Empress of the Seas

Royal Caribbean cruise ship makes first stop in Cuba

In:
23Apr2017

Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas arrived in Havana, Cuba earlier this morning, marking the first Royal Caribbean International ship to stop in Cuba.

Thanks to Halee Whiting for providing these photos.

Empress of the Seas departed Miami earlier this week, as part of a 5-night sailing that culminated with an historic first visit to Cuba. The cruise has been filled with a number of special events and festivities, from cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal to salsa music and dancing in the Boleros Latin lounge.  There was even a special Cuban-inspired dining room menu.

After months of negotiating, Royal Caribbean announced it would offer cruises to Cuba in December 2016.  Royal Caribbean offers regular sailings to Cuba, including some sailings with an overnight visit, through the end of 2016, along with stops in Key West, FL. and Cozumel, Mexico.

 

We will update this post with additional photos and coverage as the day progresses. Keep checking back.

Royal Caribbean's first cruise to Cuba sets sail

In:
19Apr2017

Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas set sail today from Miami, Florida marking the beginning of an historical voyage that will mark Royal Caribbean International's first visit to Cuba.

Guests boarded Empress of the Seas to the tune of live music, Cuban coffee and Cuba Libres served to guests as they boarded.

Empress of the Seas is on a 5-night inaugural sailing to Cuba, which will make the historic visit to Havana, Cuba on Sunday, April 23, 2017.

As guests boarded Empress of the Seas, Royal Caribbean had special Cuba photo opportunities set up, along with plenty of fanfare.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Halee Whiting shared the first two days of the Cruise Compass from Empress of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean brought Empress of the Seas back into its fleet in early 2016, specifically because its size was a perfect fit for Havana harbor.

Spotted: Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas offers luggage storage

In:
28Mar2017

Guests sailing on Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas might be able to take advantage of a new service to store their carry-on bags until their stateroom is ready.

The carry-on luggage storage service was spotted on Empress of the Seas current sailing.

Photo by Brian Robinson

Guests have the option of taking their carry-on luggage to the Royal Theater and leave their belongings there from 10:45am to 1:00pm.

Guests must reclaim their bags when they want to bring them to their stateroom.

We saw something similar offered on Grandeur of the Seas on past sailings.

Royal Caribbean puts first Cuba sailings on sale

In:
09Dec2016

Just days after receiving approval by the Cuban government to offer cruises, Royal Caribbean has put its first ever cruises to Cuba on sale to the public.

As expected, Empress of the Seas is offering a few different itineraries, from Miami and Tampa, Florida.

The first sailing is scheduled for April 19, 2017 and is a 5-night cruise from Miami to Costa Maya, Mexico and Havana Cuba.

There are two more sailings currently available for booking:

  • April 30 from Tampa: 7-night cruise to Cozumel, Belize City and Havana
  • May 20 from Tampa: 7-night cruise to Key West, Havana and Cozumel

Empress of the Seas will homeport in Tampa for the 2017 summer season offering a series of 4- and 5-night sailings, including port calls to destinations in Cuba. The largest ship to sail to Cuba from the United States, Empress will provide vacationers with the opportunity to discover the timeless sights, sounds and culture of this island nation. Details of the summer itineraries will be released at a later date. All cruises will be designed in accordance with current U.S. to Cuba travel regulations.

"Royal Caribbean is the world’s most exciting adventure company, and we’re thrilled to introduce culture-seeking travelers to Cuba. As the unrivaled innovators of the cruise experience, no company is better positioned to help adventurers explore and experience this culturally rich destination," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.

Will you be booking any of these cruises? Tell us in the comments!

Royal Caribbean changes Empress of the Seas itinerary due to Tropical Storm Otto

In:
24Nov2016

Tropical Storm Otto has forced Royal Caribbean to make an itinerary change to Empress of the Seas' scheduled itinerary.

In a letter distributed to guests onboard, the ship's Captain explained the storm's effect of high winds and rain in the vicinity of Falmouth, Jamaica are expected to significantly disrupt the guest experience. Therefore, Empress of the Seas will visit Ocho Rios, Jamaica instead on November 24 from 8:00am to 4:00pm.

Due to the proximity of Ochio Rios to Falmouth, shore excursions booked with Royal Caribbean will continue to run as usual, with just three exceptions.

