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18 Night Indian Ocean Cruise from Dubai

18 Night Indian Ocean Cruise from Dubai

Seabourn Encore
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Seabourn Encore

Seabourn Encore - Seabourn Cruise Line


Beautifully designed ship with a great choice of restaurants and generous outside space


Could do with more shade around the pool and a bigger gym

Bottom Line

Gorgeous new ship with a rich, sophisticated look, superb food and an un-stuffy vibe

Cruise Reviews

Sail Date: February 2019
We chose the Seabourn Encore for 2 reasons: we wanted to see New Zealand and after trying other 6 star lines we wanted to try another. The itinerary was great. We had to miss Phillip Island because of the weather. That was ok with us; ... Read More
We chose the Seabourn Encore for 2 reasons: we wanted to see New Zealand and after trying other 6 star lines we wanted to try another. The itinerary was great. We had to miss Phillip Island because of the weather. That was ok with us; we really appreciate the captain taking safety so seriously. The rest of the stops were good. Embarkation in Sydney was fairly easy. The ship is clean and well maintained. The cabin was beautiful, thankfully because we spent a lot of time there. We were surprised that there were no USP ports on a fairly new ship, nor did they have electric do not disturb signs. There were plenty of 220 and 110 outlets throughout the cabin; except for the bathroom. The sea days were boring to say the least. They had trivia at noon. There were a few “conversations” which were lectures not conversations. The onboard entertainers may have been good, but were so loud we had to leave to protect our hearing. The other entertainers were all very good and varied from singer to musicians to comedy. The food was uninspiring. The set menu was always a good option: Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, steaks and lamb. The wine was cheap and the champagne was awful. We expected better than we got. The service was slow. We always had to ask for more water, even after we complained. A few days into the cruise you can fill out a form telling them what was needed. After a few days the restaurant manager talked to us about our problems, but nothing was done either in the main dining room or the other dining places. The bar service was just as bad. I guess, if they ignore you they don’t have to serve as often. The bar servers were uninformed about what was available. Thomas Keller was the specialty dining place, but was a limited menu and not any better than the other restaurants. They did have a nice laundry with 4 washer, 4 dryers and 3 irons and ironing boards. The gym while small had plenty of machines. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
We were concerned about the larger Seabourn ships since we had only sailed on the smaller ones previous to this.We liked this better....never seemed crowded except for the pool deck during sail away from Sydney Harbor.The bigger ship gave ... Read More
We were concerned about the larger Seabourn ships since we had only sailed on the smaller ones previous to this.We liked this better....never seemed crowded except for the pool deck during sail away from Sydney Harbor.The bigger ship gave more options which we enjoyed.We were 2 couples neither of which had visited Australia and New Zealand so we thought this would be a good introduction.It was,indeed. We found the service at The Restaurant and at Thomas Keller to be outstanding! The bar service at the Keller lounge (and the piano man) also great. The only drawback for these venues was that caviar service was not available .A few of The Restaurant menu highlights included leek confit, grilled scallops, ribeye steaks, grilled scampi ,spring rolls, short ribs,lobster ravioli and lamb shank. At Thomas Keller we enjoyed Dover sole,Veal t-bone,roasted whole chicken(2 people), caesar salad prepared tableside, crab cakes. House Champagne is Nicolas Feuillatte which is a tad acidic for some tastes, is perfect in a Kyr Royale. Wines included with no surcharge included Tyrell's Verdelho, St Hallets Shiraz, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, Kim Crawford Pinot Noir, a good overall selection.The Seaboun Square which is not on the old smaller ships is a great addition...the coffee bar wins rave reviews. The lectures were diverse, interesting, well prepared and available for rebroadcast on demand on your suites' TV. The "Ventures" team was often scheduled on deck to answer questions when they were not leading an excursion. The tour highlight was a Zodiac trip in Milford Sound, NZ surrounded by thousands of waterfalls.The bridge instruction classes were outstanding, the trivia games a lot of laughs. The main entertainers appealed to us about 50% of the time. We did not miss a night of the piano in Keller's Bar. The one major complaint we have is that when we embarked we received a photocopied revised itinerary which eliminated the port of Timaru, substituting Lyttelton.Timaru is where in Feb 2017 the Encore broke loose and hit another vessel....since then the port has begun some repairs to allow cruse ships to again use the port but not yet. Seabourn,of course knew this long before sail date and you would expect out of common courtesy they would have informed all the guests. It was our only chance to get close to Mt Cook.Perhaps it's not bait and switch,but poor management. Whew,I should really point out the super high quality of every employee we interacted with on this sailing.We wish the on shore places we visit on a daily basis could take a lesson.THANKS! Read Less
