Sail Date: November 2016
Very friendly, helpful with special dietary needs, Good variety of activities. the last day they provided a tour of Miami and ride to airport. it was an interesting experience and they took care of our luggage and got us to the airport. It ... Read More
Very friendly, helpful with special dietary needs, Good variety of activities. the last day they provided a tour of Miami and ride to airport. it was an interesting experience and they took care of our luggage and got us to the airport. It was nice not to have to carry our bags around and we got in an extra activity which was tour our the art and history of Miami beach and a walking tour of Little Havana. The shore excursions were great. Nice variety A relaxing and fun vacation, staff fantastic, ship clean overall a top rate experience. Cabin was comfortable with plenty of storage and a wonderful balcony. Liked the walking deck where it was marked so you could walk a mile. There could have been more hot tubs. Also Sunday activities could have taken into consideration that some passengers may have wanted to attend mass or a church service. Overall it was wonderful and I plan to take another cruise. Read Less
31 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Our family's first cruise. And last. RCI was recommended by acquaintances. Really felt sorry for the front line staff--they seemed to be trying very hard to make the best of a bad situation. We tried to disembark at Key West but were ... Read More
Our family's first cruise. And last. RCI was recommended by acquaintances. Really felt sorry for the front line staff--they seemed to be trying very hard to make the best of a bad situation. We tried to disembark at Key West but were told that we could not. We later learned that some one hundred passengers did. Another got off the ship and elected to fly home from Grand Cayman. At first we thought we were simply suffering from first timer inexperience. But one day into the cruise we began to hear other passengers complaining about flooded cabins, cabins with no air conditioning, confusion and conflicting information from staff (the majority of whom who seemed to have been hired a week before the ship set sail), sewage smell in cabins, everything required a long line, considerable effort on the part of guests, a significant extra charge, and a crowd, and etc.. We even met one of the headline performers from one of the shows one night at dinner. He had some really interesting things to say about how bad things were that passengers were telling him. On the last night, the headline comedian was actually on stage making jokes about how bed things were. We found out on our first night that our cabin was located beneath a kitchen. About four in the morning--every morning--there was loud banging and other noise coming through our roof for several hours. No remedy for that, per guest services. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Empress of the sea was not good, long lines for food even with reservation, this is first cruise I lost weight. There was a line for everything the food was like school cafeteria almost the same stuff served in buffet, the eating options ... Read More
Empress of the sea was not good, long lines for food even with reservation, this is first cruise I lost weight. There was a line for everything the food was like school cafeteria almost the same stuff served in buffet, the eating options not enough, they didn't have icecream who the buck doesn't have that also the icecream machine broke they say but I think the idiots didn't know how to operate, don't get the drink package you will wait online for your drink so you will be ahead not getting the package, just be prepared to make reservation to only wait in line, I'm warning you don't book it. I know your saying it's just his experience, no everyone complained from showers not working to flooding sewage in room, toilets didn't flush and the AC in room was like a hair drier the casino no AC it was aweful, buffet long line while you wait for some lady to take a lettuce leaf come on move it I'm on vacation, the buffet was like a prison line not at all good, it took 2 hrs to get off the ship what the heck, everything you can think of it was aweful mark my word the worst they should start a new cruise line called (stand in line cruises) There is always room service if they pickup the phone so that didn't work so hence weight loss ate at the islands but wait there is chops on the boat well all booked up remember only sits 100 plus what about the rest of us we had to fend for ourselves. When you go to islands make sure you eat a lot to hold you over and take medication so your calm waiting in line thinking of the money you spent to go on vacation to wait. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
My first and last with Royal Caribbean. In addition to all of the problems mentioned in the previous posts, most of which we experienced, there were more. Our shower only had scalding hot water. Other passengers said they only had cold. ... Read More
My first and last with Royal Caribbean. In addition to all of the problems mentioned in the previous posts, most of which we experienced, there were more. Our shower only had scalding hot water. Other passengers said they only had cold. Thermostat was not working in room, but had a blinking green light going all night. I had reserved wheelchair service for boarding and leaving the ship, requested a month before departure. When I tried to verify with guest services that I would have it for leaving, they said the 4 wheelchairs were going to be first come, first serve. On a plus note, wheelchair service and embarkation went smoothly, as anticipated. I have cruised many times, and prefer smaller ships. I had expected that on sea days, there would be lectures, games, trivia contests, crew talks, etc. Holland America and Princess know how to keep passengers actively engaged if that is their preference. The only activity seemed to be hanging around the pool. We went on the spa tour, expecting to find a thermal pool (even small ships usually have those), as one was listed on the spa menu. We were 4 women friends traveling together and expecting to spend time in the spa. Massage table was too small, and I managed to fall off while turning over. Massage therapist said it was too small for her and she had a request in for a larger one. That was nothing compared to one friends' experience. The poolside band was on the other side of the wall from massage room, and therapist had a difficult time not keeping time to music as she massaged. How relaxing is that? We had a verandah suite, which was the next deck down from the pool. All night long, people were pushing lounge chairs around up there, which was quite noisy and not conducive to sleep. The furniture was so old, that a couple of the drawers were missing their bottoms, so there was no room to store clothes. Yes, the menus were limited. But the staff was really trying hard. They were trying out some new menu ideas for future cruises for the line. By the second sea day, they had figured out how to do brunch in the dining room, by making it a buffet with carving board. So, except for the passenger at our table who ordered oatmeal and waited 30 minutes for it, brunch was smoother. We hard a rumor that 7 of the kitchen staff had not reported for work the morning of sailing. I had planned to use the fitness center each day to perform my physical therapy exercises for my new knees. Other reviewers have commented about that. Didn't work out for me. But by far, my biggest problem personally, is that after close to 20 cruises, for the first time, I came home with norovirus. Fortunately I got home before it manifested by more than the low grade fever and aching joints. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Can I just say, do not go on this ship! Choose a different Royal Caribbean ship or cruise line! The first day on the ship was so chaotic and stressful. Every single thing you try to do had a huge line, especially for the buffet. The food ... Read More
Can I just say, do not go on this ship! Choose a different Royal Caribbean ship or cruise line! The first day on the ship was so chaotic and stressful. Every single thing you try to do had a huge line, especially for the buffet. The food was not great and had very limited options at the buffet. The ice cream machine was broken after day one and the juice machine was broken on the first day. The only options for dining was the main dining room and the windjammer buffet. Room service was non-existent. Every time I called for room service, it was busy or it would just ring and ring and no one would answer. There was not food available 24-7 and when you wanted food, be prepared to stand in line for at least 30 minutes to get anything. Our cabin was fine, nothing was broken but the room got pretty hot during the day. If you needed anything from guest services, the line was always long at any time of the day. You'll wait about 30-45 minutes to speak to someone. I ordered the Evian water package to have in my room upon embarkation and did not receive it until the afternoon of the second day of sailing. There wasn't much entertainment on board and the movie showings on deck were silent movies apparently since the audio was broken. So many things were broken on this ship, it was definitely not ready for sailing yet. Debarkation was a complete mess! Most people used self assist making the lines so long to get off the ship. It was a truly frustrating experience to say the least. We had airport transfers to catch and should have been in the second group to get off after the self assist group and we did not get off the ship until 11am. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Warning! This will be a long review! To start, I have been on 10 cruises prior to this one (Carnival x5, RC x 3, Disney x2). Almost all have been similar duration and price point so I feel like I have a pretty good frame of reference. ... Read More
