We have sailed on the Empress of the Seas four times, twice staying on the aft end of the ship in Staterooms 7688 and 7690. Had 9684 been available, we would have jumped on it! We are among the people who very much enjoy the Empress of the Seas; I will tell you it is paramount that you learn everything you can about this ship and how she differs from the rest of the fleet or else you may be very much surprised or unhappy with your cruise.
Sailing on the Empress is stepping back in time in a way. We enjoy our days at sea on her; life is simple and can be quiet; we spend time playing shuffleboard on her full wrap-around teak promenade deck. There is no ice rink, shopping mall promenade, adult-only solarium pool, Chops Grill, Johnny Rockets, miniature golf, basketball, sports bar; the fitness center is very small, as is the casino, which was reduced in size in a recent redo in order to provide space for a Seattles Best coffee and a photo gallery. There is a Schooner Bar and a Boleros lounge.
Very important: Only on this one ship in the fleet do the Junior Suites have only a small bathroom with shower only---no tub. These rooms really are only Category Es. The staterooms at the aft end do not even have a sitting area, although 9684 might have a bit more room than the staterooms we stayed in---this balcony is four panels wide, which is nice. Some soot may land on your balcony. There are no refrigerators in the junior suites.
Bermuda is a great place to sail to; do your homework if you have never visited; there's more to it than Horseshoe Beach and the stockade at St. Georges.
Sailing out of and back into Philadelphia is unique: One must proceed down the shallow, iffy Delaware river for hours before reaching the open sea. It is normal and usual to experience a noisy shaking and vibration of the ship (aft) as it makes a particular navigational turn in the river, which occurs in the middle of second seating dinner.
I hope that this information is helpful to you.