Royal Caribbean offering third and fourth guests free on select Empress of the Seas sailings

In:
25Oct2016

Royal Caribbean is offering for a limited time third and fourth guests sailing free onboard Empress of the Seas.

The new 3rd and 4th passengers sailing free offer applies to Empress of the Seas sailings booked October 25 - November 6, 2016, on sailings departing on or after November 3rd, 2016. Excludes sailing departing 12/27/16.

Offer provides for free cruise fare of third and fourth guests booked in the same stateroom as the first two offer qualifying guests in a triple or quad occupancy stateroom.  All other charges, including, but not limited to, taxes, fees and port expenses, are additional and apply to all guests.

Empress 3rd and 4th guests sail free Sail Free is combinable with BOGO offers, Savings Offers, Instant Savings, OBC offers, Crown & Anchor discounts, and NextCruise offers. Empress 3rd and 4th guests sail free is not combinable with restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military).

All offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates, Shareholder Benefits.

Offer available to residents of the United States and Canada.

Empress of the Seas will be delayed returning to Miami due to Hurricane Matthew

In:
04Oct2016

Royal Caribbean announced that due to Hurricane Matthew, Empress of the Seas will be delayed returning to PortMiami on time.

Due to the storm, PortMiami is planning to close to all marine traffic on Thursday and reopen on Friday. Because of this, Empress of the Seas next sailing will now depart on Friday, October 7, 2016.

Boarding on Friday will take place as soon as Royal Caribbean receives notification from PortMiami authorities.

To compensate for the missed day, Royal Caribbean will provide each stateroom with an onboard credit in the amount of one day based on the cruise fare paid, which will be credited to guests' onboard accounts. As a gesture of goodwill, we will also be providing all sailing guests with a 25% future cruise credit. 

Guests onboard Empress of the Seas have reported, Empress of the Seas will go to Costa Maya with their extra day and arriving back to Miami on Friday.

Royal Caribbean International will continue to closely monitor weather conditions and will provide updates as soon as they become available.

Royal Caribbean offering third and fourth guests free on select Empress of the Seas sailings

In:
27Sep2016

Royal Caribbean is offering for a limited time third and fourth guests sailing free onboard Empress of the Seas.

The new 3rd and 4th passengers sailing free offer applies to Empress of the Seas sailings booked Sep. 26-Oct. 11, 2016 , on sailings departing Nov. 1, 2016-Dec 15, 2016. Offer excludes sailing departing Nov. 21, 2016.

Offer provides for free cruise fare of third and fourth guests booked in the same stateroom as the first two offer qualifying guests in a triple or quad occupancy stateroom. All other charges, including, but not limited to, taxes, fees and port expenses, are additional and apply to all guests.

Empress 3rd and 4th guests sail free Sail Free is combinable with Savings offers, BOGO offers, Instant Savings offers, Crown & Anchor discounts, and NextCruise offers. Empress 3rd and 4th guests sail free is not combinable with restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military). All offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates, Shareholder Benefits.

Offer available to residents of the United States and Canada.

Royal Caribbean ready to offer cruises to Cuba, but waiting on government approval

In:
20Sep2016

Royal Caribbean's Michael Bayley provided an update as to when its guests can expect to take a cruise to Cuba.

Speaking at a Crown and Anchor Society event aboard Allure of the Seas, Bayley provided an update to the likelihood of Royal Caribbean offering cruises to Cuba.

Bayley indicated the company is ready to offer cruises to Cuba on Empress of the Seas from Miami, but is being held up waiting for government approvals from Cuban and American authorities.

"Originally, we thought, that the various permissions [from the American and Cuban government]... we felt pretty good about going in at April, but we didn't get the permission," Bayley said during the event.

"We don't know all the reasons why, but part of what we think is happening now is because of the elections everything is kind of stopped. We think until that is finished and everybody knows who is doing what and what the position of the various countries will be, this all slowed down. "

Nonetheless, Bayley indicated that the company is firmly prepared to offer cruises to Cuba once the proper approvals are in place, "We're ready to go. Empress is going, but we can't go until we are approved to go by the Cuban government and the American government, and that's out of our hands."

"We brought Empress back specifically to operate to Cuba, to Havana. We have itineraries ready. The ship is prepared to go. The ship fits into Havana. The ship fits into the pier that we wanted to sail into. We are ready.

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