Warning! This will be a long review! To start, I have been on 10 cruises prior to this one (Carnival x5, RC x 3, Disney x2). Almost all have been similar duration and price point so I feel like I have a pretty good frame of reference. Also, I am NOT a picky person. I love cruising and have rarely been disappointed because I enjoy almost everything about it and love to vacation. I will break down my comments by categories: Cruise check in/embarkation: Great. Had kind of a scatterbrained lady but still went very quickly, Possibly the fastest check-in I've ever had. Room: Standard interior room. Very good storage space for size of room. Disappointing room steward-NEVER introduced himself or acknowledged us, not even sure it was a male! I have NEVER experienced this before. Shower was pretty bad, although we didn't get scalded like some other passengers on our ship, the shower would sometimes just be a steady trickle, would not "spray" at times. We got towel animals 3/5 nights. We did randomly have chocolate covered strawberries in our room when we came back from dinner one night. Dining room: Where to begin....? Our server was personable but unprofessional and awkward at times. For example, he would be in the middle of telling us about the menu and would break off and talk about how one of his other tables had not shown up yet. He tried for an entire night to convince us that the Caribbean themed menu was a French themed menu (It had Jerk Pork, Plantains, Caribbean Cake, Jalapeno Potato Soup and many other clearly Caribbean items). It even said "Caribbean menu" at the top in small letters. Although I only wish the best for this guy, he was simply way below the standards I am accustomed to from other cruises. The menu selection was fine. However, they were "out" of something every night (at the early seating). "Out" of ice cream for 2-3 of 5 night cruise. The food that was served often was wrong or did not match the menu description. The food was often missing components that were supposed to be there. Other strange things at times. The blueberry peach crumble my sister ordered came out with a scoop of chocolate ice cream on top of it. The table settings were sometimes wrong. The salt and pepper shakers had both salt and pepper in them. We were surrounded by waiter stations and the dining room was difficult to navigate, very crowded, no clear walkways. There was a long line to get in the dining room the first night; they did not seem to handle showing people to their tables very well, took an exceedingly long time to get in (15-20 min). The first three nights the food service was very slow, took well over two hours to eat, although there was some improvement the last two nights. The brunch was ok, it was buffet style and they gave out free mimosas and bloody marys. I do have to mention the Creme Brulee. We were so excited they were serving that on the last night. It came out and looked pretty "off." It was in a circle dish and a brownish-orange color. It tasted like some sort of strange fruit puree, not the right texture at all and tasted nothing like vanilla custard. At that point, it was just amusing and par for the course. Coffee Bar: Terrible. Overpriced. They didn't fill up the cups. Staff was not very friendly. The "mocha" was just coffee mixed with Nestle Hot Chocolate mix. Windjammer: The buffets seemed to be set up badly. You had to stand in a long line to get any food. Then you had to awkwardly try to cross over or go stand in another long line if you wanted food on the other side because there were different stations on each side. One of the sinks there was always scalding hot. The selection was often disappointing. I could never find anything but whole milk which was just set out in quarts for multiple people to use. The ice machine was broken a lot. The staff did a good job clearing tables and we were always able to find one for 6 people which can be difficult on other cruises. The ice cream machine on the pool deck was often out of order. This caused quite a bit of consternation among passengers. There was almost always a line at the pool bar. And the line didn't seem to move. I gave up the first two days even trying to order a drink on the pool deck. I was finally able to get one on the Grand Cayman day when people were still off the ship. Entertainment: The singers and dancers were pretty good, fairly standard. Although there was an award-winning ballroom dance couple that was outstanding. They were featured on the two shows. The "entertainment staff" was fairly good. However, we had a disappointing experience with Isaac. He was very funny and seemed to have great potential. However, he was sometimes inappropriate and did seem to have a filter. At the Battle of the Sexes game show (where passengers play each other), we watched and laughed and loved it. However, the last activity involved a person leaning forward and grasping a chair while another person blew up a balloon and then had to pop the balloon by putting it against their crotch and thrusting into the other person's rear end. Who knows? Maybe I would have thought this was funnier if I hadn't been sitting with my mom, my 14 year old daughter, and my 12 year old niece. But I don't really think so, it was distasteful and over the line for something that was not branded to be adult only entertainment. Debarkation: Chaotic, slow, longest ever. Again, noone seemed to know what to do and they weren't making announcements over the intercom, poor communication/instruction. Shopping: One small note, my mom bought a T-shirt. She washed it when she got home and the hem came out and the applique wore off really badly with that ONE wash. Overall ship: Pretty standard. By far, the HOTTEST cruise I have been on. I am annoyingly cold natured and usually have to carry a sweater everywhere. But on this cruise I got really hot multiple times. My mom is menopausal and was often miserable. The casino especially was burning up. The casino had a good selection for the size of the ship and was laid out well. There were competent staff on this ship but I'm not sure how many. You generally got the impression that noone knew what was going on. It was glaringly obvious to anyone that has cruised multiple times. The overall communication was poor. They had a time change in Grand Cayman but didn't communicate that so there was massive confusion about that. The cruise director was ok, but a little below par. The staff was mostly nice. The ship was relatively clean although they could have wiped down the stair rails more. Everywhere you went you heard people talking about how this was the worst cruise they had every been on. I agree: this was number 11 out of 11 for me. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Toilet overflowed. Toilet wouldn't flush Air conditioner didn't work and was very noisy and would wake us up. No ice cream the entire cruise so most deserts were unavailable Ice cream machine was broke most of the ... Read More
Toilet overflowed. Toilet wouldn't flush Air conditioner didn't work and was very noisy and would wake us up. No ice cream the entire cruise so most deserts were unavailable Ice cream machine was broke most of the cruise Windjammer cafe - no utensils, no napkins, no coffee creamer No limes at bar but didn't tell you until they charged for a drink where limes were required 25 minute wait for a drink Overcrowded pool area - couldn't access Had to refill our water ourselves at dinner - terrible service 3 hour dinner time with terrible service No spinning although it was advertised Long check in wait, and then found out our sea pass cards didn't work and had to wait in another long line Had to be in theatre at 8:15 for departure, but didn't leave until 10:30 - No communication and terrible checkout process - some missed flights No formal night, although we called twice and were told we needed formal clothes Refused lunch in windjammer due to tank top, couldn't get changed because maintenance was working on overflowing toilet Dinner beverage assistant would disappear and couldn't get drink and bread at dinner Told there wasn't a running track as advertised, but then found it on our last day No 24 hour food service Promised table for 2 at dinner, but didn't accommodate 30 minute wait to have dinner, and then was 3 hour process Too many people for ship accommodations Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
This was my first cruise. A gift for my 60th birthday. i was dissappointed. Guests as well as experienced staff were frustrated with under trained newer staff. Cruise food is supposed to be terrific,,,, craved meats were overcooked and ... Read More
This was my first cruise. A gift for my 60th birthday. i was dissappointed. Guests as well as experienced staff were frustrated with under trained newer staff. Cruise food is supposed to be terrific,,,, craved meats were overcooked and dry, no gravy(?), couldnot keep even the lettuce pans full, runny scrambled eggs,ran out of ice tea the last day. No need to go on food quality- not good. the air conditioning was broken throughout most of the ship. casino was 90 degrees inthe evenings. The outdoor movies had no audio. The only ice cream machine on board broke the firt morning. Lotsa unhappy children. Lines to board the ship took 3 hours. Lines to go on shore took at least an hour, excursion groups were broght to front of lines. To even get a beverage at the bars were 1/2 hour.the photo shop broke down for a day. This was a overall poor experience. Would not recommend this cruise to anyone. The only shinning star we had was our dinner srever named dave powell. Experienced and professional. Good guy. Read Less
