always a quiet space if you wanted to just relax and get away. Plenty of activities to keep us entertained, both day and night. The dining room staff was amazing and so was the food. Bar staff was quick, and never had to wait. Guest cabins were samll, but clean.We explored Cuba on our own, and I recommend everyone visit Cuba at least once. The locals were friendly and happy to show us their country. Convertible, classic cars are plentiful, and easily negotiable right outside the terminol. Havana was clean and safe. I have sailed multiple times with Royal Caribbean and I would sail on the Empress again. Friendliest staff I have ever encountered!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
My wife gave me the trip as a surprise gift for my birthday. My friends who were in on it also sailed with us. After leaving Tampa it was smooth sailing to Key West where we had a great time sight seeing and shopping. Lunch at The Hard ... Read More
My wife gave me the trip as a surprise gift for my birthday. My friends who were in on it also sailed with us. After leaving Tampa it was smooth sailing to Key West where we had a great time sight seeing and shopping. Lunch at The Hard Rock Cafe was great. When we arrived in Cuba the next day was a bigger surprise. After going through Immigration and Customs, which was no problem whatsoever , we boarded a tour bus which took us through Old Havana and other districts. We met many locals who were all very friendly . Everywhere we looked we saw cars from the 40's, 50's and 60's ,All in pristine condition. Several tourist took rides in them. Our tour included a visit to the historic Colon Cemetery which was beautiful and then lunch at a local restaurant. Lunch started with a "Mojito' then Lobster and we got to savor the local beers. I tried Buccanero .and my friends tried Cristal Beer. Many of the buildings in Havana were in much needed state of repair but what was amazing were the people were happy. My evenings were relaxed as my friends , my wife and I talked about the daily events at the Schooner Lounge on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We choose this cruise to visit Cuba! However, the Empress of the Seas turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Clean, nicely decorated, great food at the windjammer (which we prefer over the dining room experience), very friendly crew, ... Read More
We choose this cruise to visit Cuba! However, the Empress of the Seas turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Clean, nicely decorated, great food at the windjammer (which we prefer over the dining room experience), very friendly crew, and great shows! Being a small ship was no issue at all. Overall, a great experience and I highly recommend it! In Cuba, we walked around on our own in Havana, there is no need to take a shore excursion. It is a magical place. We spend a few hours exploring Havana in the morning, went back to the ship for lunch, waited for a thunderstorm to pass, and head back out to walk around some more. Key West was fun too, although the ship is only there for the afternoon, and it was very hot and humid in Key West. I hope to be able to visit Cuba again one day, and would next time take the cruise that stays overnight in Havana. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We love Royal and had a wonderful time on this cruise. Very small ship but perfect for this trip. The only thing we would change is that the ship was in Havana on a Monday. Everything was closed !!!! I would love to do Havana again on ... Read More
We love Royal and had a wonderful time on this cruise. Very small ship but perfect for this trip. The only thing we would change is that the ship was in Havana on a Monday. Everything was closed !!!! I would love to do Havana again on a cruise but would make sure that the ship was in port when the markets and museums were open. Key West is one of our favorite places and we would choose another cruise that had this as a port of call. We have done the excursions before at this port so we roamed around on our own this time. We did not take part in any of the on ship activities other than the casino. Just not our thing. However, the music that played on the pool deck and in each of the bars was wonderful. There was no shortage of lounge chairs or tables poolside. The Windjammer was never over crowded. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We chose this cruise because it stopped in Cuba, and we were interested in seeing Cuba, but did not want to commit a whole vacation to just Cuba. This was a short cruise, and stopped in 2 other ports, so we kept busy the whole time. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it stopped in Cuba, and we were interested in seeing Cuba, but did not want to commit a whole vacation to just Cuba. This was a short cruise, and stopped in 2 other ports, so we kept busy the whole time. The cruise staff was very informative about what to expect when we docked in Cuba, and the information they provided made us feel we were very prepared. We felt very comfortable going through immigration both going in to Cuba and coming out, as the RC staff was right there to assist with any problems. The onshore RC staff spoke both English and Spanish, so they were there to interpret if needed. I highly encourage those going into Cuba on this cruise to attend the informational Q&A session the day before, but even if you don't, the ship provides written information to help you. The ship did all the work to get the Visas we needed to enter Cuba. The dining staff was excellent. We had "my time" dining, and were able to make reservations online before the cruise, but the staff was very accommodating when we had to change the time. We had the same waiters each night, and they were terrific (way to go Nevis and Abdul!) Our seat had a great view of the back windows so we could see the water while dining. We also participated in the wine tasting which was one of the better wine tastings I have experienced. I even enjoyed wines I would never have tasted otherwise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We chose Royal Caribbean for our first cruise based off of recommendations of friends. We are so glad that we did. Everything on board was excellent. The ship was smaller than other cruise ships, but had enough activities to keep us ... Read More
We chose Royal Caribbean for our first cruise based off of recommendations of friends. We are so glad that we did. Everything on board was excellent. The ship was smaller than other cruise ships, but had enough activities to keep us entertained while on board. Our rooms were small like I assume they are on all cruise ships, but we managed to be OK with four of us in the room. We didn't spend much time in the room anyway. There were plenty of onboard activities to keep us busy while we were on the ship, and the crew did an excellent job keeping everyone entertained. From the productions in the Royal Theater to the belly flop contest on the last day, we enjoyed all of it. We especially loved Carlos the cruise director. Every event that he hosted was funny and entertaining. Our cruise went to Key West, Cuba, and Cozumel. In Key West, we just walked through the city. We didn't use a shore excursion from the ship. In Cuba, we were going to just walk on our own, but decided to do the shore excursion bus trip around the city instead. And, I'm glad that we did. We saw so much more than we would have on our own. Getting on shore and through immigration/security/money exchange in Cuba was much easier because of all the information the ship's crew gave us beforehand. They let us know what would happen in each step, and it definitely made it a little less intimidating to get into Cuba. The excursion was well organized and a great outing. After returning to the ship from the excursion, we were then able to return to Havana for a couple of hours to walk through Old Havana on our own. In Cozumel, we had already arranged for our own beginning scuba diving session, so we didn't do a shore excursion. We used Cozumel Diving and Parasailing, with Porfirio as our dive instructor. He and the dive experience were fantastic, and I'd highly recommend him to anyone visiting Cozumel and want to learn how to scuba dive. That's one area I think Royal Caribbean should explore -- having a beginning scuba excursion. The only one offered through the ship was a more advanced scuba dive. Because we had a great experience, we would definitely take another cruise. We were usually a little early to port and able to get off earlier than the times listed, which was a great bonus. Getting off the ship was easy as we did the self-assist and just carried our own bags off. Getting on the ship was another matter. The check-in process was long, and it was a little annoying to see others getting put ahead of the people in the check-in lines. I understand that RC wants to treat their longtime customers well, but I'd suggest having 1 or 2 check-in representatives just for those longtime customers. It made everyone standing in the long check-in lines a little grumpy to have to keep waiting while others were able to just walk up and take a spot at the front of the line. Overall, we had a fantastic trip for our first cruise. The ports of call were wonderful, the ship's staff were extremely friendly, and the activities kept us busy. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
The Empress of the Seas(because it is very small compared to the fleet) was brought back into RCI Service so that it could be the first RCI ship to go to Cuba. RCI spent over a year preparing for us to have great experiences in Cuba before ... Read More
