Debarkation day has always been an emotional day for me. It’s a day of early morning goodbyes and I’ll see you laters to those that we’ve been blessed to share such a special journey with. Today, as we left Empress, it was different; different in a good way. We weren’t just leaving the Empress behind, today we left new friends behind. We said our see you laters, and hugged our goodbyes to some of the crew that took their time to wake up, be our wakeup call (Rafael Spilla Domingues), meet with us at our departure station (Denzil Jacobs), and bid us farewell and safe travels. Because of the amazing crew onboard the Empress of the Seas, I feel encouraged to share my experience in detail so that it be known the level of WOW that they bring to the table for Royal Caribbean’s guests.
Booking the itinerary aboard the Empress of the Seas ultimately concerned me. We booked in June of 2018 while onboard the Harmony of the Seas traveling Star Class. I was VERY nervous about the experience that we were going to have onboard the “small ship”, but knew this was one of the only ways we would feel comfortable seeing Cuba. I just could not wrap my mind around how such a small ship could keep up the energy of their larger sister ships I have sailed. Not only was I nervous for my spouse and self, but for the experience of my first time cruiser friends Tom and Aynsley Lang. I could kick myself for stressing so long with negative thoughts, when I should have trusted the absolute BEST in the business would be on board ready for us to experience the BEST CRUISE EVER!
Boarding THE BEST CRUISE EVER (as we refer to it) was painless. If I had one suggestion, it would be to see the amount of priority boarding guests that are checking in during certain times, and having more staff available for them. Guests in general boarding were checking in quicker and carried a much shorter line in comparison to the priority line. It also may be nice to have some of the documents that were not communicated through email prior to sailing to be available for filling out while waiting in line to check in. This could cut down the time each party was spending with an agent. Regardless, the process was simple and got us right on board to begin our fun.
Speaking of fun… the cruise director staff led the charge with this. Elvis, Eric and Tanya were always around to provide high energy good times! Elvis had us burning all of our calories at the 70s party, while Eric kept us laughing pool side at the international belly flop contest and grooving alongside his sweet hip dance moves. I don’t know how Tanya does it… but she never leaves the dance floor. She has super high energy, an amazing personality, and was loved by all of the guests.
Continuing the theme of entertainment, I cannot give enough praise to the line-up EOTS had to offer us this week. We had the pleasure to attend Sean O’Shea’s show before dinner… hilarious, real and had us laughing the night away. We attended two additional performances by the singers and dancers; Bailamos and Sequins & Feathers. The talent from the band, singers and dancers is extraordinary. The cast truly seemed to have a passion for what they do onboard the ship, and that stood to be extra true when socializing with singer Chike Nwankwo. His talent and personality are out of this world. He even went above and beyond to sing me Happy Birthday! J He’s certainly a true asset to the production team, and we enjoyed getting to know him.
For us party goers DJ Denzil Jacobs, and the Caribbean band kept us going both day and night with their music line-up. Both the DJ and band have amazing energy and interaction with the guests, no matter the time of day. We fell in love with the band, and danced both day and night away in Boleros and on the pool deck. Dennison’s voice and personality were true crowd pleasers. Leroy, Dennison, Hollis and Godfrey combined to make one of the best musical productions I’ve experienced onboard a Royal Caribbean ship. We really enjoyed getting to know them during their performances and around the ship. Kudos to them; I’m not sure how they keep up their energy in the daytime heat the way that they do! J THANK YOU!
More often than not, you’re going to find that your DJ has a personality to keep the vibes and energy high on the ship for all of the guests. This is something DJ Denzil exceeded in our eyes. He friended us night one of our 8-night cruise, and made sure that we had an experience we would never forget. Be it 12:30 on the pool deck, or late night in the Viking Crown, he remembered the faces and names of his guests and what they wished to hear. Without even asking, he knew exactly how to keep us going every day. The late nights in Viking are where his talent and passion truly shined. He brought us together from all around the world for some late night dancing and socializing. Many of us unfortunately witnessed some negative cruisers providing inappropriate feedback a few times throughout the trip as they did not wish for him to go off of the Compass schedule, specifically Michael Jackson night. As this feedback was harsh and uncalled for… Denzil never let it impact him and his ability to have fun and control the room. I blame my lack of sleep on him! THANK YOU Denzil for making this cruise so much more than a cruise… we truly enjoy your friendship and the experience you provided us.
