We only sailed on Empress for the Cuban destinations, we did not board because of the ship. The cruise itself was pretty much what we expected. It was very mediocre. However, being able to visit Cuba was something we never thought we'd get to do in our lifetimes, so that simple fact vastly made up for the shortcomings on the Empress!
5 out of 5
Food and Dining
2 out of 5
The food on the Empress was mostly bad, no better than mediocre. Even breakfast was a let down (and it's hard to mess up breakfast foods!). The buffet was just terrible, only ate there once, in fact. The main dining room was disappointing. We had great service, but the food left a lot to be desired. The best dessert I had was a "warm chocolate cookie." I don't think my husband was able to find any entrees he really loved - and some nights he ordered two entrees just in case one wasn't good! I'm hoping the food issues are just because this is RC's smallest and oldest ship in the fleet. We have two other RC cruises on the horizon, and we hope for a much better food experience!
3 out of 5
Given that this is a small ship, they can only fit so much. We found the selection to be poor in comparison to larger ships, but pretty much on-par with other ships we've been on that are around the same size.
We did not attend any shows.
Service and Staff
4 out of 5
Service was good, but not overwhelmingly good. Just good. We did feel that there were a few people who were misaligned to their roles. For example, a few folks working in customer-service centric roles didn't seem to know English to the level that they really needed to in order to properly assist mostly English-speaking clientele.
3 out of 5
It's an old ship. It is what it is!
Cabin / Stateroom
2 out of 5
This is the smallest cruise cabin we have ever had. Really small. And it was old and a bit run-down, but our bedding was clean and comfortable, so that was good.
Do not take a cruise on this ship for the ship itself. Only sail this ship if you see an itinerary you fall in love with, such as visiting Cuba!
For what it is, Cienfuegos was nice. It is what I would call a "rural" city. People still use horse & buggy as transportation. Yes, it's a poor area with many old, run-down buildings. Once we got out of the city and into the countryside to visit El Nicho waterfall, we really enjoyed the scenery.
Havana is absolutely amazing! Yes, it's an old city with limited modernization. But that's what makes it so incredibly charming! We took a tour through the ship that lasted all day and included visits to all the main points of interest including an excellent stop for lunch at a rooftop café. We would LOVE to visit Havana again! We love Europe, and Havana very much so reminded us of some European cities we've visited.
3 out of 5
We weren't in a rush due to having a later flight, so we opted for the normal debarkation. They were a little delayed in the timeframes they stated. We also didn't find the baggage claim area to be that efficient (although it was large).
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