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rafinmd

Empress of the Seas Western Caribbean August 18-24

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1 hour ago, starrcards said:

By the way, did you post the menu for 8/20? Getting the same "file not found" error.

Running a bit behind I JUST posted yesterday's menu and today's Compass.  I'm a bit concerned about tonight's menu.  Since I'll be at shops instead of the dining room I won't get a closeup picture of the menu.  I took photos on the wall and HOPE they come out all right.  Be prepared to squint a bit.  One thing Empress lacks is the big electronic display boards.

 

Roy

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Lunch at CocoCay was also a highlight. Those chicken sandwiches were so good. Wished the same could be said about lunch onboard. 

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1 hour ago, rafinmd said:

Running a bit behind I JUST posted yesterday's menu and today's Compass.  I'm a bit concerned about tonight's menu.  Since I'll be at shops instead of the dining room I won't get a closeup picture of the menu.  I took photos on the wall and HOPE they come out all right.  Be prepared to squint a bit.  One thing Empress lacks is the big electronic display boards.

 

Roy

We'll survive.  Thanks.

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Wow, Chicken parm with SPAGHETTI!  Glad to see they ditched the mashed potatoes.

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9 minutes ago, starrcards said:

Wow, Chicken parm with SPAGHETTI!  Glad to see they ditched the mashed potatoes.

Funny you should say that.  One of my tablemates ordered the Chicken Parm and requested mashed potatoes instead.

 

Roy

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I looked at the compass for the 1st sea day and as a lover of trivia, I was impressed with the amount of trivia games (especially Star Wars trivia)! I guess with the smaller ships, the staff has to offer more things like that to compensate for less ship amenities? 

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6 hours ago, starrcards said:

Thanks.  Are the so called "porches" at the bow of the ship. On our trip to Cuba we had stateroom 8500 and viewed the Skyway bridge and Havana harbor from the viewing area (Porch) in front of our cabin

That's correct.  Not sure why it's public space in front of the middle cabins while you had a balcony.  Was your balcony door on the side rather than the front? 

 

Roy

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43 minutes ago, rafinmd said:

That's correct.  Not sure why it's public space in front of the middle cabins while you had a balcony.  Was your balcony door on the side rather than the front? 

 

Roy

Cabin 8000 (8500 for next July) is an ocean view that looks out on the "porch."  No balcony. There are doors  at the end of both corridors that lead out to the "Porch."

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Enjoying your review of the Empress, looking forward to sailing on her next month. 

 

The sail away away event on day 1 for C&A is that all C&A members or for Diamond Plus and above. Also if suites are are included in sail away does it include Junior Suites. Thank you and looking forward to the rest of your review. 

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1 hour ago, vegascruiser1 said:

Enjoying your review of the Empress, looking forward to sailing on her next month. 

 

The sail away away event on day 1 for C&A is that all C&A members or for Diamond Plus and above. Also if suites are are included in sail away does it include Junior Suites. Thank you and looking forward to the rest of your review. 

It's Diamond (not necessarily Pus) and above.  I don't think Junior Suites get much in the way of perks so I doubt they get that but am not sure.

 

Roy

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Posted (edited)

Day E4, Wednesday, August 21, 2019, Costa Maya, Mexico

 

Costa Maya is a port developed specifically for cruise ships, I believe by the Mexican government.  This is my third time here, after the Crystal Symphony in 2013 and the Ryndam in 2015.  Both of those visits I took long tours to Mayan ruins but this would be mostly quiet time.  It was still dark when I went down to deck 6 for my 6-lap walk.  We arrived in Costa Maya about 7:30, and I went to the deck 7 porch to watch the mooring crews in action. That was when the sun was due to rise but it was far too cloudy to have a sunrise.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/mooring.jpg


There were 3 ships in port, widely separated.  Harmony of the Seas arrived about 10.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/harmony.jpg


I wish now I had gone ashore early, before Harmony's passengers filled up the town, but did not actually leave until about 11.  On the way off the ship I looked up and found my  cabin for Bermuda, above the first lifeboat on the starboard side.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/newhome.jpg


It's a long walk down the pier but there is a tram for people who need it.  I  did not find much of interest in the port.  There is a shuttle to the nearby town of Majahual but the line for tickets was longer than I cared to wait,


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/townshuttle.jpg


There are also a number of large pink flamingos at an enclosure at the port.  I returned to the ship for a pasta lunch in the WJ.

