6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We choose this cruise because of Cuba, and stayed with new itinerary (Costa Maya/Cozumel) after Cuba closure on June 5th. Each person received 50% of their cruise fare credited to their seapass card. Which wasn’t right, it should’ve ... Read More
We choose this cruise because of Cuba, and stayed with new itinerary (Costa Maya/Cozumel) after Cuba closure on June 5th. Each person received 50% of their cruise fare credited to their seapass card. Which wasn’t right, it should’ve been credited back to main account holder. The ship is small and it smelled like sewer by main elevators for the duration of the cruise. It has 1main dining room. Lido deck buffet was very limited in selection.The pool was drained every evening for maintenance. If you are sitting anywhere else besides poolside, be prepared to never see waitstaff. We had an interior cabin, super compact, beds were comfortable. Tv had only 4 channels and 3 of them were of RC ads. The bathroom was very small, had a couple of corner shelves for our personal items. The toilet flooded every night. We were told to flush throughout the night to keep it from overflowing. The same activities every night at the 2 bars on board, Boleros had karaoke for 1hr every night, Played live music for about 3hrs every afternoon. Schooner had piano player couple of hrs every night. The theater nightly act was either a comedian, a dance show or a movie, fairly entertaining. One thing for sure is that we won’t be booking this ship again, and maybe not even RC. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
I chose this cruise due to its sailing date and my school schedule. I figured an 8 night cruise would be a good way to finish my summer before returning to class full time. When we were approaching the ship it was dirty with rust staining ... Read More
I chose this cruise due to its sailing date and my school schedule. I figured an 8 night cruise would be a good way to finish my summer before returning to class full time. When we were approaching the ship it was dirty with rust staining by the anchors. We were told we were getting an upgrade when we arrived to the port as we had requested it and they said the employees at the port can get you into your upgraded room. When we checked in we were told there wouldn’t be an upgrade like the employee said there would be. So we went to our room and it was very tiny and hard to navigate with both people in it. Once we were settled in the room we went to explore the ship some. We went to get a quick snack then walk some more after that. The pool was about the size of my living room. Our luggage was held for a while too, for no reason that could be explained but we know it can be chaos too sometimes. As we were sailing out of port we noticed a rather strong sewage smell on the pool deck. We went back inside and finished walking the ship and finding things to do(which wasn’t much). We went back to the room and showered, the water was presently warm, the only down side was it didn’t drain quickly. I asked our steward why it wasn’t draining fast and he said it’s an older ship, which I understand and said thanks, he did say if it starts to spill out to let him know and they would definitely fix it at one of the ports. We went to bed relatively early due to the fact we had to drive from Daytona down to Miami. When I woke up the next morning it was due to the fact my hip was in pain(have had 2 procedures done on it at 25) which isn’t their issue, the room steward got me an additional pillow to put under my hip with a blanket which I was very grateful for! I went and had some breakfast and sat up on the front deck to wake up some and enjoy the ocean and nice breeze. With the days at sea it usually was a better idea to go to the pool early if possible or late before it closed as it was pretty crowded. If you were on the pool deck you got a smell of sewage, if you went up to the bow area it was fine as you were up wind. We had met some friends and had a few drinks with the day at sea and planned for the first stop at Coco Cay. When we arrived into Coco Cay it was overcast which was AMAZING as it had a nice breeze and would have been rather hot. We walked around did some shopping and enjoyed the lounge chairs on the beach. Our next stop was in San Juan Puerto Rico. We got into Puerto Rico in the afternoon which didn’t leave too much time to explore. I definitely would consider going back to Puerto Rico when there was more time to explore as there was TONS to see! I was headed to the Windjammer Cafe and stopped by the restroom. When I walked in the urinals were overflowing onto the floor(it happened rather frequently at least daily from what I saw). I went and notified the staff who said they’ll address the issue soon. I went to eat dinner they only had water and tea to drink, so I ate dinner and decided to go buy the drink package. We decided to tough out the smell and join people down on the pool deck to have a drink and talk about the next stop. When we got to St. Croix we went on a dive excursion, it was extremely well priced and the staff running it were great too! There are some shops there that have very unique things to buy which was also nice. Upon entering the boat after our day of exploring I went to shower and get freshened up. We decided to go get dinner and head up to the bow area to enjoy the departure. When we got into the cafe they had a chef making meals for everyone. We gave him four tries at cooking food and it still didn’t click and come out right. He kept adding additional things that we didn’t want even though we were standing there saying yes and no to ingredients, partially due to an allergy. I sat up on the bow and did some work on my laptop and enjoyed the night. Our next stop was St. Thomas! When we left the ship we walked some and also did a van excursion and met up with some people we know in the area! The staff were very friendly, they also let us experience how some of the natives do things! Once we were done for the day we headed back to the boat. Some of the iguanas were rather tame, I got to pet one that was randomly roaming. (We have exotic animals at our home) We had two days at sea on the way back to Miami. Unfortunately we had to make an emergency stop in Nassau, hopefully the passenger was okay. Overall I would like to recommend RCI, I wouldn’t recommend the Empress of The Seas. The sewage smell was horrendous, the ship was rather old and dingy, and the amenities were sub par. Our steward was absolutely amazing! He helped make this cruise halfway tolerable. Next time I sail I will definitely be looking at all the reviews of the ships and cruise line making sure the room is in fact the room we want. This was not a good first experience on RCI. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This was our 46th cruise and we are Diamond members. Allow me to begin this revie with The pros: The service was the best of any cruise ship we have ever been on. The staff was eager to please. The production shows were terrific. ... Read More