33 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Quick background – This was my and my husband’s 11th Royal Caribbean cruise, and 37th cruise overall. Overall, this cruise was in our top 3-4 poorest cruises ever. CABIN We stayed in cabin 8000, a forward-facing oceanview ... Read More
Quick background – This was my and my husband’s 11th Royal Caribbean cruise, and 37th cruise overall. Overall, this cruise was in our top 3-4 poorest cruises ever. CABIN We stayed in cabin 8000, a forward-facing oceanview stateroom. The location was fairly quiet in terms of isolation from any sounds from our neighbors, however, any time anyone was outside hanging out at the railing outside of our window, we could easily hear every conversation. We were awakened on two occasions in the middle of the night due to loud revelers, but it didn’t last long. There were other instances when we could hear the music coming from the pool deck, but it was never bothersome. The biggest surprise in this cabin was the tiny shower. Ship cabins are rarely spacious unless booking a suite, but this was easily not just the smallest bathroom we’ve ever had, but it was absolutely the smallest shower situation. We are average-sized people and were challenged with turning around in the small shower. It’s also important to note that this cabin sleeps four, and the bunk beds pull down from the upper walls right above the two beds pushed together on the floor. Those bunks hang over the pathway (slightly) to enter the lower beds. This translates to a few bumps in the middle of the night if you’re getting in/out of bed and forget that there is closed bunk bed above you. I can’t imagine if those bunk beds were folded down since it felt dangerous when they were folded up! The toilet – oh, the toilet. Yes, this is an old ship, but one would think that three+ months in dry dock could have led to improved plumbing. Our toilet stopped flushing twice. When we told our cabin steward about it she told us that our group of six cabins have consistently had flushing issues. If this is a known issue, why wasn’t it fixed while in dry dock? Why were we forced to use a public restroom as opposed to our own toilet in our cabin? And then there’s the AC. While our AC was not perfect, it was mostly cold during the day, and horribly hot during the night. Some on deck seven reported that their AC never worked day or night, on any day of the sailing. FITNESS CENTER Don’t bother. The fitness center is fairly non-existent. It is a platform within the Viking Crown Lounge and is accessed through the lounge by walking up the lounge’s internal stairway to the upper loft area. The area is so small and confined that I question why it even exists. For example, to grab a towel or free weights, we had to walk through a yoga class. There is no way around this. I was using one of the exercise balls as a balancing tool while lifting free weights, but there was no space to use an exercise ball without blocking people from accessing a machine. It is not a feasible fitness area and is a true embarrassment for the cruise line to even say they offer a fitness center. While in dry dock/refurbishments, Royal Caribbean could have built a ceiling to the Viking Crown Lounge that also served as a floor to a fitness center. VITALITY SPA We took the tour mostly because I was considering a reflexology treatment. Well, forget that. Reflexology was only offered as a portion of a regular massage. And when we asked what was included in the day pass, we were told that we could have access to receive a few minutes of acupuncture on our hands. What? Why would I pay $30/day for that? This is a very small ship that doesn’t offer anything for a day pass other than that, so why even offer a day pass? This was a joke. The Royal Caribbean website advertises a “Full-Service spa” on Empress. THERE IS NO FULL-SERVICE SPA! FOOD We all know this is a subjective topic, so I’m keeping it short but noting that the main dining room offered the smallest menu I’ve ever seen on a ship, ever. And note to Royal Caribbean – French Onion Soup is not a vegetarian item, though it was noted that way on the menu. The buffet food was even worse, with very few options. This made us think that the galleys were just so small that they couldn’t offer any more food than they were. The Room Service menu was out of certain menu items all week, and the ice cream machine did not work after the first day. How do you run out of menu items on the second day of the cruise? ROYAL THEATER On day one, my husband and I toured the theater just to scope out where we wanted to sit for any of the shows, especially comedy. We were shocked to find that the layout was terrible for viewing from 90% of the theater. At first look, it appears there are many good choices, but after literally seating in every section of the theater, we saw that the only seating that would provide a clear view of the stage would be in the first two rows, or in 2-3 seats on the upper level on the sides, in the middle. The railings obstruct most seating at the upper level, and at the lower level there is just not enough staggered seating or elevated seating to provide for a clear view. It is such a disappointment. POOL AREA Another disappointment here is that the kiddie pool is placed in the middle of the main pool area, across from the bar, and adjacent to the three hot tubs. This provides an easy entre’ for children to dominate the hot tubs before/after playing in the kiddie wading pool. Both the kiddie pool and the main pool are extremely small for a ship with maximum occupancy of over 1800 passengers. Also in the pool area is the outdoor movie screen, but we did not get to enjoy any movies because the audio was broken. Therefore, silent movies were shown day and night The entire duration of our sailing, maintenance was in the process of installing an outdoor shower. It was an eyesore in the middle of the day, and for the five days we sailed, this outdoor shower was never completed. It would have been a welcome relief after spending the entire day in port in heat and humidity in Key West and Grand Cayman. LINES, LINES, LINES Would you like to speak with someone from Guest Services? A short wait was 25 minutes. Would you like to be seated shortly after your 7pm dining reservations in the Main Dining Room? How about a 1-hour wait, even with a reservation? Would you like to grab a bite in the buffet? How about a line that extends all the way to the door? Would you like a beverage at the pool bar? How about a consistent 15-20 minute wait every day, from day one through day five, no matter what time of day? STAFFING Overall, this cruise felt understaffed with too many passengers for the size of the ship. There were simply too many bodies crammed in small spaces. The ship’s capacity is 1800 plus, but it felt like it should have maxed out at about 1200. There were just too many people on a small vessel, yet not enough crew to manage everyone. Would I sail Empress again even if some of the above “works itself out”? Not likely. Unless Empress re-constructs the layout of the open spaces, I’d not consider sailing again. I’d also need to know that the AC issues, toilet issues, lack of food choices and food inventory were all solved. There’s just too much to fix to likely get me back on Empress of the Seas, no matter the itinerary…even Cuba. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Me and my wife and her 2 kids were hoping to enjoy fully our first EVER cruise. We choose this cruise so we wouldn't have to get the boys out of school, so we choose to wait until they finish school. But by doing so, the choice of ... Read More
Me and my wife and her 2 kids were hoping to enjoy fully our first EVER cruise. We choose this cruise so we wouldn't have to get the boys out of school, so we choose to wait until they finish school. But by doing so, the choice of cruises were limited. So we booked with Costco for the cruise as well as for the excursions. This cruise was a real joke. After cancelling many weeks of activity because the boat renovations were not finished, we were the "lucky ones" to be the first to experience the return of the Empress of the Seas. Fail after fail : -The first evening, the boys were ready to enjoy the outdoor movie...but the audio wasn't working and it was never fixed over the 5 days of the cruise. -Our first dinner at the main dinner restaurant was horrible. Our server ( Marvin ) was very nervous and we could tell that, as for many other employees, that he obviously lack experience in that kind of job. It took us 2.5 hours to finally call it 'a quit', as we were still waiting for our dessert. The other dinners were a bit better but as the menus were planned in advance and the dessert choices (5-6 total) were mostly including ice cream into them...and after the second day, they were out of ice cream, so the dessert choices were limited to 2-3 options. -The same thing for the ice cream machine who was working on and off for 3 days, then it was definitively "out of order" for the rest of the cruise. -The cafeteria style of restaurant ( the Windjammer ) was serving food that looked and tasted like hospital food with very limited food options, not too mention that the food was cold. Cheap desserts like jello, some plain chocolate pudding... -The pool was tiny, way to small to accommodate so many guests. -One morning, there were no more running water. - For our shore excursion, we were told by the pool's staff that there will be a towel kiosk on the docks. An employee at the guest desk also told us the same thing. When we got off the boat, there were no tent or any visible Royal Caribbeans staff member ( only one tent for Carnival Cruises). So we had to bought two towels at $20.00 each for our excursions with the dolphins. As we got back, now there was a kiosk of Royal Caribbeans who was offering ice cold water to get refreshed while we were waiting in the heat, for a small boat to take charge of us and bring us back on the Empress of the Seas. But....there were no more water, only some ice cubes were remaining into the 2 plastic containers ! I just can't understand that such an experimented company could let that happens. They have all the expertise to plan and to make sure that they will not run out of anything. SHAME...SHAME...SHAME Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We were the first cruise to go out after the 50 million dollar renovation that went into this ship and after the 2 months of cancelled cruises before us. The ship had come back from a spanish cruise line but originally went into service ... Read More
