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Empress and New England/Canada-any info?


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We're booked on Empress of the Seas on May 18, 2020.  Live in Florida and this is our first non-tropical cruise and first time flying in instead of driving.  Any tips or suggestions?  Weather?  Shore excursions?  How dressy for 2 formal nights?  What are Ship Activities (don't think there will be the regular pool games)?  Looking forward to a new adventure.

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1 hour ago, LoveCruisin' said:

We're booked on Empress of the Seas on May 18, 2020.  Live in Florida and this is our first non-tropical cruise and first time flying in instead of driving.  Any tips or suggestions?  Weather?  Shore excursions?  How dressy for 2 formal nights?  What are Ship Activities (don't think there will be the regular pool games)?  Looking forward to a new adventure.

That ship was previously the  Nordic Empress when we cruised 3 times on it in three months 1994. It was our first cruise experience. We loved the ship. An most any ship now a formal night is for pictures. Most will dress up with slacks and a nice button down shirt. A Tux now is almost non existent. Many wear a suit. Weather should be beautiful. A small ship with mostly trivia and bingo. Little water activities. Dancing at the pool and nice music.

I would check out the current reviews for the ship. Lots of info there. Enjoy your cruise. I am sure you will. Just a note. Those that give 1 or 2 stars are usually not regular cruisers and do not know what to expect. I always check the 3 stars and up. They are usually more accurate.

Edited by twodaywonder
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We(mother and I)booked this cruise last minute(exactly 6 days ago, lol), and this is our very first cruise on any RC ship(but not our first cruise, been doing that for over 20 years). I'm glad I found this thread, as there is no one in the roll call for this or any Empress sailings in May 😒. From what I can see from recent(over 6 month old You Tube videos), the ship and its layout reminds me of my very first cruise, which was the Celebrity's Zenith. Also, in looking at the FAQs or dress code guidelines, it says that there's no formal nights scheduled for any current Empress itineraries. That threw me, but it does help in what to pack(not that it matters since we drive to Bayonne and park in the deck)

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4 hours ago, cocobakerchica said:

We(mother and I)booked this cruise last minute(exactly 6 days ago, lol), and this is our very first cruise on any RC ship(but not our first cruise, been doing that for over 20 years). I'm glad I found this thread, as there is no one in the roll call for this or any Empress sailings in May 😒. From what I can see from recent(over 6 month old You Tube videos), the ship and its layout reminds me of my very first cruise, which was the Celebrity's Zenith. Also, in looking at the FAQs or dress code guidelines, it says that there's no formal nights scheduled for any current Empress itineraries. That threw me, but it does help in what to pack(not that it matters since we drive to Bayonne and park in the deck)

I think "no formal nights" refers to the 3- and 4-night cruises that Empress has been doing.  Most likely there will be some for a longer cruise such as this.

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8 hours ago, shipgeeks said:

I think "no formal nights" refers to the 3- and 4-night cruises that Empress has been doing.  Most likely there will be some for a longer cruise such as this.

No, it specifically stated ALL planned itineraries on Empress, not specifically any length of cruise, I already know not to expect a formal night on a 3 or 4 night cruise.  Knowing how RCI works in having incorrect info on their site (via Celebrity's website, I'm an old pro thanks to them, lol), I'm glad I came to the real experts here at Cruise Critic.

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Just now, cocobakerchica said:

No, it specifically stated ALL planned itineraries on Empress, not specifically any length of cruise,

That info on their site is from when Empress first came back into the fleet and was accurate at the time - it has not been accurate ever since Cuba cruises were cancelled and she started doing longer sailings.

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Just now, Biker19 said:

That info on their site is from when Empress first came back into the fleet and was accurate at the time - it has not been accurate ever since Cuba cruises were cancelled and she started doing longer sailings.

That explains it. As I said twice, glad I stopped here to confirm. 

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We cruised to Cuba (I know lucky us) on Empress two years ago.  The ship was much more casual than our previous cruises. Formal nights (I guess now known as Dress Your Best) were the full array of dress with very little in the way of "formal" wear.  We are doing New England/Canada in July and are planning on "smart casual" for formal nights.  Might even bring a tie!

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As far as shore excursions go, a lot depends on your interests.  Most of these ports have a lot of history, especially Newport, Boston, and Halifax. Bar Harbor and St John are more scenic.  I had a couple of personal interetests.  I remembered [from 6th grade - more than a few years ago] hearing that the Bay of Fundy had the greatest difference between high and low tide, so the reversing falls and dry sea beds were interesting to me. I also read a book about WWII convoy escorts, so the museum ship HMCS Sackville in Halifax was a must see for me.  In Boston, the Freedom Trail has a lot of interesting sites and is walkable.  There are also a lot of places I didn't think of myself, but was glad I went, like Cadillac mountain and the national park at Bar Harbor,  and Peggy's Cove at Halifax.   Great ports, enjoy your cruise.

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I'm going to be cruising a few days ahead of y'all on Grandeur (14th-23rd). I'm looking forward to walking in a lot of places (Portland, Bar Harbor, St. John), but I'm thinking HoHo (hop-on/hop-off) buses in Boston and Halifax. I'm really excited about Halifax -- especially the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (along with the HMCS Sackville -- thanks for that reminder!), Ft. Needham Memorial Park (site of memorials to the victims of the "Halifax explosion" on December 6, 1917) and Fairview Lawn Cemetery, resting place of many victims from the Titanic.

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1 hour ago, CapsChap said:

I'm going to be cruising a few days ahead of y'all on Grandeur (14th-23rd). I'm looking forward to walking in a lot of places (Portland, Bar Harbor, St. John), but I'm thinking HoHo (hop-on/hop-off) buses in Boston and Halifax. I'm really excited about Halifax -- especially the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (along with the HMCS Sackville -- thanks for that reminder!), Ft. Needham Memorial Park (site of memorials to the victims of the "Halifax explosion" on December 6, 1917) and Fairview Lawn Cemetery, resting place of many victims from the Titanic.

Beware. The last time I looked at the Halifax HOHO bus web site it indicated they were skipping the Titanic cemetery due to road construction.  I'd check it again before I purchased tickets.

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41 minutes ago, starrcards said:

Beware. The last time I looked at the Halifax HOHO bus web site it indicated they were skipping the Titanic cemetery due to road construction.  I'd check it again before I purchased tickets.

 

Thanks for the heads-up. I thought from what I read, the construction was done -- but I'll shoot them a note or call to find out for sure before I book it!

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21 hours ago, CapsChap said:

. . . I'm thinking HoHo (hop-on/hop-off) buses in Boston and Halifax. . . (along with the HMCS Sackville -- thanks for that reminder!)

I don't care for HOHO buses in general,  so take my comments with a grain of salt. The HOHO buses in Boston are a prime example of why I hate HOHO buses. They are not always timely,  and our experience is they were frequently full, so if you're with a group, you may have to wait for another bus or split up.  Additionally, a lot of the route was of minimal [if any] interest.  We had a couple of days before our cruise, so the extra time was annoying.  On a shore excursion, it could destroy the whole day. Not familiar with the HOHOs in Halifax, but know many of the attractions are an easy walk from the ship. 

 

As to the Sackville, it has been undergoing refit/restoration.  It should be finished and open again, but the website is unclear. There is a novel called "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat that relates the WWII convoy escort experiences of the skipper of a Flower Class Corvette [like Sackville]. Having read  it made my visit a lot more meaningful.

 

Anyway, great ports. Enjoy your cruises.

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14 minutes ago, mjldvlks said:

I don't care for HOHO buses in general,  so take my comments with a grain of salt.

Thanks for your perspective as someone who's used them! I'll definitely give things some more thought, including the possibility of adding a bit more walking -- I know my doctor wouldn't object! 😄 Walking would definitely also be a tangible savings -- both in weight and money. In both cases, just more chance to put both to good use!

 

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This is the DIY tour I suggest for Boston.  Cab or Uber to the Constitution (ship closed Monday’s).  Museum opens at 9 am, ship at 10.  MBTA water taxi to Long Wharf ($3.70) for a mini upper harbor cruise.  Walk along the Waterfront into the North End to pick up the Freedom Trail back to Faneuil Hall (this loop optional).  Follow the Trail back to Boston Common.  At Park Street take the MBTA Red Line to South Station (Direction Ashmont or Braintree) for a free transfer to the Silver Line SL2 back to the ship.($2.90) Check MBTA website for Silver Line for advisories about the bus service being on the street due to tunnel repairs(not a big deal). https://www.mbta.com

 

https://www.thefreedomtrail.org/sites/default/files/content/PDFs/freedom_trail_2018_official_brochure.pdf
 

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1 hour ago, 138east said:

This is the DIY tour I suggest for Boston. . . . 

Great suggestion. Boston  has great public trans. We've had great experience with Uber in Boston. A tour like this can be easily modified to take in the specific sites you want to see.  And you won't have to waste time on or waiting for a HOHO bus.

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