Empress of the Seas differentiates herself from most of the ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet by offering a more boutique, almost retro cruise experience. The ship is the smallest in Royal Caribbean's fleet. The ship's compact size means it can access smaller ports, providing the opportunity to see places that couldn't accommodate the massive ships that dominate the modern cruising landscape. The more intimate size also means that you can easily get from one end of the ship to the other in under five minutes, and fewer passengers means embarking and disembarking is fast and easy. Plus, more than half of the staterooms boast an ocean view! All guests enjoy nightly turndown service, daily housekeeping, and 24-hour room service.
There are three dining venues and three bars aboard ship. Included in the fare are all meals at Windjammer, a global buffet, and the Starlight Dining Room, which has a varied menu that changes daily. While the Empress of the Sea doesn't have as many dining options as some ships, she does offer a special perk not found on other Royal Caribbean ships - bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys are complimentary at brunch everyday! Take advantage of this rare offer in the Starlight Dining Room on sea days and Windjammer on port days. For specialty dining, you can go to Chops Grille, a steakhouse serving lunch and dinner.
The Royal Theatre is the ship's main entertainment venue where you'll find nightly stage shows ranging from song and dance reviews to Quest, Royal Caribbean's signature interactive game for adults. The Viking Crown Lounge is the place to go to dance the night away, and the Schooner Bar is the perfect spot for pre-dancing drinks or to wrap up the evening with a nightcap. Boleros is a Latin-themed club and lounge that really gets going in the evening. If you're craving a mojito and some salsa dancing, Boleros is the place to be. Thanks to the intimate atmosphere created by a smaller ship, cruisers tend to mix and mingle more, and many guests come back year after year because they enjoy the special comradery that develops among passengers.
Keeping up your exercise routine while sailing the Empress of the Seas is no problem thanks to the ship's fully-equipped fitness center. The gym has plenty of cardio equipment, strength training machines, and free weights, so you shouldn't have any trouble completing your regular workout. Group classes are also available; just speak to your vacation planner to reserve a spot. If you'd rather enjoy the ocean breeze while you run, you can take advantage of the ship's ¼ mile jogging track. Other recreation opportunities include scuba diving certification and classes related to your itinerary. Cruises bound for Cuba, for example, might offer cigar rolling classes.
The spa aboard Empress of the Seas is a bit pared down compared to the sprawling wellness centers on some ships. There are plenty of treatment rooms, but no steam room, sauna, or thermal suites. Despite its scaled down size, the ship's Vitality at Sea spa still offers a full menu of treatments, including massages, wraps, and facials. Given the ship's tranquil vibe and the multitude of hammocks on the sun deck that seem to be calling out for you to take a snooze in the ocean air, you may not even need the help of a masseuse to get to a state of total relaxation, but Vitality has you covered if you do!
When you're ready to do a little shopping, make your way to the Royal Shops on Deck 6. Located between the Royal Theatre and Casino Royal, these boutiques offer everything from Royal Caribbean-branded merchandise to luxury watches, not to mention that sunscreen you forgot to pack. You will also find a couple of additional shopping opportunities on Deck 5, including Focus, the ship's photo gallery. As long as the ship is at sea, everything purchased aboard the Empress of the Seas is tax- and duty-free, so it's the perfect opportunity to splurge. Finally, while you have to wait until you disembark for the last time to collect it, many guests opt to stock up on liquor in order to save the sales tax.
Given its smaller size, Empress of the Seas doesn't have as many of the amusement park-style amenities that are commonplace on Royal Caribbean's newer ships. However, there is still plenty for kids to do while at sea. The ship has one main pool, which kids are welcome to use, as well as a small splash pad for the tiniest tots. Adventure Ocean, Royal Caribbean's signature children's program, is also available. Open to potty-trained kids over the age of three, Adventure Ocean provides exciting, educational activities that allow younger cruisers to meet and have fun together while Mom and Dad enjoy a little down time. The ship also has an arcade, ping pong tables, and outdoor movies that the family can enjoy together.
Royal Caribbean's signature Casino Royale, is located on Deck 6 midway between the Royal Theatre and Boleros. The casino aboard the Empress of the Seas is packed with tables and slot machines with bets as low as one cent, so even the most risk-averse can get in on the fun. If you've never so much as placed a bet, you can take advantage of complimentary lessons on classic games like poker and blackjack. Thanks to the wide variety of game play choices, there is sure to be something for everyone. Whatever your level of gambling experience, you won't want to miss this slice of Vegas at sea.