2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We are retired and have never been to Cuba before. We thought this would be the perfect cruise for us. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Our first impression was great disappointment. The pool was netted and the water was green. The ... Read More
We are retired and have never been to Cuba before. We thought this would be the perfect cruise for us. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Our first impression was great disappointment. The pool was netted and the water was green. The hot tubs were netted and empty. This was to be the theme of our experience as there so many time things were out of order or closed for maintenance. The soft serve machine was down, three of the seven treadmills were inoperable and the gym was insufficient for the number of guests wanting to use it. We resorted to walking on the walking deck, which was also closed for maintenance in some areas. This ship just came out of dry dock and it was evident. The Windjammer and bars were lacking in supplies that had not been restocked in time for the cruise, but we’re eventually restocked by day five. The shore excursions left a lot to be desired as one was canceled just days before we boarded the ship. Actually after experiencing one of RCL tours with this cruise, we were blessed that it was canceled. We booked a tour for a night in Cuba with RCL and it was so bad, the majoryof people walked out. The music was amateurish at best. We paid $109 per person to walk to a local restaurant and get two drinks and an appetizer that consisted of sliced cold cuts, cheese, grated carrots, and lettuce. We walked across the courtyard to another restaurant had two drinks, an appetizer and tipped our server and the cost of that was about $35 total ( not per person). What a huge mark up for profit, especially when you can get a Lobster dinner in town between $12-15 per person. If anything we’ve reminded ourselves of why de shouldn’t book tours with the cruise line and continue booking thru Airbnb. Our tours in Cienfuegos and Havana that we booked thru them were simply amazing and so much more affordable. We had a three hour walking tour with a small group of five and the cost to us was $45. Our guide even bought us gelato and mojitos as we toured. We had breakfast in Chops and they were slow and didn’t listen to what I requested. I asked for an omelet with mushroom, bell peppers and cilantro and I got an oil covered omelet with tomatoes, onions, and spinach. I ended up not eating it. As we waited we observed ceiling that were missing, paint that was peeled or incomplete. The size of the ship was nice, however, as we didn’t feel overwhelmed by the number of passengers on the ship and there were plenty of areas to go for a quiet retreat if we needed it. With all that being said, I would probably sail again on this ship, but would wait a year so that all the issues could be resolved. I certainly WOULD NOT book another shore excursion thru the cruise line. Airbnb experiences had won my loyalty and business for shore excursions. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
There is a REASON there are very few pictures on RC website of this ship- it is because it is old and stinky has few amenities and is basically the WORST ship I have ever been on RC or otherwise (have been on Celebrity RC Gaugan NCL ... Read More
There is a REASON there are very few pictures on RC website of this ship- it is because it is old and stinky has few amenities and is basically the WORST ship I have ever been on RC or otherwise (have been on Celebrity RC Gaugan NCL Carnival) The ship is very smelly with weird hot smelly pockets The ship is LOUD - I was up until 2 last night with the constant noise The Gym SPA and pool area are a JOKE THE FOOD IS ROUGH - They charge now for ROOM SERVICE so heads up on that (10 with the mandatory tip include for a RS order) The boat is a non-stop attempt to sell you CRAP (and when I say crap I mean crap) The info talk given regarding disembarking in Cuba the ship staff made INAPPROPRIATE comments about the Women working the port in Cuba - it was sexist creepy unnecessary and rude Cienfuego is a waste of time of a stop - there is nothing really there - it smells walking into town and you are BOMBARDED with taxis or shore excursions (typical 3rd World) peddlers they are mildly aggressive - Everything has been broken - ice machine ice cream machine drink machines - this ship is like the WORST car at the USED CAR LOT I would NEVER NEVER NEVER recommend this BOAT to anyone and frankly RC is on my poo list too- I will NOT use RC for any cruise ever again - this is ridiculous I am still on board - it is so bad I felt compelled to write this NOW Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I’m a “Diamond Plus" member with RCL. The opportunity came up to visit Cuba, and it has always been on my bucket list. Having recently retired, I added this to the list of future cruises I booked with the cruise line. We were ... Read More