We were the first cruise to go out after the 50 million dollar renovation that went into this ship and after the 2 months of cancelled cruises before us. The ship had come back from a spanish cruise line but originally went into service around 1990. Embarkation in Miami was very easy, no issues there. This ship itself for the most part looks nice, they added the Boleros lounge and refreshed some of the other things around the ship. Upon boarding we went to our inside cabin room on the 7th floor, only to discover that there was no air conditioning working in our room or the others around us. This was very frustrating as anyone could imagine. We headed down to guest services but the line was already 20 people deep. This was typically the story for most of the cruise, guest services was ambushed most of the cruise either in person or by phone. Our air conditioning finally got resolved on the 3rd day, only by grabbing one of the maintenance crew while they were walking by our room. In terms of dining, there are limited options for specialty restaurants (Chops grill), which was recently added. We did not try the food but did not hear many good things about it. The servers in the dining room were great, however the desserts were another thing. We were told that the freezers on the ship had broken and that there was no ice cream....In addition the frozen yogurt machine on the pool deck was also broken during our cruise. Due to that issue many of the desserts, (ice cream, baked alaska, apple pie) did not seem to come out right. One of the things that bothered us was the Maitre D walking through the dining room with his loud walkie talkie every 5 minutes reporting on what tables were doing what. He could have easily used an earpiece but instead we had to listen to all the noise from that. The other food was good, no major issues in the dining room. After being on over 15 cruises i can honestly say the buffet on this ship was the worst. Lines the whole time, minimal healthy options, salad bar with only a few choices, and it just got worse from there. Many of us felt like we were eating cafeteria food. The desserts of mousse and jello basically tasted and looked the same. It's almost as if they painted the jello brown and served that as mousse. There weren't any cookies, chocolate cake, or anything that would have passed for normal dessert on any other cruise line. Additionally the ice machines were broken so the crew put out large buckets of ice which people of course put their hands into. It's a shock that people did not get violently ill on the ship. The fitness center is above the viking crown lounge, awkward setup. Only 6-7 treadmills, one of which was not working. A few other machines and weights made up the rest of the gym. Water was not put out until day 3, apparently no one was thirsty in the gym until then. Key west was a great port to stop in. We chose to do the Key lime bike tour and enjoyed our ride through Key West. We then were able to explore ourselves and do shopping and whatnot to pass the time. Grand Cayman was also very nice, we took a taxi to the beach (10 dollars round trip) which was free public access but then you had to pay for chairs, not a big deal. They also have plenty of shopping areas right where the tender lets you off so that was very convenient. Overall, good ports, friendly crew, management needs to learn a lesson about customer service and in general Royal should not have allowed this ship out yet. Most of us have already written letters for compensation and are hoping that comes soon. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2016
Our cruise was given to us free due to our play in the Royal Casino on our cruise on Oasis of the Seas. There was a lot that they can improve on but yet our experience was not as bad as some of the other passengers experienced. Things ... Read More
Our cruise was given to us free due to our play in the Royal Casino on our cruise on Oasis of the Seas. There was a lot that they can improve on but yet our experience was not as bad as some of the other passengers experienced. Things that could have been improved were minor for us, such as not having mayonnaise after the first day on board. Serving pancakes, French toast, and waffles with no syrup and then when you ask for some because there was not any instead of just saying they were out they were smiling this extremely big smile and saying they would bring you some to your table as soon as they get it knowing there wasn't any. Embarkation went very well but disembarkation was horrible we had to wait for two hours after disembarkation time and the waiting area was hot (no air conditioning). The cabin we were in was good and our attendant was wonderful we were on the May 28th sailing and our cabin was #7164. The entertainment was good although the casino was extremely hot again NO air conditioning and the ice cream machine did not work after the first day and there was no more ice cream for the entire trip. But through all these minor issues the topper was my husband left his whole ring of keys to our house, vehicles and job in the cabin along with his shaving kit and when I contacted customer service upon our return home they said they were not turned in (this is totally unbelievable), this has made me so angry and loose a lot of respect for the Royal experience I have come to expect. We had our fifteen years old son with us who is very quiet, somewhat shy and introverted (special needs) and he had a ball met a lot of friends and really enjoyed the teen activities and for that everything else was small potatoes. Dining overall was great, good food and service. The Ports and Shore excursions were also good, a few minor clitches with the service desk but they were worked out. I am glad to see that the sailings after ours have become better because one would think that after putting 50 million dollars into a ship issues such as those I listed would not have happened. Overall not a bad trip but I would like to get my husbands keys and shaving kit returned! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
My grandparents, dad, and I went on this cruise's first journey after their so-called "renovations" We chose it because of its size so my grandmother could better get around. I have been on a Carnival cruise and a Norwegian ... Read More
My grandparents, dad, and I went on this cruise's first journey after their so-called "renovations" We chose it because of its size so my grandmother could better get around. I have been on a Carnival cruise and a Norwegian cruise, and I would prefer either of them to this. I built up some solid expectations for this trip after my grandparents and dad have told me about how much they have liked their Royal Caribbean experiences in the past. While getting on board was relatively smooth, the rest of the trip was a disaster. Dinner the first night took over three hours, then the orders were wrong anyway. Their were maybe 4-5 options for the entree and even less on the appetizers. As a sixteen year old, I didn't recognize a single thing on the menu, and I asked if there was a kids menu, and they did not. There was only the main dining room where you could expect to wait 4-5 hours on a meal, or the Windjammer cafe, with cold food, warm milk, runny eggs, and chunky yogurt. The hours were limited, and there were no other dining options or any kind of 24-hour joint. The pool was absolutely tiny, about the size of a standard pool. And if you have teens or kids? There is a kids club that I don't know much about, but there are no teen activities or anything to do on board but go to the gym and lay out on the deck, where there is a major shortage of chairs. In addition, my dad and I tried to watch the movie they were showing at the end of the first day at sea at the pool, but they never turned off the island music in the background even though the movie was playing on the screen. All the crew members I spoke to were nice, but there were some serious management issues aboard this ship.I seriously advise anyone who is considering going on this ship to NOT and to find a better ship or cruise line. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
My husband and I are from California and flew to Miami, Fl in order to board this ship. We had a lot of bad things happen in our lives and decided a vacation was much needed so we planned to go on this cruise and we planned for 6 months; ... Read More