This was our 46th cruise and we are Diamond members. Allow me to begin this revie with The pros: The service was the best of any cruise ship we have ever been on. The staff was eager to please. The production shows were terrific. Very professionally done and entertaining. The ship was in good shape considering the fact that it is almost 30 years old. The cons: There was a sewerage smell the entire five days on the ship. The food in the buffet was just plain BAD. Same food every day, very limited selection and it was not tasty. Food in the main dining room was just OK. Our outside cabin was more like a closet. When getting off the bed, we had to walk sideways. No ref ridge in cabin. Very little drawer space. We found the drinks in the Schooner bar to be watered down. Much better drinks when ordered in main dining room. Our waiter Milton and Head waiter Nick were excellent. the embarkation and debarkation was very fast and orderly. The embargo on Cuba began while we were docked in Havana. We left the following day and learned that we were the last ship to leave Cuba. The country itself was run down as the communist government owned everything. We learned that they pay Medical Doctors $53 per week so most of them have to hold additional part time jobs. Our tour guide was an engineer with a Doctorate degree but claimed she made more money as a tour guide because of the tips. I would normally rate this ship as 3 stars, but because of the smell, I cannot rate it better than 2 stars Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We wanted to go to Cuba and I had always loved RC. However, this was the a terrible ship. The smell of sewage was overwhelming. During the disembark the crew blamed the smell on Keywest. If I weren't a local Floridan I might have ... Read More
We wanted to go to Cuba and I had always loved RC. However, this was the a terrible ship. The smell of sewage was overwhelming. During the disembark the crew blamed the smell on Keywest. If I weren't a local Floridan I might have believed them. Also, it didnt explain the gut wrenching smell on the 4th floor at sea. The room was a interior nightmare. The ceiling was multi-colored stained old smoke room. The Anniversary package we purchased was late and left a lot to be desired. The AC was broken , except for 1 night out of 5. The bathroom , had old scum on the walls and the previous guest hair hanging from the shower head - upon arrival. The carpet was definitely in need of replacement. The door handle to the bathroom had several screws sticking out - that took the crew 3 days to repair. Into say the room was a let down was completely and understatement. The whole room needs a scrub down and new paint The ports were excellent . Keywest, cozumel and Cuba. The excursions we had to cancel because of running late / lack of information were quickly resolved and the staff were very helpful. The pool bars and staff were overwhelmed and it showed. The crew is usually upbeat and get the party started. Unfortunately, this crew looked over worked and stressed. They weren't going out of their way to show a smile or make you feel important. The wind jammer had standard cruise buffet food. The only happy person was the washy-washy young lady. They guarded the ice cream machine with the smallest cones, I'd ever seen. My poor boyfriend resorted to getting two at a time. The main dining room was just blah... the crew again looked stressed and asked me to give a positive review. Just kinda hoped for more since I'm a seasoned cruiser and this was my boyfriend's 1st cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise as a replacement for the trip that we were to take last year when I ended up in the ER. Trip did not start out well when they cancelled our flight at the last minute (Southwest). When we finally arrived at the ship we ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a replacement for the trip that we were to take last year when I ended up in the ER. Trip did not start out well when they cancelled our flight at the last minute (Southwest). When we finally arrived at the ship we were hungry and exhausted. We waited over 2 hours to be able to get to our room. We were very surprised when we saw how small the ship was and the fact that there was only 1 pool that could maybe hold 18 people at best. We never got to use the pool. My husband had always wanted to see Cuba which is why we took this trip. It would have been nice if the Cruise Line had told us that they had booked us a day in Cuba when everything was closed due to Holiday. Why would a cruise line book a day in a port where everything was closed? Unbelievable!!! This was supposed to be the high light of our trip. Our room was the smallest room that we have ever seen or been in, you could not even turn in the shower but the water was hot. Thank God. The Schoonover bar smelt like raw sewage for at least 2 days. I almost got sick from the smells. The food in dining room was about a 3. One night my ice cream was delivered to me soupy. I do not like to drink my ice cream. :(We were shorted our time in Key West. it started with 11 hours and ended up getting only 5 1/2 hours. felt very rushed. Thank God we had been there previously. The scheduled port times, the ship, the room and the food was the worst that we have ever had on any cruise that we been on. This girl may be done cruising. This was my 6th cruise and 4th with Royal. No longer Royal. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Let’s begin with what I now regard as a “Bait & Switch” maneuver from RCCL. They sold us a “Best of Cuba” cruise with three ports in Cuba including Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos and an overnight in Havana. Santiago ... Read More
