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Prior to boarding, I was concerned with the recent online reviews posted. However, we couldn't have had a more different experience (thank goodness!). My family of four absolutely loved this cruise. We were on the 4th sailing of the Empress with stops at Grand Cayman and Key West. Onboarding was simple and fast. Ocean Adventure Club was fantastic! My 9 year old was constantly begging to go. I was very impressed with the staff and activities. My son seemed to have friends all over the ship and when we were at the various ports he was regularly running into his friends from Ocean Adventure Club. It was really fun for him and for us. My 12 year old is the youngest of the teen group. Some of the teen activities were very well attended (Arcade night, Rock Climbing) but most were not. I imagine this is just a function of the fickleness of the age group. My son was still able to make a good friend and had a great time. The pool was disappointing, too small and only one. The cabins are tiny and nothing exciting to write about. But they were very clean and the service in our cabins was excellent. We found the beds comfortable and the ship was on relatively calm water throughout the trip. We were greeted by name (each member of my family) daily by the person responsible for the upkeep of our cabin (Iwayan -- he was top notch!). Dinner and drink service were excellent. We enjoyed nearly everything we ate and if you at all were not pleased they were very quick to provide you with another dinner option. The broiled Salmon was my favorite and my husband's favorite was the prime rib. I don't know how they prepare the pumpkin seed bread provided with the dinner rolls, but it was amazing. I'm going to have to google and try to find out how to make them. We loved them as well as the other guests that we shared dinner with. The lobster bisque and lobster tail were just all right, but nearly everything else we had was truly excellent. One evening when my husband couldn't decide which entree to have, they gave him BOTH entrees! We purchased the premium drink package. I'm sure this is not for everyone, but I did notice that most individuals drinking on the boat had purchased the package as well. The pours were very generous and I found it easy to get a drink at nearly all times. My family prefers IPA beers. The menu had none. That would be disappointing, except we found a new love for many of the cocktails. It was fun trying them all and I will be definitely recreating the "California Cooler" at home, it was absolutely delicious! Stingray city and barrier reef snorkel excursion was great. We had never swam with Stingrays before, what an exciting experience. We received 10 digital photos for $40. I felt that was reasonable and captured a great memory. I recommend arriving 10 minutes early to the theatre showings to get a good seat. You could however find a seat at all times. We've sailed on much larger ships, however, this ship had enough to keep our family busy. I loved that we felt that we were able to get to know many of the guests and that I felt comfortable with my boys navigating the ship. We felt safe at all times. A few individuals on the ship had plumbing issues with their rooms and I did not envy their situation. At least one family shared with me their disappointment that there was not a basketball court and multiple theatres. If you want a larger ship with all of these options, then this is not the cruise for you. If you want a fairly intimate feel with great service, this is the ship for you. Most everyone I met was very pleased and happy with their stay.

Great Experience for a Smaller Ship

Empress of the Seas Cruise Review by DaniDee123

12 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Prior to boarding, I was concerned with the recent online reviews posted. However, we couldn't have had a more different experience (thank goodness!). My family of four absolutely loved this cruise. We were on the 4th sailing of the Empress with stops at Grand Cayman and Key West.

Onboarding was simple and fast. Ocean Adventure Club was fantastic! My 9 year old was constantly begging to go. I was very impressed with the staff and activities. My son seemed to have friends all over the ship and when we were at the various ports he was regularly running into his friends from Ocean Adventure Club. It was really fun for him and for us.

My 12 year old is the youngest of the teen group. Some of the teen activities were very well attended (Arcade night, Rock Climbing) but most were not. I imagine this is just a function of the fickleness of the age group. My son was still able to make a good friend and had a great time.

The pool was disappointing, too small and only one.

The cabins are tiny and nothing exciting to write about. But they were very clean and the service in our cabins was excellent. We found the beds comfortable and the ship was on relatively calm water throughout the trip. We were greeted by name (each member of my family) daily by the person responsible for the upkeep of our cabin (Iwayan -- he was top notch!).

Dinner and drink service were excellent. We enjoyed nearly everything we ate and if you at all were not pleased they were very quick to provide you with another dinner option. The broiled Salmon was my favorite and my husband's favorite was the prime rib. I don't know how they prepare the pumpkin seed bread provided with the dinner rolls, but it was amazing. I'm going to have to google and try to find out how to make them. We loved them as well as the other guests that we shared dinner with.

The lobster bisque and lobster tail were just all right, but nearly everything else we had was truly excellent. One evening when my husband couldn't decide which entree to have, they gave him BOTH entrees!

We purchased the premium drink package. I'm sure this is not for everyone, but I did notice that most individuals drinking on the boat had purchased the package as well. The pours were very generous and I found it easy to get a drink at nearly all times. My family prefers IPA beers. The menu had none. That would be disappointing, except we found a new love for many of the cocktails. It was fun trying them all and I will be definitely recreating the "California Cooler" at home, it was absolutely delicious!

Stingray city and barrier reef snorkel excursion was great. We had never swam with Stingrays before, what an exciting experience. We received 10 digital photos for $40. I felt that was reasonable and captured a great memory.

I recommend arriving 10 minutes early to the theatre showings to get a good seat. You could however find a seat at all times.

We've sailed on much larger ships, however, this ship had enough to keep our family busy. I loved that we felt that we were able to get to know many of the guests and that I felt comfortable with my boys navigating the ship. We felt safe at all times.

A few individuals on the ship had plumbing issues with their rooms and I did not envy their situation. At least one family shared with me their disappointment that there was not a basketball court and multiple theatres. If you want a larger ship with all of these options, then this is not the cruise for you. If you want a fairly intimate feel with great service, this is the ship for you. Most everyone I met was very pleased and happy with their stay.
DaniDee123’s Full Rating Summary
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Ages 7 to 9
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