4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Recently back from 8 nights best of CUBA.Never again with Royal Caribbean .We originally were to have 2 days in Cuba Ten days before we went we got an email stating we were not going to Santiago Cuba as there was something wrong with the ... Read More
Recently back from 8 nights best of CUBA.Never again with Royal Caribbean .We originally were to have 2 days in Cuba Ten days before we went we got an email stating we were not going to Santiago Cuba as there was something wrong with the port. Now we only had one day in Cuba.. .We still went as it was to late to change flights as we had transatlantic flights.The ship was to dock at 2 pm the day we were to be in Havana Cuba. We arrived at 3 pm .On arriving in Havana we were stopped getting of the ship by the crew as they wanted to accommodate the people that had booked day tours to leave the ship first.We eventually got of the ship at 5 35 We had a night excursion booked with the ship for the evening time, so we saw one hour of Cuba in daylight after paying 75 dollars each to get of the ship to enter Cuba.You must have this visa for Cuba if you want to leave the ship. . We also bought Cuban money which was advised by the ship. We could not spend this money as everywhere was closed by the time we got of the ship..You can not get Cuban money changed back to dollars nor can you take Cuban money out of the country.My advice to whoever is doing this trip book your own trips before you go or just walk of the ship as people are waiting there to do exactly the same trips that royal Caribbean are charging an arm and a leg for.We felt on this particular trip with Royal Caribbean we were really ripped off. We have cruised on numerous occasions with this company and had no problems whatsoever. This ship is extremely small and has no wow factor whatsoever..However the good things on this ship .Cabin crew excellent,main dining hall excellent.Windjammer although food was good queuing was an issue for me. There is lots of activities on board this ship if you want to do them. Me personally on sea days just love to chill on deck..No problem with sun loungers.Pool service and bar service very good. Shore excursions from this ship was not good for me. No problem disembarking from ship only in Cuba.Entertainment on this ship was just OK for me. May be if you are a first time cruiser you will find entertainment great.I have been on the bigger ships and there is no comparison.I did enjoy some of the entertainers.Some of the musicians are very good. I felt we did not get value for our money on this cruise. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
The excitement of going to Cuba, something I have wanted to do for many years, faded very fast. We booked the cruise on Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas specifically because it had two stops. The first was Santiago de Cuba, an all day ... Read More
The excitement of going to Cuba, something I have wanted to do for many years, faded very fast. We booked the cruise on Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas specifically because it had two stops. The first was Santiago de Cuba, an all day stop, and the second was Havana, which was Afternoon and evening. The cruise was entitled, the Best of Cuba. One week before our cruise, we received notification that the dock in Santiago de Cuba had been damaged and was not yet repaired. We would be going to the Florida Keys instead. When we called customer service to see if there was anything we could do, we were told we could not get a refund or change to another cruise because corporate had the right to change any port at their discretion. It was in the contract we signed. They did not offer any thing to appease their guests Such as an onboard credit for free Wi-Fi. In fact they said that there would be nothing offered because of the change. Planning to make the best of it and knowing we would at least see Havana, we were upbeat and determined to enjoy ourselves despite our disappointment. At this point, I will say that the food, entertainment, and staff were wonderful. The empress of the seas is a very old And, as expected, the rooms were very small. However, the friendliness of the staff and quality of entertainment and food rectified this. Upon arriving in Cuba, we were delayed getting off the ship and going to our tours by customs. We had one hour of daylight on our tour and did not see much of Cuba at all. Our tour guide was wonderful and tried to make the best of it. However, when they bill this cruise as the best of Cuba and you get one hour to see it in daylight, it is very, very disappointing. The guests were very upset and the next day, those who complained received a refund on the tours. The main frustration was that corporate knew about the damaged dock and did not let the guests know in time to make any changes in their schedules. We were told to write a letter to corporate to see if they would compensate us in any way. I have just been notified that corporate had a meeting and decided this was not their fault and the guests will get no compensation for their cruise. They did not even offer a certificate with a discount on an upcoming cruise. In other words, the underlying theme was: We put you on a ship, took you over the ocean, fed you, entertained you and you got a cruise. It did not matter that 100% of the people on that tour booked it because they wanted to go to Cuba And probably would not have gone on this ship if it were not for the stops. Not only did this seem unethical but it was morally wrong. I am very disappointed in the executive staff of Royal Caribbean. I have always enjoyed RCCL but will no longer be cruising with them in the future. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Booked this cruise to see Cuba expecting to see a least 2 ports in Cuba. Santiago d cuba cancelled swapped to Key West. Havana Cuba arrived at 3pm got of ship and through customs by 6.30pm 1.5 hrs spent in Havana in the dark ... Read More
Booked this cruise to see Cuba expecting to see a least 2 ports in Cuba. Santiago d cuba cancelled swapped to Key West. Havana Cuba arrived at 3pm got of ship and through customs by 6.30pm 1.5 hrs spent in Havana in the dark $75 pp visa paid to RCL for the privilege. Food in windjamer luke warm and not kept at correct temperature. Restaurant manager blammed the air con system. Brunch in MDR dry & no difference to windjamer MDR service and food better our waitress was very attentive. Pool bar service great & friendly. Coffee shop staff great & friendly. Housekeeper did a good job. Entertainment outside acts were good. Not much else to say about entertainment usual shows. Band on pool deck good Enjoyed Nassau went to Atlantis. Labadee nice for beach day. Key West ok wouldn't go back. RCL false advertising and selling of this cruise also giving phone numbers out to complain which you say are a free number, they are not in the UK 7 min call £18.00 to be only DISCONNECTED by your operator. How many more people will you rip off. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
The highlight was supposed to be Cuba. One of the ports was cancelled. Staying overnight in Havana is a joke. It took 2 hours and 45 minutes to get off the ship which caused me to miss my tour that was booked outside of the cruise line. ... Read More
The highlight was supposed to be Cuba. One of the ports was cancelled. Staying overnight in Havana is a joke. It took 2 hours and 45 minutes to get off the ship which caused me to miss my tour that was booked outside of the cruise line. The ship is terrible and in desperate need of updating. When I think about it the ship is very similar to visiting Cuba. Stepping on the ship took me back to crusisjng 20 years ago. Please do not bring your children as they will be bored out of their minds. How many times can you take them rock climbing? The ship also had a terrible smell the first 4 days of the cruise. This is my first and last time sailing with RC. For me it speak s volume about the company that takes pride to ensure their guest’s have a consistent level of experience no matter which ship they sail. The crew was very nice and did their best but it was obvious they were tired of apologizing for the poor conditions of the vessel. Royal Carribean please take this ship out of service it is an embarrassment to your brand!!! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
