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When I walk onto a ship for the first time, my rating is 100. It’s up to the ship, crew, and overall experience to keep it that way. How did they do? To start off, ports of Havana and Cienfuegos in Cuba were fascinating. I was very glad we were able to go to both ports. However, I do not recall that there were any enrichment activities on the ship, and was surprised about that. Other ports were pretty typical for the Caribbean. I liked that the ship had places on deck to sit that were in the shade (there are also plenty of sunny places). The promenade on Deck 6 wrapped all the way around the ship, and one could walk four complete laps to reach a mile. That deck also had plenty of deck chairs to quietly sit and read, doze, or contemplate the azure seas. Smokers had about as much deck space as non-smokers, which was apparently by design because of the Cuban ports of call and plans to offer freshly rolled cigars. (There turned out to not be any cigar rolling, but still a few guests smoked cigars out on deck). If you are someone who likes to find places on deck at night where you can see the stars, head forward on Deck 6, and climb the stairs to Deck 7 or Deck 8. Tender operations went smoothly, as did embarkation from Miami. Disembarkation back in Miami was a little mixed up: we were told to wait in specific public rooms and watch the screens to know when our group could leave (no overhead announcements). Alas, there were not any screens in our designated public room, and our projected time to leave came and went. Finally, a crew member came into the room, and hollered for certain groups to follow her. We did, then entered another public room, where we waited until another crew member came to lead us off. We were finally off about a half hour after we thought we would be. We took a taxi to the airport, which was $27 plus tip. We had dinner in the dining room 6 out of the 8 nights, where the food was usually good; there were just a few times that it wasn’t good enough to finish or try to finish. The cod on the second night was not good (but the sauce was), and the French onion soup off the always available menu wasn’t good, at all. The filet of sole about the fifth night, however, was excellent. It would have been nice to have the dining room open for lunch because the Windjammer Café was very crowded for the first hour or so at lunchtime. One day, the main lines in the Windjammer were so crowded that we went to the burger line; there were pork and chicken burgers but the hamburger tray was empty. I took a chicken burger, then discovered there wasn’t barbecue sauce. Alas, even the ketchup bottles were empty. The chicken burger turned out to be quite dry, so it could have benefited from some sort of sauce. Another day at lunch, there was fish and when I asked for tartar sauce, was told there was none. At breakfast, the orange juice and apple juice were very strong. I do not care for watery juices, so for me to feel like I needed to add water was extraordinary. Cleanliness in the Windjammer Café didn’t reach a top score: on more than one occasion, when I reached for the salt shaker, it had not been cleaned lately and was crusted with food from other peoples’ fingers. Even in the evening, dress on board was quite casual, which was fortunate considering there wasn’t a lot of space in cabins to store gowns, cocktail dresses, tuxedos and dark suits. On at least one evening, recommended dress was above smart casual, and many ladies did wear fancy dresses while men wore suits and ties. I also saw people in shorts and blue jeans in the dining room, but no one blinked and eye. The library was small, and appeared to be comprised of books that had been donated by guests on previous cruises. By the second or third day, however, they were nearly all checked out. There are many comfortable places around the ship to sit and read, both indoors and on deck. Front desk staff was nice, but didn’t go out of their way to find answers to unusual questions. Excursion staff didn’t know a lot of about the excursions that wasn’t printed in the brochure. I signed up for one shore excursion, but it was cancelled because of equipment failure. Would I go to Cuba again? Heck, yes! Would it be on the same ship? Probably not.

