Encore!

Is it a luxury ship with a race track? Or a contemporary ship with a luxury heart? Bernadette Chua sails Norwegian Encore’s maiden voyage to find out.


We are sipping on cocktails in the Observatory Lounge on deck 15. It’s six in the evening and there is a convivial atmosphere in the air. But of course! It’s cocktail hour. The waiters are serving canapés of vol-au-vents with smoked salmon and crème fraîche and glasses of Champagne are appearing in front of guests at the ornate circular bar. People are lounging on the opulent chaises, some reading books from the extensive library.

It sounds, and feels, like a luxury cruise. Yet just two decks above us, people are donning helmets and racing go-karts at the Encore Speedway, while others in the Galaxy Pavilion are fighting off monsters and escaping dinosaurs in life-like virtual reality games. There are not many ships where you find this melding of styles, tastes and ages.


Welcome to Norwegian Encore. The new sweetheart of the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet is the last ship in the Breakaway class and boy, has the line delivered. She’s more grown up and a lot more sophisticated than other NCL ships. Looking around the atrium, the walkways, the bars, you can see the homage to Norwegian Cruise Line Corporation’s CEO, Frank Del Rio.


It’s said that Mr Del Rio was found in his casual wear in the early hours of the morning, personally hanging pieces of art on the company’s luxury line, Regent Seven Seas’ ship Explorer, and in a nod to his love of art, Norwegian Encore is adorned with an extensive collection of modern art. Even the chandeliers and light fixtures are exquisite.

The wave-like main light centrepiece in the atrium consists of around 30,000 crystals that reflect different colours when caught in the light.


She’s big and plush – she can accommodate up to 3,900 guests – and she offers a remarkable selection of 29 restaurants and bars.Among those, the most notable new addition is Onda by Scarpetta, an Italian-style eatery which could rival a high-end restaurant in Venice or Rome.


Positioned behind the Mondave Winebar, which is also found on her sister ship Norwegian Bliss, Onda marries the best of fine produce with vino to match. The menu is offered family style, for greater intimacy when dining with friends. When we stop in for dinner, we enjoy dishes like fresh tuna crudo, rich mushroom ragù with creamy polenta and melt-in-the-mouth short rib.


One of our hand-pulled pasta dishes is served with a simple passata and fresh cut basil, the other features sweet spot prawns. By now, we’re filled to the brim, but the best is yet to come; giant crumbed veal cutlets and grilled steaks with seasonal vegetables appear in front of us like magic.


The repertoire of the NCL dining options includes the complimentary Taste and Savor restaurants, my favourite places for breakfast.


In terms of specialty dining, the popular Teppanyaki makes an appearance, as well as the French Le Bistro and Cagney’s steakhouse. These are great options for guests looking for something outside the inclusive Manhattan Dining Room or The Garden buffet.


The accommodation aboard Encore varies, but the crux of it is that it can cater both for large families and solo travellers.


The ocean-facing cabins are ideal for families with children, with interconnecting cabins so mum and dad can get some reprieve. Balcony staterooms are large and come with ample storage – plenty of hidden drawers, a large closet and lots of shelves – a comfortable king-sized bed, a small seating area and USB ports.

Inevitably though, the best thing about any NCL stateroom is the bathroom. No matter what category of cabin you are in, the bathrooms are extremely spacious; mine boasts not just a large shower, but a double vanity and the winning feature,
no plastic shower curtains that stick to various parts of your body when lathering?

Let us entertain you


• NCL is known for its partnership with big Broadway productions, and Norwegian Encore delivers a stellar entertainment line-up, with hit show Kinky Boots as the headline show onboard Kinky Boots tells the story about an unlikely partnership between an entertainer and a factory owner who work through their differences to create something new and unique. 


Featuring original songs by Cyndi Lauper, the Broadway hit has won many awards and is still showing on London’s West End and New York’s Broadway.