Let’s begin with what I now regard as a “Bait & Switch” maneuver from RCCL. They sold us a “Best of Cuba” cruise with three ports in Cuba including Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos and an overnight in Havana. Santiago has been closed since the middle of 2018. We booked our cruise with these three ports advertised, in November of 2018. We were not notified of the change in itinerary. We only discovered the new itinerary in March of this year during our early check-in process. Of course, Royal Caribbean covers themselves through their cruise contract that states that Itineraries are subject to change at any time. But they are still selling (to this very day) a port that they know full well is not available to their ships! I find that to be deceitful. So, after day 4 of an 8-day cruise, we reach our first Cuban port of Cienfuegos. The original itinerary had us docking at 7:00am and so we booked a private tour to Trinidad with that in mind. We docked at 8:00am and were told that tender tickets would not be handed out before 9:00am and we would not be disembarking until 10:00am. The cruise line contracts with tour companies on the island that are owned and operated by the Cuban government, so the Shore excursions get priority over everybody else. After pleading with the Crown and Anchor manager, Andy, (our Elite Captain’s club status on Celebrity transferred to Diamond status on RCCL) and meeting with the guest relations supervisor, and several other pleadings, they agreed to let us off around 8:30am. Other passengers weren’t so lucky. We met a couple who didn’t get off until 11:00am and their tour basically consisted of a ride to Trinidad where they met our guide, had lunch and returned to the ship. Total time ashore – 7 hours. Day 5 at sea. Around 4 am we heard an emergency alert over the PA system of the ship. Later that morning, we learned it was a medical emergency and that we would have to turn around and head for Grand Cayman to medivac a passenger. New ETA to Havana 3:00pm; 8 hours later than planned. Day 6 of this 8 days “Best of Cuba” cruise, we finally arrive in Havana at 4:00pm. With the same departure time set for the following day. Total time in port – 24hrs. We stood in line for one and a half hours at the gangway on deck 5 before we could disembark in Havana. We met our guide at 5:00pm, 8 hours later than planned so our whole day Havana tour turned into 4 hours. In total we were in port 32 hours out of an 8 day “Best of Cuba” cruise that was scheduled for three ports including one overnight. Now to the ship. The Empress of the Seas. We did our research and read the review. We lowered our expectations knowing that the cruise ship wasn’t the object of this cruise. The Itinerary was. We expected the staterooms to be small, perhaps not as small and cramped as they were as one cannot get in the bed without ducking under the bunk upon each side of the walls or turn around in the tiniest of showers. You can’t open the bathroom door and the closet at the same time. One blocks the other. So I’m not going to whine about size. It seems that Royal Caribbean has put no effort and no money into maintaining this vessel. The lounge chairs with their plastic straps are straight out of an old Vegas off-strip motel poolside. The entertainment and activities for three and a half sea days was disappointing. The food in the dining room and in the buffet was mediocre at best and repetitive. The menus were misleading as their dishes are misnamed and therefore underwhelming. If you’re going to call something a Vol au vent and present a flat piece of soggy pastry in sauce on a plate, be prepared to disappoint. Same with describing a rum soaked sponge cake and serving a dinner roll soaked in syrup masquerading as a Baba au rum. This was our fifteenth cruise. Our first on Royal Caribbean, and also our last. We talked with several other frequent cruisers of other cruise lines and they had the same reaction as we had. Never Again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
I, like many of my shipmates, chose this cruise specifically because it visited three Cuban ports: Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, and Havana. As MANY others have noted in previous reviews, RCI advertises these ports, knowing full well that ... Read More
I, like many of my shipmates, chose this cruise specifically because it visited three Cuban ports: Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, and Havana. As MANY others have noted in previous reviews, RCI advertises these ports, knowing full well that for at least the past six months, they cannot port in Santiago. They continue to advertise three Cuban ports, and then literally as soon as final payments are paid, the RCI website is updated to show that in fact you won't be visiting Santiago: the ship will stop somewhere else instead. In our case, it was Cozumel, Mexico. Since most Caribbean cruisers have been to Cozumel before, this wasn't a particularly attractive alternative. RCI doesn't do its guests the courtesy of notifying them of this change. I only found out via the CruiseCritic roll call for the cruise. So if you are interested in this cruise, be forewarned: you will probably NOT visit three ports in Cuba. There was, for us, only one positive about this cruise: the crew. With the exception of the cruise director (whom none of us saw at any point in the 7-day cruise, even being out and about all the time!), the crew were friendly, helpful and really just an amazing bunch of people. They made up for many (but not all) of the many shortcomings of this ship (and RCI in general.) MANY NEGATIVES: where to begin? Let's start with the cabin. We had an inside (see below). Another problem? The food is average AT BEST: and often downright bad. We're not fussy by any means, but of the seven meals, 3 of them were awful (we couldn't even eat them), 2 meals were mediocre, and only 2 were average in taste and quality. Our dining room waiters did their best: always asking if we wanted something else, and so on, but we don't like to waste food, so we just figured (on several nights) to have a bit of a "fast"..... The dining rooms (both the main Starlight areas and the Windjammer buffet) are horribly overcrowded, with tables pushed so close together that you literally had your neighbors' chairs up against the backs of yours. They are also VERY understaffed: they need at least 50% more servers in both areas. We like to talk with our servers and get to know them a bit, but they were so busy that they rarely had time to even slow down, much less stop! The