This cruise was sold as "Best of Cuba", three days in Cuba. What a joke! Before the cruise started they dropped one of the ports and substituted Key West. We were suppose to start boarding for the cruise at 11 AM but because ... Read More
This cruise was sold as "Best of Cuba", three days in Cuba. What a joke! Before the cruise started they dropped one of the ports and substituted Key West. We were suppose to start boarding for the cruise at 11 AM but because of "technical difficulties" with the ship we were not allowed to start boarding until about 12:15. No problem. We boarded and directly went to the bar, got a drink and set by the pool, still no problem. We figured that by 3 PM our cabin would be ready, and it was, but found a cabin that hadn't been updated since the ship was put into service in 1990! Formica, particle board and cabinets with that golden oak wood edging were everywhere, straight out of the 80's. The cabin and the bathroom with it's flickering florescent lighting reminded me of Grandma's house. In the bathroom there was plastic countertops with cigarette burns and more 80's decor. Towels that had raggedy edges form too many washings like the ones I use to wash the car at home! The food in the Windjammer Restaurant was more like a high school cafeteria. Abundant, yes, delicious, no. Lots of hamburger, hot dogs and pizza with a few other offerings sprinkled in. My son LOVES shrimp. He could literally eat shrimp three meals a day but two bites of the shrimp in Windjammer was all he wanted. If this child won't eat the shrimp you know it's bad! One night they had some small grilled steaks, chicken and pork loin cutlets. If you closed your eyes, your taste buds would not have been able to tell one from the other, bland and tasteless. The main dining room food wasn't much better, pretty bland and never hot, just warm. The selection was better and the service was good but again very bland mass produced food. There is the Chops Grill on board which you have to pay extra to eat at. Luckily we did so we had one good meal while on the ship. The major problem with the cruise was CUBA! We pulled into port at 3:30 PM. My son and I were lucky in that we were one of the first groups to get off the ship at about 4:15 PM. Many on the ship weren't allowed off the ship until after dark. Royal Caribbean tried to blame everything on the Cuban Government but going through customs in Cuba was a breeze .We were scheduled to take a 5 hour tour of Havana in a classic car. We were taken by bus to where the old cars were waiting. The problem was that by now it's 4:30ish and it got dark about 5:30. We literally got to see almost nothing of Cuba except car headlights. Since everything in Cuba is owned by the government, everything closed at 5 PM. The bus stopped at a very over crowded store for just a few minutes so we could buy a bottle of rum and a few cigars, then dropped us back at the dock about 7PM. We had paid for a 5 hour tour and only got 2.5 hours, most of which was in the dark! EVERYONE was complaining but Royal Caribbean still wanted to blame it on the Cuban government. The ship then pulled out of port at 5:30 AM. 14 HOURS IN CUBA AND 12 HOURS OF THAT WAS AT NIGHT IN THE DARK! HOW DO YOU CALL THAT "BEST OF CUBA"? Several days later we pulled in to Nassau, Bahamas. Again we had scheduled a shore excursion through RC. Thirty minutes before we were suppose to meet on the dock for our deep sea fishing excursion, RC called to say the excursion had been cancelled due to "mechanical difficulties". I went straight to the shore excursion desk and was told that the excursion had been cancelled due to lack of interest. (They had trouble keeping their stories straight no matter what the situation.) The manager of the shore excursion desk simply said, "Sorry, you're free to go into town and try and book something on your own". Lucky for us we were able to do just that and about half the price of what RC wanted to charge us. This ship is old and needs to be put out of service! There was lots of rust, elevators had broken buttons. If you needed to go to the 8th deck (for example), you couldn't on that elevator because the 8 button didn't work. You'd have to take a different elevator to get to the eighth deck. The ship had three hot tubs but two of them only worked intermittently. They would run for a few minutes and then shut off for a few minutes. The employees on the ship were friendly but not the level for service that I have found on other ships. The drinks were good but it's kind of hard to screw up rum & Coke! I am a business owner and I understand that things aren't perfect all the time but almost nothing on this cruise was even right, much less perfect! I talked with Marcel Zuniga, the Front Desk Manager on the ship. In his office he showed me three pages of passenger's names with stateroom numbers that had been complaining before me. His only option was to apologize and pass the information on to corporate. I called RC's corporate headquarters in Miami but they really seemed to not care. The Impression given by Rose in the Post Customer Service Executive Department and by Tiffany, Executive Guest Relations Agent was that we've got your money, now go away and leave us alone! If you decide to take a cruise on this ship I wish you the "Best of Luck". Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
The actual onboard experience was good and we had a good time, but the cruise was advertised as Best of Cuba cruise and that never happened. We were sold a cruise with two port calls in Cuba but Santiago pier had been damaged and that ... Read More
The actual onboard experience was good and we had a good time, but the cruise was advertised as Best of Cuba cruise and that never happened. We were sold a cruise with two port calls in Cuba but Santiago pier had been damaged and that port call was cancelled. We were taken to Key West Florida instead. the cruise line had been aware for some time that the pier was damaged but didn't adjust the itinerary or marketing, and didn't advise us of the cancellation of that port call until it was too late to refund our reservation. We arrived in Havana at 3pm on a winter day so you know it was dark by 5, and we couldn't disembark ship until customs was cleared so by the time we made it onshore it was already 4:30. All shops close there at 5pm so we were rushed into one local shop to purchase cuban cigars and liquors and afterwards we only had access to "night life". . and the ship departed at 5am the following morning. We were advised onboard that American dollars needed to be exchanged because US dollars aren't acceptable in Havana, but that was not true as we received change from the shop in US monies. I feel very cheated because the whole point of the cruise was to experience Cuba!! This was very disappointing and I will never choose Royal Caribbean line again because I cannot trust them to tell the truth. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
If you can't do the cruise right, don't do it at all!! Best of Cuba in a few hours?? Waste of time & money. We signed up for this cruise solely because of of 2 ports in Cuba as we had been to most of the other ports ... Read More