 

https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/flamingos.jpg

The third ship to arrive was the Carnival Fantasy.  It holds a certain place in my heart as my first traditional cruise was on the nearly new Fantasy.  She recently had a disastrous sanitation inspection and she looked very worn from close up with rust most everywhere.  Seeing the Empress and the Fantasy side by side it's hard to believe they are nearly the exact same age.  The Empress, Fantasy, and Harmony were a very dis-similar collection of ships.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/trio.jpg


I'm not a pool person but I did relax in the hot tubs for a few minutes.  While up there I also walked around the upper forward deck and had a look at the other ships from my highest possible vantage point.  It's a nice looking deck with lots of lounge chairs and even a couple of hammocks, but in this heat with no shade I haven't been there much.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/topdeck.jpg


All aboard was 5:45, but at the last stragglers did not make it back to the ship until 5:55.  Once they boarded things moved very quickly with the gangway virtually following them in and lines dropping quickly.  We were starting to move promptly at 6, engaging horn salutes with the Harmony, those reverberated as they bounced off the sides of the Carnival Fantasy.  The contrast between the 2 remaining ships was apparent once we got a good photo distance away from the pier.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/adieucm.jpg


With sailaway at 6 I had reserved Chops for 6:30 so I could be on deck at departure time.  I know there have been some changes in their menu and the red velvet cake I remember is gone, but the warm apple pie was a nice followup to my petite sirloin.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/dishes21.jpg


The featured entertainment was comedian Alvin Williams.  I arrived near the end of his first show and did not feel the need to come back for the later show.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/williams.jpg


After the show I stepped out on deck and the sun was getting lower but cloudy enough so there was no point waiting for the actual sunset.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/daysend21.jpg


They say you shouldn't talk about something if you can't say anything good, and I don't talk a lot about Carnival.  As today's parting shot, I did like the sign out in front of the Fantasy's gangway.  Well said.


hats.jpg


Roy

 

Edited by rafinmd

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Roy,

Excellent report from Costa Maya. Looks like they finally finished the extension of the pier. 

R&D

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Day E5, Thursday, August 22, 2019, Cozumel, Mexico


Cozumel is a relatively familiar port to me as I've been here on the Jewel (2012), Crystal Symphony (2013), and Grandeur (2015).  The first time I did a short walking tour in town while the other 2 were long tours to Mayan sites on the mainland.  This visit would fall somewhere in the middle.


It was still dark when I finished my 6-lap walk.  I went up to the top about 7:30 and we were just coming into Cozumel.  Id did not look like there would be a sunrise from the looks of all the clouds but it did shine brightly through the cover as I entered Chops for my omelet.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/dawn0822.jpg


My tour was something called "Mayan Culture and Chocolate Tasting".  We met on the pier at 9:30 and headed off on our bus which would become sort of a circumnavigation of the southern half of the island.  Our guide Jesus explained that the island is about 30 miles long and 10 miles wide, and lays about 12 miles off the mainland.  He said the strait between Cozumel and the mainland gets strong current which at times can be a challenge for modern ships but was a definite challenge for canoes.