The Empress of the Seas(because it is very small compared to the fleet) was brought back into RCI Service so that it could be the first RCI ship to go to Cuba. RCI spent over a year preparing for us to have great experiences in Cuba before they made their first trips last Spring 2017. They did an excellent job. Going to Cuba was so exciting and the entire cruise was directed at having an excellent experience in Cuba, Traveler be aware that the 9th deck of Jr Suites, do not compare to Jr Suites on any of the ships in the Fleet. Our memory may be wrong, but we sailed the Nordic Empress in 2001, 2002, and 2003 and the suites maybe were larger, or it maybe our selective memory of those rooms a long time ago. Probably the previous owner two to six years ago after RCI sold the ship, maybe changed the rooms on Deck 9 to get more cabins to sell as suits. The Jr Suites on the Empress compares to normal balcony rooms on the other ships. Now a couple of very small items. 1. In the Windjammer they have sinks to wash you hands before entering. WOW first time, and soooo much needed on all RCI ships. Most people just used the Prell. Maybe RCI has this on other ships, but we have not sailed previously since December 2016. So many germs are transmitted through hands not thoroughly washed. I washed on the way in and o the way out. 2. Probably because the cost of beef is so high, the Windjammer does not sever hamburgers during lunch, only in the afternoon and evening snacks.They offered pork, chicken, fish burgers as an alternate to beef during snack time, but no turkey burgers that are on other ships. But then the overall menus may have changed on all ships for 2017 3. We had no problem with the Windjammer Director treating us a special by having the chefs fixing special vegetarian omelets for our last two days after we told him our complaint that the only option at the egg station was either cheese or ham&cheese....no veggie options 4. However, I must award five stars for the Windjammer for their foods and more options for dishes..probably because of the chefs there versus other ships and the Empress was trying its best to create more and more excitement for our venture to Cuba 5. The ship is very old, only during peak morning and evening hours when many cabins would be using hot water, could you get real hot water as we were far from the hot water tanks. No matter how long we ran water to get hot water, it would just get luke warm. One night from 1 or 2 am until morning around 6, they had the water shut down. All week they had two to four of the engineering staff working on something where the ac or water tanks closets on our hallway. 6. Beware, that the shore excursions have good buses, which are AC which work great, but for handicap people is very difficult to get in and get out. The first step is about 18 inches up fro the ground unless the bus is parked by a curb. My suggestion is that RCI require these RCI contracted buses have a booster step for the first step like may taxi vans in the U.S. Also handicap people must realize that CUBA does not ADA laws so that there are no accommodations for the handicapped. 7. the Tropicana Show was a great experience and two hours of excellent entertainment, but it is July and the theater is open air, very very hot with no real air circulation. They asked men to wear long pants, no shorts....but after a few Cuba Libras the hot was not as notifiable...and the Cuba Libra were not true Cuba Libras (Rum & Coke with lime juice or a wedge of lime)..no lime juice or lime wedges..so it was Rum (excellent Havana Club 7 year old rum) and Coke. One free 6 ounce coke with a liter of rum for the table. Extra coke $5 (5 cocs) per bottle..of well it is a nite club...just two things...if you like Cuba Libras, bring a few cans of coke from the ship and also bring all the water the ship provides you..water is $5 per bottle. With over an hour to wait for the show, in the hot atmosphere, I would have used two bottles of water. The staff keeps telling you take water..we did on the shore excursions, except we did not for the niter club, our mistake... Bottom line, we will go back to see the show again despite the $154 fee per person or the $179 VIP fee. Do Not pay for the VIP as the management staff at the Tropicana were not thrilled to have us. He acted like we were a pain in the ass to have in his club. Our tour guide over and over told us when you enter the club they can not do anything for you..it is up to the their management...their management stinks, but the waiters were excellent.....the manager seated out party almost behind the stage where you could not see half the show..and we were VIP but handicapped...they just were very impatient with two of our party four who are handicapped. The excursion staff at RCI tried to persuade us not to pay the extra $25 for VIP without reason...that they could tell you as they were forced to be super positive... Bottom line do not pay the VIP fee, take your own water, extra cokes, and snacks to go along with a liter of Rum for four people. dress for it to be very very hot, but it is worth the experience, and we will do it again the next time we go on this cruise. In conclusion: Maybe some of you look on this review as petty or knit picking, But RCI did 100% (there is no % above 100%, like some say 150% effort) to make this a super experience. I highly recommend you to take this voyage. The ship may be old, but it is super clean, actually looking brand new, the crew excellent. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Destination was very important for my family, we loved to visit Cuba . The food were amazing and the waiters are exceptional at my time dinner , Bernadeh Ilagan , Melvin Tumulak and Maxson Goes Head waiter exceed our goals . They were far ... Read More