If you can't do the cruise right, don't do it at all!! Best of Cuba in a few hours?? Waste of time & money. We signed up for this cruise solely because of of 2 ports in Cuba as we had been to most of the other ports & they were not that interesting. This seemed to be the case for the majority of the passengers/customers. (We have been on about 10 cruises. About half have been with RCI including Empress of the Seas about 10 years ago.) A few weeks before the cruise departure we were notified by RCI that the port of Santiago, Cuba, was being dropped with no explanation, but some passengers found out about the change only after they were onbaord the ship. (We found out why they dropped the port while onboard & they had good reason.) What was so unethical was that they knew far before they told us that they were dropping the port but they waited until after we passed the refund time! They told us to compensate we would stay in Havana until 5am but we were not scheduled to arrive until 2 in the afternoon; they tried to tell us that this was somehow 2 days in Havana! We arrived in Havana at about 3pm & by the time we were through customs we had only about 2 hours of daylight in Cuba. Oh, after 5 or 6 customs went home & your could freely come & go without a VISA. While waiting for the first Havana excursion, an excursion desk staff said we should not have signed up for our evening excursion as there was not enough time between the day & night time excursions. I pointed out that the online RCI software does not allow for overlapping excursions but they took our nighttime excursion tickets. When we returned from our daytime excursion there was still time before the nighttime excursion! The daytime excursion was not what was in the description, an "Old Havana Heritage Walking Tour". We walked maybe 5 blocks, spent close to an hour in a cigar, rum, & coffee shop (must have been a kick back from someone to delay us at that shop.) Then we went on a bus to a bar with a section only for tourist where they taught us about how to use cigars, rum, & coffee. We received a sample cigar, a taste of rum, & a taste of very bitter coffee. This part was interesting but I had to step outside when it became smokey. After about an hour we back on the bus with TINTED windows being shown highlights of Cuba in the dark, we didn't see much. Didn't see much heritage or history but did see lots of rundown parts of Havana. Everyone who asked received refunds for their Havana excursions. Apparently, ours was not the only bad excursion. We spent a lot of money & time to see very little of Cuba. (Did find out back in Ft. Lauderdale that Southwest flies to Havana.) The public area of Empress looked fine. However, if you looked around you saw lots of rust & chipped paint. Several crew members said they had lots of maintenance issues, especial clogged pipes. I even saw corrosion of a bracket holding an access latter on the side of the ship. I wonder what it was like in the non-public areas? The ship is going into dry dock for a month in February. I think the ship needs a safety inspection. The service was good as usual. Considering the limitations placed on the crew by the itinerary, a small 30 year old ship in disrepair, RCI HQ, & the Cuban government they did very well with a lot of disappointed & angry passengers/customers. Dinning: It is now less all inclusive as now some extras in the Formal Dining room are offered at a large surcharge when they used to be included. There were some issues with getting meals out in a timely fashion & correct. Days at sea were limited to a breakfast buffet in the formal dining room, instead of the formal dining from a menu. One big health & safety improvement for the buffet restaurant (Windjammer) was the addition of hand washing sinks at the entrances The gym area was a joke. It had been reduced in size from when we were on the Empress last time. There was not enough equipment & some of it was in disrepair. The staff were frustrated with the inability to get repairs done on equipment. There are no longer locker rooms, showers, steam rooms or saunas in the fitness area. With so many days at sea a good gym is essential. A spa staff said that there was an used men's locker room. They had the same paid classes but little space & few takers. Not all inclusive. The port called Labadee, Haiti is suppose to be a private "island" but I think it is a private port. You get no real exposure to Haitian culture. It was a pretty area but limited in what you could do. Because it was private & had no competition the only fun things were grossly overpriced. The zip-line was $80+ for about 30 seconds ride. Even a simple water slide was $25 (never saw anyone use it.). The beach chairs were free & they served a simple meal for free at the port. No one snorkeled from the beaches & I saw ahead of time on the reviews that there was nothing to see. There was a sand volleyball court but no planned games. If you like just lying around on the beach it was ok. I don't know why they go to Nassau so often as there is not much there to see. It is basically a shopping stop. However, we were fortunate as we arrive on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day (WWI) so there was a large local parade & wreath laying ceremony that had nothing to do with tourist but it was very important to the locals. Because they had to replace the lost port with Key West port of call, we wasted a lot of time wondering back & fourth across the Caribbean Sea. Not very efficient route or environmentally friendly. We asked out travel agent to try & get a partial refund of the cruise as they did not provide what was sold to us. He was not able to get anywhere with RCI HQ in Miami. I talked to RCI customer service twice but got nowhere. I received one call this week from RCI, they said they were in management. She said in order to be fair to all the customers they would offer no refunds only an apology. How is that fair to their customers? Why be in their frequent cruiser program (Crown & Anchor)? In the past I considered RCI one of the best value, good food, good service cruise lines. I am NO longer recommending RCI to my friends & family. This cruise really hurt their reputation. I heard many cruisers, including high level Crown & Anchor members, say they were done with RCI. I think I am through with RCI because of their disrespect of their customers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
My husband chose this cruise for my birthday gift and it was the only thing left on my "bucket list". The cruise cut one city out of the itinerary before we left and when we tried to cancel the trip, the amount we would have ... Read More
My husband chose this cruise for my birthday gift and it was the only thing left on my "bucket list". The cruise cut one city out of the itinerary before we left and when we tried to cancel the trip, the amount we would have gotten back was pitiful. So, we would at least have one day in Havanna. We bought $75 visas and two tours. The ship did not dock until after 3pm. It took us until 4pm to get off the ship. We stood in line for almost one hour waiting to get through immigration & customs. We got on the tour bus after 5pm it finally took off at 5:30 and by that time our tour guide apologised and said the ship should have canceled the tour as all but one of the stops had closed. And, I really had no desire to see a 6 foot cigar. It was dark then and the markets were closed. So we spent a good deal of money for 3 hours in Cuba. The ship was there until 5 am but we are not the type to stay up that late. So, seeing Cuba is still on my bucket list! The ship is old and really needs to be refurbished. The staff were very friendly and they were embarrassed about what happened. Every night we had a very good show and one night a "blue" comedy act that I still can smile about when I think of it. Food certainly not the best I have had on a cruise. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We booked a cruise to cuba with 2 ports. One was cancelled (Santiago de Cuba), so we held on to the other port. Docking into Havana was so late, it was dark, couldn't sight see. Excursions were even cancelled. Shops closed, market ... Read More
We booked a cruise to cuba with 2 ports. One was cancelled (Santiago de Cuba), so we held on to the other port. Docking into Havana was so late, it was dark, couldn't sight see. Excursions were even cancelled. Shops closed, market closed.......nothing.No souveniers, no "cuban experience"!. Even the banks were closed making folks unable to exchange their money back to their "home" currency. The lines at customer service were so long on the ship, it took us two days before we could register our complaint. We talked to a rep on the ship (I'll withhold her name), and she said her manager would call us. Some were given the "generic" customer service number to call. Needless to say, we have yet to receive a call. A message was given before performances with an apology and hope things could be resolved, as well as a recorded message for our TV. RC accepted it was at fault for our disorganized cruise, and now want us to forget it(?). I hope all that were on this cruise, will not give up calling RC Customer Service. I truly wish there was a way we could join forces. "I'm Sorry" is not acceptable. We paid for a Cuban cruise and was given a simple cruise. I'm still VERY unhappy with how this was handled, but will continue to call and email their Customer Service. I still want my "cuban cruise"! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