Fascinating Cuba, pretty good cruise

Empress of the Seas Cruise Review by WavesAway

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2018
  • Destination: Cuba
  • Cabin Type: Ocean View Stateroom
When I walk onto a ship for the first time, my rating is 100. It’s up to the ship, crew, and overall experience to keep it that way. How did they do? To start off, ports of Havana and Cienfuegos in Cuba were fascinating. I was very glad we were able to go to both ports. However, I do not recall that there were any enrichment activities on the ship, and was surprised about that. Other ports were pretty typical for the Caribbean. I liked that the ship had places on deck to sit that were in the shade (there are also plenty of sunny places). The promenade on Deck 6 wrapped all the way around the ship, and one could walk four complete laps to reach a mile. That deck also had plenty of deck chairs to quietly sit and read, doze, or contemplate the azure seas. Smokers had about as much deck space as non-smokers, which was apparently by design because of the Cuban ports of call and plans to offer freshly rolled cigars. (There turned out to not be any cigar rolling, but still a few guests smoked cigars out on deck). If you are someone who likes to find places on deck at night where you can see the stars, head forward on Deck 6, and climb the stairs to Deck 7 or Deck 8. Tender operations went smoothly, as did embarkation from Miami. Disembarkation back in Miami was a little mixed up: we were told to wait in specific public rooms and watch the screens to know when our group could leave (no overhead announcements). Alas, there were not any screens in our designated public room, and our projected time to leave came and went. Finally, a crew member came into the room, and hollered for certain groups to follow her. We did, then entered another public room, where we waited until another crew member came to lead us off. We were finally off about a half hour after we thought we would be. We took a taxi to the airport, which was $27 plus tip.

We had dinner in the dining room 6 out of the 8 nights, where the food was usually good; there were just a few times that it wasn’t good enough to finish or try to finish. The cod on the second night was not good (but the sauce was), and the French onion soup off the always available menu wasn’t good, at all. The filet of sole about the fifth night, however, was excellent. It would have been nice to have the dining room open for lunch because the Windjammer Café was very crowded for the first hour or so at lunchtime. One day, the main lines in the Windjammer were so crowded that we went to the burger line; there were pork and chicken burgers but the hamburger tray was empty. I took a chicken burger, then discovered there wasn’t barbecue sauce. Alas, even the ketchup bottles were empty. The chicken burger turned out to be quite dry, so it could have benefited from some sort of sauce. Another day at lunch, there was fish and when I asked for tartar sauce, was told there was none. At breakfast, the orange juice and apple juice were very strong. I do not care for watery juices, so for me to feel like I needed to add water was extraordinary. Cleanliness in the Windjammer Café didn’t reach a top score: on more than one occasion, when I reached for the salt shaker, it had not been cleaned lately and was crusted with food from other peoples’ fingers.

Even in the evening, dress on board was quite casual, which was fortunate considering there wasn’t a lot of space in cabins to store gowns, cocktail dresses, tuxedos and dark suits. On at least one evening, recommended dress was above smart casual, and many ladies did wear fancy dresses while men wore suits and ties. I also saw people in shorts and blue jeans in the dining room, but no one blinked and eye.

The library was small, and appeared to be comprised of books that had been donated by guests on previous cruises. By the second or third day, however, they were nearly all checked out. There are many comfortable places around the ship to sit and read, both indoors and on deck.

Front desk staff was nice, but didn’t go out of their way to find answers to unusual questions. Excursion staff didn’t know a lot of about the excursions that wasn’t printed in the brochure.

I signed up for one shore excursion, but it was cancelled because of equipment failure.

Would I go to Cuba again? Heck, yes! Would it be on the same ship? Probably not.
WavesAway’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Ocean View Stateroom
Cabin 3N 3640
The cabin was comfortable: mattresses were excellent, towels were thirsty, and bed linens still had plenty of life left in them. Our beds each had two pillows. The ship was originally designed for a different cruise line that planned to sail it on three- and four-day cruises, thus the cabins were a bit smaller than standard cabins on other ships, and there was limited storage space in drawers and the closet. There was just one day of high seas, but there wasn’t any creaking in the cabin, nor anywhere else on the ship that I heard. Bathrooms and showers were compact, and it was about impossible to shower without touching the wall or curtain at some time.
Deck 9 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews