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Patricia Hfman

Age: NOT FOUND

Occupation:NOT FOUND

Number of Cruises: NOT FOUND

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Nordic Empress

Sailing Date: SUMMER, 2001

Itinerary: NOT FOUND

Patricia Hoffman

Here's the unbiased facts on the Nordic Empress to Bermuda from NYC.  At 43 years old, you get the in betweens where you may want a party cruise or you may want a serene experience.  Empress is more serene. Depending on your desires and lifestyle, situations with your traveling companions or just what you're in the mood for, you will (as I spoke with many of my fellow passengers) either like or dislike this cruise. 

This is a lovely ship, albeit a bit old.  Her cabins are smaller, but with that comes alot of understated charm in her simple decor.  You will never feel crowded on the Empress, unlike megaships three times her size which I have taken.  You will find hallways and elevators to yourself even at gross passenger capacity.  Because this is a smaller ship by today's standards, the common areas such as lounges, etc., are few but still are rarely crowded.  There is no "grand" atrium as in other ships but the Centrum atrium is sophisticated and not a neon alley.  You can easily find a chair on deck in either the sun or shade, as is your fancy.  That was probably the most amazing part of the trip, the feeling of space.  

I booked a cabin on Bridge Deck which has a balcony.  If you can possibly afford it DO IT.  My mother and cousin were one floor below (Deck 8)and the difference in space was unimaginable.  (Big hidden secret - go totally aft on Deck 8 portside - a private balcony no one knows is there next to Royal Suite).  We slept with our balcony door open at night which helped to adjust for the lack of ventilation and the "we're having problems with the ac" situation.  Hearing the sea at night is the best tranquilizer.  My husband is not well and occasionally we used a wheelchair.  No problems at all.  We were given priority embark/debark so I can't comment there.  Now, food.  If you read a review that the food is EXCELLENT, those people aren't getting out enough.  If you read the food is HORRIBLE, they're eating at very good restaurants.  If you are just a regular person and get hungry, if you like a nicely cooked piece of beef all fancy prepared, unlimited lobster tail on its given night, a simple pork chop or bit of turkey and a decent salad which is not wilty, or if your idea of dining al fresco is burgers, chili and dogs, you'll do fine. Food is OK, maybe too rich, too much creamed this and that.  Many I spoke with had a bit of "indigestion" - my fellow passenger wondered what the cost of toilet paper must be. For food, go to Celebrity. The dining room staff is superb or maybe we were just lucky.  If you're a friendly person, you will find you have friendly waitstaff.  

Waiting for debarkation early in the am, we spoke with our waiter for half an hour about his life, his decisions to maybe move on, etc. We actually over tipped our staff at the end of the trip - I'm not kidding, they were that wonderful.  For hands off, white glove, don't talk to me service, choose Cunard.  Making the stop at King's Wharf which is something I am used to and have come to accept, is really a waste of time.  There is nothing but typical souvenir nonsense after a long walk around a hot pier.  But it's a jump off point for those who want excursions.  Me?  Can't be bothered with most excursions or King's Wharf.  And the unshielded sun will knock you down.  

Hamilton is OK, but one feels deterred from wandering past Front Street where the ships dock, and where (you guessed) all the "75% OFF!!" jewelry shops and Tshirt havens are.  If you take the time you'll shop around and discover that all the merchandise in all the shops is the same exact stuff, produced somewhere on the island and shipped to stores whether it be a tshirt hut or upscaled mini (by US Standars) department store.  Beware low quality stones!! - tanzanite should have a bit of purple in it.  If you know your stuff, the shopperson will realize who there dealing with and admit that diamond is "not perfect".  They will then cut you 30% off the price as you walk out the door.  Beyond Front Street it's a small, hot, hilly city.  The church though is beautiful. I read reviews that say Bermuda is the most beautiful, spectacular, etc., etc.  It's very nice, but it's tiny, isolated and on British rule - these are working people and life very much slows down after 5pm when the business day is over.  Ferries will cease, shops will close just when you were ready to get out there and go, now that the sun and heat have gone.  You will resolve yourself to staying on the ship, which when in port, is not allowed to open shops, casino, etc.  

The ship is clean, fairly stable (in 7 foot seas), small enough to manage, but lacks all the glitz, party-party atmosphere and dazzle you may want.  If you do, book Carnival but expect nearly impossible service, crummy food and total anonimity from the staff.  On Empress you order a drink they'll say "here you go, (name)".  It makes a difference. Entertainment is typical, as all cruises are really typical. Casinos are "friendly".  I won a whole $23 bucks in three days of play. Cruising is what you make it-bring friends and a good attitude. I'll end where I began - research and decide what you want.  Empress is peaceful, never offensive, never loud, never boisterous.  Which can be a real downer for some people.  Well, I'm still finding my land legs as I just got off the ship 5 hours ago.  It's like taking off  your roller skates when you were a kid.  This is a good cruise, for a person in that frame of mind, which right now I was.  Don't expect "PAR--TY", it ain't gonna happen.  I'm saving that for next time.   After all, I'm only 43.  Have fun!

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