Destination was very important for my family, we loved to visit Cuba . The food were amazing and the waiters are exceptional at my time dinner , Bernadeh Ilagan , Melvin Tumulak and Maxson Goes Head waiter exceed our goals . They were far and beyond to made our dinner time memorable. The staff at shops were well trained and friendly . The entertainment at This ships were fantastic, The Spanish band were excellent, made us dance every night . The photographers were amazing , we loved all the pictures that they took , they was very friendly and patience with us , so far they are best photographers compare with others from previous cruises . We end up buying the whole pictures package. We really enjoy this ship , it is small ship but the staff working in this ship make the difference , the customer service done by all the employees from the house keeper, waiters , bartenders,front desk , music band , entertainment teams were excellent. We definitely will repeat this vacation . Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
I planned this vacation at the last minute to coincide with my husbands work break. We had never cruised with Norwegian before, but it was the cruise that fit best into the time we had and we really wanted to visit Cuba. We found the ... Read More
I planned this vacation at the last minute to coincide with my husbands work break. We had never cruised with Norwegian before, but it was the cruise that fit best into the time we had and we really wanted to visit Cuba. We found the ship to be in wonderful shape. We stayed in a cabin with a porthole. The cabin was small but clean and comfortable and we felt very well taken care of. I asked the cabin steward where I could get ice for our room, and he kept my ice bucket full the entire trip. We ate at the buffet and at the formal dining rooms. The food was delicious. We didn't make it to all of the entertainment, but we really enjoyed the shows that we did see. Our favorite part of the vacation was visiting Cuba. We took one shore excursion to tour the city of Havana. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and it was nice being driven around in an air conditioned bus as it was very hot outside. We spent the rest of our time walking around the city. We spoke with locals and enjoyed a delicious meal in a Havana restaurant. Our only regret is that we didn't have more time to explore the city. We would definitely go again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We went with a group, and this was our first cruise. Everyone in port was always helpful, and the staff aboard Empress we're top notch. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth as butter! The ship is older, but the biggest turn ... Read More
We went with a group, and this was our first cruise. Everyone in port was always helpful, and the staff aboard Empress we're top notch. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth as butter! The ship is older, but the biggest turn off was a sewer smell in our stateroom. It wasn't there all the time, but it got worse at night, and it was very strong! Our cabin was well kept, and comfy. Dining staff in main dining room were great, and explained anything we had questions about. Our shore excursion, Easy Panoramic Havana, was well worth the $49! Three hours in an air conditioned bus was grand, especially in Havana's heat. We didn't get to go inside the fort at the end of the tour, because Cuban customs was a bit slower than expected, and we were about 1 hour late leaving on the tour. Plus, some in our group had the Tropicana Caberet show to get ready for. We didn't go to that, but I heard it was amazing! We will certainly sail RCCL again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We went on this cruise with some friends and it was very enjoyable. The ship is small and doesn't have all the options of the large ships, but was totally comfortable. I also liked that the smaller size meant less people and we got ... Read More
We went on this cruise with some friends and it was very enjoyable. The ship is small and doesn't have all the options of the large ships, but was totally comfortable. I also liked that the smaller size meant less people and we got to see many of the same people repetitively. The Ship MUSICIANS ARE PHENOMENAL!!!! Many great sets and good entertainment. Had a $69 10 drink option in addition to several drink packages. Enjoyed. There were numerous places to get away from the crowds and just relax. There were several dance classes (line, salsa, jazz) onboard that several in our larger party enjoyed. Even got the husband up for the follow on dance party. Daily newsletter delivered to stateroom to advise you on all the options for activities each day so you could maximize your time. Crew was very friendly and easy going. We would take this cruise again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We just returned from Empress of the Seas cruise to Key West and Havana. While this may be RCL's smallest ship, the staff certainly make up for that in their service. The pool is tiny, but that is to be expected in a ship small enough ... Read More
