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  1. Hello all! Hoping you enjoy this "live-blog" style recap of my first cruise. A little about myself and the trip: I was completely new to cruising before this trip. I knew it was something I wanted to do, and I knew that I would have time off in-between Christmas and the first Friday of the new year, so I decided it try it out. I tried to get a friend to come along, but ended up deciding to do a solo trip instead. I've done solo traveling in the past, so I was not worried about this aspect. Around the end of July, I worked with a family friend who is also a travel agent to find different cruises that fit my time and budget (including any flights that might be needed). I had looked at itineraries from other cruise lines as well, but this one stood out to me the most. Once I put down my deposit, I started some research and found Royal Caribbean Blog, which proved to be invaluable! Part of my goal with this trip was to see exactly how much I could do included with the cruise. I didn't book any excursions before my trip, or on-board. I didn't purchase any drink packages, preferring to pay by the drink as I realized I would most definitely not be able to keep pace to make the deluxe drink package worthwhile. I did receive $50 on-board credit through my travel agent when she booked for me. I used part of this for a lunch reservation at Chops Grill on embarkation day, which I booked online ahead of the cruise. I did not purchase any Voom packages ahead of time, or on-board. I thought it would be a nice way to start the year, with some technology disconnect. Itinerary 12/30/19 - Miami 12/31/19 - Key West 01/01/20 - Sea Day 01/02/20 - Perfect Day at Coco Cay 01/03/20 - Miami I am still fiddling around with some of the photos I took on this trip, so please feel free to ask any questions in between posts!
  2. I wasn't sure I would live blog this trip but Empress is secret favorite of mine and she doesn't get much attention here in the live blogs. Empress is a small ship yet she doesn't feel small on board, as long as you pick the right cabin. In the wake of the abrupt Cuba changes fares have been very reasonable including Junior Suite rates. On a small ship the added space and balcony of a Junior Suite goes a long way to not feeling the size of the ship. The fact that cruising solo in a suite will net me triple Crown and Anchor points wasn't lost on me. That's a whopping 42 points for the price of a 7 night cruise in a balcony on an Oasis class ship. Since I'm flying to the ship I always prefer a B2B. If I'm coming all this way I might as well cruise twice. I thoroughly enjoyed my last Empress cruise so given the great last minute rates and affordable suites I couldn't pass up the opportunity to sail this little beauty again. Itinerary 1 - 6 nights Key West, Costa Maya, Cozumel Itinerary 2 - 8 nights Key West, Costa Maya, Belize, Cozumel, CocoCay I like to scuba dive so the opportunity to visit Belize again was appealing. This will also be my first trip to see the new Perfect Day additions. Cozumel is a perennial favorite as is Key West. Costa Maya is also an easy port to spend a day at. Put it all together and the answer computed to... YOLO, why not? I am going to take a more relaxed approach to blogging this one. It is after all a small ship and I've got two weeks to spread my posts over so I may not be as active on this one as I have on other cruises. Flying in the night before my plane takes off in a couple of hours. Time to finish packing and get moving.
  3. In the words as sung by Britney Spears... ? Oops, I Did it Again ? For those who are wondering what is he talking about? (or thinking I've enjoyed one too many happy hour drinks) I just finished 14 nights on this little beauty last week. You can read about that B2B experience here: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/14213-empress-b2b-14-nights-on-the-biggest-little-ship-july-2019/ Those cruises were great but they were Western Caribbean and this 8 night cruise is Eastern Caribbean including a stop at Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Royal hasn't visited the BVI very much in recent years so when I saw the BVI added to the itinerary in the wake of the Cuba cancellations I knew I had to do it. Icing on my cake comes courtesy of another visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay. Itinerary Miami Perfect Day at CocoCay Sea Day San Juan Tortola St Thomas Sea Day Sea Day Miami Our Perfect Day ends at 2pm so we can make it to San Juan for a 3pm arrival after a day at sea. We stay until midnight in San Juan so if all goes well I hope to get some evening and night pictures around San Juan. Sailing in a Junior Suite I have scored one of the most forward deck 9 JS cabins this time. I love this small ship and her big heart. It's a good thing I love this ship because this will be my fourth cruise on her. My Crown and Anchor points haven't been posted yet from my last cruise on her so with the "paint still wet", I'm heading back to the love of my life, or at least the love of my life right now. Because I'm flying I don't like taking just one cruise so with a night off the water in between, I'm doing a side-to-side over to Majesty right after this cruise. A few years ago I started dreaming about a tour of the small ships and this marks another step towards completing that goal. I think I set a record this time having packed my suitcase a full two days before the cruise. Basically I took my cruise clothes from the dryer and put them right back into my suitcase. " You see my problem is this I'm dreaming away Wishing that heroes, they truly exist I cry, watching the days Can't you see I'm a fool in so many ways But to lose all my senses That is just so typically me Oh baby, oh " Okay that doesn't make total sense but it's the only part of the lyrics that somewhat fit so I'm going with it.