Denzil was not the only one working hard at night in the Viking and Boleros to make sure we had the BEST CRUISE EVER! He and the other entertainers had help from the sound tech, Singh. He is a true asset to the crew, which we enjoyed running into around the ship. In addition to the production and entertainment, the service and bar staff is INCREDIBLE in the Viking & Boleros. I’d like to show appreciation to Rasel, Gomgom, Amurey, Sinfo and Fitzroy for staying on top of our beverage needs, and being some of the nicest and friendliest staff onboard the ship. Also, in the casino and bar we were treated by the friendliest of faces; Mariano our bartender and Makalah (sp) on the roulette table. It must be difficult keeping up with a late night crew like ours, and they did it all 8 nights with a smile on their face! We looked forward to seeing them every single day. THANK YOU!
Keeping with the bar staff… hats off to the pool bar service and bartenders. Sanrin, Amurey, Nigel, Rodel, Curwin, Kirk and GomGom never missed a beat. I truly miss these gentlemen as they not only provided us with impeccable daily service, but with conversation and care. I loved being able to get to know them and hear about their families, but also admired how hard they worked in the hot sun to make sure all the guests were satisfied. They were NEVER too busy to make sure we were doing okay, no matter how packed the bar and pool deck was. How they remember our names and drink favorites is beyond me. IMPRESSIVE! Thank you SO MUCH! Side note: We love Curwin’s personality shining through his double-wear of sunglasses! Too fun!
Coming from Kentucky to the Caribbean… a bourbon tasting was EXACTLY what we needed. Thankfully we noticed this on the compass and attended one evening after dinner. If it wouldn’t have been for us closing the bourbon tasting down… we’d have never of met some of the greatest people onboard. Royal Caribbean has a true gem working in the store; Rafael Domingues. He was an absolute treat to get to know over the course of the trip. We made sure to stop by nightly to say our hellos and hang out for a moment. He has wonderful energy, personality and really enjoys his guests. After we realized the ship had Blanton’s Bourbon on board, we purchased multiple bottles for back home. It is actually very hard to find for purchase in Kentucky. The next day, we arrived to our rooms with handwritten thank you letters from Rafael. What an AMAZING touch. He brought us many laughs and some of the best times that we had on the ship! Thank you Rafael for all of your love and friendship; you helped make our trip UNDESCRIBABLE. If only Kimberley wouldn’t have had to kick us out at closing time – we don’t blame you J Shout-out to Kimberley Lawrence for taking her time to meet and get to know us… making sure we had an amazing time onboard the ship. You have an incredible and caring staff in the shops that truly appreciates the guests.
The level of service I experienced with our stateroom tenant Alvaro, and our 8:00pm main dining seating with Emmine (head waiter), Serrao (Main Waiter) and Erda (Assistant Waiter) were as good (if not better) of what I experienced when I was sailing Star Class in June. There were many of times that one member of our party couldn’t leave the room for dinner. All of the staff made sure that the missing party member was taken care of with food and water. When we were able to make it to dinner, Serrao and Erda always made sure that are drinks were there upon arrival and that we were enjoying and trying any and all of the foods. I’ve sailed a number of ships, and I’m not sure if it was because of the Cuban flare with the lmenu items, or what, but the food was absolutely phenomenal every evening; kudos to the culinary and service team for working to make this experience upbeat, inviting and tasty.
There’s no doubt about it, the size of the Empress of the Seas permits the atmosphere to be much more intimate and friendly in comparison to other ships at sea. One experience that I had this past week was getting to know some of the men and women in stripes as well as from the guest relations area. On night one I had the pleasure of meeting Juliana (guest relations manager) alongside John, the hotel director. John further introduced me to Vikas (financial coordinator). These gentlemen genuinely cared about my group’s experience onboard the Empress, and regularly checked in with us throughout our trip. These gentlemen went above and beyond to treat us like family, and for that, we are grateful.
To quote Tom on the last evening “I am VERY picky when it comes to customer service… and this experience has been by far one of the best”. I hope Royal Caribbean sees how truly fantastic their crew onboard Empress is. They all work so well together, and interact as family. This rubs off on the guests, and creates a truly welcoming atmosphere. I’ve stated this to many of the crew already, but I wish for it to be known across the ship and company that this was by far the most amazing customer experience many of us have ever had. Thank you Empress of the Seas family for giving us your all this past week! My review will never be able to do your service justice. Just know you’re appreciated, and keep up the GREAT work! ☀️
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