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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our first cruise on the Encore class ships. We have previously sailed 8 times on Seabourn: 1 Legend, 3 Odyssey, 3 Quest, 1 Sojourn. We had read mixed reviews of the Encore and Ovation, and were hesitant to sail on them. ... Read More
This was our first cruise on the Encore class ships. We have previously sailed 8 times on Seabourn: 1 Legend, 3 Odyssey, 3 Quest, 1 Sojourn. We had read mixed reviews of the Encore and Ovation, and were hesitant to sail on them. However, this cruise featured a good price on itinerary/destination we liked, so we decided to give it a try, and assess the mixed reviews about the Encore class. Based on this cruise, we would book the Encore class again. Unfortunately, on the first day, we almost felt that this would be our last Seabourn cruise. We had poor and inattentive service in the Colonnade at lunch, better service at dinner but miscommunication between servers and kitchen, so the food was not as we ordered. The next day, we met with Executive Chef Joseph to discuss our dietary needs (low-sodium). Chef Joseph met our dietary needs with the best food we have had on Seabourn; low-sodium but very flavorful. We pre-ordered dinner the night before, and our food in the Restaurant, Colonnade, TK Grill, and even in Sushi was prepared to accommodate us. However, the one large dining negative during the cruise was in Earth and Ocean on the first night it was open. We received an invitation base on our platinum status. Unfortunately, Chef Frank was apparently unwilling or unable to reduce the amount of salt in his dishes and did not prepare entrees we could eat, even though we spoke to him earlier in the cruise, pre-ordered the night before, and spoke to members of his team earlier in the day. The appetizers and desserts were quite good. Much has been written about the decline if the level of service with the launching of the Encore and Ovation, and the increase in general in the number of cruise ships competing for experienced crew. We have experienced occasional service problems of the Odyssey-class ships after the launch of Encore, and had occasional problems on board Encore. Service on the starboard side of the Colonnade was quite poor at the start of cruise; the port side team was much better. It appeared that the starboard side team was either new to Seabourn or newly working with each other. Their service improved after a day or two, and was at an acceptable Seabourn level. We encountered one of the servers in other places on the ship, and she always remembered what we preferred to drink and would search if it was not close at hand. By day two, almost all of the crew and many of the officers knew our names. Everyone was friendly and smiling. Our suite stewardess did an excellent job cleaning the suite, even with our changing daily schedule , which could have us out of the room by 7 AM or sleeping in until noon. She kept our refrigerator refilled. We attended and enjoyed the special wine tasting. We thought the sommeliers excellent, knowledgeable, friendly, and accessible. Natalia, assistant sommelier, would suggest and find a complementary wine we liked in the Colonnade or TK Grill. We do not understand the comments by other reviewers that they could not get a properly made mixed drink or cocktail. Drinks were well made and balanced. We had excellent, friendly, and professional service at the bars. Our favorites were “Jimmy” in the TK bar, Artem in the Club (and in relief at the Sky Bar), and Marcos at the Sky Bar. Fillippa was great in the Observation bar and as “fill-in”. However, as noted below, there were problems in the on board selection of liquors and wines. Apparently, various supplies were missing from the initial major resupply in Auckland at the start of the cruise. This included most Scotch whisky, Sauterne, and New Zealand wines and beers! We were very disappointed by the inability to resupply the missing beverages. We received no good answers to our questions from the F&B and Bar Managers as to why nothing could be obtained in the various ports we visited. The featured Bollinger Champagne was not available at the Retreat: we were told it had all been drunk on New Years Eve! (No, we did not pay for the privilege of sitting in the unattractive Retreat, there was an open “Bollinger party” on the first afternoon.) Space on board, even with 150 more guests, was not an issue. There were no problems at pool. As comes as no surprise, we found the Retreat to be a waste. After seeing it on the first day, we did not find it an attractive or inviting space, and would not have gone there again even if it were free. Differences from Odyssey class The Colonnade seemed much larger inside; outside is a bit larger than Odyssey class, but usually crowded. There is additional outside space on the deck below, which is accessed by a stairway; it appeared to be used by only a few people. The layout of the Colonnade is awkward. There is a large column in the narrow main corridor that everyone has to squeeze past entering and leaving, and getting food. The column is