swimming pool is a joke. First of all, it's a uniform depth of 1,80m (a bit over six feet). It is VERY small and because it has no shallow area, older people tend to just sit on the edge with their legs in the water. This makes getting into and out of the pool a real challenge, and once you're in the pool, you have to keep swimming, because you can't stop anywhere on the sides (with all those dangling legs!) Maybe 20 people (if they crowd close together) can sit around the sides, and only 10 or so can "swim" (by which I mean tread water in a very confined space.) Finally, it's a salt-water pool, so if (like us) you don't care for salt-water pools, you won't enjoy this one. We went in on the first day and never went back: it was always very crowded. The casino onboard has an interesting two-level design, which we liked. There are a couple of things you need to know about the casino, however. First of all, it is completely non-smoking. Not a problem for us, but for many, this will be a disappointment. The other thing we didn't care for was the fact that about 75% of the slot machines are old: and I mean 20+ years old! Some of them still use coins, believe it or not, that's how old they are! Many have buttons that don't work, or are out of order for "maintenance". If you plan on playing the slots, you cannot charge to your "SeaPass" card. You have three options: bring cash (USD) with you; use the ATM to get money (for a $6.95 fee); or go to the cashier and charge it to your SeaPass (for a 5% fee). So if you are going to get more than $107 to gamble with, use the ATM. The fee is actually better than getting it at the cashier's. Generally, though, we were bored with the selection of machines after 2 days. Honestly, going to this casino is like going to a small "locals" casino in Las Vegas: lots of old, tired machines, and really low payouts. Another irritating aspect of this cruise is the way RCI has two levels of customer service when it comes to shore excursions. This is particularly true in Cuba. If you are booked on an RCI excursion, you get off the ship first. But if you have made independent plans, tough luck. You have to wait on the ship until all of RCI's "customers" (as they put it) have left the ship. Then you can go (unless you are in Cienfuegos: then you have to get a "tender ticket" and wait even longer for your turn.) So for example, we arrived in Havana at 0700. Because we had private tours, we couldn't get off the ship until 0930. So you may want to schedule any private tours for later in the morning (i.e. when it's getting hotter!) because if you had an 0900 tour, you'd probably miss it in Havana. We did one ship excursion, the "Chichen Itza Mixed Reality" tour from Cozumel. We had not been to Chichen Itza, and it's a long trip, so we thought a ship tour was safer in terms of getting back in time. The description of the tour is quite a bit different from the reality: the virtual reality they offer is in fact a slide show on a tablet, that you do with the guide on the long bus ride to the site. The guide and driver were excellent, but we only had 90 minutes at the site, out of an 8-hour excursion. As to the Cuban ports, the town center of Cienfuegos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, though I honestly can't imagine why, unless perhaps UNESCO felt like Cuba ought to have a site or two. The best way to see the "sights" in Cienfuegos is to hop on the little Transtur tourist (covered open-air) train that departs every 45 minutes or so from the pier. It's a 40-minute tour, costs 5 CUC (Cuban convertible pesos), and makes a lengthy stop at Jose Marti Square (where all the "UNESCO" sites are located.) Then it continues on to Punta Gorda, where all the rich government officials and other revolutionaries live, and goes past some of the beautiful old hotels and the Palacio Valle and along the Malecon. You can walk to Jose Marti Square from the pier, but many of the roads are rough, unpaved, and you have to run the gauntlet of touts selling pedi-cab or horse-drawn carriage or "classic car" tours. We found Havana to be amazingly underwhelming, and certainly not deserving of the hype we'd read before our trip. Again, a few well-maintained (tourist-oriented) streets surround by squalid, dirty, rather smelly neighborhoods with decaying buildings and a lot of poor people living the socialist dream. No, we're not political at all, but the irony to us (as Europeans) of the failure of the revolutionary ideals was very sad. Embarkation and disembarkation were fairly lengthy experiences. Long lines, long waits, and once you did get on the ship, all of the cabin areas were closed off, with signs saying, "Cabins will be available after 1330." Our luggage did not arrive until just before dinner. RCI transfers are a joke. At disembarkation, we did "self-assist" so as to catch the schedule 0815 transfer to Fort Lauderdale airport. We waited in line for 30 minutes, then finally got off the ship and walked to the bus. We sat on the bus for 90 minutes before leaving at 1000! The ship itself is old and very tired, despite the fact that it just came out of a "refurbishment" at the end of March 2019. We couldn't see much that looked like it had been upgraded or updated: perhaps they just put in more tables and chairs in the dining areas, and renovated the cabins for the officers and the cruise director. To us, Empress of the Seas seemed like a ship that needs to be completely rebuilt, possibly for one of the luxury lines. It certainly is nothing more than a cash cow for RCI, because they don't seem to be spending any money on facilities or crew. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Empress of the Seas Cruise Evaluation (March 17-25, 2019) March 17, 2019: We were among the very first to check in for our cruise after arriving at the Pier at about 10.30 am. Our taxi found the Terminal G where Empress of the Seas ... Read More