We just returned from Empress of the Seas cruise to Key West and Havana. While this may be RCL's smallest ship, the staff certainly make up for that in their service. The pool is tiny, but that is to be expected in a ship small enough to get into Havana. The common areas looked clean and fresh to me, and I smelled nothing untoward anywhere on the ship. The staterooms are small, but again this is to be expected in order to get into Havana. Our stateroom was fresh and clean. The main dining room for breakfast was not a very good experience. Windjammer did a better job. The waffles were undercooked and tasteless. Chops was good food but the service was inattentive. The main dining room for dinner provided good food and excellent service,better than Chops for sure. Havana is a wonderful experience. I will be looking for the chance to return in the near future, and Empress will be my choice to get there. I have read comments indicating that Empress had unpleasant odors; that was definitely not my experience on the 5 day cruise July 10 - 15. I also read a comment that the stateroom was hot and impossible to get between the bed and the wall to get into bed. I have a feeling those comments say more about the commenter than about the room. I had no trouble getting into bed and stateroom 7124 was very cool indeed,a s was the rest of the ship. The musical entertainment was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Empress of the Sea impressive lady Ocean view room large window Dining was lovely both waiter staff as well as Food was gorgeous Entertainment was top notch for a smaller ship Service was better then being at home. Shore ... Read More
Empress of the Sea impressive lady Ocean view room large window Dining was lovely both waiter staff as well as Food was gorgeous Entertainment was top notch for a smaller ship Service was better then being at home. Shore excursions were well planned. I wanted to turn around and do it all over again immediately but my waistline and employer said different. Best disembarking and embarking by far for a smaller ship. Executive Chef was very involved with his customers. Everyone showed enthusiasm and always had time to have conversation with you. Food was the best I ever had from many different cruise lines. I would not only sell this cruise to my family but also my friends. Since we work for the Airlines I would definitely sell this to my customers. We did not travel with children but could if we had more. Thank you for making this a cruise to remember. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
I chose this cruise because of the destination to have an overnight in Havana and it did not disappoint, rather it blew my expectations out of the water! When we arrived in the Tampa Port, we parked the car in the parking deck directly ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the destination to have an overnight in Havana and it did not disappoint, rather it blew my expectations out of the water! When we arrived in the Tampa Port, we parked the car in the parking deck directly across the street from the ship and was $75, which I thought was fair and was great to just walk across the street and put the luggage in the car and head back to Atlanta. We could have left it for free at our hotel, but then we would have had to pay for an Uber to and from the hotel with extra time wasted. This was our first family cruise, and my kids are both in High School and we could have taken a more "kid friendly" cruise to the Bahamas or the Caribbean , but they would have missed out on the rare opportunity to see a country that is stuck in 1959! It is a bit of a trade off, in a sense, to see a most historical destination on a small ship (which did not feel small to me at all), vs. more water slides and bigger pools and seeing a Caribbean country (not minimizing the fun potential, just bare with me). The ship was really neat with 10 floors and has been completely updated, and does not feel old to me. The air conditioning was powerful and we needed blankets at night (room had a controllable thermostat.) There was a decent gym, and the 6th floor had an open space to run 400m completely around the trip. 3 miles was about 13 laps, but did not feel like running around a track, but the view of the sunrise and the ocean never got boring to this Marathon runner! The casino was perfect for this venue with adequate table games and excellent dealers, and who