GROSS TONNAGE: 48,563
LENGTH: 692 feet
BEAM: 100 feet
DRAFT: 25 feer
SERVICE SPEED: 19.5
In 1987, Admiral Cruises ordered a ship from Chantiers de l'Atlantique in St. Nazaire, France
which they planned to call Future Seas. However, before the ship was completed, Admiral had
merged with Royal Caribbean and as a result, when the ship emerged from the shipyard in 1990,
she was Royal Caribbean's Nordic Empress. The ship was built with short cruises in mind and her
early life centered around three and four day cruises to the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
To bring her more in line with the rest of the Royal Caribbean fleet, the ship underwent a major
refit in 2004, which added a rock climbing wall, expanded the spa, re-furbished the dining rooms
and added certain alternative dining venues. At the end of the refit, the ship was named Empress of
the Seas by Gloria Estefan.
At less than 50,000 gross tons, Empress of the Seas, was becoming increasingly out of place
amongst the mega-cruise ships in the RCI fleet which by 2006 included ships three times her size.
However, the ship had plenty of life still in her.
The solution to this quandary came with Royal Caribbean's purchase of Pullmantur, the largest
Spanish cruise operator in late 2007. Pullamtur had started as a Madrid travel agency in 1971 and
began to offer cruises of its own on chartered ships in the late 1990s. In 2000, it began acquiring
ships of its own in the secondary (used) ship market. Demand for cruises in Spain and in
Spanish-speaking countries was growing so rapidly that Pullamntur quickly purchased more ships.
By the time of the Royal Caribbean acquisition, it had an array of ships of various sizes and types.
When Royal Caribbean took over, it decided to re-distribute the ships amongst its various
brands in a more rationale manner. Two of Pullantur's smaller premium ships were sent to Royal
Caribbean's luxury brand Azamara Cruises (Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest). In return,
Pullmantur would receive two ships of approximately 50,000 tons that would have double the
passenger capacity and which were more suited for the type of cruise offered by Pullmantur. The
ships were Celebrity Zenith and Empress of the Seas.
Accordingly, in March 2008, Empress of the Seas did her last cruise for Royal Caribbean.
Shortly thereafter, bearing a new livery, the ship went into service for Pullmantur. Voyages are
marketed primarily in Spain and to Spanish-speaking customers although the line also welcomes
Above and left: Empress, then Nordic
Empress, in the Caribbean in the 1990s.
Three views of Empress'
bow taken from below
(left), directly head-on
(right) and from above
(below). When the light is
right, once can still see the
words "of the Seas"
following the ship's name.
EMPRESS in Helsinki, Finland during a Baltic cruise.
Empress in Tallin, Estonia.
For more information
and photos about Royal
Caribbean ships, see the
Royal Caribbean Profile
Page. CLICK HERE.