Empress of the Seas Cruise Evaluation (March 17-25, 2019) March 17, 2019: We were among the very first to check in for our cruise after arriving at the Pier at about 10.30 am. Our taxi found the Terminal G where Empress of the Seas was docked. We did not receive any communication on the exact terminal except that the ship will be at the Port of Miami. In any case, we were upbeat, and we were delighted in finding the terminal. Our delight was however short lived when we stood at the check-in counter for at least ten minutes waiting for the computer to reboot. It was a premonition of additional negative experiences during the cruise. The check in for the fire drill was so outdated. Instead of scanning our cruise cards, one of the cruise staff was checking off names on a sheet of paper! We had our first dinner at Starlight on Deck 5, and I was handed a menu with food stain on its already faded words. It seemed that the menu has lived beyond its life span and was old enough to be discarded. Our table was besides the window, and we requested that the window drapes be lowered down to prevent sunlight from blinding our eyes. But the drapes’ strings were broken, and the waiter had to pull it down by force! We headed back to our cabin after the evening show. I called housekeeping for two additional pillows. When the pillows were not delivered an hour later, I called again. We waited for another 20 minutes. I called the third time. It was already late in the evening, and we wanted to sleep. The pillows were finally delivered to our room after we were about to doze off to our dreams. Altogether, we waited for 2 hours for the pillows. March 18, 2019: We went to Windjammer for breakfast, and sat at a corner waiting for service, but no server came. There were waiters serving in other sections, but they never seemed to see us (and others) sitting at another section. We decided to get our own drinks instead. We didn’t meet our cabin steward until this evening when he saw us going into our room. He asked us for our names, and checked his list for our names. Unlike our cruises on Princess where the cabin steward visited us as soon as we checked in, greeted us with our names correctly, and introduced himself/herself, making us feel welcome. There was no nameplate in our room indicating the name of the cabin steward. March 20, 2019: We arrived at Cienfuegos this morning, but we were required to tender in. We have never seen such a mess in getting the tender tickets. First, we signed our names on a sheet of paper, and then we returned to have our names called in order to receive the tender tickets. There was so much confusion because we could hardly hear the person calling out names. Why would they required us to sign our names, and then be seated to have our names called was beyond our comprehension. The arrangement was insane. Why couldn’t they just hand out the tender tickets when we came into the waiting room? March 21, 2019: We were told just minutes before arriving at Cayman Island that the ship would not be docking at George Town as originally planned due to weather conditions. The ship was then docked off Sports Bay, and we were tendered in. We were told through the intercom communications that shuttle buses were available to take us into town due to the change of the docking station. We took the tender onto the shore. There was, however, no shuttle bus to take us into town. We were instead required to take a taxi into town at a cost of US$6.00 per person per trip. For two of us, it would mean an additional $24.00 (to and back from town). That was a surprise to us. Other cruise lines would provide complimentary shuttle services when there is a change in an itinerary. No announcement was made on having to pay for our shuttle into town. If the captain has alerted us to this arrangement, we would be at least more forgiving. After lingering for a few minutes on the shore, we decided to return to the ship along with other dissatisfied passengers. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Went on this cruise for several reasons, first cruise,never been to Key West and Cuba and travel with friends. For some reason Key West was changed to Grand Cayman, not happy. Once onboard the staff at every step of cruise did all they ... Read More
Went on this cruise for several reasons, first cruise,never been to Key West and Cuba and travel with friends. For some reason Key West was changed to Grand Cayman, not happy. Once onboard the staff at every step of cruise did all they could to make you feel comfortable. They were knowledgeable and helpful. The ship is old and showed it's age. There was constant maintenance being done such as painting,replacing windows and repairing plumbing issues in bathrooms. By the way bathrooms were smelling like urine. The ice cream machines were constantly breaking down and some became inoperable. The pool did not open until the second day and the whirlpool after first day did not open any more. The entertainment was good to great as it was diversified. Something for everyone. The positive side of sailing on a small ship was the opportunity to meet new folks. Will cruise again but definitely not on Empress of The Seas. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this particular cruise in order to go to Cuba, one of only 2 that do so for Royal Caribbean. However, we were very disappointed at the condition of the ship in general. It had just come out of a 30 day drydock for repairs but was ... Read More
We chose this particular cruise in order to go to Cuba, one of only 2 that do so for Royal Caribbean. However, we were very disappointed at the condition of the ship in general. It had just come out of a 30 day drydock for repairs but was definitely still not ready to provide a comfortable cruising experience. It had multiple plumbing leaks/issues often causing a strong smell of sewage in the common areas as well as stairwells on many levels being entirely closed as they tore out walls to fix these problems. There was also often a strong diesel or fuel odor in casino and other common areas. The hot tubs never worked the entire cruise and even the pools were closed the first few days. Many times deck areas were closed as they were painting decks/railings in frequently used areas that should have been done in drydock so as not to inconvenience customers. Many passengers suffered with lack of hot water or AC in their cabins, several even in the higher end junior suites. No AC also happened in common areas that became so uncomfortable you had to leave a function to find relief. Royal also did not provide a Diamond club on this particular trip and limited their loyal customers with only 3 drinks during the usual Diamond club hours--that was it!! However, Royal used to provide the Viking Lounge as the Diamond club on previous cruises on this very same ship, an area which never seems to be used much in general anyway and would have worked well again as a Diamond Club---is Royal starting to cheap out??!! Wouldn't recommend taking this particular ship and never will sail on it again myself. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
