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twangster

Empress 8 Night Eastern Caribbean 🎵 ​​​​​​​Oops, I Booked it Again 🎵

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Posted (edited)

In the words as sung by Britney Spears...  🎵 Oops, I Did it Again 🎵

 

For those who are wondering what is he talking about?  (or thinking I've enjoyed one too many happy hour drinks)  I just finished 14 nights on this little beauty last week.  You can read about that B2B experience here:

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2681739-empress-b2b-14-nights-on-the-biggest-little-ship/

 

Those cruises were great but they were Western Caribbean and this 8 night cruise is Eastern Caribbean including a stop at Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.  Royal hasn't visited the BVI very much in recent years so when I saw the BVI added to the itinerary in the wake of the Cuba cancellations I knew I had to do it.  Icing on my cake comes courtesy of another visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

 

Itinerary

  • Miami
  • Perfect Day at CocoCay
  • Sea Day
  • San Juan
  • Tortola
  • St Thomas
  • Sea Day
  • Sea Day
  • Miami

 

Our Perfect Day ends at 2pm so we can make it to San Juan for a 3pm arrival after a day at sea.  We stay until midnight in San Juan so if all goes well I hope to get some evening and night pictures around San Juan.

 

Sailing in a Junior Suite I have scored one of the most forward deck 9 JS cabins this time.

 

I love this small ship and her big heart.  It's a good thing I love this ship because this will be my fourth cruise on her.  My Crown and Anchor points haven't been posted yet from my last cruise on her so with the "paint still wet", I'm heading back to the love of my life, or at least the love of my life right now. 

 

Because I'm flying I don't like taking just one cruise so with a night off the water in between, I'm doing a side-to-side over to Majesty right after this cruise.  A few years ago I started dreaming about a tour of the small ships and this marks another step towards completing that goal.  

 

I think I set a record this time having packed my suitcase a full two days before the cruise.  Basically I took my cruise clothes from the dryer and put them right back into my suitcase.  

 

      " You see my problem is this
       I'm dreaming away
       Wishing that heroes, they truly exist
       I cry, watching the days
       Can't you see I'm a fool in so many ways
       But to lose all my senses
       That is just so typically me
       Oh baby, oh "

 

Okay that doesn't make total sense but it's the only part of the lyrics that somewhat fit so I'm going with it.  

Edited by twangster

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Posted (edited)

Interesting story from the previous 8 night Eastern Caribbean Empress cruise.  

 

As told to me from guests that were on board Empress at the time, some guests missed the ship in CocoCay.  Apparently they didn't note the 2pm departure this itinerary requires so the ship can make San Juan after a day at sea.  With two ships in port the island had lots of guests enjoying CocoCay.

 

In one case a set of guests were enjoying CocoCay.  Oblivious to the ship's whistle the woman went to get something to eat while the man went to a bar for a drink.  When he presented his Empress SeaPass card they informed him he was about to miss the ship and whisked him away in a golf cart.  Unsure where the woman had gone he got back on board, she missed the ship and it left (late now) towards San Juan.  

 

Once she figured out she missed the ship, they put her on Mariner and she was taken to Port Canaveral.  She then had to make her own arrangements to get to San Juan which she did at her expense.  The problem is San Juan had some civil unrest and Empress skipped San Juan as a result.  So she missed the ship again.  This time, since Royal cancelled the call on San Juan they paid for her hotel and airfare to Tortola.  Tortola doesn't have an airport so she flew to a neighboring island and she had to take a water taxi over to Tortola where she finally re-joined the cruise. 

 

From what was explained to me they stated the excursion they booked said it ended at 3pm so they thought they were good until 3pm.  

 

A total of five guests apparently missed the ship at CocoCay.  Unsure what happened to the rest other than being put on Mariner for the ride over to Port Canaveral.  

 

Lesson learned.  Even at CocoCay, don't miss the ship!

 

Side note - when Empress skipped San Juan they had already taken on the San Juan pilot when Miami decided they should skip San Juan.  Because the pilot had already boarded they were on the hook for the ~$10k pilot fee.  

 

This is rumor and gossip over Diamond happy hour drinks as reported from one guest to another so take it all with a large grain of sea salt.  

 

Hoping we don't skip San Juan but an overnight in Tortola does sound very tempting.

Edited by twangster

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1 minute ago, John&LaLa said:

That was our itinerary.  When do you leave?

 

In a few hours...

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Plans for this Cruise

 

Only one excursion booked so far.  A day trip to Jost Van Dyke in the BVI from Tortola.

 

My last visit to Jost Van Dyke occurred when I lived on St Thomas.  It's one of the smaller islands of the Virgin Island chain but she has a beautiful beach and is home to the Soggy Dollar Bar right on the beach.  Boats anchor off the beach and visitors swim to land hence they have soggy dollars. 

 

The hurricanes that impacted San Juan and the US Virgin Islands did a number on Jost Van Dyke but I understand they've rebuilt.  Time to contribute to the local economy again.  

