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Everything posted by twangster

  1. The points are icing on the cake. I'm on a cruise on a ship I enjoy. It may not be the newest or biggest ship, but I'm on a cruise while @Matt is sitting at home thinking and talking about being on a cruise. That itself proves I am winning. The points are just icing at this point.
  2. The secret to enjoying any cruise is having the right expectations. Empress is not a large ship. It doesn't have the bells and whistles that newer and larger ships have. However if you are looking for a core cruising experience she provides all that and more. She only accommodates 1,840 passengers which makes embarking and debarking easy. She has a main dining room and a windjammer. She has a Chops. She has Boleros and a Schooner Bar. A pool and hot tubs and a pool bar. A casino and a theater. All the basic components of any Royal Caribbean cruise are present. The cabins are small, especially the OV and interior cabins. But if you understand that when booking you will have proper expectations set. Day two of fourteen for me and I have no regrets or second thoughts about booking her.
  3. Empress may be the smallest ship in Royal's fleet but she has many open areas that make her feel like she isn't small. This is where photos are displayed. The casino is up the stairs to the left. Schooler Bar with windows to the sea. Aft elevator lobby and stairs has sitting areas. With the large open areas like this it doesn't feel like a small ship.
  4. A nice perk for Diamond Plus members is to be included in the Chop's breakfast normally offered only to Gold card suites and Pinnacles on other ships. Despite the size of Empress Chop's is a good size. Chop's Breakfast menu. Fresh fruit was very tasty. Eggs Benedict. What a great way to start the day.
  5. Day Two - Key West Day two started early for me given the early bed time. Still dark I could lights from shore along the Keys. Thunderstorms in the distance provided a cool lightning display. Later I ventured up to deck 11 as we got closer to Key West to take in the sunrise. With our pilot on board the pilot boat cruised past us.
  6. I checked out the Welcome Aboard show in the main theater. It's always nice to see the cruise director and pick up any essential last minute details about the cruise. Comedian was good. Might have to check out his adult show later in the cruise. Given the late night arrival into Miami the night before I called it quits after the show and headed to bed early.
  7. I made good use of the beverage package on day one but didn't keep score. Lacking a pub the beer choices on Empress are a little lacking beyond the large scale brands. At the Schooner Bar I asked for a Guinness. They have only a small stock on board and it was being saved for a beer tasting event. #disappointed Returning later the bartender had asked the food and beverage manager and obtained special permission to offer me Guinness. Outstanding! #winning
  8. Dinner in Chops on night one. Chops on Empress is one of the nicer Chops with windows to the sea. A deconstructed Wedge salad because I forgot to take a picture when it arrived and jumped right in. Oops. Nine oz. filet cooked to perfection. My mouth is watering as I write this recalling the flavor. Missed taking pictures of the sides. Oops. Must be the drink package effect. Key Lime Meringue Pie The pie was a bit of a let down with sugar grains in the meringue creating a weird texture. Flavors were good but the chewing on sand effect of the sugar was a miss for me. Given the otherwise great experience I'll give them a pass on the pie. Excellent service and great tasting steak, Chops on Empress did not disappoint once again.
  9. Cabin tour! Junior Suite 9630 on starboard. No tub in this JS, just a shower. Walk in closet. The balcony is covered by the pool deck extension. Looking aft. Looking down towards the sea. The view forward.
  10. Boleros located aft is one the biggest and nicest Boleros in the fleet. Behind Boleros is an aft facing public deck. Empress doesn't have a Diamond lounge but on day one they have a sail away gathering for Diamond and higher with complimentary drinks and a piano player. I'll try to get some photos on the next cruise. Empress offers a very classic approach to cruising with outdoor seating areas under the lifeboats. A great place to enjoy the sea with a good book or a beverage, or both. The pool deck checks all the boxes. A main pool, a kids splash area and hot tubs. No pool deck is complete without a pool bar. Covered seating areas line the outside of the pool deck. Deck 11 forward has more sitting areas and some other relaxation option like these hammocks. A look back at terminal E.
  11. I didn't buy The Key but I noticed the large banner welcoming guests who had. Carry on holding area in the theater. A half dozen guests were in Chops enjoying a lunch. Dedicated theater seating for The Key along with Gold card holders. Empress has a casino that is open to other guest areas so it is non-smoking. Here is the casino bar. They wasted no time opening the casino after sail away as soon as we were in international waters.
  12. I wasn't going to post many pictures but since @Matt threatened to lock my account for fear it's been hacked, I guess I had better. I was in my hotel less than I was on the plane so I skipped taking picture of my hotel room. We'll start with terminal E at the Port of Miami. Once upstairs it's very similar to terminal G often used by Royal when multiple Royal ships are in port. Suites have a dedicated room off to the side like terminal G where I was first able to get a glimpse of Empress.