Norwegian’s original production The Choir of Man debuted on Norwegian Escape and also appears here. It combines high-energy music, dance, live percussion and foot stomping choreography to sing-along pub anthems.


More entertainment, which debuted on Norwegian Bliss and will be available on Encore, includes Happy Hour Prohibition: The Musical, the interactive cocktails and theatre show, and guest favourite venue, The Cavern Club, which transports audiences back to the legendary Liverpool club with musical performances from a Beatles cover band.

The top end of town has The Haven, NCL’s ship-within-a-ship concept. The cabins here are luxurious and spacious. Accommodation ranges from Spa Suites with private Jacuzzis, which are outside The Haven but give guests access to the amenities of this exclusive area, to The Haven’s Deluxe Owner’s Suites with balconies and private sitting areas. Guests of The Haven have access to their own private pool deck with a retractable roof, a stunning sun deck and an extravagant restaurant and bar. Who said lobster and scallops with eggs was too much for breakfast.

The butlers of The Haven, like on any luxury ship, will organise shore excursions and treatments at the Mandara Spa, make dinner reservations or unpack your bags. It is the place to escape from the madness, frivolity and activities, and just unwind.


In stark contrast to The Haven, Encore sees the return of one of the most fun rides I have ever been on at sea – the go-kart track. Another update for the line, the heart-pumping Encore Speedway has a longer racetrack than her sister ship Bliss and was built to hang four metres over the edge of the ship. Behind the racetrack is the laser tag course, built for teamwork and thrills, while on the top deck is the newest activities offering, the Galaxy Pavilion, a new concept with amazing virtual reality rides and games.


Deck 5 is where you’ll find the kids’ clubs. Catering for children aged as young as one year, the areas are large and designed with lots of open spaces. Books and water colours fill the Guppies playroom for toddlers and the teenager area has video games and handball courts to keep them entertained.


For its last hurrah in the Breakaway class, NCL has gone above and beyond to give guests something that everyone can enjoy; this ship deserves an encore.


FACT FILE

Cruise line: Norwegian Cruise Lines
Vessel: Norwegian Encore
Max Passenger Capacity: 3,998

Total Crew: 2,100

Passenger Decks: 16
Tonnage: 169,145
Entered Service: 2019

Facilities: Pools, library, spa, bars, gym, restaurants, The Haven, theatre, kids’ clubs, Speedway, Galaxy Pavilion.
Bookings: ncl.com


THE VERDICT

Highs: The variety of food and bar options. The Encore Speedway and Galaxy Pavilion are great for kids.

Lows: Some walkways feel slightly cramped and there is always a line for a mojito at the Sugarcane Bar.

Best for: Multigenerational families, and couples who love big ship amenities, but want to escape to The Haven for peace and quiet.


Galaxy Pavilion


• Four of us hop into the Jurassic Park Jeep, ready for an adventure back to prehistoric time. We strap in, hold on for dear life, and venture into the park. Suddenly, we hear the roar of a T-Rex, the most ferocious of all the dinosaurs. The Jeep speeds up, and we feel the vibrations of the dinosaur’s colossal footsteps as he chases after us. We’re screaming and squealing and laughing. This is just one of the rides in Norwegian Encore’s Galaxy Pavilion for virtual reality games. The area on deck 17 spans over 3,000 square metres and Norwegian has really upped the offerings – it’s virtually arcade games on steroids. As well as the Jurassic Park ride, you can drive a drone race car, fly through a mountain range, fight off zombies in a warehouse that has been invaded or practice your football goal kicking. Cruisers prone to motion sickness will have trouble with some of the rides in the Galaxy Pavilion, but simply closing your eyes will take away the feeling of movement.

Ninety minutes of unlimited play costs US$29, or you can purchase a US$199 unlimited pass that lasts the entire cruise.

Encore!

Is it a luxury ship with a race track? Or a contemporary ship with a luxury heart? Bernadette Chua sails
N
orwegian Encore’s maiden voyage to find out.


