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Seabourn customers feel a strong sense of brand ownership and so are generally not amenable to change. Having cruised 4 times previously on Sojourn we boarded Encore with an open mind. The ship has a lot to live up to, Seabourn set the bar pretty high. First impressions are of timber, textured fabrics, leather and stone. I immediately thought of boat shows and premium British motorboat manufacturers. There are lots of great spaces and some clever detailing, the area above the Observation lounge bar, the wood cladding to the central staircase, the panelling inside the lifts (elevators), even the public toilets. Passenger numbers are up from Sojourn, 600 as against 450 but we were still greeted by name throughout the day by the ship's crew. Ultimately it is these men & women who make or break a cruise and they were all focussed on ensuring our happiness. We never felt the public spaces were over crowded either. There are now 2 shows a night, 8.30pm and 10.00pm, more dining venues, extended deck spaces and the whole ship manages potential extra capacity well. Embarkation was the usual silky smooth experience. Hearing staff offer Flemish to Belgian clients next to us rather than the expected French or German demonstrates how far Seabourn are willing to go. Speaking of dining the highlight of any cruise must surely be the food. As well as the main dining room where we ate very well and the Colonnade which ran a series of speciality nights including a very popular Indian night there were 2 new options, the Thomas Keller Grill and Sushi. The TK grill has generated many column inches of debate on Cruise Critic. Having eaten there 5 times during our 34 night cruise I can say that for us it was a total success. The Rib Eye steak is almost too good - how can I ever eat steak again. The prawn cocktail starter featured prawns bigger than my fingers. The service was friendly with some nice table side theatre. The TK Grill Bar was a hit amongst every cruiser we spoke to. Bobby behind the bar and Katy on piano / vocals were a dream team. Sushi was also a great alternative to more traditional dinner options. The girls working in Sushi are super friendly and offer a guiding hand through what might be unfamiliar territory. The food was gorgeous with very talented specialist chefs. Lunchtime they offered Bento boxes with chicken or salmon. We never managed to eat in the Patio Grill at night but enjoyed several lunches there. The fries are still the crispiest on the high seas and the hot dogs just as I remember them. Entertainment wise Seabourn can never compete directly with mainstream lines such as Royal Caribbean with their multi million pound stages and expansive casts but they punch well above their weight. The 4 crew cast shows were a notch up on previous Seabourn productions and offered a broad appeal. We were lucky in having a very strong line up of singers and dancers who not only entertained on stage but also added immense value around the ship at social events. Hanré the cruise director and Jacqueline the assistant CD went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the happiness and well being of their flock. There were a number of guest entertainers who offered a diverse range of acts from classical musicians, magicians, comedians, even a Beatles tribute act. Something for everyone. Not everything was my particular cup of tea but more often I was pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed. I managed to make small inroads into learning the game of bridge. I'm probably 20 years too young and far to cheerful to be any good but under the tutelage of Katherine and her friend Veronica there were times when we cried with laughter as we learnt in our small beginners class. A real bonus to an already excellent cruise. Ports of call were OK but at times not spectacular particularly Mangalore, but we already knew that when we booked. Essentially this was a re-positioning and shakedown cruise. On the latter I was pleasantly surprised at the readiness of the vessel. Odd bits here and there gave a window to some hard work behind the scenes but no more disruption than routine maintenance on a ship that's been in service for a while. Our cabin was standard Seabourn fare which is to say class leading. Deck 6 around 300 square feet, separate bath and shower, his & hers wash basins, walk in wardrobe, seating / dining area, decent balcony, full service flat screen TV with free on demand movies. We also paid $400 for unlimited internet throughout our 34 days which worked as well as might be expected for a ship. Some of the spaces on Encore have been more controversial than others. The Retreat angers many who feel it creates a 2 tier community. I'm a bit more relaxed, there has always been a pay to play space on Sojourn above the Spa. I had a look round the retreat and it's lovely but never found enough hours in the day to make sense of using it. We also like meeting people around the ship. The bar in the Club came under a bit of flack because the bar staff had to keep retreating behind closed doors in the kitchen to mix drinks due to the design of the bar area. We never went thirsty and as ever the staff did their utmost to overcome the challenge. A bit of tweaking required but we still managed to strike up new friendships and in my case make a sorry excuse for dancing ! There were 2 house bands looking after us in the club. We didn't use the shore excursion team. I find the tours expensive and they start too early in the morning even when the ship doesn't leave until late at night. A taxi can generally be had for less than the cost of a single ticket from the excursion team. For that reason I haven't marked them. Overall a great cruise and it was with a heavy heart that we disembarked in Singapore. It would have been easy to stay longer ! My abiding memory would have to be the hard working and caring crew who constantly went above and beyond to make sure we had a great time. [youtube]HYAqTzEeOzE[/youtube]

More private motor yacht than cruise ship; wonderful service throughout.