My husband and I are from California and flew to Miami, Fl in order to board this ship. We had a lot of bad things happen in our lives and decided a vacation was much needed so we planned to go on this cruise and we planned for 6 months; we were very excited. You can imagine our disappointment when what we had saved for, budgeted for and looked forward to for nearly 6 months fell very short of our expectations. To begin, we had our reserved dinner time at 6:00 in starlight dining, dinner took a very long time to get to us, we got to dinner about 5 mins early and waited a decent amount of time to be seated. When finally seated we were given menus and placed our orders. Our servers Atanu and Junior were absolutely fantastic and checked on us frequently, in fact they were the 2 out of 3 people that made the cruise bearable. We finally got out of dinner at about 8:20 which we thought nothing of since it was the first night, however this was the case every night with the exception of one night. Our next experience was with brunch on Sunday, we were so excited for brunch, we got there at 9:30, which was when it started, then was seated after 10-15 mins of waiting in line. We waited a total of 2 1/2 hours for food. While waiting for food nobody came to check on us and we were forced to get up and look for water and bread and serve ourselves. When we finally received food I was not given what I had ordered but at this point I was so hungry I just ate it. Which brings me to my next point, the food in both Starlight and Windjammer was very disappointing in quality and abundance, most times I just went hungry because the food was so bad and/or lacking. They ran out of a lot of food and drink items. Another issue we had was that the AC was not working in several locations causing us to sweat while within those places. We tried to relax and unwind in the hot tub but it was not hot therefore it was not relaxing, we asked them to fix it but nobody seemed to understand what I was asking. There were many times we needed to get something or talk to someone from guest services which led us to waiting in line anywhere from 30 mins to over an hour just to talk to someone. The people working guest services were all very dismissive or did not know the answer to our questions and needed to find someone to ask. With nothing but bad experiences we decided to go grab ice cream from the soft serve machine because ice cream fixes everything, upon finding out there was no ice cream, and there not being ice cream the whole trip, we were disappointed. I told my husband, "I am trying my best to make the best of this situation," after saying this I realized that this is my vacation, I should not have to try and make the best of the situation. In addition to those problems there was a point when the toilet wouldn't flush and there was no hot water for the shower. There was not much room on the deck for sitting, it was always crowded and one day we had to wait 10 mins in line just for towels. I approached the guy working at the shore excursion desk to inquire about what time the ship was to leave Key West and he told me it would be leaving at 4:00 p.m. which sent me in a panic since our shore excursion ended at 4:00 p.m. We went to wait yet again in the guest service line to cancel our shore excursion only to find out we needed to be on by 4:30 p.m. and that the ship was leaving at 5:00 p.m. There were other minor issues here and there but again I was trying to make the best of a bad situation. After e-mailing them, calling them, being told to call back in a week, and calling back in a week we were offered only 15% off a future cruise that has to be used within a year. This felt like such a slap in the face after our experience. Overall this experience left me heartbroken, disappointed, and exhausted. As of now we don't plan on ever cruising with Royal Caribbean again and I hope that nobody else has to deal with these issues in the future. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Sadly, we have always been loyal customers to this cruise line, but this adventure has tested that loyalty. The overall experience on this cruise can be summed up in this: ship was let out of dry dock in non-working condition, ship staff ... Read More
Sadly, we have always been loyal customers to this cruise line, but this adventure has tested that loyalty. The overall experience on this cruise can be summed up in this: ship was let out of dry dock in non-working condition, ship staff was understaffed and poorly trained (with the exception of our waiter and massage therapist), and there appeared to be an overall level of confusion at all times. I would recommend that anyone looking to take a cruise, take one of the other ships. The ports of call on this one were great, which is why we selected it originally, but situation that the ship is in and the staffing issues detract from this. As far as food is concerned, which is usually a highlight of most cruises, it was definitely sub par on this one. For example, due to problems with refrigeration, ice cream was absent for most of the cruise. This would not normally be a problem except that every menu at night for dessert listed various items containing ice cream...taking the list of 5 options down to 2. Others on board received apple cobbler with baking powder sprinkled on top, instead of powdered sugar. This was/is a sad representation of what we have previously experienced Royal Caribbean to be like. Again, don't take this ship. Take one of the others. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
First of all I would like to say this is the worst cruise we have ever been on, don't waste your money! Think about this before you book....5 NIGHT CRUISE DAY 1: SHIP TO LEAVE MIAMI AT 4PM, THIS ONE LEFT 2HRS. LATE DAY ... Read More
First of all I would like to say this is the worst cruise we have ever been on, don't waste your money! Think about this before you book....5 NIGHT CRUISE DAY 1: SHIP TO LEAVE MIAMI AT 4PM, THIS ONE LEFT 2HRS. LATE DAY 2: DAY AT SEA DAY3: CAYMAN ISLAND DAY4: DAY AT SEA DAY5: NO DAY! DOCKED IN MIAMI AND TO BE OFF SHIP BY 8AM. Food: Be prepared to wait in long lines and when you do get to the food, there may not be much there as they are slow in refilling it. Also hot food was not up to temp and selection not to good. All food selection is in a single line, no different areas for different food selections. Paying drink bar in line with food, how stupid. Ice maker broken and when they did get it fixed was slow. Cafeteria is small isles are narrow and ceilings are low. No decor, nothing beautiful about it. One thing we did like about it is there is a hand washing station before entering. Deck 10: Remember this is a Entertainment on deck, not much! Belly flop contest, in very small pool, sexy man contest and band playing. Movie night with no audio, guess if you know how to read lips your in luck! 1- Drink station for 2000 people, BAD, no ice machine. The people served themselves ice out of a plastic container with a scoop, very unsanitary who knows how many hands have been in there! Ice cream machine for 2000 people broke most of the time. Deck so small you couldn't find a chair as they were all taken. Bathrooms-1 with 2 stalls and one broke most times. Rooms: OH MY, where do I start! BEWARE of ROOMS 4617, 4619, 4621. Paper thin walls, could here my neighbors conversations. Our rooms were below the Pork chop grill or what ever it is called, HORRIBLE! NOISE LEVEL- you could hear carts rolling, things dragging on the floor, footsteps, banging, dropping things I could go on and on! Showers, so small you couldn't hardly turn around in them. Air condition in room did not work... Customer Service: LONG LINES and DID NOT answer my phone calls. First I tried to call them on the phone and they never answered so I went down to customer service to tell them about the noise and air condition not working in room. Had to wait in line for an hour or longer. They told me to contact house keeping for the noise in my room, REALLY! Air conditioner never did get fixed. The room next to mine also tried to call customer service and they picked up the phone to stop the ringing then hung up. For this ship being refurbished, there is a lot that needs to be redone. THINK TWICE ABOUT THIS BEFORE YOU BOOK.....CHECK THE REVIEWS! Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
My daughter, who regularly cruises, selected this cruise for me, my other daughters and two granddaughters for a girls' trip. It just happened that the cruise dates for this cruise worked for all 6 of us, so we booked it. In my ... Read More
