Here's the word from RCI:
ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL ANNOUNCES NORDIC EMPRESS TO RECEIVE MAJOR RENOVATIONS, NEW NAME
New Empress of the Seas Will Feature Expanded Dining, Entertainment, Fitness Options and Exciting Itineraries for 2004
MIAMI, Feb. 2, 2004 – Royal Caribbean International today announced Nordic Empress will undergo extensive renovations before arriving this spring in the New York City metro area to begin unique six- and eight-night Bermuda cruise vacations from the newly named Cape Liberty Cruise Port. To reflect the magnitude of the revitalization, the line will officially rename the ship Empress of the Seas, bringing her in line with the remainder of Royal Caribbean’s fleet, which all feature “of the Seas” names.
Renovations on the 1,602-passenger Nordic Empress will extend to every area of the ship, and are designed to further enhance the onboard experience. A main focus is providing guests with additional dining, entertainment and fitness areas. All work will be completed by May 2004.
“Nordic Empress has always been a favorite of many of our guests, and we are pleased to add features that are debuting on our newest ships to make her an even more exciting vacation option,” said Adam Goldstein, executive vice president, Brand Operations, for Royal Caribbean International. “In addition, her new itineraries in both Bermuda this spring and summer and the Southern Caribbean next winter offer our guests unique ways to explore these exotic destinations.”
Increased dining options are in high demand among cruisers, and the renamed Empress of the Seas will feature a new specialty restaurant, Portofino, serving Italian cuisine, in addition to an upgraded Windjammer Café and refurbished main dining room. In between meals, guests can enjoy specialty coffee drinks from Seattle’s Best Coffee or indulge their sweet tooth with 16 different flavors from Ben & Jerry’s at a new, combined Latte’tudes coffee bar and ice cream scoop shop.
Guests who take advantage of Empress of the Seas’ ShipShape Fitness Center and Day Spa will be treated to more than a great workout or spa treatment. The expanded spa and gym complex will be on two levels, including a fitness center overlooking the Viking Crown Lounge, perched at the top of the ship, offering spectacular, panoramic sea views. In addition, the ship features the line’s signature rock-climbing wall, installed in late 2003.
Vacationers looking for high-quality entertainment will find plenty to choose from. The former High Society Lounge on Deck 6 now will be Royal Caribbean’s Latin-themed bar, Boleros, offering specialty tequilas and cocktail favorites like mojitos, as well as outstanding live entertainment. Empress of the Seas also will feature the line’s popular Schooner Bar, a nautical-themed lounge with sing-along piano entertainment, which replaces the mid-ship Carousel Bar on Deck 5.
The ship’s casino will be moved to Deck 6, and a new card room will be created off the Centrum. In addition, the main theater, the Strike Up the Band Showroom, will be updated with new carpet and upholstery.
Guest staterooms will receive new and upgraded bathrooms throughout all categories. In addition, some staterooms, including the Royal Suite and Superior Ocean View staterooms, will feature new decor, while others accommodating third and fourth guests will be fitted with modified wardrobes offering increased storage. Empress of the Seas’ Owner’s Suites will be completely redesigned, with new furniture and finishings. Other refurbishments include general facelifts to the lobbies, elevators, landings, corridors and restrooms, and enhancements to the shopping areas and Pool Deck.
Unique Itineraries to Bermuda and the Southern Caribbean
Empress of the Seas will offer alternating six- and eight-night Bermuda itineraries from May through October from the New York City metro area. She will be the first Royal Caribbean ship to sail from Cape Liberty Cruise Port, in Bayonne, New Jersey. Located across the New York Harbor from lower Manhattan, just 15 minutes from the Newark airport and right off the New Jersey Turnpike, the new port is a convenient departure point for both drive-market guests and those arriving by air.
The six-night Bermuda itineraries depart on Sundays and include stops in King’s Wharf and Hamilton, Bermuda. The eight-night cruises depart Saturdays and visit King’s Wharf, Hamilton and St. George’s, Bermuda. Prices start at $579 per person, double occupancy for a six-night cruise and $799 for an eight-night cruise.
In late October, Empress of the Seas will reposition to San Juan, where she will offer guests a choice of four Southern Caribbean adventures. The highlight is the 11-night Exotic Caribbean itinerary that takes guests to St. Maarten, St. Barts, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, Margarita Island, Aruba and Curacao.
Empress of the Seas also will sail three-night St. Thomas/St. Maarten and St. Kitts/St. Maarten sailings, as well as four special, four-night Dominican Republic cruises, with stops in Santo Domingo and Catalina Island, on Oct. 25, Nov. 1, 8 and 15.
Prices start at $899 per person, double occupancy for the 11-night itinerary, $278 for the four-night itinerary, and $263 for the three-night itineraries.
Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand currently with 18 ships in service, and two more under construction or on firm order. The company also offers unique cruisetour vacations in Alaska, Canada and Europe. For additional information about the cruise line, please visit the company's web site www.royalcaribbean.com
or call 800-327-6700.