Five Things to Know About Royal Caribbean International's Empress of the Seas Cruise Ship
Best for: Sun- and culture-seeking passengers looking for a party vibe
Sails: The Caribbean, Mexico
At a Glance: After leaving Royal Caribbean in 2008, Empress of the Seas rejoined the fleet in 2016. With departures from Miami and Tampa, it specializes in short itineraries to the Caribbean and is the only ship in the line that sails to Cuba.
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It Sails to Cuba
Empress of the Seas is the first and only Royal Caribbean ship with sailings to Cuba. The four-, five-, six-, and seven-night itineraries depart from Tampa and Miami and often include stops in Key West, Cozumel, Belize City, and/or Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico.
You Won’t Get Lost
At 1,840 passengers, Empress of the Seas is the most intimate ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. So even if your itinerary is short, it won’t take you long to figure out how to get from your stateroom to the poolside bar and back.
For Action, Head to the Spa
Don’t expect rock climbing walls and zip lines: Unlike most Royal Caribbean ships, the activities on this ship are fairly limited. However, you will find a pool, three whirlpools, and a spa with a long list of treatments (everything from Botox to reflexology). Need to move? Hit the fitness center to run on the treadmill or sign up for a Pilates class.
The Restaurant Choices Are Selective
Dining options are more limited than on the larger ships. Most meals take place in one of two complimentary restaurants: the Windjammer Café or the main dining room, which serves a daily Sunday brunch with bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys. For a treat, make a reservation at Chops Grille, Royal Caribbean’s for-fee steakhouse.
You Can Stay Up Late
Empress of the Seas is billed as a floating party and it doesn’t disappoint. After catching a show at the Royal Theater, passengers hit the slots at Casino Royale, check out a dance party on the pool deck, or head to one of five bars and lounges. Among the most popular: the nautical-themed Schooner’s Bar and the Latin-inspired Boleros, where passengers can toast their first trip to Havana with rounds of mojitos before hitting the dance floor.