right in front of the main serving area, and the entrance to outside deck is through the narrow corridor. There was no prepared to order pasta at lunch, and no board listing the daily fish special. The stateroom lock is a very nice change, since the key card can be lplaced on the sensor pad without removing the card from the pocket folder. (A minor thing, but we always found it difficult to remove the card in order to insert it in the lock slot, usually several times to get the lock open, and then to fit it back in the pocket.) There is a nice night light in bathroom. The shower seemed to be slightly larger, Perhaps the toilet paper holder was meant to be “artistic” or something, but the paper roll continually fell off. Also, the paper itself could have been much better. (Or maybe we just do not like sandpaper?) The curtains in the suite were not as black out but were good enough. The Veranda suites are slightly longer and slightly narrower. Storage is arranged differently, overall better, with better storage including a shelf in the closet and larger storage over the tv. The vanity (?) at the foot of the bed is much shallower, and we found it pretty useless, nothing fit inside and the narrow top held much less. The television is much larger, as is the couch. The chairs are much more comfortable and easier to move. An interesting change is that all elevator buttons are on the left as you enter the car, rather than on the side between the two elevators. The Encore felt more stable, with no vibrations at stern and no ship noises in the suite. Shows in the Salon were negatively affected by noise/music from The Club on the deck below. Ports and excursions Our cruise was scheduled to call at Norfolk Island, an Australian territory, that required us to get Australian visas. We believe the Encore was required by New Zealand law to leave New Zealand waters after a certain number of days. Since the cruise before ours spent several days in New Zealand at the end of the cruise, and the following cruise would be spending several days in NZ bath the start, we were the one required to take a day in Australia. Before the cruise, we looked at photos of Norfolk Island and wondered how we would be able to land through the various coral reefs. When the Encore arrived there, there were 3 1/2 meter swells at the ship and 2 1/2 meter swells at the pier, and this was after going from the planned landing side of the Island to the “sheltered” side! After a while at anchor, we left and headed south. The Captain later announced that the conditions at Milford sound would prevent us from entering the fjords, and we would go between the North and South Island to have better weather on the voyage to Stewart Island. It seemed that many passengers were very upset that we would be missing a port and a scenic cruising day. We, however, have been in the Tasman Sea before, and were quite happy to avoid bad weather in the Sea! We also have enjoyed trans-Atlantic cruises, and were not really sympathetic to the complaints about being on a ship for four days without getting off. As a good will gesture, Seabourn offered everyone a credit equal to 20% of the base fare of this cruise, to be used on a future cruise that was booked during 2019, even if the cruise itself was after 2019. We thought this was extremely generous and not required, since weather-related changes are beyond Seabourn’s control, and really should not be a complete surprise to someone who takes a cruise. However, there were still many grumbles and claims of how this was the last Seabourn cruise they would take. We took two Seabourn shore excursions, in addition to the one cancelled on Norfolk Island. We also took two independently arranged tours. Stewart Island bird sanctuary by zodiac was nice; some birds, mostly hard to see, good presentation by local guide. Many blue penguins on zodiac ride along island and back to ship. At Tauranga we took the self drive train and thermal area tour. The train was fun, but the entire tour was cut short. The tour was scheduled for 8 1/2 hours but, due to the sailing windows resulting from tides, was reduced to about 4 1/2 hours. The Maori presentation was abbreviated and combined with lunch. The thermal area visit was greatly shortened and we found it poor, especially compared to our Seabourn tour last summer in Iceland. The up side was that we did not have to worry about the effect of the sulfur on asthma! Having spoken to the excursion staff on the dock before the tour, they were expecting us at Seabourn Square after the tour. They offered us a 50% rebate on the cost of the tour, which was larger than we would probably have asked for. They made us feel very satisfied. The ironic aspect of the day was that, due to high winds which delayed bunkering and impeded getting off the dock, the ship missed the earlier sailing window that the Captain had changed the sailing time to meet, and thus we actually left the port about 5 hours later, a little after the originally scheduled time. Overall, it was a very nice cruise, not perfect but very good. Seabourn handled the weather-caused problems well in our estimation. Beverages should have been resupplied better, but we still found plenty of excellent things to drink. We have two future cruise deposits, and we will certainly use them to cruise again on Seabourn. Read Less
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