I booked this cruise a year ago to go to Cuba. I went with my daughter, sister and a friend. Cuba has been a wish for us for many years and this trip included a full day in Santiago de Cuba and afternoon/evening in Havana. We have cruised ... Read More
I booked this cruise a year ago to go to Cuba. I went with my daughter, sister and a friend. Cuba has been a wish for us for many years and this trip included a full day in Santiago de Cuba and afternoon/evening in Havana. We have cruised with Royal Caribbean many times before and splurged on a suite. We wanted to go to Cuba in style and were very excited. We are not wealthy but saved a long time for the expense. A week before the cruise my travel agent sent me an email telling me that itinerary had been changed and the stop in Santiago was cancelled and KEY WEST was being substituted. No explanation was given and are you flipping kidding me? WE DID not spend a huge sum to visit Key West. I called customer service and basically was told "tough luck. Read the contract ..we can change the itinerary". They gave some baloney excuse about dock problems in Santiago yet other ships were going there. NO COMPENSATION!! My letter to customer relations was never answered. Numerous passengers found out at the port that the stop was canceled. We had a 10 am check in. We got to port and were told we could not board until 12pm. This was not a way to start a dream cruise and my friends it was all downhill from there. As we were in a suite they had a separate waiting area for us and we had a "concierge". We all called him the invisible man as he was nowhere to be found most of the week and clearly has ZERO interest in customer service. Once we got onbaord our suite was lovely and our cabin attendent was awesome. WE are not elitists but really splurged for the suite as we were going to Cuba. Our first stop was Labadee,Haiti Unbeknowst to us there was a private area for suite members. We got NO NOTICE in our room. I happened to be in our room before going off ship when our "concierge" called to tell us to go to the separate area. If we had not been in the room we would never have known about this. Judging from the 10 people there, most people never got this message and there were alreay complaints to customer service about this'concierge". Or next port was Key West. As we had left the USA to go to Haiti we ALL had to go through customs and immigration to get off the ship. I have never heard anything so stupid. Our "conceirge " told his group to meet in the bar so we could expedite leaving as suite and higher level customers allegedly have priority disembarkation. We waited a long tiome and finally I went to find him. I found him and told him we were all wating where he stated and his response "I forgot". Are you kidding me? His job is to take care of about 20 people and he can't manage that? I could care less about the extra perks but if I (and anyone else) have paid extra for a perk then the cruise line has an obligation to provide the service. We arrived in Havana at past 3 pm on Friday. It took almost two hours to get off of the ship. Everyone had tours and by the time things started moving it was dark. Havana by moonlight was not on my agenda. Due to the late hour, several of the places we were supposed to see were already closed. We had no time to shop. Havana is dead at night on a Friday. The cruise line made a big deal telling us we were there until 5 am. They forgot to tell us that things close at 6 pm and there are NO CLUBS near the ship. Our tour driver on our tour could not have been more apologetic and told us that he had NEVER seen such chaos on a cruise. He actually had an uncle who owned a shop and he called his uncle to keep his shop open so we could at least get coffee, rum and cigars. We returned to the ship after our "moonlight tour" and the line at guest relations with people complaining literally went down the gangplank to the terminal. Final itinerary glitch....we got to the Bahamas and guess what most of the stores are closed on Sunday!! Again, customers were not happy. The cruise line literally did nothing to help all of the disappointed and angry customers. When we disembarked in Miami our luggage was in group 1. It was nowhere to be found. WE took almost an hour to find our luggage as it went to the wrong carousel. The staff were so nice and apologetic and the food was great. Several key cruise persons told us they had never ever seen such a disorganized and chaotic cruise nor had they seen so many disappointed and angry customers. Clearly Royal Caribbean has a public relations nightmare here. Guest relations tried their best but had no power to compensate. Corporate clearly puts greed over customer service. We planned this trip over a year ago and spent $75 on a Cuban visa to see a few things in Havana in the dark. The cruise just did not care that that they caused so much discontent in their customers. We booked a future cruise but will likely cancel . It is apparent that customer service is not very important to Royal Caribbean, at least on this cruise. The staff (other than the concierge) were awesome but corporate clearly did not direct them to compensate customers. I heard numerous persons stating that they had already written their reviews here and elsewhere before disembarking. I understand glitches happen. Sometimes itineraries need to change due to weather but there was no such emergency. The cruise line lied about there being pier problems as we met other travelers in our stops who had been to Santiago. There were numerous other issues which I won't belabor. I thought I was in an episode of "Saturday Night Live." We were told by guest relations that corporate "was aware" of all of the complaints but I have not received anything to make me feel that they took all of the hundreds of complaints seriously. I do not feel like I visited Cuba. This was a very expensive disappointment and I am seriously considering canceling our future cruise. Royal Caribbean takes customers hard earned money and does not deliver as promised. A trip to Key West when people are planning to go to Cuba IS NOT a reasonable substitute. I really hope that corporate reads this as customer service should be a priority NOT an afterthought. There are many cruise lines to choose from. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this eight night cruise specifically because it had two stops in Cuba. A couple weeks before we set sail they changd the itinerary and removed one of the stops in Cuba and replaced it with Key West. Although disappointed, we were ... Read More
We chose this eight night cruise specifically because it had two stops in Cuba. A couple weeks before we set sail they changd the itinerary and removed one of the stops in Cuba and replaced it with Key West. Although disappointed, we were still determined to have a great trip and time in Cuba. In the end, we came to port in Cuba at 3 PM and could not get through customs and off the ship until 5 PM. Within 45 minutes the sun set and we never got to visit Havana, Cuba in the daylight. Our entire time spent in Cuba all of the stores were closed and it was darkness. The ship left at 5 AM the next morning. Ultimately we had a few hours in Cuba in the darkness. This does not constitute a “Best of Cuba” experience to me. I have written to the cruise line twice and have receive the same form letter email response each time and they have not addressed my concerns. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
I have cruised with RCCL at least 4 times over the years, on various sized ships, to include the Oasis of the Seas. This past week, we took a short 4D/3N cruise out of Miami, which originally was supposed to go to Bimini (RCCL changed ... Read More
