Day Two – More surprises on Empress of the Seas!

Start to day two in our balcony cabin

We woke up at around 8:00 am on day two in our unexpected balcony room.  I have to admit that I still half expected someone to say that it was a mistake, that this was not our cabin.  Balcony cabins on Empress of the Seas are considered Junior Suites, so we would never have been able to afford one otherwise.  Since Empress is the smallest and oldest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, there are very few balcony cabins to go around, and they come at a premium price.

The size of this cabin is comparable to a normal balcony cabin on most ships.  The main difference in this one is that you get a small coffeepot and tea kettle, along with coffee, teabags, etc.  There is a small sofa that does not convert into a bed. The carpet and bedding seem new.  Everything is clean and working well.  As for the television, there are not many channels, and they don’t play a lot.  I did watch a few old sitcoms like Everybody Loves Raymond. 

Brunch time

After getting ready for the day, we ran to the main dining room on deck 4 for the sea day brunch at 9:00 am.  We were seated fairly promptly, although there was a bit of a rush of people getting to the tables.  We shared a table with 10 other people and were directed to the buffet, where there was quite a bit of selection of food to choose from.  Tiny waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, oatmeal, pastries, desserts, fruit, and then there were the lunch selections.  Let’s just say that there was a myriad of food that I would not consider eating so early, including baked potatoes. 

You can also order eggs or omelets made to order from the waiter.  I would not recommend this as one gentleman was still waiting for his eggs when we got up to leave after eating. For drinks they have coffee, tea, and orange juice.  They also have complimentary Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s.  The brunch was just okay, and we didn’t think we’d go back on the second sea day.

Time for the gym

After brunch I went to the Gym. To find the gym you go into the Viking Crown Lounge and look for the spiral staircase in the back of the room.  Go up that staircase, and you’ve found the gym.  I’d read that a lot of the machines were out of order after the recent dry dock, but I didn’t see any machines down.  It is a very small gym and was very busy, but it was adequate for what I needed.  You can find free weights, weight machines, treadmills, bikes, and elliptical machines.  They have a small area and mat for yoga.   I used the weight machines, and was done there for the day.

Shore Excursion and shopping shows

I wish that I had attended the shore excursion show.  I had no interest in shore excursions since we booked independently, but it did have information about traveling into Cuba at the end of it.  If you miss it don’t worry though, it will be played on your Cabin TV all week. 

I did sit through the shopping show and wished that I hadn’t.  They had been giving hype about how much free stuff that they were going to give out, and to sit near the front because they were going to throw things out to the audience.  It’s all about all of the cruise ship shops at port, and how you need to shop with them to save money.  You don’t really have to shop at these stores, and the ship gets a kickback from the sales.  They didn’t give out many prizes either, and anything they threw out, they chose who would get it themselves.

Another surprise!

After the show we received another pleasant surprise.  I walked up to the customer service desk just to check and see if I had received the $50 on board credit that my boss had given me.  As I approached the agent he said that he’d been looking for me before I even told him who I was.  What???!!! 

The Loyalty Ambassador, Andy Asorio, said that we had been invited to the Hotel Director’s dinner taking place that evening at 8:00 pm, and would we accept the invitation?  Well…YES!  That was definitely not expected, and has never happened before.  How many times does an opportunity like that come up?  Definitely exciting!  So far this was turning out to be a great cruise.

Promenade Deck

After that we decided to walk around deck 6, the Promenade deck, for a while.  I like that deck 6 goes all the way around the ship, without having to walk up and down staircases.  Each lap is ¼ mile.  In the front of the ship you can also climb the stairs if you want to two separate secret decks, which we did.  It’s very windy up there, and there are no benches, but there is a great view. 

One side of deck 6 is one of the few smoking areas on the ship, as well as the very back of deck 6.  This smoking area is large and nice, and has tables and chairs.  There are deck chairs running down both sides of the ship on deck 6. 

Late lunch

Then it was time for a late lunch, since we were not dining with the Hotel Director until 8:00 pm.  I decided on a hotdog and fries, and some slaw.  He had a hamburger, but said it wasn’t all that good.  We ran into our main dining room waiter, Wahyu.  He recognized us and came over to talk, and also got me some iced tea.  He was so helpful, I loved our waiters.  One of my favorite things to do on a ship is to get to know people of other cultures.  If so many people of so many cultures can get along on a ship, why can’t we?

Cuban Enrichment lecture

We wanted to go and see a show on Cuban culture that started at 2:45 pm in the theater because it sounded very interesting.  It was conducted by a lady professor, but I don’t remember her name.  We did go to see it but wished we hadn’t sat so close to the front, because we wanted to leave.  We didn’t want to be rude, although some others left early, so we stayed.  A lot of it was about salsa dancing and food, not about the Cuban culture.  I’m sorry, but it was boring.

Dress to Impress night

After the lecture we went back to the cabin to get ready for dinner and the show.  It was what they call Dress to Impress night, which is the same as elegant night on other cruise lines.  We dressed up, but not everyone did.  I guess it’s your choice.

The nights headliner show was a song and dance show called Bailamos.  We really enjoyed it, the cast was very good.  It was a mix of oldies and also Spanish numbers.

Captain’s Welcome

After that we went to the atrium to hear the Captain’s welcome speech.  Captain Diego has done a great job of sailing the Empress.  It’s been a smooth sailing so far.  Complimentary Champagne was passed out to all adults. 

Hotel Director’s Table

At 7:50 pm we headed to the Schooner bar to meet with Andie and the other seven invited to the Hotel Director’s Table.  I have no idea on what gets someone invited, but I’m assuming with me it was my blog.  We sat in the Schooner bar until the Hotel Director & Guest Services Manager joined us.  The bar singer was very good and did sing a lot of my favorite John Denber songs, but he was loud and it was extremely hard to hear the others in our group talking.  Being that I’m a pretty quiet person, I sat there trying to hear what they were saying most of the time.  Drinks were served but I opted to get a Diet Coke at this time.

Hotel Director John Denton, and Guest Services manager Jorge Pedrosa, then joined us and we moved into the Main Dining Room on deck 4.  We sat at a large round table near the piano.  Our photo was taken as a group, then we sat at our assigned seat.  I sat between my husband and Jorge Pedrosa. 

The appetizer I chose was Lobster Bisque, which was delicious. I wish that I could have taken a picture of the menu, but I did not want to seem like a country bumpkin.  I did notice later that one of the diners had asked for a copy of the menu.

Surf and Turf

I had the Surf and Turf for my main course, at the suggestion of Jorge.  I had never liked Lobster, but this Lobster was so delicious and sweet that I would have liked more.  The steak was by far the best steak that I’ve ever eaten.  So tender and flavorful.  This was the same meal that they serve as an upcharge meal on the bottom of the main dining room menu. Dessert was vanilla ice cream, topped with fruit, in a praline bowl.  I’ve never had anything like that before, but I’d definitely love to have it again.  Hats off to the head chef, Reddy!

Small talk

We all talked for a while, and I have to say that I enjoyed the conversation with Hotel Director John Denton, and Guest Services Manager, Jorge Pedrosa.  Both very nice people.  Before we left, we all received a souvenir photo in a photo book.  I don’t know how we were fortunate enough to be chosen for this honor, but I am grateful. 

End of a wonderful day

And this was the end of day two.  It’s been an eventful trip already and we still have two ports to visit.  Can’t wait to see what Day Three in Key West will bring!

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