• Homepage
  • Plan Your Trip
  • Travel Forum
  • News & Events
  • Maps
  • Transportation
  • Tours
  • Hotels
  • Travel Tips
  • Reader's Reviews
  • Helpful websites
  • Need help? Call us! - 1-305-754-2206
Miami Beach 411
Like what you see? Let's talk about how
we can help your vacation --> Contact Us
Royal Caribbean Cruises aboard the Empress of the Seas
Above: Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Empress of the Seas Cruise Ship.

Passenger reviews

Have you sailed aboard Empress of the Seas? What is your opinion? Please share your thoughts with others:

Write a formal review | Read more reviews

Need a Ride to Port of Miami? If yes click here.

Ship Details
Began service: June, 1990
Guest capacity: 2,020
Total staff: 668
Length: 692 feet
Passenger decks: 11
CDC inspection score: 99

Empress of the Seas Overview

The Empress of the Seas cruise ship departs from Fort Lauderdale, FL, Miami, FL, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Throughout the year, she offers ocean cruises to Eastern, Southern, and Western Caribbean.

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Eastern, Southern, and Western Caribbean.

The reincarnation of Empress of the Seas follows that of Monarch of the Seas. The two ships are part of Royal Caribbean's ongoing effort to refurbish its older ships rather than transfer them out.

The ship's public areas received the most upgrades; the Windjammer Cafe was updated; the High Society Lounge was replaced by a top-notch, Latin-themed bar, Boleros; the ShipShape Day Spa and Fitness Center was expanded; the main dining room (Carmen) was refreshed with new furnishings, wall sconces, and fabrics; the Strike Up the Band showroom was completely refurbished; and new additions include Portofino Italian trattoria, and a coffee bar /ice-cream shop.

Empress of the Seas is is the only Royal Caribbean ship that does not belong to a specific family of ships. RCI upholds that Empress, the line's smallest ship, "provides the complete cruising experience in a more intimate environment." And while the combination of smaller size and amazing amenities aims to invoke the "Get Out There" experience, this ship is still best suited for travelers who prefer the everyday pleasures of cruising. There are no ice rinks, golf simulators or Johnny Rockets, just pleasant views, good food and friendly service.


Only 69 of Empress' 801 staterooms come with verandahs. The Junior Suite (194 square ft., balcony 25 square ft.) provides two twin beds that convert into a queen, a private balcony, and sitting area. The Owner's Suite (303 square ft., balcony 222 square ft.) includes the same, plus a Pullman bed. Interior staterooms are 117 square ft., while ocean views range from 108 - 157 sq ft. Unless you are planning to splurge on a suite, accommodations aboard Empress are hardly spacious -- in fact, they're among the industry's smallest. Still, my mid-grade oceanview cabin felt much smaller than a bottom-end inside I'd stayed in on a Voyager-class ship. Bathrooms were extremely small, far from modern, and even farther from spectacular.

However, all cabins feature the necessary amenities -- phones, hairdryers, toiletries (though our bathroom only had soap), and TV's. Couch potatoes can catch movies in English as well as foreign languages, CNN, and ship-specific information. Safes are available in upper category cabins.

Four handicap-accessible staterooms are available.


Empress features only one main dining room, the double-deck Carmen Dining Room. Completely renovated, it is surrounded on three sides by glass. The beef tenderloin offered during dinner -- cooked medium -- was delicious enough to turn this chicken-fish-vegetarian into a red meat lover. Dinner was formal, but not stuffy, with friendly, attentive wait staff. Open seating breakfasts and lunches are also available.

For a multiple-course meal in an intimate setting, visit Royal Caribbean's signature Italian eatery, Portofino. For $20 per person, you'll enjoy dishes featuring fresh ingredients like vine-ripened plum tomatoes, prosciutto and basil. Reservations are required. Another neat feature is Latte-tudes, serving up Seattle's Best Coffee, and a Ben and Jerry's ice-cream bar stocked with over a dozen flavors.

The Windjammer Cafe offers breakfast and lunch buffets, as well as a more casual dinner venue for folks who don't want to eat in the main dining room or Portofino's. Don't miss the salad bar's incredible variety. Hot entrees vary from shrimp scampi to creamy mashed potatoes. Every day, the Windjammer features a carving station, pasta station, Asian station, a selection of fresh breads, desert bar, and plenty of coffee, juice and soft drinks. Service here is prompt, so expect to find seating even during the lunch rush.

Room service is available 24 hours a day. The breakfast menu features continental fare, as well as egg dishes. Dining room menu items are available during regular dining room hours; though not offering the full menu. Late-night snackers can expect limited choices, though service seemed generally prompt.


