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We chose Encore because it is new, NCL, and looked great. I read mixed reviews about the ship but went on with our plans. We sailed from Miami to San Juan, St. Thomas and Tortola. We had an ocean view cabin because with three kids that is basically all we could do (other than The Haven, which was five times more expensive). The cabin was nicer than usual. They put the closets between bed and sitting area and the curtain divider was a nice touch. The shower had a tub. The room decor was great and felt spacious for a family of five. We had to “side-step” around the foot of the bed to get around the room but it was fine. The ship moves more than any I have ever been on. The pools were normal for a large ship and didn’t feel smaller than others to us. In fact, it was easier to find a chair. The water slides are fun and the DJs and band were better than other NCL ships. Restaurants: We thought Ocean Blue was our favorite after sailing on prior cruises but we loved Food Republic. Nicholas suggested the chicken tacos and tuna pizza. All the sushi and handhelds were amazing. The food was truly fabulous. Onda was basically nothing to write home about, which surprised us. I actually thought the pizza was more impressive than other entrees. Le Bistro seemed less fancy than it usually does in terms of flavor. It felt off. We didn’t eat at Qs because we changed it to Food Republic again. The main dining room food was NCL standard- nothing bad and nothing excellent. The buffets in The Garden Cafe seemed better than usual- one night was seafood night and another was some turkey dinner thing. It was all fine. Kids Club did a good job keeping our elementary aged kids happy but our 3-year-old only went twice. She didn’t want to go again. I think with more effort they could have helped with the transition (Maze was able to do this once and we appreciated it because it worked). Some days, the staff didn’t seem to care who showed up. They told us about their plans to leave and go home soon. They seemed overworked and tired. A common theme on the ship. The ship itself was intense. Everything really was extra- the VR game room was $29 pp and the laser tag and other activities were similar. Plan on an extra $500-$1,000 by the time you pay drink taxes in port, play games, etc. We didn’t race the cars because they were unavailable per crowds or weather. The laser tag is skewed unfairly in favor of the blue team- the secret is so outlandishly unfair we felt ripped off after losing on the red team, but in the interest of surprises, I won’t spoil it here. I guess losing due to unfair advantage beats winning with one. The added games could be skipped. The VR room was kind of silly more than cool- but we liked Descent and Vertigo. Descent involved shooting aliens in a vertical tunnel. Vertigo had us walking a plank between skyscrapers to follow a kitten. It was intense and I recommend it before going to the bar, not after. This was like a roadside test we couldn’t pass. Kinky Boots was happy and uplifting but predictable. People walked out during the show- not sure if it was because it ran from 10:30-12:15 pm when we went or if they left due to other reasons. Drag queens are not for everyone but we enjoyed it. The Choir of Man was amazingly great. Those boys from Ireland can SANG. We even bought their Album. After years of Broadway shows, opera, symphony, ballet- this show is up there with one of the best (think Rent meets Celtic Woman). It had good humor and men seemed to particularly enjoy the show. San Juan experienced earthquakes and was totally dark and shut down. NCL still stopped there. We tried to walk around but the city was closed. We understand that it is an act of God but this felt like a wasted port for those of us paying thousands to travel. NCL should have re-routed to their island or something. St. Thomas is doing better post-hurricane and we had a lovely day at the tourist haven Magen’s Bay. Tortola was lovey. We did the ship excursion on Rebel Yell to Jost Van Dyke and chilled out at The Soggy Dollar bar beach. By far the best day ever. We only had to walk ten feet or so in shin-deep water, so our dry bag and water shoes made us laugh. We were over-prepared. Highly recommend Rebel Yell with or without children in tow. Encore is great and we had a nice time but it was a lot going on. The intensity of activities did have a Vegas feel. We did a calm painting class and found other ways to hide from the madness but it was too many bells and whistles for us. Overall, I gave 4 stars - if it were a report card it would be a solid B. It is not an A+ ship because it tries to be all things to all people. The crew on board were pretty under enthusiastic to be there, with the exceptions of Jose (who is promoting to an assistant cruise director on Sky) and Nicholas, who made dining on Encore a treat. The ship is clean and handsomely decorated. The Observation Lounge was grand and impressive. But even that wasn’t worth the added expenses of casino-like chaos while out at sea. We are more peaceful people who miss the simplicity of quietly traveling. I think if you keep your expectations somewhat low, the NCL Encore would pleasantly surprise you (especially if you buy lots of onboard credit certificates so you aren’t hit with a big bill). We liked the martini bar on Breakaway better than mojitos on Encore. Just a preference. Embarkation was easy (we arrived at 10:30 am and waited about half an hour inside). Disembarkation was lame and you can line up when you want - the color code system appears to be total bologna. Go when you want to go. Encore rolls as much as people say. Perhaps she is trying to shake loose of the overbuilt and overrated entertainment on her top decks.

Nice time, but we will not be sailing an encore on the Encore

Norwegian Encore Cruise Review by Skierbabe

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2020
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Family Oceanview with Large Picture Window
We chose Encore because it is new, NCL, and looked great. I read mixed reviews about the ship but went on with our plans.