  4. I would be interested in hearing people's opinion of Empress of the Seas. We are looking at the 7 Night Best of Bermuda cruise in an aft junior suite. I know the ship is older and smaller but are we going to be really disappointed or will the itinerary make up for it? We love Grandeur (and other ships in the fleet) so hoping it is somewhat similar to Grandeur. All we really care about is a casino, seeing some comedians, having good food and having a nice balcony. We have been enjoying twangster's blog and the ship seems nice and uncrowded (yeah) but would appreciate other's thoughts. Also, regarding aft Jr suites, are all of the balconies on Deck 7 the same size - the pictures make the middle ones seem bigger?
  5. I was recently on Empress of the Seas and loved the four man band Extra! Does anyone know if they have any social media platforms for their band or for each member individually? I realized after leaving that I completely forgot to ask them.
  6. Anyone going on this cruise? I'm doing my first solo cruise and it would be nice to meet some people!
  7. Hello Everyone, So I'll be sailing in June for one of the Cuba cruises on the Empress and I wanted to see if anyone else has came back and has any advice or tips for when we get to the island. I'm very excited to know more about the shore excursions and hopefully we can get some reviews on those. If you've visited renectly, please let us know what you thought. We are planing the 4 hour walking tour so we can get some great photos hopefully. Sorry if this is a duplicate thread, I wasn't able to fine one similar. Thanks in advance!
  8. After the lovely Jerel helps me out next month by picking me up a Navigator model, I will only need Empress to complete my model fleet collection (with the exception of Monarch, but I'm constantly scouring eBay in case one of those comes up). Is anyone sailing on Empress anytime in the next couple of months? Can you please help me and pick up the ship model whilst onboard? I'm happy to send money beforehand if need be. Most people buy the model for me and then, once we know what postage to Australia would be, give me a total price. I can transfer funds via PayPal, which is totally secure. I'd really appreciate your help. Anyone, please?
  9. The Empress departs Miami on April 14 next year. The 15th is a cruise day and gets into Georgetown, Grand Cayman, on Sunday April 16th. That just happens to be Easter Sunday. All of the liquor will be closed as well as most of the shops in port. Right now there are only two excursions in GC offered if you have booked this trip. I know the stores will be closed because I called a couple of the shops and one liquor distributor. Not a lot to do in Georgetown except hike to a nearby beach! I doubt if taxis will be operating. Looks like someone in the RC planning department didn't do their homework! I was booked on this trip, bit I have cancelled. Robert :angry:
  10. We are arriving for our cruise on August 15-20 and are cruising on Empress of the Seas. We are flying into Miami Itnl from the mid-west. This is the first cruise we have ever taken and would like any information on Miami Port, the boarding process, what documents are needed at the port, etc. Thanks in advance!
  11. My boyfriend and I are cruising on the Empress of the Seas from August 15-20. We are scheduled to land in Miami at 12:14pm, will this leave us enough time to get to port? We will be taking an Uber from Miami Intl to port -- transportation is not offered for this cruise. This is our first cruise, so any helpful insiders are greatly appreciated! We have read mixed reviews on the ship and are a little hesitant.