I have cruised with RCCL at least 4 times over the years, on various sized ships, to include the Oasis of the Seas. This past week, we took a short 4D/3N cruise out of Miami, which originally was supposed to go to Bimini (RCCL changed that destination to CocoCay). We arrive to the port terminal, one of their representatives ("German") totally rude, sent us back outside (stated that our standard luggage was too large to go up the escalator), but then allowed the male passenger behind us, to take his larger suitcase thru. So then we are waiting in line in the terminal, the ship and computers in the terminal lose power. Hundreds of passengers were stuck in the terminal, everyone is starting to get hungry, as it's lunch time; in no time, all of the snacks & drinks from the vending machines were depleted. The crew walked in with 7-8 pizzas (it was not for the passengers), after 90 minutes of waiting in line, they brought out a couple 24-bottle packs of water and a tray of cookies. 3-4 hours later, we finally get onboard, but the ship is delayed in leaving Miami by approximately 3 hours, which delays our arrival in Nassau the next morning. Guest services assured all the customers that there would be some sort of compensation (onboard credit, etc.) - but when I called the RCCL to complain of the incident; the lady told me that the "executive leadership has decided NOT to offer any compensation for the incident", and all she could do was apologize. Well, the executive leadership is going to lose a lot of customers, because people save to take vacations, and there are many different cruise lines out there who actually DO appreciate their customers, so maybe they will take notice when folks take their business elsewhere. The food onboard was mediocre, with the exception of Chops Grille (which I paid extra for). They also charge for room service now (to have it delivered), and nickel & dime everything they can. Every morning we ordered french toast, and every morning we had to send it back because it wasn't fully cooked (to the extent that the kitchen staff sent us 4 chocolate covered strawberries on the 3rd day of our cruise, because the chef's couldn't seem to cook the french toast right). In the main diningroom, the items that were good (bread, orange juice, NY Strip steak, baked potato, fresh fruit, and the jumbo shrimp). The marsala chicken was dry (and didn't taste like Marsala at all), the keylime pie - didn't taste like keylime. Excursions were great, except they should be a little longer for the amount of $$ you spend for them (they charge around $100/pp to go to the beach for the day - if you're going to do that, you may as well spend an additional $20-$40 to do an animal encounter, which includes going to the blue lagoon beach in Nassau). CocoCay was far from being a relaxing environment (they are building a pier for ships to dock at, as well as building a big waterpark so they can probably charge extra for that as well). There was the constant noise of golf carts and 4-wheelers (side by side) driving by, the beach BBQ left much to be desired. The beach area is nice and spacious, and it was good that the photographers were out walking around to get pictures of guests. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
1. We chose this cruise to go to Bimini...we had never been. The destination was changed to the private island. I happened to notice the change on the web. It wasn't until a week later that we were notified of the change. 2. The ... Read More
1. We chose this cruise to go to Bimini...we had never been. The destination was changed to the private island. I happened to notice the change on the web. It wasn't until a week later that we were notified of the change. 2. The ship lost power for about an hour on the afternoon of the departure. Many passengers were stranded in the terminal for hours because the check-in program stayed down. The ship finally left the dock after 9 pm. 3. The television was missing the three news channels. We reported this twice...it was not corrected. 4. There seemed to be a bad odor on the ship from the fresh water. We were afraid to use the water in our state room. We got water for tooth brushing. The same odor was often on the decks...possibly from the rinsing of the decks. 5. The food is extremely salty. If you need to ask for a low-salt diet. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this cruise mainly to visit Cuba. We have cruised on many ships with many companies in the past. On this occasion our focus was Cuba and not the ship. We chose the Empress of the seas as it fitted the dates we wished to travel. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly to visit Cuba. We have cruised on many ships with many companies in the past. On this occasion our focus was Cuba and not the ship. We chose the Empress of the seas as it fitted the dates we wished to travel. We are UK residents and were unsure of the visa policy. I contacted Royal Caribbean and basically if you travel from an American port you are treated as an American person visiting Cuba in relation to the visa application. Royal Caribbean kindly sort this out for $75 per person. We boarded the Empress and were pleasantly surprised. Although the ship is older and smaller than some other cruise ships it is in immaculate condition and all members of staff were fantastic. The pool bar is large and we never had to wait to get served. The food at the restaurant and buffet were as per usual standard for Royal Caribbean, very good. We didn't visit chops grill. The ship is not crowded and we spent our time on board just enjoying the peace, the pool and the view. There are bacon and suite rooms but inside or ocean view rooms. We chose an inside room which was great. Very clean and maintained well. Myself, wife and son had lots of laughs and enjoyed the special time we had together. We visited Costa Maya and paid for the water park. $50 for entry and an extra $48 if you want to do the zipwires. We loved this water park. Very different to other ones we have visited but just as much fun. It did help that there was hardly anyone there no queues whatsoever and the staff were very friendly. We have visited Cozumel before and just spent the day walking and having food at a great little restaurant on the front near to the submarine tour office. Also key West which I didn't mention was fantastic. We have been here a few times before. We love Key West. So to the main event Cuba. We booked a private company fertours. The company is run by Fernando and he has many guides and drivers. We arrived in Havana at 1pm. Straight through customs passport stamped for entry for 30 days if required. Zulia our guide took us to all the squares in Havana followed by an open top tour in 1952 Chevy. Later that evening we toured round in a 1952 Chevy Bellaire hardtop with Zulia and driver Joseph. The 9 o clock cannon shot was great and we ended up at the Buena Vista social club. Awe drinks lots of great Cuban music and dancing. The following day we toured further afield to the home of Ernest Hemingway. Lunch at a fabulous Cuban restaurant. We also visited the home of Cuban artist José Foster. This is a must see as he has turned his entire neighbourhood into a beautiful art installation. Back to the ship and return to Miami. Cuba was amazing and I cannot wait to go again. The Empress of the seas also gets top marks. As long as you don't expect loads of restaurants and watermarks like some of the larger ships this is a beautiful ship. All round fantastic cruise. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
The main attraction for the cruise was an overnight stay in Habana. Ports of call Key West, Cozumel, and Mahahual are good if one does his/her own research. The cruise lines call the port near Mahahual "Costa Maya" which does ... Read More
The main attraction for the cruise was an overnight stay in Habana. Ports of call Key West, Cozumel, and Mahahual are good if one does his/her own research. The cruise lines call the port near Mahahual "Costa Maya" which does not exist as a geographical location. There is a fake village where the cruise lines try to siphon the passenger's money. Cozumel is good for snorkeling if the water is calm. There is also a nice Maya archeological site. I never again want to go to the last two places. The cell, aka state room, is the smallest I ever saw. That did not result in a specially low price or limited gratuities. The shower is so small that I can barely reach my feet or pick up an item from the floor. The water pressure is so low that I can barely feel it. The cabinets have no shelves and a few drawers in 2 "chests" are not enough to contain all personal items. RCCL is a model of nickel-and-diming. The drinks are very expensive, mostly $12. The food is medium in quality and taste. I guess that is a push to order specialty items or use the special restaurant. It is known that the cruise lines make much of their profits from the excursions. So I arranged all my own trips, in one case just hiring a taxi for 5 hours and a tour guide for one hour. That way I had better and much cheaper excursions. In Habana we had a day tour and a night tour arranged as private tours by a local agency. We had a tour guide who is a history teacher and who became a friend. That beat all bus tours offered by the cruise line. Habana is good for several visits, especially for overnight stays. We were able to enjoy a first class dinner and a variety show. I wish the cruise lines would offer more 24 hour stays. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
