This is my second post about our recent cruise on the Empress of the Seas. Today I will talk about the ship itself and how good things often come in small packages.
When you embark the ship you enter on Deck 5 facing the Centrum. In spite of the small “stage,” many events were held here, such as towel folding demos and “Name That Tune.” This area also contains Guest Services and the Shore Excursion Desk. Even when events were held here it never felt crowded because spectators can overlook the action from the decks above that overlook the Centrum.
The pool deck only contains one pool and it is definitely the most crowded area of the ship. In the picture above, you’re seeing the pool under “normal” circumstances, when there are no events happening. When there is any kind of event, such as the belly flop contest, or Sexiest Man, the pool is full and the deck is crowded shoulder to shoulder. You have the usual chair hog activity here–people were up at 7:00 to claim their territory by spreading towels and personal belongings out on the loungers.
Aft of the pool is a raised area that contains two hot tubs and a performance platform. On the other side of this area is a splash pool for toddlers and babies. I rarely saw kids playing in this area. It usually has a few adults cooling their feet as they watch the entertainment on the other side of the hot tubs. Even though the small pool looks like it’s for accommodating the smallest of children, no swim diapers are allowed in the splash pool.
All the major shows and guest entertainers performed in the Royal Theater. The photo is taken from the lower level entrance, so yes, the theater is as small as it seems. However, we never had a problem getting seats up front no matter when we went. I was very pleased that the sound level was manageable. I didn’t have to wear my earplugs to the shows! The photo shows the Love and Marriage Show that takes place on the last sea day.
I took the photo of the main dining room from the mezzanine on Deck 5, looking down into the main area on deck 4 where people who had assigned dining times were seated. My Time diners were seated on Deck 5. I’ll discuss our experience with My Time Dining in another post, but suffice it to say right now that it was great and suited our needs perfectly.
Everybody has their Kindles, but while on a cruise I like to read real books. I had brought a book with me, and was so busy on this cruise that that one book was all I needed. I did check out the library in case I got desperate. The picture shows one-half of the library–the other case is identical and was right behind me on the opposite wall. The library is tiny but has a variety of both fiction and nonfiction books and would have been sufficient even I were on extended back to back cruises.
I first noticed the fitness center when we attended the loyalty party on the first sea day. It is located on a mezzanine overlooking the Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 10. When we attended the loyalty party in the Lounge, we could see people working out on the treadmills. I took the above picture on the last sea day when the dance team was working out. An interesting aside–a dance team member told me that they still needed to work out even though they do two energetic shows a night. The body just gets used to the increased activity and needs extra workouts to stay in top shape.
I’m saving the best for last–the Promenade deck on Deck 6. This is absolutely my favorite place on any cruise ship. This is the place that I like to meet for conversation and cocktails. The best thing about Royal Caribbean’s Promenade decks is that most of them wrap completely around the ship. It’s where I like to be during sail away, and its the best place to get your exercise. Once around the deck is 1/4 mile. It’s also the most relaxing place to read or just sit and look at the ocean. Most of it is in full shade, and we always could find loungers exactly where we wanted to sit. One caveat–this is where smokers can hang out–and I had to move to get away from a cigar smoker.
The Empress of the Seas is a small ship, but it is well laid out and never felt crowded with the exception of the pool deck at certain times. It has everything that I want or need in a cruise ship. I like a classic ship where the emphasis is on the ocean-going experience rather that on board activities. It was the perfect ship for us.