  12. Hi. First post on here. We have been on about 10 RC cruises, usually one a year since 2006. Last year was our first smaller ship/shorter itinerary (as our girl had just turned 3, we brought her along) on Majesty on a 4 night bahamas/key west itinerary. This year we have an end of May five night to Cozumel on Empress booked. Again, we are bringing our daughter since things went quite smooth last year and she seemed to enjoy it. Kinda taking a risk on an even smaller ship than we are used to but I'm sure it will still be enjoyable and we will have fun as always. Anyway....I have been looking around online trying to find any recent pictures/sneak peeks of the construction/refurbishment on the Empress with no luck. Ive read all about the first 6 weeks or so being cancelled due to more time needed but I'm hoping by end of next month everything will be ironed out so we can still go. Best I can tell on a cruiseship tracker is that its been sitting at Freeport Bahamas for a week or two, obviously getting more work done. Anybody know of any recent images of anything completed? I imagine RC is kinda keeping things under wraps until its officially in service.
  13. I am sailing on the Empress on April 11 (5 days, Cozumel and Costa Maya). I am an obsessed researcher so I check the website numerous times throughout the day to see what rooms are still available and if prices are fluctuating, etc. So I have been keeping a very close eye on the status of my Empress sailing. Suddenly, earlier this week, the status for the first 4 cruises out of drydock (of which mine is one...the last of the 4, I believe) are showing a Sold Out status. I find this VERY hard to believe (for my sailing, at least) given the fact that, consistently there have been many, many cabins still available, particularly in the "JR SUITE" category, [which really looks more like a standard balcony on any other ship]. I do concede that the inside rooms had been nearly sold out for some time and all of the Owner's Suites have been sold, but there were still MANY oceanview and balcony (JR STE) still available before they miraculously sold out the entire ship. This is making me very nervous about the refurb. My gut tells me that they aren't ready yet and that they have CUT OFF the remaining unsold cabins b/c they are either going to : (1) cancel some or all of these sailings or (2) they are going to be working, to some degree, during these sailings and they're going to minimize the impact to whomever is already booked on these sailings. They have been even quieter than normal about what is going on with Empress. I believe the refurb is supposed to have been completed by now...but I haven't heard a single peep about whether that is the case, or what they did...or any kind of grand announcement, welcoming Empress back to the fleet. Nothing, nada, el-quieto. I'm getting a bad feeling....
  14. Does Empress of the Seas Have freestyle coke machines since it is freshly updated?
  15. Just thought I would let anyone know who is interested or has Empress of the Seas booked, that Chops has been released on cruise planner as available to book finally! Still no beverage packages, and shore excursions are still all screwed up, but hey it's a start haha! :P Cant wait for that bacon appetizer... Yummmmmm
  16. Hello All, I happen to be sailing out of the port of Miami for the first time coming up on April 7th-16th on the Empress. I have sailed out of Port Everglades many times but never from Miami. We are flying into Ft. Lauderdale of course still. Does anyone have any suggestions on the best places to stay the night before? Is it better to try and get some place down in Miami? Or stay in Ft. Lauderdale? Also, anyone have any preferences of transfer services from FLL and MIA. From the hotel down there and then back to the airport following the cruise. Any input would be greatly appreciated as I know many of you are quite the bundles of knowledge when it comes to anything cruise related :) THANKS!! Adam
  17. Wow ! I just called and booked a 5 day to Cozumel and Costa Maya in an aft Owner's Suite on the Empress for April 2016. They had special Crown & Anchor pricing which came out to 58% off. This beats the heck out of the Club Royale discount (usually 43%) that I usually get. The good news is that the C&A discounts are available to everyone [who is a C&A member] so everyone should be able to take advantage of a nice price. I'm D+ so not sure every C&A level will be the same % off but I suspect that the pricing is pretty nice for all C&A levels. When you can book an OS for less than $2000 (including taxes, port fees and gratuities !) you're doing pretty good ! ...even if it is only 5 nights ! I can't remember whether the VOOM is going to be complimentary on this ship or not. Too many new, old ships to keep up ! empress discount.pdf
  18. Yesterday I read something about the huge C&A discounts being gone from the Empress bookings so this morning I checked. Yep. Gone. They are only showing the same BOGOHO + C&A OBC that the rest of the fleet is getting. BOY am I glad I booked last week. That very lucrative 62% discount is now a disappointing 25%...and the base price hasn't gone down, either. The Empress is very tempting at the deep discount but I probably wouldn't even consider her at the current price. Nice while it lasted and lucky I took advantage of it while it was in effect !
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