My daughter, who regularly cruises, selected this cruise for me, my other daughters and two granddaughters for a girls' trip. It just happened that the cruise dates for this cruise worked for all 6 of us, so we booked it. In my daughter's exact words, "This is my eleventh cruise since high school and it is the worst I have ever experienced." This was her 4th or 5th RCI cruise, the others being on Carnival and Disney. We were told on board that it was the first sailing of the ship since being out of commission for repairs/ upgrades etc. First thing we did after boarding was go to the Windjammer for the lunch buffet. It was total chaos. Too many people, unorganized buffet lines, food that was not up to par and, my personal favorite, the "out of order" ice machine. After a long, hot morning of traveling, that was not a very welcoming place. All I can say is, the Empress may have been mechanically cruise-worthy, but it fell short in just about every other way. It seemed that the crew members were all new and inexperienced and we were their guinea pigs. That is definitely NOT what I shelled out my hard-earned money for! We never saw our stateroom attendant. The work evidently got done because the cabin was clean, though TINY, but if we had needed anything from the attendant, we wouldn't have known who or how to contact him/her. Our dining room waiter was sweet, funny, and personable, IF you could find him. On 3 of the 5 nights, our dinner took well over 2 hours. Several of the menu items were substituted or unavailable, including 2 of the 5 dessert choices one evening. Sometimes the substitutions were done unbeknownst to us...until we received our food. My favorite was the fruit cobbler that came with CHOCOLATE ice cream...or the "seasonal fruit plate" which consisted of...watermelon. Seriously? We were sitting off the coast of Florida at the time (last day before getting off the boat) and the only seasonal fruit available was watermelon? The only pool is tiny. The outdoor movie screen was lacking audio, so not much use. Most of the live entertainment was good, probably the best thing going on the ship, but a couple times the games, etc. turned raunchy on us without any warning. We were traveling with 2 kids and these shows were not appropriate in places. Most of it could have been avoided completely had they any concern for young people in the audience. But no. The Café Royal, aka the "specialty" coffee shop, was laughable. I ordered an iced mocha and was charged $5.61. The drink was not fully mixed and the cup was only about 2/3 filled. I could've made this coffee at home by attempting to mix dry hot chocolate mix with cold water. It doesn't mix, which is why I had a mound of unmixed brown stuff in the bottom of my cup and the more I tried to mix it with my straw, the worse it got. Unbelievable. We had two ports of call: Grand Cayman and Key West. Disembarkation for both of these days went well, though instructions were insufficient or non-existent. Disembarkation at the cruise end was a terrible ordeal. We kept waiting for instructions about luggage and processing off the ship. They never came. We put our suitcases outside our door basically because we saw others doing it. We waited for our group # to be called to process out but no ship-wide announcements were made. We finally found our way to the theater where this was taking place. The announcements were only going out to those inside the theater, so I suppose all 1800 passengers were expected to crowd into that room? Still not sure. We almost were late enough getting off the ship to warn away the next group of cruisers. Finally, I am a person who drinks lots of water. On this trip, I looked out over the deck railing at one point and noted, "Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink." The only available drinking water was foul-tasting and smelly. To me it tasted moldy. The only other option was to get in line at the bar and ask for a small bottle of water at about $3 a pop. For someone who drinks 6 bottles a day, that can get expensive. And maybe it's just me, but shouldn't good drinking water be provided? I mean, we need it to live, right? This was my first and last RCI cruise. If this company cares no more for its guests than to put them on an old, outdated ship with an inexperienced crew, insufficient food supplies, inadequate drinking water, lousy customer service, and disrespect for children, AND charge full price, then I personally have no use for them. To add insult to injury, the t-shirt I purchased on board came apart after the first washing, with at least 25% of the text on the front disintegrating and a portion of the hem unraveling. The taste in my mouth won't likely go away for a while, if ever. Read Less
31 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
4 night Bahamas and Key West with a party of 10 very fun people so we made the best of it and still had lots of fun but this is definitely a boat to avoid. This is a long review so you can read what matters to you. I am NOT a picky ... Read More
4 night Bahamas and Key West with a party of 10 very fun people so we made the best of it and still had lots of fun but this is definitely a boat to avoid. This is a long review so you can read what matters to you. I am NOT a picky person. I love cruising and have rarely been disappointed because I enjoy almost everything about it and love to vacation. This was my 11th cruise, 1st with Royal Caribbean. I won't go on this ship or this size ship ever again. I will break down my comments by categories: Boarding - Our negative experiences began at check-in, confusion and delays seemed to be the order of the day. The clerk messed up my online booking. I added a credit card for my wife, daughter and I with full charging rights. The clerk took my card to confirm it but for some reason removed my wife from my credit card and made her a cash account and the head of our room. I had no choice but to fix her changes at guest services which took over an hour of my time on day 4 (45 minute wait and 20 minutes to correct.) The Empress is an older, smaller ship so one should expect less amenities, smaller cabins, and less expansive public spaces. As a trade off you would expect shorter lines, better service, and a more personal experience while on board. That is not the case at all !!!! We waited longer, in bigger crowds, with much more confusion and poorer information than we had on past cruises on larger ships, on other cruise lines. I think that the crew members were willing to help but lacked the experience, training, and supervision to succeed. Management on this boat is oblivious to common sense solutions. The staff is working extremely hard but for some reason, management closes bars and buffet lines in the middle of peak times constantly causing the passengers to have to wait forever for bar drinks or food. Room service - if the call gets through, they say you will get it in 45 minutes but it always took about 90 minutes, options very minimal. Worst cruise room service menu ever. Most of the time, all you get when you dial room service is a busy signal. I would call guest services, ask to get transferred and then get hung up on too. Worst room service ever on any cruise. Food - Buffets - always very long lines, choices minimal, no omelette or egg bar, 1 type of cold cuts, cheeses one or 2 options at most, carving station only one meat option either beef or pork roast, beef always fatty and chewy, never turkey or roast beef, no chicken tenders, overcooked-dry burgers, desserts- spongy tasteless cakes and 1 type of cookie. Worst ship buffet I ever experienced. Longest lines and worst choices with flavorless food. STILL a Broken ice cream machine so during meal times, scooped ice cream was served (so no late night ice cream). No night time soft serve ice cream EVER. I read a review from May and it was broken during that cruise too...crazy that they can't fix an ice cream machine or at least have TWO on the ship at all times. Formal dinner - slow service 2 hours or more every night, never even met the Maitre D. Very limited options, never a lobster or filet mignon choice included (always a $29.95 extra charge), never a shrimp entree, steaks always chewy and fatty, no good pasta options if any offered...one night lobster mac and cheese but no lobster so they substituted ground shrimp - terrible and unedible. - best dish all 4 nights was the crab cakes appetizer, all else below average at best Desserts- never a good chocolate option such as chocolate lava cake, no creme brulee, often ran out of menu choices. I couldn't even get a brownie. Room - ocean view, super small, no drawers or shelves wide enough for a folded Tshirt or shorts. Literally, no place to put a folded T-Shirt. Had to live out of a suit case under the bed. - the closets need shelves vs 3 rows of hanger poles (especially since no formal night) - Despite the meager room, Manuel our room steward was EXCELLENT and deserved the extra tips he got. Bars - 5 bars on entire boat so lines are always very long. The pool bar was the biggest with 4 or 5 bartenders that worked really hard. Other bars, if open, might have 1 to 3 bartenders at most. However, management loves closing bars on this ship! It's ridiculous to close 3 or 4 bars during the sea day (the pool bar on deck 10 and one small bar on deck 5 were open during the sea day) I never even saw beer cart coolers open either, the bartenders are just always overloaded - not their fault, management blew it...must keep other 2 bars on deck 10 open on sea day. I don't think all bars were open simultaneously ever. I had the Ultimate Beverage package which is really great and worth the $280 to me since I like visiting the bars on cruises often. I just spent a lot of time waiting. I added tips when warranted. -Ravi and Martin were always great, attentive, and fast when possible and deserved their extra tips 3 bars for one drink story: Just before the evening theater show, my daughter wanted a drink, only one waiter in the whole theater and he was nowhere in sight so off I went...the first bar had lines at least 5 people deep, I walked to the casino bar and it was closed (at 9:30PM!!!), next bar on another floor with smaller lines but it still took 20 minutes to get served. Expect this type of situation often. Pool - really 1 tiny pool split in two with 3 Jacuzzi's - very small, smallest pool and smallest deck area, nearly impossible to find a lounge chair let alone 2 or 3 together. - 50 to 60 people trying to cool off in 20ft by 20ft adult pool an "interesting sight" Cafe Bolero - good specialty coffee drinks but no frozen options at all (ie frozen Frappuccino 15 year old daughter was pretty mad and sad). Only regular coffee drinks or iced drinks