The last few weeks have been very busy for Royal Caribbean. Early april the company took delivery of the third Quantum class ship Ovation of the Seas. We had the chance to visit Ovation on one of her European getaways, before setting sail on a 52-night “Global Odyssey” culminating in her arrival to her homeport in Tianjin, China. You can read more on that visit in our post Ovation of the Seas – a visit.
Earlier this month Harmony of the Seas was introduced as the third member of the Oasis-class family. Harmony not only incorporates the wow-factors found on Oasis and Allure of the Seas but also some popular features which were first introduced onboard the Quantum-class ships. The Ultimate Abyss, the world’s tallest slide at sea, adds the ultimate thrill factor courageous adrenaline seekers are plunged 10 stories down. You can see more from the biggest cruise ship in the world by visiting our Inside Harmony of the Seas post.
And if that was not enough excitement, Royal Caribbean yesterday announced the building of a fifth ship to the Oasis family and the construction of two extra Edge-class ships for Celebrity Cruises.
Now all eyes are set on the final arrival of Empress of the Seas to her new homeport Miami.
When it was announced that Empress of the Seas was returning to the Royal Caribbean fleet, the original plan was she would start sailing short Caribbean getaways from March 2016 onwards. We talked about those plans in The new Empress.
At that time Michael Bayley, CEO of Royal Caribbean International said “Empress’s short Caribbean getaways will give adventure-seekers the opportunity to party, chill and repeat. They will feel like it’s the weekend every day on Empress.”
During the ships revitalisation, to take it from a Pullmantur Cruises ship, one of Royal Caribbean Cruises’ brands, to a Royal Caribbean ship, the renovations proved to be more complicated than first expected and more time was needed to complete the work. Consequently at least 13 sailings had to be cancelled resulting in loads of bad publicity.
But all that’s behind us as Empress of the Seas has finally arrived to her new homeport after her $50 million revitalization.
The ship will now set sail on her first cruise on Saturday, May 28 visiting Royal Caribbean’s private island CocoCay, Bahamas and Nassau, Bahamas. The ship will then offer short 4- and 5-night getaways from Miami to Nassau, The Bahamas; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; Grand Cayman and Key West, Florida.
With longer stays in every port, guests will be able to experience spectacular golden sunsets in the Caribbean. Plus, on select 5-night itineraries, guest can experience the authentic Mexican culture and cuisine during overnight stays in Cozumel, Mexico.
The new Empress of the Seas will offer signature amenities including a rock-climbing wall for adrenaline seekers; new pools and whirlpools; a spa with an extensive treatment menu; and a complimentary Adventure Ocean youth program. Empress also will offer a variety of dining options, including the casual atmosphere of the Windjammer Café and fine dining at the brand’s signature steakhouse Chops Grille. Keeping in line with the ‘party, chill and repeat’ concept, every day will be Sunday as Sunday Brunch will be served every day with a complimentary Mimosa or Bloody Mary.
At this moment bookings for Empress of the Seas are only available until the end of June, which brings back speculation that the ship could either start offering cruises to Cuba or even be homeported there. In fact, in a recent interview, when asked if he could foresee sending a ship to Cuba this year, Michael Bayley responded “Yes. We’re optimistic that at some point everything — all of the approvals and whatnot — will be received, and as soon as they are we will make an announcement. I think it’s reasonable to assume that over the coming weeks and months, hopefully there will be a series of announcements.”
Pictures © Royal Caribbean