says you can't win money on a cruise! If anyone out there can complain about the food, the bars, the coffee place in the Bolero lounge (puts Starbucks and others to shame!) I did buy the coffee drink package which was well with it. The alcohol drink package only makes sense if you have 4 or more drinks per day, otherwise get them a la carte for about $14 per. The only knock that I can give is the pool is small, but the deck is a big size and the pool bar is excellent! We had an ocean view stateroom, that slept the four of us. A king sized bed, and two single murphy type beds above us for the kids, made them feel like they both had upper bunk beds. Clean is an understatement in the room and bathroom. The room cleaner was attentive and the joke was, if you went to the bathroom for two minutes , your bed would be made! The only thing we would have done differently would have been to get two rooms for the parents and kids. The dining was off the charts great! From the head host, the waiter, the assistant waiter, they knew our individual needs after the first night. The quality and taste of the food was shockingly spot on! Even the almost always open Windjammer buffet, had anything you want, day or night. They do a Sunday type brunch from 930am-noon almost every day, with Mimosas and Bloody Mary's!! The onboard entertainment was fun! The singers and dancers and jazz band were very talented. I would say rating on the Simon Cowell level, the musicians were top pros, the dancers were excellent and the singers were very good. Let's face it, the best singers in the world will not be on cruise ships , but they were very entertaining. Comedian, magic acts, and a cruise director named Carlos who can do it all! On the days out at sea, you will never be bored. We didn't want the cruise to end and never had that feeling of "get me out of here." As mentioned throughout this thread, the service could not have been better in the best 5 star hotels and restaurants! Do not hesitate to book the Key West and Havana overnight cruise with Royal Caribbean . The shore excursions for Key West were adequate as the kids went parasailing and we walked ourselves to Sloppy Joe's and the Hemingway House which is a must see! Key West is a cute town, and fun, but the headliner on this trip was Cuba! When we arrived at the port in Havana, welt the ship and walked directly to customs with passports in hand. (Remember to renew your passport if it expires within 6 months of your trip.) It took 2 minutes after purchasing a visa on the ship for $75pp, that Royal Caribbean takes care of seamlessly. After you go through the easy customs, the money exchange is at the end of the hall and you exchange with ease. You then walk outside and we didn't do any shore excursions, but decided to wing it. You will have 15 taxi people all with 1950s beautifully restored cars, willing to take you on a tour. We chose Homero Fernandez and his 1955 pink Ford Fairlane convertible and for $130, he took us on a tour everywhere and was extremely knowledgable. At the end, we told him we were going to the Tropicana and he offered to meet us at 830pm and he was there at the same spot waiting for us, took us to the Tropicana, which we bought tickets there for $75 (vs $179 with Royal Carribean, but they provide transportation and a level of safety...) , and he was there at midnight to bring us back to the ship ($60 for the taxi at night) . I highly recommend the Tropicana as one of the oldest and greatest show on earth type cabaret shows ever! BTW, we felt safe everywhere in Havana !! The next morning, my son and I ran 4 miles along the coast . Come out of the port, turn right and keep on running! Breathtaking views and scenes along the way, and totally epic run, but get out early as it is hot in July! We then went back to the ship, showered and collected the rest of the family and walked everywhere. Went to the Museum of the Revolution ($8pp) had lunch on a random street, went to the Floridita bar, which was the founders of the Daquiri drink and one of Hemingway's favorite stomping grounds. We had many stops for dessert, coffee, and just getting a feel for the city, which captures your heart quickly. Let's face it, Cuba needs a lot of work, but we all felt hopeful for the future without getting in to politics. Our kids LOVED the entire experience 9ages 15 and 16) and really understood the greatness of going to a place like Cuba that was taboo for Americans, and would jump at the chance to go back. My wife and kids all agreed that this was one of the best vacations we have ever had! Book it and don't hesitate. We all felt safe, which was definitely a fear prior to the trip, the ship, the food, the service, the cabins, the air conditioning, the entertainment far exceeded our expectations!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We chose this cruise for the overnight stay in Havana Cuba. The weather was extremely hot and humid - so be sure to prepare for that if you go there. Otherwise, it was a great place to visit. I only wish we could have stayed longer. ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the overnight stay in Havana Cuba. The weather was extremely hot and humid - so be sure to prepare for that if you go there. Otherwise, it was a great place to visit. I only wish we could have stayed longer. The ship has been 'updated' but definitely shows some of its age. Overall, the ship is in good condition and the food and service were very good. As this is an older ship, the cabins tend to be a bit tighter and there are very limited (and very expensive) options for balcony cabins. The seating in the main theatre is not very comfortable so get there early to grab a seat on one of the benches. Deck 6 is available for walking and very comfortable, with a large outdoor seating/smoking area - perfect for smokers and very non-obtrusive for those of us that do not smoke. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Great cruise! Dining was fantastic. The staff was fantastic. The ports were very interesting.we did a hop on/off trolley in Key West which was a great way to see the island.This excursion was very inexpensive and well worth the money. ... Read More
Great cruise! Dining was fantastic. The staff was fantastic. The ports were very interesting.we did a hop on/off trolley in Key West which was a great way to see the island.This excursion was very inexpensive and well worth the money. Cuba was very interesting. If we were doing that port again, I would choose a different excursion. We did the Best of Havanna, which was informative,bit it wasn't interactive and got rather long.it was very expensive and I don't feel it was worth the money. It rained heavily at the end of the tour and so we weren't able to see Hemmungways place. Maybe that would have been a highlight, but as it was, it mostly felt like we just ride around on a bus all day and didn't get to really experience the island the way I had hoped. The meal felt very authentic and there was music and that part was quite enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
This was a great short cruise- exactly what we were looking for. We had been to Key West before, but wanted to see Cuba. I highly recommend the Havana Sightseeing Bus tour. First, the buses are nice coach buses with bathrooms that are ... Read More
This was a great short cruise- exactly what we were looking for. We had been to Key West before, but wanted to see Cuba. I highly recommend the Havana Sightseeing Bus tour. First, the buses are nice coach buses with bathrooms that are clean! We brought our own toilet paper on the trip after reading others' reviews, and although we used the bathroom on the bus, we were glad to have our own toilet paper just in case! After the tour ended we ventured out on our own and found a nice little pace to eat near the Capital building and noticed that if you wanted to use the bathroom in the place, you had to give the "bathroom attendant" a "tip" to use the facilities! Hmmm....interesting! Anyways, the whole experience was very nice and we were glad to have seen Cuba, even if it was very sad to see how some of the people live. As far as the ship, it's an older ship and smaller, which was kind of nice, especially when getting on and off--we didn't have to wait long. The food was great and service was fantastic--especially our stateroom attendant. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
This cruise was a surprise birthday present to me. We cruise a LOT and for this special birthday, my gift was to a totally new port that I've wanted to visit for a long time. The Empress of the Seas is old, but she's got a ... Read More
This cruise was a surprise birthday present to me. We cruise a LOT and for this special birthday, my gift was to a totally new port that I've wanted to visit for a long time. The Empress of the Seas is old, but she's got a lot of heart via her crew. As for the looks- it was built close to 30 years ago, and it hard to update. It is cool to see the fist RCI ship with a multi deck centrum. We had JS 8686, which is in the port aft corner. So people know, JS's on the Empress are roughly a basic balcony on every other ships. And this corner cabin is even a little tighter- as there's no real seating area. BUT... it has a much larger balcony, and we were rewarded when we backed in to Havana, so our breakfast was coffee with an amazing view we've never seen before. The entire crew of the ship was very excited to be going to Cuba, and their excitement did a great job smoothing some excited nerves of passengers. The Hotel Director, Santiago, ran a great seminar about Havana- what to expect when you leave, exchanging money, eating, drinking, buying stuff, etc. In addition to that, they had another "passenger" host some of his personal presentations about Cuba. Very, very helpful, and i hope they continue this. Dining was really nice- the menu was a little different than other ships, and one night we had a Cuban menu! This is something we've been wanting to