These are changing times. With Cuba getting closer to the world. Salsa music, dominoes, Mojitos and historic Havana neighborhoods are easier to reach than ever before for guests on Royal Caribbean International. The newly revitalized Empress of the Seas will make history for the cruise line with its first visit to Cuba during a 5-night sailing departing Miami on April 19, 2017. The ship will then reposition to Tampa offering two itineraries with calls to Havana on April 30 (7-night sailing) and May 20 (5-night sailing). These Empress of the Seas sailings are now open for sale.
Empress of the Seas will homeport in Tampa for the 2017 summer season – the cruise line’s first-ever summer program from the destination – offering a series of 4- and 5-night sailings, including port calls to destinations in Cuba. The largest ship to sail to Cuba from the United States, Empress will provide vacationers with the opportunity to discover the timeless sights, sounds and culture of this island nation. Details of the summer itineraries will be released at a later date.
“Royal Caribbean is the world’s most exciting adventure company, and we’re thrilled to introduce culture-seeking travelers to Cuba. As the unrivaled innovators of the cruise experience, no company is better positioned to help adventurers explore and experience this culturally rich destination,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. Guests sailing onboard Empress of the Seas and visiting Cuba can enjoy curated people-to-people experiences created to immerse vacationers in the natural beauty of Cuba, its architecture, cuisine, music and art. All cruises will be designed in accordance with current U.S. to Cuba travel regulations.
While in Cuba, guests will explore Old Havana – a UNESCO World Heritage site – some of the city’s most notable squares, historic neighborhoods, a local artisan market, Havana’s rum museum as well as Hemingway’s former residence and favorite haunts. Local experts will immerse guests in the history, culture and people of Cuba. These authentic encounters will give guests an unforgettable taste of what has made Cuba the gem of the Caribbean.
The authentic experiences aren’t limited to land. The vibrant culture will extend to Empress of the Seas, from cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal to salsa music, guests will have a range of onboard activities developed to bring the spirit of the island to life during the entire journey. The revitalized Empress will bring the shipboard Cuban flair together with signature amenities, such as a thrilling rock-climbing wall for adrenaline seekers; new pools and whirlpools, including an adults-only Solarium; a Vitality Spa with an extensive treatment menu; and a complimentary Adventure Ocean youth program. Empress also will offer a variety of dining options with the casual atmosphere of the Windjammer Café and fine dining at Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse Chops.
The summer program on Empress of the Seas provides travelers with more opportunities to sample the unique Royal Caribbean experience from Tampa. Two other Royal Caribbean ships, Rhapsody of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas, will offer Caribbean itineraries from the homeport during the winter season.