We booked this mainly for the overnight stay in Havana, as had most of our fellow cruisers. We had decided to ‘suffer’ the ship for the Havana experience and boarded with ‘Cuba’ uppermost in our minds. I’ve done many cruises over ... Read More
We booked this mainly for the overnight stay in Havana, as had most of our fellow cruisers. We had decided to ‘suffer’ the ship for the Havana experience and boarded with ‘Cuba’ uppermost in our minds. I’ve done many cruises over the years and ‘Empress’ took me squarely back to my early days of cruising in the late 80’s, which I absolutely LOVED. The size of the ship was perfect - you could ‘see the sea’ on both sides from lots of places on the ship. The promenade deck was practically deserted, with comfy loungers and there was plenty of ROOM everywhere. I was quite often sitting in the jacuzzi on my own and the upper deck pool lounging area always had beds and was quiet, away from the racket of the music by the pool. We sauntered on and off at each port - never any queues. In fact, the only queue was at checkin and the time it took, despite having all documents filled out beforehand. I put it down to the Cuban Visa paperwork, which a lot of cruisers didn’t seem to have filled out. Windjammer was busy in the mornings and at lunch, but there was always a nice space, where we wanted to sit. We LOVED Boleros lounge and the Bamboleo group! We’re avid salsa dancers and boogied the night away, every evening. We had tried to book an outside cabin but the ship was practically full, but even our vibrating bed above the engine room in an inside cabin couldn’t dampen out enthusiasm! We had a ball! If you want bells and whistles, this ship isn’t for you, but for fans of ‘old school’ cruises, it’s PERFECT!!!! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Yes this is an old small ship, but it is well taken care of and the staff is outstanding. We were on the 7-night Oct 11 sailing to Key West, Havana, Cienfuegos & Grand Cayman. Cabin 8026 which is an ocean view. Very small with two ... Read More
Yes this is an old small ship, but it is well taken care of and the staff is outstanding. We were on the 7-night Oct 11 sailing to Key West, Havana, Cienfuegos & Grand Cayman. Cabin 8026 which is an ocean view. Very small with two singles pushed together to make a king. Loved the pillows and linens. Bed was a bit hard. Bathroom is, of course, tiny. But the shower had good pressure and was always instantly hot. Our Cabin Steward Emmanuel was always enthusiastic, welcoming, and kept us well taken care of. Food: Choices are Dining room, buffet, or pay extra for Chops for dinner. We chose the Dining Room for every dinner and except for a very few items that we didn't care for or were not cooked perfectly, we were quite happy with the choices and our selections. Service was flat-out outstanding. Fernando and Dharmendra could not have done a better job! Even though we had my-time dining, we ended up going to dinner on the early side every night...usually around 5:30 and were fortunate enough to always get "our" table for two. 538a (near the kitchen, which might have bothered others, but not us). Favorites were the second night entrees of Duck A L'Orange and the Beef Tenderloin and the Carrot Cake for dessert. Third night's Cuban Chicken Fricassee, Wild Mushroom Risotto and New York Strip were also terrific. Can also recommend the Garlic Tiger Shrimp, the Roasted Poblano Soup,Seafood Cake, Shrimp cocktail, Onion Soup and the Turkey entree The only time we weren't fond of the dining room was for the brunch on sea day. There was a line to get in. Tons of people were coming out, but it took awhile to be seated at a table with others. Food selection included chicken, fish, eggs benedict, pastries, etc. Nothing was overly hot by the time it got back to the table. Probably my fault as I should have selected cold items first. But what lead to a less than pleasant experience was our luck of the draw for table mates as they complained about everything. Windjammer Buffet: We didn't check it out for dinner, but for breakfast and lunch, the days we investigated, most items were the same. There is a whole section dedicated to a variety of burgers, hotdogs and all the fixings for them. Quite good. Pizza was decent and a nice variety. Otherwise, favorite items I discovered were the veggie stuffed potatoes and the Shepherd's Pie, which was my favorite, but I only saw on embarkation day. Breakfast was pretty basic. I liked the already cooked fried eggs. Buffet was pretty crowded, but we never had a problem finding a place to land (especially over by the burger bar). Loved that they made everyone washy washy EVERY time you walked in the door. If only they could keep people from coughy coughy while not covering their mouths. Deluxe Drink Package: We were quite pleased that we had purchased it before sailing. (I grabbed it up when an email offer of 30% off came through). It covered everything we wanted to drink except for one glass of wine that I paid an extra dollar for in the dining room one night. We enjoyed cocktails, wine, many San Pelligrino's and Club Sodas. It was well worth it and Service was fantastic. Wait Staff in the Schooner is especially terrific. We were especially fond of sweet Marita. Nightly entertainment was very good. There were three different comedy acts, an Elvis Impersonator, and the house band, singers and dancers put on terrific shows! We never had a problem getting a seat in the Royal Theatre. A favorite for us was Paul in the Schooner Bar. Great voice, fantastic personality and he can play the heck out of a piano. Great for sing-a-longs and dancing! Casino: There were one to two blackjack tables, both were $6 tables of 5-6. Side bet option was for 20 on your first two cards. I actually had some good luck with that side bet. Even managed to get a pair of Queen of Hearts which paid $125 on a $1 bet. If the dealer had gotten a blackjack on that same deal, it would have paid $1000. Dealers were professional without being too cold. Love And Marriage and The Quest are two "shows" to not miss! Better yet, have fun participating. Pool area: We are not pool people which is a good thing because it was packed most of the time. Overall we were most impressed with the Crew. My one strong dislike is for the restrooms. (can only speak for the women's), but I especially disliked the one outside of Windjammer. It only has two stalls, neither of which is pleasant. Many times the toilets were left unflushed. (sometimes it was hard to get them to flush properly). Ports: Key West is always fun. We did our own thing. Had breakfast at Two Friends.Took a Lyft to the museum that has Robert the Doll. (about an $18 ride before tip) Then took one back to Sloppy Joe's, which is always fun. Shopped a bit. Havana: We had pre-paid a Walking Food Tour of Old Havana, which was terrific. Can highly recommend. Afterward we went to the warehouse down the road from the ship to shop. Whew, they can sell you the moon! Took a horse & carriage ride back to the ship. Was told it would be 10 CUC, but turned out that was per person. A bit misleading, but there was a language barrier. TIP: Bring hand sanitizer with you! We were very sorry to have forgotten to do so. Cienfuegos: Note that you will need patience and time to get off the ship, as it involves tendering, and Cienfuegos doesn't have any tenders, so only the ship ones are used. Plan accordingly if you have a private tour scheduled. We actually decided to hang out on the ship for a lazy day. Our only concern was we had CUC's left that we were going to use or trade in, but the Cruise Director suggested using for tips on the ship, which is what we ended up doing. Grand Cayman: We had pre-booked another private Food Tour. This one took us around the island and included endless rum at a terrific rum factory. NOTE: They never told us on the ship that Cayman time was an hour BEHIND ship time. So we got off way too early. Thought we were being stood up by our tour, only to discover it was 9:15 instead of 10:15. They were so informative about everything else on the ship, that we were baffled as to why they didn't tell us that. Also heads up that a LOT of ships hit this port. There were FIVE the day we arrived, which meant we had to cut our tour short by one stop due to the heavy traffic, so plan accordingly. Beautiful island, and I can highly recommend the tour we took. It was especially useful when we stopped at the rum factory, because our guide got us in just in time to get a private tour, private tasting, then when it got packed with the big ship tours, she made sure we got everything we wanted. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We recently took a cruise to Cuba and had an overnight stop in Havana. Due to a storm, we arrived late in Havana. Fernando from Fertours was very accommodating to us and ensured that we would have our tour guide there to pick us up. We ... Read More
