Royal Caribbean’s smallest ship should be nicknamed ‘The Little Ship That Could’!

©RoyalCaribbean
Empress of the Seas sails into Miami

The ship was built in 1990 at Chantiers de l’Atlantique in France but she was actually ordered by Admiral Cruises. At that point in time, the ship was going to be called Future Seas. During her construction, Admiral Cruises had merged with Royal Caribbean. The ship was transferred to Royal Caribbean and renamed Nordic Empress.

Render of Future Seas when she was ordered by Admiral Cruises

She stayed in the Royal fleet for a while and was renamed in 2004 to Empress of the Seas. This was to keep her in line with the “of the Seas” names that all Royal ships have.

By 2008, Royal Caribbean Cruises ltd. transferred the ship over to a Spanish operator they had invested in called Pullamantur. They shortened her name to just Empress. She sailed with them for 8 years. You can still find signage that’s in English, Spanish, and Portuguese from those days.

Empress of the Seas sailing out of Miami. Captured by Greg Dragonetti ©CruiseInd
Empress of the Seas sailing out of Miami in November 2016

By the mid-2010’s it was becoming clear that Cuba was going to be a viable option for American operators. Combined with a weakening Spanish market for holidays, the Empress was transferred back into the Royal Caribbean fleet and started sailing to Cuba. However in 2019, Cuba voyages were banned by the US Government. Royal will be sailing her to Bermuda, offering Hamilton and St. Georges, as well as longer Canada and New England routes in 2020. Her long term future remains unknown.


EMPRESS OF THE SEAS DECK PLANS


Lets start with the obligatory photos:

Stairwell:

Empress of the Seas

Elevator Lobby and Carpet:

Empress of the Seas

Deck 03

DECK PLAN

Deck 03 contains only cabins.

Deck 04

DECK PLAN

The front two-thirds of the deck contains cabins. The aft is the bottom floor of the two level dining room. Since it sits right at the stern, it features 270-degree views.

Empress of the Seas Dining Room
Dining Room on Empress of the Seas
Deck 05

DECK PLAN

The very front of deck 5 contains the Royal Theatre.

Empress of the Seas Royal Theatre
Empress of the Seas main theater staircase

Just past that is the bottom floor of the main atrium called the Centrum. This extends all the way to the top of the ship. Off of the centrum is the Shore Excursion desk and Guest Services.

Shore Excursion desk on Empress of the Seas

Guest Services
Royal Caribbean Loyalty Desk
Bottom of the Atrium on Empress of the Seas

Walking past the Centrum, you enter the Schooner Bar; a staple on any Royal Caribbean ship.

Past the bar, on the port side, is the only alternate restaurant onboard, Chops.

Chops onboard Empress of the Seas

Opposite that, on starboard, is the ships photo gallery and future cruise desk.

Next Cruise on Empress of the Seas

Focus on Empress of the Seas
Focus on Empress of the Seas

Past that, at the very back of the ship, is the ships main dining room.

Deck 06

DECK PLAN

Deck 6 contains a fully wrap-around promenade. The views here are fantastic as these are becoming a novelty on ships now-a-days.

Looking up from the Promenade on Empress
Teak wood lined promenade on Empress of the Seas

Inside, at the front is the second level of the main theater.

Royal Theatre

Exiting that, you’re at the second level of the atrium.

Centrum on Empress of the Seas

At the far side of the atrium are the Royal Shops.

Royal Shops

Royal Shops on Empress of the Seas

Exiting the shops, you emerge at the casino.

Casino Royale on Empress of the Seas
Casino Royale on Empress of the Seas

Walking through the casino, and around a corner, is the arcade.

Empress of the Seas

At the back is the Boleros lounge. This venue was a huge hit during her Cuban days. Now-a-days it still has latin music at night, but isn’t as popular.

Coffee stand on Empress of the Seas
Boleros entrance on Empress of the Seas

Boleros Bar on Empress of the Seas
Boleros on Empress of the Seas
Deck 07

DECK PLAN

The next deck up contains all cabins. At the forward stairwell, there’s the internet cafe. This surrounds the third deck that overlooks the Centrum.

RC Online on Empress of the Seas
Third deck of Centrum
Deck 08

DECK PLAN

Deck 8 is also cabins. Similar to the deck below, there are small venues surrounding the atrium.

Card/game room on Empress of the Seas

Card/game room on Empress of the Seas
Deck 09

DECK PLAN

Similar to the decks below, Deck 8 has the library that encircles the Centrum. At the very front is the bridge and aft of that are the office cabins.

Empress of the Seas Library

Centrum on Empress of the Seas
Aft stairwell on Empress of the Seas
Deck 10

DECK PLAN

Deck 10 is the topmost complete deck. At the front is the Windjammer buffet restaurant.

Windjammer on Empress of the Seas
Windjammer on Empress of the Seas

Past the Windjammer, the deck opens up to the pool area. Note that with this design, as sort of was common back in the early 90’s, there are no sun decks encircling the pool area.

Main pool area on Empress of the Seas
Pool area on Empress of the Seas

Pool area on Empress of the Seas
Pool bar on Empress of the Seas

At the back of the deck, the starboard side contains more sundeck as well as some ping pong tables.

On the port side, indoors, there’s the children’s area and the small spa just past that.

Children’s area on Empress of the Seas
Spa on Empress of the Seas

Then at the back of the deck is the Viking Crown Lounge. This staple of Royal Caribbean ships is fading fast but on Empress it’s still there.

Empress of the Seas Viking Crown Lounge

Attached to the back of the lounge is the rock climbing wall.

Rock climbing wall
Small sundeck on the aft, port of deck 10
Deck 11

DECK PLAN

Deck 11 is split into two parts at the fore and aft. Forward is a large sundeck.

Empress of the Seas

Then aft, it’s the top floor of the Viking Crown Lounge. Over time, this had been transformed into the fitness area.

Empress of the Seas
Empress of the Seas

CABINS ON NEXT PAGE