 

I brought my snorkel gear this time and hope to snorkel at CocoCay if the weather is good.  Then I'll jump in Oasis Lagoon to enjoy the fresh water and swim up pool bar.  No CocoCay excursions purchased (so far).  Lunch at the Snack Shack for another Shack Crispy Chicken Sandwich.   Yum.

 

With our late arrival in San Juan the plan is to wander around and take pictures during golden hour assuming there is no more civil unrest.

 

St Thomas will be a boring work day for me.  

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Posted (edited)

My flight was supposed to arrive early last night but with storms in the South Florida area they had us slow down and we landed on time.  Woohoo, my suitcase was the very first bag on the carousel.  

 

With ample time to spare I took the Tri-Rail from FLL airport down to MIA airport.  I was just going to sit in my hotel room anyways so I figured I'd take the slower but cheaper way to my hotel.  From the MIA airport I picked up the free shuttle to my hotel.

 

My Tri-Rail timing was pretty good.  A short wait for the bus to the train station.  The train pulled up as I bought my ticket at the station.  

 

Total cost $3.75.  Uber/Lyft were both just under $50.  

 

Safely in my hotel near MIA airport I used my savings to pay for a hotel dinner and drinks which make on board ship prices seem reasonable.

Edited by twangster

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August 10, 2019

 

You know what that means?

 

IT'S CRUISE DAY!

 

Like a kid on Christmas morning it's 6am, I'm awake and ready to go.  It looks like the C&A team has been busy putting presents in my account.  Overnight my points from last week have posted, including the solo-in-a-suite gift.

 

PsZW20m.jpg
 

When cruising in hurricane season I always keep an eye on the tropics.  While only early August this is a great thing to see.  Tropical cyclone activity is not expected during the next 5 days.

 

u3TdyH3.jpg

 

Looking at the MarineTraffic.com app I've caught Empress gliding past Symphony as she arrives into the Port of Miami this morning.

 

TXdbFwk.jpg

 

I'm here.  The ship is here.  There are no tropical storms on the radar screen.  Phew!

 

Can you tell I'm bored with nothing to do?  Tick tock.  Tick tock.  Is it time yet?

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Since I nearly went overboard with pictures of Empress in my previous thread I'm going to skip all the basics about Empress in my pictures this time around.  Take a look in my previous thread if you want to see the ship (link posted above).

 

If you do reply to posts with pictures please take the time to remove the pictures in your reply to keep this thread a lot easier to read. 

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Another cruise day, I will be keeping track of you all week.  We board the day you leave, so keep the ship in good shape, please.  Thank you for the quick reply on the MDR breakfast times.  I need my special coffee.  I know you will have fun and a good sail whatever the weather. 😀

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How exciting! You're back for another round! I LOVED your last review. Your photography was absolutely beautiful! Those pics of the Milky Way were unbelievable. I'm really looking forward to seeing your SJ golden hour pics! Have fun & Bon Voyage!! I'll be following!

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Posted (edited)

Enjoy your cruises!  I am just waiting to disembark Empress now.  I have tag 2 but it has not yet been called.  Apparently they are having issues and it is slow going.  They had started with suites and #1 but stopped and now no one is getting off.  Hopefully it picks up again soon so we can get off and you can board 🙂

Edited by Canadian Disney Mom

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Wow! Sounds like it's going to be a awesome trip. Following along and looking forward to  more great pictures.

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Posted (edited)

I'll be getting on Majesty on the 28th.... hopefully the staff has enough time to recover from your cruise before I get on!

But I'm taking a page from your book -- I'm doing a B2B on Majesty!

Tagging along for the play-by-play on this cruise, too.

Edited by brillohead

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I love your reviews! I've been on both Majesty and Empress so it's nice to reminisce while reading along! Thanks and have a great time!

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3 hours ago, twangster said:

Since I nearly went overboard with pictures of Empress in my previous thread I'm going to skip all the basics about Empress in my pictures this time around.  Take a look in my previous thread if you want to see the ship (link posted above).

 

If you do reply to posts with pictures please take the time to remove the pictures in your reply to keep this thread a lot easier to read. 

Since you seem to be the resident expert on the Empress I wonder if I could impose on you with a question.

 

We haven't sailed on Royal Caribbean for a couple of years and we just booked a Bermuda cruise from Cape Liberty on the Empress for next summer. In recent years we've only cruised on lines that have no formal nights, NCL and Oceania. In doing some research on the Royal Caribbean website I ran across something saying that there were no formal nights on this ship...but I suspect that may have something to do with the Cuba itineraries she had been sailing. Now that Empress is doing other cruises have they restored formal nights? And if so, is the dress code a "suggestion" that actually isn't enforced or is it obeyed and enforced. 

 

Thanks for your help. Your recent review provided a ton of information that helped us to decide to book the cruise.

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14 minutes ago, njhorseman said:

Since you seem to be the resident expert on the Empress I wonder if I could impose on you with a question.