We recently took a cruise to Cuba and had an overnight stop in Havana. Due to a storm, we arrived late in Havana. Fernando from Fertours was very accommodating to us and ensured that we would have our tour guide there to pick us up. We arrived on Tuesday in the late afternoon and our tour guide, Luis, was there to meet us at the agreed upon place. We took convertible old pink cars and saw the Malecon, Revolution Square, status of Jesus, and many other sights during the night. We then switched to air conditioned cars and rode to the Tropicana. The Tropicana show was outstanding. We all really enjoyed the dancing, singing, and costumes. It was so colorful. I would recommend this show to anyone traveling to Havana. After the show, Luis was there to greet us and take us back to the ship. The next day, Luis met us in the San Francisco Square and took us on a tour of Old Havana. He was very knowledgeable about the culture and history of Cuba. We all appreciated his patience with our many questions about Cuba. Luis was also very caring as we had a few older people in the tour and he was sensitive to everyone's needs. Thank you to Fernando and Luis for such an amazing time in Cuba. We learned so much about Cuba and were amazed by all the nice people we met while there. Luis is an EXCELLENT tour guide and I would highly recommend him and Fertours to anyone visiting Havana!! The crew members on the Empress of the Seas were OUTSTANDING and service oriented. I really appreciated that each and every person went out of their way to make our cruise comfortable. Not once did I hear a cruise member say that I would have to ask someone else. Each member took it upon his/herself to find out the answer to my questions. I would like to call out the following crew members: Emilio from the Specialty Shops always greeted me with a smile and went out of his way to answer any questions. Malache, Rodlee, and Yan from the Dining Room made each night a special one when we went to dinner. They went out of their way to make each meal a unique experience. The nightly entertainment was really good as well. We enjoyed the different singers, dancers, comedians, and the ventriloquist. Also, a special call out to the Captain of the Empress of the Seas. He did a great job in maneuvering the ship during a hurricane. I would highly recommend the Empress of the Seas and the excellent crew members. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose this cruise because it was two full days in Havana. The ship is much older and smaller than ships I’ve been on. Perhaps due to this, even though I was wearing a patch I felt unsteady and dizzy most of the trip. Additionally ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was two full days in Havana. The ship is much older and smaller than ships I’ve been on. Perhaps due to this, even though I was wearing a patch I felt unsteady and dizzy most of the trip. Additionally having made reservations through Cruises.com we were never informed we would be getting an obstructed view cabin. There aren’t any balconies on the ship so ocean view was our only choice. The room was cramped due to the fact that additional loft type beds were on both sides of our bed so we had to crouch into bed. That being said the crew was wonderful and the food and service were great! The drinks are expensive so consider the beverage package if you are a drinker! Shore excursions aren’t cheap but necessary in Havana. The Tropicana Night club was $199 per person and not worth it! Beautiful costumes and great dancers but overall a little dated Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
I rate this cruise 1/10 Guest relation desk not helpful at all Room tiny, not suitable for one person Room can not fit one bag Restroom very small Rooms facilities are minimal, no facial tissue box, no fridge ... Read More
I rate this cruise 1/10 Guest relation desk not helpful at all Room tiny, not suitable for one person Room can not fit one bag Restroom very small Rooms facilities are minimal, no facial tissue box, no fridge Communication among the staff are not statisfactory Window stateroom 4520 is a tube and not a window although we paid for a window stateroom Very noisy room because of the engines Excursions are not successful eapecially in cienfuegos Bahamas was an alternate stop, no excursions was published Excursion disembarkation is awful had to wait 3 hrs to get off in cientfuegos Night Shows are basic Check in is quick Food is nice Dinner restaurant is nice Cleaning and hygien is high Staff/waiters are nice but limited responsibility Onboard shopping is basic Entertainment is very basic Pool is small 3 Jacuzzi are good Save your money for better cruise or other RC ship Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We just got back from the 8 day "Cuba Immersion" cruise on Empress of the Seas. We are long-time Royal Caribbean cruisers and have done all the ship classes. By far (like a factor or 2) this is the smallest boat in the fleet. ... Read More
We just got back from the 8 day "Cuba Immersion" cruise on Empress of the Seas. We are long-time Royal Caribbean cruisers and have done all the ship classes. By far (like a factor or 2) this is the smallest boat in the fleet. By no means did it feel like we were missing anything. The facts are, the staff more than made up for the ship size in the quality of food, service, and access to really cool ports. The cabins are small, we had a junior suite, which was nice - but it was about the size of any other balcony. Our friends had an "ocean view", which was just a window, so go in expecting small and older and you'll be fine. Don't expect a modern fancy ship. But this one is clean, well equipped and has all the basics. We visited Havana, Cienfuegos (Trinidad) and Santiago de Cuba. In looking at these ports, there's really no practical way to think a larger could not even get into these ports. In the port entry to Santiago de Cuba, the ship almost reaches power lines going over the water. So, in all fairness, Royal NEEDS to run a smaller boat here. The food was great, probably some of the best we've had on Royal and the size allowed us to get to know some of the service staff. We thoroughly enjoyed it. The facilities are small but adequate. Now, on Cuba, don't expect fancy or beaches. Cuba is 60 years behind. Go to Cuba because you want to learn about Cuba not to be pampered. If you want to be pampered go on another cruise and don't complain about this one. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This was the best way to see Havana. Two days in port and it was so easy to get on and off the ship and in an out of Havana! Wonderful time. It was like going back in time to 1959! One of the best trips I have been on and will go back ... Read More
This was the best way to see Havana. Two days in port and it was so easy to get on and off the ship and in an out of Havana! Wonderful time. It was like going back in time to 1959! One of the best trips I have been on and will go back for sure! Everybody was so worried about the paperwork to get into the country and it was easy and nobody really checked. The ship took it at the Miami port and that was it. It really is for the US and you to hold for up to five years in case you would get audited. The exchange process was easy and I used Euros to get a better rate as US dollars get a 10% reduction off the top! The visa process the ship handled and it was billed to the onboard account. You give to the Cuban officials when you leave the ship the first time and that is it. You can take up to 100 cigars per person and a liter of rum per person. Lots of great cigar stores but go to the authentic. Casa De Habanos for the best! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
