Chris and Kai Brinkley
Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Imperial Majesty
Ship: Regal Empress
Sailing Date: N/A
If I were to sum up this review with three words, they would be "Don't do it!" This was our second cruise (We first sailed with Royal Caribbean 5 years ago). Royal Caribbean was extremely elegant so needless to say, our expectations were running a little high. However, in light of Regal Empress being a budget cruise, the cruise line should still seriously consider upgrading the ship, service, and accommodations if they plan to stay in business. They may continue to get "first-timers" but never repeat cruisers.
Let's see...where do I begin. Well, this was our family reunion cruise (about 65 family members on board). Although requested, there was no welcome/acknowledgement to our family on board. We weren't even seated at the same table for dinner.
The ship itself is very, very old and worn out. The interior looks like a retired Navy vessel that Imperial Cruises decided to convert to a "cruise ship". The promenade deck was flooded so we had to walk through water to get to the "cafeteria" for breakfast on the day of our departure. Did I mention that we had to be out of our rooms by 8:15 am on the day of departure so the crew could get ready to board more people on by 12:30 that afternoon? People were literally seated all over the ship (hallways, floors, door entry, stairs) with luggage waiting to disembark around 12:30 pm. Our cabin rooms were extremely small and deteriorated; my husband and I shared a twin bed, our son slept on the top bunk, and our daughter slept on the bottom (with our luggage in the room, there wasn't any space to fold out the roll-a-way bed they gave us). Oh, and did I mention the huge roach that greeted me from the toilet at 6 am in the morning! He was so big we thought about naming him and raising him for a pet!
I read other reviews that people posted and everything they wrote was pretty accurate. The absolute worst part of this trip for me was the fact that we were nickeled and dimed so much that we might as well have paid an additional $200.00 to cruise on a nice ship where nearly everything is all inclusive. The Regal Empress charges you a MANDATORY "gratuity" of $20.00 PER PERSON. Yep, that's $80.00 for a family of 4 (and trust me when I say that the service is ok but not extraordinary for a mandatory tip). Every beverage is going to cost you; yes, even a soda at your scheduled dinner seating. There are very few activates aboard the ship (especially for kids) unless you want to spend an endless amount of money gambling or drinking (my husband and I weren't interested in either one). Should you choose to do an off ship excursion, you're going to pay for it dearly ($50-60 per pers). Royal Caribbean doesn't charge to take you to the beach. All in all, it's a cheap RIDE to the Bahamas, but we really would have "broke even" had we booked a nicer cruise.
The best part of the cruise was that it was "seemingly affordable" to get on board and I loved spending the weekend with my family. We had a ball (but we always do no matter where we are!)
I wish I had read other people's reviews before booking this trip, but you win some and you lose some. I give the Regal Empress a C- (and that's liberal).