 

We haven't sailed on Royal Caribbean for a couple of years and we just booked a Bermuda cruise from Cape Liberty on the Empress for next summer. In recent years we've only cruised on lines that have no formal nights, NCL and Oceania. In doing some research on the Royal Caribbean website I ran across something saying that there were no formal nights on this ship...but I suspect that may have something to do with the Cuba itineraries she had been sailing. Now that Empress is doing other cruises have they restored formal nights? And if so, is the dress code a "suggestion" that actually isn't enforced or is it obeyed and enforced. 

 

Thanks for your help. Your recent review provided a ton of information that helped us to decide to book the cruise.

 

Royal only has dress suggestions, not a formal dress code.  This is widely debated here on these forums with both sides voicing strong opinions but they are just that, personal opinions.  

 

Empress does have “formal nights” but it basically amounts to shorts in the MDR are frowned upon at dinner.  Any shirt with a collar will suffice although you might see someone in a T-shirt.  

 

Some people go all out, some wear nice jeans and a polo.  A woman wearing a formal gown is rare as is a man in a tuxedo but it could happen.  A romper or sundress are popular choices. Not exactly sure what qualifies as a romper but that is what my adult step daughter calls them.  

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Quick update.  

 

Uber to port had me there just before 10am.  I took the opportunity to take some pictures of terminal G, I’ll post those soon.  

 

Boarding started at 10:45am.  First on board.  I ran into the Pinnacle doing a B4B who was with me on my B2B.  Julie our Hotel Director saw me and came over to chat greeting me by name.  There will be 12 pinnacles on this sailing.  It’s also the last cruise of her current contract.  

 

Jorge the Guest Services Manager saw me and welcomed me back.  

 

Right now I’m sitting at the Schooner Bar where Wayan and Roland recognized me and welcomed me back.   

 

Just like that I feel like I’m home.   

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1 hour ago, twangster said:

 

Royal only has dress suggestions, not a formal dress code.  This is widely debated here on these forums with both sides voicing strong opinions but they are just that, personal opinions.  

 

Empress does have “formal nights” but it basically amounts to shorts in the MDR are frowned upon at dinner.  Any shirt with a collar will suffice although you might see someone in a T-shirt.  

 

Some people go all out, some wear nice jeans and a polo.  A woman wearing a formal gown is rare as is a man in a tuxedo but it could happen.  A romper or sundress are popular choices. Not exactly sure what qualifies as a romper but that is what my adult step daughter calls them.  

Thanks for your prompt reply. 

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Wow is all I can say, more power to you,  couldn't get my wife and I on that ship again, once was enough. Between the rocking and rolling and rough seas and  very little to do or see on the ship.  It seemed like a very boring ship to be on  compared to the other options available now.

 

This was on a cruise back in 2003, San Juan  to NYC

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Posted (edited)

Very excited to see you back on the beautiful Empress. She too, is my favorite ship and love the true feeling of being on a ship and not a floating mall. While I do very much enjoy the larger ships (going on Symphony next month), the Empress just seems to have everything we need in a small package. Plus, we really enjoy the greater interaction between staff and passengers. We always end up meeting so many more new friends on the smaller ships. 

Looking forward to this new adventure!

Happy sailing!

 

Edited by Oakman
Misspelling

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16 hours and no post from the Twangster? Must mean no internet................

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8 hours ago, Jimbo said:

16 hours and no post from the Twangster? Must mean no internet................

 

I didn't buy Voom on day 1 and we just got finished at Perfect Day.  Going to play catch up but Voom is dreadfully slow now that we've left CocoCay.

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Day 1 Embarkation

 

A first glimpse of Empress at Terminal G from my Uber.

 

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Terminal G

 

ES4xLkx.jpg

 

fVawRww.jpg

 

The entrance to the building normally has some signage but in this early hour you had to know where to go.

 

FJgERQk.jpg

 

Terminal G check in area.

 

lymoSsM.jpg

 

Suites and Pinnacles have a small waiting lounge.

 

ZIG2rhw.jpg

 

Boarding started at 10:45am.  

 

GTqB1IS.jpg

 

Woohoo!  I am officially on a cruise!

 

lZubKyh.jpg

 

 

 

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Welcome aboard cake.

 

WDDAUmE.jpg

 

Up on deck 11 I noted they were working on the satellite antennas.

 

72wBck2.jpg

 

The nature of the internet interruptions I experienced on the last cruise had the feeling of maybe an amplifier or LNB

overheating and failing before coming back into service.  I'm hoping this new component might help.

 

vXcwsXf.jpg

 

Who knew two full grown men could fit into the dome?  They were contractors on the ship for the day.

 

hMmDJW9.jpg

 

In this Miami heat it's got to be hot in there.

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Guilford the Inventory Manager came through for me.  On my last cruise he promised there would be Guinness and it was there waiting for me.

 

lepGlsc.jpg

 

Some of the other beers available.

 

BLFBtFl.jpg

 

Some of the wines available.

 

7z2fndF.jpg

 

Empress has a Coffee Shop near the entrance within Boleros.

 

lGQ0jem.jpg

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