just back from recent Cuba cruise...emerald level on Royal's loyalty program and have to say I am not likely to cruise Royal again. Have not cruised for the last two years and my previous two cruises experiences were going downhill ... Read More
just back from recent Cuba cruise...emerald level on Royal's loyalty program and have to say I am not likely to cruise Royal again. Have not cruised for the last two years and my previous two cruises experiences were going downhill but they tanked this time. Poor menu in the dining room. Lots of fried foods and french fries? Are you kidding me? In the dining room? A greek salad served with no oregano or lemon juice and green olives instead of kalamata (when they had kalamata available at the Windjammer) and a caprese salad without basil? Service has gone downhill too while expense has increased. Bought a 10 drink card for draft Heineken and 4 days into cruise they ran out and then had to fight with every bartender to honour it in some way? Late dinner seating and almost all the entertainment geared toward early seating. On a bright note had a great room attendant and decent dining room service who were a bit embarrassed by the menu and our complaints. I started cruising in the early 2000's because you received great service with great food while all inclusives were struggling to come anywhere close. Lately I have found it reversed...all inclusives have discovered great service and great food and I am getting more for my vacation dollar with them. Good bye cruising (at least until you figure out) Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
The bad: - When configured with beds together, one person has to crawl over the one person with isle access to get to the bed that is "landlocked". Zero room at the foot of bed. - When configured with beds together, only ... Read More
The bad: - When configured with beds together, one person has to crawl over the one person with isle access to get to the bed that is "landlocked". Zero room at the foot of bed. - When configured with beds together, only room for one suitcase under bed, no access to the landlocked under bed space. - when configured as two singles, better, but still super cramped. - No refrigerator standard. I needed a fridge for meds, which took over the leg hole at desk forcing footstool / chair into aisle where it was very much in the way. Had to ask steward to take iit away. - Very small closets - Small shower with cling shower curtains Royal Caribbean's worst ship. Not even close. - Royal Caribbean implies that you need to buy an excursion to get off the ship in Cuba, but that was just not true. The Good: - We had great weather, enjoyed Cuba Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. It was scheduled to stop in Havana and Cienfuegos, Cuba, as well as Grand Cayman. On our way to the port, we received a text telling us they were going to have to shift the itinerary due ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. It was scheduled to stop in Havana and Cienfuegos, Cuba, as well as Grand Cayman. On our way to the port, we received a text telling us they were going to have to shift the itinerary due to bad weather predicted later in the week. Our visit to Grand Cayman was cancelled and to compensate they planned on extending our stay for several hours in Havana. We were a little disappointed, but we really booked the cruise for the Cuba ports. The next day a letter was left in our cabin while we were in port in Havana. They informed us we would be unable to go to Cienfuegos. Apparently tenders are required at that port and the seas were too rough to make it feasible. Needless to say, we were extremely disappointed. They chose Ocho Rios, Jamaica as an alternate stop. We had already been there on a previous cruise. Due to all these last minute changes, we were at sea for 3 1/2 days. This ship is the oldest and smallest ship owned by RCCL. There is very little to do on board. Our consolation was a refund of the $75 we paid for our visas to visit Cuba. They have refused to offer us anything else despite repeated phone calls to their offices. This was my 5th RCCL cruise and it will most likely be my last. I do want to say that the dining room and housekeeping staff were excellent. The food was mediocre, typical for RCCL ships. Our cabin was extremely small and I have been on numerous cruises. The entertainment (comedians mainly) was very good. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
My wife and I had always wanted to go to Cuba. We booked this cruise especially because it was billed as the best of Cuba. Whilst it only had 2 stops we were very excited and we made the long flight from Australia to the States full of ... Read More
My wife and I had always wanted to go to Cuba. We booked this cruise especially because it was billed as the best of Cuba. Whilst it only had 2 stops we were very excited and we made the long flight from Australia to the States full of anticipation. With only a week before to cruise, RCCL emailed to say that the intinery was being changed and that instead of going to Cuba de Santiago, the full day stop, we would instead be going to Key West as there was a problem with the dock which was under repair. We subsequently found out that the problem with the port was due to the Empress hitting it on the last cruise! Key West was fun but it wasn't what I booked. I wouldn't have travelled all the way from Australia for an afternoon in Havana! The ship left Key West and travelled very slowly towards Cuba, in fact it sailed so close that Havana could be seen before it turned away and sailed in a circle before returning. Given that the main part of Cuba had been lost WHY didn't the Captain get us into Cuba earlier? Instead we arrived as scheduled at 3pm. Getting off the boat was a joke. It was so slow. RCCL blamed this in Cuba. RCCL knew it would take hours to get us off the ship so they should have got us earlier. We didn't clear customs until 5:30. By the time we had changed money over it was almost dusk. Little did we know that pretty much CV all shops would be shut and that all bars and cafes and restaurants stop serving at 10. We were left with worthless money that we couldn't change back. NO Apology was made by the Captain for the Cuban debacle. NO on board credit was offered. We paid $75 USD for less than one hours daylight. There were long lines of people complaining on board. We were told that there was nothing the dhiy could do but that corporate would compensate all passengers. Surprise, surprise RCCL Corporate are refusing any compensation. We were left so angry and disappointed. The food, the service, the entertainment on the ship were very good. The only apology made on board was from the cruise director. Poor bloke he had no control over shore events but took a stick over it. Bottom line is that the Empress is an old, tired ship run by a line that doesn't care about its passengers. Fine another way to get to Cuba. Read Less
