Empress of the Seas, which at 25 years will be Royal Caribbean’s oldest and smallest ship, will return to doing short Caribbean and Bahamas cruises after a stint with Pullmantur, a Spanish line that is owned by Royal Caribbean’s corporate parent.
The ship will undergo a major overhaul, then sail four- and five-day cruises from PortMiami beginning March 30, Royal Caribbean announced Monday. Empress of the Seas will stop at Nassau, Bahamas; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; Grand Cayman; and Key West. The company said the ship will have earlier departures (11 a.m.), longer stays in every port, and on select cruises, will stay overnight in Cozumel.
The 1,602-passenger ship was launched as a Royal Caribbean ship named Nordic Empress in 1990 and later renamed Empress of the Seas. It was transferred to Pullmantur’s fleet in 2008 and renamed ms Empress.
48,563 gross registered tons Size of Empress of the Seas (by volume), which will be Royal Caribbean’s smallest ship. Allure of the Seas, the line’s largest, is 225,282.
Although Royal Caribbean did not announce details of the ship’s refurbishment, it said Empress will have — among other amenities — a rock-climbing wall; new pools and whirlpools, including an adults-only Solarium; a spa; the Chops Grille steakhouse; the “newly reimagined Boleros Latin Lounge”; and the Adventure Ocean youth program.
The announcement is the latest in a domino line-up of ship changes by Royal Caribbean in Florida. Majesty of the Seas, a Sovereign-class ship launched in 1992 that had been doing short cruises from Miami, was to have been transferred to Pullmantur in spring 2016. But this summer, Royal Caribbean changed course and said that due to popular demand, Majesty would stay in the U.S., get upgrades and move to Port Canaveral to do short cruises to the Bahamas in summer 2016.
In turn, Rhapsody of the Seas, which was to have sailed those short Bahamas itineraries from Port Canaveral, instead would move to Tampa in winter 2016 and do seven-night western Caribbean cruises.