This is a review by a first-time cruiser who have done many all-inclusives before, and have seen quarter of the world on his own. Bottom line: book the cruise, do it, you will not regret it!
Empress is the ship Royal Caribbean brought back to for their Cuba itineraries. It's their oldest and smallest ship in the fleet with the fewest amenities and most cramped interior state rooms. However, this little ship has a crew with a big heart and the overall cruise package delivers a tremendous value.
Sailing to Cuba were abruptly restricted before the start of 2019 summer season. Empress of the Seas itineraries got affected. Many people cancelled, and Royal offered significant discounts for cabins that unexpectedly became available. This when we decided to pick up this deal and got superb service for an excellent price.
The cabin is in good shape. Enough room for parents and two kids. The fold-away top beds are not meant to be touched by guests. In fact there's a special key that a room attendant has to use to prepare the beds. The beds were ready for us as by magic. Never, and I mean never, we had a moment when the beds were not ready for us when we were ready to use them. Those beds were also folded away for us as soon as we were gone for our breakfast. Even though the room is definitely small we managed just fine, and didn't feel claustrophobic or inconvenienced beyond what we were expecting going in.
The top beds are good for kids. Not so much for adults because they are not long enough if you're taller than about 5'5"/165cm. The mattresses on the top beds are also not comfortable for a grown adult. The kids didn't complain at all.
The shower is really tiny. The position of the shower head and controls make the useful space even smaller. I can't imagine how an overweight person can possibly use this shower comfortably.
The state room has a TV with just enough channels to keep kids entertained if they decided to stay in the room for awhile.
Due to the overall size of the ship there really wasn't any issue with the location of the room. Any place on the ship was always within two minutes away.
3143 is located in a generally quiet location. Our sleep was not disturbed by any activities above or below us. I believe there might be a custodian storage area between a wall and a hallway. Several times over our eight-night cruise we heard intermittent noise beyond the wall but that was around 10 AM time.
CocoCay is everything that Royal Caribbean touts about this location and more! They spend hundreds of millions of dollars enhancing this piece of paradise and you get to enjoy it. This is just a completely worry free place to relax and enjoy a perfect day in paradise.
Good food, great beaches, awesome weather, warm waters.
Embarkation and disembarkation from Empress is easy because the ship is small so the number of guests to process doesn't overwhelm the facilities or port employees.
Took a tender, and simply walked outside the security entrance for a leisurely stroll in the city. Felt safe walking around and snapping pictures during the day in the downtown on the main thoroughfares. Buildings are colourful, everyone speaks a decent dialect of English, so you can understand each other. No need to spend much money to enjoy a different cultural experience.