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
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
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
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Getting on the ship was smooth the food was great in the dining room and in their chops steakhouse. The food was basically what we look forward to every night. The shows weren’t that great and didn’t really interest us and we are big ... Read More
Getting on the ship was smooth the food was great in the dining room and in their chops steakhouse. The food was basically what we look forward to every night. The shows weren’t that great and didn’t really interest us and we are big show goers. The movie nights that they gave either in the theatre or pool deck was great because the shows and movies they had on TV were lacking. The pools was the size of 4 state rooms put together !!!! For 1200 guest. It looked like sardines packs up in the pool and around the pool because there wasn’t enough room for everyone to go in at once. It honestly looked like a cesspool waitkng to give you an infection due to all the bodies in it at once. Stayed away from the pool. Key west was amazing, Cuba was rich in culture and history but the check in process was ridiculous going through customs just to get into Cuba we were on line for two hours just to get through immigration and customs. The ship was very old and needs to be retired, the drink packages or overly expensive and not to mention my room sucked.The lack of privacy me and my husband had in our room during royal caribbean cruise was so uncomfortable. royal caribbeans Response was we decline your compensation and give them another chance. Check out the photo attached of the “low traffic staircase that only maintenance uses”. we were told that when booking the room it was shown with a symbol that this room had an obstructed view. A stair case with high traffic was not an obstruction that’s a privacy issue and a symbol upon booking telling me about and obstruction does not give a proper warning that while my window shade is open people can look in my room while I try to relax or sit on the stairs and watch us. That was a complete lie, we counted almost 50 people, couples, children including a lady that sat on the stairs and proceeded to look in our room !!!!but not ONE staff or “Maintenance” person. A pole, beam, or the deck that’s between the window and our ocean view is an obstruction not a damn staircase. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Do not book this ship! It is in desperate need for maintenance and refurbishment. I have been on 7 cruises in the past 10 years and this has been the worst. Cabin, state of ship, and entertainment: The cabin looked and felt old and ... Read More
Do not book this ship! It is in desperate need for maintenance and refurbishment. I have been on 7 cruises in the past 10 years and this has been the worst. Cabin, state of ship, and entertainment: The cabin looked and felt old and dirty. I imagine it is similar to staying at an old motel. Despite how hard the housekeeping staff may try, there is no fixing this at all. WORST PART: both my girlfriend and I woke up to the smell of engine fumes at night. We stayed at the front of the ship, 4th floor. The rest of the ship is not much better. Much of it is carpeted and looks old and worn. In addition, this ship is TINY. There are three restaurants. 1 buffet, 1 formal dining room, and 1 premium restaurant you have to pay additional for. The entertainment each night was the same cast and band. The only thing saving this cruise from being a totally awful experience is the food, which was decent. Finally, one pool, one hot tub. Excursions: Let me emphasize that you do NOT need to book an excursion via Royal to get off the ship in Cuba. I called three separate customer service reps prior to the cruise, and 2/3 told me it was necessary to book through Royal. They never check if you have excursions booked when leaving the ship. The excursions are a joke. For example, the night in Havana tour which advertised an evening of tapas, two free drinks, and salsa dancing ended up being: Two watered down drinks, cheap cold cut lunch meats and cheese, and a local band while being crammed at a table with 40 other cruise guests. Service: The dining and bar staff was pleasant. Customer service with excursions was not. Customer service with Royal customer was also rather unpleasant and a waste of time. There seems to be a lack of information and training for their team and they are answering questions without knowing for sure. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
The opportunity to visit Cuba was very attractive to me, and having cruised with RC in the past I thought this would be an amazing trip. I was half right. Visiting Havana was a dream come true in many ways. The service provided by Royal ... Read More
The opportunity to visit Cuba was very attractive to me, and having cruised with RC in the past I thought this would be an amazing trip. I was half right. Visiting Havana was a dream come true in many ways. The service provided by Royal Caribbean was a nightmare in many ways. From lost luggage to bad food to inaccurate tour descriptions to a poorly maintained ship and an utterly unapologetic (to the point of rudeness) service staff, they cruise line did everything possible to try to ruin my and my family’s vacation. I get it that Empress is an older and smaller ship with fewer amenities. But to me that means the service has to be that much better. Instead I found myself surrounded by churlish and impatient staff, some of whom openly admitted they hoped to not have to work on that ship much longer and get “promoted”to a bigger ship. In Havana our first tour was good, if not exactly as described. The second tour we took though was a complete rip off that barely touched on the original itinerary we were sold on and ran twice as long as it was supposed to with detours to inappropriate “cultural” attractions where we got high pressure sales pitches to buy art and to make donations to performers we never asked to see. Furthermore, the tour took us to many of the same attractions we had seen the day before even though they were not listed on the itinerary. And this was the most expensive tour they offered. If you go choose ANY other cruise line (they couldn’t be worse than this one) and be very cautious about what shore excursions you buy. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This review is based on the cruise itself and time spent on board not including ports. The port stops are 5 stars on their own. We cruised to Nassau and stayed overnight in Havana. We chose this cruise based soley on the ports and our ... Read More