I’m a “Diamond Plus" member with RCL. The opportunity came up to visit Cuba, and it has always been on my bucket list. Having recently retired, I added this to the list of future cruises I booked with the cruise line. We were told we could start embarcation at 11:30, but a representative came out and told us that there were going to be delays letting us onboard as the ship "wasn't ready to receive us yet." I found out later that this was the first day it had been our from drydock. Let me start by saying if this had been my first cruise with RCL, it would have been my last. The ship was in such disrepair. The first issue was the pool. The water was green and they covered it with a net so no one could use it for the first two days, and the hot tubs were empty. When we went to use the gym, three of the seven treadmills were out of order and there wasn’t enough equipment to satisfy the demand, so we opted to use the walking deck. This was partially closed off so there was mixed direction because everyone had to turn around and go in a different direction. This resulted in chaos on the deck as joggers tried to dodge the casual walkers going in both directions. We wanted to enjoy a soft-serve cone, but the machine was tagged (just like the treadmills) with a "Out of Order" sign. We had breakfast in the Specialty restaurant CHOPS. When I ordered my eggs benedict, the egg yolks were solid. I ordered an omelet with mushrooms, bell peppers and cilantro, and I received an oil laden omelet with tomatoes, spinach, and onions. While waited for our meal, we observed the paint peeled from the ceiling and beams, as well as missing ceiling tiles. When we went into the Windjammer to get coffee, there were no coffee mugs or soup bowls. We had to hunt them down. In some areas of the the ship, you could smell chemicals, as it was still undergoing renovations such as painting, and carpet removal/replacement. In the hallway where our cabin was located, the halls were extremely hot because the contractors left the doors to the workrooms open and all the heat from there filled the hallways. Certainly not conditions for anyone to be working in, so I understand why they left the doors open to let some of the heat into the hallways. As for our Cabin, it was very tight! You couldn't walk around the bed as the end of the bed was abutted against a small table that held the TV. The location was not desirable, and I'm not sure how we ended up at the front of the ship, when I specifically stated we don't like the front of the ship, we prefer the middle or back. With that being said, we were located directly beneath the theater, so twice nightly we were entertained with the noise of the performers dancing on the floors over our heads. If that wasn't enough to irritate someone, there was the added feature of the anchors going down which rattled our cabin and filled it with noise. Every time we got underway, our room rattled and roared as well. (This wouldn't have been so bad if we didn't get underway at 1:00 a.m. or if it occurred when we weren't in the room) When we ordered drinks from the bar, we asked for a MasterCard (a red and yellow drink) but the bartender used coconut instead of mango when he made it. We had to stand there and watch him the second time to make sure that it didn't have coconut and sure enough, he almost did it again! We booked two tours, but one was cancelled before we even got on the ship. I suppose you could say it was a blessing because the tour that we did book, was a huge disappointment. We were led by a guide about three blocks from the ship to a local restaurant (we walked there), and we sat in a group table. We were served two drinks each (mojito, and cuba libre), and an appetizer (four slices of coldcuts, and cheeses, and shredded carrots and lettuce). There was a band playing in the restaurant - one that Simon Cowl would very quickly shut down - and a couple of dancers. All of this came at the bargain price of over $200/couple. WHAT???? SERIOUSLY!!! This was so bad, that everyone left within an hour. The tour was supposed to start at 9:00 and end at 12:00, but no one was there when we walked past it at 11:00. When we walked out, we went across the courtyard to another restaurant that had a band playing. We ordered two drinks each and an appetizer and the total (including tip) came to $35.00. What a mark-up. If anything, this was an important lesson in NOT BOOKING with the cruiseline for tours in the future. We went for dinner the next night in the same neighborhood and had a lobster dinner and drinks, and the total came to $34.00. (Lobster was $12/plate and drinks were $2.50 ea. (Again, mojitos and cuba libre). Overall a huge disappointment and completely missed all the marks for the amenities that we use while traveling and not what we’ve come to expect from. RCL Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise because we had leftover credit from a cruise out of Baltimore affected by Hurricane Florence and the port of Miami was convenient to our latest travels. The lure of Cuba was another important factor. I found the ship ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had leftover credit from a cruise out of Baltimore affected by Hurricane Florence and the port of Miami was convenient to our latest travels. The lure of Cuba was another important factor. I found the ship to be old, not terribly clean as other have stated, the staff didn't seem to be particularly attentive (except our cabin steward who was excellent), the food was so so and not consistent. I am not a fan of large cruises but find myself on them for the convenience of the port cities. I am not a fan of large productions, an inexhaustible amount of attempts to get you to spend money on gems or whatever or overpriced tours. But I usually come along feeling that