Day Three on Empress of the Seas – Key West!

Cruise dock damage

We’ve been to Key West once before, and my impression was that it’s a cute little town.  There was damage to the main dock, which is currently under repair, caused by another cruise ship.  So that meant that we had to dock at the Naval Base dock and be shuttled into town.  Getting off the ship we had to show a picture ID and our sea card because we were at the Naval Base, so make sure you take your passport or driver’s license off with you. 

It was kind of fun because we got to ride into Key West on a Ghost Tour bus, and the driver gave us a tour as we road into town.  There was a man at the end of the Naval Base road telling Cruise Ship visitors not to fall for the who try to give you free cosmetic samples.  The tour guide said that she’d fallen for that years ago.  When she got home and read the bottles, it was mostly water that she paid hundreds of dollars for.  So, be careful.  We were approached only once for sample, and we nicely said “no thank you.”

Mallory Square

The shuttle dropped us off in Mallory Square after our mini tour near the Aquarium.  We were kind of unclear on where to catch the shuttle back to the ship, but there was plenty of time to figure that out since the ship would not leave until 6:00 pm.  They told us that the last shuttle would leave at 5:00 pm. 

We didn’t do an excursion.  Since we’d been to Key West before, we decided to walk Duval Street down to the Southernmost point.  The weather was gorgeous, in the low 70’s and not too humid. Then I had wanted to get a picture of Hemingway House.  However, I didn’t realize that the walls around the property were brick and too high to see over.  We didn’t want to pay to go in just for a picture, and to see the six toed cats. 

Getting turned around in Key West

We always get turned around in Key West for some reason, but we did manage to find the Southernmost Point.  We didn’t stand in the long line for a picture, just took the picture with the other tourists in front.   After that we walked back down Duval Street towards Mallory Square again. 

Duval Street

Duval Street is a very long street filled with all kinds of shops, bars, and restaurants.  There are some lovely bed and breakfasts, and the oldest house in Key West.  This house is a museum, cost is donations only.  We didn’t go in because I had forgot to bring cash with me.  If you go all the way down Duval, you’ll find a nice pier where you can relax by the ocean.  If you like shopping, eating, and bar hopping, Duval is the street for you!  I forget just how many pubs, saloons, and bars there are in Key West, but it was a very large number.

Kermit’s Key Lime Shop

We didn’t do a lot of shopping since we’d been to Key West before.  One of my favorite places on Duval is Kermit’s Key Lime Shop.  They have the best Frozen Chocolate covered Key Lime Pie on a stick.  I didn’t get any this time because I was trying to watch my calories after the Hotel Director’s Table meal, but now I wish that I had gotten one.  Make sure that you try it!  The Key Lime pie on the ship wasn’t that good.

Back to Mallory Square

We walked all the way back to Mallory Square and did some more shopping.  If you walk all the way through the large souvenir shop and follow the signs, there is a bathroom.   There are quite a lot of souvenirs in this building, it’s very large.  The Aquarium is also there, along with the Key West Shipwreck museum.  If you walk down past the Art Museum and towards the Cruise Port, you’ll find the usual Cruise shopping, including Diamond’s International.   You can also get a great picture of your ship if it’s docked at the Navy Pier from there.

There was plenty to eat in town at quite a few restaurants, but we decided to just head back to the ship to eat lunch and relax a while.  Key West was hot by that point.  We did find the trolley back to the ship right by Mallory Square.  It was at a very tiny park with a monument in it near the art museum. Since we were docked at the Naval Base, we had to stop at a security station on the way back to the ship.  An officer got on the trolley and checked everyone’s picture ID and Sea card.  Everyone was fine, and we headed back to the ship.  It was very easy to get back onto the ship.  There were trolleys available most of the day for both ways.

Lunch

I had some BBQ chicken pizza for lunch, which was very good.  I also had mixed veggies and a salad.  They were just okay.  Dessert was a cookie, which was good, but not as good as normal Royal Caribbean cookies.  It wasn’t fresh baked.  I also had a sugar free Key Lime Mousse, which didn’t have a whole lot of flavor. 

While we were eating, our main dining room waiter, Wahyu, came over to say Hi.  I always love our waiters, they work so hard as Windjammer buffet workers at lunch, and then Main dining room waiters for dinner.  After lunch I took the time to go back to the room, sit out on the balcony, and relax and write my blog. 

Showers on the Empress

Let me tell you a bit about the showers in the cabins on Empress…they are very small.  I’m not tall and it was hard for me to shower in it.  However, the shower head can be moved up and down.  I have to admit that the showers are better than Carnival Sunshine’s, because at least the shower curtain stayed inside the shower, and there was not water all over the floor afterwards.  Royal Caribbean provides tubes of body wash, lotion, shampoo, and conditioner. 

Dinner

We went down to an early dinner, and we had the same waiters again, Govind and Wahyu.  They have both been very attentive waiters, and Wahyu brought me an iced tea immediately, without asking.  I was surprised he remembered from two days before, but he did, and he remembered our names also. 

I had French Onion soup as an appetizer.  Very good, and very cheesy.  Short Ribs with mashed potatoes and vegetables was my main course.  The short rib was very tender, but a bit too fatty for my taste.  The best was the Warm Chocolate Cookie with Vanilla ice cream.  Delicious!  I love my chocolate.  After that, a small cake celebrating the 50th birthday of Royal Caribbean was brought to us to share, although we did have to ask for it.  Also delicious.

Headliner show

After dinner we went to the nightly headliner show.  It was a Motown show by a group called Horizon, who were one of the best groups I’ve ever seen on any ship.  Check them out on Facebook at HorizonNow.   I couldn’t get enough of this show, wish it had gone on longer.  They did come out for one encore.  If you’re ever on a ship with this show, don’t miss it.

There was a flag parade after that in the atrium.  A lot of the crew marched in with their country’s flag, then Cruise Director, Elvis, announced how many crew members on the ship were from each country.  Some of the Crew members did dances from the country, and some were silly.  Captain Diego gave a welcome speech.  After this, we managed to get pictures with the Captain.

Cuba tomorrow!

Tomorrow is Cuba day, so time to get ready for that.  Not really sure what to expect.

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