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Need some quick advice.  Looking at booking a late May 5night on Empress (Key West, Havana, Cozumel).  This would be no kids, 2 couples. 

What are the general thoughts on Empress?  We were on Symphony last month, obviously no comparison, but were on Vision last year and really enjoyed her.  The itinerary is really interesting on this, and the rate for an inside cabin is very attractive.  Just wanted to make sure this older ship is half way decent still, can't imagine it would be. 

This would be to celebrate 2 40th birthdays between the 2 couples. 

Any thoughts on the ship or Havana would be greatly appreciated.

Scott

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Just now, Scott M said:

What are the general thoughts on Empress? 

Empress is an older and smaller ship.  I think the key is to go in with the right expectations. She doesn't have a FlowRider, Promenade or other features commonly found in newer ships. However, it's still a fun ship for a relaxing classic cruise experience.  The pitfall with Empress (or Majesty) is going in with the wrong expectations.

Since Empress goes to Cuba, that's all the impetus I need to book.  If it means getting to Cuba, it's well worth it in my opinion.

Speaking of Cuba, I've done a few podcast episodes about cruising to Cuba:

Episode 197: Cruising to Cuba

Episode 258: Majesty cruise to Cuba review

Royal Caribbean cruises to Cuba

Old Havana City Sightseeing shore excursion review

Expert tips & advice for visiting Cuba on a cruise

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Empress remains a favorite of mine.  I've sailed all Oasis class and all Freedom class and they are great ships but Empress has a charm about her.  

As @Matt says you have to have the right expectations.  I just sailed Vision last week and loved it.  Before that it was Navigator (loved it) and Oasis (loved it) and Symphony (loved it).  In all cases i knew what I booked and wasn't disappointed because I had the proper expectations for each ship.  

Empress feels big inside because many of the spaces are not crammed.  There is only Chops as a specialty restaurant and after several disappointing Chops experiences on other ships, Chops on Empress renewed my faith in Chops. It was great both in terms of service and food quality, a combination that was lacking on many other ships where service might be okay but food lacking or vice versa.  

In places you will see the ship's date but for the most part they've done a great job keeping her up and maintained.  The interior and ocean view cabins run on the small side because that's how cabins were when she was built.  I found a deal on a Junior Suite and enjoyed the cabin very much.  

I'm in the process of fixing my photos but here is a blog I did on Empress in July:

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/8865-empress-73018-5-nights-inc-cuba/

I keep promising to fix my photos in my blogs but soon, very soon I'll get them fixed, I promise!

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We've sailed Empress to Cuba twice now and loved it. As others have said, none of the features of the big ships but we enjoy her charm and the staff are great. Long conversations with numerous staff who all told us they preferred the family feel of the smaller ship and the chance to spend time with customers. I'd highly recommend the Cuba overnight trip, great city with wonderful people.

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We sailed Empress in August because it went to Cuba. We booked an Oceanview cabin forward. It looked a lot like the picture Matt poster above, not enough room for two of us to get dressed simultaneously. And the worst was that it had two overhead bunks that we didn't need. Folded up the bunks prevented us from standing beside the bed. To get into or out we had to bend over like Quasimodo and sidle over to where we could get in bed. Going to the bathroom on the night was an adventure that would have been funny if it weren't so painful. 

I've read lots of folks who love the price enough to go this way. For us, never again. Before we go back to Cuba, we'll wait for a better ship or cabin. 

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23 hours ago, twangster said:

Empress remains a favorite of mine.  I've sailed all Oasis class and all Freedom class and they are great ships but Empress has a charm about her.  

As @Matt says you have to have the right expectations.  I just sailed Vision last week and loved it.  Before that it was Navigator (loved it) and Oasis (loved it) and Symphony (loved it).  In all cases i knew what I booked and wasn't disappointed because I had the proper expectations for each ship.  

Empress feels big inside because many of the spaces are not crammed.  There is only Chops as a specialty restaurant and after several disappointing Chops experiences on other ships, Chops on Empress renewed my faith in Chops. It was great both in terms of service and food quality, a combination that was lacking on many other ships where service might be okay but food lacking or vice versa.  

In places you will see the ship's date but for the most part they've done a great job keeping her up and maintained.  The interior and ocean view cabins run on the small side because that's how cabins were when she was built.  I found a deal on a Junior Suite and enjoyed the cabin very much.  

I'm in the process of fixing my photos but here is a blog I did on Empress in July:

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/8865-empress-73018-5-nights-inc-cuba/

I keep promising to fix my photos in my blogs but soon, very soon I'll get them fixed, I promise!

fix them ;)

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Sailed her in July 2018. As long as you arent a gambler you'll be fine. So very disappointed in the casino, which is only an excuse for a casino. No atmosphere, no action, no smoking, no patrons...anyway Cuba is fantastic. We did an excellent tour through RCL a city tour with an excellent guide, no beach.

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Empress is definitely more for those who enjoy a more laid back, leisurely onboard experience, and who like being on the ship.  I go to relax, drink, and enjoy the sea, and Empress is perfect for that.  The open air lounge area on the aft end of the promenade deck is an amazing spot, and the owner's suite at the bow is the best cabin I've had on any royal boat.

 

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Dying to go to Cuba. Eventually I will, smaller ships don't scare me but I would be worried that my BF wouldn't have enough to be entertained. 

Dang it now I want to go to Cuba... Cuba or Southern Caribbean over Thanksgiving.... hmmm, not sure if either will happen since I'm taking all of my off time for my 8-night trip in October.

Also, @twangster do you have a flicker or some sort of account where we can see all of your photos?

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