see for many year, so that was really neat. We enjoy the normal shows that RCI's singers and dancers do, and this ship was no different, with the addition to a show unique to the Empress. Again, a nice touch. Key West is Key West- we just wandered around, ate lunch, and shopped. But Havana was something special- We booked a private tour with Tour Republic out of Miami. They connected us to a private driver (Ruben) who took us around Havana in his air conditions '59 Chevy Impala for 6 hours. We were worried if we were allowed to book a private tour, but Tour Republic did some research to make sure, and when we got the affidavit from RCI- it was clear we were ok. We saw MANY sights around Havana, had lunch, and even included some walking. The one thing we would like to add is an overnight so we can visit a jazz club. We booked another pair of cruises a next year. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We were very interested in Cuba. This was an opportunity to visit the country with minimal decisions on travel. The lectures on board were helpful but feel some of this should have been provided before people got on board. Although there ... Read More
We were very interested in Cuba. This was an opportunity to visit the country with minimal decisions on travel. The lectures on board were helpful but feel some of this should have been provided before people got on board. Although there is no guarantee they will read it, the American money exchange was an issue. Suggest watching YOU TUBE to learn about Havana. This was a simple 4 day cruise, easy to board and easy to disembark. The ship is beautiful. A small ship, 1600 passengers and very easy to 'navigate' around. Choices of menu items and buffet items were plentiful, no need to go to private restaurants. Pool area was a bit congested and children were not very well supervised. But it is not a perfect world and overall, due to the destination there were not a lot of children on the ship. We enjoyed the entertainment and do not typically gamble or do the shopping. Both areas were clean and pretty busy. We were provided some bad information from Guest Service pre questioning, but went back a few times and eventually got the right answer. Everyone working on the ship was happy and helpful. Smooth seas always a PLUS! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
I chose Royal Caribbean because I have cruised before and love the service, ship and food. The entertainment is wonderful. The staff is exceptionally friendly. I just may take a cruise solo next time because it is hard to find people to ... Read More
I chose Royal Caribbean because I have cruised before and love the service, ship and food. The entertainment is wonderful. The staff is exceptionally friendly. I just may take a cruise solo next time because it is hard to find people to go and would feel very comfortable doing this on Royal Caribbean. The first ship I went on was Bigger than this one. It was actually the smallest ship of Royal Caribbean but I loved it. The cabins are small but I am only in the room to sleep and change clothes for there is so many nice lounging places to be on the ship. I also found the bed comfy. We always had hot water to shower and the room was clean. One day I put valuables in my safe and came back it was open. I had not closed it properly and not one thing was missing. I also ate in the dining alone one evening because my son was tired and my server made sure, without me asking to pack up a dinner to take to him. The bar staff was quick and made excellent drinks. I highly recommend royal Caribbean and probably will always book with them. I had two great experiences so far on a 7 day and 4 day cruise and cannot wait to book the next. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
It was offering a 5 day cruise that included Havana, Cuba and we wanted to see the city. Royal Caribbean offers cruises to Havana from our home city, Tampa. My sister wanted to see Havana since she had not been there since before the ... Read More
It was offering a 5 day cruise that included Havana, Cuba and we wanted to see the city. Royal Caribbean offers cruises to Havana from our home city, Tampa. My sister wanted to see Havana since she had not been there since before the revolution and so we took her as an early 90th birthday event. The ship is the smallest in the Royal Caribbean fleet ( I believe about 1400 capacity) and therefore did not offer water slides and some other "extras" offered on the larger ships. On the positive side, it made the cruise more intimate and we actually met many other guests while on board. The crew was spectacular. Friendly, enthusiastic service in all areas. Housekeeping and the dining experience was especially "over the top" Summary - an interesting cruise to a new (and very different port) with a friendly, almost cozy feel and outstanding service. I will take Royal Caribbean cruise in the future Read Less
Sail Date July 2017

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