Seabourn Encore Cruise Review by Able Seaman H

27 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2016
  • Destination: Asia
  • Cabin Type: Veranda Suite
Seabourn customers feel a strong sense of brand ownership and so are generally not amenable to change. Having cruised 4 times previously on Sojourn we boarded Encore with an open mind. The ship has a lot to live up to, Seabourn set the bar pretty high.

First impressions are of timber, textured fabrics, leather and stone. I immediately thought of boat shows and premium British motorboat manufacturers. There are lots of great spaces and some clever detailing, the area above the Observation lounge bar, the wood cladding to the central staircase, the panelling inside the lifts (elevators), even the public toilets.

Passenger numbers are up from Sojourn, 600 as against 450 but we were still greeted by name throughout the day by the ship's crew. Ultimately it is these men & women who make or break a cruise and they were all focussed on ensuring our happiness. We never felt the public spaces were over crowded either. There are now 2 shows a night, 8.30pm and 10.00pm, more dining venues, extended deck spaces and the whole ship manages potential extra capacity well. Embarkation was the usual silky smooth experience. Hearing staff offer Flemish to Belgian clients next to us rather than the expected French or German demonstrates how far Seabourn are willing to go.

Speaking of dining the highlight of any cruise must surely be the food. As well as the main dining room where we ate very well and the Colonnade which ran a series of speciality nights including a very popular Indian night there were 2 new options, the Thomas Keller Grill and Sushi. The TK grill has generated many column inches of debate on Cruise Critic. Having eaten there 5 times during our 34 night cruise I can say that for us it was a total success. The Rib Eye steak is almost too good - how can I ever eat steak again. The prawn cocktail starter featured prawns bigger than my fingers. The service was friendly with some nice table side theatre. The TK Grill Bar was a hit amongst every cruiser we spoke to. Bobby behind the bar and Katy on piano / vocals were a dream team.

Sushi was also a great alternative to more traditional dinner options. The girls working in Sushi are super friendly and offer a guiding hand through what might be unfamiliar territory. The food was gorgeous with very talented specialist chefs. Lunchtime they offered Bento boxes with chicken or salmon.

We never managed to eat in the Patio Grill at night but enjoyed several lunches there. The fries are still the crispiest on the high seas and the hot dogs just as I remember them.

Entertainment wise Seabourn can never compete directly with mainstream lines such as Royal Caribbean with their multi million pound stages and expansive casts but they punch well above their weight.

The 4 crew cast shows were a notch up on previous Seabourn productions and offered a broad appeal. We were lucky in having a very strong line up of singers and dancers who not only entertained on stage but also added immense value around the ship at social events. Hanré the cruise director and Jacqueline the assistant CD went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the happiness and well being of their flock.

There were a number of guest entertainers who offered a diverse range of acts from classical musicians, magicians, comedians, even a Beatles tribute act. Something for everyone. Not everything was my particular cup of tea but more often I was pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed.

I managed to make small inroads into learning the game of bridge. I'm probably 20 years too young and far to cheerful to be any good but under the tutelage of Katherine and her friend Veronica there were times when we cried with laughter as we learnt in our small beginners class. A real bonus to an already excellent cruise.

Ports of call were OK but at times not spectacular particularly Mangalore, but we already knew that when we booked. Essentially this was a re-positioning and shakedown cruise. On the latter I was pleasantly surprised at the readiness of the vessel. Odd bits here and there gave a window to some hard work behind the scenes but no more disruption than routine maintenance on a ship that's been in service for a while.

Our cabin was standard Seabourn fare which is to say class leading. Deck 6 around 300 square feet, separate bath and shower, his & hers wash basins, walk in wardrobe, seating / dining area, decent balcony, full service flat screen TV with free on demand movies. We also paid $400 for unlimited internet throughout our 34 days which worked as well as might be expected for a ship.

Some of the spaces on Encore have been more controversial than others. The Retreat angers many who feel it creates a 2 tier community. I'm a bit more relaxed, there has always been a pay to play space on Sojourn above the Spa. I had a look round the retreat and it's lovely but never found enough hours in the day to make sense of using it. We also like meeting people around the ship.

The bar in the Club came under a bit of flack because the bar staff had to keep retreating behind closed doors in the kitchen to mix drinks due to the design of the bar area. We never went thirsty and as ever the staff did their utmost to overcome the challenge. A bit of tweaking required but we still managed to strike up new friendships and in my case make a sorry excuse for dancing ! There were 2 house bands looking after us in the club.

We didn't use the shore excursion team. I find the tours expensive and they start too early in the morning even when the ship doesn't leave until late at night. A taxi can generally be had for less than the cost of a single ticket from the excursion team. For that reason I haven't marked them.

Overall a great cruise and it was with a heavy heart that we disembarked in Singapore. It would have been easy to stay longer ! My abiding memory would have to be the hard working and caring crew who constantly went above and beyond to make sure we had a great time.

[youtube]HYAqTzEeOzE[/youtube]
Able Seaman H’s Full Rating Summary
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