I got what most cruisers would expect from a ship. Not so here. The room was not only incredibly small but there were bunk beads positioned just close enough that it was necessary to duck ( and I am 5 feet tall) when getting out of bed. But worse yet was the air. It never smelled fresh. I never felt the air conditioning was working properly and even though it was cold at times, I never felt it was comfortable breathing. I did get some sort of a virus day 3. Not sure if there was any connection but while trying to recover, I felt I wished we had a balcony to escape to. At all times I was reminded that this was an old ship, whether walking through areas where the temperature changed dramatically or the interesting decor of the dining room. We heard that after this cruise, it was going to be dry docked. If they are intending to refurbish it, I hope they read the comments. It needs a lot of work. We did find the night time entertainment ( a foreign professional dance couple and a comedian) to be better than we have encountered on other ships. We did no ship excursions learning from past experiences that they tend to be endless bus rides and overpriced. We did hire a private guide (FerTours) in Cuba which proved excellent. We taxied to the Primeval Forest National Park in Nassau and I never checked out the "RC private island". Despite all the negatives, we were thrilled with the overnighting in Cuba. It gave us the opportunity to learn so much more. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
The itinerary for this 7 day cruise originally included stops in Havana, Santiago, Nassau and Cococay (Royal Caribbean's private island). Two weeks prior to sailing, the stop in Santiago was cancelled and an overnight stay in Havana ... Read More
The itinerary for this 7 day cruise originally included stops in Havana, Santiago, Nassau and Cococay (Royal Caribbean's private island). Two weeks prior to sailing, the stop in Santiago was cancelled and an overnight stay in Havana was substituted. While we were disappointed, all in all it worked out fairly well with the exception of our dinner reservations. Specifically, with the unexpected overnight stay in Havana, we asked the Maitre d' to change our late seating to an "anytime" seating just for one night so that we could leave the ship for an early show at the Tropicana in Havana. For some reason, they couldn't accommodate us. I must say, however, that the entertainment on the Empress of the Seas was terrific! Their nightly shows included dancers, a magician and a comedian. In our opinion, the shows were even better than what we saw at the expensive Tropicana! Lastly, the ship is a little smaller than what we were used to, carrying less than 1800 passengers and crew. While the stateroom was a bit tight, we found this small size to be very comfortable, almost quaint, and easy to get around! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
The ship was okay, but you already know it's their oldest and smallest. Entertainment was mediocre when it came to stage shows, but the magician, comedian and Stephanie Parks were all great. If you have cruised mega ships, this ... Read More
The ship was okay, but you already know it's their oldest and smallest. Entertainment was mediocre when it came to stage shows, but the magician, comedian and Stephanie Parks were all great. If you have cruised mega ships, this will be a real come down, but it's "okay". And just "okay". Lower your expectations, focus on Cuba and you'll be fine. Coco Cay was good fun, but Atlantis was disappointing. Food was average at all locations, not terrible but nothing to write home about. Stevo our attendant was great and the staff was uniformly pleasant, it's just a smaller older boat. Passport control in Cuba was strange. They photographed checked everyone on day one, but on day two the booths were empty and everyone walked in unchecked. Same with customs going out. No one asked (until you got to the US) what you brought back from there. Havana CLub bar is a lot of fun and close to the ship. The old car tour with Alex was also awesome. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
just back from recent Cuba cruise...emerald level on Royal's loyalty program and have to say I am not likely to cruise Royal again. Have not cruised for the last two years and my previous two cruises experiences were going downhill ... Read More
just back from recent Cuba cruise...emerald level on Royal's loyalty program and have to say I am not likely to cruise Royal again. Have not cruised for the last two years and my previous two cruises experiences were going downhill but they tanked this time. Poor menu in the dining room. Lots of fried foods and french fries? Are you kidding me? In the dining room? A greek salad served with no oregano or lemon juice and green olives instead of kalamata (when they had kalamata available at the Windjammer) and a caprese salad without basil? Service has gone downhill too while expense has increased. Bought a 10 drink card for draft Heineken and 4 days into cruise they ran out and then had to fight with every bartender to honour it in some way? Late dinner seating and almost all the entertainment geared toward early seating. On a bright note had a great room attendant and decent dining room service who were a bit embarrassed by the menu and our complaints. I started cruising in the early 2000's because you received great service