Let me first state that I did not like awarding the scores set forth below. My wife and I had hoped for a far better experience. This was our first Seabourn cruise; the most recent ones before were on Oceania and Regent Seven Seas, respectively. Our cruise started in Singapore and ended in Dubai.
Some elements of the Encore were lovely. The overall décor was most attractive, and the Seabourn Square set up was a delight. For the most part, our Verandah V5 cabin was well thought out (the closet could use some reconfiguration -- raising the hanging poles and sacrificing a bit of the shelf space above). It was impossible, however, to regulate the temperature in our cabin at a stable degree; at night, especially, the air conditioning, unlike the day, was ineffective -- with the room being so warm we discarded our covers. Our stewardess was absolutely terrific, and the other members of the non-food service crew were personable.
So what wasn't so great? Primarily, it was the food -- especially in comparison to both the Oceania Marina and the Regent Explorer ships. With the exception of the Thomas Keller restaurant (the second time, at least) no meal was delicious, and several of the meals were plain disappointing. Bread was consistently substandard, as were most of the pastries. Beef was not as good as the lamb; chicken was overcooked. Fish, however, was well-prepared. The Restaurant's cuisine was not generally as good as the Colonnade's. Service in the Restaurant at dinner was really bad. Twice (once dining alone and a second time with another couple), we had to skip dessert to make the 8:45 pm show; in each instance we were seated at 6:45 p.m. That is inexcusable. Service in the Colonnade was, conversely, quite good at both breakfast and dinner. Daniel and Megan deserve special mention for their performance. As for Thomas Keller, the steaks the first time were terribly over-salted, and not just our table. The people next to us had the same complaint. The captain actually tried my wife's and readily agreed, and the manager subsequently invited us to dine in his restaurant again, promising a far better experience the next time -- which it was. The sushi restaurant was fine, with the lead server a true delight. The food was okay. It is impossible to see the chefs at work due to the configuration of the counter; its front should be all glass and the display of fish lowered so that the preparations can be viewed by diners, especially those sitting around where the chefs were working.
We found the entertainment mixed. Wayne (the comedian on the cruise) was truly entertaining; on the other hand we thought the Tim Rice show to be a disappointment -- less due to the singers and more due to the choice of songs performed. The rest (we attended several) were so-so. The lecturers were distinguished. We would have preferred slightly more sophisticated talks -- and with more emphasis on the current states of the countries visited and less on their histories. We took several tours. The most disappointing to us was in Muscat, where we were left for 90 minutes at a mediocre, touristy souk and had only 15 minutes, in contrast, at a wonderful museum. The rest were okay, if over promised.
Decent sized, with a nice balcony. Shower was cramped and the toilet jutted up close to one of the sinks. Bed was comfortable, with good pillows, but hardly the best. Lighting was excellent. The bar configuration was awkward.