We are sipping on cocktails in the Observatory Lounge on deck 15. It’s six in the evening and there is a convivial atmosphere in the air. But of course! It’s cocktail hour. The waiters are serving canapés of vol-au-vents with smoked salmon and crème fraîche and glasses of Champagne are appearing in front of guests at the ornate circular bar. People are lounging on the opulent chaises, some reading books from the extensive library.


It sounds, and feels, like a luxury cruise. Yet just two decks above us, people are donning helmets and racing go-karts at the Encore Speedway, while others in the Galaxy Pavilion are fighting off monsters and escaping dinosaurs in life-like virtual reality games. There are not many ships where you find this melding of styles, tastes and ages.


Welcome to Norwegian Encore. The new sweetheart of the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet is the last ship in the Breakaway class and boy, has the line delivered. She’s more grown up and a lot more sophisticated than other NCL ships. Looking around the atrium, the walkways, the bars, you can see the homage to Norwegian Cruise Line Corporation’s CEO, Frank Del Rio.


It’s said that Mr Del Rio was found in his casual wear in the early hours of the morning, personally hanging pieces of art on the company’s luxury line, Regent Seven Seas’ ship Explorer, and in a nod to his love of art, Norwegian Encore is adorned with an extensive collection of modern art. Even the chandeliers and light fixtures are exquisite.

The wave-like main light centrepiece in the atrium consists of around 30,000 crystals that reflect different colours when caught in the light.


She's big and plush – she can accommodate up to 3,900 guests – and she offers a remarkable selection of 29 restaurants and bars.Among those, the most notable new addition is Onda by Scarpetta, an Italian-style eatery which could rival a high-end restaurant in Venice or Rome.


Positioned behind the Mondave Winebar, which is also found on her sister ship Norwegian Bliss, Onda marries the best of fine produce with vino to match. The menu is offered family style, for greater intimacy when dining with friends. When we stop in for dinner, we enjoy dishes like fresh tuna crudo, rich mushroom ragù with creamy polenta and melt-in-the-mouth short rib.


One of our hand-pulled pasta dishes is served with a simple passata and fresh cut basil, the other features sweet spot prawns. By now, we’re filled to the brim, but the best is yet to come; giant crumbed veal cutlets and grilled steaks with seasonal vegetables appear in front of us like magic.


The repertoire of the NCL dining options includes the complimentary Taste and Savor restaurants, my favourite places for breakfast. The staff makes a delightful shakshukka – a Turkish dish of baked eggs with tomatoes – and I can’t disclose the embarrassing number of crispy hash browns I consumed on my three-day cruise.


In terms of specialty dining, the popular Teppanyaki makes an appearance, as well as the French Le Bistro and Cagney’s steakhouse. These are great options for guests looking for something outside the inclusive Manhattan Dining Room or The Garden buffet.


The accommodation aboard Encore varies, but the crux of it is that it can cater both for large families and solo travellers.


The ocean-facing cabins are ideal for families with children, with interconnecting cabins so mum and dad can get some reprieve. Balcony staterooms are large and come with ample storage – plenty of hidden drawers, a large closet and lots of shelves – a comfortable king-sized bed, a small seating area and USB ports.

Inevitably though, the best thing about any NCL stateroom is the bathroom. No matter what category of cabin you are in, the bathrooms are extremely spacious; mine boasts not just a large shower, but a double vanity and the winning feature,
no plastic shower curtains that stick to various parts of your body when lathering?

Let us entertain you


• NCL is known for its partnership with big Broadway productions, and Norwegian Encore delivers a stellar entertainment line-up, with hit show Kinky Boots as the headline show onboard Kinky Boots tells the story about an unlikely partnership between an entertainer and a factory owner who work through their differences to create something new and unique. 