We sailed from Miami to San Juan, St. Thomas and Tortola.

We had an ocean view cabin because with three kids that is basically all we could do (other than The Haven, which was five times more expensive).

The cabin was nicer than usual. They put the closets between bed and sitting area and the curtain divider was a nice touch. The shower had a tub. The room decor was great and felt spacious for a family of five. We had to “side-step” around the foot of the bed to get around the room but it was fine.

The ship moves more than any I have ever been on.

The pools were normal for a large ship and didn’t feel smaller than others to us. In fact, it was easier to find a chair.

The water slides are fun and the DJs and band were better than other NCL ships.

Restaurants: We thought Ocean Blue was our favorite after sailing on prior cruises but we loved Food Republic. Nicholas suggested the chicken tacos and tuna pizza. All the sushi and handhelds were amazing. The food was truly fabulous.

Onda was basically nothing to write home about, which surprised us. I actually thought the pizza was more impressive than other entrees.

Le Bistro seemed less fancy than it usually does in terms of flavor. It felt off.

We didn’t eat at Qs because we changed it to Food Republic again.

The main dining room food was NCL standard- nothing bad and nothing excellent.

The buffets in The Garden Cafe seemed better than usual- one night was seafood night and another was some turkey dinner thing. It was all fine.

Kids Club did a good job keeping our elementary aged kids happy but our 3-year-old only went twice. She didn’t want to go again. I think with more effort they could have helped with the transition (Maze was able to do this once and we appreciated it because it worked). Some days, the staff didn’t seem to care who showed up. They told us about their plans to leave and go home soon. They seemed overworked and tired. A common theme on the ship.

The ship itself was intense. Everything really was extra- the VR game room was $29 pp and the laser tag and other activities were similar. Plan on an extra $500-$1,000 by the time you pay drink taxes in port, play games, etc. We didn’t race the cars because they were unavailable per crowds or weather.

The laser tag is skewed unfairly in favor of the blue team- the secret is so outlandishly unfair we felt ripped off after losing on the red team, but in the interest of surprises, I won’t spoil it here. I guess losing due to unfair advantage beats winning with one. The added games could be skipped.

The VR room was kind of silly more than cool- but we liked Descent and Vertigo. Descent involved shooting aliens in a vertical tunnel. Vertigo had us walking a plank between skyscrapers to follow a kitten. It was intense and I recommend it before going to the bar, not after.

This was like a roadside test we couldn’t pass.

Kinky Boots was happy and uplifting but predictable. People walked out during the show- not sure if it was because it ran from 10:30-12:15 pm when we went or if they left due to other reasons. Drag queens are not for everyone but we enjoyed it.

The Choir of Man was amazingly great. Those boys from Ireland can SANG. We even bought their Album. After years of Broadway shows, opera, symphony, ballet- this show is up there with one of the best (think Rent meets Celtic Woman). It had good humor and men seemed to particularly enjoy the show.

San Juan experienced earthquakes and was totally dark and shut down. NCL still stopped there. We tried to walk around but the city was closed. We understand that it is an act of God but this felt like a wasted port for those of us paying thousands to travel. NCL should have re-routed to their island or something.

St. Thomas is doing better post-hurricane and we had a lovely day at the tourist haven Magen’s Bay.

Tortola was lovey. We did the ship excursion on Rebel Yell to Jost Van Dyke and chilled out at The Soggy Dollar bar beach. By far the best day ever. We only had to walk ten feet or so in shin-deep water, so our dry bag and water shoes made us laugh. We were over-prepared. Highly recommend Rebel Yell with or without children in tow.

Encore is great and we had a nice time but it was a lot going on. The intensity of activities did have a Vegas feel.

We did a calm painting class and found other ways to hide from the madness but it was too many bells and whistles for us.

Overall, I gave 4 stars - if it were a report card it would be a solid B. It is not an A+ ship because it tries to be all things to all people. The crew on board were pretty under enthusiastic to be there, with the exceptions of Jose (who is promoting to an assistant cruise director on Sky) and Nicholas, who made dining on Encore a treat.

The ship is clean and handsomely decorated. The Observation Lounge was grand and impressive. But even that wasn’t worth the added expenses of casino-like chaos while out at sea.

We are more peaceful people who miss the simplicity of quietly traveling.

I think if you keep your expectations somewhat low, the NCL Encore would pleasantly surprise you (especially if you buy lots of onboard credit certificates so you aren’t hit with a big bill).

We liked the martini bar on Breakaway better than mojitos on Encore. Just a preference.

Embarkation was easy (we arrived at 10:30 am and waited about half an hour inside). Disembarkation was lame and you can line up when you want - the color code system appears to be total bologna. Go when you want to go.

Encore rolls as much as people say. Perhaps she is trying to shake loose of the overbuilt and overrated entertainment on her top decks.
Skierbabe’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 3 to 6
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