We drove north through the center of town and then started across the island, taking about 30 minutes to get to the San Gervasio architectural site.  Gervasio is the landowner who had the property before it became a park, and is a self-appointed saint.  That title was a condition of him transferring the property and the name does not sit well with the Mayans.  Gervasio dynamited much of the site; it is a bit of a miracle that as much remains as it does.  A name change is coming.  Our tour started with a visit to what I will call the palace, the home of the chief priest.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/palace.jpg


Just outside it is the tomb where he is buried.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/tomb.jpg


It was a short walk to a small building that was his alter.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/altar.jpg


It was a somewhat longer walk to the arch.  Cozumel has only 1 Mayan site and it is the only one devoted to the Goddess of the Moon.  In their mythology she is married to the Sun God and the site was chosen because it is the easternmost part of the Mayan empire and the place where the sun makes it's first appearance.  Visitors would arrive by canoe and walk up a trail with the arch at the entrance to the site.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/thearch.jpg


After San Gervasio we continued east to the perimeter of the island and stopped at a small beach area on the Caribbean.  An iguana was moving around the area.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/eastcozumal.jpg


Our final stop was at a Chocolate factory.  We were greeted by a man dressed in Mayan regalia who gave us a welcome speech in the Mayan language.  We had a short presentation on chocolate making and had a chance to sample a few varieties.  We walked through a building that was supposed to be a typical Mayan house.  I was surprised to see a cross at the top of the religious display but apparently when the Spaniards came Christianity was merged into their native religion.  That kind of fits in with the fact that our guide was Mayan but his name was Jesus.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/mayan.jpg


We returned to the ship about 2.  I think that was the right tour for me today as it was a new place for me, and not a terribly long tour on a hot day.  This sailaway addict took a vantage spot on deck 6 to watch the Carnival Fantasy sail away.  I waited and waited until it finally dawned on me that they were on Central time while we were on Eastern time.  They finally left a little after 5 (the scheduled 4 their time).


There were the usual 3 at dinner.  All Aboard was 5:45 and I could feel the ship starting to vibrate about 5:55 and we were soon swivelling to go out to sea.  I chose the beef tenderloin as well as the carrot cake although it became a lot of cake as there was also a special one.

 

https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/dishes22.jpg


The featured show was magician Puck.  Since he did not use the band they played a 7PM set in Boleros, my favorite activity of the evening.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/jamsession.jpg


The Parade of Flags was held in the Centrum at 8.  I think there might have been a nice sunset but it was over before the ceremony ended.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/flags.jpg


I went to the 9PM show with Puck but dozed off for most of it.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/puck.jpg


My parting shot will go back to dinner and that extra cake.  It was to celebrate Royal Caribbean's 50th birthday.  Happy Birthday.


birthday.jpg


Roy

 

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R&D, I didn't notice anything different about the Costa Maya pier since the last time I was there, but certainly saw no sign of construction.

 

Roy

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On 8/21/2019 at 10:37 PM, rafinmd said:

It's Diamond (not necessarily Pus) and above.  I don't think Junior Suites get much in the way of perks so I doubt they get that but am not sure.

 

Roy

Thank you, I will check out when we get onboard. I know we will be able to go, our friends our platinum but are in a junior suite. 

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Day E6, Friday, August 23, 2019, At Sea, Empress of the Seas


My second sea day started off a lot better than the first, completing my 5-mile (20-lap) walk virtually continuously.  I did make a brief stop for toilet and previewing the dinner menu about 2/3 of the way through the walk and then another brief stop for sunrise on the last lap.  About the time of my first break Cuba was quite close on our starboard side.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/cuba.jpg


According to my GPS I arrived at the bow almost to the second at sunrise but hung out there for about 5 minutes until it started to peek out above a low lying cloud.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/dawn0823.jpg


The orders of the day were packing and Diamond Plus Events.  I believe a backstage tour is supposed to come starting at the Diamond lever but on both this cruise and my last cruise on the Grandeur a brand new cast came on as I did and they tied up the theater for the whole time with rehearsals.  Instead, we were offered a tour of the galley at 11:15.  We started out at the dish room.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/dishroom.jpg


The chef explained that much of the initial work (baking, soups, etc) is done on deck 2 but each restaurant level has a galley where the final prep work is done.  We saw a couple of serving lines where workers behind the lines assembled the plates for the waiters to pick up.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/galley.jpg


I had just a short break before the second event, "Dine with an Officer".  The dining room was set as long tables for 10 with an officer at each end and 8 guests along the sides.  Seating was assigned with name tags.  At my table the Executive Housekeeper was seated at one end and Francisco from Guest Services at the end nearer me.  There were 2 or 3 entree choices and 2 for desert.  I chose the beef tenderloin and a key lime meringue pie.  All was very good including the conversation.