  13. Empress was ordered by Admiral Cruise Lines but then in 1987 Royal Caribbean acquired Admiral while Empress was being built so they absorbed her into the fleet. Since the ship was designed and ordered by Admiral before acquisition she has a unique design that couldn't be modified in a significant way before taking delivery. They were able to get a Viking Crown Lounge and a Windjammer cafe added as signature Royal Caribbean features. Admiral had plans to use her on the short cruise market to the Bahamas so the cabins were not designed to be as large as they would be on ship designed for longer itineraries. Empress is smaller than Vision class but she has a bigger heart (and a smoke free casino).
  14. I’ve missed most of them. You can contact C&A to request ones that are missed. It’s not a thing for me so I haven’t pursued it very hard.
  15. Happy to see D+/P/Suites still have access to Chops Grille for breakfast daily 7:30am to 9am. This is basically like a Coastal Kitchen breakfast on ships that have sky class suites.
  16. WhatsApp works over Voom. Basic chat and calling works over basic Surf. Surf & Stream is faster for sending pictures/videos or any other bandwidth intensive function.
  17. Sitting at the Schooner Bar. Overheard bartender talking with a guest. DX covers up to $13 drinks. Guest remarked it showed a $12 limit on the Internet. Bartender responded on this ship basically everything at the bar is covered except wines that are over $13.
  18. IT’S CRUISE DAY! At the terminal by 10:10am after a $20 Uber ride. Today we are using terminal E. Check in was smooth as an early bird and I was led to a small waiting room for suites. Three other guests were already waiting. Terminal E has a lot of Carnival signage and reminds me of Terminal G. Very similar. At 10:15am I heard a radio call that the ship had federal clearance. At 10:45am boarding commenced. First on the ship. #winning Deluxe drink package $63 per day. Empress doesn’t have a Diamond Lounge so I used my 30% D+ discount and bought the DX. It was $50 in the cruise planner so I saved a few bucks by buying it on board at $44 but this only works because I am D+. Most folks should buy the DX in advance except they were offering the BOGO50 for DX on day 1 only. The beverage package table in the Centrum had the new cups (no handle) while the other beverage package displays in other areas had the old beverage cups. DX packages offered on day 1 & 2 only. Booked Chops using my D+ BOGO. Normally this requires nights 1 & 2 but they allowed me night 1 and any port day for the return visit. I had a really good Chops experience on my last Empress cruise so it’s one of a select few ships where I’ll pay for specialty dining. It’s also the only specialty venue on Empress so there’s that too. Noted signage for the Key in the theater and at Chops. Cabins ready at 1:30pm with muster at 3:30pm. Waited until 11am for my first beverage since it was after noon on Canada’s East coast.
  19. After a number of weather delays we finally boarded 2 hours late. Lining up to board there was a lady who had clearly spent the delay at a bar. Once boarding was complete there was another delay. Apparently somewhere behind me a drunk lady did something to draw the attention of the crew. The same lady I saw while boarding was removed from the flight. While not very dramatic it further delayed us. I was worried our flight crew would time out but eventually we took off. Thunderstorms along our flight path made for a beautiful nighttime show. The power of nature is amazing. Thunderstorms in Ft Lauderdale area slowed us down some more. At 2:25am we landed. After waiting for luggage I hailed an Uber for the $45 ride to my Miami airport area hotel. Finally in my hotel room at 4am. Thankfully that’s only 2am mountain time so not as bad as it sounds.
  20. I’ll often try to give things a chance and go beyond my normal boundaries especially when it comes to the Arts. However I couldn’t make it through the trailer. The moment James Cordon was introduced I had a flash back of the movie Scrooged and the trailer felt more like an SNL skit.
  21. Welcome to the message boards! Great ship and congratulations on 20 years! Check out this blog post for Oasis: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2017/01/31/first-time-cruisers-guide-royal-caribbeans-oasis-of-the-seas Enjoy planning your first cruise. That’s almost as much fun as the cruise itself.
  22. Royal has stated that Majesty will remain in NOLA offering "year round cruises". Bookings through April 2021 are supposed to open up next week. I'm not so certain she will be transferred this time around, not yet.
  23. Hmmm. I once inquired about adding someone to a solo booking and I was told it would be port fees and taxes. They couldn't make it so i never went through with it.
  24. The adventure begins with my 6pm flight delayed to 7pm, then delayed again to 7:30pm. New arrival time 1:45am. And so it begins...
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