This review is based on the cruise itself and time spent on board not including ports. The port stops are 5 stars on their own. We cruised to Nassau and stayed overnight in Havana. We chose this cruise based soley on the ports and our available dates of travel. From previous reviews, we knew going in that this was a smaller/older ship, and all of those reviews were not wrong. The ship is very old and needs major renovation to be on par with the comfort level we’ve experienced on other cruises (Celebrity, Carnival). However, the ship is clean and the entire crew is excellent. Food in the buffet and dining room was just okay for us, but definitely edible. They could offer more variety. There is one restaurant that is fee for service, but we didn’t try that one. There are only two areas that are options for food included in your fare. There are times during the day when there is no food available as they close to prepare for the next meal. There is a very, very small pool and I believe one or 2 hot tubs for the entire ship. These were always full so in my opinion the pools were really nonexistent. Entertainment was also very limited as there is only one piano bar, the dance club which is quite small, and another bar dancing area. It seemed like they were never opened at the same time. There was a comedy show which was ok. The variety shows were not that great, but we still watched because there was nothing better to do. They have a very small arcade for the kids. I have teens, but they did not participate in the teen program, so I can’t speak to that. We went to two ports including Nassau and and overnight in Cuba. We had a blast in each port. The ports are what we came for and they did not disappoint. We enjoyed a beach day in Nassau on our own. We signed up for a night tour of Havana for our first day in Cuba as this was the only tour that my daughter was allowed to participate in due to her age. The tour was ok. We did a private tour the following day with Cubaoutings which was amazing! I had found them through research on TripAdvisor. Overall the cruise was a hit for us because of the ports. The time at sea was ok, but it did have pockets of no activity which made it a little boring. The cabins are very small, dated, and worn, but clean. The crew really tries hard to make up for these shortcomings with excellent service and I feel they achieved that goal. I understand the cruises to Cuba must be on the smaller ships as the port in Havana is small and has a street running right under the entrance to the port! However, even the smaller ships should be held to the same comfort level of the other ships. A major overhaul could achieve this. If we ever go back to Cuba, we may choose another line to get there. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Five women (3 in our 50s plus our grown daughters) take a bi-annual cruise. We've done Europe twice, one on NCL one on Celebrity, and Bermuda once on NCL. With not a lot of time this go round, we chose the 4-night Nassau and Havana ... Read More
Five women (3 in our 50s plus our grown daughters) take a bi-annual cruise. We've done Europe twice, one on NCL one on Celebrity, and Bermuda once on NCL. With not a lot of time this go round, we chose the 4-night Nassau and Havana cruise based solely on its itinerary. That was the mistake! The Empress is the oldest and smallest of RC's fleet and boy do you know it! She's dated to say the least--not well designed public space, tired 1980s decor, low ceilings, dingy bars and simply a run-down feel. As for the dining--there are FEW options. The brunch in the main dining room, Starlight, was virtually inedible: cold, tasteless, rude disengaged service etc. The buffet spot serves typical fare--lots of low-quality food with a poor presentation. That said, it was better than Starlight. The up-charge at Chops was worth it--terrific menu, excellent food quality and decent service. While entertainment is not really my thing, this trip was the exception. The bands (particularly the Latin group in Boleros) were wonderful, as were the singers/dancers/shows. Disembarcation at the Miami port was nothing short of a nightmare. There were lines INSIDE the ship that lasted more than an hour. We BARELY made our flight home. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This boat is very small. Only One pool on the entire ship. The fitness room is very small and there were broken machines. Also the “gym” is shared by the one night club that is onboard. I feel some of the shows and events/games arent ... Read More
This boat is very small. Only One pool on the entire ship. The fitness room is very small and there were broken machines. Also the “gym” is shared by the one night club that is onboard. I feel some of the shows and events/games arent coordinate well with time. A lot of things you would like to see or go to, seem to be happening all at the same time or really close to one another. Also crowd participation games/activities seemed to be crammed into the last 2 days or the vacation. Ports of call ; key west and Cuba were pretty good for the most part. So if you’re thinking about going to Cuba Just remember, you’re going for Cuba and not Empress of the seas. If you’re looking for a really nice ship I would recommend anything from the Oasis class of ships, Allure of the Seas or Oasis of the Seas. They have lots and lots to do and see. Tons of fun and the food is a step up from smaller boats like Empress of the seas ! 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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