The final event was a visit to the bridge.  We had about 3 groups with mine scheduled for 2:05.  After a check by security Loyalty Ambassador Louis took us back a longish hallway past the cabins of the top officers (many of the hotel officers as well as the navigation team live in that area) and onto the bridge.  The main control panels are in the center and many of the consoles were updated in the last drydock.  Louis explained that there are always at least 3 people on the bridge (2 officers and a lookout) at all times.  A bit behind those panels is a large table that is the center of emergency operations with large diagrams of all parts of the ship.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/bridgecenter.jpg


The Empress has open rather than enclosed bridge wings with a cover for the control console,  I walked out on one of the wings and took a look at the view.

https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/wingview.jpg


As I left the bridge one of the side hallways had a display of the plaques given to the ship by various ports and probably on some other occasions.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/plaques.jpg


Packing came in earnest after the bridge tour and I had pretty much everything that wouldn't be used again before dinner.


For the final dinner I stuck to the classic selections, things I knew were relatively light after my big lunch.  It was the Caesar Salad, Roast Chicken, and finally ice cream.  There was a ceremony by the culinary staff just as desert was about to be served so my ice cream arrived extremely soft but still tasted good.  Then it was final goodbyes with my tablemates, waiter Nigel, and assistant waiter Ryan.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/dishes23.jpg


I was just in time for the premiere performance of the Empress' new cast as the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers in Bailamos.  After the show representatives of all the ship's departments came out on stage for a farewell.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/farewell.jpg


There were a few clouds in the sky but overall a very nice sunset.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/dusk0823.jpg


My bags went into the hallway about 9:45.


https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/bagsout.jpg


My parting shot will be about the cruise.  I considered this almost a throwaway cruise with ports I didn't really want to visit in the summer but mostly out of curiosity about the ship.  I hoped I would like it but couldn't be sure.  I guess the best answer about liking it is that I'm booked again in July for Bermuda.


Roy

 

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1 hour ago, rafinmd said:


I had just a short break before the second event, "Dine with an Officer".  The dining room was set as long tables for 10 with an officer at each end and 8 guests along the sides.  Seating was assigned with name tags.  At my table the Executive Housekeeper was seated at one end and Francisco from Guest Services at the end nearer me.  There were 2 or 3 entree choices and 2 for desert.  I chose the beef tenderloin and a key lime meringue pie.  All was very good including the conversation.

 


 

 

I am happy to hear they have "Dine with an Officer" event. We really do enjoy this perk. 

 

Glad to see you enjoyed the Empress to book another cruise on her. I was on her in 2005, so it has been a while since I have been on a smaller ship.

 

Safe journeys home.

1 hour ago, rafinmd said:

 

 

 

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What can go wrong when you book an early flight.  Perhaps a jetway malfunction.  While I type they are setting up a gangway on deck 2.

 

Roy

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Safe travels home!

enjoyed your review....thanks for taking the time!

 

elaine

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Thanks Roy, for your reports and photos from EM. Wishing you a pleasant flight home. Much cooler here now, you'll enjoy it.

R&D

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1 hour ago, Pumbaamd said:

Thanks Roy, for your reports and photos from EM. Wishing you a pleasant flight home. Much cooler here now, you'll enjoy it.

R&D

 

Rick, it's NE!😉

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30 minutes ago, Host Clarea said:

 

Rick, it's NE!😉

OK, at least it's correct in my signature!

pic.zip

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Thanks for the great review. I’m excited to cruise the Empress in two weeks. I as well want to experience the “small ship” feeling. As for many of the upcoming ports I may actually just say aboard the ship... except for Perfect Day at Coco Cay where I want to explore it for my family cruise aboard Harmony in March 2020.

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Quick progress report.  I'm currently in Charlotte Airport.  Due to land at BWI at 9:05.  A bit surprised at how little there is to eat these days on short flights, even in First Class.

 

Roy

 

 

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