with great food while all inclusives were struggling to come anywhere close. Lately I have found it reversed...all inclusives have discovered great service and great food and I am getting more for my vacation dollar with them. Good bye cruising (at least until you figure out) Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We are seasoned cruisers, are used to the mega ships, but we wanted a little getaway cruise to break up the time, and I’ve been wanting to go to Cuba. In researching, I found that this 6-Night cruise in January, which was the month we ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers, are used to the mega ships, but we wanted a little getaway cruise to break up the time, and I’ve been wanting to go to Cuba. In researching, I found that this 6-Night cruise in January, which was the month we wanted to travel, was an excellent value, so we went with the Owners Suite. After booking, I realized that Empress of the Seas used to be Nordic Empress, which we sailed on in 1997! Now I had become quite skeptical, but kept an open mind. Thankfully, the weather held out for us, because prior to our departure week, there were several itinerary diversions due to weather. It’s been ages since I’ve cruised out of Miami, but it was so smooth and organized. And luckily for us, because there was damage to a pier in Key West, we were informed several weeks earlier that we were now stopping in Havana, replacing Key West. I was absolutely thrilled! What a bonus that was! We have been on several sailings where the tables were turned, and we missed a stop we really wanted, and this just made the cruise that much more special. Upon boarding the ship, I was pleasantly surprised at how clean it was! I couldn’t understand why it has gotten so many terrible reviews, other than some guests may not have ever sailed the smaller ships, and could only compare Empress to the mega ships. The service was exceptional! Everyone in every area was so welcoming towards us. The ship is the oldest and smallest, but it was a breath of fresh air. It was wonderful not waiting in lines for any activity, show, or at a bar. Our suite steward went above and beyond, as did our dinner servers, each and every night. The Owners Suite was wonderful, with a delightfully large balcony overlooking the front of the ship, it was amazing! The suite itself was not huge, but certainly large and spacious enough for two people.The Loyalty Ambassador onboard made sure everything was taken care of, not only for us, but for everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed our three ports of call: Havana, Cienfuegos, and Grand Cayman. We did two shore excursions in the Cuba ports being novices there, but now that we’ve gone, our next cruise to Cuba, we will venture out on our own. It was so easy getting around and conversing with the locals, we have mapped out what we will do next time. Back to the locals, I found them to be so engaging, easy to talk to, and friendly. Havana is such colorful a city, I highly recommend it. Cienfuegos is a bit more primitive, but the tours will take you out to the beautiful countrysides. The shopping there is limited, but I found the little stalls near the ship had the best little remembrances at better prices! In Grand Cayman, we just walked around, shopped, stopped at the Paradise Grill overlooking the water, it was wonderful, and one of the best days just hanging out, relaxing with a beverage, enjoying the scenery. The shows on the ship were okay, we went to more than we usually do, as we aren’t real show goers. We also went on the Bottomless Galley Brunch which was by far, a highlight of the week, and I highly recommend it. This cruise was one of the best trips ever, I can’t stop thinking about it and how much we enjoyed it! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We pick this cruise because we wanted to see Cuba. Ship was small, but still had good time. Lines were shorts in dinning room and Windjammer. There was a older crowd and the shows & the events after 9pm only had about 50 or 60 people ... Read More
We pick this cruise because we wanted to see Cuba. Ship was small, but still had good time. Lines were shorts in dinning room and Windjammer. There was a older crowd and the shows & the events after 9pm only had about 50 or 60 people at them. We had a suite on the 9 deck and we will never take a room below the pool deck again.Sitting on the ballancy we could hear the musie during the day and night. All the walking, running & moving of chairs you could hear. Even in the middle of the night when the crew was working out there.Everynight we would be waken The excursions in Cozumel The buggy ride and Snorkeling was good. It was a very Windy so we were told that we couldn't snorkel but we could ride longer and get a free lunch. The riding was great and the gulids were very good. We also did a excursion in Havana Cuba that was four hours long and took us thought the city. was good did take 5 1/2 hours but still good. Wish we had a see day after leaving Cuba to rest some but trip was very good Read Less
Empress of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 3.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 2.5 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.5 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.5 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0

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