with no whipped cream. Night time entertainment - no atrium entertainment (ie acoustic guitar singer or duet) no comedy option, no evening karaoke, no disco open until 12:15 - Main shows and games were OK to good However, one bright spot....the best cruise director ever - that guy is super talented and great at getting people involved and dancing. He's very engaging and entertaining (even sang the last night with Spanish band). He deserves to be promoted or get a raise. The night-time pool party and group games were well attended and fun. Casino - always super hot (broken ac??) and casino bar was closed most nights and days which i cant figure out, during the sea day in the evening, the casino bar was closed at 9:30 PM!!! I was in shock and noticed it was closed most nights. No Texas Hold-Em (live or electronic dealer table) either. Facilities such as toilets and sinks broken often which seemed strange to me since boat just out of dry dock. You soap up your hands and no water from auto faucet. Nice decor and furniture on boat and common areas. Once we were off the ship we enjoyed our stops in Key West and CocoCay. Key West is lots of fun and since you had till 7:00 pm, so this is a great port. Coco Kay is an excellent beach and snorkeling day. Bonus - no extra cost for food and with my drink package, no extra cost for booze either. In general, the boat is small but could provide a better cruise experience if utilized more effectively. Keeping buffet lines open longer (not closing half the buffet during open hours) and keeping all bars open would shorten wait times and dramatically improve the quality and experience. Way too often, bars are closed, buffet lines are closed, room service is un-attainable (busy signal for 15 minutes or more so you can't even get the call made to order room service). These issues cause food and bar services to be ridiculously slow or take too long. Royal Caribbean needs to deliver the basics of what is promised on a cruise. Friendly-relatively fast service with lots of food and drink options. Long lines serviced by over-worked frantic workers is a recipe for failure. If management empowers the staff and keeps everything open longer, things can improve else this ship should be avoided. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
We were on the second sailing of the Empress since it's return to service with Royal Caribbean. While our experience does not seem to be as bad as that of the unfortunate passengers on the first sailing the preceding week, I would ... Read More
We were on the second sailing of the Empress since it's return to service with Royal Caribbean. While our experience does not seem to be as bad as that of the unfortunate passengers on the first sailing the preceding week, I would still rate our overall experience as poor. Our negative experiences began at check-in, Confusion and delay seemed to be the order of the day, we even ended up with our photos mismatched with our identities on our key cards. Other issues arose with services that had been pre-ordered and paid for that were not available to us at boarding, and required a very long wait at the service desk for correction. The Empress is an older, smaller ship so one should expect less amenities, smaller cabins, and less expansive public spaces. As a trade off you would expect shorter lines, better service, and a more personal experience while on board. That is not the case.. We waited longer, in bigger crowds, with much more confusion and poorer information than we had on past cruises on larger ships, on other cruise lines.I think that the crew members were willing to help but lacked the experience, training, and supervision to succeed. I am not picky about food and having heard others complain of poor service and delays in the Main Dining room we stuck to the Windjammer buffet which was adequate but nothing special. Once we were off the ship we enjoyed our stops in Key West and CocoCay. Key West is great because you can find a lot to do from a laid back walking tour to full-on aquatic activities.. And CocoCay was nice although a bit crowded as the Majesty of the Seas was there at the same time as we were. Disembarkation was as big a mess as boarding with a long line that snaked through the heart of the ship, from the bow to who knows where.. As a final nail in the coffin ( not Royal Caribbean's fault ), a nonfunctional escalator in the terminal delayed processing while disembarking the ship. I would certainly not book again on the Empress and I would probably consider other cruise lines before booking again on Royal Caribbean. Read Less
42 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
17 RCCL Cruise in the past, most all good, and compared to what the first week folks have had, mine "Empress" was a good experience. Of course reading some folks posts, some people just need to stay home, as nothing ever ... Read More
17 RCCL Cruise in the past, most all good, and compared to what the first week folks have had, mine "Empress" was a good experience. Of course reading some folks posts, some people just need to stay home, as nothing ever will be good enough for them. "Plenty of good Royal Theater seats down stage center." Not sure why RCCL is having such a bad time with this Vessel, they have lots of older Ships many are over 15 years old. Majesty comes to mind @ 24 years old. Maybe because it's been gone for 8 years, not sure, everyone that I encountered were long time Empress Crew, having stayed on as Ship returned to RCCL service. It's funny that all the long time Cruisers that have commented, don't know to never, ever take the first cruise out of dry dock, this is what happens. Anyway, most of the issues stated have been fixed, or greatly improved since the first cruise. Keep in mind folks, it's a 26year old ship. What RCCL is thinking is still uncertain, other then they needed a small ship, quick for Cuba. Unfortunately for them, Cuba has yet to come on board, so to speak. There were at least 6 RCCL Mgmt folks from across the street at the Port of Miami, on board, with I pads in hand, taking lots of notes, and with the Captain at their side were looking over everything, forward to aft. Maybe because of their presence, but things started coming together, the new Show "Three" was fantastic, great BIG Show on such a small stage, the "Live" Orchestra though small In number number, we're very polished. Beats Pre-recorded anytime. Jose' the cruise director comes from the Majesty, he's Young and enthusiastic, but his lack of experience shows thru. My cabin 9628, had been completely renovated, carpet, mattress, soft goods, walls fixtures, bathroom fixtures brand new, with great A/ C my cabin stayed 65 degrees always, Plenty of hot water, however the toilets were off for about 20 min, when a first time cruiser tried to flush a wash cloth, thinking they were disposable, and disposable meant, flush it. The food was good, never waited more then 5 min for, My time dining, the menu was brand new, with the same amount of choices as any other RCCL ship. The design of the windjammer inherited from Pullmantur leaves something to be desired, RCCL long ago, gave up on the Caffatera design, in favor of the current "Island" design. Folks move so slow in a Caffatera, one line, two direction format, baking up into an already too small entryway. Unless they can reconfigure Windjammer to what works well on other RCCL ships, I'm afraid the lines will remain, remember, you can enter The Windjammer from both sides during busy times. Alas, the famed poolside ice cream machine remains broken, it's brand new, but not working, however, a Staff member was stationed inside Windjammer with hand dipped ice cream at the ready, 2 flavors, no wait that I could see. The Poolside Shower is finished. From what the Guests on the First, post dry dock cruise, experienced, this last one was almost perfect. The Casino looks great, but still no A/C in most parts, is uncomfortable, but over all the Ship was Clean, and most problems seem to be working themselves out, I think RCCL had a huge wake up call from you folks on the first cruise, let's hope so anyway. Walk off disembarkment was to begin at 7:30 AM , It began at 7:30 AM, as advertised, Shipwide announcement was made at least twice, we were though customs and at the MIA Airport via an $11.00 Uber , at 7:50 AM, Lastly, if Cuba doesn't come to RCCL, I can't see them keeping this small ship in the fleet, I was told by a Guest Services Crew Member, that the first Cuba Culture Exchange Cruise was due to Sail on July 29, but has been postponed. They have at least 2 other "Older" other ships, doing the short Miami and Orlando cruises, do they need 3 ?? Give the Ship and / or RCCL another chance, I have for 10 years, and they have a proven track record, for those of you that require all the Bells and Whistles, remember, compaire Apples to Apples, for you all, Harmony of the Seas awaites. Just sayin' Bon Voyage. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This cruise was the most awful cruise I have ever had the displeasure of taking. Where do I even begin? 1. Disembarkment was late, no organization and sen to wrong desk to be sent to wrong line 2. our cabin was not ready so walked ... Read More
