Empress of the seas 2/24/07 to 3/9/07.
Hi, just a short review of my cruise aboard the Empress of the Seas. I cruised solo for the first time on the Empress of the seas 2/26/07. Had a great table and had a great time. It was an 11 day Southern Caribbean cruise out of San Juan.
First off, I thought I would have to pick up the ship in St Maarten the next day, almost being snowed in! I got to the airport at 4am on the 26th and my flight was at 6:25 am. It took an hour to de-ice the plane and we left at 7:30 am. I was on the ship at 1 pm. The ports on the cruise were St Maarten, St Kitts, Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados, Margarita Island, Curacao, Aruba, and two days at sea. Great ports. Have not done a Southern Caribbean cruise in some time. So I was really looking forward to this cruise; that and it being an 11-day cruise.
First a little history of me with this ship. Me, my wife and kids did the 10th sailing on this ship when it was brand new back in 1990. Then again we sailed it in 1999 to Bermuda from NYC. Both of the cruises were when she was the Nordic Empress. The new places on the ship are the rock climbing wall, the Schooner Bar, Boleros, Potofino's, which you pay $20 for and it is great. And Ben & Jerry's ice cream is also new. The cabins on this ship are very small. I could not take my family back on here in the same cabin again. I would need two cabins now! This ship holds 2050 people on her when full, and on sea days up at the pool it gets very crowded when full. On my cruise there were only 1500 or so onboard, so it wasn't so bad at the pool. Also I think this ship has the best wraparound promenade deck. It's wide. I did my 10 mile power walking there every morning at 6:30 am to 8:30 am. It was great watching the sun coming up. It just dosen't get any better. I lost 5 pounds on this cruise!
Now the good news. This ship and cruise was the first to get the new menus that will be going fleet-wide soon. It was the best food I ever had on RCCI. This being the ninth time with RCCI and third time on this ship. Now I still would not call it the best cruise food I ever had, but it was very good, at least better than the other RCCI cruises we have been on. Also there were two top guys from the head office onboard to check it out. The Carmen Dining Room food tasted better, and was not as bland as before. In the Windjammer Cafe it's so much better than I ever remember before. Another great thing at the Windjammer is there is food there all day long -- unlike a lot of other cruise lines, and you could get iced tea and lemonade all day long. HINT Princess!!!
The shows were very good. I went to most of them. Being an 11-day cruise the nightlife after 11 pm is not like on a seven-day cruise. And another funny thing -- on a seven-day cruise most people go for the second seating dining. Not on this cruise! Yes it was an older crowd, but not as old as I thought it would be. One thing RCCI is offering now is ghost booking. That's where you do an open booking for $100 and they fax it over to your TA. It's good for three years, and when you book your next cruise with RCCI that's the only deposit needed for the new booking and you get a $200 shipboard credit. You can't go wrong!
In the ports, I only did three tours; one in St. Lucia which was a train ride around the island. It was great. A tour of Margarita Island was good, and a tour of the rain forest in San Juan the last day. It was a great way to spend the day before my flight home! I took my time and went to the great beaches of the islands. Then I went back to the ship to have some lunch. Then in the afternoon I went to town to shop and walk around. I had a great time, no rush here!
In closing, I had a great time on this cruise. I loved doing an eleven-day Southern Caribbean cruise and loved the ports of call. I met great people like always. The service in the cabin and dining room was great. The front desk was very helpful. Would I do this cruise again? In a heartbeat!!! But there was talk onboard that the Empress may be going to Island Cruises or Pullmentar Cruises. Not sure when. This was my 66th cruise and another great one. We -- my wife two boys -- will be on the New Liberty of the Seas on August 25th of this year, and the Explorer of the Seas, doing a 12-day Southern Caribbean cruise from NJ on February 24th of 2008. No flying this time. Another thing, I keep checking my TA's website for prices. The first time it came up to $1199 per person. So going solo meant it would have been $2400 for the cruise. But the next week it came up at $599, so solo meant it would only be $1199! That's what I paid and it a great deal.