My husband and I had a last minute opportunity to take this cruise. We picked it solely for the itinerary because it had an overnight in Havana. We loved it! Fair warning, if you are choosing this ship solely for the ship experience ... Read More
My husband and I had a last minute opportunity to take this cruise. We picked it solely for the itinerary because it had an overnight in Havana. We loved it! Fair warning, if you are choosing this ship solely for the ship experience and looking for something new and modern, you will be disappointed. The ship is smaller and one of the older boats in RC's fleet. Overall we enjoyed ourselves, but again, we were not on this boat because it was shiny and new. It is clean and well kept. The staff are all wonderful. Embarkation and debarkation were a breeze. The staff (customer service, dining, bartenders, stateroom steward, etc...) were amazingly kind, helpful, and friendly. We really enjoyed the food on this ship...both in the main dining room and Chops Grill. The buffet was your typical buffet and was decent overall. They also have a really great wine selection on this boat! And for the best pina colada, go to the Schooner bar and ask for a topper of Meyer's dark rum. Amazing! We didn't see any of the shows since that usually isn't our thing. Since it was an overnight in Havana, we did the cigar factory tour one day and a walking tour the next (that included stops at La Bodeguita and El Floridita. Sidenote, if those bars are on your agenda, I recommend seeing them through an excursion rather than going on your own. With an excursion, they will open early for the group and it is less crowded - - AND they include a mojito or daiquiri. If you opt to go on your own later in the day, there are lines and crowds at both spots). We really enjoyed both excursions. Always felt safe, and the air-conditioned bus for the cigar tour was a plus. After both excursions, we opted to explore on our own with some destinations we had mapped out in advance. We found some wonderful restaurants, cigar shops/speakeasies, and just enjoyed walking Havana. The cabins are fine. Hopefully, if you are heading to Havana you won't be spending much time in it anyway. While outdated and nothing fancy, it was clean. The bed was comfortable. We had an oceanview stateroom and felt it was good for two people. Had we brought our two kids, I don't know that I would have felt the same way. Speaking of kids, we opted not to have our 8 year old and 5 year old join us for this trip. The boat isn't super family-focused (although we did see quite a few kids!), and our agenda included lots of walking and exploring. Call me selfish, but I didn't want anyone asking me for snacks or whining that they were tired of walking. We come from a desert climate, so the pool and extra sun weren't really on our agenda. From what we could tell, the pool was small and underwhelming, but again, this is an older and smaller ship. Also, something random I noticed is that the staff on this boat really promote handwashing/hand sanitizing among the guests. It was kind of nice to see staff constantly reminding guests to clean their hands before entering restaurants and the buffet (and sad at how many guests try to skirt by without doing it). We have been on other cruises where the signs are there, but they aren't really enforced. So I give this boat extra points for trying to keep everyone healthy! Coincidentally, we had another cruise planned on another line later in the month for a family celebration. It was on a larger and newer ship. Being able to compare the two, my husband and I actually preferred our overall experience on the Empress vs the other carrier. Highly recommend this boat and itinerary if Cuba is at the top of your list! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We wanted to see Cuba while we still could.We had a very good embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly and was well organized. The ship is smaller and we liked it. The ship is older and is probally updated the most it can be for her ... Read More
We wanted to see Cuba while we still could.We had a very good embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly and was well organized. The ship is smaller and we liked it. The ship is older and is probally updated the most it can be for her size. Our cabin was clean and what we expected for the price we paid we were not disappointed. We were on deck 3. We usually are on an upper deck. We understand that the ship was filled to capacity however we never felt crowded. The dining was very good actually better then most of the bigger ships. The food in the dining room was very good and the service was excellent. It was fast and our server Inyoman was very attentive. The food in the windjammer was good the breakfast bar however could try to remember the first in first out rule when serving potato's and some items that can get dry if left to long. kudos to the windjammer food prep for the variety of veggies and the great ribs. And the menu changed most nights. I thought it was very good. Also the late night dining was open and we never had a time when food wasn't available. They opened the dinning at 10:30 PM and it was open until late with quite a few choices to keep one satisfied. The vegas show was good and the comedy show was very good. Shore excursions through the ship in cuba were expensive. So i would recommend booking on your own online and paying in person DO NOT DEPOSIT. We booked at home the old cars tour. It was great we saw a lot of the area although the driver spoke very little english it allowed us to see cuba Havana and know where we wanted to go the next day. WE had drinks in Cuba and they were inexpensive and very good in a local cafe. Mojitos. Of course Mexico is fun in cozumel and the excursions are well planned and both on the ship and at the pier you can find good deals and because cozumel has been providing these excursions for a long time you will get an organized and well planned excursion sometimes repetition has its value. All of the things we did were well worth the money we paid for them. We have been there several times. It is safe in cozumel. Yes i would take this cruise again. Hope i helped you all Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
We are savvy travelers and usually cruise for the destination, not to necessarily for ship activities. With an elderly mother and toddler- we thought a cruise was the best way to get to Cuba. Our experience in Cuba was great and exactly ... Read More
We are savvy travelers and usually cruise for the destination, not to necessarily for ship activities. With an elderly mother and toddler- we thought a cruise was the best way to get to Cuba. Our experience in Cuba was great and exactly as expected. Safe, fascinating but with limited resources. Have been to other communist countries (e.g., former USSR in 1988) and wasn't surprised at all. As for the ship, it was OK. No frills, limited activities for sea days but really just enough for our objective. Pool was very.very crowded but a small spray park was great for our daughter. The ship was old and showed it- rust, stains etc- but crew really did their best. Our room was dingy and worn, but clean and really just fine. I'd liken to a suburban Quality Inn. The comedy show was fun- wish there were more shows on our trip! Our only real complaint was the food. We never sailed Royal Caribbean before but honestly our cheapo Carnival Cruise to Mexico was better with food. The staff tries- but you can tell the quality of ingredients is low. When fruit doesn't include any fresh berries, buffet is same every single day and things like nuts and smoked salmon are just missing- its not for me. However, the pastry dessert staff gets five stars... Really, the desserts were very good- different every day and really nice quality. Read Less
Empress of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.5
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 2.5 3.4
Family 2.0 3.4
Shore Excursion 4.5 3.8
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.8

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