This cruise was the most awful cruise I have ever had the displeasure of taking. Where do I even begin? 1. Disembarkment was late, no organization and sen to wrong desk to be sent to wrong line 2. our cabin was not ready so walked around with luggage for hours 3. the food at windjammer was that of a Super 8 motel breakfast, picked over, overcooked and cold 4. the juice machines were never the right mixture. juice either too syrupy or watery, ice cream machine broken entire trip 5 The ice machine broken almost whole trip... 90 degrees and no ice?! 6. dinner was a joke as everything out and wait to be seated with other families and couples when plenty of seating available. 7. No activities for children 8. Entertainment sub-par 9. Casino hours only open 3 hours in evening 10. 3 bars entire ship... wait 45 minutes for drink 11. Cancelled my prepaid shore excursion without warning 12. Backed up toilets 13. AC in cabin went out 14. Water stopped while I was in shower 15. Pool looked smaller than a park pool 15. No movies or outdoor entertainment 16. cabin was not as advertised 17. service was incredibly slow I could go on but getting more depressed reliving his dreadful experience. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
I am writing this to express my sincere disappointment in my recent cruise on Royal Caribbean Empress of the Sea. My wife and I sailed from June 2nd to June 6th for our one-year anniversary. This was my first time on a cruise ship and ... Read More
I am writing this to express my sincere disappointment in my recent cruise on Royal Caribbean Empress of the Sea. My wife and I sailed from June 2nd to June 6th for our one-year anniversary. This was my first time on a cruise ship and my wife’s second. She was very excited to go on this cruise with me and hyped it up saying it’s an amazing experience. Well I will tell you the trip was far from an amazing experience with my wife apologizing to me constantly throughout our trip. I told her not to worry as long as we are having a good time together it was not her fault for our experience. Needless to say she was very upset hoping this would have been different experience. To make this easier I have listed each day and some of the negative experience we incurred. Day 1 - There was issues with guest getting off the boat from another cruise and therefore we had to wait to get on to the ship in a timely manner. They finally corralled the hundreds of people on to the ship were we walked around to check out the ship and sign up for various event and drink packages. We were told at 1pm we would be able to get into our room and the signs on the door eluded to that. When 1pm came around we were told we could not go in because they have not finished cleaning the rooms. We were able to enter an hour later but told we could only change and had to leave the area. So we headed to the bar. This is where we were faced with under staff and long lines that would be continuous throughout our trip. Dinner on day one was terrible, we both ordered the strip steak and what came out was far from a strip steak (we own a restaurant) and laced with gristle we could not eat. We each had 2 or three small bites of the 8oz steak. The rest of the table shared our same disappointment. Once the casino opened we both wanted to try our luck, however the AC was not working and was very hot and stuffy, we could only stay for a few minutes before leaving to get fresh air. Also we were told the bar would not be open in the casino. Day 2 - We spent this time at Key West leaving the ship at 8am and returning at 6pm. Once again dinner was subpar. Not to mention that people were not wearing “casual” clothing. Many wore gym shorts and jeans. Casino still no air and now were told that they were working on it. All bars were still short staffed and took very long to get a drink. I decided at late night I wanted to take a swim my wife decided to sweat out the casino. It was 11pm and I had read that towels are not available at this time so I called Guest Services to check if the pool was open and if I could use a room towel. He said the pool was open 24 hours and I could use my towel. I got dressed for the pool and headed up only to see the pool was closed. I asked a nearby maintenance man what was going on with the pool and he said it was closed for cleaning. I asked him when it would be open he said 1 hour. I waited and waited finally after 1 hour and a half and still no water I went back to the room. This is just lack of communication and could have been relayed to guest services that the pool would be closed. Day 3 - We decided to just relax by the pool, we got lucky and found a chair that wasn’t already claimed by guest deciding to come at a later time and hold a spot. The pool area filled up quickly because this was our sailing day. My wife went to the bar only to stand in line for 25 minutes to get a beer with only 2 bartenders and no server on the pool deck. The lines continue to get out of hand and there was no way to get a drink even at other bars. My wife waited 35 minutes and finally got called on to order. She ended up buying the cooler with beer so she would not have to wait again. She had a package plan that cost over $250 and still had to pay for beer. We arrived at our dinner that night and dressed to impress because we brought formal wear not knowing it was dress as casual as possible. We decided we would dress up anyway so with my bowtie and her cute dress we decided tonight we will order from the Selection from Chop that cost extra. I was going to order the filet and my wife the filet and lobster. When we ordered we were told that that selection was not available. So why was it listed on my menu. We tried to order another item but again told this was no longer available because they were out. We ordered and once again the food was subpar at best. Dressed up we tried the casino again. Nope AC still not fixed so we decided to just go to bed. Day 4 - Our day at Cococay, This excursion was ok, my wife original thought we were going to the real Bahamas and not a private made up island. However beach and water was what we wanted so we enjoyed ourselves. We paid for the Aqua park and the water slide. But lines on the slide only allowed us down 3 times and the sand at the bottom grinded the skin off our backs. We gave up to not waste the day in a line. The Aqua park was fun until a handful of guest started getting stung by jelly fish so we cut out of there before our time was up. Very long lines at lunch and when we ordered drinks, beer was not cold and we were a little disappointed we could not get frozen drinks. I enjoyed the snorkeling but the bottom of the areas were littered with trash, I personally fished out 14 cups and other trash to bring to the trash can and out of the water. One of the attendants at the jet ski area noticed I was cleaning the water and said “save the waves” and thanked me. I was wondering why they weren’t doing that. I even found a sea pass from January that I handed in when I got on the ship and they were shocked it was still out there. This evening was the best dinner we had had all trip, but when we ordered dessert they were out of Baked Alaska and another one we wanted. So we just asked for cookies, which were rock hard. Someone came up to explain the cooler had went down so that is why we had no dessert. Day 5 - We had booked an excursion doing the bus tour of Miami since we had a full day before needing to get on the plane. We asked and were told that the busses are a get of and get on type of bus tour and that the busses run every 20 minutes. We decided to spend the money on this so we can explore Miami. When we got on the bus there was no tour guide just a earphone telling us what was going on. When we got to a location we wanted to jump off we were told that the next bus would not be for another hour or so. What happened to every 20 minutes. So we stayed on. I will say that the breakfast and lunch buffets food was not good at all and on some days I could not even eat the food. Breakfast eggs were runny, bacon was flimsy and greasy. Lunch the ribs were boiled tasting and the tacos were stale. Overall the experience just wasn’t what I expected and when people asked me how it was I am embarrassed to say it wasn’t that good. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
We booked this as a short getaway cruise. We have cruised before with Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian and Princess Cruise Lines. This was, unfortunately, our worst cruise experience. (Yes, worse than Carnival.) Some of it may be ... Read More
We booked this as a short getaway cruise. We have cruised before with Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian and Princess Cruise Lines. This was, unfortunately, our worst cruise experience. (Yes, worse than Carnival.) Some of it may be fixable through better planning or training, but some of it probably isn't. The ship is cramped when at capacity, especially the pool area. I was surprised that there weren't enough ice machines functioning; they put out ice in plastic tubs with scoops -- not the most hygenic offering. The stateroom (ocean view) was supposed to be partially obstructed but in fact you couldn't see past the lifeboat outside. There is no fridge in the stateroom and the shower is miniscule. They really don't have much of an atrium area which us usually good for entertaining. We did attend the theater performances and they were good, and we had some good meals in the dining room. However the buffet really was incredibly disappointing - very little variety, no creativity. Truly no better than you might find at a typical summer camp. And that really is how the whole trip felt - like a summer camp on the water. I heard that this ship is meant for a Cuba route. I think it would be fine if they market it as something very different from a typical cruise. It does not compete with other mid-range cruise offerings. We had a good vacation but this ship did not live up to expectations. 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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