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Empress B2B 14 nights On The Biggest Little Ship July 2019


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Cruise Summary Don't let the pictures fool you, Empress is not a large ship.  Cabins from interior to suites are not as generous as they are on newer and larger ships.  In some cases the pul

With our fabulous dinner over around 10pm I was too full to retire so I changed into shorts and went for a walk outside on deck 6.  Venturing forward we were sailing into some sea mist from the warm w

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 b

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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   

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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.

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Day Two - Key West Approach

Day two started early for me given the early bed time.  Still dark I could see 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.

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With our pilot on board the pilot boat cruised past us.

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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.

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Despite the size of Empress Chop's is a good size.

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Chop's Breakfast menu.

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Fresh fruit was very tasty.

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Eggs Benedict.

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What a great way to start the day.

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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.

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Schooler Bar with windows to the sea.

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Aft elevator lobby and stairs has sitting areas.  With the large open areas like this it doesn't feel like a small ship.

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55 minutes ago, FloridaCruiseGirl1210 said:

I love smaller ships because of all of the windows to the sea. I miss sitting at dinner and being able to look out and actually see the ocean (or the pier runners depending on time). 

I was hesitant about wanting to book empress without a Cuba sailing but its definitely more appealing now. 

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.  

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11 minutes ago, twangster said:

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 regrets or second thoughts about booking her.  

Oh yea definitely. For me it wouldn't be an issue as the first ship I ever went on only held 1496 passengers and its still one of my favorites to date. However, I started that BF cruising on the Mariner so I'm not sure how he would feel about less "stuff" (i.e., SkyPad, flowrider, waterslides, etc.).  

Especially if smaller ships are maintained I feel like they could be the best. 

@twangster did you mean you have no regrets or you are regretting booking 14 nights?

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8 minutes ago, CruisinUpinLife said:

But the points you are earning.......the points!

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.   

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Is it my imagination, or is the color scheme in your cabin on Empress different from pretty much all the other royal ships? Specifically looking at the blue "luggage rest" and throw pillow covers, but even in the public areas the color scheme seems brighter and more vibrant than I recall seeing even on post-AMP ships.

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6 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

Is it my imagination, or is the color scheme in your cabin on Empress different from pretty much all the other royal ships? Specifically looking at the blue "luggage rest" and throw pillow covers, but even in the public areas the color scheme seems brighter and more vibrant than I recall seeing even on post-AMP ships.

Empress was refreshed when they brought her back into fleet for Cuba.  She has decor in places that ships like Navigator just received.  Carpet, drapes, upholstery are more consistent than different.  

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Twangster - enjoying the photos from your Empress cruise.  We are long-time cruisers of the "Fun" ships but have booked our first RC cruise this fall on the Empress.  The "other guys" have their FunTimes daily planner - wondering if there's something similar on the Empress - and if so could you post photos?  We're excited about spending Thanksgiving on Grand Cayman.

Thanks in advance!

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Thanks for the photos sir, they along with the price point are just about sending me to the travel agent to book a sailing next Jan/Feb.

As you noted in the intro, we can definitely get a lot more room on the Empress than some of the big boys for the price...  My question to you is, as you walk around her is do you think it is "worth it" to go past the Junior Suite level for 2 adults?  I know that is a personal decision, but without a suite lounge it may be silly to go for a slightly bigger room unless the on board service finds ways to make up the gap.

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9 hours ago, Bethlehem_Cruiser said:

Twangster - enjoying the photos from your Empress cruise.  We are long-time cruisers of the "Fun" ships but have booked our first RC cruise this fall on the Empress.  The "other guys" have their FunTimes daily planner - wondering if there's something similar on the Empress - and if so could you post photos?  We're excited about spending Thanksgiving on Grand Cayman.

Thanks in advance!

The Royal Caribbean version of "Fun Times" is called the Cruise Compass.  Like the Fun Times it's delivered daily to your cabin.

This site has a collection of Cruise Compasses that previous cruisers have been kind enough to collect and send to Matt Hochberg who runs this site.

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/cruise-compass

Specifically for Empress the following Cruise Compasses have been posted:

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/cruise-compass?ship=1195

I am collecting them for this sailing and I'll be sending them to Matt after I have collected them for the entire cruise.  In fact I'll likely do that for both cruises of this back to back.

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9 hours ago, jagnew said:

My question to you is, as you walk around her is do you think it is "worth it" to go past the Junior Suite level for 2 adults?  I know that is a personal decision, but without a suite lounge it may be silly to go for a slightly bigger room unless the on board service finds ways to make up the gap.

I've only booked "full" suites (grand or better) on Oasis class.  For my situation, particularly when cruising solo, a grand suite or higher would be excessive.  For me, I would rather put that extra money towards another cruise.  I'm not one that must sail in a balcony or in a suite.  I've gone from a loft suite on Allure to an interior on Grandeur and I had a blast on both cruises.  

It's a great question but ultimately as you noted it's a personal decision.  

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Day Two - Key West, continued...

We arrived as the first ship into port and we hit the jackpot with the primary Mallory Square berth.  A Carnival ship would arrive later and end up behind us.

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It grew hot pretty quickly so I ventured off to grab a few pictures in between work activities.  I am working a bit on this cruise so I took advantage of the strong cellular connection towards that goal.

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Back on board we sailed away at 5:30pm and I made my way to the Windjammer for dinner.  Jerk night.  Yum.  

The WJ is forward facing on this ship.

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The band Mass Effect was playing in Boleros.  Pretty good and one Mojito turned into another. 

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A sunset was looking promising but some clouds on the horizon stole the show away from me.  From the pool deck;

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The Viking Crown Lounge is different on Empress.  It is aft facing, not forward facing like the VCL is on most other current ships.

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Empress does have a rock climbing wall.

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Movie night.  Tonight's movie was Captain Marvel.

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This picture doesn't do golden hour justice.  Sunsets at sea are often some of the best.

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Kim Kincade was on the piano and singing in the Schooner Bar.  Ballroom dancing display in the Main Theater didn't grab my attention so I hung out in the Schooner Bar for an hour, or two, or three.  Kim is from Nova Scotia and he is pretty good.  

Late night adult comedy hour was good and the theater was packed.  A couple had their 5 or 6 year old daughter with them.  This show was not appropriate for that age and the comedian didn't hold back.   She doesn't speak english was the couples response.  I don't buy that.  Some people.  

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