I love to cruise! With that being said, for my first group trip via my travel club, I chose to cruise. Carnival is always and will always be my ship of choice, but I decided to branch out and experience Royal Caribbean for the first time. So we took a 5 day cruise to Mexico, Cuba, and Key West on Royal Caribbean’s smallest ship, Empress of the Seas. The reason I chose this ship, was strictly for Cuba, because I’ve been to Mexico and Key West several times. This (was) their only ship that cruised to Cuba, so I”m happy I experienced it while I could. Also, now that Cuba is no longer in the itinerary, due to the cruise ship ban, I don’t recommend this ship.
· Prepare for gratuity charges, they will run you about 18% per day!
· Plan excursions ahead of time
· Once on the ship, change your dinner seating to the 8:30 time (late seating is always the best)
· Don’t bank on the wifi on the app, it barely works (enjoy your trip or use wifi at various ports)
· Take a picture of the daily itinerary, so you can keep track of all the events
· Experience ‘The Quest’ – only ship to do this
· The various eateries on the ship/ deck aren’t 24 hours or late night (closes at 1:30 am) and room service is $7.95 plus an additional 18% gratuity charge, so bring snacks
· The deck restaurant, WindJammer, has a dress code (which I’ve never experienced before, but I can understand the sanitary reasons)
· There was only one small pool and three heated jacuzzies with various temps
· Food on the ship was decent, I thought it would be better than Carnival, but they’re comparable
· Despite everything, they made up for a lot with the amazing customer service, we got really close to our dining staff and our accommodation staff