I sailed the Empress before the name change, it use to be the Nordic Empress and sailed the 3 and 4 night Bahama route. I sailed that route twice and even due to inclement weather enjoyed my vacation. This is an older ship and the smallest of the fleet so be aware that this is not the ship seen on all the RCCL commercials. Cabins are small, but RCCL has some of the smallest cabins around from all accounts. I had an inside cabin both sailing and didn't mind because the trips were short and I wasn't in there much. It might be a little claustrophic on a longer sailing.
I found the cabin stewards very helpful and professional and the food was good, NOT GREAT, but good and plentiful.
I understand RCCL has cut back on the midnight buffets in the last few years. I haven't cruised in 3 years myself so I can't personally say. I can say that the midnight buffets were a favorite of mine and my husbands after a night of dancing or whatever so I'm sad to hear the quality and number have decreased.
I will be sailing the Monarch of the Seas myself soon, so I hope this information helped you somewhat.