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Don Lehmer

Age: 53

Occupation:Insurance Sales

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Empress of the Seas

Sailing Date: July 14th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

My wife and I sailed aboard the Empress of the Seas July 14th through the 18th, 2005. This was our third cruise with Royal Caribbean. The other two ships were the Sovereign of the Seas and the Majesty of the Seas.

We had absolutely no delays or problems going from the airport to the ship via transfer vouchers. The RCCL staff at the airport was excellent. While waiting to board we talked to a few other passengers who were very nice. Throughout the cruise we would run into those same people and say hello and discuss the ship and excursions. Checkin on the ship was very quick and easy. We boarded around 11:30am and went to the Windjammer Cafe for lunch. Typical buffet food I'd rate a 2 1/2 out of 4. We relaxed there for a while and then took our self guided tour of the ship while waiting for our luggage which arrived around 1:30 without any problems. The ship is laid out like most of the RCCL's cruise ships so it wasn't difficult to find things. They have deck numbers and activity rooms clearly labeled. Our cabin, 8026 was small, but big enough, and had a nice window. The shower however was very, very small. Nice, clean room with a very comfortable bed. No noise from below or above in our room, although some people we talked to complained about noise who had cabins at the rear of the ship. The Empress is small by today's standards which is fine for many people. I don't think I would take kids on this ship because there aren't enough things to do or kids to do things with. Maybe some prefer the smaller ships so as not to loose track of their kids. We saw about 10 kids under two. One was only 3 months old and the parents still seemed to be having a good time. All of the kids we talked to said they were enjoying themselves. There were kids of all ages, and they all seemed to enjoy themselves. All areas of the ship were clean except for the windows in most areas. The only other complaint is that the bread and rolls weren't as fresh as I like. Minor things I know, but the only negative things I can say.

The food was 3 out of four stars. The prime rib was outstanding. Some people complained about smaller portions, but you could always ask and receive more. Our cabin steward Steven was excellent. Our waiter and assistant waiter, Akhar and Orlando were excellent. I really enjoy meeting people from other countries. The ships staff wear name badges with their home country listed. Although there were people who don't understand English too well, it was enjoyable communicating with them. There were staff from

Russia, Indonesia, Peru. Canada, France, Bahamas, Spain, etc. They could'nt have done better jobs. Drink prices were $3 and up for beer, $5.95 for drinks like Pina Colada, or Miami Vice (my favorite) and $5.50 and up for wine. Gratuities were automatically added to the cost so all we needed to do was sign our name. Non alcoholic drinks like lemonade, tea, juice, coffee, water, etc. were plentiful throughout the ship and at no extra charge. By the pool they had a self serve soft ice cream cone machine which was a big hit. The pool was small but big enough. Three hot tubs were popular also. A small kiddie pool was used often as well. The entertainment was okay, but not as good as on some larger ships which is understandable. We've been to Key West before but enjoyed walking around all of the t shirt shops and bars and seeing the houses and all of the gardens. Instead of going to Cozumel, we spent two days in Nassau because of Hurricane Emily. This was fine. Although my wife and I didn't take any excursions there this time, we walked around the shops and spent two days pool side for the first time ever. We had great Dining Room tablemates. The casino was open often and had very low minimum bets for Craps, Roulette, 21, etc. The dealers there were all friendly and helpful. The passengers and staff were all friendly. I didn't see or hear of any problems. For us it was a very, very relaxing cruise. I would recommend it for people looking for a smaller ship without a lot of huff and puff. For those looking for bigger ships with more things to do, I'd look at the other RCCL ships. I'm already day dreaming about and planning for our next cruise. It will be with RCCL, where and on what size ship, I don't know.

Don Lehmer, Camp Hill, Pa.


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