Before or after you visit Boleros for the can't-miss dueling pianos and mojitos, catch a show at the refurbished Strike up the Band showroom. The theater feels very Broadway, seating 722 for comedy shows, as well as events like "Fiesta Caliente" and "Jump Jivin' Swing." All of the seats are plush and cozy with lots of legroom and provide an excellent view, unless you are seated directly behind a structural beam (get there early for a prime spot and bring your own drink -- cocktail service is unusually slow here).

The Casino Royale is open until the wee hours of the morning while sailing, and features one craps table, one three-card poker table, one stud poker table, four blackjack tables, 154 slot machines, a roulette wheel, and an incredible gaming staff. The quarter slots ate a good amount of my money before I decided to call it a night, but the atmosphere was so jovial I had a hard time pulling myself away.

If you want to dance the night away (or at least work off a few calories from dinner), go to the Viking Crown Lounge, which transforms into a hopping club scene for night owls. And, as mentioned above, the Schooner Bar is always a lively place to stop by for a nightcap.

During the daytime, Empress of the Seas offers the usual Royal Caribbean activities, such as art auctions, pool games, and contests.

Fitness & Recreation

The Sun Deck offers two swimming pools, three whirlpools, a bustling poolside bar, and plenty of space to stretch out and catch some rays. A rock-climbing wall, towering 150 - 200 feet above sea level, is available to passengers at a variety of skill levels.

Stop by the expanded ShipShape Day Spa and Fitness Center, as it is one of the most beautiful areas on the ship. Treatment rooms are comfortable, many with ocean views, and a couples' massage room has been added. Just under $100 will get you a full-body massage or facial. Salon services run from shampoos and updos to tips and toes. Menu prices were much lower on Empress than on Voyager-class ships.

The fitness center has brand-new, state-of-the-art treadmills, an outdoor track, and aerobics classes. This area is one of the most unique and different on the ship, as it overlooks the Viking Crown Lounge. Still, as unique and different as it is, I am not sure that I could break a sweat while watching my fellow cruisers sipping cocktails in posh couches.

Public Areas

Passengers enter the ship through the Centrum, a major presence on the renovated Empress of the Seas. The nine-deck tall space is elegant and beautiful with glass elevators, waterfalls and sweeping staircases. The Boutiques of Centrum shopping area, located around the Centrum, sells jewelry, cruise wear, perfume and plenty of duty-free liquor.

One of the hottest places to be, no matter what time of the day, seemed to be the new, nautical-themed Schooner Bar. The only downside: the smell of cigarette smoke , combined with the signature "tar and gunpowder" scent, is almost as intense as the noise level.

A Card Room is available for gaming enthusiasts looking for a quiet escape from the noisy casino.

Royal Caribbean Online, an Internet center, has 18 computer stations with 24-hour access to the Internet, and connections to popular sites for updates on stocks, sports, and entertainment. Cruisers can also send email, and e-postcards with personalized photos. Internet access costs 50 cents per minute; digital postcards are 95 cents each.


Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean program is available onboard Empress of the Seas to varying age groups (3 - 5, 6 - 8, 9 - 11, 12 - 14, 15 - 17). Although the facilities are surprisingly cramped, the staff is well trained (many are certified in CPR), and quick to point out that kids also enjoy planned activities on other parts of the ship, too. One neat feature is a slide that snakes across the length of the ceiling -- even parents had a good time climbing up to navigate its twists and turns. The arcade area, stocked with over a dozen games, is tiny and claustrophobic.

Soda fountain and other non-alcoholic drink packages are available for guests up to 18 years of age, starting from as low as $20 for a seven-night cruise.

Expert Empress of the Seas reviews are edited by Michelle, and provided by Ian and Cruise Critic.com, an award-winning cruise community. This objective information can help you choose just the right ship for your next cruise vacation.

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Western Caribbean and Canada.


Discount Code

Empress of the Seas cruise reviews

Cruise Ship Inspection Report
All passenger cruise ships arriving at US ports are subject to unannounced CDC inspection. Empress of the Seas Score: 96

Cruise Critic: Empress of the Seas
The Cruise Critic gives Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas a 3-ribbon rating.

Web links

RCL Cruises
Request a brochure, or find a travel agent who represents Royal Caribbean Cruise Line at the company's official Web site.

Cruises main guide
Cruises and Cruising
Ports of Call

Royal Caribbean cruise ships
Brilliance of the Seas
Rhapsody of the Seas
Sovereign of the Seas
Voyager of the Seas

Search Google for "Empress of the Seas"
Today's Miami Specials
Like what you see? Let's talk about
how we can help your vacation
--> Contact Us