Featuring original songs by Cyndi Lauper, the Broadway hit has won many awards and is still showing on London’s West End and New York’s Broadway.


Norwegian’s original production The Choir of Man debuted on Norwegian Escape and also appears here. It combines high-energy music, dance, live percussion and foot stomping choreography to sing-along pub anthems.


More entertainment, which debuted on Norwegian Bliss and will be available on Encore, includes Happy Hour Prohibition: The Musical, the interactive cocktails and theatre show, and guest favourite venue, The Cavern Club, which transports audiences back to the legendary Liverpool club with musical performances from a Beatles cover band.

The top end of town has The Haven, NCL’s ship-within-a-ship concept. The cabins here are luxurious and spacious. Accommodation ranges from Spa Suites with private Jacuzzis, which are outside The Haven but give guests access to the amenities of this exclusive area, to The Haven’s Deluxe Owner’s Suites with balconies and private sitting areas. Guests of The Haven have access to their own private pool deck with a retractable roof, a stunning sun deck and an extravagant restaurant and bar. Who said lobster and scallops with eggs was too much for breakfast.

The butlers of The Haven, like on any luxury ship, will organise shore excursions and treatments at the Mandara Spa, make dinner reservations or unpack your bags. It is the place to escape from the madness, frivolity and activities, and just unwind.


In stark contrast to The Haven, Encore sees the return of one of the most fun rides I have ever been on at sea – the go-kart track. Another update for the line, the heart-pumping Encore Speedway has a longer racetrack than her sister ship Bliss and was built to hang four metres over the edge of the ship. Behind the racetrack is the laser tag course, built for teamwork and thrills, while on the top deck is the newest activities offering, the Galaxy Pavilion, a new concept with amazing virtual reality rides and games.


Deck 5 is where you’ll find the kids’ clubs. Catering for children aged as young as one year, the areas are large and designed with lots of open spaces. Books and water colours fill the Guppies playroom for toddlers and the teenager area has video games and handball courts to keep them entertained.


For its last hurrah in the Breakaway class, NCL has gone above and beyond to give guests something that everyone can enjoy; this ship deserves an encore.


FACT FILE

Cruise line: Norwegian Cruise Lines
Vessel: Norwegian Encore
Max Passenger Capacit
y: 3,998

Total Crew: 2,100

Passenger Decks: 16
Tonnag
e: 169,145
Entered Servic
e: 2019

Facilities: Pools, library, spa, bars, gym, restaurants, The Haven, theatre, kids’ clubs, Speedway, Galaxy Pavilion.
Booking
s: ncl.com


THE VERDICT

Highs: The variety of food and bar options. The Encore Speedway and Galaxy Pavilion are great for kids.

Lows: Some walkways feel slightly cramped and there is always a line for a mojito at the Sugarcane Bar.

Best for: Multigenerational families, and couples who love big ship amenities, but want to escape to The Haven for peace and quiet.


Galaxy Pavilion


• Four of us hop into the Jurassic Park Jeep, ready for an adventure back to prehistoric time. We strap in, hold on for dear life, and venture into the park. Suddenly, we hear the roar of a T-Rex, the most ferocious of all the dinosaurs. The Jeep speeds up, and we feel the vibrations of the dinosaur’s colossal footsteps as he chases after us. We’re screaming and squealing and laughing. This is just one of the rides in Norwegian Encore’s Galaxy Pavilion for virtual reality games. The area on deck 17 spans over 3,000 square metres and Norwegian has really upped the offerings – it’s virtually arcade games on steroids. As well as the Jurassic Park ride, you can drive a drone race car, fly through a mountain range, fight off zombies in a warehouse that has been invaded or practice your football goal kicking. Cruisers prone to motion sickness will have trouble with some of the rides in the Galaxy Pavilion, but simply closing your eyes will take away the feeling of movement.

Ninety minutes of unlimited play costs US$29, or you can purchase a US$199 unlimited pass that lasts the entire cruise.